Chris McGreal returns to remind us how much he despises Israel.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Chris McGreal, the Guardian’s former Jerusalem correspondent who – unlike Harriet Sherwood – has never even tried to hide his animosity towards the Jewish state.  As we’ve revealed previously, McGreal fancies the idea that Israeli snipers target Palestinian kids, is obsessed with the power of the Israel lobby, and is one of the few Guardian reporters singled out by the Community Security Trust for engaging in antisemitic discourse.

He’s also quite predictably been among those who participate fully in what’s known as the Durban Strategy, named after at the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Racism Conference which ignited an orgy of hatred towards Jews and Israel and coalesced around a strategy of ‘bringing Israel to its knees’ by casting it as a racist, ‘apartheid’ state beyond the moral pale.

Though the movement to smear Israel as an apartheid state can trace it origins to Soviet and Arab propaganda of the 70s, the idea only began to gain traction within organs of the pro-Palestinian movement following Durban.  Not surprisingly, the Guardian – the epicenter of Western media subservience to even the most extreme elements within the anti-Zionist cause – has been among the most enthusiastic purveyors of the apartheid canard.

McGreal’s latest polemical effort on behalf of Israel’s adversaries was published by the Guardian on May 14 – Israeli Independence Day on the non-Hebrew calendar – and titled ‘Kerry wasn’t wrong: Israel’s future is beginning to look a lot like apartheid‘.

McGreal begins:

Organizations claiming to speak for America’s Jews – mostly too far to the right to be representative of most of them – reeled in horror after Kerry dared to say it two weeks ago: if Israel doesn’t reach a deal on an independent Palestine it risks becoming an “apartheid state”.

Israel called the envoy a hypocrite and blamed him for the failure of the latest talks. The secretary of state apologized for using the A-word, saying it was “best left out of the debate” in the US – even if it is used in Israel itself, including by two former prime ministers to sound similar warnings to Kerry’s.

Later he opines:

After years of traveling through the West Bank and South Africa, it’s blindingly clear to me: the ever-expanding settlements are, indeed, carving out the geography of West Bank apartheid. And if Kerry was wrong, it was only in casting his warning as a prediction rather than about a present reality.

Tellingly, McGreal doesn’t explain how settlements “carving out the geography of the West Bank” create an apartheid reality.  Indeed, though sources which refute the intellectually unserious charge that Israel is practicing apartheid are ubiquitous (and include testimonies by South Africans who actually lived through apartheid), it’s helpful to briefly note what the term actually means.

Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren explained its origins in a recent op-ed at the LA Times:

Translated from Afrikaans, apartheid means “apart-hood.” It stemmed from the deeply held racist beliefs of South African whites who, in the half-century after World War II, imposed strict legal barriers between themselves and all black people. The segregation was total: separate restaurants, separate toilets and drinking fountains, separate houses, hospitals and schools. 

First, there is absolutely no racial element involved in the fact that there are separate and distinct Israeli and Palestinian communities.  The distinction between Israelis and Palestinians is based not on race, but on the fact that they are two distinct national communities. Israel’s security barrier, for instance, is a counter-terror tool aimed to protect Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers, and, as Oren noted, is no more an “apartheid wall” than the fence between the United States and Mexico.

Additionally, despite the fact that Israelis and Palestinians represent two national communities, and security measures have been introduced to mitigate the potential for conflict and violence, there is still an absence of codified segregation, as evident by the thousands of Palestinians who work in Israeli factories and receive life-saving medical care at Israeli hospitals.

 Of course, pro-Palestinian activists who claim to support a two-state solution and level the apartheid charge are especially hypocritical, as any future Palestinian state would almost certainly be 100% Jew-free.  Israeli Jews won’t be treated in Palestinian hospitals. They won’t be permitted to travel on Palestinian buses, nor permitted to attend Palestinian universities. Indeed, given the endemic antisemitism within Palestinian society, any Israeli Jew who ventured unprotected into the new Palestinian state would be taking a considerable risk.  Palestinian Apartheid is all but assured.

