Financial Times misleads with partial quote by William Hague about ‘Palestine’

A Financial Times article by Philip Stephens, Israel is losing its friends in the world (Oct. 16), included the following passage in support of the broader thesis suggesting strong UK political support for recognizing ‘Palestine’ as a state, and dismissing Israeli concerns over statehood recognition outside the context of negotiations.

The Israeli argument, echoed as it was by a handful of supportive MPs, is that the process of recognising Palestine as a state, which began in the UN general assembly two years ago, is a brake on peace. Statehood is a prize to be “earned”. To concede it now would be to reduce the pressure for Palestinians to make tough compromises.

There was never great logic in this. As several MPs pointed out, the formulation offers Israel an extraordinary veto over the choices of other sovereign states. Even if this once made tactical sense, the proposition has been robbed of reason by Mr Netanyahu: Palestinians cannot be denied statehood because of Israel’s intransigence.

On Palestinian statehood, [Jack] Straw quoted the words in 2011 of William Hague, then Mr Cameron’s foreign secretary: “The UK judges that the Palestinian Authority largely fulfils the criteria for UN membership, including statehood.”

However, the Hague quote cite by the Financial Times is only a partial one. 

Here’s the full passage from Hague’s statement to Parliament on November 9th, 2011, explaining his government’s decision to abstain on a vote in the UN on recognizing Palestine as a state with full membership.

“The UK judges that the Palestinian Authority largely fulfils criteria for UN membership, including statehood as far as the reality of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories allows, but its ability to function effectively as a State would be impeded by that situation. A negotiated end to the occupation is the best way to allow Palestinian aspirations to be met in reality and on the ground.”

The Financial Times clearly left out a key passage, where Hague expresses his government’s view that prematurely recognizing ‘Palestine’ before a negotiated agreement is reached would impede the new state’s ability to “function effectively as a State”.

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The blood of Israelis and Palestinians will be on the hands of our politicians.

Posted by Richard Millett in London.

With the British Parliament due to take up six hours of precious debating time on Monday over whether to recognise a “state of Palestine” Vincent Fean’s article in The Guardian sums of the ignorance of those who will vote for such recognition.

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Fighting the caricature that spawned the boycott threat

The following essay was written by Roslyn Pine and first published at the Jewish News

The President and Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews  recently commented on how the Diaspora should deal with the threat of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) following the refusal of the Methodists to reject it, and how to influence the Israelis and PA “to make the difficult concessions necessary for a lasting peace”.

Their Panglossian sentiment that peace will come when we engage in “bridge building” between Palestinians and Israelis doesn’t address the problem any more than would treating a very sick patient with paracetamol.

Enormous efforts towards reconciliation and peace have been expended by Israel and world Jewry for decades, only to be rewarded by hatred and a denial of the national, religious and historic rights of the Jewish people to its nation-state in its ancient homeland.

Numerous acts of outreach by Israelis towards Palestinians and disaster relief abroad are viewed with cold indifference by those promoting BDS of ‘apartheid’ Israel, because their ultimate goal is the demise of the Jewish state. Who acknowledges, for example, the ongoing dangerous Israeli rescue of Syrians caught up in the civil war, or the generosity of many Jewish charities for this cause?

So what to do?

We need a structured educational programme to negate the grotesque caricature that has spawned BDS, namely, that Israel is a colonial enterprise committed to the usurping of an indigenous, powerless third-world people.

We must teach that the wellspring of Israel’s sovereignty and legitimacy in international law derives from the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920 (recognising the Balfour Declaration), as does that of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, following the WWI settlement. It was supplemented by the Mandate for Palestine of July 1922, and the Franco British Boundary Convention of December 1920, all binding to the present day.

We should emphasise that Israel behind the Green Line sits on just 8,000 square miles, 17 percent originally allotted to it, while the 21 countries of the Arab League occupy more than five million square miles, almost double that of the United States.

The mantra of “illegal settlements” must be exposed as a dishonest device to prevent Jews from living in land designated for Jewish sovereignty, defying Article Six of the Mandate for Palestine, the provisions of which are still binding.

As the eminent American jurist Eugene Rostow ruled in 1967: “The Jewish right of settlement in Palestine, west of the Jordan River, was made unassailable” by the Mandate, and “has never been nullified”. Other international jurists, like Stephen Schwebel, came to the same conclusion on the ground that the West Bank had itself been illegally occupied previously.

Such an educational programme must reach universities, the press and government bodies and demands a concise, memorable and convincing message. Additionally, the use of existing legislation in the UK and elsewhere regarding boycotts should be increasingly deployed by experienced lawyers to counter them.

Future negotiations must be dependent on the deletion from The Palestine Charter of articles calling for the destruction of Israel, characterising its creation an illegal act and denying any Jewish connection to Palestine. It was promised in the past, but never delivered.

There should be intense lobbying of the EU whose largesse, courtesy of our taxes, helps fund the PA, that such humanitarian aid be conditional on the cessation of the incessant stream of hate-filled PA propaganda against Israelis and Jews in its media and schools, poisoning the minds of every generation. It should come as no surprise that reliable surveys among Palestinians demonstrate that a majority supports the two-state solution only as a conduit towards a unitary state of Palestine replacing Israel.

Ben Gurion’s legacy of standing firm in 1949 against intolerable threats from President Truman to “give up land for peace” including “occupied West Jerusalem and the Negev” should serve as a reminder to our leaders that, in rejecting this formula, he delivered peace for many years.

Following the War of Independence when the Jews prevailed against six invading Arab armies, the resultant armistice line (the Green Line) represented an area 40 percent greater than that allocated to the Jews under the illegitimate 1947 UN Partition Plan. Ben Gurion enacted legislation to incorporate the liberated land into Israel, which today everyone accepts as Israel proper.

As US Ambassador to Israel, James McDonald recorded, Ben Gurion’s determined stance ushered in a strong strategic relationship between the two future allies (“My Mission in Israel 1948-1951”). The rest is history.

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Economist’s Nicolas Pelham Deceives About Christians in Israel

Cross posted by CAMERA’s Israel Director, Tamar Sternthal

Charging “Israel’s multiple self-professed lobbyists” for having “donned the mantle of Christian saviors,” The Economist‘s Nicolas Pelham cites Proverbs to excoriate: “Deceive not with thy lips.” Writing yesterday in Haaretz (“Christians in Israel and Palestine“), it is Pelham himself who repeatedly deceives.

Population Decline or Growth?

