Should Israel’s Security be Sacrificed at the Altar of ‘Regional Stability’?

This is a guest post by Gidon Ben Zvi

Check out the front page of Monday’s (May 6th, 2013) edition of The Guardian and your hair will be blown back by this scorching headline: “Syria Accuses Israel of Declaring War”. The fact that The Guardian chose to legitimise the Syrian narrative is a relatively minor nuisance in an article that effectively intertwines one nation’s right to self-defence with the looming threat of a wider regional conflict. 

The article, written by Julian Borger and Joel Greenberg, does not deny the Israeli version of events leading up to the recent air strikes against military targets around Damascus. Rather, and much more insidiously, the piece draws an incongruous parallel between terrorism’s enablers and the chief regional check against its expansion.

First, The Guardian quotes an Iranian army ground forces commander as saying that, “Iran was ready to train the Syrian army if necessary”. Next, the winds of war are further fanned with this bit of sabre rattling, courtesy of the office of the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, which denounced the attack, declaring it illegal and a threat to “security and stability in the region“. Meanwhile, Nabil Elaraby, chief of the Arab League, appealed to the U.N. Security Council to “move immediately to stop the Israeli aggressions on Syria”.

The Guardian fails to frame the most recent conflagration between Israel and the forces of terrorism with appropriate historical context, therefore distorting coverage enough to publish inaccurate information. Exhibit A: whilst ‘Hezbollah’ is mentioned several times, no space is dedicated to defining what ‘Hezbollah’ is: an extremist Shiite Muslim group that receives financial and political support from Iran and Syria. Borger and Greenberg also neglect to note that the governments of the U.S., Netherlands, Bahrain, France, U.K., Australia and Canada classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Next, The Guardian piece spends a good couple of paragraphs describing the effects of Israel’s unleashed war machine on the average Syrian citizen:

“Mohammed Saeed, another activist who lives in the Damascus suburb of Douma, said: ‘The explosions were so strong that earth shook under us.’ He said the smell of the fire caused by the air raid near Qasioun was detectable kilometres away.”

Heart-wrenching. However, The Guardian simply ignores recent history by not including any background as to what precipitated the Second Lebanon War, which is important if readers are to gain a comprehensive understanding as to the geo-political forces currently at play. 

Here’s a dose of inconvenient reality to consider: on July 12th 2006, The Second Lebanon War began when Hezbollah terrorists opened fire with rockets on the Israeli border towns of Zar’it and Shtula, wounding several civilians. This was a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. The purpose of the attack was to capture Israelis who could be used in a prisoner exchange barter. 

Under cover of this diversionary shelling, two IDF (Israel Defense Forces) patrol vehicles were ambushed. Three soldiers were killed in this attack, two were hurt and two others – Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev – were taken prisoners.

Following the kidnapping, IDF forces opened a massive attack on Hezbollah posts near the border. An armored force entered Lebanese territory seeking to retrieve the abducted soldiers, but a short time later it hit a mine and its four crew members were killed. Attempts to extricate the tank back to Israel ended with another soldier dead.

Shortly after the kidnapping, the Israeli Government unanimously authorized a military operation against Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

Following a 33-day war, Israel agreed to abide by the terms of United Nations’ Security Council resolution 1701 for an armistice between it and Hezbollah. The resolution called for “a complete halt of acts of aggression, and especially those committed by Hezbollah and the military actions on behalf of Israel.” 

Furthermore, Lebanon was asked to implement the already existing resolution 1559 dealing with disarmament of armed militias – first among them being Hezbollah.

It is the article’s historical myopia that makes it possible for The Guardian to downplay the moral imperative behind the recent Israeli military strike and to frame the story as a no-win situation pitting one country’s security against larger regional stability.  

And Israel’s right as a sovereign nation to defend its citizens is thus neatly nullified. 

Fortunately for Israel, it has the United Nations as an ally. Article 51 of the U.N. Charter states the following:Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of collective or individual self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security…”

Good, worthy journalism is based on journalistic objectivity, which has been defined as a “…genuine effort to be an honest broker when it comes to news. That means playing it straight without favouring one side when the facts are in dispute, regardless of your own views and preferences.”.

When a front page news story about Israel and Hezbollah omits both the background and the staggering results of the previous conflict between these two regional players – 4,000 rockets fired upon northern Israeli cities, 164 Israeli citizens (119 soldiers and 45 civilians) killed and hundreds injured – one is compelled to question the qualifications of the journalists on duty to deliver just the facts and allow their readership to draw its own conclusions.

Going forward, Julian Borger and Joel Greenberg would be well advised to keep their opinions firmly within the confines of The Guardian’s op-ed page. 

Guardian’s Julian Borger warns of “minority elements” provoking US-Iran war

Julian Borger, the diplomatic editor of the Guardian, published a story on Nov. 9 titled “Iran’s strike on US drone demonstrates the fragility of uneasy peace“.

Borger’s piece provided analysis on an incident earlier in the week in which two Iranian jet fighters fired at a US Predator drone which was carrying out a classified surveillance mission 16 miles off the Iranian shore.

While other analysts echoed Borger’s broader theme that the episode highlighted the risks that encounters between American and Iranian forces could quickly escalate into a military confrontation, you get a glimpse into Borger’s unique angle by reading the strap line:

Western officials warn that minority elements on both sides have vested interest in triggering ‘spoiler’ incident that leads to war

So, who are the “minority elements” hoping for an incident which triggers a war?

