Posted by Richard Millett in London.
While British Parliamentarians spend today debating whether to recognise “a state of Palestine” they might wish to view MEMRI‘s clip below.
Elder of Ziyon just published a fascinating update on the widely reported story from late July, in which Gaza’s only power plant was allegedly completely “destroyed” by an Israeli missile strike.
Here’s how the Guardian covered the incident in a July 30th report by Harriet Sherwood.
No, the Economist didn’t explicitly ask the question: Is it possible to understand why Hamas fires rockets at civilians? The headline of this post is inspired by an article by Ben White in 2001 titled ‘Is it possible to understand the rise in antisemitism?‘, which empathized with anti-Semites.
To boot, a July 19th article in the print edition The Economist purports to explain ‘Why Hamas Fires those Rockets‘ (pay wall), and reaches a predictable conclusion.
The anonymous article begins:
MANY Gazans, not just their leaders in Hamas, think they have little to lose by fighting on. For one thing, the spotlight has been switched back onto them since the Israeli campaign began earlier this month. In Gazan eyes, Hamas gains from the violence because the outside world may, as a result of the grim publicity generated by the bloodshed, feel obliged to consider its grievances afresh.
Whilst there is no doubt that Hamas perversely believes a war in which Palestinian civilians are killed strengthens their position, there is little evidence that this view is supported by ordinary Gazans. Though there’s been no polling during the current conflict, last month The Washington Institute commissioned a leading Palestinian pollster to gauge the views of Gazans, and the results appear to contradict the Economist’s conclusions:
As tensions mounted and Hamas and other Gazan factions began to step up rocket fire [in June], the people of that territory were heavily in favor of a ceasefire — 70 percent of the poll respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank.” This attitude is corroborated by the 73 percent of Gazans who said Palestinians should adopt “proposals for (nonviolent) popular resistance against the occupation.” Similarly, when asked if Hamas should accept Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s position that the new unity government renounce violence against Israel, a clear majority (57 percent) answered in the affirmative. The responses to all three questions clearly indicate that most Gazans reject military escalation.
The Economist article continued:
After the last big Israeli effort to stop the rockets, in November 2012, it was agreed that, along with a ceasefire, the blockade of Gaza would gradually be lifted and the crossings into Egypt and Israel would be opened. The ceasefire generally held, but the siege continued. As Gazans see it, they have remained cruelly shut up in an open-air prison. Firing rockets, many of them argue, is the only way they can protest, even though they know the Israelis are bound, from time to time, to punish them.
First, the ceasefire (after the 2012 war) did not hold, as they claim, as there were roughly 40 rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from Gaza in 2013 alone. As far as ‘the siege’ (by which he’s referring to Israel’ legal blockade of arms and dual use items which could be used for military purposes), Israel did in fact ease restrictions on imports into Gaza. This included allowing for the import of greater quantities of construction material (including cement) for private use and humanitarian purposes, much of which has clearly been diverted by Hamas to build terror tunnels and other military facilities.
The Economist then makes the following claim:
Mr Netanyahu’s government has prevented Mr Abbas from reasserting his authority, as part of the unity deal, over Gaza—and from paying off Hamas civil servants there.
However, Netanyahu had nothing to do with the failure of the new unity government to pay Hamas civil servants, as multiple reports demonstrate.
The inauguration on Monday of a unity government under a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact raised expectations among Hamas-hired servants that they would now receive their wages. Thousands joined their PA-payroll colleagues at Gaza ATMs on Thursday, hoping to withdraw their salaries.
But the Hamas employees came away empty-handed, and a spokesman for the [Palestinian] unity government said they still had to be vetted by a committee before they could be added to the new leadership’s payroll
The Economist concluded their report thusly:
The Gazan grievance over prisoners stirs great passion among Palestinians everywhere. After three Israeli students were kidnapped on the West Bank on June 12th and later found murdered, the Israeli security forces rounded up more than 500 Hamas people, even though the movement did not claim responsibility for the crime. The increase in rocket fire was partly intended as a protest against the round-up of prisoners. Any ceasefire, says Hamas, must include the release at least of those detained in the past month.
First, the two main suspects in the Israeli boys’ murders are Hamas members. Second, Hamas (who, let’s remember) praised the kidnapping) has been planning and publicly calling to kidnap Israelis for years. Indeed, there were dozens of unsuccessful attempts at kidnapping Israelis (many by Hamas members) in the year prior to the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.
As Etta Prince-Gibson wrote in Ha’aretz (pay wall):
Last year, the organization [Hamas] even distributed an 18-page “Field Manual for Kidnapping” to its Qassam Brigades, providing detailed explanations on how to target Israeli soldiers, when to kidnap (rainy days are best) and how to avoid being caught (don’t use the Internet or phone).
Lastly, note that the Economist characterized Hamas rocket attacks – intentional attacks on Israeli civilians which constitute war crimes under international law – as a mere “protest” against Israel.
In reading the Economist’s imputation of reasonableness to Hamas, you’d be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that they’re antisemitic extremist terror group which rejects the existence of the Jewish State within any borders.
The empathy for the terrorist group Hamas – and not merely for innocent Palestinian civilians – displayed by the ‘sophisticated’ Brits at the Economist (as with much of the UK media during the current war) is at times astounding.
