Guardian covers tabloid scandal about Bibi’s wife; ignores Gaza terror attacks

In 2005 Israel evacuated every Jew from Gaza, an act which provided Palestinians in the coastal strip a chance to have an independent polity free of foreign interference for the first time in history.  

In 2006, despite assurances from the ‘international community’ that the absence of an Israeli military and ‘settler’ presence would moderate the Palestinian electorate in Gaza, a plurality of Gazans voted for Hamas – an extremist group committed to the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews.  Hamas has run the territory without political opposition since their violent purge of Fatah in 2007.  

Since 2006, and despite the absence of Israeli occupation, over 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli towns.  Or, to put it more accurately, there have been 8,000 individual attempts to murder innocent Israelis since that time. 

To those who don’t understand why many Israelis are reluctant to cede more land to the Palestinians without sufficient and sustainable security guarantees that aren’t dependent on the good will of Palestinian leaders or the casual ‘assurances’ of Western governments, the answer can be culled from the results of this real-life ‘land for peace’ experiment.  In short, though most Israelis strongly support, in principle, a two-state solution, most wearily expect that the new Palestinian state will quickly devolve into either failed state or, more likely, a terror state.

The reason why this blog focuses at times on the Guardian’s failure to report terror attacks from Gaza (and the West Bank), is that such an egregious failure to report the full story about the conflict allows their readers to lazily dismiss Israel’s insistence on defensible borders. This security doctrine is based on past wars and terror attacks, as well as the current reality of terrorist enemies on their borders (Hezbollah and Hamas) who are in possession of a combined arsenal of up to 170,000 (increasingly sophisticated and accurate) rockets and missiles.

So, for instance, the Guardian has failed to publish even one stand-alone article  (by their regional reporters) on any of the 100 plus rocket attacks from Gaza since January, 2014.  (The only minor exception pertains to two AFP stories (not written by Guardian staff) which characteristically focused on Israel’s response to rocket attacks.)

Here are the headlines of the two AFP reports which even mentioned Gaza rocket attacks. (Note the ‘tit for tat’ narrative, and emphasis on Israel’s response to the Gaza rockets):

AFP/Guardian story, March 3:

march 3AFP/Guardian story, March 13:

March 13

 Though their regional correspondents evidently didn’t find scores of deadly projectile fired at Israeli civilian targets newsworthy, they did, however, find time to pen two articles on complaints by former employees of the Netanyahus (a maid and a household assistant) about alleged unfair treatment by the prime minister’s wife, Sara.

Here’s a January 17 report by Rory McCarthy:

jan 17

Here’s an April 9 report by the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont:

april 9

 ‘Shocking’ details in the Jan. 17 report, included the following:

Peretz [the former maid] worked in the Netanyahu family home, in Caesarea, for six years. In the lawsuit she reportedly claimed that the prime minister’s wife, a psychologist, denied her basic social benefits and shouted at her for not following rules. Among the rules was allegedly the instruction that the employer be addressed only as “Mrs Sara Netanyahu,” following her husband becoming prime minister last spring.

Peter Beaumont’s story including even more ‘explosive’ charges:

He alleges that on another occasion Mrs Netanyahu woke him at 3am to complain that he had bought milk in bags rather than cartons. “When I complained about the time and the tone in which she spoke the harsh words to me, Mr Netanyahu interfered in the discussion and said I should do everything Mrs Netanyahu asked ‘so she will calm down’,” Naftali claims.

To put the Guardian’s priorities in some perspective, here are stats comparing their coverage of over 100 rockets attacks (100 individual Palestinian war crimes) vs their coverage of complaints against the prime minister’s wife by two former employees:

  • Guardian stories covering Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 2
  • Number of words in two Guardian reports on Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 1228
  • Guardian stories primarily devoted to terrorist attacks from Gaza: 0
  • Number of words devoted to Gaza rocket attacks on Israel within two broader Guardian/AFP reports (which focused on the general ‘tit for tat’ attacks between Gaza and Israel): 110

In case you were wondering, the latest illegal attack on Israeli civilians by the terrorists in control of Gaza (not reported by the Guardian) occurred on April 9, the very day the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent published the latest installment of L’Affair Sara.

Such contrasting priorities, which place greater emphasis on gossip about the Israeli prime minister’s wife than on deadly projectiles fired at innocent Israeli men, women and children, explains quite a bit about British misconceptions on the root cause of the conflict, and the main impediments to its resolution. 

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Tell the International Assoc. of Architects to reject RIBA’s racist boycott of Israelis

We recently posted about a Guardian report on a resolution by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) which called on Union of International Architects (UIA) to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects “until it acts to resist projects on illegally-occupied land and observes international law and accords”.  

We noted that this appalling decision represents a prime example of the racist double standards at the heart of the BDS movement, as RIBA singles out Israeli architects among the 74 members of the UIA – a list which includes Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, among others.

It appears that the resolution was based in part on the anti-Israel activism of RIBA’s past President Angela Brady, and a dishonest and highly propagandistic presentation by an extreme Jewish critic of Israel named Abe Hayeem. Hayeem is a RIBA member, chair of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor.

may17-03-607

Abe Hayeem (2003)

(You can hear Hayeem in this audio, from an anti-Israel demo in London in 2003, accuse the “neo-fascist” government of Israel of engaging in a policy of “transfer”, “ethnic cleansing”, “state terrorism” and “apartheid” against Palestinians, and calling for a complete trade embargo against the state.)

However, there’s been some push back against RIBA’s resolution by Stephen Gamesa RIBA member who published an op-ed at The Jewish Chronicle condemning the organization’s bigotry and hypocrisy, and calling for the removal of their Royal Charter if the resolution is not reversed.  

@stephengames

Stephen Games

Mr. Games has published the following open letter to the president of RIBA.

Dear President,

I am not a member of any interest group within the RIBA but was nonetheless disappointed to learn of Council’s decision to call for the Israeli architects’ body to be suspended from the International Union of Architects. I had no previous knowledge that this was coming up for a vote, I have not seen it reported in the RIBA, and I have not had any documentation about it, otherwise I would have protested earlier.

I object to the vote for five reasons:

1.0  The vote was biased

1.1  Council’s decision is wrong and misconceived. I completely accept that the principle of Israel’s building on land won by Israel when resisting efforts by combined Arab forces to destroy it in 1967 is contentious, politically motivated and merits questioning. It is designed to provide housing for Israelis and to redefine future borders. It will however either cease when an agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority or will continue legitimately, either within a newly drawn Israel or a newly drawn Palestinian state. 

1.2  The fact that no such agreement has yet been reached reflects the fact that terms have not yet been drawn up that satisfy both sides. Council’s decision implicitly means that the RIBA blames Israel alone for the fact that an agreement has not yet been reached.

1.3  For the RIBA to blame one side for censure is inappropriate. The RIBA is not a political body, it has no special insight into the dispute, nor is there anything in its constitution that should lead it to be partisan. The RIBA’s proper role is to preserve neutrality. To do otherwise is to act outside its mandate as a royal body. 

