Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent takes aim at ‘hasbara goons’

Here’s a Tweet from earlier today by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont:

Though we’re not sure what his Tweet was specifically referring to, the word ‘hasbara’ (a Hebrew word which merely means ‘explaining’) is often used by anti-Israel activists to characterize, in a pejorative manner, those who defend Israel online.

Tellingly, if you Google the term “Hasbara Goons”, the first two results show posts from the hate site, Mondoweiss.

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Interestingly, Beaumont received some flack from his swipe at pro-Israel activists, in the following replies:

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Beaumont perhaps should refer to the Guardian’s Social Media Guidelines for Journalists:

The Guardian has created a set of guidelines for staff on the use of blogging, tweeting and the use of social media in order to maintain editorial standards and help create effective communities on the web.

staff are asked to remember the former editor CP Scott’s famous dictum that “comment is free, but facts are sacred” by not blurring facts and opinions, and to exemplify the Guardian’s community standards in contributions.

The community standards, which Guardian journalists are asked to exemplify, include 10 guidelines, and summarizes their suggestions as follows:

In short:

- If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems. 
Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.

In addition to being shrill and unprofessional, it seems clear that Beaumont’s Tweet was thoroughly inconsistent with his own company’s community standards. 

Palestinian Envoy more honest than the Guardian on Hamas ‘war crimes’

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont reacted angrily to rather mild criticism directed towards him, and his paper’s coverage of the war, in a Times of Israel report by Raphael Ahern.  Beaumont protested Ahern’s piece in a series of Tweets yesterday, which included the following:

However, it’s the Guardian who has consistently be “suppressing” the news, by filing report after report on Palestinian suffering in Gaza while erasing the context of Hamas war crimes – both what the Islamist terror group commits by use of Palestinian human shields, and those committed each time they fire a rocket at Israeli civilians.

Though the media group never tires in characterizing every Jewish home built across the 1949 armistice lines as “illegal under international law” (despite the specious legal logic of such an argument), their reports which note rocket fire from terrorists in Gaza – prior to and during the current conflict – never explain to readers that each deadly projectile aimed at civilians is “illegal under international law”, and constitutes a war crime. 

Interestingly, the Palestinian Envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khreishesh, was much more honest during an interview on Palestinian Authority TV on July 9th, per a clip translated by MEMRI. 

 

Since 2005 – the year Israel evacuated every last Jew from the coastal strip – more than 8,000 rockets have been fired by Gaza terrorists at residential communities in Israel.  Thus, as the Palestinian Envoy himself acknowledged, each and every such attack represents a war crime – an uncontroversial fact which the Guardian continues to ‘suppress’.  

 

UK journo uses subjective word ‘terrorist’ for Jews, but not for Hamas

The Independent doesn’t appear to have a permanent Israel correspondent in the region anymore, but often employs the services of a freelance journalist named Ben Lynfield, who took it upon himself to pen an op-ed at the paper on July 8th (Conflict – a weapon for Hamas in its fight for survival).

Whilst the op-ed itself – which attempts to explain the cause of the current war between Israel and Hamas – is largely unproblematic, his piece included one telling omission, an obfuscation, and an inconsistent use of the word “terrorist”.

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Here’s the omission and obfuscation:

Lynfield:

Today’s devastating Israeli strikes on Gaza and Palestinian rocket fire at Israel have their roots as a spin-off from Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in the West Bank, where Israel responded to the kidnapping of three teenagers, which it blamed on Hamas (without proof) with a military operation in which Hamas’s West Bank civilian infrastructure was targeted and hundreds of its members arrested. Six Palestinians were killed.

Though Israel didn’t release proof of Hamas’s involvement in the abduction to the media, US security officials who were given the evidence (since one of the Israeli teens had American citizenship) confirmed that there is “strong evidence that Hamas is culpable”. 

Additionally, it’s quite interesting that Lynfield failed to note that the teens were murdered, and not merely kidnapped. 

Now, for the selective use of a ‘loaded’ term:

As we’ve noted, UK news sites like the Indy almost never use the term “terrorist” when characterizing Hamas or other Palestinian groups who murder Israelis ‘in the pursuit of political aims’ – opting instead for the ‘less judgmental’ word “militant”.   And, in fact, nowhere in his op-ed does Lynfield use the word “terrorist” (or, interestingly, even “militant”) to describe ‘Hamas’, even though the Islamist group is considered a “terrorist” group by most of the West. 

However, he did make the decision to use the term in another context.

Lynfield:

Another motive [for Hamas] is that it wants to appear as defender of the Palestinian people against Israeli actions, including the murder of a teenager by terrorists in Jerusalem.

While nobody denies that the Jews who murdered Mohammed Abu Khdeir are cold-blooded terrorists, it’s interesting that Lynfield reserved that term only for Jewish killers, and not for a group which openly targets civilians for mass murder –  part of a disturbing ideological proclivity (within the UK opinion elite) to impute moral equivalence between a progressive Jewish democracy and reactionary Islamist extremists.

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.

