The Guardian plays crooked lawyer for the Palestinians

A few months ago we published an essay arguing that, in the event talks between the two parties break down and another is Intifada is initiated by Palestinian leaders, we can expect the Guardian to morally justify the violence.  

What we didn’t address at the time was our similar confidence that their editors, reporters and commentators would blame Israel for the break down in talks.

Sure enough, as talks have all but broken down (due to unilateral Palestinians acts hours before the Israeli government was set to approve an American brokered deal to extend talks to 2015), the Guardian published an official editorial which parrots the discredited claim that an Israeli announcement for new home tenders in east Jerusalem was the culprit.

Here are the relevant passages in the Guardian editorial (The Peace Bubble Bursts, April 11):

[Kerry’s] determined concentration on peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, his repeated trips to the Middle East, and many months of hard work by a small army of advisers, drafters and facilitators, have ended not in a bang but a whimper

The “poof” moment was Israel‘s announcement of permits to build 700 new homes for settlers in East Jerusalem, a clearly provocative move given the Palestinian demand for a halt, or at least a pause, in settlement activity, and their insistence that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state

Of course, the claim that an “announcement of permits to build [708] new homes for settlers in East Jerusalem” effectively ended the talks is not even remotely accurate. 

First, Israel never agreed to so much as curtail the construction of homes beyond the green line (in Jerusalem or the West Bank) in the initial agreement brokered by Kerry to begin talks last July. They agreed to release Palestinian prisoners, but made no such guarantees regarding ‘settlements’.

Second, the east Jerusalem homes were reportedly a reissue of an earlier pronouncement permitting these new apartments in Gilo to be built, which, as Adam Kredo noted, means “that the substance of the decree [on new homes in east Jerusalem] had not changed for months and had not [previously] been a roadblock to the peace talks”.  

Third, other such ‘settlement’ construction announcements during negotiations have been made by Israeli authorities without major incident – due, again, to the fact that Israel never agreed to curtail such activity – prior to the east Jerusalem tenders.  This includes a January announcement that tenders were released for the construction of 600 homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

Finally, it’s important to note that the 708 housing tenders were issued for Gilo, a neighborhood in Jerusalem which almost everyone (including the Palestinians) agrees will remain under Israeli control upon a final status agreement.  In fact, the Guardian should look back at their own reports of the leaked Palestinian notes during negotiations between Abbas and Olmert in 2008 (known as the Palestine Papers), where they confirmed that Palestinians leaders agreed that Gilo would remain Israeli.

Here’s a passage from a Jan 23, 2011 Guardian report by Seumas Milne and Ian Black:

The concession in May 2008 by Palestinian leaders to allow Israel to annex the settlements in East Jerusalemincluding Gilo, a focus of controversy after Israel gave the go-ahead for 1,400 new homes – has never been made public.

Here’s the map they published showing the Jerusalem neighborhoods in Jerusalem (in blue) which (Palestinians agreed) would be Israeli under the plan.  As you can see, the neighborhoods (beyond the green line) which Israel would retain include the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, East Talpiot, and Gilo.

mapsIn short, the Guardian’s risible suggestion that 708 housing tenders for Gilo caused the peace talks to fail does not represent the dispassionate analysis of ‘professional journalists’, but, rather, the deceit and sophistry of a crooked lawyer.

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CiF Watch prompts correction to extremely misleading Livni quote at ‘Comment is Free’

Yesterday, we posted about a selectively edited quote in a Nov. 26 essay at ‘Comment is Free’ by an anti-Zionist Jew named Michael Brull.  

We noted that the highly misleading quote – from comments made by Tzipi Livni in 2007 during negotiations with the Palestinians – was previously published at the Guardian during their special series in 2011 known as the “Palestine Papers”, and then soon corrected by the paper’s editors after a fury of complaints. 

Here’s the incomplete quote used by Brull:

Livni knows perfectly well why Israel builds settlements. In another candid moment, she explained that “the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible we already have the land and cannot create the state.” 

Now, here’s the full quote which, as you’ll see, indicates that Livni was certainly NOT admitting that “Israeli policy is to take more and more land” in order to prevent a new Palestinian state from being created, but was merely characterizing what she believed was the Palestinian view on settlements:

I understand the sentiments of the Palestinians when they see the settlements being built. The meaning from the Palestinian perspective is that Israel takes more land, that the Palestinian state will be impossible, the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.”

A couple of hours after we contacted Guardian editors – reminding them that they made a correction to a similar “error” two years ago – Brull’s piece was amended, and the following now appears at the bottom of the essay:


‘Comment is Free’ uses misleading Livni quote the Guardian previously corrected

In an Nov. 26 essay titled ‘Australia’s U-turn on Israeli settlements in occupied territories is shameful‘ ‘Comment is Free’ contributor  – another anti-Zionist Jewish voice associated with ‘CiF’ Australia - criticizes his country for supporting Israel, alleging that the new government is now “complicit in many breaches of international law” regarding the settlements.


After citing Australia’s recent abstention at the UN in a vote which “called for an end to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories”, Brull adds the following:

There is little controversy about the status of settlements under international law. The international court of justice, in its 2004 advisory opinion on the wall being constructed by Israel in the West Bank, concluded that “the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

Indeed, as former Australian Labor party foreign minister Bob Carr recently noted, in 1967 the Israeli prime minister was informed by his chief law officer that settlements were illegal under international law. Nevertheless, Israel almost immediately began building settlements – a process that increased exponentially as the decades progressed. 

Then, a couple of paragraphs down, he purports to quote former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni to buttress his argument:

Livni knows perfectly well why Israel builds settlements. In another candid moment, she explained that “the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible we already have the land and cannot create the state.” Livni admitted that this “was the policy of the government for a really long time.” She claimed that whilst it “is still the policy of some of the parties”, the government policy has changed. That was a less candid moment.

However, it’s Brull who is being “less than candid”, as his quote is a mischaracterization of what Livni said (during negotiations with the Palestinians in 2007), as documented in the “Palestine Papers” released by the Guardian in 2011. Indeed, as was widely reported at the time, the Guardian was forced to issue the following correction to a story they published on Jan. 24, 2011 which used the same Livni quote.  

Here’s their correction on Feb. 12, 2011:


Even worse, in the passage in question in his essay Brull had the audacity to link to the original Guardian report which had the corrected, full quote by Livni.  This suggests that he may have knowingly cut the quote and deleted the words which showed it in its proper context.

As Just Journalism wrote about the Guardian’s “error” at the time, “By cutting the quote to exclude the first part of Tzipi Livni’s sentence, The Guardian portrayed the Israeli politician as brazenly admitting a policy of making a Palestinian state impossible.”

Now, more than two years later, CiF contributor Michael Brull – in an effort to show that Livni shared his views on settlements – repeated almost exactly the same Guardian deception. 

