Imagine a land where even one Jew is one Jew too many

There will be no Passover Seder in Libya tonight.  

This is so because, in Libya, there are no longer any Jews. 

JIMENA explains:

The history of the Jewish people in Libya dates back to the 3rd century BCE.  In 1911 under Italian rule, Jews were treated relatively well.  Approximately 21,000 Jews were living in Libya, with the majority residing in Tripoli.  However, in the 1930’s the Fascist Italian regime initiated anti-Semitic laws which barred Jews from government jobs, government schools and required them to stamp “Jewish race” into their passports.  However, this was not enough to deter Jews from Libya, as 25% of the population in Tripoli was Jewish with over 44 synagogues in existence.

In 1942, the Jewish Quarter of Benghazi was occupied by the Nazi’s and more than 2,000 Jews were deported and sent to Nazi labor camps.  By the end of WWII, about one-fifth of those who were sent away had perished.  Even with the end of WWII, the situation for the Jews in Libya did not improve.  In 1945, more than 140 Jews were killed and even more injured in a pogrom in Tripoli.  The rioters not only destroyed and looted the city’s synagogues, but they also ruined hundreds of homes and businesses as well.  Again in 1948, coinciding with the declaration of the State of Israel, anti-Semitism escalated and rioters killed 12 Jews and destroyed 280 homes. This time, though, the Jews fought back and prevented even more deaths and injury.  As a result of the rampant anti-Semitism, 30,972 Jews immigrated to Israel.

A new law in 1961 required a special permit to prove Libyan citizenship.  Virtually all Jews were denied this permit.  By 1967 the Jewish population decreased to 7,000.  When anti-Semitic riots commenced following Israel’s Six Day War, King Idris and other Jewish leaders urged Jews living in Libya to emigrate.  An Italian airlift saved 6,000 Jews and relocated them to Rome.  Evacuees were forced to leave behind homes, businesses and possessions. When Muammar al-Gaddafi came to power in 1969, there were only 100 Jews remaining in Libya. His government confiscated all Jewish property, cancelled Jewish debt and made emigration for Jews legally prohibited.  Some Jews still managed to get out.  By 2004 there were no Jews left in Libya.

I cite this to add a bit of context to recent news of a French philosopher being barred from Libya because he is a Jew.

JTA explains:

The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, who supported France’s military intervention in Libya, was barred from visiting there because he is Jewish.

Levy, a celebrity in France, was supposed to join former French president Nicolas Sarkozy on a visit that began on Tuesday in Tripoli.

The [Libyan] website reported that Levy had to stay behind at the insistence of municipal bosses in Tripoli. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one city official told Rue89, “We did not invite him and we’ll close the door in his face if he comes. If the prime minister invited him, he can stay with the prime minister.”

An unnamed spokesperson for the city of Tripoli was quoted as telling Rue89 that the fact that Levy is Jewish could have exposed the municipality to attacks by Islamist militia. 

Levy was a vocal supporter for French military intervention in Libya against Muammar Gadhafi and in favor of the rebel forces whose revolution led to the rise to power of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

Those knowledgeable about the ethnic cleansing of roughly 850,000 Jews from Arab lands in the later half of the 20th century would not be at all surprised by Levy’s story, nor that that the cultural legacy of Arab antipathy still endures – antisemitism, remarkably, even without Jews.

In lamenting the experience of even only one Jew, however, I’m reminded of the Passover tradition in which we are commanded to feel as if each one of us were enslaved, and each one of us personally liberated from Egypt.  

Ze’ev Maghen has eloquently written that being a Jew means having had ‘existed, built, climbed, fallen, lost, wept, rejoiced, created, learned, argued, loved and struggled for thousands of years’.  Jewish tradition, he passionately insists, can inspire you to “suck in the insights and bask in the glory and writhe in the pain and draw on the power emanating from every era and every episode and every experience” of your people.

Though only one man named Levy was excluded because he was a Jew, our tradition informs a sensibility which imagines that we are the Jew who is feared as one Jew too many.

The Muslim Brotherhood are turning into Leninists in Islamist dress. Egypt is in real trouble

(Alan Johnson’s essays on the the dangers posed by the rise of Islamism are truly in a league of their own.  And, his most recent analysis, published on Nov. 5 at The Telegraph and excerpted below, is clearly no exception.  A.L.)

Hardliners are gaining the upper hand in Egypt

Paul Berman, the New York intellectual, is perhaps the most penetrating and imaginative essayist writing about Islamist movements and ideas alive today. In 2010 he published The Flight of the Intellectuals, a stylish account of the Muslim Brotherhood: the Islamist political movement founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna (known in Arabic as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen). According to Berman, the party was shaped decisively in both its ideology and organisational methods by mid-century European totalitarianism and was a politically hardened, ideologically driven and anti-Semitic movement. It was from this inconvenient truth that much of the western media and many public intellectuals were in flight.

When I praised Berman’s insights to a group of normally super-astute democracy promotion analysts in DC, to my surprise most took the view that Berman’s thesis was “crazy” and that the Muslim Brotherhood were really like the Christian Democracy in Europe; they had confessional roots, for sure, but were pragmatic folk and could be a force for “moderation”. I responded that the Brotherhood was exactly like the CDU – apart from its party structure, ideology, rhetoric, policy, and goals.

