‘Comment is Free’ publishes an essay by a Hamas leader…again.

IDF strikes on Nov. 18 knocked out the Hamas television stations Al Aqsa and Al Quds in Gaza, but Hamas leaders were likely not too concerned, and knew they could always count on Plan B: Propagandizing at the Guardian.

In fact, later that same day, Nov. 18, a ‘Comment is Free’ essay by the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Musa Abumarzuq, was published – one out of several members of the Islamist terror group who has been published by the paper which aspires to be the ‘world’s leading liberal voice’.

Other than Abumarzuq, who published a previous essay at CiF in 2011, the list includes Hamas ‘Prime Minister’ Ismail Haniyeh, their head of international relations Osama Hamdan, and their advisor‘, Azzam Tamimi.

Abumarzuq’s piece, ‘We in the Gaza Strip will not die in silence‘, is full of unserious, vitriolic claims befitting a group whose founding charter cites the antisemitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ as “proof” that Jews indeed are trying to take over the world.

However, Abumarzuq also advances a narrative of Israeli villainy which had already found fertile ground within the Guardian coven of “journalists” and commentators.  Echoing the “analysis” of  Harriet SherwoodSimon Tisdall, Ahdaf Soueif, and Jonathan Freedland, on the “real reasons” for Israeli operation ‘Pillar of Defense’, the Hamas apparatchik writes the following:

“With the approach of the Israeli elections, the Israeli prime minister,Binyamin Netanyahu, wanted to trade with the blood of the Palestinians, especially after his alliance with the ultra-extremist Avigdor Lieberman failed to boost his popularity in the polls as he’d expected. This is not the first time the Israelis have launched a war for electoral gain. Shimon Peres did it to Lebanon in 1996 and the Olmert-Livni-Barak alliance did it to Gaza in 2008.”

Interestingly,  Abumarzuq’s rhetoric is restrained compared to Ahdaf Soueif (a frequent CiF contributor) who, in her piece, literally accused Israeli leaders of murdering Palestinian children for political gain.

Turning to the issue of supreme concern to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, “human rights”, Abumarzuq complains thus:

“The human rights that Europe claims to defend all over the world are denied to the Palestinian people.”

Which freedoms are cruelly denied to Palestinians, per Abumarzuq?

“The right of people to resist occupation and confront aggression is guaranteed to all peoples; but if Palestinians seek to exercise this right it immediately becomes terrorism and for this they must be persecuted.”

Yes, of course. The Palestinians’ ‘universal’ right of “resistance”, murdering civilians with impunity, is stymied by their cruel Jewish oppressors.

Abumarzuq then adds the following:

“The Israeli military attacks on Gaza did not stop after the last Gaza war. Since 2009, 271 Palestinians have been killed, compared to three Israeli deaths.”

The numbers he cites about Israeli deaths are incorrect.

There have been 3 Israeli deaths since Nov. 14, when operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ began, but the Israeli death toll from Gaza terror attacks since 2009 is 13, not 3.

While you can contact the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, at readers@guardian.co.uk, to request that Abumarzuq’s lie be corrected, perhaps you should consider asking Mr. Elliott a more pertinent question:

How does he reconcile the ‘progressive’ politics he and the paper he works for evidently aspire to with their decision to continue providing a platform to violent religious extremists who represent ultra right-wing values on issues such as democracy, freedom of the press, the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities?

Though I don’t expect anything resembling an honest answer from Elliott, he and his colleagues need to be confronted with the mounting evidence of their supreme moral hypocrisy. 

Islamism, and the Guardian left’s moral complicity with antisemitism

“In the Middle East, [antisemitism] has taken on a particularly dangerous, toxic and potentially genocidal aura of hatred…

Islamist anti-Semitism is thoroughly soaked in many of the most inflammatory themes that initially made possible the atrocities of…the Holocaust.

For example, the pervasive use of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion with its perennial theme of the “Jewish conspiracy for world domination;” or the medieval blood-libel imported to the Muslim world from Christian Europe; or the vile stereotypical image of the Jews as a treacherous, rapacious, and bloodthirsty people engaged in a ceaseless plotting to undermine the world of Islam”.Professor Robert Wistrich

It is time to take seriously the question asked by the prolific Robin Shepherd  in the June 8th edition of The Commentator – following the publication at ‘Comment is Free’ of an essay by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh – Is the Guardian the most bigoted newspaper in Britain?

Shepherd writes:

“Which of these propositions do you think is correct; and can you identify a moral distinction between them?

The Guardian newspaper has just run an article by someone advocating that black people be returned to the status of slaves.

The Guardian newspaper has just run an article suggesting that landlords be allowed to put up notices saying that Irish people and dogs need not apply for housing.

The Guardian newspaper has just run an article by a political leader whose foundational charter advocates the murder of Jews and promotes conspiracy theories that would not have looked out-of-place in Nazi Germany.

No prizes for guessing that the third of those propositions is correct on a factual basis. The morality? It’s a race to the bottom.

But given that anti-Semitism gave rise to the greatest single crime in human history, and that the Holocaust was the culmination of a series of horrific crimes that shame every civilisation that has been a party to it… well, you make up your own mind.

On Friday, the Guardian ran a piece in its opinion section by none other than Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas in Gaza and now, it appears, a perfectly acceptable room-mate for the leading voice in Britain’s Liberal-Left.

Let’s not even get into the question of Hamas‘s attitude to gays and women – they support hanging the former and suppressing the latter. (By the way, it’s the gay pride festival today in Tel Aviv, and of course Gaza – no, sorry that last bit was a joke, a sick one, but not as sick as the Guardian editors who commissioned Hamas to write a piece for them.)” 

Shepherd’s question is an urgent one and it demands seriousness of mind.

Here is our case, based on evidence accumulated over the last several months (but certainly consistent with similar coverage of the Guardian, and its blog, Comment is Free, since the launch of CiF Watch in 2009).