Surprise, surprise! Jon Donnison’s fauxtographic Tweet partner is a Guardian journalist

In a BBC Watch post which went viral  – the effects of which are still reverberating today – Hadar Sela reported on a Tweet by BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison with a photo he erroneously claimed was that of a dead child in Gaza.

The incorrect information sent to 7,971 of Donnison’s followers was originally Tweeted  by Hazem Balousha – a Palestinian ‘journalist and social activist’ – and included the photo with the words “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.

However, blogger Adam Holland replied to Donnison, informing the BBC journalist that the photo was not from Gaza – but, rather, from Syria.

Donnison later acknowledged his mistake and deleted the Tweet.

However, in addition to the sloppy journalism by Donnison, the man who originally Tweeted the photo of the child, whose judgment Donnison trusted, has an interesting background himself.

Hazem Balousha is a Palestinian Journalist & social activist based in Gaza, and founder of Palestinian Institute for Communication & Development Palestine/Germany ‘ – an organization based in the Rimal District in Gaza

Quite interestingly, Balousha is also a Guardian journalist who has co-written pieces with Harriet Sherwood, Peter Beaumont and Chris McGreal – and was described as a “colleague” by the Guardian’s Richard Adams in a live blog on the Palestine Papers in 2011.

McGreal’s Jan 7, 2009 report written with Balousha – which McGreal cited in a recent report, on Nov. 23, 2012 – suggested, without any proof, that Israeli soldiers beat Palestinians in front of the their children to humiliate them, and even resurrected the Al-Durra libel in service of a broader narrative suggesting that IDF cruelty towards Palestinians “draws many into the cult of [suicide bombing] the ‘martyr'”.

The overwhelming majority of Balousha’s pieces at the Guardian were published between Dec. 28 2008 and Jan. 19, 2010, focusing on the suffering (most by children) during Cast Lead.  However, he also contributed prior to the war and, in an article he wrote in 2007, for instance, he admitted to having an eldest brother close to Hamas.

Much of his Guardian work explores the theme of dead children, and children otherwise victimized by the Israeli military, and many of Balousha’s tweets include pictures of dead or injured Palestinian kids. (Many of these pictures are from a photographer named Ashraf Amra, an activist who has a history of using children to engage in photographic propaganda.)

Interestingly, on Nov. 21, two days after the scandal involving Donnison’s Tweet, while the war was still raging, Balousha wrote a story at Deutsche Welle titled ‘Israel and Palestinians wage social media war‘.

Here’s a passage from his report:

“False information about the current war is also being spread via Twitter and Facebook – pictures of dead children, for example, that are actually from Syria. That angers [Gaza activist] Ebaa Rezeq. “We have to stick to the truth, or no one is going to believe us any more.” Ulla Papajak also believes that pictures and information need to be verified for accuracy – even if he also understands that there is no time to do so.”

It would be interesting to know if he and Donnison were similarly angry at themselves for casually propagating patently false information (to nearly 8,000 followers) about the horrific death of a child.

Hadar Sela, managing editor of BBC Watch, said:

“The reliance of Western media outlets upon local staff for information, translation and introductions is not a new phenomenon. Neither is the fact that some of those local journalists may have additional connections to regional actors, as was apparent a decade ago during the second Intifada. But as technology advances and social media increasingly cuts out the ‘middle man’ between the journalist and the audience, it is obvious that editors and journalists shoulder a greater responsibility for checking the reliability – and motives – of their local staff and sources.” 

Such journalist activists – whether they’re at the Guardian or the BBC – are risking more than their own reputations.  If Guardian and BBC editors continually allow their journalists to make such egregious errors with impunity, and report the news in a manner resembling political advocacy rather than professional journalism, whatever remaining credibility they may have will continue to erode. 

Increasingly, as Gaza activist Ebaa Rezeq noted, “no one is going to believe [them]”.

Chris McGreal lies about Israeli building freeze

Chris McGreal’s latest Guardian report is illustrated with a photo recycled from five days ago, in David Wearing’s one-state proposition, ‘A two-state solution is the practical route for Israel and Palestine‘, but, oddly, the photo was used by the Guardian at least as far back as 2007.

Chris McGreal, who has proven himself hostile to Israel, it’s prime minister, and Jewish supporters of the state, published the following post-election analysis, Obama’s in-tray – Israel/Palestine, Nov. 7.

(The caption for the photo, which has little to do with McGreals’s report, curiously uses language evoking the Guardian’s narrative on the ‘Palestine Papers’ series, which contextualized thousands of documents in a manner suggesting that Palestinians were too week and conciliatory during negotiations with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert in 2008.)

McGreal, whose characterization of the US President’s in a previous report, as engaging in slavish” support for Israelwas deemed inappropriate, and arguably antisemitic, by Guardian editors, and removed, argues in his Nov. 7 report that a newly re-elected President Obama likely has more leverage over Israel’s Prime Minister on the Palestinian issue.

However, McGreal makes a claim during the course of his report that is simply a lie, when he writes the following:

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

However, Bibi’s 10-month freeze on new construction in the West Bank, declared in Nov. 2009, was reported by the Guardian (here, here  and here).

Bibi did resist Obama’s request to extend the freeze another 10 months, but reading McGreal’s report you’d think that Bibi resisted and didn’t in fact implement the original freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.

McGreal’s report is extremely misleading and we’d recommend contacting McGreal and the Guardian’s readers’ editor  to seek a correction.

Here’s McGreal’s Twitter account:

Here’s the email address for Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor:

Judith Butler, more Palestinian than the Palestinians

Cross posted by Alan Johnson

Judith Butler

In 2006 the rock star left-wing academic Judith Butler said that “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important.” (See 16:24 in this video.)

Butler’s remark expressed all that’s wrong with the new style of “Palestinian solidarity work.”

Viewing the two-state solution as a sell-out, Butler attacks the PA application to the United Nations for recognition. The bid’s only value, she argues, is that it allows the left to jump up and down on grave of the “sham of the peace negotiations” and celebrate the “break with the Oslo framework.”

She wags her finger at Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas. By seeking a deal with Israel they are “abandon[ing] the right of return for diasporic Palestinians” and “potentially abandon[ing] Gaza.” If they succeed, “half of all Palestinians may well be disenfranchised.”

The Guardian newspaper sounded the same note when it published the leaked “Palestine Papers” from the Olmert-Abbas Annapolis talks, with distorted editorial gloss, and called Palestinian negotiators “craven” for engage seriously in final status talks.

The London Review of Books routinely denounces Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, as a collaborator. “Fayyad’s critics,” wrote Adam Shatz, “call him a ‘good manager of the occupation,’ a ‘builder of apartheid roads,’ ‘the sugar daddy who got us hooked on aid,’ and it’s all true.”

The Palestinian national movement is being policed from the “left,” and from the coffee shops and seminar rooms of London and New York by people who consider themselves more Palestinian than the Palestinians.