Back in 2010 ours was an academic argument. Well, not any more. The Brotherhood will dominate the region’s politics over the next decade. It is already regnant in Egypt, the most populous Arab country and the intellectual fulcrum of both the Arab and Muslim worlds, after sweeping to power earlier this year by winning the parliamentary and presidential elections, marginalising the secular democrats and knocking the military off their perch. In Tunisia the Brotherhood sits in government in the form of Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennahda. The Justice and Construction Party (JCP) in Libya only won 17 of the 80 seats available for parties in the elections for Libya’s 200-strong national congress in July, but hopes to do better next time (the Brotherhood is very patient). The Syrian branch will be a force in any post-Assad regime (in the early 1980s the Syrian branch conducted an armed rebellion) and in Jordan it grows in strength. Hamas, of course, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

READ THE REST OF THE ESSAY, HERE.

Conspiracy theory about Jewish donors funding anti-Islam film is variation on ancient theme.

A version of this essay, written by Joseph Weissman, was published at The JC.


On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, the American diplomat to Libya Chris Stevens was murdered by Islamists in Libya. Coincidentally, protests flared throughout many Muslim-majority states in protest at a film trailer “The Innocence of Muslims” which insulted Mohammed and the Muslim faith, casting both in a negative light. 

The murder of Mr Stevens has since been shown to have been pre-planned, and therefore separate from the protests surrounding the fourteen-minute-long YouTube video. Yet this past week, many within the mainstream media and within social media apportioned heavy blame for the murder of Ambassador Stevens, to the apparent provocation of The Innocence of Muslims.

Attention turned from the motives, background and identity of the murderers, to the motives, background and identity of the filmmaker. The YouTube user had uploaded his video using the name “sambacile”.

Hours after the murder in Libya, “Sam Bacile” identified himself to reporters as an Israeli Jew, claiming that his film project had been enabled by one hundred Jewish donors, who had contributed five million dollars to the film collectively. The Wall Street Journal – a usually balanced and trustworthy news source on the Middle East – first presented Bacile as an Israeli Jew.

The assertion that the director and his benefactors were rich Jews, rapidly spread across the internet. There were many obvious problems with this theory. The trailer began depicting a slaughter of Christians. Crosses featured prominently throughout the film.

A huge wooden cross was used as a backdrop, to a key scene involving an actor portraying Mohammed. It was not possible that the film should have cost five million dollars to make, given the obvious use of cheap backdrops, the poor acting, and the farcical dubbing. The trailer consisted of key parts of different scenes linked together, without any voiceover, textual effects or music which would really make it look like an actual trailer.

All this prompted a Channel 4 reporter to quip that the film was so poor, that if they existed, the Jewish donors might want their money back.

Whilst these mysterious donors – always alleged and never confirmed – continued to be mentioned amongst the images of burning effigies, the angry rioters, and obituarial clips of Ambassador Stevens, it became evermore unsettling to see how readily Bacile’s lie was believed.

It seems incredible, now, that people could possibly have thought that the film project and its  director were Jewish, and that rich Jews would spend so much money-making this film, which seemingly led to so much chaos. Why would news outlets as lofty as the BBC, repeat Bacile’s unsubstantiated claims? There were so many clear signs that the Jewish link was untrue.

The film looked like it cost a few thousand dollars to make, at most. Yet people believed that it cost millions, because of the added detail of the Jewish donors. Unfortunately, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, if you removed the Jewish donors, no-one would believe it cost five million dollars. This is because there is an unsettling assumption lurking in some parts of Western society, which casts Jews as rich, politically powerful, and highly motivated to push their own agendas, to the detriment of others. Jewish avarice and obsession with money can be a casual topic of humour in Britain.

Through these jokes, we get an insight into how some people perceive Jews.

If we hear such a joke, we might be tempted to think nothing of it. But when we see people readily believing that Jews could spend thousands of pounds on pamphlets, or millions on amateur Youtube films, we realise that we are dealing with an issue that goes way beyond humour. We should remember that antisemitic ideas about Jews being rich or obsessed with money, have existed for centuries. It would be dangerous to assume they have disappeared suddenly.

To do so would be to ignore a mountain of concerning evidence.

For its part, The Guardian carried a headline labelling Bacile an “Israeli director”, again mentioning the omnipresent “Jewish donors” within its article. When Bacile was shown to have Coptic rather than Jewish connections, The Guardian did not alter its headline.  Why would The Guardian hold to a false idea, even when it has been proven to be false?

Just days earlier, The Guardian had made claims about Jewish donors in a different setting. In a news piece about the Democratic convention re-affirming its support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, published on September 6th, you could read matter-of-factly: “Jewish donors, particularly in New York, and pro-Israeli lobby groups are generous supporters not only to Obama but to individual senators and members of the House, who are also facing election in November.”

There are donors of all colours and creed to American politicians, so it is remarkable that The Guardian should choose to focus on the Jews. If unaware of political donors of other ethnic and religious backgrounds, readers might conclude from this article that rich Jews act as a hidden hand behind American politics.

