CiF Watch suggestions for Palestinians who want to ‘ease tensions’ in Jerusalem

Though Benjamin Netanyahu, John Kerry and Jordan’s King Abdullah met recently to address the “recent surge of violence in Jerusalem”, the herds of independent minds in the UK media have essentially settled on a narrative to explain the “tension” in the holy city: that demands by some Jews for prayer rights at the Temple Mount incite Palestinians, thus increasing tension and violence. 

Whilst even beyond the UK media, most opinion leaders have narrowly focused on what Israeli leaders can do to calm the situation in Jerusalem and prevent an escalation, we here at CiF Watch tend to fancy the progressive notion that Palestinians possess moral agency, and therefore have a role to play in any plan to address rising tensions. 

So, inspired by a recent post at a site known for its decidedly unconventional take on the news, here’s our list of ways Palestinians can “ease the tension” in Jerusalem.

Continue reading

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”. 

Guardian culture critic characterizes Six Day War as the ‘Israeli invasion of the West Bank’

nbNicholas Blincoe is an author, critic, screenwriter and former advisor to Nick Clegg who now devotes much of his time to various forms of anti-Israel activism.  Indeed, Blincoe is an enthusiastic supporter of BDS, and has written a book sympathetic to the terrorist-abetting International Solidarity Movement.  

He also has a troubled relationship with the truth, having once opined that the mission of Israeli archeology is “to erase the traces of non-Jewish civilizations” and, as we revealed in a recent post, falsely claimed in a Guardian op-ed that Binyamin Netanyahu argued (in his book A Place Among the Nations) that Israel shouldn’t have to abide by international legal norms.

Blincoe has even praised the writings of a neo-Nazi style racist named Gilad Atzmon. 

So, we obviously weren’t expecting much – by way of adherence to journalistic and professional norms – when we came across his recent Guardian review of a new film by “Palestinian” film-maker Annemarie Jacir (Annemarie Jacir: an auteur in exile, June 5).

Sure enough, the second paragraph of his review included this ‘historical’ howler.

When I Saw You is the tale of a 12-year-old boy and his mother – though comparisons to About a Boy stop there. Set in the aftermath of the 1967 Israeli invasion of the West Bank, the film follows Tarek, a refugee living in a UN camp within sight of the land he and his mother have lost

As anyone even vaguely familiar with the war would surely know, to characterize the Six Day War in June 1967 as an “invasion of the West Bank” is supremely dishonest.  First, there is no historical debate about the fact that Israeli leaders, in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of hostilities on June 5, tried desperately to avoid a military confrontation with Arab nations which, in addition to blocking the Straits of Tiran, amassed massive quantities of troops and heavy weaponry along its borders while issuing bellicose statements predicting Israel’s imminent destruction.

More relevant to the passage at hand, even when the war began, Israeli officials – trying desperately to avoid having to fight on another front – appealed to Jordan’s King Hussein to not enter the war. It was only when – buoyed by erroneous reports of Egyptian success on the first day of the war – Jordan initiated offensive actions against Israel from east Jerusalem and the West Bank (Jordanian artillery began shelling Israeli targets from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv) that Israeli forces counter-attacked.

Of course, Nicholas Blincoe knew exactly what he was doing in obfuscating the real sequence of events in the Six Day War.  Indeed, the Palestinian narrative – especially regarding the fate of the “refugees” – requires that such activists mislead readers into believing that the occupation was the result of an Israeli war of aggression, rather than a desperate Jewish fight for survival against multiple Arab nations openly calling for Israel’s “eradication”.  

The ‘occupation’ of the West Bank and east Jerusalem was the direct result Israel’s defensive war fought during six days in June, and based on the sober determination that, absent a real peace treaty with its Arab neighbors, the state would never again allow itself to be at such a strategic disadvantage as was the case with its indefensible pre-June boundaries.

Characterizing the Six Day War as the “Israeli invasion of the West Bank” is ahistorical and dishonest, and represents the style of pro-Palestinian propaganda we’ve come to expect in almost any Guardian report, op-ed or literary criticism which so much as touches upon the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Guardian publishes letter by Gilad Atzmon ally Karl Sabbagh

Karl Sabbagh, the British academic and author of Palestine: A Personal History, had a letter published at the Guardian on Jan 9:

Harry Goldstein’s assertion (Letters, 7 January) that the Palestinians were “offered [a state] in 1947 and refused, preferring to make war on Israel“, must be challenged. The Palestinians were told that 56% of their existing state of Palestine was to be taken away and made into a Jewish state, even though half of the population of the “Jewish” area was Arab. Since the Jews made it clear they wanted even more than the 56% and would take it by force, the Arab armies, far smaller in number and less well-armed than the Jews, moved up to the border of the Jewish state, in an attempt to protect the remaining territory they had been allocated, and stop Israel taking those areas by force. They failed either to stop the Jewish armies or to prevent them expelling Palestinian Arabs from a land in which they had once formed 90% of the population. – Karl Sabbagh

Even by Guardian standards, this is an especially egregious distortion of historical reality.  

First, contrary to what Sabbagh implies, there was never an “existing state of Palestine”. Further, the suggestion that Jews were the belligerent party in 1947-48 represents a remarkable inversion, as it was the Jews (and not the Arabs) who accepted partition, despite the fact that it gave them only a small portion of the land previously promised to them. (Indeed, 77% of the landmass of the original Mandate for the Jews was excised in 1922 to create a fourth Arab state – today Jordan.)

Arab leaders didn’t unleash their armies merely to adjust the borders, but were completely clear that their goal was the total annihilation of the nascent Jewish state.

“I personally wish that the Jews do not drive us to this war, as this will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Tartar massacre or the Crusader wars”. – Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, October 11, 1947

To Arab leaders in the months before and after partition, a Jewish state of any size was intolerable.

Of course,  Sabbagh’s historical distortions concerning Israel’s creation aren’t at all surprising when you consider that he wrote a blurb for one of the most antisemitic books to be published in several years.

“Gilad Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who? is as witty and thought-provoking as its title.  But it is also an important book, presenting conclusions about Jews, Jewishness and Judaism which some will find shocking but which are essential to an understanding of Jewish identity politics and the role they play on the world stage.” Karl Sabbagh 

(You can see more about Atzmon’s extreme antisemitism here.)

Finally, here’s a video of Sabbagh in a panel discussion about the book ‘The Wandering Who?’ heaping more effusive praise on Atzmon.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Jewish Empire? The Guardian refers to communities in Jerusalem as “colonies”.

Whilst we’re all too used to Guardian reports which demonize Israeli communities on the ‘wrong’ side of the 1949 armistice lines, we occasionally notice that their reporters at times adopt language about the ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria which parrots that of the most extreme anti-Zionist activists.  

A perfect example of this rhetorical expression of pro-Palestinian sympathy was Harriet Sherwood’s use of the term “political prisoners” in a Guardian story in May to characterize the pre-Oslo prisoners, all of whom were convicted of (mostly terrorist related) murder, accessory to murder or attempted murder.  Though we were able to influence the Guardian to remove that grossly inaccurate term from the article in question, we recently came across another example of the propagandistic manipulation of language in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

In “Middle East peace talks: prisoner release and new settlement push raises temperature, August 11th, Harriet Sherwood writes the following: [emphasis added]

“Eight hundred of the new homes will be built in colonies across the pre-1967 Green Line in Jerusalem – the part of the city the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state. Construction could take two years. All settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.”

