What the Guardian Left’s silence about ’40 Palestinian war crimes’ means to the peace process

Israeli children in a Sderot bomb-proof bunker, 2009 (Credit: Noam Bedein)

Israeli children in a Sderot bomb-proof bunker, 2009 (Credit: Noam Bedein)

Yesterday, at 16:27 Israeli time, the Guardian published an essay by Margot Ellis, deputy commissioner-general for UNRWA, about what she claims is the growing humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza.  Her piece, ‘Aid money follows the cameras, which is why Palestine is suffering so badly‘, March 12, is quintessential Guardian in that it places the blame for Palestinian suffering on Israel, and literally doesn’t say a word in an over 800 word piece about the responsibility of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.  

But, not only does Ellis characteristically portray Palestinians as passive victims, but actually makes the claim – in a paper, remember, which provides obsessive coverage of Israel and the Palestinian territories - that there isn’t enough media attention paid to their plight, and, perhaps even more risibly given their share of international aid, that Palestinians don’t receive their fair share of funding.  Ellis’s demands consisted of a plea that more attention be paid to Palestinian suffering, an increase in aid to UNRWA, and an end to Israel’s (legal) blockade of Gaza.

At approximately 17:14 on the same day, as Israeli kids were returning home from school, Code Red sirens began to wail throughout southern Israel, as an onslaught of roughly 40 rockets and mortars were fired at Israeli civilians by terrorists in Gaza (aka, 40 individual war crimes), causing thousands in cities such as Sderot and Netivot to spend the night in bomb shelters.  

This latest barrage adds to the more than 8,000 such attacks since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and represents the largest single volley since the end of Pillar of Defense in November 2012.

Interestingly, if you look on the Guardian’s Israel, Palestine and Gaza pages, though you’ll see their live coverage yesterday of Prime Minister Cameron’s visit to Israel which included a Live Blog of his speech before the Knesset, you won’t find a single news item on the Palestinian attack. (Indeed, the sole entry which pertains to the attack thus far is a brief AP dispatch in their World News section which was not easy to locate.)

The Guardian’s relative silence in the face of such a clear breach of international law – in intentionally targeting civilians – by Palestinians in Gaza should be seen in the context of the media group’s consistent failure, per Ellis’s essay noted above, to hold Palestinians responsible for their destructive behavior.  

In reading the Guardian you’d almost be forgiven if you didn’t know that Hamas – the group ruling Gaza – rejects the existence of a Jewish state within any borders, indoctrinates its youth with a homicidal antisemitic ideology and is guided by a founding charter which cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as “proof” that Jews are trying to take over the world. 

Further, when Guardian approved ‘international development’ experts like Ellis assess social and economic problems in Gaza, but fail to factor in the injurious impact of Hamas’ extremist Islamist ideology, their misuse of development funds for terrorist tunnels and weapons manufacturing, and the tyranny they impose on women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents, they deny readers the opportunity to understand the larger context of the current peace process.

Of course, the broader lessons of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and the ongoing terror emanating from the Strip may elude many on the Left, but are intuitive to most Israelis.  Polls in Israel which show overwhelming support for talks, support (in principle) for the creation of a Palestinian state, but which also demonstrate great skepticism that any such deal with Mahmoud Abbas will actually result in genuine peace, reflect painful lessons learned from their withdrawal from S. Lebanon, the terror spawned by Oslo and the Gaza pullout. 

The failure of many on the activist Left to passionately condemn Gaza terror, or even minimally hold Palestinian leaders responsible for current hostilities, tells a skeptical, war-weary Israeli public that if a pull-out from the West Bank were to result (as they fear) in an extremist government ruling Palestine, then such voices will similarly remain silent in the face of endless terror, and likely blame Israel for preventative and retaliatory measures necessitated by such attacks.

While even those putatively friendly to the Jewish state never tire in lecturing Israelis on the need of a two-state solution – which includes an often thinly veiled threat of unspecified consequences if they fail to make concessions they believe are necessary for peace – very few see fit to warn Palestinians of the consequences of the incitement, terror and antisemitism which permeates their society. 

As long Palestinian are not held accountable for behavior which is inimical to peace, and two-state advocates fail to take into account the previous failures of the ‘land for peace’ deals when discussing the current two-state formula, then Israelis will have little incentive to make the painful compromises always demanded of them by the often hubristic and morally sanctimonious ‘progressive voices‘ in the West.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Telegraph cites PLO claim that Israeli bill requiring vote on territorial withdrawal ‘stabs peace efforts’

For those of us used to hysterical claims made at the Guardian and elsewhere warning of the potential demise of Israeli democracy, it’s quite entertaining to see even the most robust democratic expressions within the Jewish state somehow framed as inconsistent with progressive values.  