Borger writes the following:

“Western officials are concerned that minority elements on both sides of the confrontation in the region have a vested interest in triggering such a clash. Some Israeli leaders would like to see Washington drawn in so that superior US forces could strike a crippling blow to Iranian nuclear facilities, while a “war party” in Tehran sees a conflict as a means of rallying support for the regime and cracking down yet further on dissent, officials say.” [emphasis added]

While we’ll never know which Western officials he’s referring to, perhaps he’d like to ask them how Israel could have anything to do with decisions by the United States military to deploy surveillance drones over the Persian Gulf, or anywhere else in the world.

Even if you accept the premise that Israel has a “vested interest” in a US war with Iran, Borger’s suggestion relating to this latest incident seems to rest on nothing more than the classic non-sequitur: Who benefits?

America’s political leaders and US security agencies are the only parties dictating US security policy, so if there are “elements” hoping to provoke a confrontation with the regime in Tehran Mr. Borger may wish to look to Washington, D.C., and not Jerusalem, for answers.

Guardian’s Julian Borger responds to CiF Watch, acknowledges error about genocide convention

Yesterday, I pointed out an error by the Guardian’s diplomatic editor Julian Borger, in a post he published on the recent U.S. presidential debate titled Fact-checking the final presidential debate’, Oct. 23.

Among the statements by the candidates checked for accuracy was the following claim by Romney, which Borger claimed was not correct.

I noted in my post that, contrary to what Borger wrote about “incitement to Genocide”, Article III of the ‘Convention on Genocide‘, adopted by United Nations General Assembly in 1948, does in fact include, as a punishable crime, “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide“.

Shortly after our post, we Tweeted Borger, alerting him to the error.

This morning, we received this reply.

While we’ll monitor the post to make sure it’s indeed corrected by Guardian editors, Mr. Borger should be commended for responding promptly, and positively, to our post and Tweet alerting him about the mistake.

UPDATE: Borger’s piece has been corrected, and the error officially acknowledged.

Fact-checking Julian Borger on Ahmadinejad’s incitement to genocide

The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Julian Borger published a post on the recent U.S. presidential debate titled ‘Fact-checking the final presidential debate’, Oct. 23.

Among the statements by the candidates checked for accuracy by Borger was the following claim by Romney.

First, Borger’s obfuscation regarding Ahmadinejad’s record of explicit threats to annihilate Israel is shameful.

Here’s a sample of the threats by Ahmadinejad not included by Borger.

“Israel’s days are numbered … peoples of region know there is the narrowest opportunity to annihilate this false regime.”

“the Zionist regime will be wiped out, and humanity will be liberated” — freed, that is, from the “acquisitive and invasive” minority.

“Thanks to God, your wish will soon be realized, and this germ of corruption will be wiped off the face of the world.”

“Iran will support Hamas until the destruction of Israel.”

Here are more quotes by Ahmadinejad:

“The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor. Even if the Zionists remain on one span (more like inch) of the Land of Palestine is dangerous, because they will come to have a legal and official government.”

More:

“Very soon, this stain of disgrace [i.e. Israel] will be purged from the center of the Islamic world - and this is attainable.”

You can read this comprehensive document, written by Justus Reid Weiner in 2006, which makes the case for indicting Ahmadinejad for genocide.

UN Convention on Genocide:

More importantly, contrary to what Borger writes, Article III of the Convention on Genocide adopted by United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948, does in fact include, as a punishable crime, “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide“.

Here’s Article IV: “Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.”

Here’s Article VI: “Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal.”

United States Law on Genocide:

Additionally, per the Genocide Accountability Act, the United States has had universal jurisdiction over genocide since 2007.  Here are the relevant sections:

So, contrary to what Borger claims, both the international genocide law, and the U.S. law, appear to include “incitement to genocide” within their legal definition of the crime.

You can contact Julian Borger on Twitter to point out his error regarding the Genocide Convention:

https://twitter.com/julianborger

Also, consider emailing the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott:

reader@guardian.co.uk

Guardian’s Julian Borger avoids reporting on most of Ahmadinejad’s UN speech

Imagine for a moment that a Western head of state (let’s say America) was also a follower of a messianic religious cult considered outlandish and cranky by the overwhelming majority of Christians.

Imagine – that whilst addressing the UN General Assembly’s opening session – that head of state launched into a prescription for the world’s ills based on that cult’s predictions, which included the arrival of a saviour brought about by world apocalypse.

In such a situation, would the Guardian’s next day commentary have been confined to “unusually esoteric”, or would a barrage of analysis and criticism have followed? 

“Unusually esoteric” was all Julian Borger could find to say about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Wednesday speech at the UN GA, although he did throw in a quote from a ‘European diplomat’ who found the address “incoherent and incredibly boring”. 

Mind you, Borger also heard only one reference to Israel in the speech (there are three direct ones) but that is perhaps to be expected from someone who also seems to have doubts regarding the interpretation of remarks made by the same speaker two days previously. 

“No American diplomats were in the chamber for Ahmadinejad’s speech because of what Washington viewed as offensive remarks the Iranian leader had made about Israel earlier in the week.” [emphasis added]

The messianic rant (not his first) on the subject of the coming of the Mahdi, or Hidden Twelfth Imam, which closed Ahmadinejad’s speech does not even get a mention from Borger. It is difficult to imagine that the same would have been the case were Ahmadinejad the leader of a Western country.

And that in itself says an awful lot about the self-censorship arising from double standards of cultural relativity, as employed by Guardian writers in general and frequent writer on Iran Julian Borger in particular.  

In every generation: Guardian advances historically familiar refrain that Israel is ‘beating war drums’

The United States has long regarded Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.  