UK media report 200 Israelis chanting racist slogans, but fail to cover 1,000 at peace rally

Since the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaar were buried in a Modi’in cemetery on Tuesday, UK media coverage has pivoted from some degree of sympathy towards the victims and their families to more familiar territory – obsessive focus on reports of Israeli vengeance, racism and intolerance.  

Thus, though support for the terrorist kidnappers/murderers expressed by many Palestinians during the 18 day ordeal was (to the best of our knowledge) not mentioned by any of the major UK dailies, multiple news outlets have subsequently seen fit to report every Israeli expression of intolerance towards Arabs since the teens’ bullet-ridden bodies were discovered near Hebron.

A perfect example of this skewed coverage can be found by comparing ubiquitous reports on a march by a couple of hundred racist Israelis in Jerusalem on Tuesday, who chanted hateful slogans, including ‘death to Arabs’, vs the absence of any coverage devoted to the pro-peace, pro-tolerance rally held the following day in the Israeli capital. Here are the relevant passages from UK media reports about the racist march. Guardian, July 2: (‘Live Blog’ edited by Matthew Weaver)

Gangs of right wing Israelis have been chanting “death to the Arabs” in the wake of the killing of the three teenagers, Footage has emerged of Israeli youth chanting in Hebrew “death to the Arabs” following the killing of the three teenagers.

Telegraph, July 3 (AFP)

After the three were buried on Tuesday, more than 200 Israeli extremists rampaged through Jerusalem, dragging people out of cars and chanting “Death to Arabs”.

Times of London, July 2 (Catherine Philp)

In Jerusalem, several hundred right-wing Israeli youths, many of them skullcap-wearing Orthodox Jews, shouted for revenge as they marched through the city.

Independent, July 1 (Ben Lynfield)

In Jerusalem, a demonstration organised by anti-Arab activists that drew hundreds turned violent.

Financial Times, July 2 (Joel Greenberg)

On Tuesday night, crowds of militant Jewish youths rampaged through the centre of Jerusalem, shouting “Death to Arabs” and assaulting Palestinian workers in the area.

However, UK media sites have thus far failed to report the pro-tolerance rally last night in Kikar Hahatulot in Jerusalem which drew up to a thousand Israelis who were attempting to undo the damage of the anti-Arab rally a night earlier.   Here are a few photos of the event, which this writer attended. first 2 3

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Chaim Herzog, center

The rally included politicians (including Labor Party Chairman Chaim Herzog, seen below), public figures, Rabbis and (mostly) ordinary citizens.

We’ll update this post if UK media sites subsequently do file reports on the pro-peace event. 

CiF Watch prompts improved Indy headline in story of murdered Palestinian

Earlier, we came across an Indy headline in a report about the Palestinian riots taking place in east Jerusalem over the death of a Palestinian teen who many believe may have been the victim of a revenge attack. (Note, Elder of Ziyon and Harry’s Place also posted on this earlier.)

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We then emailed Indy editors to ask about the strange wording.  Specifically, we asked if the first three words (Israel murdered teenagers) indicate the topic of the article, as in “regarding the murdered Israeli teenagers…”, or, rather, if it was supposed to support the theory that the Palestinian teen in question – 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir – was in fact murdered by an Israeli in a nationalist attack.

An Indy editor replied and told us that it was meant to convey the former, and wasn’t intended to suggest that the Palestinian was definitely killed in a revenge attack by an Israeli. 

Then, Elder noted that that they tweaked the headline to this, merely changing “Israel” to “Israeli”, and making it equally unclear.

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More recently, they changed it again, to something more understandable. 

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Whilst UK media coverage of the Palestinian teen’s death has thus far been extremely one-sided in embracing the yet unproven theory that he was murdered in revenge, we’re at least glad that the Indy headline in question no longer suggests that this is a proven fact. 

Update: Harry’s Place also contacted Indy editors over the original headline.

If Palestinians don’t respect 6 million murdered Jews, how can they co-exist with 6 million living ones?

UK media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict typically imputes good faith to Palestinians – operating under the premise that most truly want a peaceful resolution with the Jewish State.

However, what if this assumption is misplaced?  

How would media coverage of  boycotts, lawfare and other forms of Palestinian ‘resistance‘ change if journalists took seriously the possibility that the Palestinians’ end goal was not to live in peace with their neighbors, but, rather, perpetual war, the only desirable end result being the elimination of the Jewish state?

Well, an independent Catholic news site asked that very question (Do Palestinians Want Peace?, June 19), in the context of linking to a Guardian report by their Middle East editor Ian Black about the forced resignation of a Palestinian professor who led a group of his students on a trip to Auschwitz.

Black – as Guardian editors are wont to do – framed the depressing episode, in which a Palestinian professor was vilified for merely attempting to evoke sympathy amongst Palestinians for Jewish victims of Hitler’s genocide, as a story of ‘competing narratives of victimization.

Black:

Dajani resigned from his post at Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University this week after failing to win the unequivocal support of his employers in a row which highlighted the darkest taboos of the conflict with Israel and each side’s enduring sense of victimhood.