A case in point is a March 11th article in the Daily Telegraph by Inna Lazareva (Israel set to pass bill on peace deal referendum) which focuses on the imminent passing of three bills in the Knesset – one of which would instill a requirement for a nation-wide ballot on any decision by the government to concede land in Israel, ‘eastern’ Jerusalem and Golan to achieve a peace agreement.  (What’s known as the Referendum Bill faces a final vote on Thursday morning.)

telegraph

After quoting some Israeli critics of the new law, including Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Isaac Herzog – who claimed that the legislation strips the Knesset of the power to cede land – Lazareva then pivots to the Palestinian reaction:

The new law demonstrates that Israel is “extending one hand for peace, and stabs peace efforts with the other hand”, said Yasser Abd Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee.

 So, are Palestinians, per the PLO – an organization evidently now passionately committed to peace and non-violence – truly outraged at the idea of a national referendum on a final status agreement between the two parties?

Not likely.

As several news sites – including the Guardian – reported last July, none other than Mahmoud Abbas himself (in an interview with a Jordanian paper) made a pledge that “any agreement reached with the Israelis will be brought to a [Palestinian] referendum.”

Indeed, this wasn’t the first time Abbas made such a claim.  

In February last year, Abbas said the following at a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah:

If there is any development and an agreement, it is known that we will go to a referendum,” Abbas clarified. “It won’t be enough to have the approval of the Fatah Central Committee or the PLO Executive Council for an agreement. Rather, we would go to a referendum everywhere because the agreement represents Palestinians everywhere.”

The news sites which actually covered Abbas’s announcements naturally did not frame such a decision as a ‘blow to peace’.

Finally, though we’re not holding our collective breaths that such a Palestinian plebiscite will ever occur, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that such a vote – if it takes place – would represent the first significant democratic expression in the Palestinian Authority in quite some time.

President Abbas just entered his tenth year of his four-year term in office.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Guardian reveals a ‘racist’ song somewhere in the Middle East

Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor, published a story on Feb. 11th titled ‘Barack Obama cruel for preparing to sell out Jerusalem says Israeli singer’focusing on a song by Israeli songwriter Amir Benayoun which “accuses a ‘cruel’ Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu of preparing to sell out [Jerusalem] as part of a peace agreement”.  

Black contextualizes the story by arguing that Benayoun “represent[s] an increasingly important demographic in Israel, and one that is unlikely to support any division of Jerusalem”.

However, save one gratuitous and arguably bigoted reference to the American President’s middle name, the lyrics of the Sephardi performer’s song are pretty tame, and the editorial decision to devote an entire article on it is especially curious given the paper’s failure to devote any coverage to official Palestinian incitement which sometimes includes explicit calls to murder “evil” Jews.

Here are a few examples which Black or any of his “anti-racist” colleagues could have easily found merely by perusing the website of Palestinian Media Watch.

This Palestinian Authority (PA) TV music video promotes violence and martyrdom for children:

This song demands violence and jihad, and aired on a PA TV cultural show:

This kids’ music video which appeared on PA TV demands that they fight Jews for their mother’s honor:

This PA TV kids’ music video demands that kids fight the evil Jews:

As we’ve noted previously, the Guardian’s almost complete silence in the face of hundreds upon hundreds of examples of state sanctioned anti-Jewish racism – and the glorification of terror – by the PA ensures that their readers will never truly understand the dynamics representing the biggest impediments to peace in the region.

Additionally, Black’s decision to focus on one marginal example of an Israeli musical figure expressing skepticism about peace, while ignoring antisemitic cultural expressions which represent the norm within Palestinian society, provides further evidence of the media group’s inability to hold Palestinians and Israelis accountable to the same moral standards.  

Such ‘bigotry of low expectations’ continues to define the ideology of the Guardian Left. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Another Guardian journalist falsely claims that Palestinians have abandoned terror

Last month, we posted about a remarkably misleading claim by Harriet Sherwood in an article about recent investigations into the death of Yasser Arafat: 

Arafat was a man who divided the world: revered by Palestinians and their supporters, reviled by Israel and its allies. Nine years after his death, a portrait of him still hangs in most Palestinian homes. Nonetheless, the Palestinian people have inevitably moved on. Acts of violence, espoused by Arafat, are rare in the West Bank, and rocket fire from Gaza has dropped; instead, the Palestinian leadership has invested its hopes in diplomacy and negotiations.