So when “Sam Bacile” began to spin yarns of a hundred rich Jewish donors financing his project, the idea struck a chord with those who tacitly accept theories about rich Jewish money leading to unrest in the Middle East.

It is tempting to feel incredulous, and to laugh and mock the absurdity of educated people so readily believing a lie about Jews. Yet there is a clear enough pattern emerging, which ought to concern us more than it amuses us. 

Earlier this year, the Anglican Church voted at their annual Synod to support the anti-Israel religious and political group Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), which is run by the World Council of Churches. Duly, Jewish deputies and community leaders expressed their concerns to the Synod.

In doing so, they were met with accusations from vicars, of “powerful lobbies” seeking to influence the Synod. Significantly, the proposer of the pro-EAPPI motion John Dinnen, claimed that an unremarkable A4 protest leaflet “must have cost £1,000”. The unspoken assumption was clear. The fingerprints of collective Jewish financial and political efforts were evidence that the case against the EAPPI motion was corrupted in its origin. Clearly the leaflet did not cost a thousand pounds, just as the Innocence of Muslims film trailer did not cost five million dollars.

When Ken Livingstone campaigned to become London mayor back in May, he expressed his belief that Jews would not vote for him because they are rich, and the rich vote for the Tories.

In the end, Livingstone lost by just over 60,000 votes. In the aftermath, some gleefully suggested that if Ken had not alienated so many with his unfair comments about Jews being rich, he might have run Boris Johnson far closer. However, it seemed unfathomable as to why Livingstone would deliberately risk upsetting voters, just to make his point about Jewish money.

In a documentary commissioned by Channel 4, Peter Oborne asked who funded the website CiF Watch, which holds the Guardian to account over its coverage on Israel. CiF Watch is a blog about a specialist subject, and to that extent, it is unremarkable. Bloggers set up blogs on all sorts of specialist subjects, from football teams, to musicians they like, to political causes. 

Set to sinister music, Oborne imagined CiF Watch to be part of an organised Israel lobby exercises “financial muscle” that holds sway over the BBC and Parliament. It was not enough that a few “mysterious” bloggers could just be people with a particular interest, but Oborne had to tell us that one of the CiF Watch bloggers lived in New York, and that he had upset a Guardian journalist by explaining what he thought was anti-Semitism.

When free-to-run blogs are seen as part of a collective financial project to undermine British politics, it is clear how absurd the lie about rich Jews really is.

In the wrong hands, the lie can prove fatal. 24-year-old Ilan Halimi was kidnapped in 2006, in France. Halimi’s kidnappers tried to extort money from his family. They thought that the young Jew was rich, as he was from a Moroccan Jewish family. However, Halimi’s family was of the same wealth as the families of kidnappers. When no ransom money could be provided, he was tortured to death and murdered.

The infamous Hamas charter asserts that the Jews, “with their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press […] they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein […] they formed secret societies [..]for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests.”

When we see Westerners march in solidarity with Hamas, we should not assume that they do so whilst ignoring these unsavoury parts of the Hamas charter. It is far more likely, that Hamas accusations about Jewish money chime with something about Jews that many educated people quite readily believe.

In this context, surely the media has a responsibility not to sustain prejudices, but rather to challenge them. Yet in recent years, we have seen a more subtle version of this concept, slowly creeping into mainstream political thinking.

The respectable version of the theory that Jews are rich and that their influence poisons politics, is that there is an “Israel lobby”, which seeks to sway leaders in the USA into taking pro-Israel positions.

This was the theory of American academics Mearsheimer and Walt, which quickly became popular amongst many left-wing British academics. So when John Mearsheimer expressed support for Gilad Atzmon by endorsing his book, and then defending his decision on Stephen Walt’s blog, it seemed shocking. Atzmon’s writings were overtly anti-Semitic.

He had claimed that modern Jews were the living embodiment of Fagin and Shylock, and that the Jews had effectively caused the Second World War by declaring war on Nazi Germany and seeking to boycott Nazi products. Mearsheimer had supported Atzmon’s writings, as if they were respectable. All of a sudden, the gap between intellectual Leftist anti-Zionism, and crude, aggressive antisemitism seemed infinitesimally small.

We will have to come to terms with the uncomfortable and distressing fact that in the twenty-first century, ludicrous claims about Jewish money and influence are a fact of life. The conspiracy theory about a hundred Jewish donors is the latest variation on this theme.

 Media outlets are only tempted to publish wild ideas about Jewish money, because they are readily believed within wider society. The longer this vicious circle continues, the more Jews will be forced into a corner, bound and trapped by the stereotypes which are readily thrust upon them.

Guardian ignores story of 30,000 blacks ethnically cleansed from Libyan town

H/T Joe

The BBC recently reported the following:

“The 30,000 people living in a town in northern Libya have been driven out of their homes, in what appears to have been an act of revenge for their role in the three-month siege of the city of Misrata.

For three months between early March and the middle of May, the forces of Muammar Gaddafi laid siege to Misrata. These forces were partly based in Tawergha, and the people of the town are accused of being complicit in the attempt to put down the uprising in the city.