Butler gives an outraged “No!” to Abbas. She will not “sacrifice of the right of return for millions of Palestinians outside the region.” But think about that “No!” It is a program for the dismantling of the Jewish state. “The loss of demographic advantage for the Jewish population in Israel would surely improve prospects for democracy in that region,” she writes (optimistically, shall we say) in her new book, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. As Leon Wieseltier wrote in the New Republic back in 2003, “the one state solution is not the alternative for Israel. It is the alternative toIsrael.”

The new style treats negotiations as useless. Butler claims the Oslo years have seen only “the indefinite deferral of all ‘permanent status issues’—effectively establishing the occupation as a regime without foreseeable end.” Quite as if there never was Camp David at which Ehud Barak offered the shop, ’67 borders more or less, settlements uprooted; nor the Clinton-era proposals which Barak accepted and Arafat rejected; nor Annapolis at which Olmert offered all of that and more, including a shared capital in Jerusalem.

Another part of the new style is to pose an entirely literary “alternative” to the two-state solution. Butler talks of “Palestinian self-determination … without external interference,” “the right of return for diasporic Palestinians,” “the one-state solution.” Refusing to travel to Israel, so with no feel for Israeli society, and with a prose style that secured her first prize in the “Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest” Butler’s answers are, literally, literary. More importantly, Butler gets wrong what the conflict is actually about. Two highly developed and distinct societies, Israeli and Palestinian, each based on a powerful sense of national identity, must divide the land. When there are strong desires for national self-determination, the one-state idea collapses. Brit Shalom, the bi-national Zionist movement of the 1920s, could not know this. We can’t not know it.

To divide the land, each people needs to feel confident and secure if it is to make excruciating compromises. For that, each people must feel itself to be understood as a permanent feature of the Middle East. Butler’s one-statism does the opposite. It proposes to resolve a national question by denying the right to national self-determination of both peoples.

 [Editors’ note: Please also see A. Jay Adler’s post on Butler, ‘Impenetrable: The hallow rhetoric of Judith Butler‘]

Harriet Sherwood promotes the mantra of “death of the peace process”.

Just hours ahead of the Independence Day celebrations in Israel, Harriet Sherwood chose to promote an advocate of the ‘one-state solution’ in an article published in the World News section on the Guardian website. 

The Guardian has, of course, been active in promoting the concept of the demise of a negotiated two-state solution for some time.  Its ‘Palestinian Territories’ page still carries the headline “Secret papers reveal slow death of Middle East peace process” first published in January 2011 at the time of its leaking of the so-called Palestine Papers in collaboration with the Qatari regime-controlled Al Jazeera. 

In Sherwood’s latest piece she promotes the recent statements by two of the architects of the Oslo Accords – Yossi Beilin and Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala).

Beilin recently published an open letter to the de facto PA President Mahmoud Abbas (whose term of office long since expired), calling upon him to dissolve the Palestinian Authority. Qurei wrote an article last month in the London-based, Palestinian ex-pat owned newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi (edited by occasional Guardian contributor Abdel Bari Atwan) in which he called for the ‘reconsideration’ of the ‘one-state solution’. 

Returning to the official Guardian line from the days of the ‘Palestine Papers’, Sherwood states that:

“Both men reflect a view held by many observers of the stalled peace process, that the window of opportunity to create a Palestinian state has closed or is about to close. The alternatives to two states, they say, are a continuation and entrenchment of the status quo, or one state which denies equality to a large and rapidly growing minority, or one binational state of equals which would no longer be Jewish in character.”

Sherwood’s “many observers” are neither quantified nor identified and understandably so, because in fact they exist outside the consensus of mainstream opinion which still seeks to achieve two states for two nations through negotiation. Likewise, the chimera of an imminently closing “window of opportunity” is now practically a joke, having been invoked time and time again over so many years.

Of course Sherwood does not pause to ask herself why the general population on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the divide should pay any attention whatsoever to the latest ideas of two of the people responsible for a previously failed initiative which led to the deaths of thousands. Neither does she seem to think it worthy of comment that both Beilin’s and Qurei’s explanations of the collapse of the Oslo Accords include no recognition whatsoever of the initiative’s basic flaws, but instead place the blame exclusively at the doors of others.

Qurei and Beilin come from two very different starting points, both of which connect neatly to the ‘Guardian world view’. Beilin’s far Left approach to the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict represents a minority view within Israeli public opinion and even considerable financial backing from various European governments for the purpose of marketing his Geneva Accords project did not change that fact. 

Beilin’s attempts to twist arms by persuading the PA to dissolve itself – thereby hoping to shock the Israeli government into taking some sort of action, the nature or consequences of which he does not appear to be sure, but which may include unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria – do not take into account the lessons learned after the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip which now shape mainstream Israeli opinion. Neither does Beilin’s ‘master plan’ build on any of the other lessons learned as a result of the failure of the Oslo Accords. 

Sadly, that kind of blinkered view of the conflict – one which appoints responsibility for its creation and solution almost exclusively to the Israeli side, with a remarkable lack of recognition of Palestinian agency – is all too prevalent in the far Left circles inhabited by many a Guardian writer and editor. 

Qurei, on the other hand, is representative of the type of Palestinian leadership which – in common with the far Left, but for different reasons – also blames Israel for all its ills and crucially is unable to confront its people with the fact that a solution to the conflict cannot include the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees to Israel. For those subscribing to the Qurei school of thought, the ‘one-state solution’ is both a way of avoiding that confrontation and a rejection of the presence of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East. 

As we well know, the Guardian does not shy away from promoting the various proponents of the ‘one-state solution’, whether they are members of Hamas and its sympathizers, activists from the BDS movement, or members of the far Left. 

It therefore comes as no surprise to see Harriet Sherwood promoting the ideas of two exponents of fringe views under the well-worn mantra of “the imminent death of the two-state solution”. Unfortunately, her paper’s ideological and practical investment in that mantra prevents her from making clear to her readers just how far removed from mainstream opinion – both in Israel and the world in general – those ideas are. 


“It’s All Netanyahu’s Fault,” the Guardian and much of the MSM Say. But Is It Really?

A guest post by Elan Miller, who blogs at Destination Israel.

Over the last few weeks and months, a spurious lie has been spreading. Nothing new, perhaps, lies are told the whole time. But this one is a particularly important lie, and it needs quashing with immediate effect.

The lie goes as follows. The Palestinian people want to live in peace. They want to live in peace, alongside Israel. They want to live in peace, alongside Israel, the Jewish state. They want to live in peace, alongside Israel, the Jewish state, but Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is an extremist and prevents them from doing so. Benjamin Netanyahu and his cohorts, the lie goes, are the sole reason why the peace process appears to be dead in the water.

