Celebrating 5 years of CiF Watch!

 

Friends,

Last week, CiF Watch celebrated its 5th anniversary.

In our inaugural post on Aug. 24, 2009 we announced our intention to combat antisemitism and anti-Israel bias at the Guardian, and “to regularly post articles exposing the bigoted and one-sided nature of [their] obsessive focus on Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people.”

In recent years we have evolved in several respects:

  • We improved our efficacy by establishing an extremely successful affiliation with CAMERA.

Please continue reaching out to us – by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, or the ‘old fashioned’ way, by emailing us at contactus@cifwatch.com – when you come across misleading claims, or outright factual errors, in reports and commentaries within the UK media.

On the occasion of our fifth anniversary, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the work we do, and how we can more effectively carry out our mission, and continue speaking truth to power.

Adam Levick, Managing Editor

How did UK Chief Rabbi get the motivation of Toulouse killer so wrong?

It typically is quite welcomed when the UK Chief Rabbi lends his moral authority – and, as in the case of the previous occupant of the office, Jonathan Sacks, profound eloquence – to an op-ed on the topic of antisemitism.  

However, though we were hoping for inspiration and clarity by the new Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, his Telegraph op-ed included a truly baffling error regarding the background of the Toulouse killer, Muhammad Merah.

Here are the first few paragraphs in Mirvis’s essay (A new strain of Antisemitism is on the rise, Aug. 27):

On Sunday a rally will take place in London to demand zero tolerance of anti-Semitism. Why is this necessary?

On March 19 2012, a teacher and three pupils were killed in a terrorist attack at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish Day School in Toulouse. For days, speculation was rife about the identity and motivation of the perpetrator.

Initially, many presumed that the killer came from the extreme Right. After all, the strengthening of extremist elements in the midst of a faltering European economy has fuelled anti-Semitism. Or, we wondered, perhaps the attacker subscribed to neo-Nazi ideology, or was influenced by radical Islam. Whatever the motivation, it seemed sadly clear that, even in the 21st century, the old aims of Hitler had not vanished from the continent of Europe.

Then the perpetrator was identified as Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French petty criminal, of Algerian descent. Merah said that he attacked the Jewish school because “the Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine”. This transformation of the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict into something more sinister, and even religious in nature, has produced what some refer to as the new anti-Semitism.

It’s curious that Mirvis chose to benignly characterize Merah as a “petty criminal’ and not someone motivated by radical Islam.  There is simply no debate over the fact that he was an Islamist who murdered Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, Gabriel Sandler (age 4), Arieh Sandler (age 5), Miriam Monsonego (age 7) in an act of Jihad.  

Though Merah had previously served time in jail for ‘petty crime’, his radicalization while in prison was not surprising, given that this extremist Islamist ideology infected most of his immediate family.  Indeed, his family was reportedly obsessed by hatred of Jews, and were passionate supporters of the “outlawed Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and Armed Islamic Group) (GIA) terrorist organizations”.

In 2010, Merah traveled to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Tajikistan to join or train with jihadists.  He later traveled to Afghanistan in hopes of joining the Taliban.

Marc Weitzmann, a regular contributor to Le Monde, in his masterful essay at Tablet about Merah, chillingly noted the following:

in August 2011…he finally met [Islamist] “the brothers” who would initiate him into terror. And here’s the credo (retold in a French that challenges a translator): “In the beginning, the brothers, they told me to kill. A brother from Arab origin. He said I should kill everything—everything that is civilian and miscreant, everything. The gays, the homosexuals, the ones that kiss each other in public. He said, ‘Shoot them down,’ see? But me, I had a message to carry. And, er… I knew that by killing only militaries and Jews, the message, it would carried better. Cuz if I were to kill just civilians, the French population they’d say, ‘Oh, he’s just another crazy terrorist.’ Even if I had the right. But now the message’s different. Now I just kill militaries and Jews, see?

Yes, we ‘see’ that Merah was clearly motivated by Islamist extremism, an ominous example of the increasing threat posed to Europe by radicalized Muslims returning from ‘theaters of Jihad’ overseas.

We’re left to wonder, however: Does the Chief Rabbi not see this?

Dishonourable Brits: Why the Guardian can’t distinguish between Semites & anti-Semites

If a radical right-wing U.S. group possessed an ideology which was homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic, and continually attempted to murder a historically oppressed minority to clean the region of their ‘pernicious influence’ – due to their fundamentalist interpretation of a religious text – anti-racist commentators at the Guardian would stand proudly on the side of the besieged minority and rightfully demonize the racist extremist group.

Transplant this scenario to the Mid-East (and replace the white sheets with black face masks and green headbands) however, and such moral clarity – which distinguishes between a racist extremist group and the minorities they’re targeting – often gets blurred.

hamas_talks_a_0305

In a review of BBC2’s The Honourable Woman, the Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent Julian Borger (Can The Honourable Woman teach us anything about the Gaza conflict?, Aug. 20) presents another example of media group’s profound moral confusion when interpreting conflicts between Israel and Islamist extremists.

Borger characterizes the show as “a tale of intrigue, betrayal and silk blouses set against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, and then adds: “Whether we will have learned anything about Gaza or the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is another matter”.

Border then writes:

So the ruthless and omnipotent assassin, a regular plot device of political thrillers, is in this case a Palestinian militant. Just like the show’s American inspiration, Homelandit revives the spectre of the Arab bogeyman as the evil genius among us, ghosting across borders on false passports. 

This is understandably vexing for Palestinians. After all, it is Mossad that has won itself the reputation in recent years for sending assassins to kill abroad on forged identity papers. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have largely fought their battles on home turf with much blunter methods.

Likewise, the agony of liberal British Jews looking on in horror at the bloodletting in Israel and the Palestinian territories is true to life. What feels like a sentimental anachronism is the central premise in the plot: that they can do anything to change it. It is hard to imagine in these dark times that it would be so easy for a well-meaning Jewish philanthropist to breeze through the West Bank and for her saccharine, slightly condescending speeches to be received so admiringly by Palestinian students. Hard to imagine, too, that Nessa Stein would have such an easy time of it in Netanyahu’s Israel. These days, there would be rightwing mobs outside her doveish events, chanting: “Death to the Arabs.”