The Guardian has published multiple essays by leaders of Hamas: a group which advocates genocidal antisemitism. 

As I noted in my post in reply to Haniyeh’s CiF essay (The Guardian and Hamas: Willing dupe and immutable victim), June 8th, this is not a Guardian one-off. In fact, since 2011 the broadsheet which aspires to be the “world’s leading liberal voice” has published essays by the Islamist terror group’s head of international relations (Osama Hamdan), its advisor (Azzam Tamimi), and the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau (Musa Abumarzuq).

As Shepherd noted, the Guardian – by publishing articles by Hamas members – is in essence endorsing, as consistent with liberal thought (insofar as they oppose Zionism), a highly reactionary, religious extremist and violent political movement which advocates the murder of Jews and promotes conspiracy theories about the dangers of world Jewry in a manner indistinguishable from history’s most lethal antisemitic movements.

The Guardian ‘Live Blog from Gaza’ included a Palestinian blogger who advocates violence against Israelis and writes for an extreme right antisemitic Palestinian publication.

Their recent Live Blog from Gaza included a piece by Nader Elkhuzundar (whom the Guardian describes as a ‘Young Gaza blogger’) on Jun 8th.  

As Harry’s Place noted, Elkhuzundar maintains a blog called Sleepless in Gazawhich (in one entry) suggests Palestinians should “kill a Zionist“. 

Elkhuzundar is also a writer for the Palestine Telegraph; a racist paper known for praising Gilad Atzmon’s “courageous” new book, publishing an antisemitic video by former KKK grand wizard David Duke, as well as running an article claiming that World Wars 1 and 2 were both Jewish plots.

The Guardian’s advocacy for antisemitic Islamists: charge of ‘supremacy’ against the UK Jewish community at ‘Comment is Free’.

The Guardian produced a plethora of articles - all eerily similar in their support for an antisemitic Islamist extremist named Raed Salah (the various articles  uniformly described  him as a ‘Palestinian activist’) – despite undeniable evidence of Salah’s support for Hamas, reciting a poem advancing the antisemitic medieval  blood libel and propagating the antisemitic conspiracy that  the attacks on 9/11 were an Israeli plot (i.e., Jews were warned not to go to work at the World Trade Center on that day).

Further, after his hearing in the UK, Salah took a moral victory lap on the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ where he accused Zionists and their Jewish supporters in the UK of subscribing to the doctrine of ‘supremacy': Britain’s duty to the Palestinian people, April 19th 2012.

Despite the hideous antisemitic pedigree of the charge that Jews are supremacists (which, as we noted in several emails to Guardian readers editor Chris Elliott, represents the ideas of David Duke and Gilad Atzmon), the passage remains on the pages of CiF to this day.

The Guardian refused to acknowledge the antisemitic motives of Islamist murderer of Jews in France.

In an official Guardian editorial – published after the Islamist background and antisemitic motivation of the Toulouse murderer Mohammed Merah (a self-styled al Qaeda jihadist) became known – the word “antisemitism” was not used, nor was the Jewish identity of four victims mentioned. It should be noted that it was widely reported in the press that Merah admitted antisemitic motivations, and said he attacked the Jewish school to avenge Palestinian children, stating “The Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”

A pattern of the Guardian burying evidence of Palestinian/Islamist antisemitism. 

All of the recent stories represent a clear pattern. There exists a ubiquity of Islamist antisemitism in the Middle East which scholar Robert Wistrich has compared to Nazi Germany at its worst:

Wrote Wistrich:

“The scale and extremism of the literature and commentary available in Arab or Muslim newspapers, journals, magazines, caricatures, on Islamist websites, on the Middle Eastern radio and TV news, in documentaries, films, and educational materials, is comparable only to that of Nazi Germany at its worst.”

A six month study of the Guardian’s ‘Palestinian territories’ page, published here, for example, demonstrated that there was not one article published on the subject of Palestinian antisemitism. (Though this blog has limits in terms of our capacity for research, my working assumption is that a much longer survey would produce similar findings on the paucity of reports by Guardian reporters on rampant Jew hatred in the region.)

In addition, nowhere on the Guardian’s Iran page, for instance, will you find mention of the fact that a website with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, had outlined why it would be religiously acceptable to kill all Jews in Israel – a doctrine, as reported by the Mail Online, which details why the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of all its people would be legally and morally justified and in accordance to Islamic doctrine.

Also not reported by the Guardian: per a recently released WikiLeaks cable:

‘[In] January [2009], during a sermon broadcast on Al Jazeera Arabic, [Muslim Brotherhood Spiritual Leader] Imam Yousef Al-Qaradawi condemned Jews for spreading “corruption in the land,” and for victimizing the Muslim people. He said “We wait for the revenge of Allah to descend upon them, and, Allah willing, it will be by our own hands…Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.” [emphasis mine]

In conclusion, the Guardian’s faults of commission and omission, include: 

  • Licensing Islamist terror movements which openly seek the murder of Jews and advance antisemitic conspiracy theories.
  • Framing as ‘progressive”, and often as victims, Islamists who support the anti-Zionist cause while ignoring their clear record of Judeophobic rhetoric.
  • Burying even the most undeniable evidence of antisemitic Islamist motivation for violence in Europe.
  • Failing to report on antisemitism in the Middle East, hatred which would could serve to better contextualize, for the Guardian’s readers, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

So why does the Guardian choose not to see Islamist antisemitism and how can it continue to frame adherents to this dangerous movement as victims (and often protagonists) even when engaging in the most cruel, racist and reactionary political behavior against Jews?

Is it due to a political orthodoxy, informed by Western guilt, which sees Israel and the Middle East through a facile post-colonial (and morally pre-assigned) victim-perpetrator paradigm?

To some degree such questions of ideological ‘first causes’ are moot.
 
