Will a new Guardian editor facilitate less biased coverage of Israel?

Amidst recent media reports that Alan Rusbridger will be stepping down after twenty years as editor-in-chief of the Guardian, many have begun wondering whether a change in editors will result in less biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Such questions arise in the context of the disproportionate role played by the Guardian in the delegitimization of Israel and obsessive coverage of the country, as well as its propensity to legitimize anti-Israel extremists and ignore, whitewash and even legitimize antisemitism.

Read the rest of this post, at Times of Israel, here.

How Israel “incarcerates” Christian Bethlehem – a Guardian Production

In 2012, CAMERA refuted an egregiously propagandistic 60 Minutes report by Bob Simon, which included the assertion that Israel’s security barrier “completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the ‘little town’ where Christ was born into what its residents call ‘an open air prison.’”  As CAMERA demonstrated (citing maps by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations, B’tselem, and the PLO), the  barrier is located to the north and west of the city, and does not encircle the town.

While such details about the fence – constructed to protect Israel’s citizens from waves of deadly suicide bombings in the early 2000s – may seem like a somewhat minor point, such agitprop evoking a Christian holy city encircled and besieged by the Jewish State is something of a Christmas tradition within much of the media. 

Though last year during Christmas it was Times of London which lamented the “settlement’s which choke the peace in tiny Bethlehem”,  in years prior it was the Guardian which intoned that ‘If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed’.

This year, the Guardian has re-introduced readers to the ‘imprisoned’ town, publishing two articles (and a video story) which center around a documentary by Palestinian director Leila Sansour titled Open Bethlehem.

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UK media absurd political analogy watch: The Berlin Wall & Israel’s Security Barrier

Ben Zygier (known as Prisoner X) was the Australian-Israeli Mossad agent imprisoned at Ayalon Prison in Ramla on espionage charges who committed suicide in his cell in 2010.

The 2013 row over revelations regarding Zygier’s incarceration and suicide received saturation coverage at the Guardian, and included this claim by Peter Beaumont – then foreign affairs editor for The Observer, sister site of the Guardian – in a report on Feb. 14th.

“The latest revelations come amid a growing outcry over the case in Israel, with some comparing the treatment of Zygier to that meted out in the Soviet Union or Argentina and Chile under their military dictatorships.”

The comparison, as we noted at the time, was simply bizarre. Indeed, the very term “Prisoner X”, implying that his identity and whereabouts were mysterious, was itself a misnomer, as Zygier’s original arrest warrant was issued by an authorized court, his incarceration was supervised by the Israeli judiciary, and the proceedings were overseen by the most senior Justice Ministry officials. Zygier was also legally represented by a top Israeli lawyer.

To evoke a comparison with the USSR – where several million Soviet “enemies of the state” died (due to overwork, starvation, torture or summary executions) after being sent, without anything resembling due process, to Gulag camps – is risible.

More recently, we found another example of the media’s use of a blatantly false analogy – in an article published at i100 (The Independent’s Buzzfeed-style news brand).

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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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