Why does the Guardian portray Hamas as a victim of Israeli aggression?

“Our narrative has gained the upper hand in the media” – Hamas deputy political leader Ismail Haniyeh

As Jews in the UK and across the world were welcoming in the new year on Wednesday evening, the Guardian Group published yet another official editorial reminding readers which party was to blame for the 50 day war between Israel and Hamas.

Whilst nobody familiar with the political leanings of the media group would be surprised that they judged the Jewish state guilty, their September 24th polemic (The Guardian view on the human, economic and political costs of the Gaza war) is noteworthy as a reminder that their top editors in London believe that even the most extreme elements within Palestinian society aren’t responsible for their actions.

The Guardian editorial parrots Hamas talking points in claiming that the movement was strengthened by the war; sows doubt over Hamas culpability for the murder of three Israeli teens, despite a claim of responsibility from one of their leaders as well as an admission by the cell’s ringleader that Hamasniks in Gaza funded the “operation”; falsely characterizes Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities as a “response” to Israeli aggression; and challenges “Israel’s reasons for going to war“, completely erasing the history of the conflict.

In response to their claim of Israeli responsibility for the start of hostilities, it’s notable that, even the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent acknowledged that Netanyahu “had shown a marked reluctance to be drawn into a military operation” in the first place, and that Hamas rejected a July 15th ceasefire initiated by Egypt (accepted by Israel) which would have prevented the IDF ground invasion as well as roughly 90% of the total fatalities in the war.  (Remarkably, this July 15th proposal was essentially the same terms as the ceasefire that was accepted by Hamas on Aug 26th.)

So, two important questions need answering:

What are the Guardian’s reasons for portraying Hamas as victims of Israeli aggression? 

What was Hamas’s reasons for going to war with Israel?

The answer to both questions takes us back to former AP correspondent Matti Friedman’s analysis in Tablet Magazine.

First, the Guardian’s framing:

The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls—0.2 percent of the Arab world—in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries. (Perhaps “Israel-Muslim” would be more accurate, to take into account the enmity of non-Arab states like Iran and Turkey, and, more broadly, 1 billion Muslims worldwide.) This is the conflict that has been playing out in different forms for a century, before Israel existed, before Israel captured the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, and before the term “Palestinian” was in use.

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party.

Second, Hamas’s reasons for going to war:

A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano. Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel, just as Hezbollah is the dominant representative of radical Islam in Lebanon, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so forth.

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer means understanding Hezbollah in Lebanon, the rise of the Sunni jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and the long tentacles of Iran. It requires figuring out why countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia now see themselves as closer to Israel than to Hamas. Above all, it requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is not democracy or modernity. It is rather an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots.

This represents a morally intuitive and historically accurate way to explain the ‘root cause’ of the summer war that Guardian journalists and editors will never provide, which explains why scores of Guardian readers will continue to feel sympathy for Hamas, impute the worst motives to the Jewish state, and never, ever be able to assess the region soberly, objectively and accurately.

Slow news days in Israel? Guardian plays ‘Catch the Jew”

Based on research collected while posing as a German investigative reporter during a tour through Palestinian areas, Israeli born playwright and writer Tuvia Tenenbom spent time with pro-Palestinian “activists” and NGO researchers in the West Bank and asked about the plight of the Palestinians. He turned the results into a book cheekily titled, ‘Catch the Jew, words meant to capture the surreal anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda continually fed by such activists to a compliant media.

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Former Editor of The Indepedent: Israeli ‘expansionism’ radicalises Muslims

Simon Kelner was Editor of The Independent between 1998 and 2011, and currently writes a column for the Indy’s i100 page. You may recall that Kelner defended his paper’s decision to publish that infamous cartoon by Dave Brown’s in 2003 showing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ‘devouring the flesh of a Palestinian baby’, claiming that it was not antisemitic.

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Examining an alleged quote by Golda Meir about the Holocaust cited by Gideon Levy

(CAMERA senior research analyst Gidon Shaviv assisted in this post)

We recently posted about an Irish Times article by Lara Marlow which highlighted Haaretz’s Gideon Levy (“Holocaust makes Israelis think international law doesn’t apply,” Sept. 11th) in which Levy recycled a previously discredited quote by former prime minister Golda Meir.

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Miracle in Gaza: Power plant the Guardian declared “destroyed” comes back to life

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.