The fighters of Misrata eventually prevailed, breaking out of their battered city, and Misratan brigades made up part of the force that overran the capital Tripoli in August.

In the middle of August, between the end of the siege and the killing of Gaddafi, Misratan forces drove out everyone living in Tawergha, a town of 30,000 people. Human rights groups have described this as an act of revenge…collective punishment possibly amounting to [ethnic cleansing &] a crime against humanity.

Tawergha, Libya

The BBC report continued:

Tawerghans are mostly descendants of black slaves, generally poor, were patronised by the Gaddafi regime and were broadly supporters of his regime.

What happened in Misrata and Tawergha…can also be seen as an example of the victors in the war that overthrew Gaddafi imposing summary and brutal justice on some of the communities that sided with the former regime and were vanquished.

As you enter Tawergha from the main road, the name is erased from the road sign. It is now eerily silent but for the incongruously beautiful bird song. There were a few cats skulking about, and one skeletal, limping dog.

Building after building is burnt and ransacked. The possessions of the people who lived here are scattered about, suggesting desperate flight. 

Buildings show the scars of heavy bombardment, some are burnt out shells, some are just abandoned. The town is empty of humans, apart from a small number of Misratan militiamen preventing the return of the town’s residents.

Those that escaped the town are now scattered across the country. As many as 15,000 people are in Hun, in central Libya. Some are in Sabha and Benghazi, and more than 1,000 are in a refugee camp in Tripoli.

…it does not appear that anyone is being held to account for the events in Tawergha.

British journalist Andrew Gilligan visited Tawergha after the cleansing of its residents and found many slogans painted in and around the city (consistent with the accounts of anti-Gaddafi fighters and commanders whom he quoted) which made reference to the dark pigmentation of many Tawergha denizens.

One sign referred to the Misrata Brigade as “the brigade for purging slaves [and] black skin“…

Human rights groups have documented some of the many atrocities committed by Misratans against Tawerghans.

They include beating to death a mentally ill man, torturing prisoners into false confessions and abusing prisoners held in detention.

“Abuse included the use of electric shock and beatings, including beatings on the soles of the feet (falaga).”

One Tawerghan detainee described his ordeal, saying:

“They beat me on my feet every night for 15 minutes, and some people hit my backside and my back. For four days I couldn’t sit. They poured cold water on top of me, then took an electric stick and put it on my shoulders, back, and arms each night for ten minutes. It shook me. I can’t describe it… They used an engine belt, a plastic hose, a wooden stick, a horse whip…. I had blood in my urine for four or five days.”

Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch described the following:

“[We] saw guards whip one dark-skinned Tawerghan detainee while forcing him to run around a courtyard and then telling him to climb a pole while shouting, ‘Monkey needs a banana.’”

I searched for a condemnation, of even a mention, of the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha at the site of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and found nothing.

Upon searching the Guardian’s site, I found only one report which focused on what happened in Tawargha.  

The story all but ignored the crimes committed there despite the fact that other news media outlets, and human rights organizations, had been reporting about and documenting the forced expulsion and violence against the residents of Tawargha since mid August.

(Indeed, reports of racism, lynchings and explicit calls by Libyan rebel leaders to ethnically cleans Libyan blacks, such as the residents of Tawergha, were reported in July.)

The lone Guardian story (Tawargha: fires blaze and blood lingers in Libyan ghost town) by Chris Stephen on Sept. 13, suggested that the residents of Tawergha fled the town voluntarily!

Ugly racism and ethnic cleansing of a black minority by Arab Muslims:  a disturbing omen for the future of the Arab Spring’ the Guardian will certainly never report.

The Guardian’s obsession with Israel and the conflicts not covered

H/T Margie

A recent report by Just Journalism on the UK media’s coverage of the Middle East demonstrated that, at the Guardian, coverage of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia combined doubled in 2010 (due to the upheavals inspired by the “Arab Spring”) but still fell far short of the total coverage of Israel;  News reporting about Israel was nearly six times the volume of the next most reported Arab country, Egypt; Comment pieces on Egypt, Libya and Tunisia combined to less than half those published about Israel; Sixteen editorials were published on Israel, whereas none were published on Egypt, Libya or Tunisia.

Of course, it’s possible that the Guardian’s disproportionate coverage of Israel merely reflects the broader obsession in the world with anything Jewish or Israeli, in which case the Guardian may be cynically exploiting this sentiment to drive up web traffic. 

Indeed, if you visit CiF ‘s Middle East section today, you’ll find three pieces highlighted (under “Editor’s Picks”): One about the war in Libya, one about Syria’s continuing bloody crackdown against civilians protesting the regime, and one about Israel’s recent anti-BDS legislation.

As you can see in the snapshot of the page below, the commentary on Israel has generated over three times the number of reader comments than the two other pieces (about Libya and Syria, two nations currently at war) combined, despite the fact that British troops (under NATO) are directly involved in the Libyan conflict. 

More broadly, I recently corresponded with the Guardian readers’ editor, Chris Elliot, to inquire about the Guardian’s disproportionate coverage of Israel, in the context of the Just Journalism report, and his answer was, I think, quite revealing.  He said:

“Israel/Palestine is one of the most intractable conflicts in the world, the effects or which are felt throughout a very large part of the world. It is entirely reasonable that the Guardian, an internationalist newspaper, should devote a great deal of coverage to the issue.”

