Who are the extremists? Jews praying at their holiest site, or Muslims objecting to peaceful Jewish prayer?

The following passage about violence in Jerusalem and recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, in an article by John Reed in the Financial Times (Arab-Israel tensions: Jerusalem tales, Dec. 16th), is quite typical of the disinformation about Jerusalem that passes for serious news within much of the British media. 

Jewish settlers, who get political and financial support from the Israeli state, believe they are reclaiming property inscribed as theirs in history and scripture. Silwan’s overwhelmingly Arab residents see the arrival of the settlers as a form of forceful colonisation, a view shared by Israelis who oppose the settlements. The influx has inflamed emotions among Palestinians already on the defensive from some Israeli rightwingers’ demands for the right to pray at al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site, and a place reserved for Muslim worship since Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the six-day war.

“We are not against Jews,” says Umm Mohammad, voicing the belief that the three monotheistic faiths’ adherents can live in peace. But she says “al-Aqsa is a sacred place — it’s where the Prophet Mohammed went up to heaven.

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Guardian/AP omits ‘minor’ detail in story: An alleged Palestinian plot to kill Obama

The Guardian tradition of tendentious, misleading editing in stories involving Israelis and Palestinians is again revealed in a comparison between a Dec. 9th Associated Press (AP) story on an American Christian indicted in Israel on charges of trying to blow up Muslim holy sites, and the Guardian version of that same story. 

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Guardian photo revisits unproven allegations against Israel in UN school deaths

On Dec 8th the Guardian published its entries for their Photographer of the year for 2014, a list which included the following truly heartbreaking photo by Mahmud Hams:

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However, despite the caption’s claim, it’s far from certain that 15 Palestinian civilians (including the girl pictured in the AFP photo) were in fact killed – at a UN school in the Gaza city of Beit Hanoun – by an Israeli tank shell on the day in question.

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How Israel “incarcerates” Christian Bethlehem – a Guardian Production

In 2012, CAMERA refuted an egregiously propagandistic 60 Minutes report by Bob Simon, which included the assertion that Israel’s security barrier “completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the ‘little town’ where Christ was born into what its residents call ‘an open air prison.’”  As CAMERA demonstrated (citing maps by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations, B’tselem, and the PLO), the  barrier is located to the north and west of the city, and does not encircle the town.

While such details about the fence – constructed to protect Israel’s citizens from waves of deadly suicide bombings in the early 2000s – may seem like a somewhat minor point, such agitprop evoking a Christian holy city encircled and besieged by the Jewish State is something of a Christmas tradition within much of the media. 

Though last year during Christmas it was Times of London which lamented the “settlement’s which choke the peace in tiny Bethlehem”,  in years prior it was the Guardian which intoned that ‘If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed’.

This year, the Guardian has re-introduced readers to the ‘imprisoned’ town, publishing two articles (and a video story) which center around a documentary by Palestinian director Leila Sansour titled Open Bethlehem.

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British newspaper amplifies extremist message of Israel’s Islamic Movement

Up until now, the most egregious distortion, within the UK media’s coverage of the proposed ‘Jewish nation-state’ legislation, was represented by Times of London headlines suggesting that the law, if passed, would render Arab-Israelis “second-class citizens”.  

Through communication with Times of London editors, they agreed to add quotes around the term “second-class citizens” to reflect the fact that that charge merely represents the hyperbole of a few political figures in expressing their opposition to the law. (See this good backgrounder on the proposed bill, which would not erode the individual rights of non-Jews in Israel, yet alone result in ‘transfer’.)

However, the British newspaper The Telegraph has published an even more inflammatory and misleading article on the possible ramifications of the proposed law (Meet the Arab-Israelis living in fear of expulsion, Dec. 1). The article, written by their Middle East correspondent Robert Tait, amplifies the ludicrous charge by some Arab extremists that the legislation would result in the forced expulsion of Arab-Israelis.

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Israel is the only state favoring one religious tradition…except for all the others

If the Guardian or New York Times published a long essay about some tiny, obscure indigenous tribe in Africa with a language, culture, and religious tradition unique in the region, whose history extends several thousand years and was threatened with extinction, readers would almost certainly lament their plight.  Further, it certainly seems unlikely that many readers would challenge the tribe’s vigilance in protecting its ancient traditions, or its fierce desire to prevent the erosion of their unique religious-ethnic identity. 