Similarly, a month earlier in “EU takes tougher stance on Israeli settlements“, Sherwood wrote this: 

“The European Union has dealt a harsh blow to the Israeli settlement enterprise in a directive that insists all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish colonies in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.”

Of course, the word “colonies”, as it is normally understood, typically refers to a group of people from one country who settle in a foreign country distant from their homeland – an accurate characterization of the former British Empire, for instance.  Indeed, by the early 20th century Britain had ‘acquired’ foreign colonies representing over one-quarter of the world’s land mass, including territories in Africa and Asia thousands of miles from the British mainland, with large indigenous populations.

The neighborhoods in “East” Jerusalem to which Sherwood refers – areas such as Pisgat Ze’ev and Gilo which non-Jews, including Israeli Arabs, will also live – are currently uninhabited and are adjacent to existing Israeli neighborhoods.

map of jerusalem borders 67 before and after

To refer even to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) as “colonies” is ahistorical, given the historical Jewish connection to these ancient lands, but to impute such a pejorative status to such neighborhoods in Jerusalem is nothing more than extremist agitprop – denying Jews’ religious and historical connection to the city (literally the epicenter of the faith), as well as Jews’ continuous presence there for thousands of years.

The only time of course that “Arab East Jerusalem” was indeed completely Arab (without any Jews) was after the Arab-Israeli War in 1948-49 during which they were forcefully expelled by the Jordanians – a Judenfrei status which only ended in 1967. 

To refer to neighborhoods in Jerusalem where Israelis live as “colonies” not only grotesquely distorts history and ordinary language, but also echoes the hateful anti-Zionist rhetoric of Mondoweiss, Electronic Intifada and Ben White – those who continually attempt to undermine not only the legitimacy of the “settlements” but the very right of the Jewish state to exist within any borders. 

Cageprisoners, Rowntree Trust and “Jews did 9/11”.

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the Community Security Trust

The “Jews did 9/11″ lie says everything about the enduring nature and appeal of antisemitism in our modern world. It is a Big Lie that draws on a long and dangerous tradition of blaming Jews.

Usually, racism depicts its victims as primitive and inferior. This is where antisemitism is different. It depicts Jews as powerful and cunning, as if Jews are superior: rather than inferior. (Except in a moral sense that is. Antisemites always depict Jews as being morally inferior.)

The antisemitic mindset regards itself as the little guy, bravely exposing and opposing the fiendish might of concealed Jewish power.

Humans killed the son of G-d? Blame the Jews. Plague? Blame the Jews. Lost World War One? Blame the Jews. Losing World War Two? Blame the Jews. Twin Towers destroyed, facilitating a “War on Terror” charade against the Muslim world? Blame the Jews.

Now, an antisemitic anti-Zionist variant of “The Jews did 9/11” slander is on the website of Cageprisoners. It is not the straightforward (and widely believed) Hizbollah version, whereby 4,000 Jews were cunningly warned to throw a sickie on 9/11. Instead, it is an article claiming that 9/11 could be an insurance job involving so-called ”Zionist” billionaires. (For actual detail / content see the foot of this blog post.)

This article actually draws upon two antisemitic traditions. As well as the Big Lie of blaming Jews, we have the Jewish lightning slur: a snide little phrase meaning a fire that is deliberately set so the owner can falsely claim insurance. This term (which is not in the actual Cageprisoners article) associates Jews with money and fakery, so its ’logic’ is not so different to the thinking that underpins many antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Nevertheless, Cageprisoners is nothing like as fringe as one might expect. It is a British advocacy group that is given respect by mainstream media; and has, in six years, received £300,000 in grants (including  £255,000 “core costs” in 2008-2014) from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. In 2010, it was at the centre of a controversy with Amnesty International. Cageprisoners Ltd describes itself as:

a human rights organisation (company registration no: 6397573) that exists solely to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror.

Until his overdue return to Jordan, one of Cageprisoners’ best known clients was the notorious Abu Qatada. CST Blog recently quoted UK legal documents citing Qatada in 1996 and 1999 advising British Muslim youth on the killing of Jews, including Jewish children. We also noted how this fact had been ignored by Victoria Brittain, on the Guardian website. For brevity, we did not say that Brittain’s awful Guardian apologia for Qatada was similar to another article she did for Cageprisoners.


Blind-eyeing Qatada’s alleged antisemitic incitement to murder Jewish children is bad enough, but at least it fitted a larger picture of Brittain having ignored reams of other evidence against him. Now, we have Cageprisoners running an antisemitic anti-Zionist 9/11 conspiracy article. Perhaps they think it also fits a larger picture: standing up to the power of Jewish Zionists?

The article is by Kevin Barrett, an American who runs Truth Jihad Radio, talks of “Zio-Nazis” (here, disgracefully with United Nations Human Rights rapporteur Richard Falk), and seems determined to prove that no Muslim perpetrated 9/11.

Barrett’s article comes from the website of Iranian state broadcaster Press TV, where you can find numerous grotesque antisemitic articles (ranging from Holocaust denial to Jews run global narcotics).

Barrett’s article quotes heavily from another American, Christopher Bollyn, whose “islamic-intelligence” website is here (but please consider if you really wish to access it from your computer). On his site, Bollyn states:

I am currently working on the next chapter of Solving 9-11, “9-11 and the Elders of Zion.”

This chapter will focus on the secret Jewish network which is behind the crimes of 9-11 — and the cover-up — and the illegal wars of aggression in the Middle East.

…The fact that all of the key players in the sordid 9-11 saga are Zionist Jews has already been established and proven.

What needs to be proven and clarified is how the conspirators are connected in a secret criminal cabal. This will identify the true architects – and culprits – of the crime of the century.

…This chapter will do that by identifying the secret network which connects all the key players of 9-11. By exposing the connections between the main actors it can be proven that there is a secret Zionist brotherhood to which the terror architects of 9-11 all belong.

This is a plain example of antisemitic anti-Zionism, combining “Elders of Zion” (ie The Protocols), “secret Jewish network” and “secret criminal cabal”, with “Zionist Jews” and “secret Zionist brotherhood”.

Barrett’s article, on Cageprisoners website, does not use such obvious antisemitic terms as Bollyn. Instead, it talks throughout about Zionists and their money links. It is archetypal of an antisemitic slander that is dressed up in (extreme) anti-Zionist clothing for ease of sale.

But why would it appeal to Cageprisoners?

Cageprisoners’ basic narrative is that “the war on terror” is an excuse for America and Britain to terrorise the Muslim world; and many of those accused of Jihadist terrorism are innocent proof of the evil power of the US / UK secret state.

From this worldview, it is a relatively short step to believe that the entire “war on terror” charade is founded upon a lie, perpetrated by the same secret state that now exploits it for its own malign purpose. How seductive must it then be to allege that 9/11 itself was a foundation myth, perpetrated not by Jihadists, but rather by the usual suspects? After all, if you regard it as axiomatic that Zionists and Israel are an intimate – but concealed – component of the US / UK “war on terror”, then you are on the doorstep of all sorts of conspiracy tales about Jews, Zionists, Israel and the West.