As I responded to Mr. Elliot, however, no matter how “intractable” the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, it actually pales in comparison to other “intractable” conflicts throughout the world in terms of number of people killed.  

While I don’t realistically expect the Guardian to cover the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (over 5 million killed since 1991) with the same level of intensity they devote to the I-P Conflict (far less than 10,000 casualties), it’s quite curious that, within their main CiF page, there isn’t even a link to Africa related commentaries. 

There’s a very interesting site, called Stealth Conflicts, for those interested in holding the Guardian, and the rest of the mainstream media, accountable to standards of coverage based on evidence, and not merely the arbitrary (or ideologically and/or financially driven) desires of the sites’ editors, and becoming familiar with the information contained in the table below (on conflict death tolls throughout the world since the end of The Cold War) from the site, is a great place to start. 

Conflict

Death Toll

Democratic Republic of Congo

5,400,000

Southern Sudan

1,200,000

Angola

800,000

Rwanda

800,000

Afghanistan

500,000

Somalia

400,000

Iraq

400,000

Burundi

300,000

Darfur

300,000

Zaire

300,000

Liberia

200,000

Algeria

150,000

Ethiopia-Eritrea

100,000

Chechnya

100,000

Uganda

100,000

Sierra Leone

50,000

Kashmir

50,000

Colombia

50,000

Sri Lanka

50,000

Bosnia-Herzegovina

50,000

Philippines

20,000

Turkey

20,000

Nigeria

20,000

Gulf War

20,000

Azerbaijan

20,000

Bougainville

20,000

Cote d’Ivoire

10,000

Congo, Republic of

10,000

Peru

10,000

Aceh

10,000

Myanmar

10,000

Nepal

10,000

Croatia

10,000

Kosovo

10,000

Kurdish Iraq

10,000

Southern Iraq

10,000

Senegal

< 10,000

Guinea

< 10,000

Chad

< 10,000

Mali

< 10,000

Niger

< 10,000

Central African Republic

< 10,000

Haiti

< 10,000

Mexico

< 10,000

Israel-Palestine

< 10,000

Israel-Lebanon

< 10,000

Yemen

< 10,000

Andrha Pradesh

< 10,000

Gujurat

< 10,000

Northeast India

< 10,000

East Timor

< 10,000

Irian Jaya

< 10,000

Kalimantan

< 10,000

Molucca Islands

< 10,000

Sulawesi

< 10,000

Georgia

< 10,000

Moldova

< 10,000

Northern Ireland

< 10,000

Spain

< 10,000

Devastating report issued which clearly demonstrates the Guardian’s obsession with Israel

The following quantitative analysis, of Middle East reporting by the UK media in 2010, by Just Journalism demonstrates, among other findings, the egregiously disproportionate coverage devoted to Israel, in comparison with other nations in the region, by the Guardian.

Key findings

  • Israel was by far the most reported of the four countries in The Guardian in 2010. In fact, coverage of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia combined and doubled still fell far short of the total coverage of Israel.
  • News reporting about Israel was nearly six times the volume of the next most reported Arab country, Egypt.
  • Comment pieces on Egypt, Libya and Tunisia combined to less than half those published about Israel.
  • Sixteen editorials were published on Israel, whereas none were published on Egypt, Libya or Tunisia.

Just Journalism noted that:

“what distinguishes The Guardian’s journalism on Israel from that on the Arab countries is the presence of a permanent reporter in Jerusalem, who produces highly regular content for the print and online editions.”

In the first five months of 2010, then-Jerusalem correspondent Rory McCarthy filed 70 news reports on Israel, equivalent to almost one report every other day. When Harriet Sherwood replaced him, she filed 139 reports in the remaining seven months of the year, an increase of more than 40 per cent.

No comparable set up was in place in Egypt, Libya or Tunisia, as only Israel has a devoted correspondent to filestories on a near-daily basis.

Two hundred and fourteen Content pieces were published on Egypt, ten of which were triggered by December’s shark attacks in the Red Sea resort, Sharm el Sheikh. Only four more pieces addressed the rigged Egyptian presidential elections, also in December, which extended the reign of the recently ousted Hosni Mubarak.

Coverage of Libya, about which 110 Content pieces appeared in 2010, was dominated by the release from UK prison in 2009 of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al Megrahi, with 48 articles on this story.

Tunisia was barely covered by The Guardian in 2010, with only 22 Content pieces about the country.

These trends were reflected in coverage by Middle East editor Ian Black, who covered Israel in 87 Content pieces, compared with only 12 on Libya, nine on Egypt and three on Tunisia.

The number of Comment pieces published on The Guardian’s ‘Comment is free’ website follows the pattern of concentration on Israel, with articles on Israel far outstripping the number published about Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.”

Figure 5 illustrates the gulf between volume of Comment pieces on Israel and that on the three Arab countries

Read the entire report, here.