First, he completely misleads about Israel’s Christian population, claiming it has declined, when in fact it has increased by 268 percent since 1949. He writes:

What [Israel's lobbyists] do not say is that Israel’s population of native Christians has fallen by roughly the same proportion. From 8 percent in 1947 (in all of mandatory Palestine), it numbered 4 percent in 1948, and is now less than 2 percent. The reasons for the decline are largely the same. Jewish, as Muslim, birth-rates are much higher. [Note: The last sentence appears only online. It is not in the print edition.]

What Pelham does not say is that according to The Statistical Abstract of Israel, there were approximately 34,000 Christians living in Israel in 1949. This figure was not broken down by ethnicity, but the vast majority of these people were Arab Christians. And at the end of 2011, there were approximately, 125,000 Arab Christians living in Israel. By citing relative figures instead of absolute figures, Pelham deceives readers into believing Israel’s Christian population “has fallen,” when the opposite is true.

Deceive not with thy lips.

St. George’s Harmony of Violence?

Painting a dubious picture of mutual respect and harmony among Muslim and Christian Palestinians, Pelham deceives:

On St. George’s Day, Muslims join Christians to commemorate his martyrdom at his shrine in Al-Khader, near Bethlehem.

Hardly the picture of coexistence, last week’s celebration of the feast of St. George at St. George’s Orthodox Church ended in a violent clash, as was documented on a YouTube video that went viral:

According to Lela Gilbert, author of Saturday People, Sunday People, Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner:

A Bethlehem Greek Orthodox Church (St. George’s Church – Khadar – near Beit Jala) was attacked by Muslims during its annual St. George’s Day services on May 6. … Some local Muslims either tried to park a car too close the church and/or tried to enter the church during a service honoring St. George – the initial instigation isn’t clear. But when the intruders were asked to leave, one of them stabbed a Christian man who was outside the church serving as a guard. He was hospitalized. Several then started throwing stones at the church. 7 or 8 Christians were injured and some physical damage was done – broken windows etc. The police didn’t show up for an hour.

“Despite the contradictory reports, it seems pretty obvious that whatever police presence there was at St. George’s on its feast day, it was insufficient to prevent an outbreak of violence, which resulted in several injuries including one broken nose,” observed Dexter Van Zile, CAMERA’s Christian Media Analyst. “In sum, stones were thrown at Christianity’s living stones near the city of Christ’s birth.”

“No matter how you look at it, the episode represents a failure on the part of the Palestinian Authority, one that local journalists and Christian leaders are – for understandable reasons – reluctant to highlight,” Van Zile added.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Islamist Bullying in Gaza A Thing of the Past?

Pelham depicts a false rosy picture for Gaza’s Christians, falsely suggesting that intimidation was limited to “the early days of Hamas rule in Gaza.” He writes:

In the early days of Hamas rule in Gaza, militants firebombed a church and attacked its worshippers uncannily close to a police station. But the Islamists have since clamped down on their own; their prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, pointedly attended church to honor a local Christian politician.

The U.S. State Department’s International Freedom Report for 2012 (the most recent report available) paints a more sober picture of the status of Gaza’s Christians. “The de facto Hamas authorities in Gaza continued to restrict religious freedom in both law and practice, and the negative trend for respect of this right was reflected in such abuses as arresting or detaining Muslims in Gaza who did not abide by Hamas’ strict interpretation of Islam . . . ” The report noted:

Hamas largely tolerated the small Christian presence in Gaza and did not force Christians to abide by Islamic law. However, Hamas’ religious ideology negatively affected Christians, according to church leaders. For example, local religious leaders received warnings ahead of Christian holidays against any public display of Christianity. Christians raised concerns that Hamas failed to defend their rights as a religious minority. Local officials sometimes advised converts to leave their communities to prevent harassment against them. Hamas officials on July 19 publicly denied allegations from the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza that Hamas-affiliated officials coerced Ramez Ayman and Hiba Abu Dawoud and her three children to convert to Islam. Christians staged a protest at Gaza’s main church in late July.

What Pelham does not say is that as recently as July 2012, Palestinian Christians living in the Gaza Strip were reportedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. “According to the Greek Orthodox Church in the Gaza Strip, at least five Christians have been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam in recent weeks,” Khaled Abu Toameh reported in Gatestone Institute (“Who Will Save the Christians in the Gaza Strip”?). He added:

The church blamed an unidentified terror group of being behind the forced conversions and called on the international community to intervene to save the Christians.

Church leaders also accused a prominent Hamas man of being behind the kidnapping and forced conversion of a Christian woman, Huda Abu Daoud, and her three daughters. Shortly after she disappeared, the woman sent a message to her husband’s mobile phone informing him that she and her daughters had converted to Islam.

In a rare public protest, leaders and members of the 2,000-strong Christian community in the Gaza Strip staged a sit-in strike in the Gaza Strip this week to condemn the abductions and forced conversions in particular, and persecution at the hands of radical Muslims in general.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Christmas Tree Ban in the Knesset?

The Jerusalem-based journalist and writer on Arab affairs erred when he wrote:

haaretz knesset bans christmas trees

The online article helpfully provides a link to a Dec. 26, 2013 AP story which appeared at the time in Haaretz. The AP article does not support Mr. Pelham’s claim that the Knesset bans Christmas trees “from its premises.” In fact, it states:

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein says he refused to display a Christmas tree in the parliament because of the “painful memories” it evoked among Jews.

Edelstein told Israel Radio Thursday such a public display of a Christian symbol could be construed as offensive.  Earlier this week, Edelstein rejected the request of a Christian-Arab lawmaker. He said the parliamentarian could display a tree in his office and party’s conference room. (Emphasis added.)

Thus, while a Christmas tree was not permitted in public space in the Knesset, it was permitted in private offices and party conference rooms. In other words, Christmas trees are not banned from the Knesset “premises.”

What Pelham does not say is that it is prohibited to publicly display Christmas trees in all of Gaza City and the rest of the Strip, while Christmas trees are distributed for free in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel. In fact, the free Christmas trees are available twice a year in Israel, once for western Christians and then a few days later for Greek Orthodox Christians.

The Guardian reported in 2011 (“Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas“):

There hasn’t been a Christmas tree in Gaza City’s main square since Hamas pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007 and Christmas is no longer a public holiday. . . .

[Peter Qubrsi, a Catholic from Gaza] describes being stopped in the street by a Hamas official who told him to remove the cross. “I told him it’s not his business and that I wouldn’t,” Peter said. After being threatened with arrest he was eventually let go, but the incident scared him.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Haaretz editors changed the online text to the following accurate wording:

knesset christmas tree corrected

Editors also appended a vague note at the bottom of the article which fails to make clear what was amended and why:

knesset christmas tree appended

Haaretz has not yet corrected in print.