2.0  The vote was intrusive and mischievous

2.1  The decision suggests that the argument about Israeli building needs to be specially highlighted. It does not. There is already vocal opposition within Israel itself to “settlement building”. Significant numbers of IAUA members are themselves opposed to such building and do not need or wish to be removed from international platforms such as the International Union. They themselves see this as unhelpful and unfriendly action by foreign busy-bodies, designed not to ameliorate conditions but to demonise one side and one side alone in the dispute.

2.2  Votes such as this do not resolve problems. They drive the opposed parties further apart.

3.0  The vote was unfair

3.1  In voting for the Israeli Association of United Architects to be suspended, Council is taking action that it has taken against no other country. The meaning of this is that the RIBA finds Israel uniquely reprehensible in the world, or more reprehensible than any other country, in terms of human rights abuse. This flies in the face of all evidence. In the most recent (2011) Observer human rights index, Israel did not appear in even the top 20 of human rights abusers, which were listed as (in order):

1. Congo   2. Rwanda   3. Burundi   4. Algeria   5. Sierra Leone  

6. Egypt   7. North Korea   8. Sudan   9. Indonesia   10. Yugoslavia  

11. Pakistan   12. China   13. Libya   14. Burma   15. Iraq  

16. Afghanistan   17. Iran   18. Yemen   19. Chad  20.  Congo (Republic).

3.2  In Iraq, gays are rounded up by police, thrown into prison and tortured; Israel, by contrast, serves as a haven for gays in the Middle East, even mounting an annual Gay Pride march, an event unthinkable elsewhere in the region.

3.3  Israel is a country of political and religious pluralism. Freedom of expression and worship is welcomed. Israeli Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, are a full part of Israeli society, and can and do serve as parliamentarians in the Israeli Knesset. In no Arab country, and in few Muslim countries, is the presence of Israelis or Jews even tolerated.

3.4  Israel’s architectural body is itself made up of Israeli Arabs as well as others. Nowhere does such reciprocity exist in Arab or Muslim countries.

3.5  If the vote against Israel is to stand, it must logically be followed by similar calls for architects in countries beyond the Middle East to be banned.

4.0  The vote was reductive

4.1  If Council wishes to support the aspirations of the Palestinians, it has an obligation not to do so at Israel’s expense. Politics should not be a zero-sum game: the RIBA should recognise that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to end up with better outcomes. In Council’s vote, however, support for Palestinians was expressed in language defined entirely by vitriolic negativity towards Israel. This is utterly inappropriate and gives rise to reasonable speculation that the vote was as much about hostility to Israel as about support for Palestinians.

4.2  As the aftermath of the Arab springs has shown, Middle Eastern politics is far more complex than the simplistic “Palestinians-good/Israel-bad” formula that supporters of the vote in Council represented. The reductivism that Council has voted for is shameful in its effort to resort to pre-Arab Spring blindness about long-standing Middle East rivalries and hostilities, of which hatred of Israel is neither the biggest nor the most entrenched.

4.3  If Council truly wished to have a say only about the Middle East, it should be supporting all people in the region who are truly suffering victimisation and oppression. If the vote in Council is allowed to stand, it must therefore be followed by a huge programme of similar and more appropriate calls for suspension—especially against Egypt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran—and especially against other countries whose treatment of Palestinians is much more reprehensible than that of Israel, but whose actions are deliberately ignored and veiled by obsessive opponents of Israel who wish only to use the Palestinian cause to damage Israel.

5.0  The vote disgraces the RIBA

5.1  For the reasons given, by allowing the vote against Israel to stand, the RIBA risks emerging not as a body that supports Palestinians but as a body with an in-built and unprincipled prejudice against Israel and legitimate Jewish aspiration.

5.2  For more than a thousand years, the Christian Church attempted to eradicate Judaism, either by mass killing or mass conversion. Were it the case that the majority of Council members came from Christian backgrounds, some observers might conclude that the vote continued a long-standing cultural prejudice against Jews within our society in general and within the RIBA in particular. 

5.2  The campaign to boycott Israel is also bound up with a much more insidious pan-Arab and pan-Muslim campaign to delegitimise Israel and eradicate it as a state. Thus, a millennium of opposition to Jews being Jews could be seen to be joining forces with a century-long campaign to prevent Israel being Israel.

5.3  In voting for Israel’s suspension, the RIBA could be seen as siding with the most vicious campaigners against not just boycott and divestment but against Israel’s legitimacy and its survival as a state.

Conclusion

No one could want to belong to a body that can be characterised as anti-semitic, nor is it appropriate that an institutionally anti-semitic body should retain its royal charter. 

In view of the above, I urge the RIBA to reverse its decision as soon as possible. If it does not, there will inevitably be a campaign calling for the removal of the royal charter, and this will involve much unnecessary expenditure of time and effort all round.

I am copying this letter to the press.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Games

To assist Mr. Games and others in the UK who oppose the boycott, please sign this petition , and (per the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s approach) consider contacting the president of the Union of International Architects (UIA), Prof. Albert Dubler, and ask that the group reject RIBA’s endorsement of a policy of racist exclusion targeting Israelis. 

uia@uia-architectes.org

 

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What about ‘Palestinians want to kill us’ don’t well-meaning critics of Israel understand?

On Wednesday night, when news was breaking that terrorists in Gaza had fired a volley of more than 40 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians in the south, the Guardian’s incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont reacted on Twitter as Guardianistas typically do to obfuscate such Palestinian war crimes: he highlighted one crazy quote by an Israeli in response to the attack.

The quote, by Israel’s foreign minister – threatening to reoccupy Gaza – was as hysterical as it was irrelevant, as the chances that such a re-occupation would happen are practically zero.

The habit of providing obsessive coverage to every hyperbolic or ill-considered statement by an Israeli, while ignoring even the most egregious examples of Palestinian racism and incitement to violence is not of course limited to Guardian journalists.  Indeed, even some of Israel’s friends often find it more morally satisfying to attack even minor Jewish misdeeds than far more injurious Palestinian crimes.

Whether it’s a case of liberal racism (holding groups believed to be powerless to a lower standard than those deemed to be powerful), moral myopia or antisemitism, this double standard weighs heavily on Israelis who desire more than anything to make peace with the Palestinians, but are haunted by the cognitive dissonance elicited by seeing Palestinian leaders talk peace in English to the West, while promising endless war when speaking to their own people in Arabic.

A perfect illustration of this disturbing double standard was evident when Palestinian Media Watch revealed that Senior Palestinian official Abbas Zaki said, in an interview yesterday on official PA TV, that Israelis “are an advanced instrument of evil” and that “Allah will gather them so that we can kill them.”

Here’s the video:

If you’re tempted to dismiss this call to murder as the rant of an insignificant or marginal voice, PMW explained that this simply isn’t true.

“Zaki’s public anticipation of the extermination of the Israelis is significant because, as Palestinian Media Watch has reported, he is a close associate of Mahmoud Abbas. He was sent to Syria as Mahmoud Abbas’ personal representative in October 2013, and he speaks at public events representing Fatah.

Do we even need to ask what the reaction at the Guardian, New York Times and BBC would be if a top Israeli official associated with Likud (and close associate of Netanyahu) said that ‘Palestinians were an instrument of evil and that God will gather them together so they can all be killed’?