We noted that her broad suggestion that Palestinians have largely abandoned Arafat’s ‘strategy’ of terrorism represented an egregious distortion based on empirical data detailing the quantity of terror attacks since his death.  Further, we argued, though such attacks have decreased overall in comparison to the height of the 2nd Intifada, this reduction can largely attributed to the construction of Israel’s security fence and more effective counter-terror measures – not an evolution in Palestinian attitudes towards terror.

In response to Sherwood’s specific claim that “acts of violence…are rare in the West Bank“, we cited a report by BBC Watch’s Hadar Sela which noted the following: 

“Statistics provided by the ISA [Israel Security Agency] for the months July to November 2013 shows that the number of terror attacks taking place in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Jerusalem since the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO on July 29th has more than doubled“. 

Terror incidents since July, 2013.

Now, five weeks after Sherwood’s report, Guardian columnist Michael Cohen has made a similarly false claim about Palestinian terror. His Jan. 19th op-ed about current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians included the following:

But with the head of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas as supportive of a two-state solution as any Palestinian leader ever; with Hamas in a historically weak position and with Palestinians having largely turned their back on violence as a political tool the Palestinian leadership have stuck along with Kerry’s diplomacy even they are almost certain to get something less than a good deal.

In addition to statistics provided above which clearly contradict claims by Sherwood and Cohen that Palestinians have abandoned terror, report on Arab public opinion by Pew Global in September demonstrated that “support for suicide bombing and other violence aimed at civilian targets [is] widespread in the Palestinian territories“.  A full 62% of Palestinian Muslims believe that such attacks “are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies”.

pal terrorism supportSuch obfuscations by Guardian journalists about the prevalence of Palestinian terrorism (and the overwhelming popular support for such political violence) are extremely injurious to their readers.  

Without taking into account the impact of such terror – particularly Israeli fears that, even in the event a final status agreement is reached, they’ll continue to be terrorized by sniper fire, bombings and rocket attacks – it’s impossible to honestly assess the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and consider the real factors impeding a just resolution. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

‘Arafat is still dead’: Guardian ‘mentions’ French report that he was NOT poisoned

“Our top story tonight: Generallissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.” – Saturday Night Live (Season 1, Episode 7)

Yasser Arafat has been dead for nine years, but attempts to resuscitate old libels suggesting that he was murdered by Israel will likely continue to periodically grace the pages of the Guardian – at least as long as someone, somewhere, claims to have new, previously unrevealed evidence.  

On November 6, the Guardian devoted five separate articles (hereherehere, here and here) encompassing over 3200 words to a ‘stunning’ new report by Swiss scientists on their autopsy of Arafat’s remains.  (Details of the Swiss report were originally obtained by the Guardian’s ideological ‘sister-site’ Al-Jazeera.)

Whilst the story, alleging that the late Palestinian leader was likely poisoned by radioactive polonium, was the lead story on the Guardian’s home page for several hours the day the story broke, the paper all but ignored analyses published elsewhere which were highly critical of the Swiss conclusions.

indy

The Independent, Nov. 8

nature

Nature (International Weekly Journal of Science), Nov. 7

Yesterday, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood reported on the results of a new French report which seems to completely contradict the Swiss findings.

swiss

The French report found that Arafat’s death in 2004 was caused by the effects of “old age following a generalised infection”, and ruled out the possibility that he was poisoned.  In contrast to the paper’s saturation coverage of the Swiss findings, Sherwood’s latest story on the new report was not featured on the Guardian’s home page, and was consigned to page 19 in the print edition of the paper.

Of course, the conclusions of the French team are not at all surprising in the context of many facts previously revealed about the case, including the following:

  • After Arafat’s death, in November of 2004, the Palestinian Authority refused to release medical records which would have shed light into the cause of death.
  • Despite immediate accusations after Arafat’s death that Israel likely was to blame, neither the Palestinian Authority nor Arafat’s widow Suha allowed an autopsy to be performed on the body.
  • A New York Times report in 2005 (based on an examination of Arafat’s medical records the paper had obtained) concluded that he died of “a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection,” and that Arafat did not suffer the extensive kidney and liver damage they would expect to see if he was exposed to a lethal toxic substance – findings, they noted, which “argued strongly against poisoning”.