Regardless of how Cageprisoners came to run Barrrett’s article, if 9/11 conspiracies are to be a new part of their victimhood narrative, then they will become an actively antisemitic organisation: rather than just another ‘pro-human rights’ UK institution that turns two blind eyes to antisemitism because it suits them to do so.

To conclude, some actual excerpts from Barrett’s article are shown below. His final sentence is especially striking:

In order to triumph, truth and justice will have to defeat the world’s wealthiest and most powerful criminal network.

Jews know what this is a reference to. Do Cageprisoners? Do they care? Do their funders and partners and co-publishers?

Barrett / Cageprisoners:

[World Trade Center owner] Silverstein engineered his purchase of the Trade Center through fellow Zionist billionaire Lewis Eisenberg

…As Christopher Bollyn wrote in 2002:

“Silverstein and Eisenberg have both held leadership positions with the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), a billion dollar Zionist ‘charity’ organization. Silverstein is a former chairman of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, Inc. This is an umbrella organization which raises hundreds of millions of dollars every year for its network of hundreds of member Zionist agencies in the United States and Israel.”

According to Ha’aretz, Silverstein is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. They speak on the phone every weekend.

…The insurance companies have likewise neglected to mention that after doubling his insurance coverage immediately before 9/11, Silverstein re-doubled his winnings

…on the morning of 9/11, Silverstein and his daughter both failed to show up for their daily breakfast at Windows on the World restaurant atop the North Tower.

…Like Silverstein and Eisenberg, Hellerstein is a rabid Zionist with close ties to Israel. The judge’s son and sister both emigrated from the US to orthodox Zionist settlements in the Occupied Territories.

Investigative journalist Christopher Bollyn writes:

“Hellerstein’s son is an Israeli lawyer who emigrated to Israel in 2001 and whose law firm works for and with the Rothschild-funded Mossad company responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks.”

…Additionally, Bollyn writes, “Both Alvin Hellerstein and his son Joseph worked for the well-known Jewish law firm of Stroock, Stroock & Lavan before moving to the positions they now hold…Stroock, Stroock & Lavan played a key role in the setting up of 9-11…Stroock has a long history of representing the Rothschilds and other high-level Zionists.”

…In order to triumph, truth and justice will have to defeat the world’s wealthiest and most powerful criminal network.

Guardian refers to ‘Judea and Samaria’ as “right-wing” terms

The Guardian’s Middle East editor Ian Black published a report on July 16 about new EU guidelines on Israeli “settlements” – a so-called “territorial applicability clause” which spells out the rules, beginning in 2014, on funding projects across the green line. Whilst the original story in Haaretz – as Yair Rosenberg explained in a superb piece at Tablet – significantly exaggerated the importance of the new policy, Black’s story included a passage which itself reflects an extremely skewed understanding of the region.  

Black wrote the following: 

The EU’s “territorial applicability clause” spells out that there can be consequences for flouting UN resolutions and international legality. Not enormous ones, true, but they still include funding, co-operation, scholarships, research funds and prizes for institutions in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem…

The new Brussels guidelines are hardly the “earthquake” described in Jerusalem. But they do reflect changes on the ground in the territory that Israeli rightwingers call by the biblical names of Judea and Samaria and do not recognise as the heartland of Palestinian national aspirations.

However, Black’s implication that the term “West Bank” is the historically correct term and “Judea and Samaria” are modern, right-wing “settler” terms, has no basis in fact.  The term “West Bank” was not a term ever used by the area’s inhabitants or, for that matter, by anyone at all, until King Abdullah’s army occupied the territory after crossing the Jordan westward during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

As the Language Blog at the Jewish Daily Forward explained:

“Judea” and “Samaria,” the Hebrew “Yehuda” and “Shomron,” are not [merely] biblical words for the hill districts south and north of Jerusalem that were revived by Israeli nationalists after the 1967 war. That is, they are indeed biblical words, but they have been used by Jews through the ages and have been the standard Hebrew terms for these parts of Palestine since the beginnings of Zionist settlement in the late 19th century.

In 1950 (a year after Israel’s War of Independence) Abdullah annexed the “West Bank,” [a translation of the Arabic term al-daf’a al-gharbiya] – a move that was protested by the rest of the Arab world as a land grab over the heads of the Palestinians. Already, the previous year, he had changed the official name of his country from The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to indicate that it now comprised territory on both sides of the Jordan River rather than only on its eastern side. And to drive home this point, the Jordanians encouraged the use of the terms “East Bank” and “West Bank” as a way of stressing that theirs was a single country that straddled a river running through it. Eventually, “West Bank” became a term used by the “West Bankers” themselves, as well as by the rest of the world.

After the 1967 Six Day War, the term “West Bank” became more common among many on the left to refer to “Judea and Samaria” as a way of expressing opposition to Jews’ re-established presence in the land – as if these lands were suddenly, due to the political situation, devoid of Jewish history.  

As Elder of Ziyon noted, official UN documents routinely used “Judea and Samaria” until the end of the British Mandate, and in fact didn’t begin capitalizing the words “West Bank” until after the Six Day War.  Further, before there were any settlements all, the Israeli government led by the left-wing Labor Party (under Levi Eshkol) called the area “Judea and Samaria” – as this 1968 UPI article, to cite but one example, shows.  

“Judea and Samaria” (Yehuda and Shomron) are the proper Hebrew words for “the central hill country of [historic] Palestine between the Galilee and the Negev”, and using “West Bank” merely because that term became popular under Jordanian rule, which lasted less than 20 years, makes no more sense than referring to eastern Jerusalem as “historically Arab East Jerusalem” because, during that same short span, Jews were ethnically cleansed from the area.

Palestinians routinely use language which downplays or erases Jews’ connection to Jerusalem and the entire land of Israel, and those in the media who use “right-wing” (in the pejorative) to characterize Israelis who fight back against such ahistorical narratives demonstrates how susceptible they are to the most cynical anti-Zionist propaganda. 

Abu Qatada: a lesson for British Jews

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Finally, Abu Qatada is back in Jordan, facing questioning about terrorism. The extradition has been a lengthy legal saga, summarised by headlines such as “hate preacher” and “send him back”.

The Guardian Comment is Free website has two articles on Britain’s handling of Abu Qatada. The first of these, by Victoria Brittain, is simply a blanket defence of him. The second, by Simon Jenkins, is far more ambiguous. Neither article details Abu Qatada’s actual UK activities in the 1990s and early 2000s, such as his links to British Muslims who later became terrorists, or his links and financing with overseas “mujahideen”: despite these facts being well-known and having appeared in Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) judgements.

The SIAC evidence is extensive. The 2007 judgement reads like a 1990′s and early 2000′s who’s who of the global jihad movement. Section 84 is one of its more succinct paragraphs:

In short, his views are to be found linked to many terrorist groups and their actions, providing the religious cover they seek; he propagates radicalising views, and his fund-raising is aimed at advancing the Islamist extremist cause.

The SIAC judgements also reference Abu Qatada’s incitement for the murdering of British Jews (from 2007, section 28):

…even in December 1996, the Appellant was already proclaiming that it was acceptable to fight Jews within the UK.

Similarly, section 31, but now with Jewish children clarified as legitimate targets. Britons and Americans are also added (presumably this also includes British and American children):

In October 1999, the Appellant made a speech at the Four Feathers mosque [in Marylebone, London] in which he effectively issued a fatwa authorising the killing of Jews, including Jewish children.  He told the congregation that Americans should be attacked wherever they were, that in his view they were no better than Jews and that there was no difference between English, Jews and Americans.