Leaving aside Borger’s risible suggestion that Palestinian jihadist groups have shown more restraint than Israel when carrying out attacks on their enemies, the Guardian editor’s review is notable in which political actor in the Middle East is identified as the racist (Jewish mobs chanting “death to Arabs”) and which one is the unfairly stereotyped minority (the “Arab bogeyman”).

It’s important to read such passages in the context of the Guardian overall coverage of both the current war between Hamas and Israel, and the broader Israeli-Islamist Conflict.

Though Guardian correspondents sometimes note that Hamas is ‘considered’ a terrorist group by much of the West, their reporters, editors and commentators almost never explain to their readers that Hamas is an antisemitic extremist group - a reactionary racist, violent, fundamentalist movement at odds with the liberal, enlightenment values they claim to champion.

Whilst the Guardian never tires in highlighting racism (real or imagined) expressed by the most unrepresentative fringe elements in Israeli society, they almost uniformly avoid mentioning that the group currently ruling Gaza literally calls for the extermination of Jews.  It simply isn’t possible for UK news consumers to clearly understand the battles being waged in Israel and Gaza while ignorant of this fundamental fact about Hamas’s eliminationist antisemitism.

Reports about ceasefire negotiations between the two parties in Cairo which merely emphasize that Hamas demands a loosening of the Israeli blockade, while ignoring that their end goal continues to be the annihilation of the only Jewish state, are akin to media reports during WWII noting Germany’s territorial aspirations without any context regarding Hitler’s belief in Aryan racial supremacy and his wish to exterminate Jews and other ‘undesirables’.

On the other hand, it is heartening to see the support – among many Guardian contributors – for the West’s efforts to rein in an apocalyptic and genocidal Middle-East based, Sunni extremist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood with a global expansionist worldview, which targets civilians, ruthlessly murders its enemies, possesses a pathological hatred for Jews and advocates Sharia Law over universal human rights.

However, whilst we’re of course referring to ISIS (Islamic State), we also just accurately described the fundamental ideological orientation of Hamas.

So, what accounts for such a profound moral inconsistency? Why are Palestinian jihadists not like the other jihadists?   

Though antisemitism is one factor which partly explains this phenomenon (among some Guardian contributors and journalists), the more widespread political dynamics at play are moral relativism, an egregiously skewed understanding of anti-imperialism, a glorification of ‘Palestinian resistance’ and an obsession with Jews and Israel  - in short, the signature ideological ticks of the Guardian Left.

There is, however, one more factor. 

We are often asked if we believe the Guardian to be institutionally antisemitic.  While their obsessive and almost entirely negative coverage of the Jewish State fans the flame of antisemitism, this writer, for one, does not believe the media group is compromised institutionally by anti-Jewish racism.

It may be more accurate to observe in the Guardian worldview a capacity to forcefully condemn antisemitism in the abstract, but an inability to summon such righteous indignation when doing so would require parting company with other ‘historically oppressed’ groups, and indeed challenge their very ideological identity.

In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community. 

Imagine: A Guardian letter by ‘liberal’ Palestinians condemning Hamas calls for genocide

No, Palestinians did NOT have a letter published at the Guardian condemning Hamas for its antisemitic, pro-genocide ideology.

However, the Guardian, in an especially egregious abuse of Holocaust memory, did publish a letter (originally posted by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network titled ‘Over 300 Survivors and Descendants of Survivors of Victims of the Nazi Genocide Condemn Israel’s Assault on Gazacondemning alleged Israeli pro-genocidal policies.

We’re not sure which is more unlikely: that ‘liberal’ Palestinians would ever conceive of writing a similarly self-critical letter, or that the Guardian would ever publish it. But, here’s what such a letter – let’s say written by Palestinian Nakba survivors – condemning Hamas’s real plan of genocide against the Jews would possibly look like:

As Palestinian survivors and descendants of survivors of the Nakba, we unequivocally condemn Hamas’s genocidal ideology and statements by their top political and religious leaders attesting to their ongoing plan to exterminate the Jews.

We further condemn Western states more generally for failing to use their diplomatic muscle and moral authority to forcefully denounce this extreme form of anti-Jewish racism at every opportunity.  

Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are similarly alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Jews within Palestinian society, which has reached fever-pitch.

We are saddened by polls indicating that 93% of Palestinians hold antisemitic views, that Politicians and pundits in the state-controlled Palestinian media (in Gaza and the West Bank) have openly called for genocide, and that innocent Palestinian children are indoctrinated on the necessity of murdering Jews. 

Furthermore, we are outraged by the media’s failure to adequately inform readers, in the ubiquitous articles and commentaries published about the current war, that Hamas has no discernible political objectives, save of course the extermination of Jews from the Middle East.

Though we continue to mourn the loss of our homes at the hands of Israeli forces in the war of 1948, and hope for a just solution to the refugee problem, nothing can justify firing rockets at Israeli civilian communities, targeting Jewish children in mass terror attacks and nurturing Palestinian men, women and children on the virtues of Jihad.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to condemn the scourge of Palestinian antisemitism and say ‘Not in our name’!  

Hamas does not speak for us and does not represent our values.

“Never again” must mean “Never again”.

Signed,

Survivors of the Palestinian Nakba and their descendants

 

Giles Fraser finds one righteous Jew – and his name is Gideon Levy

One of the most edifying political experiences I had before making Aliyah occurred in 2007 when I observed an anti-Israel event outside Philadelphia, in which an anti-Zionist Jew named Marc Ellis was asked by an anti-Zionist non-Jew, at the Q&A after the event, how many ‘righteous Jews’, like him, there actually were in the world.  

Ellis’s answer: “Sadly, not very many“.