Most recently U.S. officials blamed Iranian sponsor Hezbollah for a deadly suicide bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists

Indeed Iran backs many such Islamist groups – including the Lebanese Shiite militants of Hezbollah (which Iran helped found in the 1980s), which has an arsenal of 60,000 rockets aimed at Israel. The U.S. Defense Department estimates Iranian support to Hezbollah at roughly $100 million to $200 million annually.

They also provide financial support and training to Palestinian terror groups like Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - groups which have killed Israelis in terror attacks and fired thousands of rockets into Israeli communities over the years.

And Iran is suspected of providing training and arms to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, including “small arms and associated ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives.”

Iranian leaders have also openly declared that their forces were “propping up Syrian President Basher Assad’s murderous regime”. Members of the Iranian Qods Force are helping Assad fight the rebels. “We are proud to defend Syria, which constitutes a resistance to the Zionist entity,” Jafari told reporters.

Additionally, a semi-official Iranian religious institution announced it was increasing the reward to $3.3 million for anyone who acts on a fatwa and murders British author Salman Rushdie.

Most disturbingly, a website with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei recently outlined why it would be religiously acceptable to kill all Jews in Israel – a doctrine, as reported by the Mail Online, which details why the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of all its people would be legally and morally justified, and in accordance with Islamic doctrine. [emphasis added]

As the Washington Times reported:

“The article, written by Alireza Forghani, a strategy specialist in Khomeini camp, is now being run on most state-owed conservative sites, including the Revolutionary Guard’s Fars News Agency, showing that the regime endorses the doctrine.”

The government approved essay on Fars News Agency (seen here, which is in Farsi, though you can read it via Google Translate) cites the last census showing Israel has a population of 7.5 million, of which roughly 5.8 million are Jewish. Then it breaks down the districts with the highest concentration of Jews, indicating that three cities (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa) contain over 60 percent of the Jewish population that Iran could target.

So, Iran is perhaps the largest exporter of terrorism on the planet, supplies terror groups with deadly weaponry to use against Israeli civilians, sends arms, as well as their own soldiers, to Syrian to kill and brutalize the population, and has issued a fatwa of sorts on the lives of six million Jews.

If you were to think that this sound like an aggressive, militaristic, malevolent regime which is constantly beating the drums for war, you’d be wrong. At least according to the Guardian.

The Guardian’s security correspondent, Julian Borger, published the following on Sept. 4:

The opening passage sets the tone for the piece:

The odds against an Israeli military strike on Iran in the next few months appear to be lengthening, and perhaps the strongest evidence comes from none other than Binyamin Netanyahu, the man who has beaten the war drums loudest over the past few months. [emphasis added]

The moral inversion is simply stunning. 

Netanyahu, along with other Israeli leaders and the citizens of the state, are not beating the drums for war, but merely acting as any responsible state would in the face of an Iranian regime promising the Jewish state’s annihilation (while developing the nuclear means to do so), and engaged in proxy wars against the state on its norther and southern borders.

Such rocket attacks, which have killed, injured and terrorized thousands of Israelis, along with belligerence threats by their top leaders – which include calls to genocide – are more than a cause belli, but represent acts of war, and most nations on the receiving end of such aggression would have launched retaliatory strikes long ago.

Indeed, how many missile attacks from its northern or southern border, by terror groups committed to its destruction, would the United States absorb before retaliating and neutralizing the threat? 

Further, recall that in October 1962 the U.S. was prepared to launch a major military assault upon discovering that Cuban and Soviet governments had built bases in Cuba for a number of ballistic nuclear missiles with the ability to strike most of the United States.  The U.S. deemed it unacceptable, demanded that the Soviets remove the missiles and initiated a naval blockade of all Soviet ships.

The Soviets, sensing American resolve, and aware of the massive might of the U.S. military, eventually backed down and removed all nuclear weapons from Cuba.

President John F. Kennedy swore an oath to protect and defend the United States from all enemies, and his decisions during those tense 13 days in October were thoroughly consistent with his duty to protect his nation. Most of the world, it should be noted, was squarely behind the U.S. response to the dangerous Soviet gambit 100 miles from American shores.

Unlike the U.S., however, Israel is not a world superpower, so must be much more judicious in both its diplomatic maneuvering (soft power) and its potential use of force (military power) to neutralize the Iranian threat.

In June of 1967, when Prim Minister Levi Eshkol was debating with his cabinet how best to respond to a massive build up of 230,000 Arab troops   and thousands of tanks on Israel’s porous borders – buttressed by threats of annihilation form Arab leaders in Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad – U.S. President Johnson told Eshkol, who was still hoping for U.S. military help to prevent a war, rebuffed Israeli requests for military aid and diplomatic approval for an Israeli preemptive attack on Egypt.

Though Israeli military officials were convinced they couldn’t absorb a first strike by the combine Arab forces amassed along their borders, and that their only hope for survival was a such a preemptive attack, Eshkol received a cable from President Johnson warning against such an Israeli attack, warning that “Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone.”

In the early hours of June 5, Israel acted, destroying the Egyptian Air Force on the ground in a matter of hours, and gaining a stunning victory over the combined might of Egypt, Jordan, Syria (and smaller contingents from other Arab states) in six days of fighting.

Israel, under Eshkol, was concerned about public opinion, and the need not to unnecessarily alienate their U.S. ally, but his overriding concern was the survival of the Third Jewish Commonwealth.

Similarly, today, Israel doesn’t have the luxury to outsource their defense to another country, nor concern themselves too much with disapproval, and sanctimonious outrage, expressed by diplomats and intellectuals safe in their New York and London salons.