The Guardian coverage is important because it shows how some liberal-left opinion makers and activists are blinding themselves (and others) to the realities of extremism. British Jews have long despaired at the failure of such people to acknowledge antisemitism when it comes from Arab or Muslim sources, but this coverage of Abu Qatada shows that selective blindness to antisemitism is only part of a wider failing.

For British Jews, the lesson is obvious. If these people are even soft on Abu Qatada, then we should expect absolutely nothing from them regarding any overseas hatred or incitement: whether that is Hizbollah terrorism against Diaspora Jews, Hamas terrorism against Israel, the appalling overall levels of antisemitic attitudes and hate speech, or visits by overseas preachers to the UK.

To return specifically to these two Guardian articles, Victoria Brittain’s is by far the more obviously ridiculous. It’s title is a classic of the genre:

I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist

Usually, it is the Guardian sub-editors who choose how to entitle articles, based upon their reading of them. So, Victoria Brittain may not have actually called it this. Her article lauds Abu Qatada as “a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while in prison”. He phones his kids from prison to encourage their homework etc, but Brittain does not explicitly say that Abu Qatada is no terrorist. Instead, it is Qatada’s family that is “innocent” and:

No one suggests Othman [ie Qatada] is physically dangerous himself.

Which may even be true, but it completely ducks the central allegation that he encourages many others whom we might describe as “physically dangerous”. 

Brittain also says, “no one has pointed to anything controversial that he is alleged to have said since the mid-1990s”. Perhaps Brittain does not regard the 1999 example of incitement to killing Jews (including their children and Britons and Americans) as controversial. She also says that the security services should have followed her lead:

If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar…I believe that, rather than being scapegaoted, his moral standards could have been useful in engaging Muslim youth.

British Jews should be deeply thankful that Muslim youth are no longer exposed to Abu Qatada’s “moral standards”. Besides, the security services did, repeatedly, speak to Abu Qatada. SIAC states (2007, section 29) that he:

…warned his congregation to be wary of MI5’s approaches and provided them with physical descriptions and names of MI5 officers approaching Muslims.

So much for Victoria Brittain, but is such a person really someone whom British Jews (and others) should take seriously? Sadly, almost unbelievably, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Brittain was associate foreign editor of the Guardian, is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and offered £10,000 surety money for Sheikh Ra’ed Salah.

CST believed Sheikh Salah had preached a sermon in Jerusalem that included a blood libel, alleging that Jews need the blood of non-Jews for “holy bread”. CST supported the Home Secretary’s ban on him. The ban was condemned by the Guardian, which also misrepresented Jewish and Home Office concerns and actions. Salah eventually won his appeal, despite being found to have made the blood libel speech (see ruling pdf here, section 59). The Guardian’s defence of him never relented and they never did acknowledge the blood libel ruling (see CST pdf here, p.18-22).

If Brittain defends Abu Qatada, then is it any wonder she defended the far less clear-cut case of Salah? Ditto the comments pages of the Guardian.

The Guardian’s other comment piece on Abu Qatada is by one of its senior regular writers, Simon Jenkins. Chairman of the National Trust, former editor of the Times and Evening Standard, he is somewhat more establishment than Victoria Brittain.

Jenkins’ article differs markedly from Brittain’s piece, but is another important marker in how Qatada is viewed, and what we can therefore expect regarding all those other cases that are far less clear-cut. His position starts out promisingly enough:

The state is entitled to deport people it considers a threat…I have no problem in sending home people in the category of Abu Qatada, who arrived on false documents, became an ally and counsellor to terrorists and then cited fear of torture as a reason for not being deported…

However, it then turns very lazy:

That said, Abu Qatada by all accounts does not fall into the ranting cleric category of his contemporary, Abu Hamza. He is closer to the vagrant revolutionary tradition to which London has offered refuge throughout history. The city should be big enough to encompass him, even if his activities merited watching…

Jenkins knows enough to realise that the charges against Abu Qatada are extensive, but ultimately he seems to be simply failing to take Abu Qatada seriously. Whatever the cause of this ambivalence, it is yet another reason why British Jews can have no confidence in such circles to safeguard their wellbeing; and the rest of society ought to feel exactly the same.

Finally, for light relief, compare Victoria Brittain’s “He’s no terrorist” schtick with this brief Simpson’s excerpt below.

Guardian’s former associate foreign editor: I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist.

A Jordanian military prosecutor on Sunday filed charges against the radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada on suspicions of being a key al-Qaeda operative in Europe.  Abu Qatada, who had landed in Amman after being deported from the UK, was charged with conspiring to carry out attacks on Americans, Israelis and other Western targets.

The following is a ‘Comment is Free’ headline and strap line which introduces a July 7 commentary‘ by the Guardian’s former associate foreign editor (and Palestinian Solidarity Campaign ‘Patron), Victoria Brittain.


Whilst I suggest you read the whole essay, here are some highlights:

the most recent phase of this long saga has left poison in our society. The home secretary, prime minister, mayor of London, countless MPs – including senior Labour party figures – have led the media in reckless and prejudiced comments, making [Abu Qatada] the most demonised individual in Britain.

The mantra of the home secretary, Theresa May, that “this is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist”, has been repeated so often that the facts have been forgotten. No one suggests Othman is physically dangerous himself. No one has charged him with anything, except the Jordanians with the torture-tainted evidence. No one has pointed to anything controversial that he is alleged to have said since the mid-1990s.

Our security services and politicians turned this man into an Islamic counter-terrorism myth. If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while he was in prison. His home is filled with books. His children have excelled at school, with help and encouragement from his daily phone calls from prison.

I have been a friend of Othman’s wife and daughters for some years, and have had many opportunities to talk to him in prison and when he was at home on bail. I’ve been struck by his dignity and lack of bitterness over his family’s treatment, and I believe that, rather than being scapegoated, his moral standards could have been useful in engaging Muslim youth and healing the wounds in our divided society.

Even by Guardian standards, Brittain’s apologia on behalf of Abu Qatada is simply stunning.  And, briefly, for those who may not be completely familiar with Abu Qatada’s dossier, here’s a summary:

A 127-page report by the UK Home Office claims that from his base in London, Abu Qatada became a key al-Qaeda operative in Europe and a “godfather of global terrorism”, whose sermons and writing inspired several al-Qaeda members. Videos of his sermons were found in the Hamburg apartment of Mohammed Atta, a ringleader among the 9/11 hijackers.

Abu Qatada is accused of involvement in a failed plan known as the “millennium conspiracy” in 2000, to detonate explosives against Western and Israeli targets during millennium celebrations.

Abu Qatada became a “mentor” for international jihadists, who quoted his writings often.

In October 1999, Abu Qatada reportedly made a speech in which, as even the Guardian reported, “he effectively issued a fatwa authorising the killing of Jews, including Jewish children.”

In 1999 Abu Qatada told his congregation at Finsbury Park Mosque that Americans should be attacked, wherever they were because, in his view, they were no better than Jews.

In autumn 2002, a poem attributed to Abu Qatada appeared online praising Osama bin Laden and glorifying the 9/11 attacks.

In another sermon he is said to have stated that it was not a sin for a Muslim to kill a non-believer for the sake of Islam.