Indeed, many within the Guardian Left often insist upon the virtue of ‘left-wing’, ‘peace activist’, ‘human rights-advocating’ Israelis, in contrast to the living, breathing obstacles-to-peace represented by the ‘right-wing’, ‘settler’, ‘ultra-Zionist‘, ‘war-hungry’, ‘anti-Arab’ variety Israeli – a paradigm that’s been compromised of late by the near universal Israeli support for their country’s war against an extremist movement which calls for the mass murder of Jews known as Hamas.

Israeli writer Amos Oz, a founder of “Peace Now,” explained recently why he supports the war, by stating quite simply: “The only way to repel aggression is unfortunately by force”.

This clearly presented a dilemma for the Guardian’s Giles Fraser, in his Aug. 7 op-ed, “Against the war: the movement that dare not speak its name in Israel“. 

The Guardian’s Giles Fraser

So, what to do?  

Find a ‘brave’ Israeli peace activist.

Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy

Fraser’s protagonist is Ha’aretz’s prolific anti-Zionist, Gideon Levy, whose infamous record of baseless claims includes falsifying a poll to suggest Israeli support for apartheid (for which he was forced to apologize) and parroting the ‘Zionism = Racism’ canard in declaring that “a Jewish state means a racist, nationalistic state, meant for Jews only.”

Much like an interview with Levy in 2010 at the Independent (by the radical anti-Israel journalist Johann Hari)Fraser presents the Ha’aretz columnist as a courageous voice who strives to expose Israel’s immutable sin.

Fraser writes:

In his column in Haaretz, [Levy] has long since banged the drum for greater Israeli empathy towards the suffering of the Palestinians. He is a well-known commentator on the left, and one of the few prepared to stick his head above the parapet

Levy’s unpardonable crime is vocal opposition to the war and to the bombing of Gaza. According to recent polls, support for the military operation in Gaza among the Jewish Israeli public stands somewhere between 87% (Channel 10 News) and 95% (Israel Democracy Institute). Even those who are secretly against the war are cautious about voicing their opinion openly.

Of course, the suggestion that Israelis who oppose the war are “cautious about voicing their opinion openly” would be news to the thousands who have turned out for anti-war protests in Tel Aviv over the past several weeks.

 Fraser then seeks an alternative explanation for the overwhelming Israeli support for their country’s war with Hamas.

Most newspapers and TV channels are simply cheerleaders for the government line, offering a constant diet of fear and fallen heroes, with little evidence of any of the atrocities going on in Gaza. The problem is, ordinary Israelis have little idea what has been going on. I know so much more about what is happening in Gaza when I’m sitting in London than I do in Tel Aviv. Under this level of information manipulation, how can ordinary Israelis be expected to be critical?

Fraser’s hubris is extraordinary. Not only does he fail to empathize with the citizens of a nation sharing a border with an Islamist extremist group which seeks their annihilation, but actually seems to think that Israelis don’t share his views because they don’t live in London, and therefore evidently aren’t privy to what’s ‘really’ happening in Gaza.

Fraser continues: 

Later I go for a drink at a friend’s flat in Tel Aviv with a group of broadly leftwing activists in their late 20s and early 30s, NGO types that I was expecting would share my exasperation. And I make a mistake, assuming too much common ground. I ask whether their fear of rockets is properly calibrated to reality, given that people are so much more likely to die in a car accident in Israel than at the hands of Hamas. And there is an awkward reaction. The question was insensitive. 

‘Insensitive’, indeed.  In addition to the psychological terror which countless Israelis – including young children – suffer from the thousands of rocket attacks since Hamas’s rise to power in 2006, over the past fifteen years alone more than 1,200 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terror attacks. An additional 8,500 or so were maimed and wounded.

Finally, after expressing his dismay at the failure of even peace activists to condemn their country, Fraser’s protagonist again speaks:

Levy had warned me earlier. “The young people are the worst. More ignorant. More brainwashed. They have never met a Palestinian in their lives.”

However, the suggestion that young Israelis are uninformed because they have never met Palestinians is absurd. There are (to cite just one example) more than 370,000 Palestinian residents of Israel in east Jerusalem alone – permanent residents of the state who Jewish Israelis meet in cafes, shops, places of work, hospitals and every conceivable public and private venue. 

Indeed, if you want to throw around words like “brainwashed” and “ignorant”, we could certainly point to fact that the Guardian’s resident Anglican Priest came to the Jewish state in search of righteous Israeli Jews and, save Gideon Levy, found ‘sadly not very many‘.  

Hate emerges from beneath the surface: Antisemitism in the UK (July 2014)

Cross posted from The CST

July 2014 now joins January 2009 as a month when war between Israel and Hamas caused antisemitism to spew forth across Britain. If this latest round of Middle East violence has now ended, then we may expect the antisemitism to gradually diminish: but this hatred has again been revealed, even if most of the time it lies beneath the surface. Are British Jews (and those elsewhere) to be forever held hostage to a seemingly intractable conflict in which totalitarian Jihadists are sworn to destroy Israel at whatever cost?

Members of the public expressing fears and concerns to CST have referenced this in different ways. One said she felt “stuck in a swamp“. Another said that the hatred had come from “ordinary people, not what or who we expect it from…its the underlying antisemitism, and now that they’ve put it out there, how are we supposed to put it back?“. It may sound trite to speak of Jews defriending others on Facebook, but anecdotally, this seems to be happening again and again, with Jews deeply upset by what this conflict has revealed about those whom they believed to be their friends (in all meanings of the word).

Bare statistics do not, cannot, explain the emotion that many people are feeling right now: but they are stark. CST has now recorded over 200 antisemitic incidents for July 2014, making it very clearly the second worst month we have seen since our records began in 1984. (The worst was Jan’ 2009, when 288 incidents were recorded. The second worst was Feb’ 2009, with 114 incidents.) The July 2014 total is not yet finalised, because it takes time to properly analyse and categorise all of the reports reaching us from throughout Britain right now, so the figure of 200 is an absolute minimum.

