SOAS London event dispells ‘simplistic’ view that Hizbullah is a terror group

Cross posted from London-based blogger Richard Millett 

To say that my question “Is this book pro-Hizbollah?” wasn’t well received on Tuesday night at SOAS is an understatement.

hiz

 

I was at the book launch of The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication written by Lina Khatib, Dina Matar and Atef Alshaer.

After I had asked my question Dina Matar said “I knew you were going to ask that” and Lina Khatib waved the book at me and said “Why don’t you read it?”

The book explains how Hizbullah has been successful in staying relevant since its 1982 inception by adapting itself to changing situations and communicating these adaptations through various means such as poetry and social media.

Hizbullah are poets? Who knew.

One can imagine: “To kill a Jew, or not to kill a Jew. That is the question.”

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Telling Lies about Israel: Robert Fisk cites misleading Begin quote about ‘two-legged beasts’

There is much to object to in Robert Fisk’s latest op-ed at the Independent suggesting a moral equivalence between the intentional murder of innocent Israeli teens by terrorists and Palestinian teens unintentionally killed during the course of anti-terror operations, but there’s also a blatant fabrication – one which he employed previously in a 2001 op-ed titled ‘Telling the truth about Israel‘.

Here’s the quote by Fisk in Israeli teenagers’ funeral: It is obscene when either side kills children – not only Palestinians‘, July 1.

But the obscene theatre of the Israeli-Palestinian war follows a script as scandalous as it is lethal. This week, the Israeli Prime Minister called the Palestinians who killed three Israelis “beasts”. So what? Didn’t Menachem Begin call Palestinians “two-legged animals” in 1982?

However, what Begin said – per a superb expose by CAMERA in 2004 (addressing Fisk’s first use of the false quote) was that those who come to kill Jewish children are “two-legged animals”.

In fact, if you Google the quote you’ll see that the source generally given is an article by a radical French-Israeli journalist, Amnon Kapeliouk, titled “Begin and the Beasts,” which appeared in the New Statesman, June 25, 1982.  

Here’s Kapeliouk’s claim:

For this reason the government has gone to extraordinary lengths to dehumanise the Palestinians. Begin described them in a speech in the Knesset as “beasts walking on two legs“.

However, the actual speech upon which Kapeliouk based his quote gives it a completely different meaning. Begin was talking, not about “the Palestinians” but about terrorists who target children within Israel, during a June 8, 1982 speech he gave in the Knesset in response to a no-confidence motion over Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

In the context of talking about defending the children of Israel from terror attacks, he said the following:

The children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington, in Moscow, and in Peking, in Paris and in Rome, in Oslo, in Stockholm and in Copenhagen. The fate of… Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations. No more. We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.

But, here there are Katyushas, missiles and artillery shells day and night, with the sole intention of murdering our women and children. There are military targets in the Galilee. What a characteristic phenomenon, they are protected, completely immune to these terrorists. Only at the civilian population, only to shed our blood, just to kill our children, our wives, our sisters, our elderly. 

He clearly wasn’t characterizing ‘Palestinians’ as two-legged/footed beasts/animals, only those who would murder innocent children.

There is of course a profound difference between referring to Palestinians who murder Israeli children in cold blood as “two-footed animals”, and using such demonizing language to characterize all Palestinians.

The Independent’s “award-winning” Middle East correspondent should be ashamed of himself for peddling such falsehoods.

UK journalist who dated Ehud Olmert corrupts Gaza War casualty figures

Mira Bar-Hillel, the British journalist who has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews, penned an op-ed on April 1 at the Independent which contained an even more startling revelation:
mira

In what reads at first glance as an April Fool’s joke, Bar-Hillel writes the following about the former Israeli Prime Minister.

Reader, I didn’t marry him. Not even close. But I did once go out with the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has just been convicted of bribery and corruption.

Back in late 1969 a blind date was arranged for us. We moved in the same circles for a few years: he as an aspiring politician, me as a journalist. Then as now, Olmert was highly intelligent, with a sharp legal mind. On the downside was his raw ambition.

Olmert was the accidental PM. ‘Arik’ Sharon made him his deputy mainly to force him to toe the line. But when Sharon fell into a coma in 2004, Olmert inherited the job without having to bother with an election which he would probably not have won.

His legacy as PM includes the ill-fated adventure in Lebanon in August 2006, which killed over 1,000 people, mostly civilians, devastated civil infrastructure and displaced approximately one million Lebanese. Two years later, he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead, many of them, as in Lebanon, children.

First, she of course got the date of Ariel Sharon’s coma wrong, which occurred in 2006, not 2004.

Additionally, Bar-Hillel significantly inflates the casualty figures in the 2008-09 war in Gaza.

Even such politicized pro-Palestinian NGOs such as B’tselem haven’t claimed that the three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas “left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead”.  While other sources (including, quite tellingly, Hamas) place the civilian casualty figures dramatically lower, B’tselem has claimed that 773 of the 1387 Palestinians they claim were killed in the war “did not take part in hostilities” – more than 20 percent less than the figure cited by Bar-Hillel.

While Bar-Hillel acknowledges that the failed shidduch with the disgraced former PM didn’t provide an opportunity to really get to know the man, readers of the Independent would likely benefit from an equally frank admission that the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is an issue about which she knows even less about.