Abu Qatada is wanted on terrorism charges in the U.S., Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Algeria and his native Jordan. .

But, evidently none of this matters – not his association with al-Qaeda, or his fatwas calling for violence, including his authorising the murder of Jews and all non-believers – because, the Guardian’s former associate foreign editor assures us, Abu Qatada is a “scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests” who has high “moral standards” and loves his children.

As we’ve argued previously, the most egregious problem at the Guardian is not, per se, explicitly Judeophobic commentary published by their contributors, but, rather, the insidious moral cover the media group often provides for the most extreme, reactionary Islamist anti-Semites in Europe and the Muslim world.  Those unable to summon outrage over an al-Qaeda supporter who sanctions the murder of innocent Jewish children in the name of Islam are – at the very least – morally guilty of abetting the most dangerous manifestations of Jew hatred.

Palestinian ‘refugees’, hypocrisy and unity: just follow the money

Cross posted at ‘This Ongoing War’, a blog edited by Frimet and Arnold Roth 

The Arab-on-Arab bloodbath just across Israel’s northern border goes on and on, and with it the incredible – and worsening – suffering of ordinary Syrians. That is, in significant ways, a function of politically correct but morally repugnant decision-making of the ‘world community’.

Syrian Refugees January 2013

Syrian Refugees January 2013

The decades-long handling of the Palestinian Arabs as a uniquely deserving cause is revealed for the scam it always was. People are paying with their lives for the double-talk about the ‘refugees’. Those people are not only Arabs, but in many cases they are also the close kin of the undeserving beneficiaries of the Palestinian Arab Victimhood industry.

Evelyn Gordon writes (“How UNRWA Steals Money from Those Who Need It Most“) about the current threat by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to halt all relief operations in Syria and for the benefit of Syrian refugees. 1.3 million of them are being looked after until now; the number – given the ongoing unchecked savagery throughout Syria – is certain to grow.

$1.5 billion was pledged to the UN agency by donors earlier this year; only $400 million has turned up. That’s a shortfall of more than 70%. What can we learn from this?

For anyone familiar with the way Arab national giving works, this is a constant: fancy rhetoric and high-flying speeches about Arab solidarity and Arab unity and Arab generosity, followed by… not much. Is there a shortage of available cash in the oil-soaked Arab world? Not really. (We wrote about the phenomenon of $600 million recreational yachts a few days ago. See 10-Apr-13: “I cannot help but cry out long live the descendants of apes and pigs”)

 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that unless more money arrives (read: unless the promises of funding are honored, which so far has not happened), UNHCR is going to stop distributing food to refugees in Lebanon from May. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with the largest population of Syrian refugees, has said it will close its borders to more of them; it cannot cope without aid.

Now pause. 

Evelyn Gordon writes about a different (a very different) UN agency that deals with refugees, one that

enjoys comfortable funding of about $1 billion a year to help a very different group of refugees–refugees who generally live in permanent homes rather than flimsy tents in makeshift camps; who have never faced the trauma of flight and dislocation, having lived all their lives in the place where they were born; who often have jobs that provide an income on top of their refugee benefits; and who enjoy regular access to schooling, healthcare and all the other benefits of non-refugee life… Their generous funding continues undisturbed even as Syrian refugees are facing the imminent loss of such basics as food and fresh water. I am talking, of course, about UNRWA.

People who have never heard this before think we’re making this up, so please read carefully and verify: 

It has long been clear that UNRWA–which deals solely with Palestinian refugees, while UNHCR bears responsibility for all other refugees on the planet–is a major obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Since, unlike UNHCR, it grants refugee status to the original refugees’ descendants in perpetuity, the number of Palestinian refugees has ballooned from under 700,000 in 1949 to over five million today, even as the world’s non-Palestinian refugee population has shrunk from over 100 million to under 30 million. Moreover, while UNHCR’s primary goal is to resettle refugees, UNRWA hasn’t resettled a single refugee in its history… It has thereby perpetuated and exacerbated the Palestinian refugee problem to the point where it has become the single greatest obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement… Unfortunately for the Syrians, it seems that many of the world’s self-proclaimed humanitarians prefer harming Israel to helping those who need it most. [Evelyn Gordon]

Last year, we asked [in a post called “5-Jun-12: If there’s one single thing about UNRWA that we wish people understood, it’s this] a question that, if it were to get an honest answer, might point to a genuine breakthrough in resolving our neighbourhood’s problems.

If (to borrow the laughable claims made by its many supporters) UNRWA’s work is so important, if it brings us closer to peace, if it restores dignity to the lives of dispossessed and destitute Arabs, then why, when you look at the top twenty list of donors to this agency that exists entirely from donations, do you see that only one is Arab (the Islamic Development Bank). What is it about UNRWA that the Arab states understand better than the nations and tax-payers of the West?

Allow us to restate this in a simpler way:

Arab leaders, many of whom preside over phenomenal cash resources, (a)  to the strange UN agency that exists specifically to support the most beloved cause that exists in the Arab world – the Palestinians. And (b) they fail to honour their pledges (as we noted above) to fund the one organization that can do something to relieve the genuine suffering of the Syrians, tens of thousands of whom have been killed in the past two years’ Arab-on-Arab fighting and millions of whom are now desperate to find shelter.

The role of rampant hypocrisy in explaining what happens in global politics is under-appreciated.

If visiting Jordan, take precautions in light of the Kingdom’s dangerous lurch to the right

jordanThose of us who live in the liberal Jewish state have become accustomed to suffering through the steady stream of unhinged, if predictable, stories in the Guardian – as well as in the mainstream media – warning ominously of Israel’s dangerous political lurch to the right.

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland (one of the more sober Guardian journalists) was the most recent Guardian contributor to warn of Israel’s pronounced shift to the right, but such warnings, with varying degrees of hysterics, have been advanced continually – with several CiF contributors even evoking the risible specter of an Israeli descent into fascism

The relative media blackout (outside a few Jewish and Israeli sources) about recent news from Jordan, on the other hand, demonstrating an extreme right political culture, is quite telling.

If you’re planning to visit the sprawling, modern metropolis of Amman, the ancient city of Petra, or one of the many beautiful seaside resorts in Aqaba, you may want to pack your bags taking into account the necessary cultural sensitivities.

The the Jordanian Tourism Ministry has recently issued a memo to tour operators warning Jewish visitors not to wear “Jewish clothing”, or pray in public places, in order to avoid possible antisemitic attacks.

Times of Israel reported the following:

“According to a copy of a ministry memo issued at the end of November, Amman instructed Jordanian tour operators to inform their Israeli counterparts to advise Israeli visitors not to wear “Jewish dress” or perform “religious rituals in public places” so as to prevent an unfriendly reaction by Jordanian citizens.

Israelis and Jews are typically advised not to wear outwardly Jewish clothes or symbols, and occasionally are met with trouble from Jordanian authorities when crossing the border.

Earlier this year, six Israeli tourists were assaulted in a market in southern Jordan after vendors were angered by their traditional Jewish skullcaps.

The six men and women arrived at a market in the town of Rabba, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the capital Amman, when one of the vendors identified the tourists as Israeli due to mens’ skullcaps, which “provoked the sensibilities of the vendors,” independent daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm reported.”

Yes, those “sensibilities”. 