McGreal then pivots to a familiar Guardian narrative, one which champions such assaults on Israel’s legitimacy as acts of bravery – those evidently bold enough to speak truth to Zionist power in Washington.

Israel’s intent in the West Bank is an issue that has largely been off-limits in Washington. The pro-Israel lobby, with some help from Congress, has played an important role in determining the boundaries of criticism

Indeed, here is where McGreal shows his true stripes – again telling Guardian readers what they want to hear: specifically, that US foreign policy is being hijacked by the pro-Israel lobby, but, more broadly, that the reason decision makers in Washington don’t buy into their view of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is because the system is rigged and debate is being squelched – furtively of course – by a small but dangerously powerful minority of Americans who conflate the US national interest with Israel’s.

However, at the end of the day, the fact is that Israel remains wildly popular among the American public, the boycott movement produces failure upon failure, Israel’s democracy is robust, its economy is booming, and its society (by any number of indicators) is thriving. 

Much like narrow efforts to cast Israel as an apartheid state, the broader delegitimization campaign – by nearly any standard – is failing miserably.

And, Chris McGreal is simply furious. 

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On PRI, Chris McGreal resuscitates his discredited ‘theory’ on Israel-SA nukes

On Monday, we posted about a ‘Comment is Free’ essay by Chris McGreal on the death of Nelson Mandela.  McGreal complained of the “hypocrisy” of Western leaders who now “extol South Africa’s first democratically elected president,” while failing to acknowledge their nations’ histories of “consigning Mandela and the [ANC] to the terrorism list”.

We noted that though McGreal poured particular scorn on Israeli President Shimon Peres (for praising “Mandela’s sacrifices for freedom” while ignoring the military pacts with Pretoria he allegedly signed decades earlier), McGreal failed to mention his own blockbuster Guardian “scoop” in 2010 alleging that Israel offered to sell the apartheid regime nuclear weapons.

Indeed, McGreal’s silence over his Guardian expose, we surmised, was likely influenced by the fact that the conclusions he reached (from allegedly select documents) were categorically denied by both governments, and widely discredited by commentators familiar with the issue.

However, just yesterday, during an interview on Public Radio International (PRI), McGreal attempted to resuscitate his wild theory. (Here’s a short clip we edited from the full PRI interview on Dec. 10, which we uploaded onto YouTube.  Pay particular attention to what McGreal says at the 2:10 mark)

In case you didn’t catch it, McGreal claimed that Israel and South Africa “worked together on atomic issues, including South Africa’s development of a nuclear weapon.”

However, as we demonstrated in our previous post – and contrary to McGreal’s suggestion during the interview – there is still no credible evidence that Israel helped develop South Africa’s nuclear weapons program. (The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reported that South Africa’s nuclear program was supported by France, the United States and Germany.)

So, unless McGreal has new evidence we can reasonably conclude that this latest claim represents yet another example of the journalist’s insistence that facts should never get in the way of a desired anti-Zionist conclusion.

h/t Nurit

Guardian headline tidies up inconvenient quote by nominee for Defense Secretary

While reasonable people can, of course, disagree over the merits of Chuck Hagel’s nomination for US Defense Secretary, a Guardian headline used for Chris McGreal’s latest story (Jan. 7) on the row blatantly distorts a relevant quote by the Nebraska Senator in a manner which has the effect of misleading readers.

Here’s the quote  by Hagel which some opponents of his nomination have cited as cause for concern.

“The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here [in Washington, DC].”

Interestingly, given his own history of using language which evokes Judeophobic stereotypes, McGreal contextualizes the quote quite fairly – and even acknowledges the danger of employing antisemitic rhetoric which warns of the danger posed by Jewish power.

McGreal writes:

“Hagel later apologised for the use of the term “Jewish lobby” [when he spoke of the influence of the lobby on Congress] saying he should have said “pro-Israel lobby”, an issue of particular sensitivity because it touches on antisemitic tropes about Jewish control, but also because it is inaccurate, given the wider support for Israel among Americans, notably Christian evangelicals.”