If Jewish history has taught us anything it’s that when our enemies threaten us with destruction they should be taken at their word; that we must be masters of our destiny; there is nothing noble, moral or righteous in Jewish victimhood; and we simply can not surrender to the dangerous vices of resignation, fatalism or moral vanity.

Though in every generation there are those who seek our destruction, in this generation we have the military means to prevent such malevolent designs, and, if need be, Israel won’t hesitate to exercise that power.

The Guardian: out-farcing FARS

 In November last year an explosion took place at the Alghadir missile base at Bid Ganeh, Iran, killing seventeen members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard including the man described as the “architect” of that country’s missile programme, Major General Hassan Moghaddam.

Despite the fact that Iran claimed at the time that the explosion was the result of an accident, the Guardian apparently thought it knew better and published an article by Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan in which the writers claimed to have access to a source which blamed Israel for the blast. 

Borger and Dehghan wrote: 

“The official account insisted the blast was an accident, but a source with close links to Iran’s clerical regime blamed it on an operation by the Mossad, bolstering other reports of involvement by Israel’s intelligence and special operations organisation that were attributed to western intelligence services.

If true, the blast would mark a dramatic escalation in a shadow war over the Iranian nuclear programme.”

And: 

“Speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, however, a former director of an Iranian state-run organisation with close links to the regime, said: “I believe that Saturday’s explosion was part of the covert war against Iran, led by Israel.”

The former official compared Saturday’s incident to a similar blast in October 2010 at an IRGC missile base near the city of Khorramabad. “I have information that both these incidents were the work of sabotage by agents of Israel, aimed at halting Iran’s missile programme,” he said.”

As CiF Watch pointed out at the time, Borger and Dehghan’s dire warnings of “a dramatic [Israeli] escalation in a shadow war over the Iranian nuclear programme” notably avoided all mention of Iranian sponsorship of terror and murderous dictators in the Middle East.

On September 16th 2012, according to the semi-official FARS news agency, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Ali Jafari, once again referred to the incident as an accident saying “that the last November blast at an IRGC center in the vicinity of Tehran took place as the center was conducting research on solid fuel for satellite carries” (sic). 

“Answering a question about the impact of the blast on the IRGC missile projects and capability, the IRGC commander said, “It was just a part of our missile research program that was hit by the accident. The accident could only delay our research for 6 months and now the program is back on.” “

FARS also reported that: 

“Following the blast, a series of the news reports in the Western media tried to link Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, to the November 12 blast. 

Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi rejected the western media reports on Israel or US involvement in the blast. “

Never one to pull its punches on the subject of blaming Israel for just about anything going – including a third-rate film trailer and diverting rain clouds - the Iranian regime, unlike the Guardian, is however quite clear on the fact that the explosion at the Alghadir base was an accident. 

It really is coming to something when a pathological obsession with Israel and reliance upon convenient rumours from anonymous sources makes a Western newspaper out-ayatollah the Ayatollahs and more farcical than FARS.  

Guardian spices up coverage of MENA riots with incitement against Israelis and Jews.

The Guardian’s coverage of the riots and attacks on American and other Western diplomatic missions , as well as other targets, currently taking place throughout the Middle East and North Africa began on Tuesday, September 11th, with a video (sourced from Reuters) of what it termed ‘protestors’ at the US embassy in Cairo. 

At 23:30 BST that night the Guardian published an article by Associated Press in Cairo on the events at the US embassy which also included the same video and raised the subject of the film supposedly responsible for triggering the riots. On Wednesday September 12th, the Guardian published another video, this time of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which, it later emerged, Ambassador Stevens and other US citizens were killed. The video’s strap-line declared that: 

“The violence is in response to an unspecified American film protesters say is blasphemous”

By 11:09 am BST, the Guardian had gone from “unspecified American film” to declaring – in an article by AP – that the film’s director was Israeli. 

Interestingly, here in the Middle East itself, there were no reports at that time of Israeli involvement in the making of the film: that notion appears to have been generated in the West, solely on the basis of the anonymous AP report, although the theme was later adopted by interested parties.  

By Wednesday morning US time, (roughly three hours after the publication of the Guardian article) the Wall Street Journal – which had originally run the AP story suggesting Israeli involvement – was backtracking

“On Wednesday, a records search turned up no references to any men in the U.S. by the name Sam Bacile. Israeli officials said they haven’t found any records of an Israeli by that name. The Journal was unable to reach the telephone number again and as of Wednesday, it had been disconnected.

The cellphone number used Tuesday was registered to a user at a home in Cerritos, Calif., where one of the residents was listed in public records as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.”

By this time, other media outlets too had realized that the supposed Israeli connection to the film was a hoax. Even Al Jazeera had managed to get the story straight by early Wednesday morning. 

” “Bacile” is now reportedly in hiding, even though reports suggest that the name is merely cover for a larger group, or a pseudonym for someone who may be neither Israeli nor Jewish – but who cited such an identify to inflame tensions.”

By Thursday, it was quite clear that there was no Israeli involvement whatsoever in the making of the film. 

However, that inflammatory – and untrue – headline still stands at the Guardian – appearing, among other places, under the ‘Islam’ category in its ‘World News’ section. 

Later on Wednesday, at 15:10 BST, the Guardian published another article by Caroline Davies, which repeated the same – and by then, obviously untrue – information regarding the film-maker’s supposed nationality.

At 15:35 BST, Julian Borger weighed in – also promoting the unproven involvement of “100 unnamed Jewish donors” in the making of the film and claiming that “Bacile still insisted that the movie would help Israel”. 