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Guardian publishes repulsive letter evoking Israel-Nazi analogy

Alvin Rosenfeld, in a recent essay at The Forward (Moral Emptiness of Holocaust Survivors Who Took on Israel, Aug. 28), argued that “stamping” Israel-Nazi analogies “with the moral authority that supposedly belongs to Holocaust survivors does not turn these lies into truth”.

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BREAKING: Foreign journalist shows openness to criticism

Earlier today, we posted about an article in the Independent on Gaza post-war reconstruction which included the claim that the only construction materials permitted to enter Gaza are those which come from Israeli sources.

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Robert Fisk suggests that ISIS violence is payback for “Palestine in 1948″

When we last visited the Independent’s ‘award-winning‘ Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, he was warning about the (previously unknown) dangers posed to UK society by “radicalized” British Zionists, and his most recent Indy op-ed on the roots of ISIS jihad strives for similar heights of polemical fantasy. 

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Daily Mail characterizes Israeli tourists at Syrian look-out point as “ghoulish”

Ghoulish: Morbidly interested in death or disaster 

The Mount Bental Look-Out point in the Golan is one of the more popular Israeli mountain peaks, due in part to the beautiful views of the Golan, Mt. Hermon and Syria, and because it was the site of a battle during the Yom Kippur War in which 160 Israeli tanks successfully held off nearly ten times their number of Syrian tanks. 

Sightseers can also of course look down at the Syrian town of Quneitra and the Quneitra crossing point, the only border crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights – the sight, quite recently, of fierce fighting between rebels from the Nusra Front and Syrian government forces.

Here’s the Daily Mail’s headline, evidently inspired in part by an EPA photo of the Bental look-out point, published on Sept. 5th.

headline

Now here’s a photo (and caption), used to illustrate the Daily Mail article, of those “ghoulish” Israeli daytrippers:

photo

Here are the opening passages of the article:

Donning T-shirts, shorts and sunglasses, they stand on a mountainside platform, gazing into the distance through sets of binoculars.

But these Israeli daytrippers aren’t just admiring the landscape – they are watching a fierce battle just over the Syrian border. One that now involves ISIS.

The militant group – which released a video of their execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff earlier this week – are now just half a mile from the Golan Heights border crossing between Israel and Syria.

The Queneitra crossing has already seen fierce fighting between the Syrian army and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, with the rebels taking control of the Syrian checkpoint just weeks ago.  

Today, smoke could be seen rising from the outskirts of the town of Quneitra as the Syrian military fired at the rebels, killing at least 16

Overlooking orchards spilling down the mountainside, the platform was the perfect spot for the local daytrippers to watch battle commence.

‘I can see the terrorists at the checkpoint,’ Majd Abu Akl, a Druze Israeli farmer, looking east through binoculars to Syria, told the Financial Times.

He identified some of the men as belonging to the Nusra Front by their black uniforms, while others were driving around in UN jeeps with black ISIS flags.

Israelis, who have long considered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad their bitter foe, are now worried about the threat of the ever-nearing militants.

‘There is a battle for control on the other side of the border; we are watching it carefully,’ said Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defence forces.  So far it hasn’t been pointed in our direction, but we need to be prepared for that day.’

Even if we are to assume that some of the Israelis seen in the photo came to his extremely popular lookout site specifically to watch the fighting, the big question which leaps to mind is how on earth the Daily Mail was able to establish that they came because they get perverse “ghoulish” pleasure in watching the death and destruction.

Finally, in a classic case of burying the lead, the next passage in the article highlights another dynamic related to ISIS.

It comes as a report of a gathering of ‘thousands’ of ISIS supporters at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount has increased concerns that the extremist group’s sights are focused on Israel as a future target.

So, to recap:

1. A few dozen Israeli tourists go to Mt. Bental, where those “armed with binoculars” can evidently see fighting between Islamist rebels and Syrian government forces over the Quneitra border crossing.

2. Thousands of Palestinians showed up at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to show their support for barbaric jihadists known as ISIS.

3. The Daily Mail frames the story by speculating on the ill-motives of the Israeli tourists, while brushing aside (evidently as morally insignificant) the ugly spectacle of thousands of Palestinians showing their support for ISIS. 

As our analysis of the UK media’s coverage of the region consistently indicates, not only do foreign journalists see their job as making sure that “every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported”, but in fact often manage to frame even the most benign and innocent Israeli behavior in the most negative light possible.

Read Yiftah Curiel’s Guardian op-ed: ‘Hamas is single biggest barrier to peace’

, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London, published an op-ed at the Guardian titled ‘Hamas is the single biggest barrier to peace in Gaza‘.

yiftach

We encourage you to read it, and comment below the line.

