Guardian/Reuters buries the lead on Hamas targeting of Palestinian civilians

Hidden in the final sentence of a Guardian/Reuters report on Sept. 20th, Egypt to host Gaza talks between Palestinian factions, on upcoming reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas and subsequent indirect talks between Hamas and Israel, is a remarkable accusation – albeit one not surprising to those familiar with Hamas‘s widespread human rights violations against their own civilians.

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British Priest (and Guardian journalist) defends Palestinian terrorism

A Church of England Priest named Giles Fraser penned a column at the Guardian defending the Palestinian right of armed resistance.  

Giles Fraser

Giles Fraser

The column, If we can have a just war, why not just terrorism?‘ (which follows a similar pro-terrorism argument advanced by Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne in a column last week) begins by suggesting that the IDF intentionally targets civilians in Gaza, while benignly characterizing Palestinian acts of ‘retaliation’ against the ‘occupation’.

Or, to put it in terms of today’s news: the Israelis won’t have any definition that would make them terrorists for bombing old people’s homes in Gaza, and West Bank Palestinians won’t have any definition that will make them terrorists for fighting back against occupation with petrol bombs

In addition to the risible suggestion that the IDF targets the homes of innocent elderly Palestinians, such Palestinian ‘resistance’ includes much more than Fraser indicates.  Such acts of “resistance” have included (to cite just a few recent examples) the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Palestinian sniper fire at an Israeli civilian vehicle that killed a father of five, and an attempted suicide bombing.

Fraser then introduces us to his Palestinian protagonist:

I am eating aubergines and flatbread with Dr Samah Jabr in a cool Palestinian cafe in Stoke Newington….She is an educated, middle-class Palestinian (in no way a rabble-rouser) but she insists that the word terrorist has become a powerful…political pejorative employed to discredit legitimate resistance to the violence of occupation.

What some would call terrorism, she would call a moral duty. She gives me her paper on the subject. “Why is the word ‘terrorist’ so readily applied to individuals or groups who use homemade bombs, but not to states using nuclear and other internationally proscribed weapons to ensure submission to the oppressor?” she asks. She insists that violent resistance must be used in defence and as a last resort. And that it is important to distinguish between civilian and military targets. “The American media call our search for freedom ‘terrorism’,” she complains, “despite the fact that the right to self-determination by armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, concerning self-defence.”

Though Fraser uncritically cites Jabr’s claim that armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, a review of Article 51 demonstrates that there is no such right:

Here’s what Article 51 of the UN’s charter states:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The language is quite clear. UN “member states” have the right of self-defense, not armed terrorist groups and illegal militias.  Such a doctrine clearly grants Israel (a UN member state) has the right to respond to rocket fire, while Hamas, as an internationally proscribed terrorist group which indiscriminately attacks civilians, is not granted such a right under Article 51.

Fraser finishes:

I took part in the Moral Maze recently on Radio 4 and was howled at for suggesting that there could be a moral right of resistance to oppression. And the suggestion was made that, as a priest, I ought to take no such line.

 

It is nonsense to think that being a state grants some sort of blanket immunity from the charge of terrorism – and certainly not from the moral opprobrium we attach to that term. We talk of asymmetric warfare. This is asymmetric morality: one that, in terms of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, loads the dice in favour of the occupation. This is just not right.

It seems that a priest should avoid emboldening a proscribed terror movement by distorting international law to suggest that attacks on civilians may be legally justified, and – even more importantly – refrain from obfuscating the profound moral difference between homicidal antisemitic extremists and the Jews they’re trying to kill. 

 

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Guardian likens Hamas rockets to “useless fireworks”

The Guardian, in an official editorial on the war in Gaza, argued the following:

In all the years they have been swooping over the border like useless fireworks, the primitive rockets that Hamas fires at Israel have killed hardly anybody. They scare people, close supermarkets, disrupt business and increase insurance premiums.

They’re of course referring to the more than 15,000 deadly projectiles fired from Gaza since 2001.