The visit to the concentration camp was part of a project to study the Holocaust and teach tolerance and empathy. “It is about understanding the other,” Dajani told the Guardian during a conference in the Qatari capital, Doha. “You need to understand the other because reconciliation is the only option we have. And the sooner we do it the better. Empathising with your enemy does not mean you sanction what your enemy is doing to you.”

Organised in conjunction with three other universities, one German and two Israeli, the project also arranged for Israeli students to meet Palestinians living in refugee camps.

Dajani faced abuse, intimidation and death threats over the visit. Al-Quds dissociated itself from the project but defended his right to be involved. It insisted he had not been dismissed and supplied him with bodyguards. But in the end it accepted his resignation.

Implacable in the face of the uproar, he rejected accusations that he intended to promote the Zionist narrative of the conflict rather than respecting the primacy of the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic) – the flight, expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that was the price of Israel’s independence in 1948.

Black then adds his own spin:

Propaganda that conflates antisemitism with opposition to Israel has also played a role. Israel’s foreign minister, Abba Eban, famously talked about the country’s “Auschwitz borders”. Menachem Begin, the prime minister who invaded Lebanon in 1982, described Arafat “cowering in his bunker” in Beirut like Hitler in Berlin.

Indeed, it’s the line about ‘conflating antisemitism with opposition to Israel’ where Black loses the plot and promotes the Guardian narrative – one which suggests that Jews cry antisemitism in the face of ‘mere’ anti-Zionism, or, in its more troubling form, that Jews cry antisemitism with the cynical intent of deflecting criticism of Israeli policies (The Livingstone Formulation).

However, a more holistic understanding of Palestinian attitudes – one which takes into account empirical data on Palestinian attitudes about Jews and Israel – would lead those not swayed by such pronounced ideological biases to contextualize the Palestinians’ “resistance” to Holocaust education in a much different way.  

We’re alluding to a recent survey commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League demonstrating that Palestinians have the highest rates of antisemitic attitudes in the world – a survey consistent with polls about antisemitism conducted in previous years by Pew Global .

Here are the highlights from the ADL survey which, let’s remember, did NOT ask any questions about Palestinian attitudes about Israeli policy:

  • 88% of Palestinians believe Jews have too much control over global affairs.
  • 88% of Palestinians believe that Jews have too much control over the global media
  • 78% of Palestinians believe that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.

But, perhaps most troubling – even worse than the belief that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars (an attitude consistent with libels found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) – is the following:

  • 87% of Palestinians believe that people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.

Of course, on one hand, it likely stands to reason that those who believe that Jews control the world would justify ‘hatred of Jews’ by explaining it as a rational reaction to Jewish villainy.  However, there’s a more important point about the 87% of Palestinians who believe that Jews are hated because of the way Jews behave, one which relates to Black’s article about Palestinian rejection of the ‘Holocaust narrative’.

Even the most parve forms of Holocaust education begin with the premise that 6 million murdered Jews were innocent victims of a grotesque manifestation of anti-Jewish racism, and that there is no justification whatsoever for the crimes committed in the name of Nazi ideology.

So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Palestinians – who believe, per the poll results, that their own acceptance of historic antisemitic canards about Jewish perfidy is justified as a rational response to Jewish behavior – would reject efforts to encourage them to accept a Holocaust ‘narrative’ premised on Jewish innocence.

The manner in which Palestinians relate to the Holocaust has significance for those who wish to understand Israelis’ nuanced views of efforts to achieve a two state solution.  Though the overwhelming majority of Israelis accept in principle a two-state solution, most are also skeptical, in light of the persistent problem of Palestinian incitement, terror glorification and antisemitism, that two states will actually result in peace.

Even if a treaty is signed by the two parties, why are we expected to possess confidence that Palestinians will stop inculcating their children with the values of resistance, and truly see the agreement as a final end to all historical claims?

Finally, what, in light of the Palestinian rejection of even the most benign efforts to humanize six million murdered Jews, should provide us with hope that a piece of paper signed by Palestinian leaders will actually result, after seven decades of hostility, in a diminution of Palestinians antipathy towards the Jewish other, and create a society which humanizes – and accepts the existence of – six million living Jews?

Whilst it is perhaps not surprising that UK journalists – those with the luxury of dealing with such matters as amorphous political abstractions –  uniformly ignore such questions, those of us who will have to live the real-world consequences of Palestinian sovereignty cannot breezily dismiss this seemingly immutable Palestinian enmity, nor allow ourselves to be seduced by the chimera of peace.

Disputed legal territory: Guardian assails Australia’s right to dissent on Jerusalem

h/t to international law expert, Eugene Kontorovich 

Though Guardian contributors often complain that pro-Israel forces instill a ‘enforced orthodoxy‘ over the debate about Israel in the media and in Western capitals, they suddenly lose their passion for dissent when encountering views at odds with the Palestinian narrative on the disputed territories in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Thus, shortly after the Australian Attorney General issued a statement declaring that the government would no longer refer to east Jerusalem as “occupied” – arguing that the term is “freighted with pejorative implications” – the Guardian published their predictable denunciation in the form of an op-ed by a lawyer (and anti-Israel campaigner) named Ben Saul.