Of course, antisemitic incidents occur every day, week and month of the year. CST recorded 304 between January and June 2014 (a rise of 36% from 2013). We now have over 200 in one month, so the maths are clear. Not every July incident relates to the Israel-Hamas conflict, but the majority do. Without listing every one of them, it is almost impossible to convey the scale and the impact of the invective, but each and every incident involves at least one victim and at least one perpetrator. They come randomly at Jews and Jewish locations throughout the country. Many of them appear to be perpetrated by Muslim youth and adults, but by no means all. That this racism is perpetrated in the name of human rights (for Palestinians) is bizarre, but nothing new: although it does help explain the deafening silence from the self-titled anti-racism movement. (Hope not Hate does not fit this category and is a strong exception.)

The hatred is showing clear trends. Shouting “Free Gaza” on a pro-Palestinian demonstration is not antisemitic: but obviously is when yelled at a random Jew in the street, or when daubed on a synagogue wall.  The same goes for screams of “child murderer”, shouted at Jews or pinned on a synagogue. Then, there is the ever present antisemitic fixation with Nazism. This comes two ways, Jews being told that they are the new Nazis, or Jews being told that “Hitler was right” (a phrase that trended on Twitter).

Child murderer has a long history in antisemitism, almost 2,000 years longer than Nazism does. The accusation of Jews having killed Jesus, the embodiment of innocence, moved into medieval blood libels. Some Jews perceive sections of the UK media as having focussed to such an extent upon Gazan child victims in this latest conflict that it somehow indicates that these blood libels still lurk somewhere deep. Others would counter that this kind of ‘unconscious antisemitism’ argument is ridiculous and that the media could not focus upon dead and injured children if they did not actually exist, nor in such numbers. The fact remains: British Jews are being called child-murderers.

The Nazi slanders and threats are not in mainstream media, but the question ‘why didn’t Jews / Israel learn the lessons of the Holocaust?’ has been. This is surely repellent to the overwhelming majority of Jews. It comes posed as a question, but really it is a demand. Whatever its motivation, it smells of Jew-Israel-Nazi equivalence and ‘we are holier than thou’.

The super-heated arguments of how the media covers Israel are not strictly CST’s business; and neither are boycotts of Israel. Nevertheless, it is impossible to discuss how Jews feel right now without noting how both things impact upon antisemitism, upon how Jews are perceived and how Jews themselves feel.

One need not be a dyed in the wool defender of Israel, nor even a Zionist, to suspect that no other country on earth appears to evoke such passion and hatred. We need not cite Syria right now, nor Sri Lanka in 2009, because Britain itself has killed civilians in the Middle East in recent years, children included. Yet it is only one section of British society that is called “child-murderers”, or “Nazis”, or is told that Hitler should have wiped them all out.

Less rhetorically, we must note that antisemitic incidents will subside along with the images on people’s television screens, but the long term damage to Jews of anti-Israel boycotts will persist. Dry statistics help us to measure the raw impact of this. If someone engages in “criticism of Israel” then 6% of British Jews consider that person “definitely antisemitic” and 27% answer “probably antisemitic”. If that person supports a boycott of Israel, then 34% of British Jews consider them “definitely antisemitic” and 33% “probably antisemitic”. So, boycott of Israel is a tipping point for most Jews in regarding criticism as being antisemitic or not. One consequence of this latest Israel-Hamas war will be a lot more boycotts, either through choice (such as trade unions and cultural venues) or through intimidation (such as commercial outlets). Just as Israel is being singled out for scrutiny and boycott, so many Jews are going to feel the same way.

When the Jewish Film Festival is given a ‘ditch your Israeli Embassy link’ ultimatum by the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, it betrays how British Jews’ connections to Israel are the measure by which others judge them. The same applies to the National Union of Students decision to boycott Israel, which promises no end of trouble and intimidation for Jewish students. Then, there are the mass intimidations of supermarkets that dare to sell Israeli goods, some of which have actually been forced to briefly stop trading as a result. (As cheerfully relayed here by a Labour MP.)

Finally, two antisemitic incidents out of over two hundred, giving the merest hint of recent events. The first speaks volumes of how Jews risk being expected to behave: and the reactions they risk upon refusal.

1. Street in Bradford, evening of 26th July. A Jewish man and his wife were driving when they became caught in slow moving traffic due to an accident up the road. Every car in the queue was being stopped by a group of apparently Muslim men and women, carrying buckets and asking for money for Gaza. The Jewish man politely declined to donate, whereupon “you f**king Jewish bastard!” was shouted at him. Then, another man used a loudhailer to also shout “you f**king Jewish bastard!” at him. Next, “Jewish bastard coming down the road!” was shouted down the street to alert each of the other collectors.

2. Synagogue in Hove, 2nd August (photo by F.Sharpe)

Hove shul

 

When you’ve lost the Guardian… @TricycleTheater #antisemitism

The shameful decision by Tricycle Theater to effectively boycott the UK Jewish Film Festival over its ties with Israel has united some diverse factions, including the Board of Deputies, Ha’aretz, and now…the Guardian – yes, the Guardian!

An official editorial on the Gaza war and the rise of antisemitism included the following:

The board of London’s Tricycle Theatre delivered an ultimatum to the organisers of the UK Jewish Film Festival, which it has hosted for the last eight years: either cut your ties with the Israeli embassy, which gives a £1,400 subsidy to the festival, or find another venue.

UK Jewish Film refused that instruction, along with the Tricycle’s offer to make up the financial shortfall, and is now looking for a new home. No doubt the Tricycle believed it was taking an admirably principled stand on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which flared anew after the truce that had held for nearly 72 hours broke down. But the theatre has made a bad error of judgment.