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Guardian Group editors fail to correct false claim on Sabra and Shatila massacre

We’ve been in communication with editors at The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) regarding a false claim (about the massacre of Palestinian civilians in 1982 by Christian Phalangists), by their foreign affairs editor, Peter Beaumont, in a Jan. 11 report titled ‘Ariel Sharon: a warrior blamed for massacres and praised for peace making‘.

Here are the relevant passages in Beaumont’s report:

It was during this period [the Lebanon War in 1982] he was found by the Kahan commission – investigating the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, when Israeli forces allowed Christian Phalangist militiamen into two refugee camps in Beirut to slaughter hundreds of Palestinian refugees – to have been personally negligent in the killings “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge [and] not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed”.

The average reader would likely take this to mean that Israeli forces sent Phalangist militiamen with the intent of “slaughtering” Palestinian refugees. However, the Israeli fact-finding mission on the massacre (Kahan Commission) that Beaumont cited was clear – in an over 51,000 word document – that there was no evidence of such an Israeli intent. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The commission found, per the highlighted passages below, that there was no intention by any Israelis to harm the non-combatant population in the Palestinian camps.

Here are a few of the relevant passages from the report:

Contentions and accusations were advanced that even if I.D.F. personnel had not shed the blood of the massacred, the entry of the Phalangists into the camps had been carried out with the prior knowledge that a massacre would be perpetrated there and with the intention that this should indeed take place; and therefore all those who had enabled the entry of the Phalangists into the camps should be regarded as accomplices to the acts of slaughter and sharing in direct responsibility. These accusations too are unfounded. We have no doubt that no conspiracy or plot was entered into between anyone from the Israeli political echelon or from the military echelon in the I.D.F. and the Phalangists, with the aim of perpetrating atrocities in the camps…. No intention existed on the part of any Israeli element to harm the non-combatant population in the camps. … Before they entered the camps and also afterward, the Phalangists requested I .D.F. support in the form of artillery fire and tanks, but this request was rejected by the Chief of Staff in order to prevent injuries to civilians. It is true that I.D.F. tank fire was directed at sources of fire within the camps, but this was in reaction to fire directed at the I.D.F. from inside the camps. We assert that in having the Phalangists enter the camps, no intention existed on the part of anyone who acted on behalf of Israel to harm the non-combatant population, and that the events that followed did not have the concurrence or assent of anyone from the political or civilian echelon who was active regarding the Phalangists’ entry into the camps.

The report further explains IDF instructions to the Phalangist militia prior to the operation to root out terrorists from the camps.

The commanders of the Phalangists arrived for their first coordinating session regarding the entry of their forces into the camps at about 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, 16.9.82, and met with Major-General Drori at the headquarters of one of the divisions. It was agreed at that meeting that they would enter the camps and coordinate this action with Brigadier-General Yaron, commander of the division. This coordination between Brigadier-General Yaron and the Phalangist commanders would take place on Thursday afternoon at the forward command post. It was likewise agreed at that meeting that a company of 150 fighters from the Phalangist force would enter the camps and that they would do so from south to north and from west to east. Brigadier-General Yaron spoke with the Phalangists about the places where the terrorists were located in the camps and also warned them not to harm the civilian population.

If Beaumont had decided to read the report he cited, he would have noted the egregious distortion in his claim that “Israeli forces allowed Christian Phalangist militiamen into two refugee camps in Beirut to slaughter hundreds of Palestinian refugees.”

We’re continuing to press editors at The Observer to revise the passage to more accurately reflect the findings of the Kahan Commission, and will update you when we receive a definitive response.

In the meantime, you can Tweet Peter Beaumont and ask him to address the error.

@petersbeaumont

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Irish Times op-ed: Sharon tried cleansing Palestinians due to ‘chosen people’ belief

In October we posted about a shameful smear at The Irish Times - by a socialist activist, former Trotskyite and occasional ‘Comment is Free’ contributor named Eamonn McCann – with the following headline: 

McCann’s piece included fantastical anecdotes such as this:

The late Mary Holland once explained to me why she had changed sides on the Israel-Palestine issue after spending just a few hours in the region.

[when you] walked out of the hotel, she recalled, you could see something was terribly wrong. Arabs shrinking back on the pavements to allow Jews to pass, being literally, physically pushed out of their way if they didn’t move fast enough, and, worst of all in her account, the Arabs’ heads-down acceptance of it all.

McCann added a few more alleged examples of racism before concluding that it’s such “settled hatred that lies at the heart of Israel’s official ideology“, and predicting that such Israeli hatred will be the “cause of its downfall in the end“.

Today, Jan 16, The Irish Times published another vicious attack on Israel by McCann, in a piece ostensibly comparing Ariel Sharon with Ian Paisley:

irish timesMcCann begins:

Ariel Sharon and Ian Paisley shared more than bulkiness and belligerence. Each based his ideology on books of the Bible – the fundamental reason neither could contemplate compromise or regard enemies as equals.

The first five books loomed large in each of their ideologies. (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy constitute the Torah.)

Sharon will have been mindful of: “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and saidTo your descendants I give this land . . . the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:18-21).