Springtime for Arabs and Arabia (The Guardian’s glorious revolution loses some of its luster)

A guest post by AKUS

Like many others, I am getting tired of the glowing references to “the Arab Awakening” and “the Arab Spring” by naïve Western media happily ignoring the absolute mayhem and hatred that has burst forth in Arab countries.

In light of the thousands that have been murdered as a result of this “Springtime”, with its uncomfortable echo of the famous song from the movie and play “The Producers”, for their own sakes it looks like it would be best for the Arabs in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere to turn the clocks back to winter time and return to their dormant state. You can probably add Iraq and Afghanistan to the list.

Here’s a rough score so far:

Tunisia:  Where the first buds of this inglorious spring broke through. The Guardian, which was avidly publishing articles by Islamic extremist Rachid Ghannouchi’s daughter, Soumaya Ghannouchi, predicting the new world order, has gone quiet. At least 219  killed in the January period, a Catholic priest murdered, and various small-scale shooting of demonstrators continuing from time to time. Elections due on July 24 – and violence expected.

Egypt:  Another Guardian favorite. Islamic militants have been out in force as the supposedly secular army stands by. 12 Copts killed this weekend, 11 or 12 in January. Of course, there was also the brutal attack on Lara Logan, which she recounted on “60 Minutes”, and the calls for war with Israel and death to the Jews.

Libya:  Who can count the dead among the pro-and anti-Gaddafi forces? Hundreds? Thousands? We’ll never know. From the Huffington post: Libya Death Toll Could Be As High As 30,000: U.S.

Bahrain:  Modestly claims a mere 30 dead and 21 activists to be tried.

Yemen:  Who knows? Probably at least 100, maybe many more.

Syria:  At least 800 dead, probably more – the tanks have been sent in

Iraq:  The daily Moslem-on-Moslem slaughter continues – 35 on Thursday or Friday last week to demonstrate the bomber’s distress over the demise of Bin Laden. Thousands killed by Islamic extremists in bombings, shootings and abductions.

Democracy, “springtime”, and “awakening” in the Arab countries appear to reveal that there is a reason why Arabs have always lived under despots. It was simply safer for everyone.

If this is “Springtime for Arabs and Arabia”, what will summer bring? Perhaps there’s a clue from “The Producers”?

Three lessons from military intervention in Libya

A guest post by AKUS

I have no idea why “we”, whoever “we” are, are in Libya.

The Libyan adventure, which may one day be seen as the last gasp of European colonialism aided initially by a reluctant USA, seems to be nothing other than a bizarre outcome of the “right to protect” (“R2P”) doctrine. This doctrine has suddenly become fashionable in some circles as it appears to provide quasi-legal, UN-sanctioned cover for those who wish to meddle in other countries’ affairs.

It seems to me that R2P emerged as one of the side-effects of global meddling in the Israeli-Arab conflict created by those who would try to force Israel to end its blockade of arms entering Gaza. As usual, what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. Now R2P is being used to justify bombing Libya.

However, the Libyan adventure is providing some unexpected lessons for Europe and Israel – and despots around the world.

The Washington Post has a front-page headline from Saturday, April 16th, that demonstrates the weakness and divisions inside NATO, and, by extension, Europe:

NATO runs short on some munitions in Libya

Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time, according to senior NATO and U.S. officials.

In contrast, Gaddafi seems to be able to roll out tanks to attack his foes despite the air bombardments by three supposedly powerful NATO countries. As soon as the US limited its involvement Gaddafi gained the upper hand in his fight against the rebels. (It appears the US is still involved in some way which is not being fully reported, and which will make for some interesting politics and journalism back home if it turns out that the administration led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama is involved in a Nicaraguan-style covert war).

First lesson: Europe is so weak that the combined forces of three NATO countries cannot defeat the dictator of a third-world desert country like Libya if the US and Germany stand aside. European economic interventions other countries may have some force, but the lesson despots in Africa and beyond are learning is that as a military power Europe is useless. The Saudis and Bahrainis, where American interests prevent America from intervening, have understood this perfectly.

Ha’aretz noted that Gaddafi launched hundreds of Grad missiles and cluster bombs into Misrata on Saturday:

Three killed as Gaddafi forces fire mortars at residential areas in Misrata

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi fired at least 100 Grad rockets into Misrata and fired mortars at residential areas on Saturday, killing at least three during clashes in the coastal rebel-held Libyan city, a rebel spokesman said. 

…Rebels in Misurata alleged that Gaddafi’s forces have been using cluster bombs, which pose particular risk to civilians because they scatter small bomblets over a wide area. New York-based Human Rights Watch reported Friday that such munitions were used, saying its researchers inspected remnants and interviewed witnesses.

Second lesson:  Even if your air force is grounded, destroyed, or non-existent, if you can get close enough, you can terrorize populations with hundreds of cheap unguided munitions like Grads. Those who have Grads, like Gaddafi, Hamas and Hezbollah will use them indiscriminately against civilians. Hamas already does. In light of the attempt by the PA to gain unilateral statehood, the concept of a Gaddafi-like regime on the West Bank like those in Gaza and Lebanon cannot be countenanced. Israel may need many more Iron Dome batteries than it currently has or can afford, even with the latest US investment of $205 million for Iron Dome and Chetz.