At 16:55 BST on Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald joined the fray, also pushing the already discredited Israeli angle of the story. Two days later, an editor’s note was added to his article. 

“Editor’s note: this article was amended on 14 September. The original stated that the producer of the film was Sam Bacile, an Israeli real estate developer living in California and that he had made the film with the help of 100 Jewish donors. This assertion was based on an Associated Press report that was published in Haaretz”. 

At 20:00 BST on Wednesday, Julian Borger was back with a rehashed version of his earlier piece which still contained unnecessary speculations about Israeli and Jewish involvement in the making of the film. That piece is also still featured as “Top Story” on several of the Guardian’s ‘World News’ pages. 

At 20:23 BST, the Guardian published an article by Rory Carroll, which was still pushing the “100 Jewish donors” line:

“Bacile wrote and directed the film purportedly with $5m (£3m) donated by 100 unnamed Jewish backers. The goal was to show “Islam is a cancer”, he told the Wall Street Journal.”

At 17:00 BST on Thursday, September 13th – well over 24 hours after the ‘Israeli connection’ to the film had been debunked – the Guardian rolled out veteran anti-Israel agitator Max Blumenthal (no stranger to online incendiary films himself) who, despite the fact that the story clearly lacked legs, wrote the following: (emphasis added)

“Bacile told the Associated Press that he was a Jewish Israeli real estate developer living in California. He said that he raised $5m for the production of the film from “100 Jewish donors”, an unusual claim echoing Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style fantasies. Unfortunately, the extensive history of Israeli and ultra-Zionist funding and promotion of Islamophobic propaganda in the United States provided Bacile’s remarkable statement with the ring of truth.

Only at 18:44 BST on Thursday, September 13th did the Guardian begin to set the record straight with an article by Rory Carroll. But by that time, of course, millions of Guardian readers had been spoon-fed with 31 hours-worth of defamatory untruths. 

There are several things which are deeply disturbing about the Guardian’s behavior on this story. One is the emphasis it has put on 14 minutes of puerile, badly produced hate speech as the ‘reason’ for the mass ‘rent a mob’ rioting throughout the Middle East and North Africa. That emphasis is particularly misguided and misleading in light of the fact that the attacks on the US missions in Cairo and Benghazi appear to have been pre-planned to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

No less disturbing is the Guardian’s promotion of fictitious Israeli and Jewish involvement in the production of the film. Not only did the Guardian obviously fail completely to fact check the AP report it originally published, but even when the unreliability of that report came to light, it continued to push that version of the story because it dovetailed with the Guardian’s own existing prejudices. 

If the West should have learned anything over the past few days, it is that rumour – however ridiculous and unfounded – can be a very dangerous and even lethal thing in this part of the world. Whilst some people at the Guardian may find it useful or amusing to promote unsubstantiated rumours which they have clearly not bothered to fact-check, that is not the type of reckless incitement one expects from a responsible, respectable or serious mainstream media outlet. 

The Guardian must therefore promptly issue a prominent correction on each and every one of those articles citing, referring to or inspired by the irresponsible AP report, making it very clear that its reports were misleading, unfounded and untruthful. 

If it has the necessary conscience and guts, the Guardian will also admit to gross professional negligence.

Guardian writers and pro-Iranian propaganda.

As all regular readers of the Guardian and its ‘Comment is Free’ website are aware, that paper long since chose to take a ‘Stop the War Coalition’-style stance on the subject of pre-emptive intervention in Iran’s nuclear programme. 

Dozens of articles have been published on the subject, the vast majority of which have argued in one form or another against a pro-active approach and promoted a benign view of both the Iranian regime and its nuclear aspirations.

On April 25th two articles were published – one by Julian Borger and the other by Saeed Kamali Dehghan – on exactly the same subject; interpretations of an interview given by the Israeli Chief of Staff to the Ha’aretz newspaper.  

Julian Borger’s piece runs with the headline “Israel army chief contradicts Netanyahu on Iran” and he uses one quote out of a very long interview as a basis for the overall impression his article attempts to make: an implication that the Israeli Prime Minister is over-reacting to the Iranian threat. In other words, Borger uses Gantz’s words to try to lend legitimacy the Guardian view of the benign nature of the Iranian nuclear programme. 

Saeed Kamali Dehghan’s headline goes even further: “Israeli military chief: Iran will not decide to make nuclear weapons” and he too stresses an alleged dissonance between the views of Gantz and those of Binyamin Netanyahu. 

Obviously, it is necessary to take Lt. Gen. Gantz’s words in the context of the entire interview rather than cherry-picking quotes perceived as convenient back-up to a specific agenda. The original Hebrew version of the interview is here. The relevant sections of the English-language translation are as follows: 

“If Iran goes nuclear it will have negative dimensions for the world, for the region, for the freedom of action Iran will permit itself,” Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Haaretz in an Independence Day interview.

That freedom of action might be expressed “against us, via the force Iran will project toward its clients: Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in Gaza. And there’s also the potential for an existential threat. If they have a bomb, we are the only country in the world that someone calls for its destruction and also builds devices with which to bomb us. But despair not. We are a temperate state. The State of Israel is the strongest in the region and will remain so. Decisions can and must be made carefully, out of historic responsibility but without hysteria,” Gantz said.

…….

Asked whether 2012 is also decisive for Iran, Gantz shies from the term. “Clearly, the more the Iranians progress the worse the situation is. This is a critical year, but not necessarily ‘go, no-go.’ The problem doesn’t necessarily stop on December 31, 2012. We’re in a period when something must happen: Either Iran takes its nuclear program to a civilian footing only or the world, perhaps we too, will have to do something. We’re closer to the end of the discussions than the middle.”