McCann further contextualizes the passage from Genesis, thus:

Sharon’s ruthless determination to cleanse the land of Israel of Palestinians was not rooted in analysis of contemporary reality – he didn’t see it primarily as a necessary response to anti-Semitism in the wider world, or to the Holocaust – but in the first instance as a duty conferred on the Jewish people by Yahweh.

The massacre [in the Palestinian village of Qibya in 1953] was undertaken [by Sharon] as retaliation for the killing by Palestinians of a Jewish mother and her two children. Sharon will have believed as he went about his work that he was wielding the sword of God – and will have had the same sense of righteousness when supervising the Phalangists’ pitiless butchery of more than 2,000 Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon in 1982.

First, McCann’s charge that Sharon tried to “cleanse the land of Israel of Palestinians” is a libel “not rooted in reality”, and of course nothing but ahistorical anti-Zionist agitprop.

Additionally, his claim that Sharon “supervised” the Christian Arabs who massacred Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila in 1982 is of course demonstrably untrue.  The Israeli commission on the incident found Sharon “responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge when he approved the entry of the Phalangists into the camps”, and nowhere is there any suggestion that he “supervised” the killing.  Indeed, the commission explicitly criticized IDF leaders for NOT supervising (their word) the Phlangists’ activities.

But, most importantly, McCann is suggesting that the recently deceased (and decidedly secular) Israeli leader initiated such supposed acts of “ethnic cleansing” because he felt, by virtue of the words written in the Torah, that Jews are “chosen” by God, rendering non-Jews expendable.

As we observed following Deborah Orr’schosen people slur at the Guardian in 2011, the antisemitic use of the idea of Jewish “chosenness” – which most Jews understand as a requirement to fulfill an elevated ethical purpose – has a long and dark history.

In 1973, the Soviet Union actually initiated a debate at the UN on the subject of Jews as the chosen people, which they argued was evidence of the Jewish religion’s inherent racism.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the most widely distributed antisemitic forgery in history – a book still quite popular in much of the Arab world – is premised partly on the distorted idea of Jews’ “chosenness”, and represents a widely used theme at one of the more popular antisemitic sites on the web Jew Watch, a clearinghouse of Judeophobic conspiracy theories replete with quotes such as these:

“The Jewish conception of the Jews as the Chosen People who must eventually rule the world forms indeed the basis of Rabbinical Judaism.”

The most well-known white supremacist in the U.S., David Duke, uses the theme of Jews’ “chosenness” to prove that Jews are the most racist people on the planet, and has argued the following in his book ‘Jewish Surpemacism:

“Israelites are a “chosen people,” chosen by God above all the other peoples of the world…[which] is a blatant expression of ethnic supremacism.”

The odious notion that Jews are religiously programmed to conquer, rule and murder non-Jews due to a sense of superiority has a undeniably racist pedigree and, at the very least, shouldn’t be legitimized by the editors at the Irish Times, or any other “respectable”, putatively “progressive” media outlet. 

 

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A typical Guardian distortion about Ariel Sharon and Sabra/Shatila massacre

Cross posted from The Commentator with the expressed permission of their publisher, Robin Shepherd

There is obviously nothing funny about the 1982 massacre in Lebanon of hundreds of mainly Muslim Palestinians at the hands of an Arab Christian militia at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

But, since practically the entire world has blamed the incident on Israel and one Ariel Sharon, it is hard not to chuckle at the way he once characterised the situation following his removal as defence minister, not for carrying out the massacre of course, but for not doing enough to prevent a massacre carried out by others.

“I’m the only minister of defence in the world — the only one — who left his post and went back to work on a tractor, on his farm, as a result of what Christians did to Muslims. The only one.”

It’s so true, and so piercing because it cuts down to size the flat-out liars who have always blamed him for something he just didn’t do. It can even get as absurd as this nasty little lie slipped into today’s editorial in the Guardian, without question the most bigoted British newspaper when it comes to matters Israeli.

“In 1982, serving as defence minister, he allowed Christian Phalangists into the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila, where they massacred more than 700 men, women and children. An Israeli government inquiry concluded that Mr Sharon bore personal responsibility for the incident,” the paper, which is the house journal of the BBC said.

The only way to make sense of this garbage is to conclude that Sharon must have ordered the Phalangists to do it — which obviously he didn’t — or that he was clairvoyant — which obviously he wasn’t; and knew in advance exactly what was going to happen.

The lie is doubled up with reference to the Israeli government report which simply says he was responsible for not doing enough to stop the incident, not that he actually bore responsibility for what took place. That’s why he and several others were held to have had a measure of indirectresponsibility, but not to have been responsible for the incident itself.

In other words, the truth is the exact opposite of what the Guardian says it is. And they know it.

The Guardian also knows that less than 1 percent of readers will drill down to get to the truth; and in spreading outright lies, a 99 percent success rate is good enough for them. It’s all done of course to discredit, by association, Israel as a whole, because mud sticks.

Oh, you don’t think mud sticks?

Let’s finish with a question or two. Everyone who has heard of Sabra and Shatila has heard of Ariel Sharon in relation to it. But how many people do you think know the names of the Phalangist leaders who actually commanded, led and carried out the massacre?