Some have made the argument that, if receiving money from a state implies endorsement of that state’s policy, then the Tricycle ought to return the £725,000 it receives from the taxpayer-funded Arts Council, lest that be read as backing for, say, UK participation in the invasion of Iraq. Of course, few would see the Arts Council as an arm of the state in that way. And a similar mistake seems to be at work here. For the Israeli embassy in London is not merely an outpost of the Netanyahu government. It also represents Israel itself, its society and its people. It was this connection with Israel as a country that UK Jewish Film refused to give up. Hard though it may be for others to understand, that reflects something crucial about contemporary Jewish identity: that most, not all, Jews feel bound up with Israel, even if that relationship is one of doubt and anxiety. To demand that Jews surrender that connection is to tell Jews how they might – and how they might not – live as Jews. Such demands have an ugly history. They are not the proper business of any public institution, least of all a state-subsidised theatre

Anshel Pfeffer of Ha’aretz wrote about Tricycle Theater’s decision that he “certainly wouldn’t have thought it could happen in one of the most enlightened corners of London”, and we certainly wouldn’t have thought that such a strangely lucid denunciation of antisemitism could have been published at a London broadsheets known for its embrace of Judeophobic voices.

Moreover, we can only hope that this deeply troubling episode will provide a teachable moment about the allure of what Ben Cohen refers to as ‘bistro antisemitism‘ to some of the more sober commentators on the hard left, as well as the leadership of a theater which evidently prides itself on its commitment to ethnic and racial diversity.

Indy journo Mira Bar-Hillel Tweets about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

To get up to speed on Mira Bar-Hillel – a journalist who contributes to the ‘progressive’ British newspaper, The Independent, and whose sage insight about Israel was recently solicited by The BBC and Sky News - and her well-documented antisemitism, read this and this.

After doing so, you can now better understand the following Tweets by Bar-Hillel.

It started with this Tweet from someone named Emma Isitt, “quoting” a fictitious Israeli who evidently ‘confirmed’ that antisemites have been right all along.

first

Spoiler: even antisemitic extremists know that this quote is a Pakistani hoax.

hoax

Then the Twitter exchange:

1st

“Hoax or not”, says the Indy columnist, “the message is entirely true, and increasingly so”.

Here are the next series of exchanges:

next

Does Bar-Hillel believe in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

“Look at the facts”, replied the Indy columnist, “and you will too”.

More Tweeters attempt to determine if the Indy columnist really is defending the Protocols.

next

Is she only joking?

next

So, to recap: Bar-Hillel believes that “the message” of Jews controlling America is “entirely true” and “increasingly so”, and that Jewish lobbyists appear to be picking up some of the ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and using them.

Thanks for clarifying that for us, Mira.

Israel defeats Hamas – and other facts about the war the Guardian won’t report

For Israelis who work professionally to promote accurate reporting about Israel and the Middle East, one of the most vexing dynamics (beyond the false claims, distortions, and fabrications) is a media narrative about our their country which often has little if any resemblance to reality.

Indeed, we are all too accustomed to Guardian journalists imputing to Israel the absolute worst motives – a place Jonathan Spyer refers to as the “mythical Israel”, “a place of uninterrupted darkness and horror, in which every human interaction is ugly, crude, racist, brutal” – while evoking endless sympathy for the most malevolent actors in the region.

Such fantastical ideas about the Jewish State and its enemies has certainly colored coverage of the current war in Gaza, and this post represents a break from the fisking, criticism and analyses of their reporting that you’re accustomed to. Instead, we will merely provide a very brief account of the war and its outcome – intuitive takeaways from the month-long conflict that the Guardian won’t report.

Hamas’s war was defined by the widespread use of human shields, and countless other war crimes

Nearly all of the 3,360 rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza during the war were aimed at Israeli civilian communities – each launch representing an individual war crime.

You would never know it from reading the Guardian, but evidence of Hamas’s use of Palestinian civilians as human shields (another war crime) is at this point simply ubiquitous and irrefutable:

The IDF conducted itself in an ethical manner

Despite media claims (based on information from the Hamas run Gaza Health Ministry) that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed in the war were civilians, new reports and analyses now suggest that roughly half of the casualties were combatants from Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other terror groups.  Col. Richard Kemp has contextualized such a low (one-to-one) ratio of civilians to combatant deaths in past Israeli wars by noting there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths (that’s three civilians for every one combatant killed) in NATO led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

IDF measures to limit the number of Palestinian casualties included text messages, phone calls and radio messages in Arabic warning occupants to leave, and air-dropped leaflets with maps showing safe areas. When warnings went unheeded, Israeli aircraft dropped non-lethal explosives (‘knock on the door‘ procedures) to warn that an attack is imminent.

In addition to the field hospital Israel set up on the northern Gaza border to treat injured Palestinians, during Operation Protective Edge 1800 trucks entered the crossings between Israel and Gaza, carrying food, medical equipment, clothing, water, and fuel.

In a post last month, we asked the following question to the media – or to anyone else who questions Israel’s conduct during the war:

Name one army in the world that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians during war.

We’re still waiting for a response.

Israel fought a just and morally necessary war against an antisemitic extremist group.

To those in the media whose political ideology is inspired by vapid clichés about the futility of armed conflict, almost no war – especially those in which Israel is engaged – is morally justified, and neither facts nor logic can persuade them.

However, those who don’t identify with the Guardian Left, and understand the harsh lessons of the 20th century (and indeed of Jewish history), would see a very stark moral contrast: a battle between the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas (a homophobic, misogynist, antisemitic extremist group dedicated to the mass murder of Jews) and Israel, the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people.  

Hamas’s mission, as Jeffrey Goldberg succinctly put it, is not ‘narrowly’ to destroy Israel, but to “end Jewish history”.  Every rocket that is fired, every attempted tunnel infiltration into Israeli communities, and every effort to inculcate their citizens with the values of jihad is designed for this sole purpose.

Israel Defeats Hamas

Though we can expect Guardian analyses which obfuscate this painfully obvious fact, it’s difficult to understand how anyone who has followed events unfold in Gaza and Israel over the last month can avoid concluding that Israel emerged victorious over Hamas.