In addition, the actual quote by Hagel is accurately cited in McGreal’s report.  

Fair enough.

However, here’s the Guardian headline for McGreal’s report:

McGreal

No, it’s clearly not antisemitic to merely acknowledge that the pro-Israel lobby has a powerful voice.

However, that’s not what Hagel said.

A Guardian editor used inverted quotes in order to paraphrase the senator’s words in a manner which make them more palatable and less offensive.

What the editor did, in effect, was to run interference for a politician the paper has framed as the protagonist in a battle against pro-Israel advocates who wish to “stifle debate” about Israel.

This is not journalism but, rather, advocacy: another example of a paper which continually distorts information to suit a particular ideological agenda.

Chris McGreal vs. Harriet Sherwood on Israel’s 2009 settlement construction freeze

mcgreal and sherwood

As we reported on Nov. 8, Chris McGreal’s post-election analysis, Obama’s in-tray – Israel/Palestine, Nov. 7, included this passage:

“Obama sought to pressure the Israeli prime minister to halt Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, at their first meeting in the spring of 2009Netanyahu not only resisted but humiliated the president by publicly lecturing him about Jewish history.” [emphasis on all quotes are added]

McGreal’s latest post, ‘International criminal court is a lever for Palestinians on Israeli settlements, Dec. 15, repeats the historical revisionism suggesting that Israel did not in fact implement a temporary settlement freeze.

“An ICC ruling in favour of the Palestinians might have another effect. When Obama first came to power four years ago, he attempted to strong-arm Netanyahu into taking an agreement with the Palestinians seriously. The president began by demanding a total freeze on settlement construction. The Israeli prime minister outmanoeuvred and humiliated Obama, and carried on as before.”  

Not only is it untrue that “Netanyahu “resisted” Obama’s request, but, in fact, the 10-month Israeli freeze on new construction in the West Bank, declared in Nov. 2009, was reported by the Guardian (and through wire services on their site) as an uncontroversial fact.

Tellingly, Harriet Sherwood, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, has also unambiguously reported Israel’s 10-month freeze in reports continually over the past few years.

Here’s Sherwood on Nov. 9, 2010, in ‘Israeli plan to build hundreds of homes in West Bank settlement risks US anger‘:

“The Ariel and East Jerusalem proposals came six weeks after the end of a 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction.”

Here’s Sherwood, on July 5, 2010, reporting on US pressure to extend the 10-month freeze on settlement construction, titled ‘US to press Binyamin Netanyahu to extend freeze on settlements‘:

The 10-month moratorium, which excludes building in East Jerusalem, is due to end at around the same time as the four-month period set for proximity talks comes to an end.

And Settlement Watch, an Israeli organisation, said that preparations are being made for a massive construction boom this autumn on the assumption the moratorium will be lifted.

The freeze, which began last November, was wrung out of Netanyahu by the White House after months of negotiation and against the opposition of the prime minister’s rightwing coalition partners.”

Here’s Sherwood on Nov. 10, 2010, inIsraeli settlement plan sparks international outrage‘:

“The Ariel and East Jerusalem proposals come six weeks after the end of the 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction.”

Here’s Sherwood, on March 13, 2011, reporting on the Israeli response to the murder of five members of a Jewish family in Itamar, in Israel to expand settlements after family killing‘:

 “Israel is to build hundreds of homes in West Bank settlements in response to the murder of five members of a Jewish settler family…

The homes are to be built in the large settlement blocks which Israel expects to keep under any peace agreement with the Palestinians. It is the biggest tranche of construction announced since the end of the settlement freeze almost six months ago.”

Here’s Sherwood on July 26, 2012, in ‘Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year:

A 10-month partial freeze on settlement expansion came to an end almost two years ago, since when there have been no meaningful talks.”

Here’s a passage in a report by Sherwood on Oct. 22, 2012, in ‘Israel’s cranes reprove Barack Obama’s failure to pursue two-state solution.