Though this blog has been dealing of late with the specific false charge legitimized by Times of London that the new ‘Jewish nation-state bill’ proposed by Israel’s government will render non-Jews “second class citizens”, the broader debate about Israel’s right to identify with a specific religious tradition is the subtext underlying many online debates about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Whilst it seems beyond debate that Arab-Israelis – whether or not the current bill passes the Knesset – will continue to enjoy the kind of democratic political rights that their ethnic brethren in the region could only dream of, the debate over Israel’s Jewish ethos is often clouded by the implicit suggestion that the rest of the world has moved away from such particularistic notions of statehood.

This is not true.

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The pen is mightier than the sword: A Jerusalem event for pro-Israel activists

On Dec. 10th, CAMERA will be hosting a workshop in Jerusalem for activists who wish to hone their skills in countering and correcting biased media coverage of Israel.  Advanced registration is required, and can be completed here.

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Indy buries the lead on Arab Jerusalemite support for synagogue massacre

The mayor of Ashkelon is already backtracking, after rightfully coming under fire from politicians across the political spectrum, from his pledge to fire Arab workers installing bomb shelters in city kindergartens.  Mayor Itamar Shimoni, who issued the threat after Tuesday’s deadly terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, admitted his decision was “disproportionate”, and that he has agreed to allow Arab laborers to continue working at the sites.

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Cover of Israel newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth the day following the synagogue massacre

 

Though Ben Lynfield’s report on the row in The Independent, titled, ‘Synagogue attack: Israeli mayor accused of racism after suspending 30 Arab workers for ‘security’ reasons‘, was straight forward enough, there was an extraordinary sentence buried without comment in the second paragraph:

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CiF Watch prompts correction to false claim that Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site

An Oct. 23, 2013 story in The Telegraph by Dina Rickman titled ‘Meet the Women of the Wall: Israel’s answer to Pussy Riot included the claim that the Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism. 

Later that day, we contacted Telegraph editors and alerted them to the mistake.

We demonstrated that the Temple Mount (where the First and Second Temples stood) is in fact the holiest site in Judaism, while the Western Wall (The Kotel) is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray.  We forwarded them information relating to other news sites which corrected their original false claims about the Western Wall (many of which were prompted by communications with CAMERA), as well as a 2008 BBC correction to their false claim.

Telegraph editors responded positively to our complaint, informing us that they had corrected the piece accordingly, noting that the Western Wall is merely “the holiest site in the Jewish world where Jews are permitted to pray”.

Unfortunately, The Telegraph published an article just yesterday with another false claim about the the Western Wall.

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Economist refers to Jews wanting to pray at the Temple Mount as “militants”

In a great example of the media’s use of language to blur moral differences within the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Economist expanded the common understanding of the word “militant” – a word fancied by those fearing “terrorist” is too judgmental a term for those committing violence for political ends – to include Jews wanting to peacefully pray at Judaism’s holiest site.

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From left to right per The Economist: Palestinian militants, and Jewish militants

An article published on Nov. 17th titled ‘The trouble at the Mountincluded the following passage:

THE Temple Mount in Jerusalem is one of the world’s most explosive bits of real-estate. It has started to rumble again in recent weeks, with demands by Jewish militants to extend prayer rights, riots by Palestinians and the killing of several Israelis in knife or car-ramming attacks.

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Former UK minister Warsi tweets ‘morally indefensible’ equivalence in Jerusalem terror attack (Update)

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was Minister of State for Faith and Communities, until her resignation after disagreeing with David Cameron’s position on the war in Gaza, a policy she described as “morally indefensible” in its support for Israel.  

The row over her resignation was widely (and quite sympathetically) covered by the Guardian. 

Here’s Warsi’s Tweet this morning in response to today’s terror attack, in which Palestinian terrorists massacred Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

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Guardian erases “Palestinians” from Reuters story on Jerusalem terror attack

At least five Israelis were killed and eight wounded Tuesday morning when Palestinian terrorists armed with knives, axes and guns began attacking Jews in a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers.  The terrorists, who were reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, were eventually shot and killed by police.

The Guardian’s first report on the incident was a Reuters story which they posted at roughly 9 AM Israeli time.

First, here’s a snapshot of the original story, as it appeared on Reuters’ website, titled ‘Up to five dead in suspected Palestinian attack on Jerusalem synagogue‘.

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However, as you can see, the Guardian’s version (Deadly attack in Jerusalem synagogue) deleted the word “Palestinian” from the headline.

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