On June 15th, we posted about a Guardian report co-authored by Peter Beaumont which included a gratuitous (and erroneous) characterization to the three Israeli teens abducted by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday night as “teenage settlers”. (As we noted in a subsequent post, the Guardian amended the article following our complaint.)
Today, we’re reviewing the coverage of the abduction by the Guardian and other major UK news sites (The Telegraph, Independent, Times of London, and Financial Times), to determine if other reports include tendentious, biased reporting or misleading claims.
The first report on the incident was written by Peter Beaumont and Paul Lewis on Friday, June 13, was titled ‘Israelis launch search around Hebron after three teenage settlers go missing‘, and (as we noted) falsely claimed, in the headline and subsequent text, that the abducted teens were all “settlers”.
The second report by Beaumont was published in the Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) on June 14th, was titled ‘Fears grow for missing Israeli teenagers‘ and also included the false claim that the three were ‘settlers’. (The Guardian has not thus far revised this passage.)
A third report, Guardian/Associated Press, was published on June 14th and titled ‘Israeli raids target Hamas members as Netanyahu accuses group of kidnapping‘. Unlike the previous two reports, it didn’t characterize the teens as settlers, and included no other misleading claims.
A fourth report was published by Beaumont on June 15th titled ‘Israeli forces tighten grip on West Bank in search for three abducted teenagers‘. This report also didn’t falsely characterize the teens as settlers, and included nothing similarly problematic.
A fifth report was published by Beaumont (and Agencies) on June 15th titled ‘Israel detains scores in West Bank as fears grow for missing teenagers‘, and included nothing problematic. However, they used the following still shot – a deceptive photo illustrating the IDF’s search for the abducted teens, in an angle in which the soldier’s rifle appears to be pointing directly at Palestinian civilians – accompanying a brief video.
A sixth report was filed by Beaumont (and Agencies) on June 16th titled ‘Palestinian parliamentary speaker arrested in search for kidnapped teens‘. And, a seventh report by Beaumont was published on the same day titled ‘Israel considering expelling Hamas leaders from West Bank to Gaza‘. Neither of these articles included any especially problematic material.
The first Indy report on the abduction was written by Ben Lynfield on June 15th, was titled ‘Israel lays blame for abduction of teenagers on Fatah-Hamas pact‘, and was largely fair, but did include the same highly inappropriate photo that the Guardian used.
A second report (as we noted in our previous post on June 15th) in the Indy, written by Jack Simpson, was titled ‘Netanyahu accuses Hamas of kidnapping Israel’s three missing boys‘ and included the false suggestion that all three teens lived in settlements. (Indy editors corrected the relevant passage shortly after our complaint.) A third report in the Indy, by Lizzie Dearden, on June 16th, titled ‘Facebook campaign calls on Israelis to kill a Palestinian ‘terrorist’ every hour until missing teenagers found‘, focused on a marginal Israeli Facebook group while of course ignoring reports that the official Facebook page of Fatah openly celebrated the terrorist kidnapping.
A fourth report in the Indy, by Ben Lynfield, on June 17th, titled ‘Israeli search for kidnapped youths turns into push against Hamas‘, actually included a photo of the three teens, and – as we note below in our summary – also stood out by reporting on the “60 attempts to carry out abductions in the past 12 months” by Palestinian terrorists. (As we note in our summary, such vital context was also non-existent in the UK media’s reporting on the incident.)
Times of London
A Times report by David Rankin on June 14th, titled ‘Search continues for three teens feared kidnapped in Israel‘, and a second report by Tony Bonnici on June 15th, titled ‘Israel PM says teenagers ‘kidnapped by terror group‘, are both unproblematic. A June 16th report at the Times by Joshua Mitnick titled ‘Hamas leaders held in Israeli hunt for kidnapped teenagers‘ was unusual in respect to the fact that Mitnick quoted the parents of Eyal Yifrach, one of the kidnapped boys, who addressed the media on Monday with ‘an emotional address to their son’. (As we note in our summary, the UK media mostly ignored the families of the kidnapped teens.)
The Telegraph published a report on June 15th by their Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait titled ‘Hamas to blame for youths’ “kidnapping”, Benjamin Netanyahu says‘, and was unproblematic, save a curious use of quotes around the word “kidnapping” in the headline. (Note: even the Guardian refers to the incident as a kidnapping, without the use of quotes.) And, on the same day, the Telegraph published a story (attributed partially to Reuters) titled ‘Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims Hamas militants behind teenagers’ abduction‘ which included a video of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s press conference that day.
The third article (Reuters) published at the Telegraph on June 16th, titled ‘Hamas kidnapping: Israel expands West Bank hunt for Palestinian teenagers as Palestinian killed‘, is illustrated with an unrelated and highly inappropriate photo depicting the aftermath of an Israeli strike in Gaza. Additionally, the caption failed to explain that the IDF strike came in response to the firing of Grad rockets at Ashkelon the previous day.
However, almost as if to make up for the misleading and inappropriate Gaza photo, the story also included a photo of the abducted teens to illustrate the story.
Later the same day, the Telegraph published their fourth report, by Robert Tait, titled ‘The bus stop that voices Israel’s anguish over missing teenagers‘, which, for the second time in their coverage of the kidnapping to date, used a photo which evokes sympathy for the missing teens.
The report explained:
At first sight, it appears to be just an isolated, lonely bus shelter.