For whatever reasons, by failing to report (to their enormous liberal readership) the political pathologies of the Middle East – those whose malign obsession with Jews represent the central address of antisemtism in the modern era – the Guardian, and all who legitimize this media institution, are morally complicit with anti-Jewish racism.
 
One simply cannot claim the mantle of passionate opposition to racism whilst turning a blind eye to its Islamist variety.
 

The bottom line is that the Guardian consistently enables, covers for, excuses, and (mostly) ignores, Islamist Judeophobia.  By framing Ismail Haniyeh, Raed Salah and Shiekh Yousef Qaradawi – the intellectual heirs to Streicher and Goebbels – not as would-be  homicidal Jew haters but as the oppressed and downtrodden, the wretched of the earth – “activists”, liberals and reformers – the Guardian is engaged in a dangerous cognitive assault on the Jewish people.

Islamism is the most dangerous antisemitic movement in the world today, and it pains me that it pains so many to read those words. The Third Reich was defeated sixty-seven years ago and it is time for true liberals to fight the good fight and not cower in the face of a supremely politically inconvenient – yet enormously dangerous – enemy.  

In the classic ‘fight or flight’ instinct which history records with merciless accuracy often years too late, the Guardian represents the instinct to succumb to intellectual fads and enforced political orthodoxies over serious moral thought and urgent action. Cowardliness in the face of danger: life’s ultimate moral and intellectual abdication.

Those who understand the stakes, fancy themselves liberals, and consider themselves unabashed friends of the Jews, should not have to think hard when pondering the danger Islamism represents in the context of the age old battle against antisemitism (from antiquity to the modern day).

And, finally:

It should not be mentally taxing to understand intuitively that it is never Islamophobic to be unapologetically philo-Semitic.

The Guardian has failed miserably to comprehend these vital truths – are indeed hostile, and stand athwart, from the actions they demand – and so the institution should rightfully be seen as representing, to the Jewish people and their allies, an enemy in our midst. 

 

If they’re Jews send them back!

This is cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

Yesterday, CST Blog ran two separate items in the one posting: 1. part of an article about “American/neo-con ‘Long War’ to create a “New Middle East”…US/Zionist plans”: 2. an anti-Israel activist shouting “go back to bloody Russia” at a pro-Israel activist. We asked if you could guess which discourse came from a leading member of the BNP, and which came from a leading member of the Respect Party.

In truth, it was all a bit disingenuous. If a Respect activist had written yet another article about Americans, neo-cons and Zionists, then nobody would have noticed. Furthermore, Respect has fallen apart (even compared to the BNP).

So, the answer to yesterday’s quiz – The neo-con/Zionist article was written by BNP leader, Nick Griffin; and “go back to bloody Russia” was shouted by Tower Hamlets Respect chair, Carole Swords.

We can ponder if Griffin, especially in his younger days, may have heard the ugly old racist refrain:

If they’re black, send them back!

Its about as plain an example of racism as you will ever hear.

Carole Swords, however, is politically the opposite of this sort of filth. In its own little way, her outburst typifies the disconnect between common sense anti-racist principles and what passes for acceptable anti-Israel discourse in the anti-Israel movement.

Of course, we have been here before, in particular with last year’s highly publicised case of veteran US White House reporter, Helen Thomas, disgraced after telling Israeli Jews that they should “Go home, Poland, Germany”. 

There, are, however, far more important voices than Swords and Thomas in all of this. There is, for example, senior Hamas figure, Osama Hamdan, who this May told a TV interviewer, of the approach that the newly reconciled Fatah and Hamas groups would take towards Israel:

…Yes, it will be an armed confrontation, as well as all other forms of struggle, including civil Intifdada against the occupation, against the wall, and against the Judaization of Jerusalem.

There is no doubt, however, that the armed confrontation will continue to be the main effort and the backbone of the resistance, until the liberation of Palestine.

…I think that politically, the two-state solution is over. The people who suggested this notion are the ones who say so. Therefore, trying to talk about a two-state solution again is like talking about something that is over and done with.

…we are entering the phase of the liberation of Palestine. When we talk about the liberation of Palestine, we are talking about the notion of Return: the return of the refugees to their homeland, and the return of the Israelis to the countries from which they came.

Carole Swords does not restrict her passions to Tower Hamlets. She is the creator of the Viva Palestina facebook page; and was on the Viva Palestina convoy to Hamas-led Gaza in September/October 2010. Osama Hamdan, who warns of the imminent armed confrontation and “the return of the Israelis from which they came” is not just any old Hamas leader. He is the Head of Hamas Foreign Relations Department, so is a man we can expect knows about Viva Palestina, whether he knows Carole Swords is of course another matter entirely. (See him here, as a Guardian Comment is Free writer, forgetting to mention the forthcoming “armed confrontation” and subsequent deportation of Jews from Israel.)

Below, you can see Carole Swords in action. “Back to bloody Russia” is at 1 min 45 secs. Osama Hamdan should be told.    

The Guardian helps Hamas hitch a ride on the ‘Arab Spring’

You see it all the time: a pretty girl stands on the roadside, hitching a lift. The minute a driver pulls up, a boyfriend appears as if from nowhere out of the bushes and gets in the car too. That’s exactly what’s happening in the latest CiF article by a senior terrorist – Musa Abumarzuq – which appeared on May 24th. The pretty girl is a once respectable British newspaper. The scruffy boyfriend is Hamas, and the vehicle is the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.

This is of course far from the first time that the Guardian has published opinion pieces by known and prominent terrorists. Abumarzuq himself has been published in the past, albeit under different spelling of his name, as well as Osama Hamdan and Khalid Misha’al. I have asked the following question before, but seeing as the Guardian has yet to provide an answer, readers will surely bear with me if I repeat it.

Does the Guardian commission and pay for these epistles of Hamas propaganda? If so, how do the financial transactions take place, seeing as not only is Hamas classed as a proscribed terror organisation in the UK and therefore the transfer of funds to it is illegal, but Hamdan, Misha’al and Abumarzuq are, in addition, all named individuals among those whose assets have been frozen by the Bank of England since 2004 because of terror activity or links. 