Third lesson: Gaddafi has no compunction about firing cluster bombs into towns. By extension Nasrallah and Haniyah will not either. Israel was accused of using cluster bombs in Lebanon in battle grounds, but never fired them into towns and villages. We can expect no such restraint from Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel may have to find ways to deal with this threat either by identifying and destroying the source, wherever it may be, which could mean many civilian deaths in Gazan and Lebanese villages since the terrorists prefer to fire from civilian areas, or methods of safely destroying any bomblets in the centers of Israel’s towns and cities.

Finally, a question – at what point does it become “disproportionate” to respond to hundreds of Grads and cluster-bombs landing in your cities with a massive air and ground invasion against the attackers, even at the cost of civilian casualties among whom those attackers hide?

Foreign Donations to British Universities: Covert & Corrosive Ideological Influence

Oh! what a tangled web we weave

When first we practise to deceive!

(Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, 1808)


The recent publicity surrounding the acceptance of funding from the Libyan dictatorship by the London School of Economics, and the subsequent resignation of the university’s Director, brings once more into the spotlight an issue which has largely remained under the radar of public attention, despite the fact that there has been ample information on the subject available for some time.

A full two years prior to these latest dramatic events, the Centre for Social Cohesion published an extensive report entitled ‘A Degree of Influence’ which detailed foreign funding of British academic establishments and the consequences of accepting donations from some of the world’s less free, and frequently human rights abusing, regimes.

As stated in the report, areas of concern include:

“Censorship of issues pertaining to Islam – There are examples of some aspects of issues dealing with Islam that universities have chosen not to discuss. Members of university staff have publicly stifled discussion on how terrorist networks are funded, and there has been an occasion where a university has been forced to censor a Saudi artist’s work for fear of offending Muslims.”

Attempts to influence the teaching of strategically important subjects – Several undemocratic foreign states seek to influence the teaching of subjects designated as ‘strategically important’ by giving money to universities. This has serious consequences for academia and for the UK as a whole. The most alarming cases examined in this report show university management committees having their personnel selected and appointed by the donors.

Human rights – Universities are accepting money from un-democratic states with poor human rights records. This lends respectability to these regimes, and at the same time raises moral and ethical questions for universities that accept such money.

Propaganda/PR – Through donations, foreign states and individuals are using British universities as vehicles for international diplomacy and are attempting to cast their nation in a favourable light.

Some of the universities named as recipients of foreign funding in the report include Oxford (not least  the Middle East Centre at St. Antony’s College), Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter (Arab and Islamic Studies), The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and the London School of Economics. Neither is this phenomenon a new one: the report shows that in some establishments, foreign funding began as early as the 1970s.

In light of the fact that The Guardian quite frequently commissions opinion pieces for its ‘Comment is Free’ website from British academics, I thought that it would be interesting to see how many of its columnists and contributors on the subject of the Middle East are employed by or studied at universities which have accepted donations from Middle East dictatorships with dismal human rights records.  The following list is not exhaustive, but it surprised even me.

Oxford: Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Hussein Agha, Avi Shlaim, Seumas Milne, Tariq Ramadan, Karma Nablusi, Daphna Baram, Brian Klug.

Cambridge: Ben White.

Edinburgh: Rachel Shabi.

Exeter: Ghada Karmi, Mick Dumper.

SOAS: Gilbert Achar, Arshin Adib Moghaddam, Soumaya Ghannoushi.

LSE: Victoria Brittain.

Although the Centre for Social Cohesion does not cover the subject of foreign patronage of student bodies in the above linked report, it is notable that ‘Comment is Free’ has also provided a platform for officials of the ‘Federation of Student Islamic Societies’ (FOSIS) such as Faisal Hanjraand Nabil Ahmed. FOSIS is a Muslim Brotherhood-linked organization, as shown in an earlier report by the Centre for Social Cohesion entitled Islam on Campus.

Whilst it should be theoretically relatively easy for most readers of ‘Comment is Free’ to recognize the fact that the opinion pieces on the subject of the Middle East by contributors such as Abdel Bari Atwan, Inayat Bunglawala, Tariq Ali or Azam Tamimi may be somewhat lacking in objectivity given their records and associations, the public may be less inclined to question the motives of seemingly neutral academics from prestigious British universities.

The LSE’s ‘Ghaddafi-gate’ will hopefully open the eyes of the public to the fact that a symbiotic relationship exists between various Middle Eastern despots and several other British academic institutions too, and that the Guardian is facilitating the seepage of purchased influence from beyond university walls into the realm of general public opinion by commissioning articles from some of these academics whose objectivity must now be scrutinized as a result of the choices made by their institutions.

The bottom line, both for the human rights abusing dictatorships and for the Guardian, is to mould political opinion and influence policy decisions within Western society. How disappointing it is to see that so many once esteemed British universities have allowed themselves to become pawns in that tangled web of grubby propaganda.

Norway Socialist Left’s moral tradeoff for bombing Libya: Use armed force against Israel

This is cross posted by Prof. M. McGonagall at the blog: Norway, Israel, and the Jews

The SV [Norway Socialist Left Party] annual convention goes to vote. The deranged junior partner in the current government coalition will among other proposals vote on a motion to use armed force against Israel should it attack Gaza.