Like the Spanish dictator mocked in the SNL skit, Yasser Arafat – known as the father of modern terror‘ – is “still dead”.  However, as long as someone has an anti-Zionist axe to grind, and can find sympathetic editors at compliant pro-Palestinian news sites, we can likely expect sensational stories legitimizing ‘new theories’ surrounding the cause of his ‘untimely’ death for many years to come.

Facts about Yasser Arafat’s death and life the Guardian won’t report

The Guardian devoted five separate articles (here, here, here, here and here) on Nov. 6 to a recently released report by Swiss scientists on their autopsy of Yasser Arafat’s remains which was originally obtained by Al-Jazeera.

pal page

Though, in fairness, the Guardian’s reporting on the Swiss findings (which reportedly showed unexpectedly high levels of radioactive polonium-210) was relatively restrained – mostly noting that the substance found on Arafat only indicate that he could have been poisoned, the stories do significantly downplay or ignore evidence indicating that poison likely was not the cause of death.

Here are a few facts:

  • After Arafat’s death, in November of 2004, the Palestinian Authority refused to release medical records which would have shed light into the cause of death.
  • Even more curious (especially in the context of the immediate accusations of murder directed towards Israel), neither the Palestinian Authority, nor Arafat’s widow Suha, allowed an autopsy to be performed on his body.
  • report in 2005 by The New York Times (based on an examination of Arafat’s medical records which the paper had obtained) concluded that he died of “a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection,” and that Arafat did not suffer the extensive kidney and liver damage they would expect if he was exposed to a lethal toxic substance – findings, they noted, which “argued strongly against poisoning”.
  • Arafat’s remains have been examined by two additional forensic teams other than the Swiss team (French and Russian), but those results have not yet been made public.
  • The original ‘exclusive’ Al Jazeera report on the Swiss findings noted that, in the event Arafat was poisoned, his Palestinian rivals at the time of his death would have to be considered main suspects – a possibility not even mentioned in the more than 3200 words the Guardian devoted to the story. 
  • Al Jazeera reported that though the evidence suggests poisoning, “no evidence has emerged that implicates [Israel]“, while the Guardian framed the findings as merely ‘not definitively proving that Israel murdered the Palestinian leader’.

Whilst we may never know with certainty the exact cause of Arafat’s death, we do know quite a bit about the lives he extinguished during his long reign of terror, a resume which includes launching and directing a four-year campaign of violence directed at innocent civilians known as the Second Intifada, and his leadership role in dozens of deadly attacks against Israelis which date back to the 1960′s.

As we Tweeted last year after questions emerged about the possible poisoning of Arafat, we humbly wish those concerned with whether there was foul play in his death would show as much concern for the surviving families and loved ones of those he murdered. 

victims_mosaic_406x480

Photo of Israeli terror victims (Algamor)

Analysis the Guardian won’t provide: Why Israel opposes UN forces in the Jordan Valley

As U.S. brokered peace negotiations continue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, we thought it would be helpful to provide some context regarding reports by Harriet Sherwood that, in any final agreement, Israel wants permission to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley. The JCPA created a site dedicated to explaining why Israel feels it cannot withdraw from the area and rely on protection from the UN or other international forces. 

Additionally, here’s a short video, produced by the JCPA, which effectively illustrates Israeli concerns. 

The “Jewish community” comes under attack at Amnesty International event

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

dscf4650

The UN’s Hamed Qawasmeh (right) next to the chairperson at Amnesty in London on Monday.

It didn’t take too long for yet another anti-Israel event at Amnesty International to spill over into criticism of Jews. It was Monday night and Hamed Qawasmeh had finished speaking on the subject of Human Rights in Hebron and Area C of the West Bank.  

Qawasmeh is a long time employee of the United Nations and his current remit is to “document human rights violations in the southern West Bank” (apparently human rights violations don’t extend as far as the recent cold-blooded murders of two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, one in Hebron itself. Neither murder was mentioned during the event).

Qawasmeh described how Israel uses its control of Area C to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. It does this, he said, by refusing to grant building permits, by demolishing Palestinian homes, by evictions and by building military zones and nature reserves so as to confiscate more land. Then there are the roadblocks, checkpoints and “separation wall”.

He claimed the Israeli government refuses to allow Israeli electricity companies to build electricity pylons for Palestinian homes near Jewish settlements.