Now, remember that the Jewish population of Jordan is literally zero, and while the phenomenon of antisemtism without Jews is not unique to Jordan the mere ubiquity of such irrational anti-Jewish racism certainly shouldn’t render it any less abhorrent. 

Further, while Israel’s progressive advantages in the Mid-East are self-evident, and well-documented, Jordan is consistently given one of the worst scores on human rights by the respected organization, Freedom House. In addition to the state’s systemic abrogation of political rights (such as severe restrictions on political expression and the media), an even more remarkable and under-reported violation of democratic norms relates to the Kingdom’s treatment of a much discussed group: hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are still denied the right to vote.   

So, if, according to the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, Likud-Beiteinu represents a “right-wing alliance”; the Jewish Home party is an “extreme right-wing nationalist”, how should observers characterize the political center of gravity in a neighboring state which denies basic civil rights, creates an apartheid like system for Palestinians, and is so infected with Judeophobia that the government warned Jewish visitors not to pray, wear Jewish symbols, or even wear “Jewish clothes”? 

Can we fairly characterize Jordanian political culture as dangerously reactionary, racist, extremist, and ultra, ultra, ultra far-right?

Naturally, Guardian’s Jordan page has absolutely nothing by any of its liberal reporters or commentators warning of the nation’s dangerous lurch to the extreme right abyss. 

Could it be that most journalists within the mainstream media – and at the Guardian – fail to hold Arab states accountable to the same moral standards as they do the Jewish state?

Of course, such an ethnically and religiously based disparity in journalistic critical scrutiny would be racist, wouldn’t it?

Related articles

The moral necessity of despair when Arab teachers object to the humanization of Jews

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard once commented that, sometimes, the only proper reaction to a particular event is despair.

The following represents such an example.

According to a recent reportrumors of a UN decision to introduce Holocaust studies in schools in Palestinian refugee camps run by UNRWA  have outraged Jordanian teachers, who say they will refuse to teach history that “harms the Palestinian cause.”

Roughly two million Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA’s Jordan offices, and they operate 172 schools in 10 refugee camps across the kingdom.

The Executive Committee of UNRWA teachers in Jordan responded to news that Holocaust studies would be added to the curriculum on ‘conflict resolution’ by issuing a statement which reads in part: 

“We condemn this decision, which equates the butcher and the victim,” [emphasis added]

The teachers’ statement demanded instead classes on the Palestinian “right of return” to Israel.

The statement continued:

‘Teaching UNRWA students about the so-called ‘Holocaust’ as part of human rights harms the Palestinian cause … and changes the students’  views regarding their main enemy, namely the Israeli occupation.”

“We shall monitor the curriculum being taught under the title ‘concepts of human rights’ [which is] aimed at reducing [Palestinian] students’ awareness of the right of return…” 

The reaction by Jordanian teachers follows a decision last year, by the association of UNRWA employees, to ban the introduction of Holocaust studies in UNRWA schools.

Remember that these are not Islamist extremists we’re talking about, but middle class Jordanian educators, ordinary men and women who evidently are outraged by “rumors” of a UN decision to teach children about the Nazi slaughter of one out of every three Jews on earth.

Identifying with six million victims of Nazi genocide is evidently seen as harming the Palestinian cause.

Moreover, it’s important to understand that though the Holocaust did not come close to putting an end to antisemitism across the world, news of the unspeakable horrors in extermination camps such as Auschwitz, Sobibor, Treblinka and Majdanek did attach to expressions of Judeophobia, in most of the enlightened world, a significant moral stigma. 

Holocaust memory in our times creates a bulwark of sorts against the most virulent expressions of antisemitism, as it demonstrates the potential deadly consequences of unchallenged racism against Jews – and, indeed, against other minorities.

It is indeed telling that the central address of antisemitism in modern times is the Arab and Muslim Middle East – where the cultural antibodies against Jew hatred have failed to materialize.

If the citizens of the Middle East were to internalize the lessons of the Holocaust they would be forced to confront their own society’s often homicidal  antisemitism – a self-reflective habit of mind which the honor-shame culture of the Arab world does not promote.

The reaction by Jordanian teachers to the suggestion that they educate Palestinian children about the unspeakable crimes committed against Jews is, therefore, not surprising, as such a curriculum would necessarily turn a mirror on their own extensive moral and cultural shortcomings.

Finally, how can anyone seriously contemplate Palestinian peace with living Jews if they are often unable to reconcile themselves with even the humanity of murdered Jews?

The only healthy response to such stories is simply despair.

Look East, Ghada Karmi, not west, for your ‘One-State Solution’

A guest post by AKUS

For years British academic and self-styled Palestinian (and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor) Ghada Karmi has been a staunch supporter of the idea of a “unitary” Palestinian state of Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.  That is, she supports a Palestinian state comprising all the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Notably, she does not include what is today known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. “Trans-Jordan” was also originally part of the British Palestinian Mandate until Churchill ceded it to the Hashemites as the counter weight to the Jewish Homeland pledged by Lord Balfour that would exist between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Karmi’s position represents a full version of the  “the one state solution”, including the supposed Palestinian “Right of Return”, and restoration of “stolen land” to ensure what she believes is the appropriate balance of demographic, economic and therefore political power  in this “unitary state”. There would be an Arab majority evidently agreeing to allow a Jewish minority to exist on whatever small area of land they are not forcibly “returned” to those claiming to be descendants of pre-1948 owners.   

She apparently believes – in the face of all evidence to the contrary – that this would be a secular democracy and Jews could live safely among the democratic and enlightened Arab majority.

For good measure, she believes it is the ‘racist Israeli public’ that prevents such an obvious and beneficial solution to the conflict.

In July 2002 she wrote the following, in an article titled ‘Bi-nationalism and the right of return‘, which accurately sums up her views:

“In the context of a unitary state solution, the bi-national state proposal is obviously less unacceptable, since it can be designed to mimic closely a two-state solution tipped in favor of the stronger side. But from a Palestinian viewpoint, for bi-nationalism to be equitable and not just a re-hash of the present formula of Israeli hegemony, it must provide for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to the state and for restitution of the land and resources which were stolen from them. The Jewish law of return must be cancelled and the bi-national state should be configured along non-Zionist lines, since it was the exclusivist and discriminatory nature of Zionism, which created the original problem. The prominent Israeli sociologist, Sami Smoocha, who conducted several surveys of Jewish society since the 1970s, has observed that the Jewish public in Israel was ‘both racist and rigid’ and it was this which was the cause of the persisting Jewish-Arab conflict.”

On September 20th, 2012, in a ‘Comment is Free’ piece, Palestinians need a one-state solution, she castigated the Palestinian Authority and its attempt to get UN backing for a Palestinian State (perhaps including Gaza with the West Bank, or perhaps not) that wouldn’t include the incorporation of Israel’s population and territory. Once again she took pains to point out the huge advantage, in her eyes, of a single cis-Jordanian state with a large Arab population:

“This situation demands a new Palestinian strategy, a Plan B that converts the Palestinian struggle for two states into one for equal rights within what is now a unitary state ruled by Israel.  …..

The first step in this plan requires a dismantlement of the PA as currently constituted, or at least a change of direction for the Palestinian leadership. The PA’s role as a buffer between the occupier and the occupied should end, along with the illusion of a spurious Palestinian autonomy it has fostered….