To understand the claim better, we must go back some time. Earlier this year, Wikileaks collaborated with the Guardian to reveal hundreds of secret documents online. The Guardian went through the archives and found an astonishing incident. In an article entitled, “Israel spurned Palestinian offer of ‘biggest Yerushalayim in history”, we are told that “Leaked papers reveal [Palestinian] negotiators proposed concessions on East Jerusalem settlements, Sheikh Jarrah and Old City holy sites” and that Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat said the following: “It is no secret that … we are offering you the biggest Yerushalayim [the Hebrew word for Jerusalem] in history.” The Guardian had a field day with this quote, using it as proof that the Palestinians were ready to make mass concessions. What was not mentioned in the headline, or in the analysis articles, was that Erekat went on to say, “But we must talk about the concept of al-Quds [Jerusalem in Arabic].”

The Guardian is quick to inform us that an “unprecedented offer” was made “on the East Jerusalem settlements”, carefully picking and mixing quotes that painted a story of Palestinian negotiators adopting a conciliatory approach, going so far as to propose “that Israel annex all Jewish settlements in Jerusalem except Har Homa.” Put like this, it sounded very much like the Israelis were acting unreasonably, wantonly even.

In the ensuing debacle, Israel was roundly criticised for deliberately missing an opportunity to forge a real, lasting peace with the Palestinians. Had this been the end of the story, I would no doubt have not been writing about Palestinian lies, but about Israeli ones.

But the story does not end there. There is much that the Guardian neglected tell us in its editorials or headlines. For while Israel was indeed offered concessions by Palestinian negotiators, they were rendered obsolete and utterly invalidated when placed in the context of the greater plan put forward. Deep in the article, toward the end, we are told that Israel’s negotiator, was “recorded as dismissing the offer out of hand because the Palestinians had refused to concede Har Homa, as well as the settlements at Ma’ale Adumim, near Jerusalem, and Ariel, deeper in the West Bank.” Intriguingly, we are told that “Israel’s position was fully supported by the Bush administration.” Whatever one might say about the Bush administration, is worthy of note that the Israeli position was fully supported. No reservations were expressed. It was clear as day to the Americans that an offer on Jerusalem offset by a situation in which Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel would have to be ceded by the Israelis to Palestinian control was wholly unacceptable.

Not only this, but we might bear in mind recent statements made by Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the U.S., who said that the future Palestine should be free of Jews. After the firestorm that followed, Areikat then incriminated himself further when reiterating his position to the left-leaning Huffington Post stating that “Israeli soldiers and settlers — ‘persons who are amid an occupation, who are in my land illegally’ — would be rejected from the new Palestinian state.” So, not only would Israel have to give Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim over to the Palestinians, but in excess of 56,000 people would be forcibly ejected from their homes and compelled to find a new place to live. Is it any wonder that Israel rejected such a proposition? The peace process is dead in the water, but not for lack of Israel trying. It is dead in the water because the Palestinian leadership has led us so far up a futile and fruitless path that there is nowhere else to turn but to yet more ridiculous measures. By acting like a petulant child, not only is the Palestinian leadership dismissing Israel’s concerns and requirements, but it is effectively sabotaging the demands and needs of its own people, too.

For almost two decades now, there has been an implicit understanding that negotiations will take place based on the cease-fire line of 1949 commonly known as the “1967 borders”. This line was never intended to constitute a border. How it came to be regarded as sacred has been one of the greatest deceptions of our time. So when President Obama states that Israel will need to find a solution based on this line, this is a massive break with previous agreements and understandings. Instead of focusing on the abominable racial incitement and insidious accusations of land theft being propagated by the Palestinians, a blind eye is turn to such indiscretions and the heat is turned on Israel for having the gall to demand that tens of thousands of people not be uprooted from their homes.

It is revealing that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saw fit to select Latifa Abu Hmeid, the mother of several terrorists involved in multiple attacks on Israeli civilians, to be the ambassador for the Palestinian independence bid. Abbas might be a moderate relative to his predecessor Yassir Arafat, but there can be no doubt that he is absolutely not moderate. In choosing such a person to endorse the bid, we are told everything we need to know about his vision and aspirations.

It would be bad enough if this was an aberration from the norm. But it’s not. Previously, Abbas has overseen the dedication of a town square near Ramallah to another Palestinian national icon, Dalal Al Mughrabi, the terrorist who killed 37 people, including 13 children, after hijacking an Israeli bus in 1979. At least two schools and numerous summer camps are amongst the recipients of having the dubious honour of being named after this murderer. Such are the heroes of the Palestinian people.

Even more disturbingly, you might have missed such enthralling television as this, in which little children are shown dressing up as suicide bombers and clutching mock AK-47 rifles. Similarly, another odious clip depicts a little girl facing the screen telling viewers that Israel “stole” all the land, and “changed the names”. It’s bad enough that the current generation make unreasonable demands of Israel. Much, much worse is that the current generation are being indoctrinated before our eyes, being led to believe that Israel – in its totality – has no right to exist at all.

So. Do the Palestinian people want to live in peace? To be fair, I imagine the answer is that many do. Most people in the world do. But do the Palestinian people want to live peace alongside Israel? Well, no, not if repeated attempts to portray the residents of Tel Aviv, Haifa, west Jerusalem and other internationally undisputed Israel-controlled areas as land thieves and aliens are anything to go by. As long as the entire Jewish state is repeatedly deemed illegal and a travesty of justice, then it follows that the Palestinians are not prepared to accept an Israeli state alongside it. As long as such agitation reigns unchecked, what hope is there for peace? 

It would take someone with all the vision of a Cyclops to believe that Netanyahu is responsible for Abbas’s endorsement and glorification of terror and his subsequent refusal to engage in negotiations. Benjamin Netanyahu’s fault? Israel wilfully spurning opportunities to make peace? Palestinians forced to a final resort? Hardly. Don’t believe the lie, no matter how many times you hear it.

“Palestine Papers” source Ziyad Clot and the Guardian: promoting cruel illusions.

On May 13th the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ published an article by French-Palestinian lawyer Ziyad Clot who worked as an advisor to the Palestinian Authority’s Negotiation Support Unit between January and November 2008. The following day the same article – translated into English – appeared both on CiF and on the website of the Guardian’s partner in the ‘Palestine Papers’ leak, Al Jazeera

Readers may speculate as to whether the timing of Clot’s decision to wait almost four months since the publication of the leaked documents before issuing an admission of his role in the affair – and of assorted editors to publish it – has any connection to attempts to organise ‘Naqba’ demonstrations throughout the Arab world on May 13th to 15th inclusive. Clot’s Facebook account promotes ‘Walking Home’ – Le Marche de Retour – and ‘Gaza Youth Breaks Out’.

Naturally, Clot flatters himself with some pretty high-minded motives for his actions:

“Taking these tragic developments of the “peace process” to a wider Arab and western audience was justified because it was in the public interest of the Palestinian people. I had – and still have – no doubt that I had a moral, legal and political obligation to proceed accordingly.”