 

Financial Times correspondent John Reed declares Hamas a ‘winner’

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which do not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie”

This is a quote by George Orwell about news reports during the Spanish Civil War, but, as former AP correspondent Matt Friedman explained in his masterful Tablet essay (An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth), Orwell’s words are just as apt in characterizing the media’s egregiously misleading coverage of Israel and the war in Gaza. 

The Orwell quote (cited by Friedman in his article) came to mind when we read the following passages in a report in the London-based Financial Times by John Reed titled ‘War in Gaza: Winners and Losers‘, which happened to overlap with Hamas’s own surreal assessment of the war.

Here’s the relevant passage in Reed’s report:

ft

Let’s take it apart:

Reed:

Before Protective Edge, Gaza’s ruling Islamist movement was in a corner. It was politically isolated, bankrupt, unable to pay its civil servants and forced by circumstances to reconcile with arch-rival Fatah.

And, after the war, Hamas is politically isolated, bankrupt, and still unable to pay its civil servants. Further, the current ceasefire deal which Hamas agreed to is almost exactly like the one Egypt proposed (which Israel accepted) but Hamas rejected on July 15, one week into the conflict, before the IDF destroyed their terror tunnels, and killed some of their top leaders.  

Hamas’s decision to reject the July 15th proposal represented a colossal miscalculation, and resulted in more Hamas fighters killed, a much greater depletion of their rocket capacity, and no perceivable military, strategic or political benefit.

Other Hamas ‘demands’ which haven’t been agreed to by Israel in the current ceasefire include opening a sea port and an airport in Gaza, and releasing additional Palestinian prisoners.

Reed:

In this context, the war was a welcome development. Hamas, for the third time in five years, confronted one of the world’s best armies and managed to hold on to power, calculating correctly that Israel would never embark on a longer and bloodier ground war in order to topple it.

How low can you set the bar? The mere fact that they ‘held on to power’ is a victory? Again, he doesn’t explain what concrete achievements they can reasonably boast. Also, it’s interesting that Reed fails to explain how the war was a “welcome development” for Palestinian civilians.

Reed:

Hamas rockets, built painstakingly over years by blockade-busting tactics, sent people across Israel running into shelters, killing six civilians and bringing most flights at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport to a halt for two days in July.

It’s almost as if Reed admires Hamas’s ‘grit’ in diverting humanitarian aid (which could have helped Gaza’s economy) for terror purposes. Plus, it’s interesting how such Jerusalem based correspondents covering the war, such as Reed, who almost universally downplayed the threat posed to Israeli civilians by the thousands of Hamas rockets, can now suggest that these same rockets ‘successfully’ terrorized Israel by killing six civilians, and sending them fleeing for bomb shelters. 

Reed:

Although much of Hamas’s arsenal is now depleted and many of its tunnels destroyed, fighting Israel to another ceasefire plays as a victory for many of its supporters.

Talk about burying the lead!  So, despite the fact that “Hamas’s [rocket] arsenal is now depleted and many [sic] of its tunnels destroyed”, Reed still maintains that a victory was achieved. 

Reed:

As after Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, Hamas can begin firing again if it chooses. Granted, when the dust settles from this conflict and its spoils and destruction become clearer to Gazans, they could potentially turn on Hamas. There is no sign of this happening yet, however.

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles preventing Gazans from “turning on Hamas” is not any objective assessment of the war’s “achievements’ per se, but, rather, scenes such as these:

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

Finally, here are some facts ignored by Reed in his assessment:

  • IDF attacked 5,263 targets across Gaza during the war, hitting rocket launching sites, arms and munitions factories and warehouses, as well as the offices of Hamas commanders. Several top Hamas commanders and hundreds of Hamas fighters were killed. Over 34 known tunnels were destroyed.
  • Out of the 4,564 rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza, over 475 landed in Gaza, killing an unknown number of Palestinians. 3,641 exploded in Israeli territory, but only 224 actually hit residential areas, while the remaining rockets fell in open areas; The Iron Dome intercepted at least 735. Six Israeli civilians were killed.

To simply state that Reeds’s assessment of Hamas’s achievements ‘does not bear any relation to the facts’ is an understatement of enormous proportions. 