Gantz says the international pressure on Iran, in the form of diplomatic and economic sanctions, is beginning to bear fruit. “I also expect that someone is building operational tools of some sort, just in case. The military option is the last chronologically but the first in terms of its credibility. If it’s not credible it has no meaning. We are preparing for it in a credible manner. That’s my job, as a military man.”

Iran, Gantz says, “is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile.”

As long as its facilities are not bomb-proof, “the program is too vulnerable, in Iran’s view. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous.”

About three months ago Gantz’s U.S. counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, visited Israel as his guest. “We speak a great deal with the Americans. It’s not on the level of a discussion, where I want something concrete and he forbids it. We are partners. We and the United States have a large common alignment of interests and relations, but America looks at America and Israel [looks at] Israel. We aren’t two oceans away from the problem – we live here with our civilians, our women and our children, so we interpret the extent of the urgency differently. America says its piece openly, and what it says in the media is also said behind closed doors. It cannot be translated into lights, red or green, because no one is asking them anything in that regard.”

Gantz knows that in the event of another war he will face time pressures as a result of enemy operations against the home front. The IDF will have to bring massive force to bear from the outset, employing most of the means at its disposal quickly and without hesitation or delay.

Ground operations, long-distance fire and in-depth operations as well?

“I don’t pretend to determine that now. I am preparing for full deployment of our capabilities. The political leadership will have to take courageous, painful decisions. There are a certain number of critical decisions in a war. The chief of staff makes about 10 of these in his sphere of responsibility in wartime, and the political leadership makes about half this number.”

These decisions, Gantz knows, will be made under a barrage of rockets and missiles against civilian areas.

In light of the Arab Spring, Israel’s military preparedness must now include a much greater and more varied range of arenas and possibilities.

“I don’t know what will happen in Syria, but presumably the Golan Heights won’t be as quiet as before. I cannot remove Syria from the military equation, nor Lebanon. I assume that if there are terror threats from the Golan or Lebanon I’ll have to take action. I cannot do everything by ‘stand-off’ [remote]. The enemy’s fire capabilities have developed at every distance, four or five times what they were in the Second Lebanon War and four or five times compared to the Gaza Strip before Operation Cast Lead, not to mention the new ground-to-air missile in Syria. I go to sleep with the understanding that what we did in the recent long and comprehensive exercises could happen in reality.”

So, as is apparent after reading a more extended version of the interview, the IDF Chief of Staff is in fact far from writing off the Iranian nuclear threat and/or dangers from Iran’s various proxies in the region and his appraisal of the situation is nowhere near as far removed from that of the Israeli Prime Minister as the Guardian’s writers would have us believe.

In addition, Borger’s claim that “Gantz all but calls on Netanyahu to calm down” is shown to be no more than a figment of his own imagination and wishful thinking. The Israeli Prime Minister’s name is not even mentioned by Lt. Gen. Gantz and as anyone familiar with Israel’s highest-ranking officer knows, if he did have anything to say to Mr Netanyahu, it is highly unlikely that would be done via the pages of Ha’aretz.  

Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan once again illustrate Guardian propaganda - the systematic spreading of information and/or disinformation, usually to promote a specific political viewpoint - in its most transparent form. 

Fisking a Guardian report assessing Israel’s performance on nuclear security

 A guest post by AKUS

A screaming headline over a January 11th article by Julian Borger in the Guardian once again casts Israel in the worst possible light:

 

In fact, as even Borger points out, the three worst countries for nuclear security recognized  by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) were no surprise at all:

No surprises about the bottom three when it comes to the overall score. North Korea is worse, then Pakistan and Iran.

The next group from the bottom is more noteworthy. India is 28th out of the 32 nuclear material states, China is 27th and Israel is 25th, below Russia and other former Soviet republics previously thought to be the worst threats in terms of nuclear security.

Make of it what you will, but only Israel and Iran, by the way, are linked to in the Borger article.

The NTI provides what at first sight is an innocuous opportunity for the reader on its website to assign his or her own weightings  to the five “categories” and see how changing a weighting changes each country’s score.  You appear to have the opportunity to play “nuclear regulator” and see how a country you select does depending on changes in these weightings. Here’s a screen shot:

 

Each “category” has a number of sub-categories or “indicators” – e.g., “Security Personnel Measures” – with a value between 0 (lowest) and 4 (highest) and a weighting.

For the details on the “indicators” and how they are scored, you have to dig in to the spreadsheet you can download via a link by the NTI that lists the “Economist Intelligence Unit analyst qualitative assessment(s) based on official national sources, which vary by country” for a large number of weighted sub-measures of the sub-indicators of the indicators in each category. (Don’t worry about it – it’s easier to check  the spreadsheet for details.)

The reader of the NTI website is not allowed to adjust the “indicator” scores and hidden indicator weightings found in the provided spreadsheet, only the “category” scores.

For example:

The “category” of “Security and Control Measures, which I would rank the most critical, is weighted by the NTI as a 2.

The scoring is based on the four “indicators” shown above, each scored over a number of “sub-indicators” :

 

The following countries, listed alphabetically, have the highest score possible of 4 for Security Personnel Measures as shown in the spreadsheet:

 

On a measure of “Security Personnel Measures” NTI ranks Israel in the top league with the world’s best performers. Bringing up the rear are:

Norway, not known as a proliferator, gets 2 points, along with Uzbekistan!