“The Bank of England, as agent for Her Majesty’s Treasury, has today directed financial institutions that any funds which they hold for or on behalf of the individuals named below must be frozen.  This is because the Treasury have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the individuals are or may be persons who facilitate or participate in the commission of acts of terrorism or (in the case of Rantisi) may be a person who commits, facilitates or participates in the commission of acts of terrorism.

Individuals:

2. HAMDAN, USAMA

      DOB: 1964

Other Information: Senior HAMAS official. Based in Haret Hreik, Lebanon

3. MARZOUK, MUSA ABU

      DOB: 09/02/1951

POB: Gaza, Egypt

A.K.A.: (1) ABU MARZOOK, Mousa Mohammed

(2) ABU-MARZUQ, Dr Musa 

(3) ABU-MARZUQ, Sa’id

(4) ABU-‘UMAR

(5) MARZOOK, Mousa Mohamed Abou 

(6) MARZUK, Musa Abu. Passport Details: No 92/664 (Egypt)

Other Information: Senior HAMAS official

4. MISHAAL, KHALID

      DOB: 1956

POB: Silwad, Ramallah, West Bank (Palestinian Authority)

Other Information: Senior HAMAS official. Based in Damascus, Syria”

It would appear, therefore, that there are one of two possibilities: either the Guardian is breaking the law by paying these men for the articles it commissions from them, or it does not pay for them at all, but chooses to act as a willing platform where they can promote their propaganda to a gullible audience, presumably as and when they desire. Either way, it is surely the public’s right – and interest – to know the nature of the financial arrangements, if any, between the Guardian and Hamas.

Abumarzuq, of course, has a long and prolific history in getting on the wrong side of the law, including being indicted in the US for Hamas racketeering charges and deported twice from Jordan.  He is a founder of the ‘Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development’ – an organization whose assets were blocked by the United States government for funneling money to Hamas in what was dubbed “the largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history”.

It is therefore disturbing to say the least that any reputable editor should consider Abumarzuq’s opinions on American policy to be objective enough to warrant publication, but of course that small matter would not stop the Guardian from doing so. One has to wonder just how much that has to do with its associate editor Seumas Milne’s well-known penchant for both anti-Americanism (yes: if you tell the Americans that 9/11 was their own fault two days after the event, that’s anti) and radical-chic terrorist hugging.  After all, besides hobnobbing with members of Hamas and Hizbollah himself at conferences in sumptuous Gulf hotels, Milne is a longtime very close friend of George Galloway of ‘Viva Palestina’ fame; they reportedly speak daily.

“……two or three” of his [Galloway's] five closest friends are journalists. He has spoken to Seumas Milne of the Guardian and John Boothman, editor of BBC Scotland’s Holyrood Live, every day for 20 years or more. BBC news correspondent Bob Wylie is another close friend, as is Ron McKay, the man who commissioned Tony Benn’s television interview with Saddam. They, not his fellow MPs, are his political sounding boards. “

And surprise, surprise: here – courtesy of Harry’s Place just last October – is a touching snap of Seumas’ old friend and comrade George sitting right next to the (convicted in absentia)  terrorist Abumarzuq at a ‘Viva Palestina’ bash in Syria. 

However it found its way to the Guardian’s pages, Abumarzuq’s article contains some absolute corkers; text-book examples of the well-known Hamas tactic of repeating lies often enough until they become accepted truisms among its loyal groupies.

I especially liked this one:

“It never occurred to us that a time would come when we would turn against fellow Palestinians.”

So all that pushing political rivals off the top of tall buildings, kneecapping and spontaneous executions in the town square must have been done by Hamas’ evil twin?

Next, filed under ‘truth inversion’, we have this gem:

“The Israelis have reneged on every agreement signed with the Palestinian Authority.”

So remind me Musa – who instigated the second intifada and who, despite having committed themselves to the contrary under the terms of the first clause of the roadmap, is still promoting incitement in Palestinian schools, mosques and TV programs as well as naming public places and institutions after suicide bombers? Clue – it’s not the people with the blue and white flag.

Abumarzuq is especially annoyed that some might not be too keen on continuing to provide a steady flow of cash for the new Palestinian regime:

“Israel embarked on a diplomatic offensive to persuade European governments to withdraw economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority.”  

Obviously, Abumarzuq’s comprehension of European laws concerning the funding of terror is as lacking as his well-documented longtime disdain for the American equivalents.  And predictably – because it has become an essential mantra in any Guardian article on the Middle East of late – we see Abumarzuq trying to contort the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation into something to do with democracy and the ‘Arab Spring’.  

“As western governments have, individually and collectively, welcomed the democratic changes taking place in the Middle East, they should support a similar transformation in Palestine.”

“President Obama called for democracy for the entire region except Palestine. Instead of welcoming our reconciliation agreement with Fatah, he pronounced America’s deep reservations and anxiety; in total disregard for the aspirations of the Palestinian people. Someone should remind him that Hamas gained the majority in the last fair democratic elections in Palestine.”

Given that we are only too aware of the fact that Hamas’ commitment to democracy swiftly evaporated the minute it got into power, with repeat elections being long overdue and repeatedly stalled by Hamas refusal to engage in the democratic process, severe deterioration in the rights of women and minorities since Hamas began its rule of the Gaza strip and the extra-judicial murders of many of its political opponents, we might justifiably reach the conclusion that the Hamas interpretation of democracy should serve as a cautionary tale when relating to the ‘Arab Spring’ issue.

That view is further consolidated by the messages Hamas itself communicates to its people through its own media. 

H/T Jawa Report

One would not, of course, expect a die-hard Hamas member such as Abumarzuq to express any different opinions or distortions than those he parades in this article. One would, however, expect the editor of a Western newspaper to be capable of differentiating between ‘resistance bloc’ propaganda and the truth. The fact that the Guardian is not able – or willing – to do so indicates not only its complicity in normalising and mainstreaming terror, but suggests that it is in fact an active member of that ‘resistance bloc’, at least ideologically.