Why Did Azmi Bishara Leave?

In another deception, Nicolas Pelham asserts:

The country’s most prominent Christian politician, Azmi Bishara, was hounded out of Israel amid cries of treachery after he dared to suggest that Israel should be a state for all its citizens.

In fact, Haaretz itself reported at the time a very different account of Bishara’s departure to Jordan shortly before he was charged with passing information to Hezbollah:

azmi bishara hezbollah

Haaretz added:

A senior Shin Bet official told reporters earlier in the day that Bishara had had prolonged contact with Hezbollah members who were involved in gathering information on Israel.

Bishara allegedly provided “information, suggestions and recommendations,” including censored material, to his contacts in Lebanon during the war.

The Shin Bet official said that Bishara was fully aware of the sensitivity of the information. According to the Shin Bet, he was given “missions” from Hezbollah, which he then carried out.

Bishara allegedly advised Hezbollah on the ramifications of firing missiles further south than Haifa. At the time, Hezbollah was debating whether to strike at targets deeper inside Israel. A few days later, missiles struck south of Haifa for the first time.

The former lawmaker is also suspected of helping Hezbollah with assessments regarding a possible Israeli assassination attempt on Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, as well as offering advice on waging psychological warfare against the Israelis.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Many of the pieces in The Economist are unsigned, so it’s hard to know whether or not Pelham is responsible for the now infamous (and since corrected) reference to Kochav Yair as a “fanatical settlement.” (It is neither.)

….

(See our follow-up post on this story, here)

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Did an Economist editor just issue a thinly-veiled threat to CAMERA?

My colleague Tamar Sternthal (Director of CAMERA’s Israel office) just published a response to a Ha’aretz commentary written by Economist journalist Nicolas Pelham (“Christians in Israel and Palestine“, May 11) which accused Israel’s lobbyists of deceiving the world about the state’s treatment of Christians, and cited Proverbs to admonish the Zionists: “Deceive not with thy lips.”  

headline

As Sternthal demonstrates however, it is Pelham who repeatedly deceives in citing misleading population statistics, falsely claiming that Christmas Trees are banned in the Knesset, and risibly suggesting harmony between Christians and Muslims in the Palestinian territories.

Interestingly, her post prompted another Economist journalist – their community editor Ananyo Bhattacharya – to Tweet the following:

While you can read Pelham’s Ha’aretz essay, and Sternthal’s response, and judge for yourself who’s deceiving and misleading, we can assure Mr. Bhattacharya (who’s also a Guardian contributor) that Sternthal and her colleagues at the US-based media watchdog group won’t lose any sleep over his, umm, ‘friendly advice’, and will continue responding to the Economist’s biased coverage of Israel whenever they see it – aggressively and without fear.

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What the Guardian won’t report: Pew study reveals extreme homophobia in Palestinian society

One of the more bewildering aspects of the UK media’s advocacy on behalf of the Palestinian cause is how many putatively liberal journalists reconcile their views on Israel-Palestine with undeniable evidence attesting to decidedly reactionary political values within Palestinian society.  

While news of Israel’s liberal advantages in the region on a myriad of social issues are often cynically dismissed as ‘hasbara’, or even framed as efforts to ‘whitewash the occupation, news of Palestine’s less than enlightened views on the rights of gays, women and religious minorities are either buried or, sometimes, even excused as the result of Israeli oppression.

As case in point of such news which won’t reach the pages of the Guardian – or, likely, any other UK broadsheet – is the recent publication of a Pew Global Survey on Morality. 

The Pew survey asked tens of thousands of respondents in 40 countries what they thought about moral issues such as homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex, alcohol consumption, divorce, and the use of contraceptives. For each issue, respondents were asked whether this is morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue. 

Though an April 27th Haaretz report on the poll’s results focused narrowly on the conclusions regarding Israel – noting that Israel was more liberal than most of the world, on average, when it comes such moral issues, Haaretz didn’t focus on the results for Palestinians (in Gaza and the West Bank).

Here’s the Pew graph for the ‘Palestinian territories’. (Note that orange is used to indicate ‘unacceptable’, green is ‘acceptable’, while grey indicates people who didn’t believe the topic was a moral issue.)

pal views

As the graph show, only 1% of Palestinian respondents believe that homosexuality is morally ‘acceptable’ behavior.  (The only other countries with the same results were Egypt, Pakistan, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda.)

Further, such results are fully consistent with reports detailing the climate of fear Palestinian gays and lesbians endure due to widespread and often codified intolerance. While the Palestinian Authority has no civil right laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination or harassment, and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association issued a report entitled “State-sponsored Homophobia” which noted that the penal code in Gaza renders homosexual conduct a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

Moreover, “Palestinianism” has never included, for all but a small number of its proponents, a sober reflection on the likely moral and political consequences – for Jews and Palestinians – of the new political entity.

So, while it would be fair to ask ‘liberal’ pro-Palestinian activists if they have any realistic cause for hope that a newly independent Palestinian state would inculcate their citizens with a spirit of tolerance towards its sexual minorities, and enact legislation protecting their rights under the law, perhaps the more important question is: Do they even care?

 

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The Guardian inflates the number of Palestinian refugees by 4,970,000

The Palestinian “refugee” problem is an issue this blog has explored on quite a few occasions, often in the context of pointing out UK media errors relating to the true number of actual refugees.

A case in point is a long article published on April 6 in The Observer (sister site of the Guardian) by incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont, titled ‘Middle East: does either side have the will to strive for peace?.  Though the nearly 2,000 word article is largely unproblematic, the print version included the following graphic which includes extremely inflated figures on “refugees”:

refugees

First, the wording of the passage (underlined in red) on “refugees” is quite confusing, as the words “5 million refugees and their descendants” could be understood as implying that there are ’5 million Palestinian refugees’ from 1948, PLUS an additional number of descendants.  

Alternately, it could be an attempt to acknowledge that not all of the “5 million” Palestinians who are regarded as refugees (per UNRWA’s bizarre formula) are actually refugees, but, rather, are the descendants of the original (unstated number of) refugees.  However, even assuming it’s the latter, this is extremely misleading, since readers would likely never imagine that there are only 30,000 or so actual Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (out of the original 711,000) still alive – or less than 1 percent of the ’5 million’ figure cited.