Saul begins by complaining that “Australia’s new view” on Jerusalem “corrodes the international rule of law and violates Australia’s international law obligations”. He then cites international legal conclusions which purportedly back up the claim that east Jerusalem is “occupied” – including the 2004 opinion of International Court of Justice (ICJ), which he even acknowledges was only an ‘advisory’ opinion – and therefore is not binding on Israel, let alone Australia.

Further, despite their position on east Jerusalem, Australia’s policy vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has not undergone a substantive change.  They merely decided to avoid using a term they believe is unhelpful in the context of efforts to reach a two state solution. As Australia’s Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, explained (per an article by Yair Rosenberg at Tablet) in response to questions about the Attorney General’s decision, “the government’s policy hasn’t changed at all”. Sharma also noted that the Australian position is still that “final status issues as identified by Oslo—and that includes the status of Jerusalem, borders, right of return—are all amenable only to political negotiations and a political solution”.    

Rosenberg summed it up thusly: In other words, Australia’s policy is not intended to endorse one side over the other, but rather to maintain neutrality and avoid prejudging the outcome of negotiations.

Later in his Guardian op-ed, Saul misrepresents a key element of the history of the city.

In the 1967 war, Israel displaced prior Jordanian control over east Jerusalem. Jordan’s claim was contested by Israel. Jordan’s claim was contested by Israel. Jordan later renounced its claim in favour of the Palestinian right of self-determination.

However, his claim that Jordan’s legal claim on east Jerusalem “was contested by Israel” is extraordinarily misleading.  In fact, their annexation of east Jerusalem was universally rejected by the international community, with the lone exception of Pakistan (Great Britain accepted the annexation of the West Bank, but not east Jerusalem).  Also of interest, though almost every country in the world refused to recognize Jordanian sovereignty over Jerusalem, we could find no evidence than any country officially referred to it – between 1949 and 1967 – as “occupied”.

Further, it is not true, as Saul claims, that Jordan renounced claims to east Jerusalem “in favour of the Palestinian right of self-determination“.  In fact, Article III of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty states the following:

The boundary, as set out in Annex I (a), is the permanent, secure and recognised international boundary between Israel and Jordan, without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.

Saul then proceeds to an even more egregious distortion:

Australia’s position therefore dangerously signals that Palestinians living in east Jerusalem no longer enjoy the protection of humanitarian law, but are subject only to Israel’s wishes.

Naturally, he fails to note that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in east Jerusalem are permanent residents of Israel, and are thus entitled to all the rights provided to Israeli citizens – including legal and judicial protections – with the exception of the right to vote in general elections. (They do vote, however, in municipal elections.)  Saul’s claim that Australia’s position “signals to Palestinians” in east Jerusalem that they don’t enjoy humanitarian protections is just absurd, and not at all supported by the facts.

Saul continues with the familiar refrain that “most of the settlements violate article 49 of the Geneva conventions“, a claim contradicted by hundreds of jurists and ambassadors, including International lawyer Prof. Eugene V. Rostow and Ambassador Morris Abram, a member of the U.S. staff at the Nuremberg Tribunal who was later involved in the drafting of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  

Abram stated:

[The Convention] was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but rather the forcible transfer, deportation or resettlement of large numbers of people.

Later in his op-ed, Saul makes a bizarre logical leap:

Australia’s refusal to call the occupation for what it is necessarily endorses Israeli’s illegal acquisition of territory by force.

As we noted earlier, Australia’s position on the future status of the disputed territories “has not changed at all”. They certainly have not – in fact or in effect – ‘endorsed’ Israel’s “acquisition” of territory in Judea and Samaria, and east Jerusalem.

Finally, the mere fact that Saul and others might claim that calling Jerusalem “occupied” represents the “near-universal legal status quo” does not make it so. First, the term itself is generally “used in international law to denote the presence of one country in sovereign territory that belongs to another”.  

Additionally, Israel is the only recognized nation with a legitimate claim to the West Bank (including Jerusalem) – territory which was, for hundreds of years, until the end of World War I, the equivalent of a province in the Ottoman Empire. The territory never had any unique national standing other than as the future Jewish national homeland as stipulated by the League of Nations.

As Roslyn Pine argued on these pages:

Israel’s sovereignty and legitimacy in international law derives from the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920 (recognising the Balfour Declaration), as does that of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, following the WWI settlement. It was supplemented by the Mandate for Palestine of July 1922, and the Franco British Boundary Convention of December 1920.

Jewish national rights accorded by these agreements have never been abrogated and are indeed binding to the present day.

Thus, while the status of east Jerusalem (which, let’s recall, includes the ancient Jewish quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall, the holiest site at which Jews are permitted to pray) is disputed, it is not accurate to affirm – as if there is no legal debate on the matter – that is “occupied”. 