That fact was expressed beautifully a few weeks ago by Michael Weiss when he wrote the following words:

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult these days to determine where the al-Qassam Brigade’s unifying theory of world affairs ends and the Guardian‘s editorial line begins. This may be attributable a variety of causes including the cash-hemorraghing nature of journalism, changing British demographics, and the “radical winds” blowing in the Middle East that turn into smelly little zephyrs by the time they reach Europe. But not least among the causes is an easily fixed problem with personnel.”

Hear hear, and no amount of rapturous waffling about an ‘Arab Spring’ is going to conceal that.  

Slouching towards Hamas: A tale of two Guardian editorials

In less than a week we have seen two Guardian editorials published hailing the recent Hamas-Fatah reconciliation as the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Clearly, this represents the monochrome Guardian view of this development; a view which has no room for anything other than an almost religious acceptance of the merger and does not even attempt to discuss alternative views or potential pitfalls.

On April 29th as initial news of the Hamas-Fatah pact emerged, a nameless editor insisted that “tectonic plates start to shift“.  The really interesting aspect of this editorial was the extent to which it aimed to justify the Guardian’s own positions on the subject of the Middle East. We were told that the Hamas-Fatah agreement is a result of the ‘Arab Spring’ which the Guardian has been extremely busy promoting over these last few months.

Firstly, it was claimed that the publication of the ‘Palestine Papers’ – of course courtesy of the Guardian itself along with its leak-buddy Al Jazeera – had been instrumental in weakening the Palestinian Authority to such an extent that it had no choice but to do a deal with Hamas.  The second factor cited was the fall of Mubarak in Egypt and the third, Abbas’ disappointment with the US over its recent veto of a proposed UN motion.

Some of this may be true; certainly the deliberate misrepresentation of the ‘Palestine Papers’ by the Guardian and Al Jazeera as a ‘sell out’ of the ‘Palestinian cause’ on the part of the PA did plenty of damage (almost certainly pre-planned, deliberate and co-ordinated) to the ability of Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate and compromise, and even called the continued existence of the PA into question.

That, of course, suited Hamas and the other factions which reject negotiations very well indeed and a further clue to just how close the Guardian sails to Muslim Brotherhood ideology can be seen in the statement that “a future environment composed of free Egyptians, Jordanians and even possibly Syrians could well fashion Israel’s borders”.

As any informed observer of the regional events is aware, the Muslim Brotherhood appears to be set to make considerable headway in the elections to be held in Egypt in September. If that turns out to be the case, Egyptians will regrettably still be far from free. In Jordan the main opposition to the government is also instigated by the Muslim Brotherhood and that movement is also active in the uprisings in Syria.

In other words, when the Guardian editor says ‘free’, he does not use that word in the context in which the majority of readers would understand it. For him, ‘free’ means ruled according to sexist, homophobic and racist Islamist principles which just happen to align with the political ideologies to which he subscribes.

In the second editorial of May 5th, we see the (same?) editor trying to persuade us that the Hamas-Fatah agreement has the “capacity to change the scenery” in the Middle East. Predictably, the editorial blames Israel alone for the failure of peace negotiations, totally ignoring the Palestinian refusal to come to the negotiating table despite a plethora of confidence-building measures, concessions and a 10 month building freeze. Equally predictably, the editorial tries to raise the false flag of “territory” and “settlements” as the “core” issues of the conflict, blithely dismissing the subject of Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Continuing down the standard Guardian route whereby Palestinians can do no wrong (unless they try to negotiate with Israel), this editorial then goes on to invert the facts completely by pretending that Abbas was never offered a realistic treaty.

“Had Mahmoud Abbas been given a serious and imminent possibility of signing an agreement that established a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in Jerusalem, and one in which the Palestinian right of return had not been erased unilaterally from the reckoning, Mr Netanyahu might have had a case when he accused his counterpart of walking away from peace.”

Apart from the fact that Mahmoud Abbas was offered precisely such an agreement in 2008 by Ehud Olmert, as the whole world – despite the Guardian’s efforts – knows, what is really hilarious about this statement is that not only was it just a few weeks ago that the Guardian was chiding Abbas and his team for negotiating that very agreement, but the Hamas-Fatah merger which the Guardian is now so earnestly promoting will, by Hamas’ own declaration, put the lid on any chance of further negotiations taking place.

Both of these editorials are so off the wall in that they basically parrot Hamas propaganda  (just without the signature medieval-style rhetoric) that one cannot but suspect that they were penned by Seumas Milne, or at least by someone who has spent far too much time with him in an Islington wine-bar over a bottle of organic Chardonnay.

And if one wonders how a once respected liberal newspaper reached such bizarre depths, it may be worth taking into account that in addition to the Guardian’s long history of providing a platform for various Hamas members and sympathisers, members of its staff have also met with them annually at the Al Jazeera Forum in Doha for at least the past three consecutive years.

At this year’s conference in mid-March a session was held entitled “Palestinian National Strategy in the New Middle East” with the speakers CiF contributors Karma Nablusi and Osama Hamdan of Hamas, Mustafa Barghouti, Mahdi Abdul Hadi and Robert Malley who, interestingly, takes up many of the same themes as employed in these two Guardian editorials in his recent  commentary on Palestinian unity.

Live blogging of the discussion gives an idea of the prevailing mood within the rejectionist camp which preceded and possibly contributed to the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.

(All typos in the original)

Karma Nablusi: In every palestinian gathering, under occupation, in the homeland the same question is being asked… “Is this not our moment too?” but how do we get over teh internal divisions and the repression which has kept us divided and unable to unify?

Karma Nablusi: Make no mistake, the one thing we need is all our sectors at this moment. No one can lead but the people themselves.