Do you know their names? Worth a thought isn’t it…?

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Murdered Israeli fails to evoke the Guardian’s sympathy

As we noted in a post yesterday, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood evidently believes – contrary to all evidence – that Palestinian terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are rare.  

However, the only thing truly rare is substantive coverage by the Guardian of ubiquitous terror attacks (and attempted attacks) on Israelis inside and outside the green line.  A case in point is their “coverage” of the murder of Eden Atias, the 19-year-old from Nazareth Illit who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teen on a bus at Afula’s central bus station.  

Their sole piece on the lethal terror attack consisted of a generic video they posted on Nov. 13 (with NO accompanying text) which has since been removed.  When you open the link to Harriet Sherwood’s “report”, all you see is the headline and a message below inserted by editors which notes that the content has been removed.

The Guardian’s tendency to downplay Palestinian attacks on Israelis was again on display following the death on Sunday of 31-year-old Master Sgt. Shlomi Cohen, from Afula, who was killed (while driving an army vehicle) by cross-border gunfire from Lebanon.  The following morning, the Guardian published a story on the incident by Conal Urquhart titled ‘Lebanon-Israel border shooting sparks tensions‘.  

orig headline

(It was in the strap line where we first learned that an Israeli soldier was killed.)  

Though the precise details of the shooting are still being investigated, reports confirm that the gunman was a member of the Lebanese Armed Forces and that he fired several bullets from Lebanese territory at Cohen, who was on the Israeli side of the fence.

The Guardian chose to illustrate the story with the following photo of the Israel-Lebanon border.

Lebanon-Israel border shooting sparks tensions

Several hours after the shooting, the IDF reportedly fired shots in the direction of Lebanese soldiers in the same area where Cohen was killed, after spotting “suspicious movement” – though there are conflicting reports as to whether any Lebanese soldiers were actually wounded in the incident.

Roughly 12 hours later (and 14 hours after Urquhart’s original story), Harriet Sherwood published her report on the day’s events in a story titled ‘Israeli troops shoot two Lebanese soldiers in border skirmish‘.

headline(Again, the fact that the shooting took place only after an Israeli soldier was killed is relegated to the strap line.)

The photo Guardian editors used to illustrate the incident was an unrelated photo of Israeli soldiers which dates back at least five years.

Israeli troops near Lebanon

Whilst the report itself is relatively fair, it’s nonetheless troubling that in two stories devoted to an incident which clearly began when an Israeli soldiered was killed by a Lebanese soldier, neither the titles nor accompanying photos convey any information about the Israeli victim.  Additionally, in looking back at prior Guardian reports on lethal Palestinian terror attacks over the past two years, we weren’t able to find even one which included a photo of the Israeli victim.  

The Guardian’s failure to humanize Israeli victims of terror stands in stark contrast to their often fawning coverage of Palestinian terrorists and their families.

Photo of Shabbir Hazam used to illustrate Guardian story: He was a member of Fatah who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a work colleague – Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg – with an axe.

Here’s one of the photos of Shlomi Cohen used by other media outlets, which the Guardian passed on.

cohen1

Here’s his final Facebook update:

cohen's

Cohen leaves behind a wife and seven-month-old baby girl. 

Lunacy by Robert Fisk: Indy journalist blames Israel for US abuses in Iraq

Robert Fisk’s latest exploration into the Israeli heart of darkness for The Independent (An obsessive’s documenting of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon can show us how the West lost respect for international law, Dec. 8) begins thus:

Odd [Norwegian journalist] Karsten Tveit was always a very obsessional chap. Every story he covered, he always wanted to dig deeper, study further, hear one more tale of horror, one more joke, one more historical fact.  We all covered the story of Israel’s wars in Lebanon, in 1978, in 1982, in 1996, in 2006. Over the years, I covered the story of Israel’s torturers in Khiam jail in southern Lebanon, the massive Ansar prison camp in 1982, the frightful interrogation of Lebanese and Palestinian inmates.

However, while the extent of Israeli involvement with the Khiam prison during the Lebanese Civil War is debatable, it’s clear that Khiam was run by the South Lebanese Army, and that the torturers were almost certainly Lebanese.

Nevertheless, such misleading suggestions of Israeli guilt are not the worst part of his story.  The most egregious examples of Fisk’s tortured logic can be seen in the following passages:

And I wondered, reading this shameful narrative [of Israeli brutality], why we were so surprised when we found that the American military were torturing and killing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Karsten says at one point that Israeli soldiers in the occupation zone in southern Lebanon – the Israelis called it a ‘security zone’, a description that many newspapers gutlessly repeated – were joint Israeli-American nationals. Did any of them also serve in the American army in Iraq?

The mass prison camp at Ansar sounds like a hot version of Guantanamo. And when the US repeatedly vetoed UN Security Council resolutions condemning Israel’s treatment of Lebanese civilians, I wonder whether somehow that’s when American governments lost their respect for international law – as they showed in their treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan (or the Iraqi invasion itself).

No word other than lunacy can fairly characterize such a conclusion.  Fisk is claiming that the alleged Israeli brutality in Lebanon arguably influenced US abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo – as well as the country’s loss of “respect for international law” more broadly!