Everything you always wanted to know about media coverage of Israel but were afraid to ask

In carrying out this blog’s mission, we often attempt to contextualize Guardian/UK media coverage of Israel and the Jewish world by explaining not only what they get wrong, but also why they get it wrong.

eye_stardavid400x246_3k8lxgc5Tablet Magazine just published a long and extremely important article (by former AP correspondent Matti Friedman) which masterfully dissects such institutional bias against Israel – in the broader Western media – and we strongly encourage those who’ve thought seriously about the subject to read the 4,000 word essay in full.

Here are some excerpts:

Intro:

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; 

How Important Is the Israel Story?

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel.

What Is Important About the Israel Story, and What Is Not

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate

Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011, I…counted 27 separate articles, an average of a story every two days….this seven-week tally was higher than the total number of significantly critical stories about Palestinian government and society, including the totalitarian Islamists of Hamas, that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.

The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP

What Else “Isn’t” Important?

In early 2009..two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story….

This decision taught me a lesson that should be clear to consumers of the Israel story: Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.

How Is the Israel Story Framed?

The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls—0.2 percent of the Arab world—in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries…

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party

The Old Blank Screen

For centuries, stateless Jews played the role of a lightning rod for ill will among the majority population. They were a symbol of things that were wrong. Did you want to make the point that greed was bad? Jews were greedy. Cowardice? Jews were cowardly. Were you a Communist? Jews were capitalists. Were you a capitalist? In that case, Jews were Communists. Moral failure was the essential trait of the Jew…

Like many Jews who grew up late in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents. One thing I have learned…is that I was foolish to have done so. Today, people in the West tend to believe the ills of the age are racism, colonialism, and militarism. The world’s only Jewish country has done less harm than most countries on earth, and more good—and yet when people went looking for a country that would symbolize the sins of our new post-colonial, post-militaristic, post-ethnic dream-world, the country they chose was this one.

Who Cares If the World Gets the Israel Story Wrong?

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer…requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is not democracy or modernity. It is rather an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots

Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. 

Read the rest of the essay here.

Dishonourable Brits: Why the Guardian can’t distinguish between Semites & anti-Semites

If a radical right-wing U.S. group possessed an ideology which was homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic, and continually attempted to murder a historically oppressed minority to clean the region of their ‘pernicious influence’ – due to their fundamentalist interpretation of a religious text – anti-racist commentators at the Guardian would stand proudly on the side of the besieged minority and rightfully demonize the racist extremist group.

Transplant this scenario to the Mid-East (and replace the white sheets with black face masks and green headbands) however, and such moral clarity – which distinguishes between a racist extremist group and the minorities they’re targeting – often gets blurred.

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In a review of BBC2’s The Honourable Woman, the Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent Julian Borger (Can The Honourable Woman teach us anything about the Gaza conflict?, Aug. 20) presents another example of media group’s profound moral confusion when interpreting conflicts between Israel and Islamist extremists.

Borger characterizes the show as “a tale of intrigue, betrayal and silk blouses set against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, and then adds: “Whether we will have learned anything about Gaza or the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is another matter”.

Border then writes:

So the ruthless and omnipotent assassin, a regular plot device of political thrillers, is in this case a Palestinian militant. Just like the show’s American inspiration, Homelandit revives the spectre of the Arab bogeyman as the evil genius among us, ghosting across borders on false passports. 

This is understandably vexing for Palestinians. After all, it is Mossad that has won itself the reputation in recent years for sending assassins to kill abroad on forged identity papers. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have largely fought their battles on home turf with much blunter methods.

Likewise, the agony of liberal British Jews looking on in horror at the bloodletting in Israel and the Palestinian territories is true to life. What feels like a sentimental anachronism is the central premise in the plot: that they can do anything to change it. It is hard to imagine in these dark times that it would be so easy for a well-meaning Jewish philanthropist to breeze through the West Bank and for her saccharine, slightly condescending speeches to be received so admiringly by Palestinian students. Hard to imagine, too, that Nessa Stein would have such an easy time of it in Netanyahu’s Israel. These days, there would be rightwing mobs outside her doveish events, chanting: “Death to the Arabs.”

Leaving aside Borger’s risible suggestion that Palestinian jihadist groups have shown more restraint than Israel when carrying out attacks on their enemies, the Guardian editor’s review is notable in which political actor in the Middle East is identified as the racist (Jewish mobs chanting “death to Arabs”) and which one is the unfairly stereotyped minority (the “Arab bogeyman”).

It’s important to read such passages in the context of the Guardian overall coverage of both the current war between Hamas and Israel, and the broader Israeli-Islamist Conflict.