But the yellow ribbons and defiant messages bedecking it eloquently attested to how it has become a symbol of Israel’s anguish over three missing teenagers.
“We will bring you back” and “The people of Israel are alive” read Hebrew messages on large posters beside smaller leaflets bearing the English inscription “# bring our boys homes”
The report also included a photo of the three teens.
On June 15th the Financial Times published a report by John Reed, titled ‘Netanyahu accuses Hamas over kidnapping of Israeli teenagers‘, which opened with this curious passage:
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, on Sunday blamed the Palestinian militant group Hamas for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, raising the stakes in a missing-person case that has transfixed the country and its leaders.
Though Reed’s obfuscatory language isn’t quite as egregious as the New York Times recent conflation of cause and effect, as revealed by CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal, it is still troubling that the passage nonetheless suggests that the prime minister ‘raised the stakes’ in the kidnapping (what’s characterized as a “missing person case”) when he blamed Hamas for the abduction.
Reed also makes a gratuitous reference to “radical Jewish settlers” in Hebron, who he claims represent the cause of “tensions between Israelis and Palestinians”, without noting the extremely destabilizing presence of a large number of Hamas terrorists in the city.
Yesterday, we posted about a Guardian report co-authored by Peter Beaumont which included a false and characteristically tendentious reference to the three Israeli youths abducted by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday night as “teenage settlers“.
While we await a response from Guardian editors in response to our complaint about the erroneous characterization, we recently came across a similar claim in a June 15th report in The Independent by Jack Simpson titled ‘Israel accuses Hamas of kidnapping three Israeli teens‘.
Here’s the relevant passage:
As we noted in our original post about the Guardian report, only one of the three abducted teens – Gil-ad Shaar – resides in a settlement.
Shortly after contacting Indy editors, they agreed to make a revision to the passage, and it now reads:
The double standards employed by foreign journalists when covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict are especially egregious in the context of terms used to characterize the two governments. For instance, while the Guardian has described Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party as an “extreme rightwing nationalist“ party, the antisemitic terror group Hamas has been characterized by the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent on multiple occasions as merely “conservative“, and an official Guardian editorial claimed that PA President Abbas is a “leading moderate“.
Indeed, in order to maintain the edifice of moderation, Abbas and his PA ministers routinely perform a simple trick: engage in antisemitic, pro-violence, extremist rhetoric in Arabic to their own people, while feigning ‘moderation’ and pro-peace politics in English when speaking to Western audiences. However, for this to work, foreign journalists must play their part when reporting the words and deeds of Palestinian leaders: suspending their normal skepticism and failing to employ the critical scrutiny which Israelis are routinely subjected to.
A perfect example of this dynamic – in which Palestinian hypocrisy almost certainly won’t be reported by the UK media – can be found in a report today at Media Line titled “Senior Palestinian Official Lashes Out at Hamas Encouragement of Violence“.
A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian leadership rejects any efforts to teach a culture of violence to Palestinian children. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs was responding to a report on Israel’s Channel 2 on a Hamas rally in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
In the video, Palestinian boys, some of them wearing black ski masks, carried toy guns and waved the Islamist group’s green and white flag. One boy said he wanted to become a “martyr” and take revenge on Israeli soldiers for killing his uncle. Other boys said they wanted to “resist” Israeli control of “Palestine.”
“It will be very dangerous to allow any party to educate the children according to the ideology of this party (Hamas),” Al-Habbash told The Media Line. “The children must be educated according to the Palestinian culture, Palestinian understanding, and Palestinian heritage without any relation to violence.”
Al-Habbash went on to explain that Islam is a peaceful religion in dialogue with all peoples. “We reject violence against anybody, against Muslims, against Christians, against Jews, against anybody in the world,
Wonderful, isn’t it? Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the PA minister of Religious Affairs, has come out strongly and unequivocally against Hamas-style violence and incitement.
Except that, well, that doesn’t seem to accurately represent Al-Habbash’s true views – as we revealed in a post back in February.
Here’s Al-Habbash saying something very different about violence – in Arabic of course – in front of an audience which included President Abbas:
Whoever wants resistance, whoever wants Jihad, the direction for Jihad is well-known and clear… Those who send young people to Syria or elsewhere to die for a misdirected cause must stop and understand that Jerusalem is still waiting. Jerusalem is the direction, Jerusalem is the address
Here’s the video:
Additionally, Palestinian Media Watch also recently reported that in another speech where Abbas was present, “Al-Habbash said that the PA’s negotiations with Israel are modeled after the Hudaybiyyah agreement between Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and the tribes of Mecca, and explained that Muhammad signed a 10-year truce, yet two years later conquered Mecca”.
Here’s the video:
To recap: The PA Minister of Religious Affairs was quoted recently in English criticizing violence and incitement and supporting peace. However, several months ago, in two separate speeches in Arabic, he called for terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and explained – as did Yasser Arafat before him – that the PA’s putative entreaties for peace are merely tactical decisions with the ultimate aim of vanquishing their Israeli ‘peace partners’.
As Jennifer Dyer, a retired US Naval intelligence officer, explained: “A treaty of Hudaybiyyah is an agreement you break as soon as you’re able to. Its function is to constrain the other party and buy time for you”.
Of course, the chances the UK media will call out the Palestinians in their double-talk are close to zero.