His sole piece of evidence? The possibility that a few American-Israelis (“joint Israeli-American nationals”) who served in southern Lebanon in the early 80s may have returned to the US and then served in the US Army in Iraq (20 years later!) in the early 2000s, infecting US troops with their ‘odious’ Israeli values. 

If serious questions arise from the fact that Fisk’s rant was published as a ‘serious analysis’, it relates to the following spirited defense by Indy editors to charges leveled by Alex Brummer. Here’s part of what they wrote in an Oct. 4 editorial titled ‘Neither Israel nor the broader Jewish community is demonised by this newspaper’.

In a throwaway remark on Radio 4’s Today yesterday, Alex Brummer, City Editor of the Daily Mail, said: “In comparison with The Guardian and The Independent, which frequently demonises Israel, and in so doing demonises the broader Jewish community, [the Daily Mail] is right behind them.” The Guardian can speak for itself. In relation to The Independent, Mr Brummer’s claim is false, myopic, wilfully ignorant, an offence against the integrity of our staff, and an insult to you, our readers.

It is true that, since its founding in 1986, The Independent has championed Enlightenment values; and there have been times when the actions of the Israeli government have not  been driven by enlightened thinking.

Our coverage of Israel is led by our multiple award-winning Middle East Correspondent, Robert Fisk. Mr Fisk, in three decades reporting on that region, understands it better than most of those who slander him, and has been at pains to distinguish between opposition to Israeli policy and anti-Semitism. For 13 of his years at The Independent, he was edited by Simon Kelner, a man of Jewish provenance who has done a very great deal to support Britain’s Jewish diaspora.

Leaving aside the evidently exculpatory evidence pertaining to the “Jewish provenance” of Fisk’s editor, it’s unclear how any serious (“enlightened”) paper can publish such a fantastical account – one suggesting that torture by Arab soldiers at the Khiam jail in Lebanon in the 70s and the mistreatment by military police of the US Army in Iraq (presumably at Abu Ghraib) in 2003 has a Zionist root cause.

Though we of course have no idea if Fisk’s well-documented Israel obsession is influenced by antisemitism, we can certainly conclude that much of his work at the Indy doesn’t even resemble the professional journalism of a serious Middle East correspondent.

Glenn Greenwald: Hamas and Hezbollah are NOT terrorist movements

We reported recently that Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald has been speaking at the annual Marxist-Leninist conference, and we posted a few clips of his 2011 appearance at the conference, held in Chicago.  During his talk (titled ‘Civil Liberties under Obama’), the CiF columnist defended American al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, and downplayed the “scope” of the 9/11 attacks – which he suggested were much more limited (in the scale of violence) than what the U.S. has perpetrated in the Arab world.

Additionally, the following is a short clip from his 2012 presentation (also held in Chicago) in front of the ‘revolutionary socialist group’, where he addresses the topic of terrorism and how the word is, in his view, misused.

As Greenwald would have you believe that the sole objectives of Hamas and Hezbollah is to protect the citizens of Gaza and Lebanon respectively, here are a few facts about the putatively benign ‘anti-imperialist’ movements which may be useful:

Hamas

  • Hamas is the Arabic acronym for “The Islamic Resistance Movement” and grew out of the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood movement which arose in Egypt in the 1920s.
  • Hamas’s founding charter cites the wisdom of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to “prove” that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world, and cites a Hadith which calls for the murder of Jews.

Hezbollah

  • Hezbollah’ is a Shiite Islamist group founded in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon in 1982 as an extension of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, and adopted much of the Iranian doctrine, including the use of terror as a means of attaining its objectives.  Among the group’s goals in Lebanon is the creation of a fundamentalist Iranian-style Islamic republic and removal of all non-Muslim influences.
  • Before 9/11, Hezbollah killed more Americans than any other terrorist group:  More than 300 were murdered in six separate attacks, including 243 Marines in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. 
  • Hezbollah has incited its followers to carry out suicide bombings against Western targets all over the world (including in America), and the group’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah, has said the following: “Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute [...] Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America.”
  • The continuing military presence of Hezbollah in Lebanon (particularly their weapons smuggling) represents clear violations of UN Resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006), both of which call for the disbanding of all such illegal militias which threaten the sovereignty of the country.
  •  Hezbollah has engaged in terrorist acts in Europe, Africa, South America, N. America and even in Arab states – including in Yemen and Bahrain.
  • Hezbollah’s Nasrallah has explicitly stated that Jews anywhere in the world are legitimate targets. Specifically, Nasrallah has said: “If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”. (Daily Star, Oct. 23, 2002)

In addition to the risible suggestion that the two violent extremist groups are merely trying to protect Palestinian and Lebanese civilians from Israeli aggression, Greenwald was simply not telling his socialist friends the truth when he claimed the groups haven’t targeted American citizens. Moreover, as his willingness to defend even al-Qaeda operatives demonstrates, his apologias on behalf of violent Islamist extremists are clearly not limited to the Middle East. 

In contextualizing Greenwald’s columns in both Salon.com and the Guardian – where he routinely excoriates the U.S. for all number of ‘imperialist’ crimes against the Arab world and expresses sympathy for even the most violent, reactionary Islamist movements – it’s difficult not to marvel at the ideological dynamics within UK and U.S. politics whereby some genuinely see Greenwald as a “progressive” political voice.  