Leaving aside the legal conundrums surrounding the leaking of the papers by a lawyer, Clot’s statement raises the important question of precisely who is entitled to define the “public interest of the Palestinian people”. Should that prerogative be confined to the elected representatives of the Palestinians, as indeed it is in any functioning country, or can anyone claiming flimsy connections to Palestinian heritage (or even not) legitimately decide to over-ride the fledgling Palestinian democracy and deliberately undermine elected representatives simply because he does not agree with their policies?  

For that, in fact, is precisely what occurred in the ‘Palestine Papers’ affair: a group of people decided that they knew better. Few, if any, of them have the right to vote in Palestinian elections. Few, if any, of them will bear the consequences of the processes their actions set rolling. What does it matter to those sitting comfortably in Paris, London, Chicago or Doha if negotiations broke down and violence erupts once more?  

One cannot but commiserate with the Palestinian people who, in addition to the rest of their trials and tribulations, are also plagued by the meddling of foreigners in a manner which exudes more than a smattering of colonial-style ‘we know what’s best for the locals’ mind-set.

Indeed, reading Clot’s article one begins to appreciate the fact that the type of viewpoints held by him and other foreigners parachuted in to the PA NSU have probably done more to hinder rather than help the peace process. As Clot revealed in an interview with France 24 from September 2010 whilst promoting his book ‘Il n’y aura pas d’Etat Palestinien’, he is in fact a ‘one-stater intent upon promoting the Ghaddafiesque concept of something he calls ‘Israelitine’ and is not averse to employing the ‘apartheid’ trope in the process. (See video interview here.)

Additionally, the fact that mainly (although not exclusively) French language sources suggest that Clot skipped from his position with the PA NSU to becoming an advisor to the Emir of Qatar and may also have worked for Al Jazeera would, together with his publicly voiced opinions,  indicate that Clot’s noble claims pale into insignificance beside the overwhelming evidence that the ‘Palestine Papers’ leaks were deliberately engineered in order to kill off any chance of a two-state solution reached through negotiation and compromise.

Whoever initiated and engineered the leaks, together with those such as Clot and the Guardian who collaborated with them, acted entirely out of self-interest with complete disregard – and even contempt – for the Palestinian people.

No amount of faux soul-searching and self-justification in multiply-reproduced op-eds can hide the fact that the actions of Clot and others are the cruel equivalent of encouraging those at the poorest levels of society to squander what little money they have on lottery tickets in the false hope of an impossible dream.    

Post Script to ‘Palestine Papers’: Guardian grossly misrepresented so-called Palestinian “concessions”

The renowned Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini of Ma’ariv has an interesting post on his blog which can be filed under the category ‘post script to the ‘Palestine Papers’. It speaks for itself, so allow me merely to translate (from the original Hebrew) the relevant portions.

“The terror attack in Jerusalem, like the firing of the rockets from the (Gaza) Strip, returns us to the firm ground of reality. This is a reality in which there are growing signs of a compromise between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. The events of the past two weeks clarify that the Palestinian front is returning to its old defining characteristics.”

“For a moment we lived with the illusion that something was happening, and maybe in the other direction. As recently as this last January, Al Jazeera and The Guardian came out with loud pronouncements concerning the most meaningful step in Palestinian history: the relinquishment of the right of return. The change, I then wrote, was most welcome. Except that this was a short-lived illusion. This is not merely due to the reality of rockets upon Ashkelon and Ashdod, the massacre in Itamar and the terror attack in Jerusalem. The story runs deeper.”

“New research by an American Christian organisation (not evangelist) examined all the 1,700 leaked papers; something which your faithful servant, despite his will, did not manage to do. The conclusion of the research is the exact opposite; that not only did the Palestinians not agree to any compromise on this subject [right of return], but they fooled everyone. False declarations of a moderateness, which I wish were true, are still far away. And so all those who found the Palestinian compromise troubling, from the Guardian to Gideon Levy (who claimed that the papers proved that the Palestinians had ‘sold their soul to the devil’), from Hamas to Al Jazeera – can all calm down. The Palestinians did not really give up.”

“But maybe yes? Surely it cannot be that the Guardian would publish a giant headline declaring that “Palestinians agreed that only 10,000 refugees could return to Israel”. This is, after all, a serious newspaper. In the same article, on the newspaper’s website, there appears a link to the Palestinian document which supposedly indicates the compromise. Just like the links on this blog. Except that following the link does not lead to any document which indicates Palestinian compromise. Nothing. I thought this must be a mistake. Mistakes are, after all, human. On this blog too there were broken links, readers complained, and the mistakes were mended. Except that it has been months since the publication. One could assume that someone pointed out to the Guardian that something was wrong. Surely I cannot be the first.”

“Caution prompted me to approach Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor. Not only does his name appear upon the specific article, but also on many reprimands of Israel in wake of the leaked papers. Even if he is not pro-Israel, Black is considered a serious journalist. He is far removed from the venomous hostility of Robert Fisk of the Independent or Gideon Levy of Ha’aretz. I asked Black: where does your amazing headline about only 10,000 refugees come from? I sent him the research which claims otherwise. I hoped that he would provide me with some proof. After all, if the information published is correct, we are talking about a historic turn-around. Black chose not to respond. I went to the trouble of looking myself and well, there is a document in which Erekat claims that the Palestinians agreed to 15,000 refugees per year, over a period of ten years, to return to Israel. There are two problems with this document. Firstly, the document is directed at the Europeans, when Netanyahu was already in power, in order to present the Palestinians as moderates.  And secondly, the document contains a land mine which deals with a renewable right. And thirdly, in all the documents, at the relevant time during the negotiations, it is made clear in no uncertain terms that the right of return is a personal right ‘which is not subject to any negotiation whatsoever’, and in other documents the Palestinians even try to define the ‘absorption ability’ of Israel in a scientific manner, reaching a number of 1,016,511 refugees. Some display of moderateness.”

“The central character in the story is Erekat. He tricks everyone and becomes, wondrously, the moderate man. And so the Guardian, in another headline, which supposedly proves the previous one, announces another dramatic about-turn. Once more I approached the source and once more it turned out not to have been. ‘Palestinian negotiators accept  Jewish state, papers reveal’. So where does the headline come from? Well, Erekat told Livni exactly what Abu Mazen claimed when he wanted to explain why he would not accept the demand: ‘define yourselves as you wish’. Between this play on words and the recognition of Israel as the Jewish State – the road is very long. But we can rely on the Guardian. It is obliged to present the Palestinians as moderates in order to be able to present the Israelis as intransigent.”