… The PA should lead the campaign to prepare Palestinians for the abandonment of the two-state idea and the struggle for equal rights instead. … At one stroke, Plan B shreds these fig leaves, and removes the chimera of a Palestinian state that has diverted attention from the reality on the ground.

The 2.5 million potential new Arab citizens of Israel would be able to challenge its much-vaunted democracy, and upend the old order in the Palestinians’ favour. Will they have the courage to grasp the challenge?”

Now, there are several weaknesses in Karmi’s theories that should surely have put an end to the belief in a cis-Jordan “one state solution”:

1. Karmi continues to believe, against all evidence to the contrary, in a “Plan B” that assumes that Israelis will agree or can be persuaded by “a struggle for equal rights” (mainly by the Palestinians and, presumably, various tiny pro-Palestinian groups in Israel, plus the fly-in rent-a-protest Westerners such as ISM) to create a single state which will have some 4 million Arab citizens at its inception, out of a population of approximately 10 million.

Given the birthrate of Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank this is a crudely disguised demographic time bomb with a delayed “Right of Return” explosion to be set off when an Arab majority is achieved.  

Israelis will never agree to this. The idea is simply a non-starter, no matter how many articles she writes about it.

 2. Karmi refers to the “chimera” of a Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank (including everything that was “east” of the Green Line) and Gaza – but for all the wrong reasons.  She believes that Arafat’s acceptance of “Palestine” as the West Bank and Gaza (the “chimera” she refers to) has diverted attention from the possibility of creating a Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

In reality, when the world’s powers acquiesced to Arafat’s creation of the Palestinian people as those living in Gaza and the West Bank, and to the Arab states’ Khartoum “3 no’s”, they prevented a settlement between Israel and Jordan soon after the 6 Day War.  That agreement would have created a Palestinian state that would have included most of the West Bank and all of Jordan, under the leadership of King Hussein. Gaza would have either remained as it is today, or eventually been returned into the reluctant hands of the Egyptians.

 3.  Karmi, like other presumably left-leaning observers of the conflict, has an enormous blind spot that allows her to consistently ignore the fact that Jordan is the only Palestinian state that exists and it is run as an anachronistic monarchy ruling over a majority Palestinian population.

Created over tea in Jerusalem by Winston Churchill and handed to the Hashemites in 1923, it has a population estimated variously as between 60% – 70% Palestinian. During the 1948 war, King Abdullah of Jordan seized and occupied the West Bank, which remained under Jordanian control until 1967. The West Bank and Jordan functioned quite well as a single economic and political entity during that period. With the exception of Jordanian sniper fire targeting Jews in “West” Jerusalem, Israel and Jordan preserved a fairly peaceful status quo during that period.

King Hussein eventually washed his hands of the West Bank in 1988, or, more precisely, its Arab occupants, realizing that it would be more trouble than it was worth to incorporate them into Jordan. The addition of the West Bank Palestinian population would further have imperiled his rule. But that has not really changed the facts on the ground – that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is, in fact, a predominantly Palestinian state.

I would maintain that what really drives Palestinians and their supporters to the idea of a “one state solution” is not the desire to achieve a workable and practical Palestinian state. It is really a desire for revenge – a desire to forcibly take back from Israel and Israelis what was lost during several wars and developed by Israelis over the last 100-plus years.

Karmi and those supporting her ideas are driven by a true chimera – a dream of returning to an idyllic period (which never actually existed) when Palestinians supposedly lived, not mainly as feudal serfs working the lands of absentee landlords, but having a sort of noble, gracious village life or one of great intellectual achievement in a few of the tiny towns in what was in fact the dusty and wretchedly poor corner of the Ottoman Empire known as Southern Syria, while enjoying the confiscated wealth of the Israelis they would dispossess.

If Karmi really wants to create a viable Palestinian state she should develop a more positive vision – one which doesn’t take away Israelis’ land, prosperity, economy, industries, and agriculture through a forced incorporation of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel into a “unitary state”.

She should look east across the Jordan River. There she would see one of the few countries in the world still ruled by a monarchy of sorts.  Sixty to seventy percent of the population is ruled over non-democratically by a branch of the Saudi Hashemite dynasty whose position is supported by loyal Bedouin forces in the Jordanian military.

If Karmi is as left-leaning as she claims to be, surely this anachronistic situation should be swept away with a democratic federation of most of the West Bank and Trans Jordan?

Ironically, a Guardian contributor, Samer Libde, asked the question, ‘Is Jordan heading for chaos?‘, in a Comment piece a few days after Karmi’s latest article.

The problems of dynastic rule in Jordan in a modern interconnected world have been obvious for some time. It was interesting to read Libde’s analysis of the tensions arising from the attempt to perpetuate a non-democratic, monarchical trans-Jordanian state that has a Palestinian majority controlled by the trans-Jordanian Hashemites – a situation that seems not to bother Ghada Karmi and many others like her:

“As the impact of the Arab spring continues to be felt across many parts of the Middle East, the Jordanian regimes unwillingness to heed calls for meaningful political reform, greater press freedoms and democratisation is antagonising political and civil society activists alike.


The royal court has a difficult balancing act to perform. First, the protesters are divided. Transjordanians, who have been traditionally loyal to the Hashemite regime, are opposed to political reform that challenges their inherited privileged status and position, and are resisting calls to increase the representation of Palestinian-Jordanians in parliament.

While the king will have to respond to the demands of the IAF and the Palestinian-Jordanians, he will also have to remain sensitive to the needs of the Transjordanians. This will not be an easy task.


Unfortunately, it does not appear as if Jordan’s king has the vision or the courage to follow this path – but failure to learn the lessons of the Arab spring may mean that the Jordanian people will make that decision for him.”

If the largely Palestinian population does make that decision, I would propose that they approach Israel with a plan to create a Jordanian (or Palestinian) federation of the West Bank and Jordan. After nearly 50 years of frustration dealing with the West bank, Israel is likely in any event to finally fence in the bits of the West Bank it wants to keep, and, as with Gaza, simply withdraw from the rest. This would leave 95% of the West Bank in a non-viable limbo, something as likely to be as dangerous for Jordan as it is for Israel, as we have seen with the rising conflict between the Gazans and Egyptians.

It is not difficult to see the Jordanian option as a workable solution to the chaotic situation that would otherwise arise on the West Bank. Karmi and those like her should be looking east at what was, in fact given to them by Great Britain, not peering vengefully westwards Israel, the country they cannot have. They should be working on a proposal for a Palestinian state that includes most of today’s West Bank and Jordan, not the chimera, to borrow her word, of a “unitary [cis-Jordan] solution”

The latest (‘Floptilla’) anti-Israel publicity stunt gets a reality check in Jordan

A guest post by AKUS

The 100 or so people who wasted their money flying to Amman, Jordan last week found a few surprises when they arrived there. They may have also learned a few lessons about the reality regarding Jordan’s view of the Palestinian issue and how foreign interference is viewed by an Arab country whose relationship with the Palestinians has been uneasy, to say the least.

Lesson 1: Jordan has little patience for these stunts. Unlike the participants in the flytilla, Jordanians and Israelis cannot pack up and fly home after appearing on TV. They have to live there as neighbors.

According to Lebanese cyberpaper Naaharnet, Jordan made sure that they could not cross into the West Bank at the Allenby Crossing, leading to an accusation – perhaps true – that Jordan did not want to make Israel responsible for turning the participants in the flytilla back.