Guardian misleads on Israeli Druze, part 2: Unreliable Sources

In our previous post about a report by Phoebe Greenwood in the Guardian (‘Golan Heights braces for war as tensions rise between Syria and Israel, May 31) we exposed two errors.  The report grossly inflated the number of Druze in the Golan Heights (there are 20,000, not 80,000 as Greenwood claimed), and also falsely alleged that Druze is an “Islamic sect” when it is in fact a unique monotheistic religion which departed from Islam around the 11th century. 

As we noted in our last post (as a bit of background), Majdal Shams is one of the four Druze communities in the Golan Heights, with a population of about 9,000. After capturing the Golan Heights during the Six Day War, Israel offered all the Druze people living there citizenship—an offer most turned down. However, they all carry Israeli ID cards and are free to live, travel, work, and seek higher education anywhere in the Jewish state.

SONY DSC

Majdal Shams (Photo courtesy of Hadar Sela)

However, in addition to these factual errors, Greenwood’s report on the precarious position of residents of the Israeli-Syrian border town of Majdal Shams – in the context of a Syrian civil war which has already spread to Lebanon and now threatens Israel’s northern communities – relies largely on a Druze who she fails to fully identify.

Greenwood writes the following:

“We are in a very special situation. We are lucky our village wasn’t destroyed in 1967 because Israel considers us Druze so we are not a target for them. We are Syrian so we are not a target for Syria or for Hezbollah. We are like an island in this region,” explains Dr Maray Taisseer [sic], a consultant at the Majdal Shams medical centre and community spokesperson.

Leaving aside the risible claim that the Syrian Druze community in the Golan wouldn’t ever be targeted by the Iranian sponsored Shiite Islamist movement or the regime of Bashar Assad because neither would dare target ‘Syrians’, it’s misleading to refer to Dr. Taisseer Maray (Greenwood conflated his first and last names) as a “community spokesman”.  

Maray, Greenwood primary source, is in fact the director of a highly politicized, pro-BDS NGO, Golan for Development, and has stated his opposition to the existence of a Jewish state within any borders.

Greenwood then quotes Maray further:

The war, if it comes, may not be a disaster, Taisseer suggests, if it delivers Golan back into Syrian hands.

“Whatever happens in Syria, everyone agrees we should be liberated – it doesn’t matter whether it’s by regime or rebel forces. This is Syrian land and that is clear,” he states unequivocally.

However, as my colleague Hadar Sela (a longtime resident of the Golan) observed, it’s clear to those who have truly gotten to know the Druze of Majdal Shams over a number of years that ‘everyone’ does not agree.  The vast majority of Druze there have family in Syria and they’re likely terrified about their safety. Hence, every word they say, Sela argued, “is likely measured because they know full well that a wrong word in the media may have serious consequences.”

Further, as Middle East analyst Michael Totten has observed about the Golan Druze in World Affairs Journal:

[Druze are] loyal to whoever is in charge of the country they live in…The Druze on the Golan are no different from Israeli or Lebanese Druze in this way, but their political geography is different. Though they’re governed by Israel now, they may be governed again by Syria later. So even though Israel offers them citizenship, most haven’t taken it. They’re afraid of the consequences if Syrian rule ever returns.

Also quite noteworthy are comments by the mayor of Majdal Shams, Dolan Abu-Salah, who suggested in an interview in 2012 that living in Israel was a “privilege”.  Abu-Salah went on to boast that, by living in the state of Israel, “we [Druze] enjoy all the benefits of a very democratic regime. We pay taxes. And we get excellent social benefits.”

Shefaa Abu Jabal, a prominent Majdal Shams Druze spokesperson (and anti-Assad activist) explained in an interview with Dissent Magazine last summer that though her heart may long emotionally for Syria, she is “100 percent aware that thanks to my education that I received here in Israel I can express my opinion more freely”. Indeed, last July Abu Jabal passed the Israeli bar after graduating from Haifa University Law School—the first Syrian Druze woman resident of Israel to graduate from an Israeli university.

shefa-golan

Shefaa Abu Jabal in Majdal Shams

Just two weeks after Abu Jabal uttered those words, she emailed the journalist at Dissent to say that she had deactivated her Facebook page. She needed to “be out of the spotlight” for a while, and “to protect her allies living under Assad“.

Whilst it may be difficult to determine with any degree of empirical certainty how “most” Druze in Majdal Shams feel about the war in Syria, or their Israeli identity, Greenwood’s story – and her reliance on selected “spokespersons” – represents a good example of the risks of taking reports by Guardian journalists who are compromised by preconceived narratives about the region at face value.

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.

Harriet Sherwood misleads on Syrian weapon crisis with distorted reading of Res. 1701

The Guardian has published several articles on suspected military strikes, over the last several days, by the Israeli Air Force, which likely targeted sophisticated weaponry (possibly Russian made SA-17 anti-aircraft missilesreportedly on its way to the Iranian backed terror group, Hezbollah, illegally based in Lebanon.

Israeli officials have been warning for months that the IDF will not allow the transfer of advanced Syrian weapons – including chemical and biological weapons – to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front and Hezbollah.  