Though Guardian correspondents sometimes note that Hamas is ‘considered’ a terrorist group by much of the West, their reporters, editors and commentators almost never explain to their readers that Hamas is an antisemitic extremist group - a reactionary racist, violent, fundamentalist movement at odds with the liberal, enlightenment values they claim to champion.

Whilst the Guardian never tires in highlighting racism (real or imagined) expressed by the most unrepresentative fringe elements in Israeli society, they almost uniformly avoid mentioning that the group currently ruling Gaza literally calls for the extermination of Jews.  It simply isn’t possible for UK news consumers to clearly understand the battles being waged in Israel and Gaza while ignorant of this fundamental fact about Hamas’s eliminationist antisemitism.

Reports about ceasefire negotiations between the two parties in Cairo which merely emphasize that Hamas demands a loosening of the Israeli blockade, while ignoring that their end goal continues to be the annihilation of the only Jewish state, are akin to media reports during WWII noting Germany’s territorial aspirations without any context regarding Hitler’s belief in Aryan racial supremacy and his wish to exterminate Jews and other ‘undesirables’.

On the other hand, it is heartening to see the support – among many Guardian contributors – for the West’s efforts to rein in an apocalyptic and genocidal Middle-East based, Sunni extremist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood with a global expansionist worldview, which targets civilians, ruthlessly murders its enemies, possesses a pathological hatred for Jews and advocates Sharia Law over universal human rights.

However, whilst we’re of course referring to ISIS (Islamic State), we also just accurately described the fundamental ideological orientation of Hamas.

So, what accounts for such a profound moral inconsistency? Why are Palestinian jihadists not like the other jihadists?   

Though antisemitism is one factor which partly explains this phenomenon (among some Guardian contributors and journalists), the more widespread political dynamics at play are moral relativism, an egregiously skewed understanding of anti-imperialism, a glorification of ‘Palestinian resistance’ and an obsession with Jews and Israel  - in short, the signature ideological ticks of the Guardian Left.

There is, however, one more factor. 

We are often asked if we believe the Guardian to be institutionally antisemitic.  While their obsessive and almost entirely negative coverage of the Jewish State fans the flame of antisemitism, this writer, for one, does not believe the media group is compromised institutionally by anti-Jewish racism.

It may be more accurate to observe in the Guardian worldview a capacity to forcefully condemn antisemitism in the abstract, but an inability to summon such righteous indignation when doing so would require parting company with other ‘historically oppressed’ groups, and indeed challenge their very ideological identity.

In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community. 

What the Guardian won’t report: new evidence about Hamas Human Shields

The following information was recently released by the IDF, adding to the already widespread evidence that Hamas has continually employed the tactic of ‘Human Shields’ throughout the conflict – a blatant violation of international law that the Guardian continues to ignore or even justify.

Hate emerges from beneath the surface: Antisemitism in the UK (July 2014)

Cross posted from The CST

July 2014 now joins January 2009 as a month when war between Israel and Hamas caused antisemitism to spew forth across Britain. If this latest round of Middle East violence has now ended, then we may expect the antisemitism to gradually diminish: but this hatred has again been revealed, even if most of the time it lies beneath the surface. Are British Jews (and those elsewhere) to be forever held hostage to a seemingly intractable conflict in which totalitarian Jihadists are sworn to destroy Israel at whatever cost?

Members of the public expressing fears and concerns to CST have referenced this in different ways. One said she felt “stuck in a swamp“. Another said that the hatred had come from “ordinary people, not what or who we expect it from…its the underlying antisemitism, and now that they’ve put it out there, how are we supposed to put it back?“. It may sound trite to speak of Jews defriending others on Facebook, but anecdotally, this seems to be happening again and again, with Jews deeply upset by what this conflict has revealed about those whom they believed to be their friends (in all meanings of the word).

Bare statistics do not, cannot, explain the emotion that many people are feeling right now: but they are stark. CST has now recorded over 200 antisemitic incidents for July 2014, making it very clearly the second worst month we have seen since our records began in 1984. (The worst was Jan’ 2009, when 288 incidents were recorded. The second worst was Feb’ 2009, with 114 incidents.) The July 2014 total is not yet finalised, because it takes time to properly analyse and categorise all of the reports reaching us from throughout Britain right now, so the figure of 200 is an absolute minimum.