However, this isn’t merely about the dishonesty of one PA minister. Such revelations about the PA’s true agenda (along with the consequences of recent ‘land for peace’ policies in Gaza and S. Lebanon) help explain Israeli skepticism that even the most generous and equitable two-state agreement will actually lead to a genuine peace, in which Palestinians ‘drop all historical claims’, lay down their armaments of terror, and nurture a culture of tolerance.
Journalists reporting about the peace process who claim the mantle of professionalism simply can not continue to wax eloquently on the ‘provocation’ of Israeli settlements while feigning ignorance about the injurious impact to the peace process of such egregious examples of Palestinian duplicity.
Not all Guardian errors are of equal significance. Whilst we often post about ideologically driven distortions or outright fabrications, other mistakes can fairly be characterized as genuine ‘editing errors’. So, we thought we’d have a little fun with a mistake we noticed in a Guardian report on May 28th which we’re sure you can easily spot merely by glancing at the headline, photo, photo caption and opening passage:
Ok. Let the grauniad Schadenfreude begin….now.
UPDATE: Following our email to Guardian editors, the error was corrected.
Cross posted from This Ongoing War, a blog edited by Arnold and Frimet Roth
Yesterday’s post ["5-May-14: The making of a martyr: it takes more than a village"] reported on the Palestinian state funeral given to the remaining body parts of a Palestinian human bomb named Izz Al-Din Al-Masr.He exploded in August 2001 inside a [Sbarro] restaurant filled with Jews, and died a happy young man, perhaps even an ecstatic one. His life, in accordance with the insane religious dogmas that had been pumped into his head, had reached its point of fulfillment.
Our post made the point that representatives of the major segments of Palestinian Arab society took part in last week’s funeral.
If you were looking for moderates – say, the so-called moderates of the Mahmoud Abbas regime – they were indeed there but they were not moderating anything. When it comes to murder and incitement to murder of Israelis and of Jews, they are not moderate; they are enthusiastic. In last Wednesday’s funeral procession in Tubas, they participated, heart and soul, to ensure the strongest possible message of support, encouragement, adulation for acts of calculated murder like the one in which the dead human bomb had engaged, and that stole the life of our 15 year old daughter Malki. They amplified this message of hatred and jihad via the official Palestinian Arab state media, as did the Hamas regime in Gaza. They wanted everyone to know – at least, everyone who speaks Arabic.
As for publishing the same news in other languages, they were much less interested. Try (just as one random example) finding any mention on the English-language, Bethlehem-based, high profile European-funded Maan News Agency website. But Maan’s Arabic side [here] has all the death-cult worship an Arabic reader with an interest in such things could want. Interesting, no?
We received some feedback that suggested this characterization was unfair. They said there are voices in the Palestinian Arab world that are as sickened as people like us are by the unconcealed blood-lust of Hamas, of Islamic Jihad, of Fatah, of the Palestinian Authority and of Mahmoud Abbas.
So here’s an invitation for anyone who has such evidence to send us public, published statements in the Arabic language, in which Palestinian Arab voices condemn what sickens the rest of the world: the process of turning psychopaths like the human bomb who murdered our daughter Malki into martyrs, heroes, figures to be emulated.
Over to you.
Send what you have to firstname.lastname@example.org or add them to the comments below. We’ll publish what we receive here. (Remember – in Arabic. We’ll take care of the translating into English.)
Robert Fisk isn’t very happy with the latest “betrayal of the Palestinians”, which is how he characterizes the US decision to temporarily end their aggressive engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after Fatah’s reconciliation with Hamas.
In his latest report for The Independent, ‘Yet another betrayal of the Palestinians‘, April 25, Fisk blames Barack Obama for ‘cowardly’ walking away from the process, and laments that the US President has shown himself once again to be ‘in lock step’ with Jerusalem.
However, beyond the narrow and quite risible claim that Obama and Netanyahu are in cahoots, or at least using the same political playbook, Fisk’s ‘analysis’ is laden with distortions, half-truths and outright fabrications.
Fisk derides “claim” that Hamas is a terror group
Of course – lock-stepping with Israel as usual – Obama condemned Mahmoud Abbas for the “unhelpful” step of trying to form a unity government with Hamas, a skewed version of events that entirely chimes with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s predictable claim that the Palestinian President “formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction”.
So, to Fisk, Obama and Netanyahu are merely parroting an evidently debatable “claim” that Hamas is a “murderous terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction”, despite the fact that the group is an internationally recognized terror organization whose founding charter unambiguously calls for Israel’s destruction and the murder of Jews, and has launched terror attacks that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians.
Fisk uncritically accepts Palestinian talking points about Hamas’s imminent move to the political centre.
Forget that Mr Abbas insists that this Palestinian unity would be founded on recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of previous agreements.
Of course, the suggestion that Hamas – whose leaders have called for genocide against the Jews – would ever betray its fundamental anti-Zionist doctrine and recognize Israel (and renounce violence) is ludicrous. Not only has a Hamas spokesperson already distanced the group from suggestions that they may recognize Israel, but the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reportedly already walked back Abbas’s claim, and stated that Hamas is not obligated to recognize Israel to be part of the government.
Fisk grossly under counts the population of Arab Israelis
Since Mr Netanyahu has been demanding that Mr Abbas accept – even before the latter’s renewed love affair with Hamas – that Israel was a “Jewish state” (thus deleting its tens of thousands of Israeli Arab citizens), no “recognition of Israel” without its Jewish definition would be of any use to him.