Of course, the significance of such homicidal expressions by top Palestinians officials to the peace process is hard to overstate.  If Israelis are to make painful concessions for peace, they must have confidence that Palestinian leaders signing a final status agreement truly intend to settle the decade’s long conflict, that all historical claims are settled and that their war against the Jews has truly ended.

If Israelis – soberly aware of the price paid by previous ‘land for peace’ chimeras – don’t have confidence that a real and lasting peace will be achieved, and that the extremism and homicidal antisemitism within Palestinian society will one day end, then what incentive do they have to relinquish more than 90 percent of Judea and Samaria (and possibly east Jerusalem), thus forfeiting the IDF’s capacity to operate in these communities and thwart planned terror attacks?   

Leaving aside the pro-Palestinian UK media, many Israelis are at times also astonished by the hubris of many truly well-meaning progressive advocates for a two-state solution who, in the safety of affluent Western cities, imperiously lecture them on the risks they must take to end ‘the occupation’. 

Such peace advocates will never have to live with the consequences of their policy recommendations, and it seem quite reasonable to demand of them just a bit of humility – and some deference to Israelis for whom such decisions are more than political abstractions, and often matters of life and death.  

To put it simply:

The overwhelming majority of Israelis support current peace talks, and support a two-state solution. 

However, the overwhelming majority of Israelis also are skeptical that a two-state deal (under current circumstances) will actually lead to peace.

The failure of otherwise sober, erudite and reflective minds to keep these two ideas in their head simultaneously is at times breathtaking.

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Guardian text & image almost suggest Israeli culpability in Egypt bus bombing

Take a look at the following headline, strap line and photo in a Feb. 18 Guardian story:

headline failThe title, image and caption would leave many readers with the false impression that ‘Israeli agents’ may have played a role in the recent terror attack on a civilian bus in the Egyptian Sinai that killed four tourists.  In fact, you’d have to read pretty far into the report to determine that this isn’t of course the case.

Here are the first six paragraphs:

Egypt’s public prosecutor has charged two men said to be Israeli intelligence agents and two Egyptians with conspiring in Israel’s interests, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

“The public prosecutor ordered Ramzy Mohamed, Sahar Ibrahim, Samuel Ben Zeev and David Wisemen – two officers in the Israeli Mossad – to be sent to a Cairo criminal court for spying for the interests of the state of Israel,” the statement read.

The two Egyptians are already in jail pending investigation, the statement said. The public prosecutor ordered the arrest of the two Israeli officers. It was not clear from the statement if the Israelis were in Egypt. There was no immediate reaction from Israel.

The Egyptians are accused of providing information about Egypt to the Israeli officers with “the intent of damaging national interests in exchange for money and gifts and sex”.

The statement accuses Mohamed of sleeping with women who work in Israeli intelligence. He is also accused of recruiting the accused woman, Ibrahim, to work for Israeli intelligence.

The statement said the two Egyptians had admitted during investigations that they had spied for Israel.

Here are the subsequent paragraphs:

Earlier on Tuesday, a militant group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a Egyptian bus that killed three South Korean tourists and an Egyptian driver close to the border crossing into Israel in the volatile Sinai desert.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, Arabic for Champions of Jerusalem, said in a statement posted on militant websites late on Monday that one of its “heroes” carried out Sunday’s bombing in Taba as part of an “economic war” against the army-backed government.

Egyptian officials have called it a suicide attack, but the Ansar statement did not use any language that would suggest the perpetrator was dead.

The al-Qaida-inspired group has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, but has previously targeted primarily police and the military.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified but it was posted on al-Qaida-affiliated websites.

As you can see, following the headline and image – which evoke the recent terror attack in the Sinai – we immediately learn that Israeli Mossad agents were arrested by Egyptian authorities.  Then, with no transitional text, we learn that “earlier in the [same] day”, there was an attack near the Israeli border.

So, we’re left with two completely different stories which almost seem connected based on the report.  

As you can see by opening these links to other news sites (including in the Arabic media), the Guardian seems to be the only major news site conflating the two events, and juxtaposing a photo the burned bus with the arrest of Israeli ‘agents’.  Indeed, if you want to get an idea of how egregiously misleading the Guardian headline and photo truly is, even the anti-Zionist conspiracy-minded ‘journalists’ at Iranian PressTV showed greater restraint in their report on the story:

mossad

Though the Guardian report is attributed to news “Agencies”, someone at the paper had to review and approve the headline, photo and text – an editor who clearly failed to abide by basic journalistic standards requiring that the media “take care not to publish “misleading or distorted information”.

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Guardian improves original headline to story on ALLEGED ‘Israeli tear gas’ fatality

The Guardian published this Reuters report today:

headlineThere’s one big problem. As you read the report it’s clear that, at this point, there are only “claims” by Palestinian “witnesses” that “an 85-year old Palestinian died after inhaling teargas fired by the Israeli army”.   The Israeli military is investigating the incident, and the allegation has not been corroborated.

Indeed, if you read reports elsewhere which cite the same Reuters story, you’ll see that a significant qualification was included:

headline

Even Al-Arabiya noted that the report was only based on Palestinian sources:

alarabyia

Later in the day, Guardian editors changed the headline, adding quotes around ‘after inhaling tear gas’ and revising language in the strap line (“Villagers say…”) to indicate that the allegations are only based on what some Palestinians are telling the media.

revision

Finally, as past claims about Palestinians allegedly killed by Israeli tear gas demonstrate, responsible media outlets would be wise to follow this story closely and not base their reports merely on Palestinian sources.

Editor’s Note:  We were recently contacted by Guardian editors to explain that CiF Watch did not prompt the correction, and that their staff caught the error and made the change on their own. The title of this post has been amended accordingly.

Guardian makes egregious “error”; refers to Palestinian “terrorists” without quotes

A few days ago the Guardian made an egregious “error”.  They used the word ‘terrorism’, in the Israeli-Palestinian context, without quotes.  Here’s the relevant passage in the online edition of a story about the recent release of a second batch of Palestinian prisoners titled ‘Tension among Israelis after release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, Oct. 30:

terroristOf course, anyone who reads the Guardian would know that at least their unofficial editorial policy seems to forbid use such a value-laden term as “terrorist” to refer to Palestinian extremists who murder Israelis, at least without quotations or some other grammatical qualification. More typically, they use the word “militant” instead - even, as seen below, in reference to the 2011 Itamar massacre.

militant

Guardian headline, March 14, 2011

Sure, enough, a mere day after their online “faux pas” about the freed Palestinians, the Guardian “corrected” their “blunder” in the print edition of the paper.  In a shortened version of the Oct. 30 story about the released prisoners, the quotes were wrapped safely around the potentially offending term. 

print

Guardian print edition, Oct. 31

Finally, we should note that the one seeming exception to the Guardian ‘no terror without quotes’ policy relates to stories about the murder of innocent civilians by violent extremists which occurs on British soil.  

LondonWe of course eagerly await a column by the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor explaining the moral difference between the murder of Lee Rigby in London and the murder of more than 1400 innocent Israelis since Oslo.