Here is the arsenal of “primitive rockets” the Guardian is referring to:

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Here’s a glimpse into the effects of the “useless” fireworks” “swooping over the border” to the southern Israeli city of Sderot:

 

Contrary to Guardian claims (that “hardly anybody” has been killed by these “useless fireworks”), at least 20 Israelis have been killed in Gaza rocket attacks since 2001, and 15 have been killed in Gaza mortar attacks. (sources: here, here, here, here, here, and here). Over a thousand Israelis have been injured in such attacks.

Finally, every Gaza rocket (all 15,000) of course has the capacity to kill an Israeli man, woman or child, and all represent an attempt to do just that.

Describing such deadly instruments of war as “useless fireworks” (which have killed ‘hardly anyone’) is simply untrue, and grossly insensitive to Israeli victims. 

Times of London leads the pack with worst headline on murdered Palestinian

The UK media continues to churn out stories about the brutal murder of Mohamed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen whose burned body was found near Jerusalem last week, with most reports focused on the police investigation and, most recently, new videos of the abduction (from CCTV) which show the faces of the likely perpetrators.

However, though the coverage to date has been decidedly one-sided – in focusing almost entirely on the possibility that the Palestinian was murdered by a Jew in a revenge killing in response to the murder of three Israeli teens – almost all reports have qualified their claims by noting that this theory hasn’t yet been proven.

Typical is the following passage by the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont’s in a July 6th report:

The Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and murdered on Wednesday in what many suspect was a revenge killing by Israeli extremists in response to the murder of three Israeli teenagers.

Similarly, Guardian headlines have been relatively restrained.  When the word ‘revenge‘ has been used, it’s surrounded by “quotes” indicating that this is still only an allegation.

However, The Times (of London) displayed no such restraint in a story written by Josh Mitnick and published in the print edition of the paper on July 3rd.  

Here’s a photo of the article:

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Times, July 3, page 27

Whilst it may very well be that the Palestinian was indeed killed in a revenge attack by Jews (or even ‘settlers’), the headline takes an unsubstantiated claim, blaming Israeli ‘settlers’, and sells it as a proven fact. 

Though the subsequent online edition (titled ‘Appeal for calm after Palestinian boy murdered in ‘revenge’ killing, pay wall) softened the charge a bit, the damage – per the nearly 400,000 Times print edition readers – has already been done.

Israelis celebrate 47th anniversary of Jerusalem reunification (Photos from Judy Lash Balint)

Judy Lash Balint (photo journalist, blogger and author of Jerusalem Diaries: In Tense Times and Jerusalem Diaries II: What’s Really Happening in Israel) observed the following yesterday while covering events to commemorate Yom Yerushalayim:

Thousands of Israelis dressed in blue and white and carrying Israeli flags took to the streets of Jerusalem on May 28, 2014 to celebrate the reunification of the city in the 1967 Six Day War. Parades and prayer services marked the day, while many took the opportunity to take part in walking tours of historic parts of the city.

Here are some of the photos taken by Lash Balint of the day’s festivities, published here with permission.

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You can see additional Jerusalem Day photos by Lash Balint here.

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Al-Durah Redux? Facts emerge contradicting Guardian presumption of IDF guilt in Palestinian deaths

The deaths of two Palestinian rioters in Betunia in the West Bank on May 15 has generated considerable media attention, in large measure because the incidents were apparently caught on video.

One heavily edited security camera video distributed by Defence for Children International/Palestine – a radical NGO which supports Muslim Brotherhood-organised ‘Freedom flotillas’ and continues to promote the ‘Jenin massacre’ libel – purports to show the two Palestinians allegedly being shot (within one hour and 15 minutes of one another) through the chest with real bullets fired by Israelis.

Here’s the video:

A DCI-Palestine spokesperson said the videos “clearly show two kids being hit directly with something other than a rubber bullet”, a narrative repeated by pro-Palestinian activists, and many in the mainstream media.

Naturally, the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont – in two reports he’s filed since the incident – seems to have no doubt whatsoever that Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition at the two Palestinians, killing them both, and has indeed all but mocked Israeli denials.

Both reports by Beaumont (Video footage indicates killed Palestinian youths posed no threat‘, May 20, and ‘Footage of Palestinian boys being shot is genuine, says Israeli rights group‘, May 20) primarily focus on the narrow question raised by some (including the IDF and some critical commentators) regarding whether the original CCT footage was manipulated to distort what really happened in Betunia.  