Quite magnanimously, Qawasmeh did say that he had no problem with Israel wanting to protect its own people by building the wall, but that the wall should stick to the “1967 border” and not snake into the West Bank.

During the Q&A I stated that “settlements” are not illegal and that the so-called “1967 border” was not a border but merely an armistice line. I also said that when visiting Hebron twice I had seen many palatial Palestinian-owned houses en route.

I had intended to go on to ask how there could be any peace while Palestinian Authority television shows Palestinian children saying they want to become “martyrs” and with the Hamas calling for the murder of Jews via their Charter.  But by then the audience was getting restless and vocal and the chairperson was telling me I had taken up enough time. I tried to persist with my question but it got lost in a noise of insults. Meanwhile, a woman from the audience approached me and held my arm while asking me to leave the room with her.

I slumped back into my chair and stayed silent as the discussion moved onto how Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian children on their way to school and how Israel rounds up large numbers of Palestinian “kids” and tortures them under interrogation.

I felt I had to challenge such allegations, upon which Abe Hayeem rose to his feet (you can read all about Hayeem here). Hayeem pointed at me and said:

“He must be removed. He disrupts every meeting. He signifies the sort of people that are in Hebron. And I suggest that your (Qawasmeh’s) presentation should be made to the Jewish community here. The total injustice and criminality of what has happened here doesn’t penetrate him…”

This seemed to be a totally unprovoked attack on “the Jewish community”. But instead of being criticised for such an outburst Qawasmeh assured Hayeem that he gives his presentation to Israelis and also to “Jews who come from the States”.

On leaving the room I was confronted by a young woman who told me that her grandmother, who was a Holocaust survivor, would be ashamed of my behaviour. Someone else told me that she had no problem with Hamas. I was also twice told that my manner was too aggressive and that I was “not helping my own cause”.

Overlooking these shenanigans was Amnesty’s campaigns manager Kristyan Benedict. Benedict once tweeted “Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon and Luciana Berger walk into a bar…each orders a round of B52s … #Gaza”. The three MPs happen to be Jewish. He also once threatened to beat me up after another Amnesty event, again after I had questioned what I had heard.

According to the Jewish Chronicle Benedict was forced to apologise for his tweet and Amnesty said that he would “focus his energy on managing AIUK’s crisis work, particularly the human rights crisis in Syria”. But on Tuesday night he wasn’t focusing on Syria. He was at this disgusting anti-Israel event, albeit not chairing it for once.

Old habits obviously die hard.

CiF Watch prompts another UK media correction to Palestinian ‘political prisoner’ claim

Back in late July, we posted about a story in The Independent written by Allistair Dawber pertaining to concessions Israel made to the Palestinians in order to restart peace talks, which included the following passage:

Details of the latest Middle East peace plan began to emerge today, hours after John Kerry announced that he had brokered an agreement that is likely to lead to fresh talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The most significant concession appears to be a promise by Israel to release a number of high-ranking [pre-Oslo] Palestinian political prisoners, many of whom have been behind bars for decades. Prisoner releases have been a longstanding demand of the Palestinian leadership.

As we noted at the time, characterizing these 104 prisoners (convicted before the Oslo Agreement in 1993) as “political prisoners” – mirroring the Palestinian narrative which glorifies even the most loathsome terrorists – is definitively contradicted by detailed information CiF Watch obtained from the Israel Justice Ministry. This data (translated and published exclusively by CAMERA) included details of the crimes and other relevant facts on every Palestinian prisoner in question – proving conclusively that all of the prisoners were convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder.

As we’ve noted previously, one of the Palestinian prisoners in question, Ateya Abu Moussa, was convicted of murdering a Holocaust survivor named Isaac Rotenberg with an axe in 1994. (The attack on Rotenberg was carried out by Abu Moussa and an accomplice as a ‘precondition’ of their entry into a terrorist organization.) 

The following – a snapshot from a site dedicated to Sobibor survivors – is one of the few photos we were able to find of Rotenberg.

So conclusive was our evidence that we were able to get a correction from the Guardian a month after Harriet Sherwood had also described the Palestinians in question as “political prisoners” in a report.

We similarly engaged in a series of exchanges with Indy editors over the language used in Dawber’s story and, after some time, they agreed to revise the passage. Here’s how it reads now:

The most significant concession appears to be a promise by Israel to release a number of high-ranking Palestinian prisoners, many of whom have been behind bars for decades.  Jail releases have been a long-standing demand of the Palestinian leadership, which regards the individuals as ‘political prisoners’.  The Israeli government disputes that view.