We’re not sure how he made such a big error, but a simple tour of the website of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (among the myriad of sources he could have used to check this ‘fact’) would have demonstrated that the population of Arab Israelis is over 1.6 Million, not “tens of thousands”.
The US is “in hock” to the Israeli government?
How on earth did Mr Kerry think that he could bring this nonsense off in nine months? For as long as the US administration remains in hock to the Israeli government and continues to support Israel, right or wrong, it can never – and will never – negotiate peace between the two.
Though we weren’t previously familiar with the term “in hock”, it appears that (based on a popular online dictionary) if you are “in hock” to someone, you feel you have to do things for them because they have given you money or support. Given the context, it appears that Fisk is (furtively) evoking the alleged influence of the ‘Israeli lobby’ over US foreign policy.
New Jewish “colonies” in east Jerusalem?
Only a month ago, Israel approved the construction of yet another 186 houses in the newly colonised Jewish areas of East Jerusalem.
Fisk is likely referring to Israel’s recent approval of 40 new homes in Pisgat Zeev and 146 in Har Homa. However, contrary to his claim, these are not “newly colonized” areas. The Har Homa neighborhood was established in 1997, while Pisgat Zeev was founded in 1982.
The Oslo Accords prohibit Israeli construction across the green line?
From the start, Mr Arafat agreed that his land would exist only in 22 per cent of Mandate Palestine. Fair enough. But then he accepted the growing Jewish colonies on the West Bank, allowed America to dictate the terms for peace – which were supposed to prevent any such territorial expansion after the Oslo agreement – and then permitted the US to blame him for the failure of negotiations
Contrary to Fisk’s suggestion, the Oslo Accords (Oslo 1 and Oslo 2) did NOT prohibit Israeli settlements in the territories. The Accords stipulated that such issues – relating to final borders and the fate of Israeli settlements – were to be settled in a final status agreement.
Hamas rocket attacks on Sderot (and only Sderot?) were a “gift” to Israel:
Hamas…handed Israel a gift by bombarding Sderot from Gaza with thousands of inaccurate rockets, most of them home-made. It allowed Israel to kill hundreds of Palestinian civilians as it sought revenge, and deprived the Israeli left (that which still existed) of their support for the original Israeli withdrawal from Gaza;
So, to Fisk, thousands of Hamas rocket attacks (on Sderot, and, presumably, only Sderot) were a gift to Israeli leaders who were intent on finding an excuse to kill Palestinian civilians.
Additionally, addressing Fisk’s other contention, beyond Sderot, towns targeted by the more than 8,000 quite deadly rockets (Heavy Mortars, Qassams, Grads, and the FAJR-5) fired from Gaza since its withdrawal in 2005 include Netivot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Kiryat Malachi, Okafim, Kiryat Gat, the greater Tel Aviv area and even the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Finally, here’s a glimpse at a few of those “home-made” “inaccurate” rockets in action:
Robert Fisk: So many distortions and fabrications in so few words of text.
There’s indeed a reason why bloggers refer to the point-by-point refutation of such blatant errors in an article or op-ed as ‘Fisking‘.
the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Hamas Charter, Article 7)
Imagine for a moment if Binyamin Netanyahu dismantled his current government coalition and entered into a partnership between Likud and an Israeli political party whose platform cited religious texts and conspiracy theories to incite its member to murder Muslims – a movement so extreme that their leaders have called for genocide.
Of course, there is no such Israeli political party. But, if there were, and such a coalition was formed, you can certainly bet that UK journalists wouldn’t be characterizing such an agreement as a ‘boon for peace’.
However, that’s exactly the term used by The Telegraph’s Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait in characterizing the recent deal between Fatah and Hamas. His April 25th report,’Kerry reminded no peace deal can be struck without addressing Gaza‘, reads more like an op-ed than a straight news story, especially in the highlighted passages within the following paragraphs:
Wednesday’s reconciliation pact between Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and the Islamist Hamas group promised to end years of in-fighting by forming a new national unity government within five weeks. Fresh elections are planned within six months to give the Palestinian political landscape a new air of legitimacy.
By normal reckoning, such heartening news would be seen as a boon to any peace process with hopes of flourishing.
What could be more conducive to resolving the century old conflict between Jews and Arabs than a united front on both sides?
Instead, the development has prompted an almost apocalyptic response from Israel, with Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s prime minister, all but writing off the talks and ordering their suspension five days before their official expiry date on April 29.
By whose reckoning would Palestinian unity between Fatah and a designated terror group which engages in the most extreme antisemitism (and rejects Israel’s right to exist within any borders) be considered a positive step for peace?
As a US State Department spokesperson said during a press conference after the unity deal was reached:
“But I think the Secretary [of State] and we all understand it’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist. And that is one of the principles that’s long been expected”.
Remarkably, Tait himself acknowledges Hamas’s rejection of Israel’s continued existence in a later passage in his report, but still blames Bibi for his “apocalyptic” response, a word, it seems, more suited to describing this speech by top Hamas leader (and group co-founder) Mahmoud Al Zahhar in 2012:
What part of Hamas’s clearly stated desire to annihilate the Jews doesn’t Robert Tait understand?