“On the Israeli side, Obama said the US did not accept the legitimacy of Jewish settlements. “It is time for these settlements to stop,” he said bluntly.There followed protracted negotiations between the US and Israeli governments which resulted, in November 2009, in Netanyahu reluctantly acceding to a temporary construction freeze in West Bank settlements.”

Here’s Sherwood on Oct. 30, 2012, in ‘EU urged to re-think trade deals with Israeli settlements in West Bank‘:

“Settlement growth has accelerated in the past two years, since the end of the temporary construction freeze brokered by the US.”

So, which Guardian reporter is correct?

Was there a settlement freeze, or did Netanyahu resist Obama’s request for the temporary halt in construction across the green line?

Of course, the fact that it’s difficult to find a reporter other than McGreal, working for the Guardian or any other paper, who has argued that Israel didn’t in fact agree to a construction freeze would seem to vindicate Sherwood.

As I’ve noted previously, Chris McGreal is perfectly entitled to dislike Israel and take the side of the Palestinians.  However, as a professional journalist, he is not free to lie or misrepresent the facts to suit his ideological agenda.

An update on Chris McGreal and that Gaza “sports stadium”

Chris McGreal, a Guardian journalist singled out by the CST in their 2011 Report on Antisemitic Discourse in Britain, wrote a piece, on Nov. 21, on the aftermath of the recent war in Gaza titled ‘Palestinians count dead after one of the worst days of the war.

The piece consisted of accounts of Palestinian deaths during ‘Pillar Of Defense’ and, more broadly, suggested that Israel’s military behaved unethically in the context of purported civilian casualty figures and what he claimed were non-military sites in Gaza attacked by the IDF.

Our post in response to McGreal’s Nov. 21 report focused on two points – his use of inflated casualty figures obtained by a radical NGO with sympathies towards Palestinian extremists, and his suggestion that Israel bombed several targets which had no military value.

Regarding the latter charge, here’s the passage from McGreal’s report we cited:

“Then there were the targets. The Israeli army said: “The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of several months.” But many seemed to have little military value. A football stadium blown to bits…” [emphasis added]

We noted that McGreal completely ignored widely published reports (including at the BBC and an update from the Guardian’s own live blog on the war) that the stadium was targeted because Hamas had used it as a missile launching site a couple of days earlier.

Interestingly, McGreal, in a report a couple of days later (Nov. 30) on opposition by a few European football players to plans to hold the U21 European championship in Israel, mentioned the ‘stadium’ attack again – albeit, in a slightly different manner.

McGreal wrote the following:

“A group of Premier League footballers and players in other major European leagues have condemned plans to hold the Under-21 European championship in Israel next year, saying it will be seen as a “reward” for this month’s assault on Gaza in which young people playing football were killed when a sports stadium was bombed.” [emphasis added]

However, later in his piece, McGreal actually acknowledged reports that the site was targeted because of its military use by Hamas.

“[The players cited the] destruction of a football stadium which the Israeli military said had previously been used by Hamas as a rocket launching site but which at the time of the bombing was not.” [emphasis added]

While it’s interesting that McGreal finally saw fit to include at least a little balance in his latest mention of the Gaza ‘stadium’, note the qualifier at the end of the sentence highlighted above, “…but which at the time of the bombing was not.“.

So, the stadium may have indeed been used as a rocket launching site by Hamas, but McGreal evidently deemed it necessary to instruct readers that Hamas certainly wasn’t firing a rocket at Israel from the stadium at the precise time the IDF attacked it!

Evidently, McGreal’s ‘Just War Theory’ would require that the IDF avoid targeting an enemy rocket launching site which has been used to attack Israeli civilians until the exact moment when another rocket is being fired from the location – not a second before and not a second after.

Chris McGreal’s rhetorical obfuscations in service of a desired narrative are truly works of beauty.

Why any Israeli can be murdered by Palestinian terrorists, as explained by Chris McGreal

A guest post by Richard Millett

Meet Abu Jindal and Abu Nizar. Up until fairly recent times they might have been fixing cars for Israelis. Nizar’s father even “had good things to say about the Israelis he knew”.