While much of the UK media has strangely framed the relatively low number of Israeli deaths (64 soldiers and 3 civilians) as an indictment on the disproportionate military response – itself inspired in part by a bizarre moral logic which “turns suffering into the only measure of justice” -
the job of any army is to minimize casualties on its own side, and the IDF quite capably carried out this task.

Though Hamas fired 3300 rockets at Israel, only 116 – due in large measure to interceptions by the Iron Dome – hit populated areas (3.45%). In contrast, 475 rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters reportedly landed within the Gaza Strip.

The IDF destroyed nearly every known terror tunnel in the Strip – tunnels, by the way, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, and thousands of tons of ‘humanitarian’ concrete and other construction materials.

The IDF also reportedly destroyed 1,678 rockets launching capabilities, 977 command and control centers, 237 ‘militant’ wing government faculties, 191 weapon storage and manufacturing facilities, 144 training and militant compounds, and 1,535 additional terror sites.

Finally, Channel 2′s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal stressed that we should remember that Hamas rejected a ceasefire proposal before the Israeli ground invasion, when it still had its tunnel infrastructure, its rocket capacity was still largely intact, and it still had a large degree of political legitimacy with the international community as part of the Palestinian unity government. Today, Segal observed, as it meekly negotiates in Cairo for a long-term truce, it has none of that.

UK news site actually publishes anti-Hamas cartoon

While The Times (of London) is one of the better British newspapers on issues relating to Israel, it’s surprising nonetheless that any major paper in the UK would publish the following cartoon (by Peter Brooks), as it represents an unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and calls out the Islamist group for their tactic of using human shields.  

times

Cartoon by Peter Brooks

Such open criticism of an antisemitic extremist group is, sadly, the rare exception within a UK media which, conversely, often posts graphic agitprop advancing the most toxic calumnies about the democratic Jewish State  – a sad commentary on the moral confusion which grips the opinion elite in that country.

Protesting Palestine, targeting Jews

Cross posted from The CST

CST wrote last week about the danger of anti-Israel protests in the UK involving or encouraging antisemitism, either by targeting British Jews or by featuring antisemitic language and imagery.

Since then, several more examples of antisemitic incidents and other activity in relation to anti-Israel protests have been reported to CST:

  • Demonstrators on a march through central London assaulted and verbally abused a Jewish woman who expressed her support for Israel as they walked past. Marchers surrounded her, called her a “Jew Zionist” and stole her phone. Later the same afternoon, demonstrators from the same march verbally abused another Jewish woman who was with her two young children, telling them to “Burn in hell.”
  • A pro-Israel demonstrator at a rally in central London was knocked unconscious by a group of assailants who were part of a counter-protest. While it is not believed that anything antisemitic was said, this level of violence from pro-Palestinian protestors is a worrying development.
  • A Rabbi walking in north London was verbally abused by a group of youths who shouted “Free Palestine”, “F*** the Zionists”, “F*** the Jews” and “Allah Akhbar.”
  • A brick was thrown at the window of a synagogue in Belfast.
  • “Baby murderers” was shouted at a synagogue in Liverpool.
  • A pro-Israel organisation in London received a telephoned bomb threat.
  • A visibly Jewish boy was cycling in north London when a woman wearing a black niqab threw a stone at him, hitting him on the head.

These are just a handful of over 70 antisemitic incidents reported to CST since the beginning of July. This is roughly double the number we would expect to be reported during this period under ‘normal’ circumstances. Approximately ten of these incidents have involved violence. Approximately 14 have involved the use of social media.

Roughly two-thirds of the incidents reported since 1 July have been related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, and the number of incidents reported to CST has escalated since the beginning of Israel’s operation in Gaza on 8 July.

Another disturbing factor is that the proportion of antisemitic incident perpetrators described to CST as being of south Asian appearance has been much higher during this period than is normally the case. Antisemitism in Muslim communities is something that others have written about before; the incidents reported to CST suggest that it is playing a significant role in the high level of antisemitic incidents currently being reported. In these circumstances, last week’s statement from the Muslim Council of Britain warning against such behaviour was most welcome.

There have also been several examples of antisemitic incitement on anti-Israel demonstrations and on social media since the conflict between Israel and Gaza began. Last week the hashtag #HitlerWasRight trended on Twitter worldwide. One protestor took this theme onto an anti-Israel demonstration in London:

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It should be noted that the antisemitic incidents recorded by CST since 1 July do not include antisemitic placards or chants on demonstrations.

Other protestors have used Nazi imagery to abuse Israel:

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Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is antisemitic. It abuses the memory of Holocaust victims and offends contemporary Jews. It attacks Israel on the basis of its Jewishness. It should have no part in pro-Palestinian campaigning.

This flag commits the same offence, and compounds it by using a Star of David next to the phrase “Baby Killers”. The Star of David is a Jewish symbol. It is found on the Israeli flag, but it is also found on synagogues all over the UK. To use it in the manner it is displayed on this flag risks inciting hatred against British Jews.

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This incitement has also been seen on social media. This cartoon is from the Facebook page of UK Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Taji Mustafa. it evokes the antisemitic blood libel, in which Jews are accused of murdering non-Jewish children and consuming their blood in religious rituals. The Arabic on the knife reads “Arab silence”, but the person holding the knife bears a Star of David. The Stars and Stripes on the fork also suggests an antisemitic conspiracy theory regarding alleged Jewish control of America.

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CST has also received several reports of antisemitism on Twitter. These two tweets are clear examples of incitement against Jews in the Stamford Hill area of north London:

 

It has been suggested by some people that hate and abuse on social media is not as serious as other forms of hate crime and should not be included in hate crime statistics. We do not agree. Firstly, if a victim considers a tweet to be offensive or threatening enough to report it to CST, we will respect their feelings and their reaction to what they have seen. Secondly, if somebody shouts an antisemitic comment at a Jewish person in the street, it may only be heard by one person; if that same comment is put on Twitter, it can be seen by an unlimited number of people and it has a permanent record.