As we’ve noted previously, the 5 million figure (used by UNRWA) includes the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren (ad infinitum) of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived somewhere in Mandate Palestine, and includes even those who are citizens of other Arab countries (such as Jordan or Lebanon) as “refugees”.

Though such egregious distortions about the actual number of Palestinian refugees are ubiquitous throughout the UK media, we had at least one notable success when we prompted a correction last August in The Telegraph to a passage mirroring the language used by The Observer cited above.  After a series of communications with Telegraph editors, they agreed with our argument and our figures, and revised the original passage (which you can see here) thusly:

corex

Emphasis added

Even this passage isn’t perfect, because it fails to note how many Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (of the original 700,000 or so) are actually still alive, but, in comparison to the Guardian, it at least represents an attempt to accurately represent this widely misunderstood issue. 

h/t Izzy

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Factual errors behind the anti-Israel vote by Royal Institute of British Architects

CiF Watch recently posted about a motion passed by the Royal Institute of British Architects calling on the International Union of Architects (UIA) “to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects’ (IAUA) membership until it acts to resist projects on illegally-occupied land and observes international law and accords”.

The decision was based partly on a presentation given to the group by an anti-Israel activist (and Guardian contributor) named Abe Hayeem.

abe

Here is a response to some of the glaring factual errors which led to the RIBA anti-Israel vote.

1. RIBA claimed that their vote was based partly on Union of International Architects (UIA) Resolution 13 which states that Israeli projects in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) were ‘illegal’, as well as the Resolution’s claim  that “The UIA Council condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention”.  

First, the claim that “Israeli projects in the West Bank are “illegal” – despite what the UK media claims – represents a highly disputed legal contention.  Additionally, almost all Israeli settlements are in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, and is under full Israeli military and administrative control per the Oslo II Accord (1995) – an agreement, signed by the Palestinians, which contains no prohibition against settlement construction.

Also, Israel has not contravened the Geneva Convention.  Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention states

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

No court of law has ever found Israel to be in breach of this Article. The Article was written after WW2, when German and Russia forcibly transferred populations. Israel has not forced anyone to move into the West Bank, nor has it displaced local populations. In fact, the Palestinian population within the territories has increased dramatically

The International court of Justice did find in 2004 that Israel was in breach of the Geneva Convention, but this was in an advisory opinion which is not legally binding.

2. Abe Hayeem’s presentation to the RIBA Council included a characterization of the Prawer Plan for resettlement of the Israeli Bedouin as “ethnic cleansing”.

However, the plan does not even remotely resemble “ethnic cleansing”. It is a plan to give the Bedouin citizens of Israel more services and to reduce the economic and social gaps between the Bedouin and the rest of Israeli society. Many Bedouin supported the Plan (which has been shelved) under which a minority, some 20,000 to 30,000 Bedouin, would have been relocated (a few kilometers from their current place of residence) to recognised Bedouin towns, in order to be connected to Israel’s utility networks and have better access to state services.  Further, most Bedouin would have their current land legalized.  The plan also stipulated that those forced to move would receive financial compensation as well as new plots of land.

3. Hayeem also told the RIBA Council the following:

“Palestinian land has become so fragmented that a viable Palestinian State has been rendered impossible. The map of Palestine, for the indigenous Palestinians, has shrunk from being 97% of the land in 1917 to 44% in 1947 to 22% in 1967.”

First, the “map” he’s referring to has been exposed as a lie.

Further, it is not true that a “viable Palestinian state has become impossible”. Under the final status negotiations, Israel accepts that some settlements will need to be evacuated in the event of a peace agreement. And Hayeem’s figures (97% to 22%) ignore the impact of the immigration of Jews to Palestine in 1917-1947 as well as the 1948 War of Independence which was started by the Arabs but in which the new State of Israel successfully defended itself. In 1917 Israel did not exist! – hence the 97% figure.

4. Hayeem’s presentation to the RIBA Council accused Israel of pursuing “apartheid policies”.

This is an egregious falsehood, as you can see by a thorough refutation of the smear published by BICOM.  (See also Jonathan Hoffman’s critique of Ben White’s book.)

Finally, it’s worth noting that in April 2000 Nelson Mandela came to London and spoke to the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He spoke of the need for Israel to leave the lands taken in 1967 but not unless there was first recognition of the Jewish State by the Arab States:

I added a second position, that Israel cannot be expected to withdraw from the Arab territories which she legitimately conquered when the Arab States wanted to whip her out of the map of the world.”

No mention of ‘apartheid’ in Israel – from a man who spent 27 years as a prisoner of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

(Editor’s Note: To assist those in the UK who oppose the boycott, please sign this petition, and consider contacting the president of the Union of International Architects (UIA), Prof. Albert Dubler, and ask that the group reject RIBA’s endorsement of a policy of racist exclusion targeting Israelis.)

uia@uia-architectes.org (UIA email)

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Peter Beaumont continues Guardian tradition of callously ignoring Israeli terror victims

It would be tempting in critiquing Peter Beaumont’s report on Marwan Barghouti to cite the adage with roots in the Midrash which roughly translates to ‘He Who is Compassionate to the Cruel
Will Ultimately Become Cruel to the Compassionate’, except that there’s no indication that the incoming Guardian Jerusalem correspondent would even acknowledge the malevolence possessed by the arch-terrorist.

Indeed, Beaumont’s report (Palestinians renew calls to free ‘leader-in-waiting’ Marwan Barghouti, March 26) employs all the requisite Guardian methods for covering a story about an imprisoned terrorist whose cause is championed by the Palestinians.

First, Beaumont highlights the ‘suffering’ of family members of the terrorist:

pic 1

Then, there’s the quote from a far-left, marginal former Israeli politician:

pic 2

There’s also an especially strange suggestion that some Israelis don’t consider him a convicted terrorist.

pic 3

And, there is obfuscation of the clear fact that Barghouti has stated repeatedly that he continues to support terrorism as a legitimate tactic to ‘free Palestine’

non-violence

However, the most disturbing element of Beaumont’s report – a dynamic present throughout much of the UK media’s coverage of such issues – is his failure to even note the details of Barghouti’s trail of terror, nor give voice to his Israeli victims.

Barghouti’s ‘fight for the liberation in Palestine’ included several terror attacks in which five Israelis were murdered.

The court which convicted Barghouti found him responsible for a June 2001 attack in Maale Adumim in which a Greek monk was murdered, a January 2002 terror attack in Givat Zeev, a March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv’s Seafood Market restaurant in which three people were murdered, and a car bomb attack in Jerusalem. (Details from the original indictment, which accused Barghouti of responsibility for 33 additional murders, can be viewed here.)