“So how and why was it possible to invent for us one of the biggest scams of the diplomatic [peace] process? Well, Al Jazeera’s aim was to embarrass the Palestinian Authority. At the Guardian the aim was to embarrass Israel. All in order to claim that the papers reveal the depth of Palestinian  concessions which were rejected by Israel’. The scam worked, and not only Ha’aretz joined in; I too was persuaded that we were talking about signs of change.”

“A Palestinian about-face, if it really did happen, would be worthy of all praise. There is no about-face and it is a pity that there isn’t. There is a scam and that is worthy of exposure.”

Ben Dror Yemini is an experienced political journalist and by no means a naive man, but like a considerable number of Israelis he is perhaps guilty of doing what many of us, particularly on the Left of the political map, have been doing to some extent for several years – projecting our own hopes and aspirations onto others and grasping at every straw which seems to hint that a new dawn is just around the corner. That is perhaps natural after so many years of conflict, so much bloodshed and despair, but it does not absolve us from the responsibility of proper examination of the catalysts of our raised hopes, or their source.

As for his realisation of the extent of the role played by the Guardian in the ‘Palestine Papers’ affair, and the motivations behind that – well, better late than never.

To paraphrase the British television advert for a well-known chain of opticians: ‘should have gone to CiF Watch’.

The Palestine Papers and the Malice of Journalism

This is cross posted by Kendrick Macdowell, who blogs at The Prince and The Little Prince

“The Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.” —Tzipi Livni, 2008, then Israeli foreign minister

Let that statement sink in for a moment, and you will appreciate one of the most disturbing pathologies about the Middle East peace process—but not the one you think.

The quote was featured prominently in the liberal British newspaper The Guardian as part of its coverage of the so-called “Palestinian Papers”—1,600 documents about Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations leaked to Al-Jazeera and provided to The Guardian.

Here is what Ms. Livni actually said:

“I understand the sentiments of the Palestinians when they see the settlements being built. The meaning from the Palestinian perspective is that Israel takes more land, that the Palestinian state will be impossible, the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.”

Consistent with its policy of active malice against Israel, The Guardian deliberately converted a statement by Ms. Livni describing Palestinian perceptions into a declaration by Ms. Livni of actual and pernicious Israeli policy. In short, The Guardian brazenly lied.

Ever determined to demonize Israel as the obstacle to peace, The Guardian introduced the Palestinian Papers with the blaring banner, Israel spurned Palestinian offer of ‘biggest Yerushalayim in history’.” (Yerushalayim is the sonorous Hebrew word for Jerusalem.) Yes, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, spoke the phrase “biggest Yerushalayim in history”—much exploited elsewhere by The Guardian—just as Tzipi Livni spoke the words attributed, with scissoring malice, to her. But Erekat’s words in context belie the Guardian narrative of Israeli intransigence:

Israelis want the two-state solution but they don’t trust. They want it more than you think, sometimes more than Palestinians. What is in that paper gives them the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarized state…what more can I give?

So Israel does want a two-state solution, sometimes even more than the Palestinians. The Guardian, evidently less so.  And just to make sure there was no lingering ambiguity about The Guardian‘s bigotry, it published a cartoon of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dressed up like an Orthodox Jew toting an Uzi-like gun— drawn by cartoonist Carlos Latuff, known for his viciously anti-Israel work. What a splendid contribution to peace.

The revelations from the Palestinian Papers are not especially surprising—negotiations were cordial, frank, serious, and constructive—but the “journalists” at Al-Jazeera and The Guardian are full of fraudulent and bigoted surprises. Even more disturbing than the apparent intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (for which the Palestinian Papers actually suggest a ray of hope) is the despicable state of much “journalism” concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (for which there is evidently no hope).

By comparison, WikiLeaks’ impish and reckless Julian Assange, who simply dumps secrets that imperil human lives, looks cherubic.

While The Guardian anchored the anti-peace process in the West, Al-Jazeera ensured hostility to peace in the Arab world, with particular attention to slandering Palestinians. Declared Al-Jazeera in one “news” article: “The Palestinian Authority (PA) has shown operational willingness to co-operate with Israel to kill its own people, The Palestine Papers indicate.” This is not journalism. This is cynical and fraudulent hate-mongering.

The slander about craven Palestinian negotiators making unprecedented concessions has already sent Palestinians scurrying for cover, immeasurably complicating an always delicate negotiation dynamic. In fact, Palestinian negotiators acted as sophisticated diplomats, in pursuit of a realistic peace that neither Al-Jazeera norThe Guardian want.

But then, surrounding Arab regimes have always had an interest in perpetuating the suffering of the Palestinian people. PA President Abbas condemned Al-Jazeera’s agenda as sparking a Tunisian-style uprising among Palestinians. Maybe so, maybe no, but Palestinians, thinking that surely 23 Arab states and 57 Muslim states have their backs against one Jewish state, have put so much misplaced faith in a fake solidarity that has failed them for 60 years.

Ghassan Khatib, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Institute, straightforwardly called Al-Jazeera’s coverage “malevolent.”

Al-Jazeera, which already pursues an Islamic political and ideological agenda, not only posted these documents on a website, but produced four major television programs “presenting” the documents. Al-Jazeera maliciously took things out of context with the objective of exaggerating the negative light they cast on the Palestinian Authority.

Negotiations may be suspended—but I see a tiny ray of hope. I see Palestinians and Israelis both recognizing that no one else in the world has as much shared interest with either of them as they do between themselves. I see Palestinians finally recognizing the cynicism of their Arab brothers in surrounding autocratic regimes that have exploited Palestinians for decades, and used Palestinian aspirations for their own cynical purposes while contributing nothing of consequence to—and often actively thwarting—the betterment of the Palestinian people and the peace process. I see Israelis resolving to trust again, to use power sparingly, to partner with their Palestinian brothers and make Semitic peace. I see recognition by Palestinians and Israelis that their lives, their livelihoods, their peace and security have become a ghoulish global sport, with hateful-half-baked and massively misinformed opinions traded like baseball cards. I see Palestinians and Israelis recognizing that hate and bigotry are imports from this global ghoulish sport, and resolving with vigor befitting their children to be done with them in their respective communities. I see honorable Palestinians and honorable Israelis re-committing to negotiating peace on terms that honor their children, rather than the distorted politics of foreign cynics. Yes, I see peace.

It is, admittedly, a tiny ray of hope, and perhaps one I’ll not be privileged to see realized in my lifetime, such is the anger and hate and suspicion that plasters the region. But I believe my son’s generation will make it happen. And I honor him and them in hopeful anticipation.

The Palestine Papers, & the speech to Palestinians that Mahmoud Abbas will never give

This is cross posted by Yitzchak Besser at the American Jewish Committee

My friend at The Jerusalem Post takes credit for PaliLeaks. Not the story, mind you, just the catchy title that’s been floating around lately for the “Palestine Papers” leaks that have been broadcast by Al-Jazeera and published by The Guardian.