Whilst the last sentence of the revised passage – suggesting that the ‘question’ of whether murderers should be characterized as political prisoners is open for debate - is in itself a troubling commentary on the moral relativism which infects the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we nonetheless commend Indy editors on their decision.

11 years ago: How the Guardian reported 2002 Netanya Passover Massacre

The attack

On March 27, 2002, a Hamas terrorist named Abdel-Basset Odeh broke into a Passover Seder at the dining hall of the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel, and set off powerful explosives in a suitcase he was carrying, murdering 30 of the 250 people (mostly elderly Jews) in the crowded room.  One hundred and fifty more people were injured in what would become known as the bloodiest attack of the 2nd Intifada.

Several of the victims were Holocaust survivors.

passover

Photos of those killed in the Passover bombing

Guardian report:

One of the most remarkable elements of the Guardian’s initial report on the Passover Eve suicide bombing is how relatively little space was devoted to the actual attack and to the victims.

The opening sentence of the March 28, 2002 report on the bombing, by Suzanne Goldenberg (in Beirut) and Graham Usher (in Jerusalem), is telling.  Note that the immediate focus is on the diplomatic ramifications, not on the Israeli dead and injured.

“A Palestinian suicide bomber walked into a hotel lobby crowded with Israelis gathered for the ritual Passover meal last night, dealing a crushing blow to efforts at the Arab summit to open a new chapter with the Jewish state.”

Goldenberg continues:

“Police said 16 people were killed and more than 140 wounded after the bomber detonated a large bag of explosives in a dining room of the Park hotel in the seaside town of Netanya. It was one of the deadliest attacks in 18 months of fighting.”

Actually, 22 civilians were killed instantly in the blast and another 8 died of their wounds over the next few days. 

Goldenberg:

“The explosion tore through the hotel, blowing out walls and windows and overturning tables and chairs. “Suddenly it was hell,” said one of the guests, Nechama Donenhirsch, 52. “There was the smell of smoke and dust in my mouth and a ringing in my ears.”

Televised scenes showed screaming women, wailing ambulances, cloaked bodies and shop awnings buckled by heat. Israeli police reported that several of the wounded were in “life-threatening condition”.”

The murderer’s bag was packed with 20 lbs of explosives, as well as ball bearings and metal pellets to maximize the carnage from the blast. 

Metal pellets and metal pieces added to the explosives to increase casualties

Metal pellets and metal pieces added to the explosives to increase casualties

Goldenberg continues – again expressing concern for the diplomatic fallout, and the potential for Israeli ‘revenge’.

“The Islamic militant group Hamas told an Arab satellite television station that it was responsible for the attack. The bombing threatened to derail the latest US truce mission, which survived two suicide attacks last week. George Bush denounced the bomb attack as “callous, cold-blooded killing”.

The Palestinian Authority said it “strongly condemned” the bombing and Palestinian security sources said Yasser Arafat had ordered the arrest of four key militants in the West Bank.

Many in Israel saw yesterday’s attack as an event which could goad the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, into launching a crushing military offensive on the West Bank and Gaza. An Israeli government spokesman talked of a “Passover massacre”, vowing “far-reaching responses against Palestinian Authority facilities”. “

Again, Goldenberg:

“The bomb went off at about 7.20pm, as dozens of guests settled down for the Passover Seder in the dining hall.

Netanya has been targeted several times by Palestinians during the 18-month intifada, due to its proximity to the West Bank border. On March 2 Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis, including a baby, in the same area as last night’s attack.

The town had been put on maximum alert after warnings of attacks during the Passover holiday. But it is impossible to prevent suicide attacks, said Netanya’s mayor, Miriam Feyerberg. “This is a city that can be infiltrated from many different directions.” Ms Feyerberg, who witnessed the carnage, said: “I saw little children, bodies. And I want to say something to the Arab leaders in Beirut. This is not resistance. This is murder.” “

And, then the Guardian story strangely changed focus.

Almost all of Goldenberg’s next 663 words (out of a 1072 word report) pertains not to the savage murder of dozens of innocent Israeli civilians but to Arab regional politics and infighting.  The final sentence of the story, in bold (emphasis added), is simply surreal in the context of the Jewish suffering which had just occurred.

“The bombing offered a cruel contrast to attempts by Saudi Arabia to contain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by conjuring up the prospect of a broad Arab peace.