As CAMERA reported, Barghouti is also widely considered to have been one of the main leaders in the Palestinian campaign of violence during the 2nd Intifada and helped found and lead the Fatah-based militias (the Tanzim and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades) which carried out numerous deadly suicide attacks. 

Barghouti also reportedly was complicit in a suicide bombing at a crowd of shoppers on King George Street in Jerusalem on March 21, 2002 which claimed the lives of three and injured 86 others.  Yonatan Bauer, then age 7, was severely wounded in the attack when a screw from the suicide vest passed through his brain.  The picture below was taken within minutes of the attack:

Alan Joseph Bauer stands over his son Yonatan, minutes after they were both injured in suicide attack in Jerusalem on March 21, 2002.

Obfuscating terror; falsely imputing peaceful intentions; and prioritizing the suffering of a terrorist’s family over that of the Israeli victims?

It looks like Harriet Sherwood can be confident her replacement at the Guardian’s Jerusalem desk will be following in the proud tradition of pro-Palestinian “journalism” which represents the unique ideological niche of the London broadsheet.

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How the 30,000 remaining Palestinian refugees from ’48 morph into 5 million

The Times of Israel reported today that, during his meeting with Barack Obama last Monday, Mahmoud Abbas not only refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, but reiterated his refusal to abandon the so-called “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees”. 

000_Was8425442-e1395073647881-635x357

To understand why Abbas continues playing the “refugee” card, a brief look at how the world’s refugees are treated is necessary. 

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the UN agency responsible for aiding all the world’s refugees - “all” the world’s refugees, that is, except for the Palestinians. The tens of millions of actual refugees this agency aids receive initial assistance – which often entails helping to resettle them in a new state – and then they are no longer refugees.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – the UN agency which deals exclusively with Arabs of Palestinian descent – ‘Palestinian refugees‘ are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”  And, the number of Palestinian refugees from the ’48 war who are still alive – out of the initial 711,000 or so – is estimated to be roughly 30,000.  However, due to UNRWA’s expansive definition of who qualifies for “refugee” benefits – which includes the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived in Historic Palestine – over 5 million Arabs of Palestinian descent are considered “refugees”.  This means that 99 percent of their clients are NOT in fact refugees.

Remarkably, under UNRWA’s bizarre rules, even Arabs of Palestinian descent who are citizens of other Arab states – such as Jordan – are still considered “refugees“.  

(Additionally, given that there are 30,000 actual Palestinian refugees, and UNRWA has a payroll of 29,000 employees, the ratio of UNRWA employees to actual refugees is nearly 1:1. In contrast, UNHCR, which handles roughly 43 million refugees throughout the world, has a payroll of only 7,685.)

Keep this mind when reading the following passage from Karma Nablusi’s op-ed at ‘Comment is Free’ titled Despite the cruelties heaped on them, Palestinian refugees’ spirit has not broken, March 21:

The only thing heard nowadays about the majority of the Palestinian people – those made refugees in the Nakba of 1948 – is that they must consider themselves and their fate entirely forfeited. Surrendering their right to return to the place they were expelled from the most basic right every refugee has under international law – is apparently a given.

However, there is no such “right of return” enshrined in international law – and certainly no such right afforded to descendants of refugees. 

When Nablusi, Mahmoud Abbas and most Palestinian advocates speak of the so-called ‘right of return‘ in international law for 5 million Palestinians, they’re possible referring to an amorphous passage from the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which says “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country”.

Or, more likely, they’re alluding to UN General Assembly Resolution 194 – a non-binding resolution from December 1948 which reads in part:

This Resolution established a Conciliation Commission for Palestine and instructed it to “take steps to assist the Governments, and authorities concerned to achieve a final settlement of all questions outstanding between them.” Paragraph 11 deals with the refugees: “The General Assembly … resolves that the [48] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

Regardless of the proper interpretation of 194 regarding the status of the 30,000 remaining refugees from 1948, there appears to be no serious legal argument which would support the inclusion of the descendants of Palestinian refugees, those who were never Israeli citizens or residents – which, again, constitutes 99 percent of the total Palestinian “refugee” population.  

Such an expansive definition would, if applied universally, guarantee the right of millions of descendants of Jewish refugees to ‘return’ to the Arab nations from which they were expelled.

Given that UNRWA and the international community refuses to resettle this population into their host countries in the Middle East where most have lived for generations – and Palestinian leaders won’t allow them into the future state of Palestine - there will likely be no end anytime soon to the ‘refugee crisis’.

As one study projects, if descendants maintain their current status, the number of “refugees” in 2050 will reach 15 million.  

If those truly inspired by a desire to reach a two-state deal would honestly grapple with finding a just resolution to the problem of 30,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War, a solution could easily be found.  

However, if we fail to challenge the fabricated figure of 5 million, then, even when the last actual Palestinian refugees from ’48 have passed on, Palestinian leaders (and activists provided a forum by sympathetic media groups) will still have an endless supply of ‘refugees’ to bludgeon Israel and stymie a possible peace agreement – all of which helps to explain the position of the Palestinian President at the White House last week. 

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Richard Millett reports from London on the latest ‘hate Israel’ event, starring Ben White

fThe following was written by London-based blogger Richard Millett

Israel Apartheid Week” kicked off on Tuesday night with star guests Ben White and Dr Ang Swee Chai speaking at a UCL Friends of Palestine event on Medicine And Apartheid in Palestine.

white eventDr Ang Swee Chai, an orthopaedic surgeon, set up Medical Aid For Palestinians and is a self-confessed fundamentalist Christian. She said that when she was growing up she had lots of Jewish friends and supported Israel. Then in 1982 she turned on the TV and saw Israeli planes dropping bombs on Lebanon. Many of those killed and wounded, she said, were non-combatants.

So she immediately resigned from her hospital job and flew to Beirut under the auspices of Christian Aid. She ended up joining the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which, she admitted, was affiliated to the PLO.

She worked in Beirut’s Gaza Hospital near to Sabra and Shatila and learnt from Palestinians that “many lost their homes when Palestine became Israel”.

She said that the first two things Palestinian children in Sabra and Shatila learn are “their name and the village in Palestine they came from”. “Palestine was never a desert, but a rich centre of civilisation, culture, art and dance,” she continued.

Then she turned to the horrific events of 16th-18th September 1982 in Sabra and Shatila. She said that the day before 700 Israeli tanks drove from South Lebanon to Beirut and when the Israelis arrived they started shooting people.