Indy reporter misleads on Israel’s security barrier

In a largely non-political and quite interesting nature story on July 3 by the Indy’s Michael McCarthy (the paper’s Environmental Editor) about the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, there were the following passages, where the author pivoted to briefly exploring the politics of the region:

For Jerusalem overwhelms you. In the Old City, sacred to all three Abrahamical religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims, history and tradition are overpowering, as are the assaults on the senses: the sunlight flashing on copper coffee pots, an Arab flute being played somewhere, the bewildering mix of languages, the smells of cumin and cardamom and coriander.

But the politics is the most overpowering phenomenon of all, and the anguish of two hostile peoples struggling for one land is never more than a glance away. It’s seen above all now in The Wall, the 25ft-high separation barrier the Israelis have built between their Jewish citizens and the Palestinians of the West Bank, and whether or not you agree with the argument for it – that the Arab suicide bombings of the Second Intifada became an intolerable burden on Israeli civil society – there is no doubt that it now appears, snaking over the hills, as something monstrous.

Of course, Israel’s security barrier (mostly consisting of chain link or barbed wire) was built between ‘Israeli citizens’ and the Palestinians of the West Bank, not just the state’s “Jewish citizens and the Palestinians” as McCarthy claims. In addition to the state’s roughly six million Jews, Israel is home to 1.3 million Muslims, 155,000 Christians and nearly 130,000 Druze.

Moreover, for most Israelis of all faiths, the existence of the security barrier simply reflects the belief that, given their experience with deadly acts of terror originating from across the previously porous green line, their government has not only the right, but the moral duty to protect them from future attacks.  (It should also be noted that shrapnel tends not to distinguish between Jew and non-Jew.)

It’s remarkable that such an intuitive understanding of the Israeli right to self-defense continues to elude so many UK reporters and commentators.

A blood libel is born: Fisking the Guardian’s original report about Mohammed Al Durah

Today, an Israeli Government Review Committee published a long-awaited report on the Mohammed Al Durah incident, determining that the Palestinian boy was in fact not harmed by Israeli forces and did not die in the exchange of fire on September 30, 2000 at the Netzarim Junction in Gaza.  

The Israeli committee arrived at the conclusion which had been reached by other serious observers who have studied the incident (and its tragic consequencesover the years: The incident was in all likelihood a hoax.

The report was released just three days before a French court is to rule on a defamation case involving the producer who broke the story for France 2, Charles Enderlin, and the French media analyst who accused Enderlin of fabricating the story, Philippe Karsenty.  (You can learn more about the background, evidence, and consequences of the Al Durah incident here.)

The following is my fisking of the original report in the Guardian on the Al Durah incident, written by Suzanne Goldenberg and published on Oct. 3, 2000 and titled ‘Making of a martyr’:

goldberg

Suzanne Goldenberg begins her Oct. 3, 2000 Guardian account of an incident which had taken place three days earlier, near the Netzarim Junction in Gaza, ‘Making of a martyr’, thus:

“A circle of 15 bullet holes on a cinder block wall, and a smear of darkening blood. That is what marks the spot where a terrified 12-year-old boy spent his final moments, cowering in his father’s arms, before he was hit by a final shot to the stomach, and slumped over, dead. Those last minutes in the life of Mohammed al-Durrah, captured in sickening detail by a Palestinian cameraman working for French TV, have taken on a power of their own. His death, aired around the world on Saturday night, has become the single searing image of these days of bloody rioting.”

Goldenberg, as with nearly every journalist who reported on the incident, was relying entirely on a one minute, deceptively edited, France 2 video, as well as uncorroborated Palestinian “eyewitness” accounts.

While the the video purported to show the boy’s final moments – filmed by stringer named Talal Abu Rama, and which was cut by France 2 producer Charles Enderlin – the last few seconds showed a clearly alive boy lifting his hands and peeking out through his fingers and then slowly putting his arm down.

There is no video or still photos – despite the numerous journalists at the scene – of the boy being carried away in a stretcher, or being loaded onto an ambulance.

Additionally, despite claims that the IDF fired on the boy and his father for 40 minutes – which somehow only managed to produce a dozen or so bullet holes in the wall and barrel – and supposedly died of a stomach wound, it evidently didn’t seem odd to Goldberg that there was only a “smear” of blood?

Goldenberg:

“The pictures of Mohammed’s death seemed not just to encapsulate the horror of these last five days but also to have become its motor.

Though more Palestinians have been killed since Mohammed’s death – including a two-year-old yesterday – it is his image that haunts Israel. For all of the claims of the prime minister, Ehud Barak, and other officials that their soldiers only fire to protect Israeli lives, Mohammed’s death seems an irrefutable reply.”

Here, any semblance of objective reporting is shrewn to pieces. Not only in the last sentence of this passage is Goldberg determining Israeli guilt in the boy’s death, but imputing malice to the entire army – all based on 63 seconds of video.

Goldenberg:

“By the end of the weekend the evidence was pointing to a still more chilling conclusion: that the 12-year-old boy and his father were deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers.”

The blood libel begins.

Goldenberg has now established – a mere four days following the incident – that the 12-year-old Palestinian child was deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers.

“Caught in a burst of firing, the pair sought shelter behind a concrete water butt, about 15 yards to the east of the Palestinian post, diagonally opposite the Israeli position. The father gestured frantically towards the Israelis, as if pleading with them to stop firing. They did not.

They were cleaning the area. Of course they saw the father,” says Talal Abu-Rama, the camera man who watched the horror unfold. “They were aiming at the boy, and that is what surprised me, yes, because they were shooting at him, not only one time, but many times.”

Goldenberg takes the hideous claim that the IDF decided to fire mercilessly at a young boy until he was dead at face value, without even a hint of journalistic skepticism.  It didn’t occur to the Guardian journalist to ask why, if the  the camera man was filming for 40 minutes, there is no footage of the IDF shooting at the boy and his father, no footage of the Israeli position – and, thus, no evidence even demonstrating where the fire was coming from.

Goldenberg:

“The result of that salvo is visible on the cinderblock wall. Aside from the circle of bullet holes – most of them below waist level – the expanse of wall is largely unscarred. This appeared to suggest that the Israeli fire was targeted at the father and son.”

The ballistic tests had proved that the three bullets shown in the filmed sequence by Abu Rahma came from the Palestinian side and not from the Israelis. The bullets kicked up dust in a way that could not come from a 30-degree angle of a bullet shot against the wall behind the barrel. Furthermore, given the protection provided by the barrel, it would have been nearly impossible for the Israelis to have hit either father or son once, yet alone over a dozen times.

Goldenberg:

“Inevitably, the Israeli army version of Mohammed’s death is rather different.”

“Inevitably”? You can see her eyes rolling. Her mind was made up. Judgement was passed.

Goldenberg:

“Although the army expressed regret about the boy’s death, it said the soldiers in their armoured post had been under fire.”

The incident occurred on the Jewish New Year, so it took a few days for a proper investigation to get under way.

However, Nahum Shahaf, an Israeli physicist, later conducted a thorough investigation and concluded that the killing of Muhammad al-Durah was staged.

Goldenberg:

“Abu Rameh also believes it unlikely that the Israeli fire could have been directed further down the road from the water butt where the al-Durrahs sought shelter. “In that whole area, there was nobody except me, the boy and his father,” the camera man says.