Assuming reports of the Israeli strikes are accurate, it may indicate that Assad had decided test Israeli resolve to prevent such arms transfers.

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report on the conflagration in Lebanon, ‘Israeli warplanes violate Lebanese airspace, Feb 1, included these passages:

Israeli warplanes flew over Lebanon again on Friday, two days after air strikes targeted a convoy of arms or a weapons research base inside Syrian territory.

Under UN security council resolution 1701, passed following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, Israeli planes are forbidden from flying over Lebanon. [emphasis added]

Sherwood is referring to the UN security council resolution which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Here are relevant provisions of 1701:

14. Calls upon the government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel and requests Unifil as authorised in paragraph 11 to assist the government of Lebanon at its request;
15. Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft;
a. the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and;
b. the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above, except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorised by the government of Lebanon or by Unifil as authorised in paragraph 11;

So, by any reading of 1701, arms transfers from Syria to Hezbollah (in Lebanon) are prohibited and, therefore, Israeli efforts to prevent such transfers would arguably be justified, according to at least the spirit of the resolution.

Further, and more relevant to the current crisis, 1701 includes the following, which specifically prohibits the continuing presence and arming of Hezbollah – an illegal militia – in Lebanon, by calling for:

  • security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorised in paragraph 11, deployed in this area;
  • Full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;
  • No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government;

Yet, it is widely known that Hezbollah has flagrantly violated 1701, as it has continued to maintain and develop a military infrastructure, including sophisticated offensive and defensive weaponry, south of the Litani river, and are believed to possess nearly 1,000 facilities in southern Lebanon, located in up to 270 civilian villages.

Here’s an IDF map illustrating Hezbollah’s ‘illegal occupation’ of Lebanon.

Hezbollah-map-southern-Lebanon

Not only has Hezbollah failed to disarm, but has in fact acquired (from Iran and Syria) an astonishing array of up to 50,000 rockets (4 x the amount they possessed at the end of the 2006 war) which threaten Israel and the entire region – all under the eyes of UN observers (UNIFIL) tasked with preventing the Shiite terror group’s re-arming. 

Interestingly, Sherwood does add, further in her report, that “Western…sources said Israel’s target was a convoy of trucks carrying Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles from Syria to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon”, but, not surprisingly, fails to note that such a transfer would necessarily violate 1701.

Even if Sherwood is to argue that reported IAF missions over Lebanon technically violate 1701, the absence of any context regarding Hezbollah’s flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the resolution for over six years represents another classic example of a Guardian omission which serves to grossly distort the political reality of the region.

Guardian analyst laments that Israel’s ‘far-right’ gov’t won’t make peace with global jihadists

A recent edition of the Guardian’s ongoing Middle East Live Blog (edited by  and ) added a bit of analysis to recent reports that the IDF has been striking sophisticated (possibly Russian made) weaponry which was reportedly on its way to the Iranian backed terror group, Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Buk-M1-2_9A310M1-2

Version of the advanced anti-missile system that Israel reportedly intercepted in a Syria which was heading to Hezbollah

The reported strikes would be consistent with previous warnings by Israeli leaders of the possibility of military action to prevent the Syrian regime’s arms – including chemical and biological weapons – from falling into the hands of Hezbollah, or “global jihadists” [such as al-Qaeda-linked rebel groups in like Jabhat al-Nusra], fighting inside Syria, especially in light of the increasing instability of the Assad regime.

The Guardian report notes the following:

Expect to see more Israeli air strikes against Syria, warns analyst Nicholas Noe, who is concerned that the crisis threatens to escalate into a regional conflagration.

Noe, co-founder of MidEastwire.com and expert on Hezbollah, said: “Unfortunately if the past is any guide to the future we are in for more Israeli air strikes, and a political process to settle this is not going to be forthcoming.”

Noe then is quoted thus:

“Unfortunately I don’t think this extraordinarily right wing Israeli leadership is interested in sending messages of peace.

They see some of the greatest enemies to the north, Hezbollah and Syria, as very vulnerable and I’m greatly concerned that there is a strong desire among parts of the Israeli establishment who want to use this opportunity to strike some strong blows against their strategic enemies.

Noe, a ‘Comment is Free’ contributor, would evidently have us believe that, if not for the “extraordinary right wing Israeli leadership”, peace between Israel, Syria, al-Qaeda affiliated groups and Hezbollah could possibly be forthcoming. 

This sage commentary by Noe, an “analyst” who has shilled for Hezbollah previously at CiF, suggesting that it is Israel which is the the military aggressor, represents yet another in a series of increasingly hysterical characterizations of Israel’s alleged “extreme right” political orientation – a specious and misleading narrative in the political context of the region, and one which evidently hasn’t been modified by contradictory evidence produced by the Israeli elections.

“Progressive” global jihadists and “liberal” Hezbollah leaders are no doubt increasingly depressed about the prospect of having their peaceful acquisition of sophisticated Syrian arms stymied by the belligerent Jewish state. 

“Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal”: Guardian Mid-East editor misleads on roots of ’82 Lebanon War

A February, 2012 piece by the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, which attempted to draw an analogy between Israel’s 1982 war against the PLO in Lebanon and current tensions with Iran, suggested that both scenarios demonstrate the Israeli propensity to cynically use a phony “pretext” to start a dangerous war.

Black wrote the following in the final paragraphs of his story:

“…In June 1982 an assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador to London by the renegade Palestinian faction led by the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal provided the pretext for war against Yasser Arafat’s PLO in Lebanon, despite a ceasefire that had held for nearly a year. Ariel Sharon, then defence minister, was pressing to attack and persuaded the prime minister, Menachem Begin, to go ahead

“Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal,” Begin reportedly replied as his security chiefs explained the crucial detail and significance of the London attack. Full scale invasion, thousands of dead and years of war and occupation were the result.” [emphasis added]

Black, evidently delighted by the chance to cite the alleged use, by an Israeli leader, of the Yiddish-inspired verbal tradition (using “sh” or “shm” to dismiss something with mockery) in order to, himself, dismiss Israel’s motivation for entering the war, evoked the the same alleged quote – which, interestingly, has alternately been attributed to Israel’s then army chief, Rafael Eitan – in his piece on Friday, ‘January 4, ‘Arabs are losing faith in America: Lessons from Lebanon 1982‘.

Black, in an effort to buttress his narrative that the ’82 war was the beginning of the Arabs’ disenchantment with an America unwilling, evidently, to check Israel’s reckless aggression with a stern and mighty hand, writes the following:

“The war began in a sense in London, where, on June 3, a Palestinian gunman shot the Israeli ambassador, Shlomo Argov. It was clear from the start that the hit team was not from the PLO but from the dissident Iraqi-backed outfit run by Abu Nidal, Yasser Arafat‘s sworn enemy. Israel‘s prime minister, Menachem Begin, egged on by his defence minister, Ariel Sharon, went to war against the PLO in Lebanon anyway. “Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal,” another Israeli minister said.” [emphasis added]

Black’s breezy dismissal of Israel’s decision to enter the Lebanon Civil War (which, by 1982, had already been raging for seven years) is historically unserious.

No, the war didn’t, “in a sense”, start in London.

The roots of the Lebanon war lay in the bloody expulsion of the PLO from Jordan, their relocation to Lebanon in 1971 and subsequent attacks against the Jewish state by the Palestinian terrorist group.

In March 1978, PLO terrorists infiltrated Israel, hijacked a bus and ended up murdering 34 Israeli civilians on board.  In response, Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon and overran terrorist bases, pushing the PLO away from the southern border.  The IDF shortly withdrew and allowed UN forces to enter, but UN troops were unable to prevent PLO terrorists from re-infiltrating the region and acquiring new, and more dangerous arms. 

A series of PLO attacks and Israeli reprisals ended briefly due to a U.S. brokered ceasefire agreement in July 1981, but the PLO repeatedly violated the cease-fire over the ensuing 11 months(Between July 1981 and June 1982 26 Israelis were killed and 264 injured.)

Meanwhile, over 15,000 PLO fighters were encamped in locations throughout Lebanon, armed with an extensive cache of weaponry – which included mortars, Katyusha rockets, an antiaircraft network and even surface-to-air missiles.

Israel was unable to stem the growth of the PLO militia, and the frequency of the attacks had forced thousands of Israeli residents in the Galilee to flee their homes and take refuge in shelters.

So, while the final provocation occurred in June 1982 when a Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal attempted to assassinate Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Black’s suggestion that Israel may have cynically exploited the assassination as a pretext break a peaceful “truce”, in order to launch an unnecessary war, is patently untrue.

The casus belli for Operation Peace for the Galilee was self-evident, building for years, and needed no “pretext”.

What country on earth would permit a terrorist group (with an increasingly deadly arsenal of weaponry) on its border to launch frequent terror attacks against its citizens without a robust military response?

Today, as in 1982, the Jewish state can not afford to shy away from confronting clear and present dangers it faces, and, more importantly, need not morally justify – to Ian Black and others who evidently fancy themselves sophisticated political sages – a robust defense of its national interests and its citizens’ lives.

Guardian video falsely claims that Hezbollah drone was shot down over “Palestinian territory”.

The Guardian posted the following video story on the Hezbollah drone shot down by the Israeli Air Force on Oct. 6.

Note the text on the screen claiming that the drone was shot down over “Palestinian territory”.

The video included a clip of Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah claiming that the Iranian sponsored Islamist terror group had the right to send such UAVs over “southern Palestine”.

The Guardian’s caption for the video reads as follows:

“The Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, says it sent the drone shot down by Israel over Mount Hebron in the West Bank on Saturday. Nasrallah says it is the right of Hezbollah to fly drones in the occupied territories. Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu says his country will act to defend its borders.”

However, the drone, which was launched from Lebanon, was not shot down over Palestinian territory.  

The UAV traveled down the Mediterranean coast before crossing into Israel from Gaza. Then, it traveled east across Israel’s Negev desert, and was shot down above the Yatir Forest - south of the border with the West Bank, clearly inside Israel.

“A” marks the Yatir Forrest

The text on the video, as with the caption, is not accurate.

You can contact the Guardian’s readers editor, Chris Elliott, to seek a correction.

 reader@guardian.co.uk