Osamah Hamdan: The PLO regime has failed, the revolutions which have taken place in the region, we need to be positively careful since they have not succeeded yet but are on the right track. We have to wait for these people to reach their demands.

Osamah Hamdan: We have to go directly to our project which is the ending of the occupation , the liberation of the Palestinian land and then the Palestinian people can decide how to govern themselves.

Osamah Hamdan: The Palestine Papers are over now, we should move over to a new sqaure and talk about National Unity for the Palestinian people, wherever they are.

Osamah Hamdan: We want an initiative coming from Palestinian Will… we have started a discussion with the various Palestinian factions to bring a national consensus of leadership which will be accountable to the Palestinian people., it’s called the Palestinian National Project and is about Liberation and Return.

Osamah Hamdan: The Palestinian people who launched the intifadah in 2000 is capable now to develop its tool and political identity to achieve the goals of this project.

Mahdi Abdulhadi: We were at the centre of it with the Intifadah, and now we are at the centre of this movement. We need ot move up to the level of revolution or regress and move back. The Palestinian issue is nothing new, there are too many divisions internally.

Mustafa Barghouti: The Youth of Palestine want Freedom.We need 4 things 1) Resistance – we need all forms of resistance, particularly the popular palestinian resistance. We need to stop buying Israeli products. Third Intifada is what we need. The Arab revolutions have highlighted the strength of popular revolution

Mustafa Barghouti: 2) we need to awaken Popular Arab Revolution and co-operation to work with the Palestinian people to stop buying Israeli Products and boycotting Israeli products.

Mustafa Barghouti: 3) We need to heed the call to end Palestinian Division and Arab Division. This means regaining the role of the people. We have more than 5 million people in the diaspora, we have to bring them back to the womb of the country. We need a unified national strategy through an election. Al the parties have to review their positions, some political leaders must now open the doors to change for the Palestinian people. We don’t need patchwork, we need real change.

Rob Malley: Culture, – A movement that is divided, cannot prevail. Fatah is based on negotiation, Hamas is based on Fighting and right now Fatah is not negotiating and Hamas is not fighting!

Rob Malley: Those who have risen up in the revolutions were united. This is something that needs to be taken into account by the Palestinians.

Azam Tamimi: WE have to have a revolution against the Palestinian Authority as we have seen in Tunisia and Egypt. The PA was imposed on the Palestinians and they didn’t want one!

Participant: I believe the door is open and we don’t need any more discussion, we need to topple PA and really push the liberation. We also need to fight the settlers. They need to withdraw from the South of Gaza and of Lebanon.

Mustafa Barghouti: Nobody is negotiating at the moment so consequently there is nothing left except we built a national struggle which is organised and destroy the occupation

Ehab Bessaiso: We cannot when talking about the problem of resistance, we need one unifying base for resistance but we need to define what resistance is… We have apolitical demands. If we all agree that resistance is the right way with the option of dismantling the PA then we should not have an elitist conversation and get on with it.

It is more than apparent that the Hamas-Fatah merger needs to be looked at not only from the point of view of the Fatah weaknesses which undoubtedly contributed to its creation, as these two editorials do, but also from the aspect of the Hamas (and other rejectionist groups) strategy behind it. On that subject the Guardian is less keen to elaborate, but what is chillingly clear is that the way the Guardian is championing is directly opposed to negotiation, compromise and peace.

J St. Pro who? Pro what?

This essay was written by Hadar Sela.

The recent ‘Palestine papers’ leaks have ensured that even if the current caretaker Palestinian government does not collapse as a result of their revelations, it will now be exceedingly difficult  to resume the much-needed peace negotiations.

From the media commentary surrounding the leaks, it is also perfectly obvious that such a situation is far from undesirable for some, and in particular Hamas, which rejected and did its best to sabotage the latest round of discussions. The rejectionist stance, as taken by Hamas, was expressed by its representative Osama Hamdan in a recent op-ed in the Guardian.

“The Palestinian negotiators named and quoted in these documents have betrayed their people and the Palestinian cause. We are in no doubt that, as a result of these revelations, they have lost their credibility for good. It is unthinkable that the Palestinian people will ever approve any deal concluded with the Israelis by this team of negotiators, for they will always be suspected of selling out and of betraying the cause. The Palestinian people can never believe that what these individuals pledge in public reflects how they bargain or deal in private.”

However, the following quote dated September 2010  – four months prior to the ‘Palestine papers’ revelations and close to the commencement of the recent talks  – does not come from a Hamas website.

Many commentators expect the direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians to fail. But there is a much worse scenario: What if they “succeed?”

These are the words of a California-based think tank known as Al Shabaka or the Palestinian Policy Network, or alternatively  the Middle East Policy Network, which was established in April 2010 and engages in writing ‘policy briefs’ with the aim of ‘strategy development’ which in some cases is clearly designed to circumvent the Palestinian National Authority.

“Instead, next year is likely to see a grand ceremony where Palestinian leaders will sign away the right of return and other Palestinian rights in an agreement that would change little on the ground. The plan of the PA’s appointed prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to declare a Palestinian state in 2011 could unwittingly contribute to this outcome by providing the appearance of an “end of conflict” while the reality remains unchanged. If the rest of the world sees that the government of “Palestine” is satisfied with international recognition and a U.N. seat, they will be happy to move on to other problems leaving the Palestinians at Israel’s mercy.”

Al Shabaka boasts within its ranks many Palestinian academics and activists (a considerable number of whom are based abroad) including the leader of the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ movement Omar Barghouti, ‘electronic Intifada’ founder and member of Al Awda Ali Abunimah, Anis Kassim who helped present the Palestinian side in the 2004 ICJ ruling on Israel’s anti-terrorist fence, and Ameer Makhoul who was recently sentenced to nine years in prison for spying for Hizbollah.