“Whatever the truth about the circumstances surrounding his death, Mohammed’s terrified face has now entered the grim gallery of images that have come to symbolise – and often to powerfully influence – a conflict.

“Nothing good will come of this. We will have many more martyrs, and nothing will change.””

The image had a spectacular effect, inflaming Palestinian-and Israeli Arab-violence and justifying the Intifada  and the insidious use of suicide bombings, to the West.

There was a mass demonstration in Paris on Oct. 6, 2000.  There were large banners, including one indicating that a Star of David = a swastika = a picture of the father and the son behind the barrel, with ‘They kill children too‘ written over it. The crowd shouted ‘Death to the Jews’ and ‘Death to Israel’ for the first time since the Holocaust.”

place-de-la-republique-cropped

Goldenberg’s protagonist in the story, Abu-Rama, was correct about one thing: Nothing good would come of this media manufactured event, for Israel, Jews or the West.

Attacks against Jews on Yom HaShoah follow traditional antisemitic path

A guest post by AKUS

One of the grimly curious features of traditional antisemitism, in its most violent forms, has been the way antisemites frequently launched violence (including pogroms and ethnic cleansing) against Jews on Jewish holy days.

Jewish holidays, no matter how joyful or how sadly meaningful, have often been accompanied with a bitter memory of antisemitic violence.  The most famous example, of course, was the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans on Tisha B’Av which by chance or not, was also the date, 655 years earlier, of the destruction of the First Temple.

There are many other examples, from every period in recorded history.

On Saturday March 16, 1190, in York, England, on the special Shabbat before Passover (Shabbat Hagadol), many Jews taking refuge from an antisemitic mob were burnt to death, and the survivors massacred. Easter, which of course commemorates among other thing the Last Supper, which was a Passover Seder, has always been a favorite occasion for antisemitic riots by Christians inspired by their priests to believe that “the Jews killed Christ”. One well-known example was the three-day Kishinev pogrom that started on Easter Sunday, April 19th, 1903.  The infamous pogrom in Iraq on June 1, 1941, was coincided with the festival of Shavuot. Yom Kippur has also frequently been a day when Jews would fear antisemitic violence.

The Nazis, who obsessively studied the customs of the Jews they wished to exterminate, were especially skilled at timing their actions to coincide with Jewish holidays. For example, Nazi attacks against Jews often coincided with Jewish festivals such as Purim to “avenge” Jewish victories over their enemies. On Purim 1942, ten Jews were hanged in Zduńska Wola to avenge the hanging of Haman’s ten sons. In a similar incident in 1943, the Nazis shot ten Jews from the Piotrków ghetto. On Purim eve that same year, over 100 Jewish doctors and their families were shot by the Nazis in Częstochowa. The following day, Jewish doctors were taken from Radom and shot nearby in Szydłowiec.

Not to be outdone, modern cyber-haters, armed with the best technology they can acquire or create, also searched for a particularly meaningful day to attack the Jews. The group calling itself “Anonymous” decided that the most appropriate day to launch a cyber-pogrom against the Jews would be Holocaust Remembrance Day. Their goal was to “wipe Israel off the map of the Internet”.

#OpIsrael Screenshot

#OpIsrael Screenshot

Given the language they used in their announcements, there can be little doubt that they saw a connection between the attempt to murder every Jew physically in the Holocaust with an attempt to remove the ability of Israelis to use the Internet – even if, ironically, they were using technology that has been, in large part the fruit of Israeli development.

Despite their bravado, Israel was not particularly affected by their efforts. After all, trying to attack the world’s second-leading information technology powerhouse is not an easy task. Within hours, the “Operation Israel” attack site had been penetrated by Israeli hackers and was playing “Hatikvah” while websites affiliated with Hezbollah and the Syrian government were disabled through a distributed denial of service attack.

But this cyber attack was not the only attack against Israel on this solemn day. A Gazan group decided it would be the most appropriate day to attempt to kill Israelis gathered to commemorate the 6 million dead in the Holocaust by firing rockets at an evening commemorative service.

Somewhere in southern Israel, near the border with Gaza, a gathering of civilians was forced to scatter as Israel’s enemies, following the tradition of attacking precisely on a day which, if not holy in a religious sense, is the only day other than Yom Kippur in which Israel comes to a halt.

Here is what happened. For those not familiar with the sudden burst of sound, you first hear the sound of the kassam rocket being fired, then the automatic warning system broadcasts “Tseva Adom” and you will see children and adults scattering as they run for cover:

Yes, “Anonymous” and the Palestinians in Gaza did their best to continue the “tradition” of attacking Jews on their holy days.  The “new antisemitism” seems very much like the traditional version.

What would you do if you only had a year to live?

The following was written by David Hirsh at Engage, and is being cross posted here with his permission.

What would you do [if you only had a year to live]?  You’d do the important things, right?  

Iain Banks decided to have the stupid things he’d written about Jews re-published in the Guardian.

“A sporting boycott of Israel would make relatively little difference to the self-esteem of Israelis in comparison to South Africa; an intellectual and cultural one might help make all the difference…”

Yes, because white South Africans only care about Rugby while Jews spend their time with their noses in a book…Mike Cushman came up with this one ages ago:  “Universities are to Israel what the springboks were to South Africa: the symbol of their national identity.”  And Tom (Israeli archeologists are nastier than Nazi killers) Hickey too: “we are speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere…”

“Israel and its apologists can’t have it both ways, though: if they’re going to make the rather hysterical claim that any and every criticism of Israeli domestic or foreign policy amounts to antisemitism, they have to accept that this claimed, if specious, indivisibility provides an opportunity for what they claim to be the censure of one to function as the condemnation of the other.”

Jews as hysterical?  People who say that “every criticism” is antisemitic?  Classic Livingstone Formulation… The conflation of criticism with demonization combined with the charge of raising antisemitism in bad faith in order to silence “critics”.

“Of all people, the Jewish people ought to know how it feels to be persecuted en masse, to be punished collectively and to be treated as less than human.” [ach you know what comes next...]

The Jews should know better?  The Jews should have learnt more at Auschwitz?  Well, take your pick.  Chris Davies?Jacqueline RoseDesmond Tutu?  “My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?”

Why does everybody who comes up with this garbage think they’re really clever, brave and original to have thought of it?

Iain Banks’ illness is terrible news for a talented writer, a man who always seemed to be one of the good guys.  I’m sad that he thinks that this clichéd, dangerous and stereotyped nonsense is the most important thing that he should do now.

Related articles

Phoebe Greenwood’s polemical caricature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

1612We’ve recently commended Harriet Sherwood for her modest improvements in covering the region, and in taking the first tentative steps towards giving voice to the legitimate concerns of Israelis as well as Palestinians. Specifically, we noted that Sherwood, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, recently began seeking comment from mainstream Israelis, rather than simply those representing the far-left, thus enabling her readers to better understand the political dynamics at play in the Israeli -Palestinian Conflict.

Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for Phoebe Greenwood, who has filled in for Sherwood for over a month while she was away.  Greenwood, as with so many ‘journavists’, seems to see her role, in a manner consistent with the au courant post-colonial politics of her day, as providing a voice to the powerless – a binary paradigm which, in ignoring the broader Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Islamist regional conflict, necessarily tailors her reports in a manner which show Palestinians in the best possible light.  Israelis, when they enter the picture at all, are often crude caricatures – a recognizable Goliath in each chapter of the tale she conjures.

Greenwood’s latest report, ‘Palestinian buy land to protect future state and generations‘, March 18, is ostensibly a story about Palestinians purchasing land in the West Bank to secure their presence in the region.  However, such land acquisition is framed as merely a part in a larger Israeli-Palestinian struggle for territory, which she believes defines the conflict – a battle for over 5,000 sq kilometers of real estate in Judea and Samaria which, she claims, Israel is winning.

Israel, according to Greenwood, is winning the war for land by unfairly building “illegal” settlements.  In an effort to explain Israeli motivations for such ‘land grabs’, she adds the following:

Many Israeli Jews believe they have a God-given right to settle anywhere in the biblical land of Israel. Others justify the defiance of international law on the grounds of national security or argue that Arabs cannot be trusted.

This, evidently, represents Greenwood’s conception of Israeli Jews: Violators of international law motivated by religious fundamentalism and racism.

Whilst it’s nice that Greenwood also mentioned Israeli national security concerns, her lazy generalization fails to even address the fact that many Israelis (and many legal scholars) don’t believe that living in Judea and Samaria is ‘illegal’, as their political justification for their presence is supported by Jewish history and, more importantly, codified legally by the Mandate for Palestine – an international adjudication which has never been abrogated.

However, more toxic than Greenwood’s imputation of outlaw status to Israelis who live in communities on the other side of the 1949 armistice lines is the casual accusation of racism – representing a staggering moral inversion given Arab belligerence throughout Israel’s nearly 65 years of existence.

Though the breezy dismissal of Israeli concerns that a deal with the Palestinians, which potentially would remove hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes, may not in fact deliver peace, represents somewhat of the norm amongst even those in the media who claim to empathize with Zionism, the suggestion that such fears are inspired by anti-Arab racism is at best intellectually lazy, and arguably an indication of a broader malevolence.

Israeli Jews who are skeptical of Palestinian peace overtures are rationally responding to several different, though related, historical and political realities.

First, Israeli caution over the possibilities for peace are based, in part, on an understanding of most of the Arab world’s continuing refusal to accept, or in any way normalize relations with, the Jewish state within any borders – a concern only heightened by the ascendancy of Islamism since the start of the ‘Arab Spring’.

Second, Israelis have learned important lessons from the failures of Oslo, and, especially, their withdrawals from South Lebanon and Gaza – the latter representing a perfect cautionary tale regarding the danger of assuming the validity of the ‘land for peace’ formula , or even that Israeli presence in “occupied” land represents the main cause of Arab hostility.

Finally, to address Greenwood’s specific accusation, Israeli concerns over the sincerity of Arab leaders’ putative calls for peace are motivated, in part, by a sober understanding of the pervasive antisemitism among the overwhelming majority of citizens in the Arab world.  Israelis are aware of the state-sponsored hate spewing from Ramallah, Gaza City, Cairo, and Damascus, and understand intuitively that true peace can only be achieved when their neighbors begin to embrace truly liberal values – not merely in rejecting antisemitism, but by adopting democratic norms, treating women, gays and religious minorities with respect, and beginning to nurture a culture of self-criticism.

The path to peace in the region will be a long and arduous one, but must begin with a West, and Western media, that is just as demanding of the Arab world as they are of the Jewish state.  Such moral consistency would of course require the rejection of old, tired and destructive ideologies which place groups, a priori, in arbitrary categories of victim and oppressor – expecting little from the former and everything from the latter.

Until such a moral and journalistic revolution within the mainstream media occurs, however, we can expect stringers like Phoebe Greenwood to continue failing to hold a mirror to a sclerotic Arab political culture which represents a nearly impenetrable barrier to peace and progress in the Middle East.

Palestinian textbooks erase Israel. Harriet Sherwood erases moral distinctions.

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi

National_Education

1st Grade PA Textbook: “Map of Palestine”

In a recent report for the Guardian (Israeli and Palestinian textbooks omit borders, Feb. 4), Harriet Sherwood exposed Israel’s education system for the world, or at least her loyal readership, to see, noting that: “In Israeli textbooks, 76% of maps show no boundaries between Palestinian territories and Israel.

Once again succumbing to the bigotry of low expectations, Sherwood doesn’t take umbrage with repeated Palestinian incitement against Israel in public declarations, media and textbooks.

Instead, Sherwood serves the cause of absurd moral equivalency by implying that while Palestinian textbooks portray a world without Israel, refer to Jews as “Zionist gangs” and rewrite the Holocaust to ignore atrocities committed against Jews, Israel’s no better since it doesn’t recognize the non-existent borders of a country which doesn’t exist.  

Sherwood’s piece suggests that Israel is teaching hatred by virtue of the fact that its educational system doesn’t propagate the Palestinian national narrative, one which depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as an original sin that dispossessed the land’s native people. Over the years this Nakba narrative has metastasized into an international coalition of Islamists and leftists which celebrates the Palestinians as the quintessential “Other”, the last victims of Western racism and colonialism.

Sadly for Ms Sherwood and her fellow travelers, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  So, beyond the guerrilla chic appeal of movements for social justice that are only heard if they are loudly anti-Western, and superficially pro-democratic – yet remarkably mute when it comes to the vast majority of crimes against humanity inflicted by the once colonized against their own people – here are some pesky facts to consider:

  •  Palestinian textbooks describe the land (from the river to the sea) as being comprised of Muslims and Christians. No mention is made of Jews or the centuries-old Jewish communities of Palestine. The city of Jerusalem is described as exclusively Arab. Israel is not recognized as a sovereign nation and all maps are labeled “Palestine.”
  • Former United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, a major proponent of the two-state solution, has said that the Palestinian school books do “…not give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination.”
  • Regarding the idea of a peaceful, demilitarized Palestinian state existing side-by-side next to Israel, Palestinian school books make no attempt to educate for peace or coexistence with Israel. Instead Israel’s right to exist is adamantly denied and the Palestinian war against Israel is presented as an eternal religious battle for Islam.

While Sherwood finds it noteworthy that school books of societies in conflict tend to contradict one another, she finds the following facts too inconsequential to even bear repeating:

  • Israel’s Ministry of Education has implemented many programs where Israeli and Arab students work together on joint projects in an effort to learn more about each other, their heritage and culture.
  • The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) issued a report covering the 2012 set of Israeli textbooks. The report showed that many textbooks focus on education towards reconciliation, tolerance and peace.  Peace is presented not only as a Utopian aspiration, but also as a reachable political goal.  The new textbooks give information about the peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries and the Palestinians, in particular on the question of the borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.   The Palestinians’ struggle is presented as that of a national movement whilst not identifying with their aims. The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians continues to be presented as a clash between two national movements, thus legitimizing the existence of the Palestinian national movement. None of the new textbooks contains indoctrination against the Palestinians as a people.  