But all is fair in politics and propaganda, so the NTI throws in an “indicator” it calls “Control and Accounting Procedures” intended to show how open a country is about revealing information about materials control and accounting.  Israel refuses to release this information (which does NOT mean it does not have the controls or the information) so gets a score of 0, below even Iran with a 1, while Norway, of course, gets a 5 out of 5!

Thus, Israel’s score on the critical issue of security of nuclear material is distorted because information is not known on how it controls access to nuclear material.

Even worse, the categories of “Domestic Commitments and Capacity” and “Societal Factors” allow the authors of the study to stray from the possibly measurable to the utterly imponderable. Several of the scores awarded to countries for their Societal Factors “indicators” reveal the NTI’s biases. While their biases may be there for others of the countries the report covers, our focus is on Israel.

One of the 5 “categories” is “Societal Factors”, weighted by NTI at 1.5. In this “category” there is an “indicator” of “Political Stability” that has a maximum score of 20 and an indicator weighting of 1, as opposed to 4 for “Security Personnel Measures”, where Israel scores highly. The value of 20 is arrived at by assessing and summing 5 “sub-indicators” such as “sporadic conflict” and “orderly transfer of power”, each with a maximum score of 4.

How many would agree with the following? Israel, a democracy that has never had a revolution nor is it faced with one, brings up the rear by NTI estimates in the “indicator” of “Political Stability”, sandwiched between China and Iran!

 

Top of the list is – you could have guessed it – is Norway with 20 points:

 

By favoring bureaucratic issues and introducing what can only be political bias, and eliminating scores where countries do not provide data, the report over-weights areas in which Israel does poorly (e.g., where it won’t, for security reasons, release data). On the other hand, it under-weights more directly critical areas of security in which Norway, for example, (which has currently no security reasons to withhold information) does poorly.

The spreadsheet allows comparisons between countries. Here is a summary it can provide for Israel and Norway, showing Israel ahead of Norway in matters of nuclear security even if behind on various reporting and bureaucratic measures!

As a result the report presents an entirely false view of Israel as a greater threat than Norway (for example) from the point of view of nuclear proliferation. A moment’s thought should suggest that security-conscious Israel is far less vulnerable to theft of nuclear material than a laissez-faire Scandinavian country.

What we have from the NTI is a hodge podge of some genuine assessments of countries’ ability and commitment to safeguard their nuclear facilities mixed in with reports on, for example, compliance with UN resolutions and obviously biased assessments of “political stability”.

The false picture the report presents is reinforced by allowing readers to play with the “category” weightings on the NTI website, but not the critical “indicator” values. The “category” weightings barely move the countries relative to one another because the underlying biases are so strongly baked in to the scoring.

Contrary what the headline states, in the critical and measurable area of actual security of nuclear assets, Israel is ranked among the best.

Of course, it would be too much to expect the Guardian’s expert on Global Security, Julian Borger, to actually dig in and critique the report’s methodology rather than writing a fluff piece that opened the door for another “shocking Israel” headline.

In fact, the Israel-obsessed Guardian should have had this as the headline to Borger’s piece of unresearched fluff:

NTI report ranks Israel among the world’s best for nuclear security

The anatomy of a Guardian smear against Israel

A Guardian report on Dec. 16th had all the ingredients of a classic Guardian smear.

1. Palestinians level a wild accusation against Israel with little or no actual evidence.

2. The Guardian publishes the allegation with a dramatic headline, downplays even the most emphatic Israeli denials, and fails to conduct any independent research which could prove or disprove the allegation.

3.  The Guardian further contextualizes the baseless story in a manner consistent with a broader narrative of Israeli racism or villainy.

The dramatic title, Palestinian envoy’s wife ‘forced back to Jerusalem during cancer treatment’, in a report written by the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Julian Borger, parrots an accusation by Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Envoy to the UK, which seems, by all available evidence, to be without merit.

Borger writes:

Israeli authorities made the wife of the Palestinian ambassador in London interrupt a course of chemotherapy in order to return to Jerusalem or risk losing her residency rights, a trip that hastened her death from cancer, her family claim.

Samira Hassassian was infected by a virus on her plane journey back to London in May and died three months later, aged 57. Her husband, Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian envoy to the UK since 2005, said the Israeli government had extended her Jerusalem identity papers in 2010 for a year after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2009, but refused to grant a second extension this year, although the disease had by then metastasized to her bones and she was several weeks into intensive chemotherapy.

“They forced her to go back,” Hassassian said. “The doctors had told me she had maybe until the end of the year, so this trip just expedited the process, but it also caused her pain and suffering.”

As far as she was concerned, she was not going to die. She saw herself as battling with cancer. But to force her to go back or lose her rights was inhuman,” Hassassian said. [emphasis mine]

Later in the essay we’re informed that the Israeli embassy in London denied that Hassassian had been refused a second extension.

“If there is a health issue there is no question that she would have had to travel. There is no such policy. It is the strangest allegation I think I’ve ever heard,” the spokesperson said.

Borger continues:

Samira Hassassian’s London oncologist, Professor Paul Ellis, wrote a medical opinion to support her appeal for an extension on March 29, saying: “She is right in the middle of very intensive treatment and it is definitely not a good time for her to travel. There is the potential for significant infection and she is also extremely disabled by fatigue and nausea.”

Again, the Israeli embassy responds:

The embassy spokesman confirmed that a copy of Ellis’s letter was in interior ministry files but said it had been unnecessary as an extension was not in doubt.