A perfect illustration of how the PA fools the UK media into believing they’re ‘pro-peace’

The double standards employed by foreign journalists when covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict are especially egregious in the context of terms used to characterize the two governments.  For instance, while the Guardian has described Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party as an “extreme rightwing nationalist party, the antisemitic terror group Hamas has been characterized by the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent on multiple occasions as merely “conservative“, and an official Guardian editorial claimed that PA President Abbas is a “leading moderate“.

Indeed, in order to maintain the edifice of moderation, Abbas and his PA ministers routinely perform a simple trick: engage in antisemitic, pro-violence, extremist rhetoric in Arabic to their own people, while feigning ‘moderation’ and pro-peace politics in English when speaking to Western audiences.  However, for this to work, foreign journalists must play their part when reporting the words and deeds of Palestinian leaders: suspending their normal skepticism and failing to employ the critical scrutiny which Israelis are routinely subjected to.

A perfect example of this dynamic – in which Palestinian hypocrisy almost certainly won’t be reported by the UK media – can be found in a report today at Media Line titled “Senior Palestinian Official Lashes Out at Hamas Encouragement of Violence“.

A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian leadership rejects any efforts to teach a culture of violence to Palestinian children. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs was responding to a report on Israel’s Channel 2 on a Hamas rally in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

In the video, Palestinian boys, some of them wearing black ski masks, carried toy guns and waved the Islamist group’s green and white flag. One boy said he wanted to become a “martyr” and take revenge on Israeli soldiers for killing his uncle. Other boys said they wanted to “resist” Israeli control of “Palestine.”

“It will be very dangerous to allow any party to educate the children according to the ideology of this party (Hamas),” Al-Habbash told The Media Line. “The children must be educated according to the Palestinian culture, Palestinian understanding, and Palestinian heritage without any relation to violence.”

Al-Habbash went on to explain that Islam is a peaceful religion in dialogue with all peoples. “We reject violence against anybody, against Muslims, against Christians, against Jews, against anybody in the world,

Wonderful, isn’t it?  Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the PA minister of Religious Affairs, has come out strongly and unequivocally against Hamas-style violence and incitement.

Except that, well, that doesn’t seem to accurately represent  Al-Habbash’s true views – as we revealed in a post back in February.

Here’s Al-Habbash saying something very different about violence – in Arabic of course – in front of an audience which included President Abbas:

Whoever wants resistance, whoever wants Jihad, the direction for Jihad is well-known and clear… Those who send young people to Syria or elsewhere to die for a misdirected cause must stop and understand that Jerusalem is still waiting. Jerusalem is the direction, Jerusalem is the address

Here’s the video:

Additionally, Palestinian Media Watch also recently reported that in another speech where Abbas was present, “Al-Habbash said that the PA’s negotiations with Israel are modeled after the Hudaybiyyah agreement between Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and the tribes of Mecca, and explained that Muhammad signed a 10-year truce, yet two years later conquered Mecca”.

Here’s the video:

To recap: The PA Minister of Religious Affairs was quoted recently in English criticizing violence and incitement and supporting peace.  However, several months ago, in two separate speeches in Arabic, he called for terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and explained – as did Yasser Arafat before him – that the PA’s putative entreaties for peace are merely tactical decisions with the ultimate aim of vanquishing their Israeli ‘peace partners’.  

As Jennifer Dyer, a retired US Naval intelligence officer, explained: “A treaty of Hudaybiyyah is an agreement you break as soon as you’re able to.  Its function is to constrain the other party and buy time for you”.

Of course, the chances the UK media will call out the Palestinians in their double-talk are close to zero. 

However, this isn’t merely about the dishonesty of one PA minister.  Such revelations about the PA’s true agenda (along with the consequences of recent ‘land for peace’ policies in Gaza and S. Lebanon) help explain Israeli skepticism that even the most generous and equitable two-state agreement will actually lead to a genuine peace, in which Palestinians ‘drop all historical claims’, lay down their armaments of terror, and nurture a culture of tolerance.  

Journalists reporting  about the peace process who claim the mantle of professionalism simply can not continue to wax eloquently on the ‘provocation’ of Israeli settlements while feigning ignorance about the injurious impact to the peace process of such egregious examples of Palestinian duplicity.

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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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Vatican contradicts Guardian’s claim about pope’s visit to terror memorial

On May 26th we posted about a report by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont which characterized the pope’s visit to a Jerusalem memorial to Israeli terror victims “as an attempt to appease his Israeli hosts“.  

headlineHere are the relevant passages:

Pope Francis has deviated from his itinerary for his tour of the Holy Land for the second time in two days – this time to visit a memorial to Israeli victims of terrorism.

The surprise addition on Monday was made at the request of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and was interpreted as an attempt to appease his Israeli hosts after his surprise decision to pray at the controversial Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem the day before.

Interestingly, however, his narrative was undermined by the Vatican itself.

The Catholic News Agency, in a report titled ‘Vatican: Pope’s stop at terror memorial not a political move‘, May 26, specifically addressed the Guardian’s claim:

Amid claims that Pope Francis’ unscheduled stop at an Israeli memorial for terrorist victims was made under pressure to appease government officials, the Holy See has said that the rumors are false.