But those days are long gone and now Nizar, the son, has little problem with the rockets he fires into Israel causing civilian casualties “such as the three who died…from rockets fired from Gaza in recent round of fighting.” For Nizar “there is no such thing as a civilian on the other side.”

So what makes it so easy for Nizar and Jindal to murder innocent Israeli men, women and children?

Judging from Chris McGreal’s piece, ‘Gaza’s cycle of aggression shapes new generations more militant than the last’, published in the Guardian on Nov. 23, it’s all Israel’s fault with Nizar and Jindal having little, if any, responsibility for their terrorist activities.

McGreal describes the evidently violent childhoods that led to Nizar and Jindal firing rockets from Gaza and, possibly, murdering the three above-mentioned ‘civilians’ Ahron Smadga, Yitzchak Amselam and 25 year-old Mira Scharf in Kiryat Malachi. Scharf was pregnant.

Sickeningly, McGreal allows Nizar and Jindal the space in his piece to excuse themselves as mere victims, the implication being that the real criminals were Smadga, Amselam, Scharf and Scharf’s unborn child who weren’t “civilians”.

Incidentally, Scharf had recently returned to Israel to give birth and to attend the memorial service of her friends the Holtzbergs who were murdered in the 2008 Mumbai massacre. They all died on the same day of the Hebrew calendar four years apart.

Jindal and Nizar belong to the terrorist group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and McGreal’s piece attempts to evoke much sympathy for them. Jindal is quoted by McGreal, thus:

“The Israelis have always killed children in Gaza. They came here to kill children during this [latest] war. Our children see it.”

Nizar claims his school friends “were killed by an Apache helicopter”.

Even McGreal, not content with merely evoking Israeli “machine gun fire” which “shreds Palestinian homes”, adds the following:

“[Palestinian children] worshiped ‘martyrs’, whether they were suicide bombers who killed Israelis on buses in Jerusalem, armed men fighting Israeli soldiers, or the children shot at their school desks in Gaza by Israeli gunfire.” (my emphasis)

Neither Nizar’s school friends shot from the sky, nor McGreal’s school children shot at their school desks are named. No evidence is offered. The unsubstantiated accusations are just thrown in.

In case the reader doesn’t quite understand that these are attempted justifications for Jindal and Nizar slaughtering innocent Israelis McGreal decides to import two old Guardian pieces of his. These give the views of two child psychologists in an attempt to help solidify the images of Jindal and Nizar as helpless victims.

In the piece from 2004 Usama Freona claimed “The levels of violence children are exposed to is horrific…Most of them were crying and shaking when they were speaking about their experiences”. In the 2009 piece Dr Abdel Aziz Mousa Thabet claimed that due to the traumatising effect of violence on children “they become fighters”.

The possibility that these two vile terrorists might be committed to the destruction of Israel and murder of its Jewish inhabitants on purely ideological grounds isn’t considered by McGreal.

Incredibly, McGreal’s piece on Dr Thabet still describes 12 year-old Mohammed al-Dura as being shot dead by Israeli gunfire despite overwhelming evidence produced over the years disproving that particular allegation and the even more insidious charge that the boy was actually targeted by the IDF.

McGreal is obviously keen in prolonging this blood libel.

McGreal admits that Palestinian children are sometimes taught in their schools and mosques to despise Jews but he sees that, mainly, as an excuse used by Israelis to absolve themselves of blame for why each generation of Palestinians seems more militant and violent.

Abu Nizar concludes, thus:

“The end of Israel is getting closer”.

By the way, next week The Guardian will be running a full-page piece on McGreal’s interview with two Al Qaida “fighters”. The “fighters” explain why they are at ease with their fellow Islamists slaughtering 52 British citizens in the London bus and tube bombings of 2005 and why, for them, there is no such thing as a British civilian.

Or, maybe, The Guardian won’t run it.

Maybe for The Guardian only the slaughter of innocent Israeli men, women and children (and unborn babies) can be explained with such apparent ease: No Israeli is a civilian. No Israeli is an innocent victim.

Yitzchak Amsalam, Ahron Smadga and Mira Scharf