After a week of breaking stories revealing intimate details from the peace process’s cast of characters that we’ve all come to know and love (to complain about over coffee), we’ve seen our share of PaliLeaks. As it was noted by another writer at the Post, one of the first things that come to mind about the Palestine Papers is that it is no WikiLeaks. These are not the writings of relatively obscure diplomats; rather they are heavy hitters like Livni, Abbas and Qurei.  Nor are they correspondence from the field back to Washington about the latest updates from places normally relegated to the back of the paper. This is Israel, the Middle East, page 1 around the globe, regardless of just how tired the public is of the never-ending Mediterranean story.

These leaks are a revelation. At least, that’s the way the pundits are spinning it. Like some fantastical mirror, they are providing people from across the spectrum with political fodder to say, “Ah! You see, I was right! Look there. That’s exactly what I said was happening.” So what’s the real take on the revelations from the closed-room negotiations?

Israelis, it should come as no surprise, are a cynical people.

By and large, the details coming out of the Palestine Papers aren’t fazing the Israeli populace. “We’ve been talking for ages, let’s see some action. In the meantime, back to the salt mines and watering holes.” Even talking of Ma’aleh Adumim as part of a future Palestinian state or the PA’s begrudging (and now of course, utterly denied by them) acceptance that the “right of return” is national suicide are only blips on our radar. Sure, it’s good to hear them out in the open, but those who know the score have already seen the highlight reel. Here, the ground will shake when rumors become reality and the political machine starts moving at full speed instead of creaking along.

The real dynamism of the story comes not from Israeli society, but from the Palestinian one. The PA leaders have been misleading their people, Al-Jazeera has been crying from the rooftops. Behold, they spoke of never coordinating with the hated Zionist enemy, yet here they are making security arrangements. Jerusalem and the right of return are sacred and beyond discussion so why are they shown here making deals in Israeli dens?

Even the bare minimum – statements that increasingly sound more like demands rather than bargaining chips, terms which Israel is simply unable to accept – are beyond the PA’s capacity to deliver. To put it simply, the mere talk of negotiations has the Palestinian public up in arms. Abbas and company can feel the earth falling from beneath their feet. They recognize that the PaliLeaks are an attack on themselves, on their credibility and their perceived loyalty to a cause – a Palestinian state that refuses to yield even a millimeter to Western and Zionist forces.

Sadly, Abbas has played into Al-Jazeera’s trap. In a condolence call to Israeli President Shimon Peres after the passing of his wife Sonia, the Palestinian premier told the grieving leader that Israel and the PA must stand together “like a wall” against the delegitimization facing his tentative regime. In essence, he’s turned to Israel, and that’s what his people will see. Of course the closeness between us is a blessing, but this sends entirely the wrong message. Moreover, his denials of the Palestine Papers and claims of slander only further fan the flames of outrage, as Hamas sits back and laughs while upholding itself as the only champion of a betrayed and downtrodden Palestine.

Abbas’s Palestinian people are categorically opposed to the idea of give-and-take. It is that intransigence which is at the heart of both the stalled peace process and the Palestinian man on the street. Al-Jazeera and the Guardian are well aware of this fact, and have brought it to the fore with their leaked coverage of the negotiations scattering this past decade’s history like smashed bugs on a windshield. By capitalizing on the public’s unwillingness to even contemplate a settlement with Israel, Al-Jazeera and the Guardian have set the peace process even further back and threatened to topple certainly the support for Abbas’s Western-backed PA, if not the entire organization.

Abbas needs to run toward his people, not away from them, and embrace these claims rather than deny them. He must own up to his actions, and stand for what the PaliLeaks attempts to represent: honesty. If he believes that peace will come through negotiation (and if he does not, then this is all moot), then he must convince his people of that fact, instead of hiding behind double-talk.

The PA leadership lacks the moral courage and integrity to stand before its constituents and say,

“We are fighting – and will continue to fight – for a Palestinian state. A state free of violence and corruption. A state that prides itself on its strength rather than the nascent immaturity of a people only beginning to quest after their independence. We have fought for far too long, my brothers, and we have grown and developed as we near ever closer to our goals. We have struggled with the Zionist enterprise and it will not end with their obliteration, nor will it end with ours. Statehood, success, power – these things come with sacrifice and we have sacrificed much for the sake of our goals. To obtain them, to achieve our long-sought-after independence, I have looked into the eyes of the Zionists and stated our claims, as they, without blinking, have told me theirs.

“There are those – here in Palestine, in the Middle East and the world at large – that do not wish for a free and independent Palestinian state. They are the reason that we face this crisis today. But I would see us free from the camps, not to conquer Tel Aviv and Haifa but to build Ramallah and Jenin and Nablus into a place that far surpasses the hopes our imaginations can conceive of from our squalor.

“Acceptance is a bitter pill to swallow. My anger at the miseries and catastrophes and unfairness that History’s cruel hand has thrown down upon, my anger has washed over me and I have let it go. Allah has sent us these things to make us stronger, and stronger we have become. We have become wiser, and in our wisdom, we have recognized His hand. He has brought our enemies to us with a promise of a free land, and I will not spurn his gift. The Zionists are our neighbors. This is His will. And I will work with them and stand guard against them in the effort of seeing our dream, our homeland, our Palestine live.”

There are those, I’m sure who will call me naïve or ignorant (or worse, I’m sure) for such an approach. I do not claim it will be easy or that it will happen overnight. But the PA leadership must, in fact, lead their people, rather than be lead by them and their societal stigmas against any kind of dialogue with Israel that doesn’t inherently and immediate given them exactly what they want. Leadership is a dangerous endeavor, and one not for the likes of weak-hearted men.  If Abbas wants to contribute to a lasting national history for the Palestinians, he must accept the mantle of responsibility in light the claims made against him through the Palestine Papers.

Al-Jazeera and the Guardian have used the leaks for ratings and a targeted attack against the very notion of a negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians through the manipulation of a single fact: Until the Palestinian people accept that a give-and-take must be about giving as well as taking, then there can be no hope for this peace process.

Guardian admits use of misleading quotes in Palestine Papers report

H/T Just Journalism

Buried in their “Corrections and Clarifications” section, the Guardian has acknowledged the following about a January 24th “Palestine Papers” report about former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in a box titled “What they said…”

A quote by Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister, within a panel that formed part of the Palestine papers, was cut in a way that may have given a misleading impression. The quote appeared as: “The Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.” [emphasis mine]

The Guardian continues:

To clarify, the full quote is: “I understand the sentiments of the Palestinians when they see the settlements being built. The meaning from the Palestinian perspective is that Israel takes more land, that the Palestinian state will be impossible, the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.” (What they said … 24 January, page 4.)

The wording “MAY” have been misleading?!