Minutes after Crown Prince Abdullah outlined for the first time his ideas for a land-for-peace deal with Israel in Beirut yesterday, the summit was thrown into chaos with the Lebanese hosts blocking Mr Arafat from addressing Arab leaders via satellite link.

The Palestinian delegation marched out. It was eventually persuaded to remain in Beirut overnight, but the outburst exposed the internal rivalries among the 22 Arab League states.

While the crown prince appealed to the Israeli public to put their trust in peace, Syria’s Bashar Assad called on Arab leaders to support the Palestinian uprising, and condemned the Jewish state as a “living example” of terrorism.

An Arab newspaper said last night it had received an email it believed to be from Osama bin Laden, denouncing the Saudi peace initiative and praising Palestinian suicide attacks. Associated Press said the language of the email, sent to al-Quds a-Arabi, a London-based daily, resembled that used in previous statements by Bin Laden.

The two-day meeting opened in Beirut with two key moderate leaders distancing themselves from the proceedings after Israel barred Mr Arafat from leaving his headquarters in Ramallah. Jordan’s King Abdullah withdrew early yesterday, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak stayed home.

Palestinian officials said Mr Arafat waited in a Ramallah television studio for hours yesterday listening to a succession of speeches before giving up on his fellow Arab leaders and delivering his speech to al-Jazeera television.

“He was kept waiting from 11am to 2.30pm,” said Majdi Khaldi, an adviser to Mr Arafat and a member of the delegation. “We cannot accept that.”

After the Palestinian leader was put on hold for a speech by Mr Assad, “we understood the message: that the summit chairman will not allow Mr Arafat to make his speech – even if he wants to”.

At first the Lebanese organisers said they pulled the plug on Mr Arafat because they feared a live broadcast could be hijacked by Mr Sharon. Later, they blamed technical reasons and egos.

“Our Palestinian friends wanted their chairman to speak first, and when they saw the list was long, they lost patience,” said Ghassan Salameh, Lebanese summit spokesman.

The explanations suggest that more radical states such as Syria and Lebanon were working behind the scenes to deflect attention from Prince Abdullah’s peace proposal.

In his speech on al-Jazeera, Mr Arafat endorsed the Saudi initiative. However, Mr Assad and Lebanon’s President Emile Lahoud were deeply unsettled by the gesture towards their sworn enemy.

Some of those reservations were acknowledged by Prince Abdullah yesterday, who toughened the original conditions of his proposal and down graded its reward for Israel.

The changes are a reversion to traditional Arab positions: a full Israeli withdrawal from lands occupied since the 1967 war, a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees – which was absent from the original proposal.

In an unusual appeal to Israelis, Prince Abdullah said that if their government accepted the plan: “We will not hesitate to accept the right of the Israeli people to live in security with the people of the region.”

Hopes that other states would rally behind the Saudi initiative to produce a collective Arab vision for peace were undercut by Syrian and Lebanese addresses.

“The real danger resides in our collective submission to ‘pressures’ to put an end to the resistance and intifada in return for halting aggression, totally discarding the occupation,” said Mr Lahoud. He called for the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes.

In a rambling discourse on terrorism and the aftermath of September 11, Mr Assad called on Arab states to support the uprising and to sever – or suspend ties – with Israel until peace was achieved.

It’s time to save the Palestinian people from the new holocaust they are living in,” he said.” [emphasis added]

Aftermath:

Shortly after the attack, at Al-Baset Odeh’s home in the West Bank town of Tulkarm, “the suicide bomber’s father, brother, uncle and other relatives sat at a wake, and received congratulations from friends and neighbors“. ”Everyone’s proud of him,” his older brother, Issam Odeh, reportedly said.

The following week, in early April, the Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg was one of the journalists who covered Israel’s military response to the Passover Massacre, Operation Defensive Shield.  Her report on the especially hard fighting in the West Bank town of Jenin, which involved house to house fighting in a neighborhood known to be a terrorist enclave, advanced the lie that an Israeli atrocity against innocent Palestinians had taken place. Her dramatic report on April 16, which used terms like “massacre” and “summary executions”, and accepted the most risible Palestinian claims at face value, were proven wildly inaccurate by a subsequent UN investigation.  Goldenberg never apologized, nor was a retraction ever published.  

Less than a year later, the Palestinian Authority named a football tournament after Shahid Abd Al-Baset Odeh.

A poster in which the Hamas movement in Tulkarm announces the death as a martyr of Muhammad Abd al-Basset Oudeh.