At its core the Palestinian liberation movement stands neither for the Palestinians nor liberation. It is very much defined by what it’s against: the sovereignty of the Jewish State over ALL lands seized, conquered or liberated (insert your preferred verb here…) from 1948 onward. Sherwood and her political fellow travelers realizes that since Palestinian independence needs to be created Ex nihilo – out of nothing – the only surefire way to do so is by undermining Israel’s legitimacy by a thousand cuts.

Today, it’s Israel’s education system. Rest assured that once school is out for the summer, Sherwood and like-minded fighters for freedom will dig up another half-baked canard, dust it off and fashion it into the latest whip to be inflicted upon Israel and its citizens.

The Guardian’s Michael Cohen & terrorist atttacks which ‘help’ the peace process

While reading Israel related reports and commentary at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, as an Israeli citizen, I’m often struck by the fact that that the narrative which is often advanced about the Jewish state has little, if any, resemblance to the place I live.

The Guardian’s analysis of the Israeli election, for instance, got it almost totally wrong, with claims made by their Middle East editor, Jerusalem correspondent, and other journalists of that ‘inevitable’ dangerous right-ward shift never materialized. Additionally, Arab voter turnout was significantly higher than predicted – with 58% of Israel’s Arab citizens participating in recent election, a percentage which is actually a bit higher than the overall US voter turnout in the 2012 Presidential elections.

Moreover, typically, Guardian reporters and commentators completely misunderstand what the term “right” even means in the Israeli political context. Unlike in the US, for instance, where “right-wingers” are typically “right” (conservative) on issues such as healthcare, abortion rights, gay rights, and gun rights, in Israel there is universal healthcare, the overwhelming majority of women seeking to end unwanted pregnancies are legally free to do so, Israel is one of the most progressive countries in the world in legislating equality for sexual minorities, and has a comparatively low rate of civilian gun ownership.

While there are indeed political divisions in Israeli society, such as the religious-secular divide, and differences on the desired level of social benefits, the increasing political consensus on national security issues – particularly on the Palestinian issue – is often cited as proof that the electorate has moved right.

Such a rightward shift on this vital but narrow issue includes skepticism about the wisdom, efficacy  and political logic of the Oslo Peace Process formula – an increasingly belief, based on the Palestinian terror war of 2000-2004, the failure of Israeli withdrawal from S. Lebanon to weaken Hezbollah, the thousands of rocket attacks launched by Hamas upon Israel’s unilateral retreat from Gaza in 2005, the PA’s refusal to accept Israeli offers in both 2000 and 2008 of Palestinian statehood, and a Palestinian culture which promotes antisemitism and incitement.

As polls indicate, it’s not at all that Israeli have lost their desire to one day achieve peace but, rather, most citizens have developed a healthy degree of skepticism regarding the ‘land for peace’ formula – political calculus which represents conventional wisdom within the mainstream media and the Guardian, and yet is almost never critically scrutinized. Indeed, when it comes to the chimera of a peaceful two-state solution, the views of Palestinian – who increasingly side with Hamas on such issues - are rarely explored.

Not only is this Israeli political dynamic – which, based on the stubborn reality of the last 20 years, increasingly eschews grandiose, idealistic ideas for peace which assume Palestinian best intentions – typically ignored, but commentator hostile to Israel are increasingly heard confidently claiming that Israel, in fact, doesn’t know what’s in its best interest.

Many citizens of the Jewish state understandably chafe at the hubris of Americans, Brits and others not invested in the political outcomes of proposals they are suggesting, which inspires a belief – by virtue of their sophistication, or academic pedigree – are in fact more clear-eyed and rational than Israelis when analyzing vital national security issues.

The latest ‘Comment is Free’ piece by Guardian columnist Michael Cohen ‘Israel’s election leaves slim opportunity for Obama to push two-state solution’ represents a perfect example of the enormous disconnect between ordinary Israels and foreigners who claim they are looking out for the state’s best interest.

Cohen argues that, despite the unexpected outcome of the Israeli elections, and a new Knesset which will lead a bit more to the center, there still is no significant hope that “Obama” will be able to successfully “push a two-state solution” on an intransigent Jewish electorate  - and suggests, per the ubiquitous pre-election coverage, that Israel is sliding towards the political abyss.

While Cohen’s over 1800 word essay characteristically all but ignores the role Palestinians play in the putative peace process – as denying moral agency to those perceived to be victims increasingly represents leftist de rigueur – an even more striking example of Cohen’s seemingly complete lack of empathy towards Israeli Jews can be seen in the opening passages, where he writes the following:

More than a decade ago, the Israeli government began construction on what is today known as the separation barrier – a 430-mile long planned construction project of fences, guardposts and checkpoints that provides, literally, a buffer between Israel proper and the Palestinian residents of the West Bank….

While the fence’s effectiveness in curbing terrorism is more perception than reality, Palestinian attacks inside Israel have decreased significantly since the early 2000s, when bus bombings and suicide attacks were weekly, even daily occurrences. Thus, for Israelis correlation became causation.

One might be inclined to believe that this more peaceful situation would make Israelis more inclined to make difficult choices for peace. With security improved, peace could then follow; or so the argument went.

And yet, the barrier – and the general improvement in security within Israel – has had a perverse opposite effect. Free from fear of attack when sending their children to school, or getting on a bus, or meeting friends in a café, Israelis decided that the status quo was pretty good. Rather than seek the uncertainty of peace, they could just as easily maintain the occupation of the West Bank without risk of greater terrorism.

So, instead of increasing the likelihood of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, the fence helped to decrease its possibility. The false sense of long-term tranquility it fostered has become, in part, the foundation of the mass delusion in Israeli society that the current status quo of Palestinian disenfranchisement can continue ad infinitum.

From that perspective, the results of Tuesday’s Knesset vote in Israel can, tortured analogy aside, be considered the “separation barrier election”….

Beyond Cohen’s erroneous suggestion that the security fence may not in fact have reduced Palestinian terrorist attacks, the subsequent text in the passages cited are truly astonishing in their failure of both logic and basic human empathy.

Cohen’s arguing that any reduction in the number of violent attacks on Jewish civilians initiated by groups hostile to Israel’s very existence, has an injurious impact on the peace process.  In addition to the fact that he ignores Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, and Ehud Olmert’s offer to the Palestinian of a contiguous Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as their capital – both of which occurred after terrorism has dramatically declined as the result of the fence and other security measures – the necessarily corollary of his argument is that suicide bombing, sniper fire, and rocket attacks, and other such murderous acts committed with impunity, would have helped the peace process!

The degree of Cohen’s malice, or at least callous indifference, towards the lives of Israeli men, women and children is only matched by the risible political logic. He’s suggesting that only with a gun to their collective heads – and the necessity of burying more of their dead – will the obstinate Israelis take leaps of faith necessary for an agreement with the Palestinians.

In addition to the astonishing moral callousness, the speciousness of Cohen’s broader logic, and implicit political assumptions, is remarkable.