Currently, Al Shabaka members are engaged in two main fields of action. One is trying to discredit the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the ‘Palestinian papers’ leaks and their op-eds have appeared in a variety of media outlets.  Co-director Nadia Hijab recently wrote that

“The leaks have let the sunshine in. They confirm what most Palestinians already feared, that a major sell-out of their rights, including the right to return and Jerusalem, was planned.”

The other focus is engagement in lobbying the US government to give up its veto in the UN Security Council on the subject of the pending resolution to pronounce Israeli towns and villages beyond the ‘Green Line’ illegal. This is part of a wider strategy to replace face to face negotiations with UN centered ‘lawfare’, as laid out in an article by Al Shabaka member Mouin Rabbani, formerly of Al Haq.

“Here, going to the Security Council to reconfirm the illegality of settlement in and annexation of occupied territory could prove pivotal. It would be extremely difficult for the U.S. to veto, and virtually impossible for European governments to ignore. Such a resolution could help generate a new wave of demands for action in European parliaments, particularly if paired with a Palestinian campaign of mass protests and diplomatic activity to translate the resolution, the ICJ opinion on the West Bank Wall and Goldstone Report into practical consequences.”

At what would logically appear to be the other end of the spectrum, another lobbying organisation is also campaigning for the US to abandon its right of veto at the UNSC. J Street, which describes itself as ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ and yet recently stated:

“While we hope never to see the state of Israel publicly taken to task by the United Nations, we cannot support a U.S. veto of a Resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy.”

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Musings on how the Guardian defines “Disproportionate” and “Fair and Balanced”

After a week of watching the Guardian gorging itself on the ‘Palestine papers’ like an out of control bulimic, a few thoughts and observations came to mind.

It was interesting to see how the Guardian transferred its long-held policies regarding ‘fair and balanced’ coverage of Israeli affairs to the Palestinian stage.  As veteran CiF readers know, the column space given to (‘good’) anti-Zionist or Israel-chastising Jews such as Seth Freedman, Antony Lerman, Rachel Shabi, Avi Shlaim, Abe Haim or Mya Guarnieri was always consistently ‘disproportionate’ (to use a word much-loved by the Guardian) when compared to the amount of space allocated to pro-Israel Zionist Jews or Israelis.

The ‘Palestine papers’ week saw a similar tactic being employed with regard to Palestinians. A deluge of fairly uniformly outraged commentary came from ‘good’ Palestinians such as Ghada Karmi, Karma Nablusi, Osama Hamdan and Laila el Haddad – their common denominator being that they either belong to Hamas or are sympathetic to its ideology and political views.  None of these people, incidentally, actually live in areas ruled by either the PA or Israel.

The only attempt to inject ‘balance’ into the commentary by allowing a Palestinian voice which opposes Hamas to be heard was an article by Saeb Erekat four days into the outrage fest. The voice of ordinary Palestinians in the streets who are opposed to Hamas and may actually support the kind of compromises reflected in the leaked papers as a way forward to securing a much-needed peace agreement was nowhere to be heard on the pages of CiF. And therefore any reader of the Guardian over the past few days who is unfamiliar with the Middle East might well assume that political opinion on the Palestinian street is remarkably monotone and that those supporting a Hamas-style continuation of the conflict with Israel are the overwhelming majority.

That would of course be because the Guardian has yet again ditched its commitment to being ‘fair and balanced’.

Another interesting observation was the way in which Guardian coverage of a story it instigated itself was allowed (some might even say ‘designed’) to partially eclipse the real stories coming out of Lebanon during the same week. Since the political crisis in Lebanon began on January 12th CiF has published a mere 14 articles on the subject (at the time of writing) – five of which appeared on the first day. Could that be considered ‘disproportionate’?

All the Guardian’s resident Middle East ‘expert’ Brian Whitaker could muster on the subject in his ‘This week in the Middle East’ round up was a terse one-liner.

“There have been disturbances, too, in Lebanon but they are a continuation of old sectarian/political rivalries rather than anything strikingly new.”

On January 29th we were treated to an article by ‘Al Hayat’ correspondent  Mohanad Hage Ali which informed us that “[m]edia reports are wrong: Syria, not Hezbollah, is in control” in Lebanon.

Ah; so it’s not the Iranian-backed theocratic Islamist terrorist group, but the Iranian-backed autocratic secular dictatorship which has taken over a sovereign country. What a relief.

How fortunate that we have the Guardian to inform us that there’s nothing to see here and we really should move along.

The Palestinian Bubble has Burst

A Guest Post by AKUS

What I think of as the Pallypapers Affair has had the remarkable effect of bursting the bubble of fantasies that so many outside Israel have clung to regarding the prospect of a future Palestinian state. Our friends at the Guardian have been reduced to desperation as evidenced in an editorial headlined with the words: The Palestine Papers: Despair. But we still need a deal.

Yes – the world as the Guardianistas knew it has come to the end. Their awakening from the dream of a Palestinian state, an impossible fantasy nurtured since 1967, is a catastrophe only to be ranked, perhaps, with the fall of the Berlin Wall or the failure of global Communism.

Although I was initially inclined to believe the Pallypapers are forgeries, the furious denunciations by Saeb Erekat have persuaded me that they are very, if not completely, accurate records. Erekat is such a congenital liar that if he says something is false, it is extremely likely that it is true. I cannot recall an accurate statement the man has ever made.

The Guardian is twisting and turning in the wind like an evil dream catcher – not sure who to blame more.  If the Pallypapers are actually true records of the talks, should the Guardian excoriate one set of its former pets, the PLO and Fatah in the guise of the Palestinian Authority, whose entire history of negotiations over the period since Camp David is revealed, as a tissue of lies and taqqiyah directed at its own people as much as the outside world? Should it, as always, just blame Israel – but how can it when it is clear that it is the Palestinians – or at least, that group of West Bank Arabs claiming to represent a non-existent Palestine – have been quietly agreeing to most of Israel’s negotiating positions?