Stating that he “was not surprised” by the negative reactions some have had toward the Pope’s stop, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained to journalists May 26 that the visit “was against terrorism and nothing else.”

The report continued:

According to the U.K. newspaper the Guardian, the stop was done at the prime minister’s request, and has been seen by some as an attempt to appease Israeli authorities following the Pope’s impromptu visit to the separation wall diving Israel and Palestine yesterday ahead of his Mass in Bethlehem.

Despite the fact that some suggest the Pope was pressured into making the stop, Fr. Lombardi assured that he has “no political agenda.”

Whilst Beaumont didn’t bother to note who precisely “interpreted” the pope’s visit to the terror memorial as an act of “appeasement, it seems that the visit likely represented a simple acknowledgement that though the security fence ‘represents a symbol division‘, its construction was motivated by the moral desire to save innocent lives from the onslaught of terror – Palestinian attacks which the pope characterized (in his remarks that day) as “absolute evil“.

Though a Vatican spokesman clearly explained to foreign journalists like Beaumont that the pope’s visit to the memorial “was against terrorism and nothing else“, as we’ve demonstrated continually, when there’s a competition between soberly reporting the facts and advancing the Guardian narrative, the latter will win out almost every time. 

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At the Guardian, Pope Francis morphs from ‘independent’ to an ‘appeaser’ in 24 hours

On Sunday, May 25, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont framed Pope Francis’s unscheduled stop at Israel’s security fence in Bethlehem as a confirmation of his “determined independence“.

It is an image that will define Pope Francis‘s first official visit to the Holy Land. Head bowed in prayer, the leader of the Catholic church pressed his palm against the graffiti-covered concrete of Israel‘s imposing “separation wall”, a Palestinian girl holding a flag by his side. It was, as his aides conceded later, a silent statement against a symbol of division and conflict.

The powerful gesture was made minutes after an appeal to both sides to end a conflict that the pope said was “increasingly unacceptable”. The unscheduled, conspicuous stop halfway through his three-day visit to the Holy Land – made en route to an open-air mass in Manger Square, Bethlehem – confirmed Francis’s reputation for determined independence.

On Monday, May 26, Beaumont reported on the pope’s visit to a Jerusalem memorial to Israeli victims of terrorism, an apparently unscheduled stop framed by Beaumont in an entirely different manner – as an attempt to “appease” his Israeli hosts:

Pope Francis has deviated from his itinerary for his tour of the Holy Land for the second time in two days – this time to visit a memorial to Israeli victims of terrorism.

The surprise addition on Monday was made at the request of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and was interpreted as an attempt to appease his Israeli hosts after his surprise decision to pray at the controversial Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem the day before.

So, to recap: the pope’s visit to a site which Palestinians seek to draw attention to is a sign of independence, while his subsequent visit to a site which Israelis seek to draw attention to is act of appeasement. 

Evidently, it didn’t occur to Beaumont that the pope’s visit to the terror memorial (a day after his visit to the security fence) likely represented an acknowledgement that though the fence causes hardships for Palestinians, its construction was motivated by the ethical imperative to save innocent lives – a decision based on moral calculus so simple that even cynical foreign journalists should understand.   

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Economist’s Nicolas Pelham continues to mislead about Christians in Israel

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Nicolas Pelham

As we’ve noted previously, a pattern in which the ongoing persecution of Christians in Muslim states is downplayed, and the freedom enjoyed by Israel’s Christian community is ignored, continues to taint UK media coverage of the Middle East, and prevents news consumers from accurately understanding the vast freedom divide in the region.

Yesterday, we cross-posted a piece by Tamar Sternthal (Director of CAMERA’s Israel office) responding to a commentary (published in Ha’aretz) by Economist journalist Nicolas Pelham (‘Christians in Israel and Palestine, May 11) which accused Israel’s lobbyists of deceiving the world about the state’s treatment of Christians.  As we noted, Pelham not only claimed that Christians are mistreated in Israel but, even more risibly, suggested that there’s something akin to harmony between Christians and Muslims in the Palestinian territories.

On the very same day the Ha’aretz piece ran, an Economist article titled Christians in Israel-Palestine: Caught in the Middle, authored by N.P. (presumably Nicolas Pelham), which continued to mislead on an issue of serious concern to millions of Christians in the world.  Pelham begins his piece by criticizing the state for the tight security planned for the Pope’s upcoming visit:

Israel is taking no chances. It is planning a strict permit regime, insisting that the Holy Father travels in an armoured car, with the public kept at arm’s length behind a security cordon. Thousands of police are to be drafted in. “The pope wants to see the people,” protests a papal spokesman. “But Christians won’t be able to see him…Israel is turning the holy sites into a military base.” 

Then, Pelham attempts to buttress his narrative by citing Israeli security procedures used during Easter celebrations in Jerusalem’s Old City last month.

Tensions rose in the Old City over Easter, as Israel’s police set quotas for access to Jesus’s burial site, the Holy Sepulchre. They issued wristbands and badges to let Christian groups through the gates of the Old City at allotted times, and set up barriers in the Christian quarter. “Move back,” Commander Golan told pilgrims, as thousands sought to attend the rite of the Holy Fire on Easter Saturday, when believers say fire erupts from Jesus’ tomb, setting thousands of church candles aflame. 