At Gaza Hospital, she continued, the Israelis demanded that any foreigners leave. She presumed they were going massacre the patients. But two doctors refused to leave and so “our patients survived”.

Throughout her talk she showed graphic images (see below) of dead, dying and badly wounded people and of a mass grave containing, she said, 800 to 1,000 bodies. She finished off with that notorious map of a “disappearing Palestine“.

She described how an 11-year-old boy, who survived, was lined up along with his family as they were “systematically killed” and how he “heard his sister and aunties being raped and crying”.

She finished with an emotional plea:

“I realised what was going on. If I had any doubt about what the Palestinian refugees said to me about how they lost Palestine and had been brutalised, I had no doubt now. Why was I brought up to be so bigoted and prejudiced against the Palestinians. Will G-d give me a chance to do something right for the rest of my life? This story should be told. The Palestinians are still dying and suffering today.”

During the Q&A a Jewish student asked her whether being Christian was the reason for her failure to mention that the massacres at Sabra and Shatila were actually carried out by Christians, to which she responded (see clip here):

“This particular group of Christians was trained by Israel. Six of them confessed that Israel set them up…Where this kind of atrocity happens we need to know who made it possible, who planned it, who sealed the camps so nobody can escape, who flared the skies so the massacre can continue, who provided the bulldozers and all that. The Israeli Kahan Commission found Sharon indirectly responsible. The Christian militia itself was actually under the command of Israel.”

She said she now has further evidence, which has upset her Jewish friends, that the IDF were inside Sabra and Shatila when the massacres occurred.

She was awarded the Star of Palestine.

Meanwhile, Ben “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” White did his usual “Israel is an Apartheid state” rant using slides to attempt to make some sort of case (see below). One slide is humorously headed “Israel is worried”.

Inevitably, White explained the aims of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement, called for a boycott of Israel and finished off quoting ex-IAF captain Yonatan Shapira:

“It is no longer enough to try and change Israel from within. Israel has to be pressured in the same way apartheid South Africa was forced to change.”

White didn’t mention that Shapira once sprayed “Free Gaza” and “Liberate all the ghettos” on to a wall nearby the Warsaw Ghetto where so many Jews lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis.

The same Jewish student asked White why anything he says about Israel is to be trusted considering he “is an anti-Semite”. White responded (see clip here) by saying that he had already made his “opposition to anti-Semitism perfectly clear”. It was a shame White wasn’t pressed about this racist tweet.

When I asked White to explain the difference between the tactics of the Nazis targeting German Jews in the 1930s and those of the BDS movement targeting Israeli Jews in 2014 he kindly plugged my blog before responding (see clip here):

“In one case you are talking about a fascist regime targeting a minority and persecuting them on an anti-Semitic basis. The other case you’re talking about a tried and tested method of civil society to resist oppression, a way of the weak challenging the powerful…Most people can tell the difference…”

White will be doing a reprise of his UCL talk at Amnesty International’s HQ in London on 21st March.

It’s obviously a very quiet time in foreign affairs for Amnesty to be hosting such an event.

Images used by Dr Ang Swee Chai:

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"Mass grave of 800,000 bodies."

“Mass grave of 800 to 1,000 bodies.”

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Slides used by Ben White:

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Springtime for Rouhani: Jack Straw complains that pro-Israel cash stymies US-Iran peace

jack+straw

Jack Straw

In an op-ed on Friday at The Independent, former British foreign secretary Jack Straw revisited a narrative he advanced late last year regarding the alleged injurious impact of funds from Jewish and pro-Israeli groups in the U.S.

During a Parliamentary debate on diplomacy in the Mid-East in late October, Straw reportedly complained that the greatest obstacle to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors is the “unlimited” funds available to Jewish groups and AIPAC which are used to control American policy – comments which Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub complained represented familiar tropes about “sinister Jewish power”.

Straw’s Jan. 17 Indy op-ed (In Hasan Rouhani’s Iran, you can feel the winds of change‘), addresses the broader issue of U.S. – Iran relations, and is giddy with excitement over the peace and harmony that could be achieved if we place our trust in the beneficence of Iran’s putatively moderate president, Hassan Rouhani.  

You can sense the thrill going up his leg as he waxes eloquently on the “courageous” Rouhani who has evidently imbued Tehran with the progressive spirit more akin to “Madrid or Athens” than “Mumbai or Cairo” – all of which would be news to the country’s oppressed Bahai, imprisoned democracy activists and opposition leaders, and families of the 33 Iranians executed in the last week alone. 

The antagonist in Straw’s Iranian Spring tale is clear by the third paragraph, where he recalls his encounters with leaders of the Islamic Republic in 2001:

My first visit to Iran was in late September 2001, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The moderate Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, had courageously reached out to the United States with moral, and much practical, support in the struggle to counter al-Qa’ida.

Then, I went straight from Tehran to Israel. The Israelis concocted a diplomatic row over my using the noun “Palestine” rather than the adjective “Palestinian” in an article for the Iranian press. A banquet for me was cancelled and my meeting with the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was delayed until the small hours. Behind this grammatical nonsense there was a much bigger issue – as there still is – about whether Israel wanted an end to the isolation of Iran, or whether it suited them for  Iran to be damned as a “pariah state” for all time.

Since Israeli and American politics are so intertwined, this was a major question for the US government, too. There are more American PhDs in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Cabinet than there are in US President Barack Obama’s Cabinet. Yet the US quickly squandered all the potential of Mr Khatami’s bid for rapprochement with the West, with the ill-judged inclusion of Iran in President George W Bush’s “axis of evil”. Indeed, US policy  so undermined the Khatami administration that the reformists lost ground, to be replaced by the populist hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Pivoting to the Rouhani era and the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and the P5+1, Straw writes:

President Rouhani’s election last summer was as overwhelming as it was surprising. “He only had 5 per cent in the polls when we started”, one proud supporter told us. The consequences of Mr Rouhani’s victory cannot be overstated. There’s a lightness in the air…

Sustained economic recovery depends in part on internal reform, but also on an end to the nuclear-related sanctions…Sanctions can have eccentric effects. Five hundred Porsches were imported last year, it is claimed. Coca-Cola is freely available; but banking sanctions mean that cancer patients cannot access life-saving imported drugs, even though formally these have been exempt from control.