Where the Guardian seems to be settling on developing a four pronged defensive position aimed at rescuing what little remains of its tattered fantasies about a Palestinian state and its credibility on the issue:

1.       The Guardian believes that there are good Palestinian leaders and bad Palestinian leaders. The good Palestinian leaders are in Gaza, leading the terrorist group, Hamas. If there was ever any doubt, it is clear now that the Guardian is a supporter of a recognized terror group, in defiance of its own government’s stand (a child-like defiance that no doubt thrills the juveniles who appear to have taken control of the paper). In fact, by electing to publish the following letter, the Guardian has apparently taken the stance of that terrorism, not negotiation, is the answer (“Terrorism, as in this case, can as exactly be self-defence”):

(The source is found on a page of letters that appears under Ian McEwan’s letter)

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The Questions Jonathan Freedland Must Ask

Jonathan Freedland was sent out on January 25th to man the barricades against the rising tide of criticism over the Guardian’s decision to publish the leaked ‘Palestine papers’.

It has to be said that he did his best; invoking fine principles such as the readers’ right to know and opposition to the suppression of information, as well as disconnecting journalistic obligations from the management of their aftermath.

“Of course publication will have political consequences, even awkward ones. But that cannot be for journalists and editors to decide: their job is to find out what is happening and report it, as best they can. The consequences are for others to manage.”

He even appears to have convinced himself to a certain extent that the Guardian is to be congratulated for playing the catalyst in the recent uprising in Tunisia by publishing the Wikileaks cables, although it may be prudent to wait and see how that pans out before handing out the bouquets. Should the Islamists gain power, the general population may yet prove to be no better off than before.

“The point here is that journalists shouldn’t be expected to weigh all the possible consequences of publication because the most important can – as in the Tunisia case – be unforeseen. Already there are signs of that with the Palestine papers.”

Loyalty, such as that displayed by Mr. Freedland to his paper and to his profession, is in general a fine thing, but only when the recipient of that loyalty has proved itself to be deserving of it. Freedland admits that he does not know the source of the leaked papers and is apparently unconcerned by that fact.

“ I don’t know the identity of the source for the Palestine papers, but I’d be pretty surprised if they didn’t have a purpose for their actions. That is true of every leak through recorded time.”

We must therefore presume that Freedland blindly places his trust in ‘those in the know’ at the Guardian. He must trust them to have ensured that the documents are in fact genuine, because all his fine claims regarding the journalist’s role in helping the public gain access to information only hold water if that information is true. He must trust that that the ‘purpose for their actions’ is a laudable and decent one because otherwise he may well find himself complicit in enabling processes which contradict his principles.

It is therefore crucial that honest brokers such as Jonathan Freedland do not balk at asking some of the more difficult and possibly complex questions surrounding the ‘Palestine papers’ leaks.

Do the Guardian’s claims to have authenticated the papers hold water? How and by whom was that process carried out?

How did the Guardian become involved in the publication of the leaked papers? Did Al Jazeera approach the Guardian, or the other way round?

Were financial transactions involved and if so, did they include Qatari government or Hamas money?

Did the source of the leaks approach Al Jazeera and/or the Guardian, or was the initiative to get hold of the papers born before the source was located?

What is the nature –if any – of connections between the source of the leaks and the British Government and/or the Adam Smith Institute?

What – if any – is the significance of the fact that the Guardian’s Seumas Milne attended a conference organized and hosted by Al Jazeera in Qatar in May 2010? Is there relevance in the fact that Azmi Bishara also attended that conference and that a member of his family who worked at the NSU has been suggested as a possible source of the leaks?

Does the fact that yet another participant in that conference  – Osama Hamdan of the Hamas political bureau – had an article on the subject of the leaked papers published in the Guardian on January 26th indicate more than mere cordial journalistic connections between certain employees of the Guardian and the Hamas leadership?

Does Jonathan Freedland condone the Guardian’s provision of a platform to a man who has expressed specific support for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and who states his aim as being “to wipe that entity [Israel] off the face of the earth”?

These may not be easy questions to ask, but they are essential ones if Jonathan Freedland wishes to ensure that his integrity is not being exploited and he himself taken for a ride by others less principled than he.

A Uniquely Guardian Exercise in Rebranding Terrorism

One of the more tricky tasks which confronts adherents to the Guardian World View is the by now almost quotidian need to re-brand terror.   After all, there’s a limit to how effective words such as ‘freedom fighters’, ‘resistance’ or ‘militants’ can be in trying to explain away and rationalise fusions of mangled metal, shattered glass and human flesh.

One alternative method is to call in an ‘expert’, and so we see the Guardian reprinting an article on January 24th by Robert Grenier which appeared the day before over at the site of the Guardian’s new best buddy Al Jazeera, where Grenier is quite a frequent contributor.

Now of course I am not a ‘former government practitioner’ (that’s polite-speak for ‘sacked ex-CIA spook’) and I do not get invited to speak at Al Jazeera conferences together with people such as Robert Fisk, Osama Hamdan, Robert Malley, Seumas Milne, Abdel Bari Atwan, Daniel Levy, Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, Azmi Beshara or Ibrahim Mossavi. Neither am I a big cheese in an international security firm, but I nevertheless recognise a terrorist when I meet one – obviously unlike Mr Grenier.

Yasser Arafat, by contrast, had never permanently abjured violence. He continued to calibrate repression of the most violent elements among his people with the threat of armed resistance to Israel, and when he felt his political needs were being frustrated, he was willing to turn his Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades loose and to empty the jails, allowing nature to take its course. At the end he was again labelled a terrorist by the west; few would meet him; and his final days were spent surrounded and alone, besieged in squalid defiance.”

It should be remembered that the predominantly accepted narrative outside the occupied territories themselves was that Arafat had gone badly wrong, that he wasn’t sincere about peace, that if only he had abandoned his militant roots and acted in good faith to “end terror”, he might have succeeded in winning peace and justice for his people.”

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