This pattern of antisemitic incidents in relation to the current conflict in Israel and Gaza is replicated in several countries around the world, most notably in France where Jewish shops and synagogues in Sarcelles were attacked last night. The antisemitic incidents and incitement seen in Britain over the past two weeks suggest that this danger is getting more, not less, acute. There should be zero tolerance within pro-Palestinian groups, and wider society, for anybody who targets Jews in word or deed.

Graham Jones MP accuses Israel of “deliberately killing children”

Graham Jones MP, a Labor Party member who serves Haslingden & Hyndburn, Tweeted the following on July 14th.

tweet

According to the Jewish News, Jones Tweeted the accusations during an exchange with Jewish News editor Justin Cohen.  Jones subsequently deleted the Tweet as you can see by his timeline (and per a site which keeps track of deleted Tweets by MPs) and apologized to Cohen. According to Breitbart London, additional Tweets by Jones – which he also deleted – directly accused Cohen, who is Jewish, of ‘killing children’, despite the fact that he is not Israeli.

Beyond Jones’ vicious smear of Israel, “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” (per Jones’ Tweet to the Jewish journalist) is defined as antisemitic according to the EUMC Working Definition.

h/t JudgeDan

Independent op-eds spew hate and vitriol at Israel

The Independent doesn’t have a Jerusalem correspondent at the moment. So, during the war, they’ve been mainly relying on stringers and wire service reports. However, their lack of on-the-ground coverage hasn’t stopped them from using the ‘expert’ analysis of a few of their op-ed contributors:

Here are a few examples:

Adam Withnall

As noted on these pages yesterday, the Indy’s Adam Withnall seemed to characterize a few dozen Sderot residents – a community which been on the receiving end of thousands of Gaza rockets since 2001 – applauding attacks on Hamas military targets as an act of almost unparalleled human cruelty.  Withnall cited one Twitter user who opined about the ‘spectacle’, that “If this is true then God help us all”, before asking,  “What’s become of the human race?”

Robert Fisk

A July 13th op-ed on the war by their “award-winning” Middle East correspondent titled (Why doesn’t the media ever mention the lack of progress in the Middle East?) blamed the Western media for being too soft on Israeli “blood-letting”, by failing to inform news consumers that they state has been “engaged in “pitiless, infinitely more wicked and obscene war”.

Mira Bar-Hillel

Hillel, the British reporter who (though Jewish herself) has acknowledged being antisemitic, published an op-ed on July 11th (Why I’m on the brink of burning my Israeli passport), which likened alleged Facebook comments (the veracity of which is in doubt) by Israeli MK Ayelet Shaked to crimes committed by the Nazis:

Hillel wrote:

She [MK Shaked] made me think about my mother’s sister Klara and her three small children who were living in Krakow in 1939 when the Germans invaded. They decided that the Jews – all Jews – were the enemy and had to be eliminated, not least the women and the little snakes they were raising. “Why? Ask them – they started it”, as the Nazis would say if asked

Later, Hillel referred to a few random hateful Tweets by Israeli teens as “angelic faces of evil spouting such genocidal rhetoric”, before ending with a rhetorical flourish worthy of a character in Howard Jacobson’s book The Finkler Question:

 I pick up my Israeli passport and a box of matches. “Not in my name, people. Not in my name!” 

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Alibhai-Brown’s July 13th op-ed (Israel’s reaction has been vicious and misdirected) characterized the “mindset of hardline Zionists” thusly:

It is a combination of paranoia, indiscriminate loyalty and odium towards any person or group opposed to Israel’s violent oppression of Palestinians.

Alibhai-Brown then seemed to compare Jihadists attacks with the actions of the Jewish State, and vilifies ‘British Zionists’ for not speaking out:

When Jihadis commit atrocities, British Muslims are collectively blamed, told to protest, to issue statements from mosques, to say sorry, to stop the Islamicists. Israel builds walls, grabs land, introduces racist rules, imprisons Palestinian children, uses grotesque force and gets undeclared donations from British Zionists, and British Jews are not asked to march, or issue condemnations or promises.

Alibhai-Brown’s diatribe then devolves further, accusing Israel of engaging in a plan of genocide:

The Holocaust – one of the most obscene, inhumane pogroms in world history – is now used as a guarantee of perpetual indemnity by a state which was to be a sanctuary and an exemplar of survival, dignity and morality. Israel’s leadership has discarded moral sense and wants to eliminate Palestinians altogether from the pitifully small bits of land they live in. They have learnt the wrong lessons from their own history and seem to be modelling themselves on Europeans who took over Australia, North and South America.

In contextualizing the UK media each day during the war, we can honestly say at this point that recent Indy’s attacks surpass even the Guardian in the level of malice and vitriol directed towards Israel and its ‘Zionist’ supporters.

Finally, you may recall that last October the Indy published a spirited editorial refuting accusations that the paper was institutionally antisemitic, claiming that the charges were “false”, “myopic” and “willfully ignorant” – words which actually quite aptly characterize the hateful agitprop directed against the Jewish State by Fisk, Bar-Hillel and Alibhai-Brown over the last few days.

Why is the Guardian ignoring recent antisemitic attacks in France? (Update)

Racist attacks targeting French Jews over the last week have included a firebomb attack on a synagogue in Paris and an individual assault on a Jewish teen, representing the latest in a wave of such antisemitic violence in France since the start of 2014.

Times of Israel reported the following in two reports on July 13:

A firebomb was hurled at a synagogue near Paris, part of a string of anti-Semitic incidents in Western Europe coinciding with Israel’s assault on Hamas in Gaza

The firebomb went off Friday night at the entrance to the synagogue of Aulnay-sous-Bois, a northeastern suburb of the French capital, according to the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA. No one was hurt and the fire resulted in minor damage, Le Monde reported.

Also, in a separate incident on the same day:

…clashes erupted at the end of [a pro-Palestinian] march on Bastille Square, with people throwing projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas. The unrest was continuing early Sunday evening.