After acknowledging that Israeli security measures during Easter were effective, and that this year’s Holy Fire ceremony (at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) “flared without injury”, he then legitimizes the suggestion that there may have been special treatment for Jews during the Passover and Easter holidays.

Whereas the police held back Christian pilgrims, say the priests, the gates for Jews celebrating Passover, which coincided this year with Easter, were opened wide

However, as CAMERA senior researcher Ricki Hollander (a part-time Jerusalem resident) told us recently, security procedures during Passover for Jews were similarly stringent:

Hollander:

I and the people I was with were not allowed in to the Old City to go to the Jewish Quarter or Kotel yesterday [Saturday, April 19] afternoon during the fire ceremony. One friend I was with who lives in the Old City was prevented from returning to his house until the ceremony was over.  Another elderly friend with a cane who was prevented from entering the barriers as well.  We saw dozens of Jews being turned away. As it happens, we went to another gate and managed to take a very long way around to reach the Jewish quarter.

 Pelham then cites the recent example of UN Middle East Peace Envoy Robert Serry:

Robert Serry, a Dutch diplomat who is the UN’s Middle East envoy, whose way was briefly barred, protested against what he said was Israel’s hindrance of religious freedom. 

This is deceptive.  

As we demonstrated in a post about a Guardian story which advanced the same narrative, there was no “hindrance of religious freedom” for  Christians during Easter, and thousands of pilgrims were able to freely attend the Holy Fire ceremony (and other Easter events in the Old City) without incident.  Further, Serry was merely delayed for 30 minutes before he and his delegation were able to attend the ceremony – a delay likely based on concerns about possible trampling if too many people surged to the ceremony at the same time.

Testifying to the overall success of the day’s events, Christian officials reportedly thanked Israeli police for their professional handling of the event.  

The suggestion that there was any hindrance of Christians’ religious freedom on Easter in Jerusalem is pure fiction.

Pelham continues:

The Israelis say that the number of Christians in Israel is growing, whereas in the Palestinian territories (and elsewhere in the Arab world) it is shrinking

“Israelis say”?  Wasn’t the Economist journalist able to fact check the Israeli “claim”?

He could have of course referred to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, where he would have learned that there were approximately 34,000 Christians living in Israel in 1949, whereas 161,000 Christians were living in the state by the end of 2013.  By contrast, “Christian communities in the West Bank and Gaza”, according to a report based on statistics provided by the World Christian Database, “have been declining for several decades.”  To cite just one example, since Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007, the Christian population has reportedly shrunk by half to about 1,500. (In the mid-90s, there were reportedly 5,000 Christians in Gaza.)

Pelham ends thusly:

In a move heralded by the Israelis as encouraging the integration of Christians in Israel, the army is planning to call up young Christians. It will be voluntary, says an army spokesman, noting the endorsement of a priest in Nazareth, Father Nadav. But most churchmen have condemned the move, saying it will sow sectarian strife between Israel’s 150,000 [sic] Arab Christians and its ten-times bigger number of Muslims. Last year, only 40 of some 2,000 Palestinian Christians who reached conscription-age enlisted. 

Pelham got the number wrong.  Though the number of Christians who enlist is indeed small, it is increasing.  In the 6 month period between June 2013 and the end of December alone (based on multiple reports), there were 84 Christians who enlisted – a three-fold increase from the previous year.

More broadly, as anyone who lives or has spent serious time in the state would surely understand, Israel is, by far, the country with the best record on religious freedom in the Middle East.  No matter how egregious the obfuscations by journalists like Pelham, nobody can plausibly deny that (as the latest report by the human rights group Freedom House documented) while Israel defines itself as a ‘Jewish and democratic state,’ “freedom of religion is respected“.

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Fisking a Guardian claim that ‘stones were thrown at Christian pilgrims’ in the Galilee

The term ‘price tag attack‘ – typically referring to reprisals (by a small radical fringe) against Palestinians for Israeli government action against settlement activity – is a curious term as used of late by UK journalists, as it’s employed to characterize crimes ranging from violence against Palestinians to racist graffiti scrawls on churches and mosques.  

As the latter property crimes represent the overwhelming majority of such ‘price tag attacks’, we were curious upon reading a Guardian report on May 9th (Christians in Israel and Palestine fear rise in violence ahead of Pope’s visit) which included a claim of violence against “Christian pilgrims”.

The Guardian report focused on Christians who reportedly “fear an escalation of violence against them after a spate of vandalism in Jerusalem churches by hardline Jewish nationalists ahead of Pope Francis’s visit this month”, and largely detailed reports of vandalism, as in this passage:

Earlier this week vandals wrote “Death to Arabs and Christians” in Hebrew on the Vatican’s Notre Dame centre in Jerusalem’s Old City and on Thursday night offensive graffiti was written on a wall close to the Romanian Orthodox church.

And, then, there was the report of “violence” against people.