Falsely characterizing the words of an Israeli leader, who was merely musing on how the Palestinians themselves may view Israeli settlements, in a way that not only makes it seem as if such views are her own, but, indeed, represent official Israeli policy, is much more than misleading. Its journalistic malpractice, and represents more evidence confirming our view that the story of the “Palestine Papers” was not about the notes themselves but, rather, about a newspaper whose rigid ideology informs almost every aspect of their journalism – where facts and quotes are always subservient to an overtly anti-Israel political agenda.

(See previous CW post on another highly misleading characterization of Livni’s words in a separate “Palestine Papers” story in the Guardian, here)

The Guardian’s role in the delegitimization of Israel

This essay I wrote was recently published in The Jewish News.

The Guardian’s initial editorial upon release of “The Palestine Papers” contextualized thousands of secret Palestinian documents – classified notes, obtained by Al-Jazeera, of their negotiations with Israel over the last ten years – in a way which managed to affirm the paper’s consistent narrative of Israel: as a crude, bullying goliath who has no interest in living peacefully with its neighbors.  The paper likened the Jewish state to a thuggish “nightclub bouncer”.

Additional “Palestine Papers” commentary crossed extremely dangerous lines: referring to Palestinian leaders who show flexibility during negotiations as “craven”, providing a platform to a Hamas member (who issued a thinly veiled threat of violence), posting a political cartoon from a notorious anti-Semitic extremist, and publishing multiple letters justifying the use of suicide bombing as a legitimate political tool.

No longer merely a vehicle for anti-Israel activism, Guardian editors have shown themselves shamefully tempted by the most lethal political orientations – those which, throughout history (whether in the service of left-wing or right-wing ideologies), contain a couple common denominators: They fetishize radicalism and political extremism, and, most dangerously, sanitize – even romanticize – the use of violence to achieve political ends.

Such extreme views about Israel, of course, are nothing new, and merely represents one example in a continuing rhetorical and political assault on Israel which simply has no contemporary parallel.

While nations across the globe are of course criticized, and some even vilified, no state other than Israel is targeted by an international network of state and non-state actors who characterize the nation as morally beyond the pale.  Whether such actors are explicit in their desires – such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran – or seek to achieve such objectives by advocating what’s known as the “one-state solution” (the radical political reconstitution of the world’s only Jewish state into the 51st majority Muslim state) the myriad of opponents facing Israel all attack the fundamental political legitimacy of the Jewish nation-state.

To read the rest of the essay, open this link and turn to page 11.

The Guardian’s Ian Katz Lies and Cries

This is cross posted by Zach at Huffington Post Monitor

We didn’t comment on it at the time, but recently Israeli ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor published a scathing critique of the Guardian’s coverage of the Palestine Papers. If you haven’t read it already you should do so right away and then come back here, because the Guardian has fired back in the form of an editorial by Ian Katz, Deputy Editor. The main thing we learn from the article is that though the Guardian is quite happy to attack anything they can get their hands on (and fact check later) they cannot handle being the target of criticism themselves. I’m not going to go through the whole post by I did want to hit some highlights.

Mr. Katz’s tactics on this post are somewhat short of fisking. Instead it is more in the style of “Can you believe he said that?!” repeated over and over, with the assumption that the audience would simply accept Mr. Katz’s view as true and Mr. Prosor’s view as false.  But with the Huffington Post, that’s not a bad assumption. Where this was less pronounced is in Mr. Prosor’s attacks on the Guardian itself, but we will get to that in a minute.

First we’ll talk about the Palestine Papers, where Mr. Katz continues to cling to the myths that his paper peddled:

“In a series of reports over four days, we revealed how Palestinian negotiators had made dramatic, previously unknown concessions during 2008 negotiations including an offer ofthe biggest Yerushalayim in history‘ that would allow Israel to annex all but one of the settlements in East Jerusalem…Other documents showed that Palestinian leaders had been prepared to accept the return of as few as 10,000 of the more than 5m Palestinian refugees, a dramatic shift from the PLO’s public demand that any family displaced during the 1948 conflict should be allowed to return.”

As we mentioned before, Barry Rubin has explained why the Palestine Papers smell so bad. But even if they are real, the Guardian continues to spin: When these ideas were revealed to the people, the leaders who supposedly made these “dramatic concessions” denied it, and the people reacted in fury! So how can you really call it a concession? You can’t! Unless you work for the Guardian.

The truth of the matter is that the Guardian and Al-Jazeera aren’t stupid. They knew very goddamn well what the reaction to the Palestine Papers would be. They knew that it would make the PA look like a puppet of Israel and America, that was why they published so selectively! Mr. Prosor points us to  “David Landau, a commentator way on the left of the Israeli spectrum put it, the Guardian and Al-Jazeera ‘intended to poison the Palestinians against their leaders.'” He is far from the only one, CifWatch explains in further detail just how much spinning the Guardian was doing when they published the Palestine Papers. Here is another informative fib:

“[Many people wrote for the Guardian including] the PLO’s Saeb Erekat andGuardian columnist Jonathan Freedland all of whom defended the concessions offered by the Palestinian Authority”

Really? Did Erekat defend those concessions? I find that very difficult to believe. Let’s go to the editorial itself, shall we?

“We have been accused of making great concessions to Israel behind the back of the Palestinian people. Such allegations are groundless…A careful and complete reading of the documents at hand – which goes beyond the sensationalised headlines and spin – will reveal this to be true. First and foremost, it is essential to understand that no agreement has ever been reached between the parties on any of the permanent status issues. This reality, by its very definition, renders it impossible that either party has conceded anything.”

This is what Mr. Katz calls “defending?” I couldn’t believe my eyes! Is he for real? How ironic that a Deputy Editor of a newspaper doesn’t even know what’s in his own op-ed sections!

The rest of the article is basically Mr. Katz defending the Guardian on its own merits, which I feel the folks at CifWatch are more qualified to discuss than we are. What I do know is that when Mr. Katz says that there are “a broad range of comment articles,” he is referring only to the author and subjects of the articles, not to the general tone. I once asked a Huffington Post talkbacker to find me one, just one, pro-Israel article published in the Guardian. The offer still stands. One last quotation from Mr. Katz:

“It’s a curious claim to make about a newspaper which has long been and continues to be a consistent advocate for a two-state solution — not quite the Hamas take on things.”

From my perspective, though the Guardian has been an advocate of the two-state solution, they are hardly impartial. They are also of the view that Israel is always wrong and the Palestinians are always right, which is pretty darn similar to the Hamas take on things. And as I said before, I refuse to believe that the Guardian didn’t know exactly what it was doing not only when it decided to publish the documents but when it chose which papers to publish and how to editorialize them.

I am finding it interesting that the Huffington Post appears to be becoming a home for Internet catfights such as Katz vs Prosor, Suissa vs Cohen, Narwani vs S. Cohen, and Henri-Levy vs whats-her-name. Hardly a step in the right direction, if you ask me.