The blurring of ‘professional’ journalism with political advocacy was on full display recently in a “serious” journal known as the Financial Times – the British equivalent of the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal, which largely focuses on international business and economic news. The April 3 report by David Gardner descends to hyperbole in the very strap line of the story by employing a trope – suggesting that Israel controls the United States – often used by those who claim a decidedly more extremist political pedigree.
In the second paragraph of the report, Gardner attempts to explain the reason for the current impasse in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians:
The ostensible new roadblock concerns prisoners. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the interim Palestinian Authority, came back to the negotiating table even though Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, refused yet again to freeze settlement building, thus allowing Israel to continue eating up the shrinking territory over which the Palestinians are negotiating to eventually build their state.
It’s important to remember that Abbas previously refused to talk to Netanyahu about peace for the first nine months of a ten-month settlement freeze instituted by the Israeli prime minister in November 2009. Additionally, as almost all new ‘settlement’ construction in recent years has taken place within existing settlement boundaries, it’s extraordinarly misleading to characterize such construction as “eating up the shrinking territory”.
Mr Abbas, seen by admirers as a moderate and by critics as a quisling, has abjured radical siren calls for resistance in favour of a negotiated solution. He has nothing to show his people. He looks weak and discredited.
First, “radical siren calls for resistance” is of course a euphemism for violent attacks against Israeli civilians – and Gardner seems to be suggesting that mere absence of an organized intifada suggests that the Palestinian leader is somehow a moderate. (Quisling, by the way, is a term used to demonize political leaders who betray their own country by aiding an ‘invading enemy’, referring to Vidkun Quisling, the pro-Nazi Norwegian leader.)
Then, Gardner proceeds to completely mischaracterize the reason for the impasse.
To offset this, Israel was persuaded to release 104 Palestinian long-term prisoners. The Netanyahu government’s refusal to hand over the last batch on the due date precipitated the current crisis. In retaliation, Mr Abbas this week signed articles of accession to 15 multilateral treaties, investing Palestine with some of the international attributes of a state – which he had promised the US to defer while negotiations continued
This is flatly untrue. The prisoner release was always meant to serve as an incentive to keep Palestinians talking. The crisis began when Abbas refused to commit to extending the April 29 deadline, even after the last round of prisoners were to be released. However, a tentative deal, brokered by the US, was reportedly agreed to by both parties to keep the talks going through 2015 – which included the release of the final 26 prisoners along with an additional 400 other prisoners, as well as a curb on settlement construction in the West Bank.
The Israeli government was reportedly only hours away from agreeing to the terms of the deal to extend talks when Abbas announced the move to join 15 international conventions and treaties – in violation of his agreement when talks began to avoid such unilateral steps – thus effectively sabotaging the agreement.
Gardner’s claim that “Abbas this week signed articles of accession to 15 multilateral treaties” in “retaliation” for Netanyahu’s “refusal to hand over the last batch” of prisoners represents an egregious distortion of the sequence of events. Netanyahu’s government temporarily delayed the release of the 26 prisoners in order to first get a commitment from the Palestinians to continue the peace talks past the April 29 deadline. If Abbas hadn’t initiated his unilateral move, the 26 prisoners were almost certainly going to be released.
The prisoners in question were supposed to have been released 20 years ago as part of the Oslo accords, at the high water mark for hopes that these two peoples could close a deal on sharing the Holy Land. They were not.
This is not true. The pre-Oslo prisoners are all convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder and there was no provision of the Oslo Accords requiring their release. Israel only agreed to free 4,000 Palestinian prisoners (women, administrative detainees and minors, as well as elderly and sick prisoners), and stated quite clearly that they would not release “prisoners who killed Israeli citizens or were deemed likely to become involved in future acts of violence”.
Then, to demonstrate Israel’s “pattern of the US consistently over-rewarding a recalcitrant ally, as well as being snubbed by Israel for its pains”, Gardner makes the following claim:
In 2009, for example, it was Mr Obama who blinked when Mr Netanyahu simply refused to halt colonisation of Palestinian land. Instead, in 2010, the US president offered Israel the Jordan Valley – a big chunk of the occupied West Bank that is not his to give – in return for a short pause in settlement building. Mr Netanyahu, in any event, refused.
Again, this is a complete fabrication.
Nobody disputes that, at Obama’s urging in 2009, Israel agreed to a 10-month construction freeze on new homes in the West Bank. The curb in construction can be demonstrated by housing statistics for the year in question. It’s possible Gardner is referring to an incentive offered by Obama to Netanyahu to extend the 10-month freeze by another 2 months in exchange for the President’s support, in principle, to Israel retaining some sort of military presence in the Jordan Valley in the context of a final peace deal, but to write that Obama “offered Israel the Jordan Valley”, which implies that ‘settlements’ in that area would be retained by Israel, is highly misleading.
Then, following a passage which repeats the “Israeli tail wagging the US dog” claim from the strap line, Gardner adds:
Far from pushing Israel to roll back the occupation enough to enable Palestinians to build a viable state on the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital, it looks as though the US is planning to hand Israel almost all the settlement blocs, about three-quarters of East Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley
First, Gaza isn’t on the table as there is a political division between Hamas and Fatah, the former (which controls the strip) refuses to agree to negotiation or recognize Israel under any circumstances. Second, the US isn’t handing Israel anything, as responsibility for an agreement rests in the hands of both parties. Additionally, as negotiations haven’t even come close to concluding, it’s impossible to know for sure what the final map would look like. And, again, the US isn’t offering Israel the Jordan Valley.