Of course, antisemitic incidents occur every day, week and month of the year. CST recorded 304 between January and June 2014 (a rise of 36% from 2013). We now have over 200 in one month, so the maths are clear. Not every July incident relates to the Israel-Hamas conflict, but the majority do. Without listing every one of them, it is almost impossible to convey the scale and the impact of the invective, but each and every incident involves at least one victim and at least one perpetrator. They come randomly at Jews and Jewish locations throughout the country. Many of them appear to be perpetrated by Muslim youth and adults, but by no means all. That this racism is perpetrated in the name of human rights (for Palestinians) is bizarre, but nothing new: although it does help explain the deafening silence from the self-titled anti-racism movement. (Hope not Hate does not fit this category and is a strong exception.)

The hatred is showing clear trends. Shouting “Free Gaza” on a pro-Palestinian demonstration is not antisemitic: but obviously is when yelled at a random Jew in the street, or when daubed on a synagogue wall.  The same goes for screams of “child murderer”, shouted at Jews or pinned on a synagogue. Then, there is the ever present antisemitic fixation with Nazism. This comes two ways, Jews being told that they are the new Nazis, or Jews being told that “Hitler was right” (a phrase that trended on Twitter).

Child murderer has a long history in antisemitism, almost 2,000 years longer than Nazism does. The accusation of Jews having killed Jesus, the embodiment of innocence, moved into medieval blood libels. Some Jews perceive sections of the UK media as having focussed to such an extent upon Gazan child victims in this latest conflict that it somehow indicates that these blood libels still lurk somewhere deep. Others would counter that this kind of ‘unconscious antisemitism’ argument is ridiculous and that the media could not focus upon dead and injured children if they did not actually exist, nor in such numbers. The fact remains: British Jews are being called child-murderers.

The Nazi slanders and threats are not in mainstream media, but the question ‘why didn’t Jews / Israel learn the lessons of the Holocaust?’ has been. This is surely repellent to the overwhelming majority of Jews. It comes posed as a question, but really it is a demand. Whatever its motivation, it smells of Jew-Israel-Nazi equivalence and ‘we are holier than thou’.

The super-heated arguments of how the media covers Israel are not strictly CST’s business; and neither are boycotts of Israel. Nevertheless, it is impossible to discuss how Jews feel right now without noting how both things impact upon antisemitism, upon how Jews are perceived and how Jews themselves feel.

One need not be a dyed in the wool defender of Israel, nor even a Zionist, to suspect that no other country on earth appears to evoke such passion and hatred. We need not cite Syria right now, nor Sri Lanka in 2009, because Britain itself has killed civilians in the Middle East in recent years, children included. Yet it is only one section of British society that is called “child-murderers”, or “Nazis”, or is told that Hitler should have wiped them all out.

Less rhetorically, we must note that antisemitic incidents will subside along with the images on people’s television screens, but the long term damage to Jews of anti-Israel boycotts will persist. Dry statistics help us to measure the raw impact of this. If someone engages in “criticism of Israel” then 6% of British Jews consider that person “definitely antisemitic” and 27% answer “probably antisemitic”. If that person supports a boycott of Israel, then 34% of British Jews consider them “definitely antisemitic” and 33% “probably antisemitic”. So, boycott of Israel is a tipping point for most Jews in regarding criticism as being antisemitic or not. One consequence of this latest Israel-Hamas war will be a lot more boycotts, either through choice (such as trade unions and cultural venues) or through intimidation (such as commercial outlets). Just as Israel is being singled out for scrutiny and boycott, so many Jews are going to feel the same way.

When the Jewish Film Festival is given a ‘ditch your Israeli Embassy link’ ultimatum by the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, it betrays how British Jews’ connections to Israel are the measure by which others judge them. The same applies to the National Union of Students decision to boycott Israel, which promises no end of trouble and intimidation for Jewish students. Then, there are the mass intimidations of supermarkets that dare to sell Israeli goods, some of which have actually been forced to briefly stop trading as a result. (As cheerfully relayed here by a Labour MP.)

Finally, two antisemitic incidents out of over two hundred, giving the merest hint of recent events. The first speaks volumes of how Jews risk being expected to behave: and the reactions they risk upon refusal.

1. Street in Bradford, evening of 26th July. A Jewish man and his wife were driving when they became caught in slow moving traffic due to an accident up the road. Every car in the queue was being stopped by a group of apparently Muslim men and women, carrying buckets and asking for money for Gaza. The Jewish man politely declined to donate, whereupon “you f**king Jewish bastard!” was shouted at him. Then, another man used a loudhailer to also shout “you f**king Jewish bastard!” at him. Next, “Jewish bastard coming down the road!” was shouted down the street to alert each of the other collectors.

2. Synagogue in Hove, 2nd August (photo by F.Sharpe)

Hove shul