However, he significantly downplays what has emerged as the central element of the story: the dearth of any evidence whatsoever indicating that Israeli soldiers used live fire (real bullets) as opposed to rubber bullets, as the latter could all but certainly could not have killed Palestinians in a manner described by Palestinian sources.  

Beaumont’s May 20th report does note that “a preliminary investigation determined that live fire was not used by security forces”, but argues that “the composite picture presented by the evidence points to the conclusion that the two teenagers were” indeed shot with “live fire”.  His May 22nd report is even more tendentious, leading off by citing a statement by B’tselem “contradicting Israeli army claims that the footage is likely to have been forged”, and mocking the Israeli response.

Additionally, though he cites the new CNN video purporting to corroborate Palestinian accounts, he simply ignores two important take-aways from the clip: that, based on a careful review of the video, the Israelis were certainly firing non-lethal rubber bullets at the Palestinians, and that the bullet produced by the father of one of the victims did not at all look like it could have been the bullet which passed through his son’s body.

Before viewing the CNN video, here are the two relevant stills:

1. Was the “bullet” recovered?

First, at 3:22 of the clip, here’s the bullet produced by the victim’s father which he claimed killed his son:

CNN Betunia Bullet

However, as Vic Rosenthal noted after consulting a firearms expert:

The bullet that the father of the victim said had been removed from the backpack was a 5.56 mm bullet such as is used by the IDF. But it was only slightly deformed. If it had passed through a person’s chest and then was stopped by books in a backpack, it would have been completely crushed. “That bullet looks like it was fired into sand,” the expert said.

Additionally, as CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile noted:

Appearing [yesterday] on Israel’s Channel Two, [Israeli weapons expert] Yosef Yekutiel stated that if the bullet actually went through the victim’s body the way Palestinian doctors say it did, it would look entirely differently from the one displayed by the boy’s father.

2. Did Israelis use live-fire or non-lethal rubber bullets on rioters?

Here’s a still (at 1:53 of the video) of the Israelis who were allegedly firing at one of the Palestinians who was killed:

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Firearms experts cited by Vic Rosenthal, experts consulted by Israeli Channel 2 and others have noted that the weapon used by soldier in the clip clearly appears to have the rubber bullet extension by virtue of the thickening in the barrel (again suggesting that they couldn’t have used live fire). Additionally, the “manner in which the victims fell, the absence of blood at the scene, and the lack of entry or exit wounds”, experts have noted, are all inconsistent with being shot with live ammunition.

Here’s the CNN video in question.

Here’s the video (edited and uploaded by Elder of Ziyon with translation assistance from CiF Watch) of the Israeli TV (Channel  2) analysis referenced by Dexter Van Zile and Vic Rosenthal:

 

One big question remains that those accepting the Guardian/ MSM narrative of the shooting must answer:

How can they assert that live fire was used by Israeli soldiers when NO evidence has emerged to buttress this claim, and when all the evidence to date suggests that only rubber bullets were used – non-lethal fire which couldn’t have caused the damage claimed?

Further, if no live fire was used by Israeli forces, the narrative advanced by Palestinians and their media supporters is almost fatally undermined.

Whilst it’s too soon to say if this is an instance of lethal journalism in the spirit of Al Durah‘, the failure of journalists like Beaumont to ask important questions about the shooting suggests that, once again, the bulk of the work in critically examining Palestinian claims will fall on media watchdog groups, citizen journalists and analysts not compromised by the pack mentality and the immediate presumption of Israeli guilt.

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Fighting back against disruptions of Israeli performances and lectures in the UK

A guest post by Jonathan  D.C. Turner, Chair of UK Lawyers for Israel

As many readers will know, performances and lectures by Israelis in the UK have frequently been disrupted in recent years. In one serious example, a concert by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall was interrupted by shouting and singing to such an extent that a simultaneous broadcast on BBC Radio 3 was taken off-air.

Videos show the threatening atmosphere and the risk of a serious breakdown of order which could have resulted in mass casualties and this was also confirmed by eye-witness accounts.

 

A BBC report quoted Theartsdesk.com music reviewer:

“The whole hall was groaning and trying to slow clap them out. It had the atmosphere of a riot”.