So, the Guardian published the allegation that Hassassian’s Jerusalem residency was in doubt despite the emphatic and unequivocal denial by Israeli officials, and the fact that there is no corroborating evidence that Samira Hassassian’s extension was ever in question.

The claim includes the allegation that Hassassian was “infected by a virus on her plane journey back to London in May and died three months later”, implying the the infection was caused by her flight, and hastened her death.   

However, Hassassian was an end stage cancer patient who had been informed that, at most, she had until the end of the year to live, and so her death in late August was consistent with her tragically grim diagnosis. 

Further, an experienced health professional explained to me the following:

“No-one can prove where or when she caught the infection.  She could have been infected on the plane, before the flight or after the flight. We don’t know what sort of infection they’re claiming, but different pathogens have differing incubation periods which are measured in days – not hours – so to pinpoint the contracting of an infection to the specific 4-5 hour time it takes to fly from London to Tel Aviv is speculative to say the least.”

The real reason for Hassassian’s trip to Israel, according to the Israeli spokesperson (and confirmed to me by a reliable Israeli official) was to seek a second opinion on her condition from doctors at Hadassah Hospital.  And, indeed, Hassassian’s husband, in the Guardian report, acknowledged that she had received care during the course of her illness by doctors in Jerusalem. 

However, Borger, not content with advancing such a scurrilous charge, then pivots to the third and final Guardian method of contextualizing a story in a way to impute the most malicious motives not only to the Israeli antagonists in the tale, but to Israel more broadly.  In this case the question of Hassassin’s residency status is woven into a predictable narrative of ethnic cleansing.

Palestinians and Israeli civil rights groups describe the bureaucracy surrounding residency rights as a weaponin Israel’s efforts to reduce the Palestinian population of the fiercely contested city and undermine future challenges to its sovereignty there.

If Borger had decided to check, he would have discovered that the suggestion that there’s been anything resembling a reduction in the Palestinian population of Jerusalem is patently false.

According to statistics provided by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies:

  • Between 1949 and 1967, when Jordan controlled all of East Jerusalem, the Arab population of East Jerusalem increased by only 860 people.
  • By contrast, the Muslim Arab population of Jerusalem increased from 68,000 people to 275,000 people between 1967 and 2009, with the city under Israeli jurisdiction – ie an increase of 207,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem.
  • Between 1967 and 2009, the Jewish population of Jerusalem grew from 197,000 people to 497,000 people
  • A simple calculation therefore shows that during the period 1967 to 2009, the Jewish population of Jerusalem increased by 245% while the Arab population of Jerusalem grew by 380% . 

So, if there has been a coordinated Israeli effort to reduce the Arab population of Jerusalem, it has failed miserably. Since the entire city of Jerusalem has been under Israeli control the Arab population of Jerusalem has grown significantly faster than the Jewish population. This is the opposite of Israel ‘judaising’ the city, or ‘squeezing the Arabs out’.

At the end of the day, what we have are the following allegations:

  • Israelis cruelly forced a terminally ill Palestinian cancer patient to travel back to Israel to maintain her Jerusalem residency.
  • The trip caused an infection that hastened her death.  
  • And, finally, the trip was necessitated as part of a broader Israeli effort to “reduce the Palestinian population” of Jerusalem.

The first two allegations are leveled with no reliable evidence, while the final charge is contradicted by raw population data.

Finally, I was told by a reliable source that the Israeli officials who were in contact (over a period of many weeks) with the Guardian over these allegations were shocked that, despite their emphatic denials of the charges leveled by the Palestinian Envoy, and the paucity of empirical evidence, the story was still published.

However, those of us intimately familiar with the Guardian’s continuing assault on Israeli’s legitimacy are not in the least bit surprised.

The Guardian’s bias and dishonesty when reporting about Israel is immune to such quaint notions as fairness, proportion, context, or decency.  

Obama condemns Arab antisemitism in UN speech. The Guardian’s first reaction? Outrage.

While we try to stay clear of U.S. politics, the Guardian’s initial reaction to the speech delivered by President Barack Obama today at the UN, in the context of Palestinian efforts to unilaterally declare a state, is definitely worth commenting on.

Here are some highlights from Obama’s speech:

we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.

 These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth…

First out of the gate at the Guardian to condemn Obama’s condemnation of Arab antisemitism, and empathy towards Jewish and Israeli suffering, was Julian Borger, the paper’s diplomatic editor:

Wrote Borger, in a post title, “Obama plays it (electorally) safe on Israel-Palestine“:

A good measure of the emotional slant of any speech on the Israel-Palestine question is the relative weight given to Jewish and Arab suffering. By that measure, the needle on Obama’s speech was far over to one side. The president went into detail on the impact of suicide bombs and rockets, anti-Semitism in Arab schoolbooks and centuries of persecution on Jews.

As the title of the post suggests, the only thing which could possibly explain the President’s condemnation of Arab antisemitism, and Palestinian terrorism, for Borger, is U.S. domestic political pressure. 

So convinced are Guardian editors, reporters, and commentators of Israeli villainy and Palestinian victimhood that anyone who contradicts this narrative must have ulterior motives, or be in the grip of powerful pro-Israel forces.

Whatever President Obama’s motivations for delivering a speech which demanded that Palestinians (and the Arab world) recognize Israel’s right to exist, and condemned the endemic Judeophobia in the Islamic world, the reaction to such a call serves as a telling political barometer.

As such, Julian Borger’s negative reaction to a U.S. President’s modest proposal that Palestinians have much to answer for in their quest for statehood should serve as a potent reminder of the visceral anti-Zionism of the Guardian left.