Both incidents come just weeks after a spate of attacks against Christians in Galilee, where a place of worship was vandalised and stones thrown at pilgrims

However, though we searched widely for reports of physical attacks on “pilgrims in the Galilee” we weren’t able to find any such instances.  We contacted Israel Police Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld who similarly couldn’t recall any such rock attacks against Christians in the Galilee.  

We did, however, find an April 29th report at an Arab Christian website called Abouna, (Galilee: A wave of anti-Christian fanaticism and violence), which claimed that there were stones thrown by ‘a group of orthodox Jewish teens’ at a big cross situated beside the church altar at Tabgha Sanctuary (Church of the Multiplication) on the northwest side of Lake Tiberias.  However, there was no claim that anyone (Christian or otherwise) was attacked with stones.

Additionally, the radical NGO Alternative Information Center reported, on April 30th, the vandalism at the same church (Spate of hate crime against Palestinians in Israel), but again there was no claim that stones were thrown at Christians.

Also, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reported on April 29th (Settlers Vandalize Christian and Muslim Holy Sitesthat Israeli “settlers” [sic] “smashed the cross and vandalized the church pews” at Tabgha Sanctuary, but there was no claim that Christians were attacked with stones.

Interestingly, IMEMC’s report seems to have been based on an April 29th story from the Palestinian news agency WAFA (Israeli settlers vandalize church, threaten Bishop of Nazareth) which itself doesn’t claim that Christians were attacked with stones.

It’s of course certainly possible that such a stone-throwing incident did in fact occur, but it seems strange that, beyond the Guardian report, we can find no other news story alleging that it took place.

Finally, if Guardian reporters want to find a real incident of stone-throwing (and other physical violence) at a church, they may be interested to learn that CAMERA recently reported on a violent incident involving stone throwing and a stabbing at St. George’s Church.  

However, come to think of it, they likely won’t be interested, as those involved weren’t Christians and Jews, but, rather, Christians and Muslims.  Oh, and there’s additional information which would dissuade an enterprising Guardian reporter from covering the incident: it didn’t take place in Israel, but just outside of Beit Jala – a town under the control of the Palestinian Authority. 

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Despite Economist claim, ‘fanatical settlement’ of Kochav Ya’ir is neither fanatical nor a settlement (UPDATE)

(See UPDATE on this post below)

While the UK media (much like its US counterpart) often employ euphemisms – and often wild rhetorical somersaults – to avoid passing ‘value judgments’ on Palestinian terror groups, there are typically no such restraints in news stories and commentaries about Israeli ‘settlers’.  

Though only a tiny fraction of Israelis who live in cities across the green line (in Jerusalem and the West Bank) have engaged in violence or advocate its use, words like ‘radical’, ‘extremist’ and ‘fanatical’ are often used by journalists to place this Jewish population on the ‘wrong side’ of their moral divide. 

A good illustration of this knee-jerk impulse to demonize ‘settlers’ – by journalist who often seem to possess little real knowledge about such communities – can be found in a May 3rd article in The Economist titled ‘Making of a martyr‘ – a review of a book about the killing, by British officers, of Avraham (Ya’ir) Stern, leader of the pre-state underground Zionist group known as Lehi (Lohamei Herut Yisrael – Fighters for the Freedom of Israel).

After a few paragraphs which focus on the book itself, the article then pivots to a broader critique of what the anonymous Economist writer believes to be Stern’s legacy:

Stern still commands a striking hold over many of Israel’s ruling right-wingers, including the successors of the mandate-era Jewish underground who continue to perpetrate attacks on Palestinian civilians. Many still choose his nom de guerre, Yair, for their sons, including Israel’s current prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

The author’s rhetorical slight of hand is almost comical.  Though Ya’ir is a common Hebrew name, are we supposed to intuit from the sentence that the current Israeli Prime Minister chose his son’s name based on the life and politics of Ya’ir Stern?

However, the author’s polemical inventions become even more pronounced in the following sentence:

One of the most fanatical settlements, Kochav Yair, is named after him

Though the community was indeed named after Ya’ir Stern, a quick check on Google Maps would have demonstrated to the Economist journalist that Kochav Ya’ir is NOT a settlement:

Additionally, the claim that Kochav Ya’ir is “fanatical” does not hold up to scrutiny.  

First, contrary to the stereotype of such fanatical ‘settlers’ [sic] as religious fundamentalists, Kochav Ya’ir is an overwhelmingly secular community.  

Moreover, in the last national elections in 2013 a majority of Kochav Ya’ir residents (according to official results) voted for centre and left-wing political parties.  In fact, while Likud-Israel Beiteinu was the party which attracted the greatest percentage of votes overall in the country, the top vote-getters in Kochav Ya’ir were centrist Yesh Atid and the left-wing Labor Party (at 24 and 21 percent respectively).  

So, Kochav Ya’ir is clearly not a “settlement”, nor does it appear to be at all “fanatical”.

The Economist got it wrong. 

UPDATE, May 11: Following our communication with Economist editors, the article was amended and an addendum added acknowledging that Kochav Ya’ir is neither fanatical nor a settlement.

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