In addition, the Palestinians are being pressed to recognise Israel as a Jewish state – rather than, as they have long since done, recognise the state of Israel and its right to exist. Agreement to that could compromise a negotiated deal on the future of nearly 5m Palestinian refugees, prejudice the position of that fifth of the population of Israel proper that is Palestinian Arab by origin, as well as require Palestinians to repudiate their history.
By arguing that the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people (a requirement by Israeli leaders going back to Sharon) “could compromise a negotiated deal on the future of nearly 5m Palestinian refugees” (a number corresponding to the number of Palestinians recognized by UNRWA as “refugees”, not the number of actual refugees, which is closer to 30,000) he’s implicitly endorsing the unlimited right of return, a concept which will Israel will never agree to as it is a thinly veiled way to achieve a one-state solution.
Naturally, Gardner doesn’t mention that Abbas – during his recent meeting with Obama – not only refused to compromise on the ‘right of return’ and mutual recognition, but also reportedly refused to commit to an ‘end of conflict’ proviso, “under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel”.
Gardner ends by warning Israel that failing to compromise with the Palestinians “will chip away at Israel’s hard-won legitimacy”, but it is such intellectually dishonest pro-Palestinian propaganda parading as journalism which chips away at the veneer of his professional credibility.
In ‘Middle East peace talks edge towards collapse despite Kerry’s frantic efforts, Guardian, April 2, the newspaper’s incoming Jerusalem correspondent writes the following about the collapsing ‘peace process’.
Eight months ago, Netanyahu signed a US-sponsored agreement to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners in a quid pro quo that would block the Palestinian application to membership of a raft of UN bodies in exchange for talks. But despite the agreement, Netanyahu has refused to release the fourth group of prisoners unless the Palestinian Authority recognises Israel as a Jewish state.
This is flat-out untrue.
The Jewish state recognition demand is a separate issue, was voiced prior to the current crisis about the release of the final batch of pre-Oslo prisoners and has never been cited as a factor why Israel is reluctant to release the remaining 26 Palestinians.
As reported by media sites across the political spectrum, Israeli negotiators have only demanded that – for the prisoner release to go ahead – Palestinians must at least agree to extend talks past the April 29 deadline, and have asked why they should release these prisoners when (immediately following their release) Palestinians will likely decide to end the talks.
Interestingly, three days prior to his April 2 story, Peter Beaumont himself acknowledged that the fear of Palestinians walking away from talks was the reason for Israel’s hesitation over the final prisoner release.
In his report on March 31, he wrote the following:
The Israeli government has said it is unwilling to go ahead with the latest prisoner release until it has a commitment from Abbas to extend this phase of the negotiations. On Sunday the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said the talks were “verging on a crisis”.
Just to make it easier, here are snapshots of the competing Peter Beaumont passages.
Beaumont, March 31:
Beaumont, April 2:
Which one is it, Peter?
According to a report in the Guardian on March 18th, Mahmoud Abbas showed President Obama a “very ugly map” during their meeting on Monday.
Here are the first few passages of the story by Paul Lewis:
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas showed Barack Obama what his negotiator called “a very ugly map” of recently constructed Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, amid concern peace talks may be about to fall apart.
His chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who was present at the meeting between Abbas and Obama at the White House, said on Tuesday that the encounter had been “candid” and “difficult”.
Erekat said the Palestinian delegation showed the US president a map showing 10,589 housing settlement units he said were built on Palestinian-claimed territory since negotiations began less than eight months ago.
We put a map to president Obama – showed him the extent of what happened since we began in July,” Erekat said, showing the same map to an audience at the Wilson Center think-tank in Washington.
“It is a very ugly map.
Though we haven’t seen Erekat’s map, the numbers he presented to the American President were, at best, extraordinarily misleading.
First, it’s unclear whether Erekat was referring to completed homes or merely construction starts. Either way, based on numbers available at the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, it appears as if Erekat was not telling the truth.
If ‘10,589’ was meant to represent the number of completed homes in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and east Jerusalem, then, as the chart below showing completed homes by region in all of 2013 (a longer period than the 8 months Erekat is referencing) shows, this is simply not true.
As you can see, the chart shows that the number of construction starts for all of 2013 in the West Bank was 2,534, and the number of construction starts in ALL of Jerusalem (not merely east Jerusalem) was 4,625. So, even taking into consideration the fact that the these stats include west Jerusalem as well – a part of the city not claimed as “Palestinian land” – the total number of construction starts in the West Bank and ALL of Jerusalem was only 7,159, far lower than the 10,589 claimed.
If, on the other hand, Erekat’s number of 10,589 was meant to represent completed homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, then the degree of inaccuracy was even greater, as this chart from the CBS demonstrates:
This chart shows that the number of completed homes in 2013 in the West Bank was 1,365, while the number of completed homes in ALL of Jerusalem – again, not merely east Jerusalem – was 3,652. This brings the total number of completed homes in the territory to 5,017 – less than half of Erekat’s number.
Either way – whether Erekat’s claim refers to completed homes or construction starts – the numbers just don’t add up.