The motion is the blood money required to pay off SV card-carrying members who find it hard to accept that they have taken the nation to war, again.

Last time it did so was back in 1999, when the party backed the NATO bombing of Serbia. As a result, we got ourselves involved in a war crimes probe because of  high number of civilian casualties and bombing illegal targets.

Therefore, the only way it can be palatable to bomb Libya for these morally deranged people is if Israel can be bombed too.

Here is the less than lucid reasoning behind the motion:

- The credibility of the world community in its confrontation with the Gadafi regime is undermined when there is no reaction against other states in the region who commit injustices against civil population. The greater world community must therefore also react against Israeli air attacks on the Gaza strip.

Wow, a declaration of war from the governments very junior partner!

And not to mention that thus Israel has become the only country in the world who will be denied the right to defend itself in the face of constant terrorism, rocket attacks against its own population. With a stroke of the pen, the entire body of  international Law must be changed to accommodate for this perverse view, and taken to its logical conclusion, Norway would be unable to defend itself from attacks. Or maybe, we ought to bomb ourselves for bombing the Libyans?

But at least now we don’t have to deal with the lies and hypocrisy of this lunatic fringe group, at least they have come clean and admit that they hate the guts of every living Jew to the extent that they would gladly help to blow the country to pieces.

Roll over Ahmadinejad, even your antics look comical in comparison.

I wonder if this kind of extreme agitation and war mongering is even legal?

Please somebody, come and help us, we are in the hands of very evil people.

Muammar Gaddafi: Politics, Totalitarian. Fashion, Dior?

I just had to find a way to post this photo of Muammar Gaddafi donning such an elaborate (Purim inspired?) outfit but didn’t know how to contextualize it in a way which was a least tangentially related to the Guardian.

And then I had a brainstorm (or, at least an amusing thought):

Maybe John Galliano’s anti-Semitic pro-Hitler outburst (initially defended as simply implausible by Guardian fashion editor, Jess Cartner-Morely), was really just a case of a dedicated artist immersing himself in Nazi culture in advance of releasing his latest  Ruthless-Dictator Chic line – a line modeled by none other than Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi!

Alas, I just came across this quote by the octogenarian Israeli President Shimon Peres, who, prior to my relatively obvious observation, also linked John Galliano’s remarks with the Libya dictator, saying:

“Who needs this Gaddafi? I think he should have gone to work at Dior. He changes his outfit everyday, investing thousands of dollars in strange hats, crappy dresses, wasting his money… Who needs him? You tell me, what for?”

Or, on the other hand, maybe Gaddafi is simply displaying what the Francophile Cartner-Morely would no doubt describe as his Bon Viveur!

An Open Letter to the “Arab Street”

This was written by Benjamin Kerstein and was published at Jewish Ideas Daily.

First and foremost, congratulations. Even from our vantage point on the other side of a seemingly unbridgeable divide between our peoples, the extraordinary nature of what you have accomplished in recent weeks is obvious. The eventual outcome of your revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere is clearly still in question, but there is no doubt that by your actions you have changed the Middle East, possibly forever.

From our point of view, two very ironic things have emerged from what you have done. The first is that, contrary to the widely held belief that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the main reason for the “anger” of the Arab street, and the great impediment to political reform in the region, Israel’s name has been all but absent from your demonstrations and protests. This, in and of itself, is a hopeful sign. The second is that Israel’s own reaction to these events, despite their great promise, has been an ambivalent one.

The reason for our generally cautious and skeptical approach to your revolution is simple: we do not know if it is real or not. At this point, it is quite possible that you do not know, either. But if it is indeed real, and if it is here to stay, safe from the forces of reaction religious or secular, then there is no doubt that you will soon face an extraordinary opportunity. Through your silence on the subject, you yourselves have signaled that Israel is not, after all, the major obstacle to progress in your region. But the war against Israel certainly has been. You now have a chance to rid yourselves of that obstacle once and for all.

These days, amid the endless discussions about how much or how little Israel will or should concede in order to achieve peace, it is easy to forget that the Arab-Israeli conflict was, in fact, an Arab creation—in particular, a creation of the leaders you are now in the process of shrugging off. None of the wars between us, let alone the hundred-year war waged by the Arab world against Zionism, had to happen. They were wars of choice. Had your predecessors acknowledged our rights from the beginning and found some way to accommodate Zionism geographically and politically, we might have avoided a century of conflict. The cost of not doing so has been extremely high for both of us.

On our side, we have had to contend with constant fear, constant readiness, and the inevitable casualties of war. But the effect on you has been even more deleterious. War and hatred, with Israel and Zionism as their perpetual justification, have entrenched autocracy and authoritarianism in your countries, undermined your civic culture with conspiracy theory and violence, and stunted political and economic progress. And all of it was and is unnecessary.

The new openness and liberalism that we all pray will result from your uprising will present a unique opportunity to change this state of affairs. What is required is only one radical and courageous act: call off the war against us. Unilaterally and unconditionally, make peace with the state of Israel.

Read the rest of the essay, here.