November’s interim deal agreed in Geneva between Iran and the “P5 + 1” (the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, plus Germany) will come into force on Monday. There’s an obvious prize for Iran in ending all sanctions. There is for the UK too. Above and beyond big trade opportunities, a normalisation of relations will have profound benefits, not least in those troubled countries – Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine – where Iran has such influence.

Finally, Straw cites the greatest obstacle to the normalisation of relations and peace in the region:

Whether a comprehensive deal on Iran can be reached will crucially depend on how far Mr Obama is able to resist the intense lobbying (and financial support) Mr Netanyahu is able to muster in the US Congress.

Beyond Straw’s repugnant suggestion that pro-Israel elements in the US Congress take their marching orders from Jerusalem, and his failure to acknowledge that pro-Israel (and anti-Iran) sentiment is embraced by the overwhelming majority of Americans, it’s important to recall that his recent charges leveled at Jewish groups and Israel seem to reflect a broader narrative of Zionist root causes.  

A few weeks after 9/11, Straw led a Western delegation to Tehran, and delivered the following message in the context of the deadly attacks by al-Qaeda which killed nearly 3,000 Americans: “I understand that one of the factors which helps breed terrorism is the anger which many people in this region feel at events over the years in Palestine.”

Of course, one of the factors which undeniably leads to violence and instability in the Middle East is Iran’s role, according to the U.S. State Department, as the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

However, when you wake up in the morning genuinely convinced that Israel and the state’s Jewish supporters represent the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East, then even a reactionary, Islamist regime which exports terror abroad, while repressing religious minorities, women, gays and political dissidents at home, can evoke your ‘liberal’ sympathy.

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Guardian publishes letter by Gilad Atzmon ally Karl Sabbagh

Karl Sabbagh, the British academic and author of Palestine: A Personal History, had a letter published at the Guardian on Jan 9:

Harry Goldstein’s assertion (Letters, 7 January) that the Palestinians were “offered [a state] in 1947 and refused, preferring to make war on Israel“, must be challenged. The Palestinians were told that 56% of their existing state of Palestine was to be taken away and made into a Jewish state, even though half of the population of the “Jewish” area was Arab. Since the Jews made it clear they wanted even more than the 56% and would take it by force, the Arab armies, far smaller in number and less well-armed than the Jews, moved up to the border of the Jewish state, in an attempt to protect the remaining territory they had been allocated, and stop Israel taking those areas by force. They failed either to stop the Jewish armies or to prevent them expelling Palestinian Arabs from a land in which they had once formed 90% of the population. - Karl Sabbagh

Even by Guardian standards, this is an especially egregious distortion of historical reality.  

First, contrary to what Sabbagh implies, there was never an “existing state of Palestine”. Further, the suggestion that Jews were the belligerent party in 1947-48 represents a remarkable inversion, as it was the Jews (and not the Arabs) who accepted partition, despite the fact that it gave them only a small portion of the land previously promised to them. (Indeed, 77% of the landmass of the original Mandate for the Jews was excised in 1922 to create a fourth Arab state – today Jordan.)

Arab leaders didn’t unleash their armies merely to adjust the borders, but were completely clear that their goal was the total annihilation of the nascent Jewish state.

“I personally wish that the Jews do not drive us to this war, as this will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Tartar massacre or the Crusader wars”. - Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, October 11, 1947

To Arab leaders in the months before and after partition, a Jewish state of any size was intolerable.

Of course,  Sabbagh’s historical distortions concerning Israel’s creation aren’t at all surprising when you consider that he wrote a blurb for one of the most antisemitic books to be published in several years.

“Gilad Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who? is as witty and thought-provoking as its title.  But it is also an important book, presenting conclusions about Jews, Jewishness and Judaism which some will find shocking but which are essential to an understanding of Jewish identity politics and the role they play on the world stage.” Karl Sabbagh 

(You can see more about Atzmon’s extreme antisemitism here.)

Finally, here’s a video of Sabbagh in a panel discussion about the book ‘The Wandering Who?’ heaping more effusive praise on Atzmon.

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Tyranny of the weak: Why the Guardian will support the next Palestinian Intifada

There are quite a few factors which lead us to believe that many Guardian reporters and editors will likely lend moral support to the Palestinians in the event they launch another deadly intifada.  

Specifically, the paper has shown a clear tendency in the past to license extremist commentators who reject peace and reconciliation with Israel and legitimize (if not justify) Palestinian terrorism.  Additionally, their binary moral paradigm in which Palestinians are seen as immutable victims of Israeli oppression further necessitates at least tacit support for the Palestinians’ recourse to violence. 

First, their promotion of extremism:

In 2011, the Guardian published the leaked ‘Palestine Papers’ and, in an official editorial contextualizing the thousands of pages of “confidential” Palestinian records covering years of negotiations with Israel, harshly criticized Palestinian leaders for showing some alleged reasonableness during negotiations, suggesting that they ‘sold out‘ on Palestinian “rights” such as ‘the right of return’ – characterizing such putative flexibility as “craven”.

The Guardian:

“It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak, craven and eager to shower their counterparts with compliments; 

A well-researched report by Just Journalism in 2011 demonstrated the consistent promotion of voices at ‘Comment is Free’ that reject peace negotiations and even Israel’s very right to exist:

Just Journalism:

The Guardian published more op-eds by Palestinians than by Israelis during  the first half of 2011, with eleven comment pieces by nine Palestinian contributors in comparison with six by four Israelis Three of the Palestinians who contributed op-eds during this period were  either members of Hamas or strongly affiliated with it, and have endorsed  terrorist attacks.  Four further Palestinians were secular nationalists who also reject Israel’s legitimacy and endorse policies that would turn it into an Arab majority state…

Here’s one example demonstrating that the Guardian continued to license even terrorists committed to murdering Jews.

Musa Abumarzuq is deputy head of Hamas's political bureau

Musa Abumarzuq is deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau

Editors also published a letter in 2011 by a philosophy professor which explicitly defended the right of Palestinians to murder Israeli civilians (including, presumably, children) in terror attacks – an editorial decision which was actually defended by their readers’ editor following the uproar which ensued.

Here’s the letter:

Also in 2011, the Guardian editorialized about the ‘Arab Spring’, and actually praised the Palestinians for launching intifadas. 

The Guardian:

The leaders of Fatah and Hamas were obliged to reconcile by the forces stirring the Palestinian street. The negotiators of Fatah had stopped negotiating, and the fighters of Hamas had stopped fighting. Both had to respond to a simple idea: if one million Egyptians can fill Tahrir Square demanding Palestinian rights, why can’t Palestinians, who taught the Arab world how to mount insurrections, and mounted two intifadas of their own.