Contrary to his obviously “sophisticated” inference, despite the reduction of terror attacks in Israel, citizens of the Jewish state have noticed that the relative diminution of deadly assaults doesn’t mean that terrorists haven’t been doing their best to carry them out.  For instance, since 2000, there has been over 8000 rocket attacks from Gaza since Israel unilateral disengagement from the territory in 2005, and more than 1400 in 2012 alone.  Further, the IDF’s ability to thwart terror attacks emanating from the West Bank doesn’t mean that terrorists have stopped trying. In 2012, according to the Shin Bet, there were 578 attempted terror attacks in the West Bank and 272 in Jerusalem. Additionally, an increasing number of attacks involved firearms and explosives.

Much of Israeli reluctance to withdraw from more territory in the absence of iron-clad security arrangements, is motivated by the understandable fear that the absence of IDF forces, and territorial buffer zones, which would be necessitated by the creation of Palestinian state, would inevitably empower terrorists in the nascent state to launch more and deadlier attacks on its citizens.  Israeli don’t have the luxury, as Cohen does, of blindly assuming Palestinian best intentions, that statehood will result in a serious decrease in antisemitism and a culture of martyrdom, or simply hoping that an Islamist terrorist regime won’t one day assume power in the West Bank (and possibly eastern Jerusalem) in a manner similar to Hamas’s ascendancy in Gaza.

Israel’s hesitancy in trusting the Palestinians is one nurtured by a clear analysis of recent history, and a sober understanding of the motivations of our enemies.

Finally, just as those living in the Jewish state are reluctant to trust that Palestinians who today are preaching hate and violence in mosques, schools and in the media will suddenly become doves and promote co-existence between Arabs and Jews once a Palestinian state is created, we are also increasingly find it difficult to take leftists like Cohen seriously when they assure us they have our backs while simultaneously suggesting that perhaps some new Jewish bloodletting is what the Israeli body politic requires to save the peace process.

‘Articles of Faith’: The absence of critical thinking about Israeli settlements

kh

Kohav Hashachar

CiF Watch has no official position on Israeli homes built across the 1949 armistice lines - the settlements.

As a blog dedicated to combating antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian, however, it is within our purview to expose misleading or erroneous geographical, political or legal claims about the settlements by Guardian journalists and commentators – and to combat the demonization of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. 

One of the most stubbornly held (often logically and politically under-explored) beliefs about the Israeli settlements (at the Guardian and elsewhere) is that their existence (or growth) represents the biggest obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians – and even, some would argue, between Israel and the larger Arab world.

Whilst reasonable people can oppose Israeli construction across the green line for any number of moral, political and legal reasons, it is peculiar how few critics even bother to defend their view that Israeli withdrawal from the disputed territories will lead to peace (and foster co-existence) with the Palestinians or, at least, will make the Jewish state more secure.

These articles of faith typically ignore historical evidence and political facts which contradict their thesis.

For instance, if this theory is valid, why didn’t Israeli withdrawals from Gaza, S. Lebanon (and ceding military and civilian control over parts of the West Bank to the PA) result in peaceful outcomes? Why didn’t the rocket attacks on Israeli communities, and other acts of terrorism, cease?  

If Palestinian/Arab anti-Zionism, antisemitism, extremism and terrorism, is in fact fed by ‘the settlements’ – and represents Islamist terror group’s raison d’être – why weren’t Hezbollah and Hamas (and extremist movements active within the PA) politically neutered by the absence of settlements (and IDF presence) in these territories? 

What evidence is there that Israeli withdrawal from most or all of the West Bank (and eastern Jerusalem) will result in the creation of a peaceful, non-extremist Palestinian government and political culture?

The absence of critical thinking about the issue is often typically accompanied by disinterest in Israeli opinion – expressed in political polls and Israeli elections – which demonstrates that while most Israelis support the idea of a two-state solution, they support withdrawals from land necessary for a Palestinian state only if the creation of that state truly leads to peace. 

A strong majority of Israelis – who have lived through Intifadas, thousands of rocket attacks and (just as important) the absence of international support for military actions to defend their nation from such assaults - believe that (under current political conditions) such withdrawals will not, in fact, lead to peace or improved security.

Those who insist that the ‘settlements’ represent the biggest obstacle to peace should be asked to explain why recent history in the region should be ignored and why Israeli fears about such a monumental military decision (which can’t easily be undone) are unfounded.

What do they know that Israelis don’t? 

Hanan Ashrawi lies at ‘Comment is Free’ about homes for ‘Jews only’ in Jerusalem

Hanan Ashrawi’s ‘Comment is Free’ essay on Nov. 29, ‘Supporting Palestine today at the UN is a vote for peace in the Middle East‘, included these opening passages:

“It might seem stating the obvious that Palestinians and Israelis find solutions only through negotiation, until you look at the record. It is a story in which one side makes proposals for nothing in return; one side makes agreements that the other side breaks; and one side keeps commitments that the other side ignores.

Take a recent decision by Israel to approve 100 new homes for its Jewish citizens in the illegal settlement of Gilo, when the Israeli army was bombarding and shelling Gaza.” [emphasis added]

Though Ashrawi provides no source for her contention regarding new homes being built in Jerusalem, she is referring to this construction announcement (per Ir Amim):

“Today the Jerusalem District Committee officially announced the approval of TPS 13290 for 100 housing units in Gilo. 
According to Ir-Amim’s previous alert on May 10, the plan entails 100 residential units—three 12 story buildings—to the north, between Gilo and Bit Safafa. The plan came before the District Committee for discussion of objections on May 22. The committee rejected the objections and decided to approve the plan.”

First, here’s some relevant background to better understand the issue of home construction in Israel:

The overwhelming majority of land in Israel is owned by the government, and administered (since 1960) by the Israeli Land Administration (ILA), which doesn’t sell the land but, rather, leases it out. (Only about 6.5% of the land in Israel is privately owned.)  The ILA leases government-owned land to all Israeli citizens (Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Druze, etc.), legal Israeli residents (including Arabs living in the East part of Jerusalem) or foreigners who would qualify for citizenship under the ‘law of return’. 

In the particular case Ashrawi is referring to, these homes would not exclude anyone based on religion.

Moreover, Ashrawi’s false assertion likely represents a broader attempt to impute racism (or even the more unserious charge of ‘ethnic cleansing’) into the Jerusalem building equation, ignoring the fact that Muslims in the city, both in total numbers and as an overall percentage of the population, have increased significantly since 1948.

In fact, the Muslim population of Jerusalem increased roughly 5 fold from 1967 (when Israel unified the city) to 2009, from 58,000 to over 278,000, while the Jewish population increased by a factor of only 2.8, from 196,000 to 480,000.

Beyond the broader dishonest narrative advanced by Ashrawi, however, her narrow claim that Israel has approved “100 new homes for its Jewish citizens” in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo is flat-out untrue. 

Please consider contacting Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s readers editor, to request a correction to Ashrawi’s lie.

reader@guardian.co.uk
(Editor’s note: This post was corrected on December 23 to correct a mistake in the original. I initially wrote that Ashrawi was likely referring to an announcement that 180 new homes would be set aside in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo for Israeli security personnel. This was not, we learned, the construction that Ashrawi was referring to.  The 100 homes mentioned in her commentary are to be built in East Talpiyot between Gilo and Bit Safafa, according to the Jerusalem District Committee. See the Ir Amim link above.)