Jordan on Sunday barred pro-Palestinian U.S. and European activists from trying to cross into the West Bank for delivering school supplies to students.

“Two buses carrying 100 activists were not allowed to leave the Jordanian side” of Allenby Bridge Crossing, also known as King Hussein Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan, Walid Atallah, a spokesman for the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign in Jordan, told Agence France Presse.

“The Jordanian authorities stamped their passports and charged them fees and everything was okay. When the buses left, the last checkpoint on the Jordanian side was closed. No reason was given.”

Atallah said the “activists left the buses and started to demonstrate near the checkpoint. One of them fainted and was taken to hospital.”

“This was deliberate. Jordan did not want Israel to be held responsible for denying the activists entry,” he added. [emphasis added]

Lesson 2: Jordan, like other Arab states, is not very accommodating to the Palestinians. Even so, Palestinians are in no hurry to exercise the “Right of Return” to Gaza.

Elder of Zion noted that one group, “EuroPalestine” discovered apartheid in Jordan.  They paid a visit to a refugee township at Jerash and found things rather different than they may have anticipated:

A hundred men, women and children, from the mission WELCOME TO PALESTINE went Saturday to the Palestinian refugee camp of JERASH, Jordan, near Amman.

They were warmly welcomed by officials and residents of this camp which includes more than 35,000 Palestinians from all of the Gaza Strip.

These people have a special place in the tragedy of the Palestinian people and in fact arrived in Jordan after the 1967 war, not during the Nakba of 1948, and have a status of “displaced” and not “refugees”.

Grouped in an area of ​​75 hectares, the 3000 Jerash families have no nationality and no longer receive any benefits since 2010 from UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. [emphasis added]

These stateless people are refused citizenship by Jordan, but do not want to return to Gaza (so much for the “Right of Return” in practice!). In addition, they are treated, in many respects, as non-Whites were in apartheid South Africa:

The only camp school is obliged to accommodate 6400 pupils, part-time only, in overcrowded classrooms as we imagine. The camp has indeed no right to construct new buildings and expand on the land leased by UNRWA for a period of 99 years.

Even after graduation, students who have received scholarships to go to the Dalhousie University in Jordan can not engage in employment in the public [sector] and remain stateless for life.

As EoZ observed:

Yes, an Arab from Yemen or Egypt can become a citizen of Jordan, but one from Gaza cannot. Sounds like apartheid to me.

Lesson 3: Protests against the Israeli Embassy are not tolerated in Jordan

The Jordan Times reports that “Activists from the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign were dispersed by police while demonstrating outside the Israeli embassy on Thursday after refusing to relocate.”

The activists were protesting against Israel’s decision to deny them entry to the West Bank last week.

The police asked the activists to move to a different location farther from the embassy, but they refused, and when police officers arrived to physically remove them, some sat or lay down on the ground.

Olivia Zemore, the campaign’s spokesperson, told The Jordan Times that the protesters had decided to relocate to the Kalouti Mosque, around 400 metres away, where Jordanian activists were holding a weekly pro-Palestine demonstration.

“We were not allowed to protest here and that is why we are marching to the Kalouti Mosque, where there are Jordanian protesters.”

The demonstrators who refused to move were placed in police vans and driven to the alternate site; none were arrested.

See Lesson 1 – Jordan has little patience for these stunts. This is not London where protesters can spend an afternoon hurling abuse at Israel outside the embassy there. Perhaps, also, the Jordanians felt that things might get out of hand if, say, the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood joined in.

Lesson 4 is yet to be learned: Egypt, not just Israel, also blocks access to Gaza.

The activists are planning an attempt to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt sometime this year.

Al Ahram reports :

Sinai residents have reported to Ahram Online that heavy machinery of the state-owned Arab Contractors company is being used to destroy tunnels linking Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip. The destruction of the tunnels is happening under the supervision of Egyptian military forces.

Egyptian authorities on Monday announced the closure of the Rafah Crossing.

According to Khaled Abu Toameh, even the Palestinian Authority wants to limit access to Gaza:

Abbas urges Egypt to destroy underground tunnels

For first time, PA publicly calls for destruction of underground tunnels to Gaza, asking Egypt to them to tighten blockade.

Buoyed by growing tensions between Hamas and Cairo in wake of last week’s terrorist attack in Sinai, the Palestinian Authority on Saturday called on the Egyptians to tighten the blockade on Gaza by destroying all tunnels under their border with the Strip.

Oh dear. It sounds like a new floptilla will be a rerun of the 2010 flop:

George Galloway deported from Egypt

George Galloway was today deported from Egypt after plainclothes police officers refused him re-entry into the Gaza Strip and bundled him on to a plane for London.

The Respect MP Galloway, declared “persona non grata” by the Egyptian foreign ministry, arrived back in the UK at around 1pm.

Even after the disastrous Arab Spring, I would bet that foreigners trying to get to Gaza through Egypt will have no better luck with the new administration. People in the Middle East have simply had enough of being a backdrop for these egotistical publicity seekers.

But will all this be enough to dissipate the desire among well-fed Westerners to participate in more of these flops? Will it ever dawn on these Israel-bashing monomaniacs that the situation of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank is immeasurably better than their situation under the rule of their Arab brothers or Hamas?

Unfortunately I doubt it, but whatever the enthusiasm outside the Middle East for these stunts, the countries in the Middle East have had enough.

Israel to revoke citizenship of 1.6 million Palestinian Arabs! ‘Israel’? I mean Jordan, so Guardian yawns

Strangely missing from the Jordan page of the Guardian is a remarkable story.

Per the Jerusalem Post.

Jordan has decided to revoke the Jordanian citizenship of Palestinian Authority and PLO officials, sources in Amman disclosed Wednesday.

The Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al- Yawm…quoted government officials in Amman as saying that the decision to revoke the Jordanian citizenship would also affect some 1.6 million Jordanians of Palestinian origin.

The move coincides with a new electoral law in Jordan that seeks to limit Palestinian representation in parliament.

While its unclear, from the article linked to above, who these 1.6 million Jordanians of Palestinian origin refers to, it’s likely those Palestinians who used to live in Jerusalem and the West Bank (when it was under Jordanian control from 1949 to 1967) who are now (following the Six Day War) residing in Jordan proper, and considered “refugees”.

Finally, the report included this passage:

Amman has defended the decision to strip Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship by explaining that it is aimed at “preserving the Palestinians’ national identity and paving the way for their return to Palestine.”

So, in other words, over a million Palestinian citizens of Jordan will, if this law goes into effect, become stateless in order to decrease the country’s Palestinian population (now nearly half of the population of Jordan) and create the expectation that they will either return to Israel proper (per the call by Palestinian activists and their supporters of an “unlimited right of return”) or become citizens of the future state of Palestine.

Regarding the latter idea, as PA leaders have already said that such Palestinians living in the “diaspora” will not become citizens of a newly created Palestinians state, the move by Jordan would create more permanently stateless Palestinians who will be cynically used to continue the assault on Israel’s legitimacy, even following a future peace agreement.

Remarkably cynical? Beyond description.

A gross violation of human rights? Supremely.

A story worthy of coverage, and liberal sympathy, by Guardian reporters? Of course not!

Do I even have to ask how the Guardian would cover the story if it was Israel revoking the citizenship of over one million Palestinian Arab citizens?