In 2012, during the war in Gaza (Operation Pillar of Defense) Associate Editor Seumas Milne wrote an op-ed defending the right of Hamas terrorists to launch terror attacks against Israelis, and argued that Israel has no such moral right to defend itself. 

Seumas Milne:

“So Gazans are an occupied people and have the right to resist, including by armed force (though not to target civilians), while Israel is an occupying power that has an obligation to withdraw – not a right to defend territories it controls or is colonising by dint of military power.

Even if Israel had genuinely ended its occupation in 2005, Gaza’s people are Palestinians, and their territory part of the 22% of historic Palestine earmarked for a Palestinian state that depends on Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. Across their land, Palestinians have the right to defend and arm themselves, whether they choose to exercise it or not.”

Emboldened by the wave of change and growing support across the region, Hamas has also regained credibility as a resistance force, which had faded since 2009, and strengthened its hand against an increasingly discredited Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah in Ramallah. The deployment of longer-range rockets that have now been shown to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is also beginning to shift what has been an overwhelmingly one-sided balance of deterrence

Oppressor vs. Oppressed Paradigm: 

In addition to what seems to be an almost fetishization of Palestinian political violence, the binary, oppressor-oppressed political framework in which they see the conflict seems to necessitate that they suspend moral judgment when dealing with what they see as the ‘weaker party’.  This moral tick betrayed itself in their 2011 editorial on the Palestine Papers noted above, where they opined about the notes released from the 2008 negotiations between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas:

Guardian:

It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak, craven and eager to shower their counterparts with compliments; the Israelis, who are polite in word but contemptuous in deed; or the Americans, whose neutrality consists of bullying the weak and holding the hand of the strong

More recently, an official Guardian editorial on the current peace process (Israeli-Palestinian talks: perpetual motion, Jan. 1, 2014), began thus:

The secret of perpetual motion eludes scientists but sometimes seems close to being grasped by those involved in the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process. That process has too often been about avoiding peace rather than about achieving it. Movement with no other purpose except to suggest something useful is being done mocks the Palestinians, who have been waiting for more than a generation for a measure of justice.

It is important that the responsibility for this failure is assigned correctly, with the greatest part belonging to Israel, the next largest share to the United States and only the smallest portion to the Palestinians. They have been difficult and sometimes slippery negotiators, and they may – it is arguable – have missed some serious opportunities in the past. But there are two points that must always be borne in mind with the Palestinians: they are the aggrieved party; and they are by far the weakest party.

Indeed much of the Guardian’s world view seems dictated by such platitudes about the virtues of the putatively powerless.

As Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson said in defense of his notorious cartoon (during the Mavi Marmara row) which used biblical imagery in depicting murderous Israeli troops killing the dove of peace, while another soldier aimed his weapon at two unicorns:

 I do my level best to stick to the protocols of alternative comedy of the early 1980s, as well as to HL Mencken’s useful nostrum about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. In other words, I only attack people more powerful than me

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian’s star reporter until late last summer, said at a conference of socialists recently that if you are pleasing the people in power…your job is not journalism.

Much of the Guardian’s shift editorially from the Zionist sympathies under its long time editor and owner CP Scott to their current pro-Palestinianism can arguably be traced to the way in which many on the left began to accept previously marginal theories on the necessity of understanding political affairs in the context of the relationship between the powerful and the powerless.  

Such elites soured on the Jewish State once (in the years following the Six Day War) they were no longer viewed as the underdog besieged on all sides by more powerful foes but, instead, as the confident, successful and militarily dominant modern state.  The Jewish people’s greatest sin, argued Pascal Bruckner, was “having emerged from their immemorial weakness” and, by “fearlessly resorting to force”, betrayed the role of victim that had always been assigned to them.

However, more sober minds would surely understand that Israel’s virtue is not dependent upon either its power relationship with its foes, but, rather, by the inherent justness of its cause: its exceptional tolerance towards religious, ethnic and sexual minorities; the strength, vitality and endurance of its democracy; the dynamism of its economy and disproportionate quantity of scientific advances, and the fact that it continues to faithfully carry out one of its primary missions, to serve as a refuge and safe haven for Jews everywhere – a role Theodore Herzl characterized as “the Guardian of the Jews”.  

Similarly, any intellectually credible assessment of the Palestinian people – one not compromised by the bigotry of low expectations – must avoid the temptation of seeing Palestinians as abstractions, and instead view them as complex political actors who are morally accountable for their decisions.  Those who suggest that Palestinians have no choice but to walk into pizza parlors and ignite suicide vests, sending thousands of pieces of shrapnel coursing through the limbs and organs of innocent men, women and children - all of whom are ‘powerless’ to resist the tyranny of such wanton violence – are not only negating the humanity of the Israeli victim, but denying the moral agency of the Palestinian perpetrator.

If negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians do break down, the Palestinians will still retain the power to freely decide whether to continue pursuing their interests through the political arena, or to return to the path of violence and destruction.  If they choose the latter, then Palestinians, and Palestinians alone, will bear moral responsibility for the unimaginable consequences.

And, if the worst does indeed happen, and Israelis are forced once again to bear the burden of a malicious campaign of terror, then the chances are good that Guardian editorials will fly off the presses ‘contextualizing’ the violence as understandable (if regrettable) last resort of the ‘downtrodden’, while all but ignoring their ‘more powerful’ victims.

Genuinely liberal voices, of course, would never countenance such a facile ethical response to a nihilistic, malevolent course of action, and would certainly never succumb to the fool’s moral calculus which equates weakness with virtue.

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On our 4,000th post: Looking back at a few which went viral

We recently published our 4,000th post.  So, we thought it would be fun to look back at the five most popular posts since this blog was first launched in August of 2009. 

Here they are in order of popularity:

1. On the Guardian’s malign obsession with Israel:

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2. On the Guardian’s “disproportionate” focus on Jews:

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3. On contrasting reactions to offensive or racist cartoons:

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4. Nepotism by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger leads to an embarrassing reprimand

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5.  The charge that Jews are engaged in “ethnic cleansing” in Palestine has as much empirical validity as the garden variety anti-Jewish  conspiracy theories advanced by extremists and their enablers:

fiveOn the occasion of our 4,000th post, we’d like to thank you – our supporters, volunteers, contributors and readers – for your loyalty over the years as we’ve continued ‘speaking truth to power’ in carrying out our primary mission: Combating antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’. 

Here’s looking forward to the next 4,000!

Adam Levick, Managing Editor