Another eye-witness wrote:

“This created a most tense and hostile atmosphere throughout the several disruptions. Each time the chanting and shouting broke out, my eleven-year-old grandson became very upset, and kept saying he wanted to go home. The reaction of the vast majority of music-lovers, who wanted to hear the music in peace, created an understandable sense of frustration and anger throughout the Hall and posed a significant threat to public order. From where I was sitting in the circle, it occurred to me how easily an enraged member of the audience could have pushed one or more of those protesting in the front row over the balcony.”

Another “witnessed elderly gentlemen who wished nothing else, but to enjoy an evening of music by one of the most prominent orchestras led by its distinguished maestro, having to argue with Neanderthals to such extent that one of them felt the need to physically try to remove them from the seats resulting in slaps on the heads.” Another “felt extremely intimidated by the whole experience”.

Performances by the Jerusalem Quartet, Batsheva and Habima have also been disrupted, as have lectures by the Israeli Ambassador, HE Daniel Taub; the former Deputy Ambassador, Talya Lador-Fresher; and law lecturer Solon Solomon.

The problem is not confined to Israelis. Other victims have included Mohamed El-Nabawy, whose lecture on the challenges faced by Egypt to a meeting of the SOAS Palestinian Society was stormed by Muslim Brotherhood thugs; David Willetts MP, talking to students at Cambridge; and Professor Alex Callinicos, whose lecture at Warwick University was abandoned due to disruption by an unusual combination of neo-Nazis and feminists.

Those who wish to criticise Israel or anyone else have an important right of freedom of expression. However, when they disrupt performances and lectures by others, they are interfering with the freedom of expression of those performers and speakers, and the rights of those who wish to hear them. Preventing such disruption is not abridging freedom of expression; it is protecting it.
But can anything be done about it?

Disrupting a performance or lecture in the UK is normally a criminal offence, called “aggravated trespass”. This offence is committed when a trespasser carries out acts intended to disrupt a lawful activity. Even if the disrupters had tickets to the performance or lecture, they are trespassers because they are admitted to hear and watch, not to disrupt.

However, prosecutions are rare. The Police have other things to do and limited budgets. They also take the view that they should not prosecute unless requested by the “victim”, and seem to think that the victim is the owner of the premises, not the audience, performers or speaker. In practice, owners are usually not too concerned: they simply avoid similar bookings in future, which achieves the objective of the disrupters.

Private prosecutions are difficult and onerous. The elements of the offence have to be proved to the criminal standard and in accordance with criminal procedures, resulting in disproportionate expense.

Civil remedies are also problematic. Owners of venues could sue for trespass but in practice they are not sufficiently interested.

Members of the audience, performers and speakers do not appear to have any right of action in civil proceedings against the disrupters. They cannot claim for causing loss by unlawful means, because the House of Lords has held that the unlawful means must interfere with the freedom of a third-party to deal with them. Nor can they claim for conspiracy to cause loss by unlawful means, even if there was (and they can prove) a conspiracy, since the authorities appear to say that the loss must be financial, rather than loss of enjoyment or damage to feelings. Nor can they argue that the disrupters have procured a breach of their contracts, because their contracts have not been broken.

In these circumstances, the disrupters rightly reckon that they will not be called to account, and so they continue.

However, there is a simple answer which UK Lawyers for Israel is urging the UK Parliament to adopt: a three-line amendment to give those affected by an aggravated trespass a civil right of action for damages and an injunction. If this is passed, it will be possible for members of the audience, performers and speakers to bring straightforward claims against disrupters in the small claims court.

To be sure, some of the disrupters live on benefits and think they have nothing to lose. But others do have jobs and money, and will think twice if they have to pay several hundred pounds compensation in total to a number of those affected.

Government ministers have said that this amendment will not add to the existing remedies. They are wrong, for the reasons summarised above. And even if they are right, the amendment will do no harm; it will merely add three lines to the many extant volumes of UK legislation confirming the rights of those affected to bring civil claims against those who disrupt performances and lectures.

Readers who wish to support this amendment should contact their MPs.

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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:

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 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:

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

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 ‘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.

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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 Palestinian extremism 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.