Media reports said that hundreds of Jews were trapped inside a synagogue in the area and police units were sent to rescue them.

A person in the synagogue told Israel’s Channel 2 news that protesters hurled stones and bricks at the building, “like it was an intifada.”

Media reports said that hundreds of Jews were trapped inside a synagogue in the area and police units were sent to rescue them.

A person in the synagogue told Israel’s Channel 2 news that protesters hurled stones and bricks at the building, “like it was an intifada.”

A day earlier, on Saturday, July 12:

In Belleville, an eastern suburb of Paris, a demonstration Saturday by a few dozen people against Israel’s attack on Hamas featured calls to “slaughter the Jews,” according to Alain Azria, a French Jewish photojournalist who covered the event. The crowd also chanted “death to the Jews,” he said.

These attacks come on top of an earlier assault on a Jew in France, on July 8:

On July 8, the day that Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza, a man described as having a Middle Eastern appearance assaulted a Jewish 17-year-old girl on a Paris street near the Gare du Nord train station by spraying pepper-spray on her face, BNVCA also reported.

The girl, identified by her initials, J.L., wrote in her complaint to police that the man, who was in his 20s, shouted: “Dirty Jewess, inshallah you will die.”

Further, these attacks haven’t occurred in a vacuum.  Though these latest assaults may have been inspired by the war in Gaza, it’s undeniable that France (and the Paris region in particular) has seen an elevated level of antisemitic attacks even before the start of the conflict seven days ago.

Though they make up only 1 percent of the French population, Jews are the object of 40 percent of all hate crimes in the country, one of the factors which explain why a record number of French Jews looked set to emigrate to Israel in 2014.

Yet, if you look at the France and Israel pages of the Guardian, there are no reports on the disturbing racist attacks on French Jews.

Guardian France page, July 14th, 10:00AM (Israeli time)

france page

At the very least, it seems quite odd that a media group which fancies itself a champion of anti-racist values would ignore such attacks on innocent Jews.  

Indeed, we’ve often noted that the Guardian’s single biggest problem, as a media institution, relates to such antisemitic sins of omission – their tendency to bury or downplay even the most egregious displays of Jew hatred, both in the Middle East and the West.

Indeed, in light of the Guardian’s ubiquitous reports on Jewish ‘price tag’ attacks against Arabs in the West Bank, moral consistency would seem to demand that such putatively progressive voices at the Guardian would devote as much space to similar instances of ‘collective punishment’ against innocent Jews in the diaspora. 

UPDATE: Several hours after this post, the Guardian published an article about one of the antisemitic attacks in France.  However, it didn’t mention the firebombing of the synagogue in Paris. 

Indy TV critic decries attack on free expression by ‘powerful pro-Israel lobby’

In monitoring the UK media’s coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we’ve previously noted the curious dynamic in which even culture critics (journalists who don’t cover politics or world affairs) manage to adopt the hard left party line on Israel and the perceived power of the ‘Israeli lobby’. 

A case in point is a review at the Independent, by TV critic Gerard Gilbert, of the upcoming BBC2 mini-series The Honourable Woman starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.  The series centers on “Nessa Stein, the daughter of a murdered Zionist arms dealer who now runs a charitable London organisation seeking a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

Half-way through the largely positive review, Gilbert adds the following, seemingly out of nowhere:

The Honourable Woman’s fair-minded take on the savagely divisive Palestinian question would presumably make it nigh-on impossible to get made in America with its powerful pro-Israel lobbies.

Of course, Gilbert doesn’t bother to cite an example of any previous “fair-minded” take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was nixed due to the “powerful pro-Israel lobbies” and, indeed, the critical success of the pro-Palestinian film 5 Broken Cameras suggests that such advocacy art isn’t adversely affected by such ‘pressure groups’.

Quite interestingly, this broadside against the Israel lobby isn’t a one-off for the culture critic.

In 2011, Gilbert similarly expressed his frustration with the power of the lobby in an article at the Indy.

Here’s Gilbert’s take on a BBC programme about the controversy that surrounded Monty Python’s Life of Brian in 1979, and what he argued was the steady erosion, since that time, of the artistic freedom to engage in such criticism of religion:

Freedom of speech can be a much tougher call in the polarised 21st-century than it was in the fag-end of liberal Seventies Britain, and if BBC4 wanted to take a moment from our recent past to shed light on the present, then there are plenty of controversies of younger vintage available to them.

How about the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie in 1989 over his novel The Satanic Verses, a death sentence that remains in place today, and that led to Rushdie spending almost a decade in hiding, as well as the violent attacks against various translators and publishers (including an arson attack at a cultural festival in Turkey that left 37 people dead)? Perhaps Sanjeev Bhaskar could play Rushdie.

Or how about a drama about the Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad, and the subsequent worldwide protests, or the play Behtzi, which sparked riots by Birmingham Sikhs in 2004. Or how about, for that matter, the remorseless attacks on journalists and academics in any way critical of Israel

In response to Gilbert’s complaint about such “remorseless attacks” on the media and academia by powerful forces, The CST’s Mark Gardner observed the following:

I am unaware that the Chief Rabbi (of Britain, Israel, or anywhere else for that matter) has issued a death sentence against the Guardian, the Independent, the University and College Union, or any other “journalists and academics in any way critical of Israel”.

I am unaware of pro-Israel lobby groups having incited deadly riots against BBC offices around the world. I am unaware of British anti-Israel academics being burnt and bombed when they venture abroad.

I am unaware of rioting by Jews in Golders Green, or Tottenham, or Salford, or Gateshead, in response to British media and academic criticism of Israel.

The Indy’s Gilbert, like other UK commentators, absurdly conflates mere criticism – and other forms of legitimate political activism – by Jews and pro-Israel groups (over what’s deemed to be anti-Israel bias or even antisemitism in the public sphere) with the kind of threats or intimidation (or even violence) exhibited by some groups which truly threatens freedom of expression in the West.