Moreover, contrary to broader claim by Erekat (and the U.S. administration) that Netanyahu is engaging in ‘aggressive settlement expansion’, we can see that the number of completed homes in the West Bank and ALL of Jerusalem in 2013 was slightly higher than in 2012, but decidedly lower than the figures recorded for 2011 and 2010. Even the number of construction starts in the territories – which spiked in 2013 after artificially low numbers were recorded in the three previous years, due in part to Israel’s construction freeze – have been lower during Netanyahu’s years than under his predecessors.
Add to this mix the fact that the overwhelming majority of new homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem have been built within existing settlement boundaries – most of which would remain under Israeli control, even based on maps representing Olmert’s generous offer in 2008 – and you can see that the settlement issue is a red herring which has little relevance in the context of the more serious issues the parties must address for a final status agreement to be reached.
Mahmoud Abbas “is not a partner for a permanent-status agreement in which at the end there is recognition of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Channel 2 on Saturday night.
Ya’alon argued, ahead of Abbas’s Monday meeting with President Obama, that the Palestinians don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist here and therefore will not agree to end the conflict, end all demands and recognize Israel as a Jewish state – before predicting that “a peace agreement will not happen in [his] generation”.
Though the story received wide coverage, the Irish Times chose an especially interesting photo to illustrate their story centering on Ya’alon’s comments and recent White House talks:
There’s one problem with the photo of Ya’alon. The caption conveniently fails to note that the rockets in the background – evoking the malevolence befitting such a right-wing ultra-Zionist – were not Israel’s. The EPA photo was taken on March 10 during an IDF presentation of an Iranian shipment of advanced Syrian missiles seized on the Klos-C container ship, which were intended to be delivered to Gaza.
The Press Council of Ireland prohibits not only misleading or false claims or reports, but the use of photos which would leave an erroneous impression, and the photo of Ya’alon used by the Irish Times would likely lead most readers, consciously or unconsciously, to incorrectly assume that the rockets behind the menacing defense minister were the property of the IDF.
On Wednesday night, when news was breaking that terrorists in Gaza had fired a volley of more than 40 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians in the south, the Guardian’s incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont reacted on Twitter as Guardianistas typically do to obfuscate such Palestinian war crimes: he highlighted one crazy quote by an Israeli in response to the attack.
The quote, by Israel’s foreign minister – threatening to reoccupy Gaza – was as hysterical as it was irrelevant, as the chances that such a re-occupation would happen are practically zero.
The habit of providing obsessive coverage to every hyperbolic or ill-considered statement by an Israeli, while ignoring even the most egregious examples of Palestinian racism and incitement to violence is not of course limited to Guardian journalists. Indeed, even some of Israel’s friends often find it more morally satisfying to attack even minor Jewish misdeeds than far more injurious Palestinian crimes.
Whether it’s a case of liberal racism (holding groups believed to be powerless to a lower standard than those deemed to be powerful), moral myopia or antisemitism, this double standard weighs heavily on Israelis who desire more than anything to make peace with the Palestinians, but are haunted by the cognitive dissonance elicited by seeing Palestinian leaders talk peace in English to the West, while promising endless war when speaking to their own people in Arabic.
A perfect illustration of this disturbing double standard was evident when Palestinian Media Watch revealed that Senior Palestinian official Abbas Zaki said, in an interview yesterday on official PA TV, that Israelis “are an advanced instrument of evil” and that “Allah will gather them so that we can kill them.”
Here’s the video:
If you’re tempted to dismiss this call to murder as the rant of an insignificant or marginal voice, PMW explained that this simply isn’t true.
“Zaki’s public anticipation of the extermination of the Israelis is significant because, as Palestinian Media Watch has reported, he is a close associate of Mahmoud Abbas. He was sent to Syria as Mahmoud Abbas’ personal representative in October 2013, and he speaks at public events representing Fatah.
Do we even need to ask what the reaction at the Guardian, New York Times and BBC would be if a top Israeli official associated with Likud (and close associate of Netanyahu) said that ‘Palestinians were an instrument of evil and that God will gather them together so they can all be killed’?
Of course, the significance of such homicidal expressions by top Palestinians officials to the peace process is hard to overstate. If Israelis are to make painful concessions for peace, they must have confidence that Palestinian leaders signing a final status agreement truly intend to settle the decade’s long conflict, that all historical claims are settled and that their war against the Jews has truly ended.
If Israelis – soberly aware of the price paid by previous ‘land for peace’ chimeras – don’t have confidence that a real and lasting peace will be achieved, and that the extremism and homicidal antisemitism within Palestinian society will one day end, then what incentive do they have to relinquish more than 90 percent of Judea and Samaria (and possibly east Jerusalem), thus forfeiting the IDF’s capacity to operate in these communities and thwart planned terror attacks?
Leaving aside the pro-Palestinian UK media, many Israelis are at times also astonished by the hubris of many truly well-meaning progressive advocates for a two-state solution who, in the safety of affluent Western cities, imperiously lecture them on the risks they must take to end ‘the occupation’.
Such peace advocates will never have to live with the consequences of their policy recommendations, and it seem quite reasonable to demand of them just a bit of humility – and some deference to Israelis for whom such decisions are more than political abstractions, and often matters of life and death.
To put it simply:
The overwhelming majority of Israelis support current peace talks, and support a two-state solution.
However, the overwhelming majority of Israelis also are skeptical that a two-state deal (under current circumstances) will actually lead to peace.
The failure of otherwise sober, erudite and reflective minds to keep these two ideas in their head simultaneously is at times breathtaking.