A poster in which the Hamas movement in Tulkarm announced the martyrdom of Abd al-Basset Oudeh.

Among the Palestinians released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal in 2011 was Hamas terrorist Nasser Yataima, who was sentenced to 29 life sentences for having planned the 2002 Passover Massacre.

Arafat’s terror war from 2000 to 2005 claimed 1064 Israeli lives.  Over seven thousand more were injured. The overwhelming majority of the Israeli victims were civilians.

Will Guardian report on Palestinian prisoner who died in ‘Palestinian Authority’ prison?

H/T This Ongoing War

On Feb. 25 we commented on the Guardian’s coverage of the death of Arafat Jaradat in an Israeli prison.  

Phoebe Greenwood led her Feb. 24 Guardian report with completely unsubstantiated claims by the Palestinian Authority that Jaradat, an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member who was arrested on Feb. 18 due to his alleged involvement in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli, died as the result of torture.  

Jaradat’s death, and subsequent funeral, inspired several days of rioting in the West Bank. 

The Guardian published two stories on Jaradat’s death in two days.

pal prisoner

We noted in our post that Israeli pathologists involved in Jaradat’s autopsy were awaiting the results of tests which would help determine the cause of the death and whether there was any credence to charges that he was tortured.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, Israeli authorities published the first results of the pathologists’ tests. 

Times of Israel wrote the following:

The preliminary results of Arafat Jaradat’s autopsy reveal no signs of violence or poisoning, Israeli pathologists revealed Thursday, contradicting previous statements by a Palestinian doctor who attended the procedure.

A team of Israeli doctors headed by Professor Yehuda Hiss of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, Professor Arnon Afek, the Health Ministry’s Director of Health Administration, and Professor Iris Barshack, chief pathologist at the Sheba Medical Center, reported based on an examination of microscopic remains from the late Jaradat’s body that “no evidence was found of poisoning and no evidence was found of physical violence. According to a statement by the Health Ministry, Jaradat’s internal bleeding and fractured bones were characteristic of the 50 minutes of resuscitation attempts made by prison staff and emergency response staff to save his life. The forensic institute will continue to conduct examinations in order to determine Jaradat’s cause of death.”

Whilst the question of whether Greenwood, or anyone else at the Guardian, will update the story on Jaradat to include the latest evidence regarding his death is worth raising, another parallel event has occurred which may serve as an effective barometer on the consistency of the Guardian’s coverage. 

The following was reported at Ma’an News Agency on May 1.

A prisoner being held in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho died on Friday, a senior Palestinian official said.

Ayman Mohammad Sharif Samara, 40, died while being detained on charges of assault, Palestinian Authority attorney general Muhammad Abdul-Ghani al-Uweiwi told Ma’an.

He was arrested on Friday and transferred to a nearby hospital, where he passed away, al-Uweiwi said.

The PA attorney general denied that the prisoner was tortured or beaten during interrogations and said that an autopsy would be performed and the results made public once completed.

In addition to the question of whether Ayman Mohammad Sharif Samara will get a “hero’s welcome” by Palestinians after his funeral, it will be interesting to see if the Guardian devotes any coverage at all to the Palestinian prisoner’s death while in Palestinian Authority custody.

You may wish to Tweet the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, or Phoebe Greenwood, to pique their interest in the story.

UPDATE: An AP feed on the Guardian’s site carried this report on the death of Samara.

Guardian photo caption of the day: Palestinian ‘stones’ which somehow ignite

Today’s edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’ included a photo, by Atef Safadi of EPA, showing a riot near Ramallah related to the recent death of Arafat Jaradat.  Jaradat is a Palestinian arrested on Feb. 18 for committing acts of violence, and whose cause of death on Saturday in an Israeli prison is unknown. (There were three additional photos in today’s edition of ‘Picture Desk Live’ related to Jaradat’s funeral.) 

First, here’s the Guardian caption which accompanied the photo:

stone

Keep in mind the claim that Israeli soldiers were firing rubber bullets on “Palestinian stone throwers” when you see the photo:

West Bank clashes erupt after Palestinian detainee funeral

I’m no explosion expert, but my laymen’s eyes couldn’t help but notice the center of the photo where a small fire is raging.

Can ‘stone throwing’ cause fires?

Indeed, a brief search for additional photos from today’s riot identified the possible cause of the blaze.

photo

So, it appears that a fire bomb thrown by a Palestinian rioter may have caused the fire which ignited near Israeli soldiers.

Regardless of the cause of the particular fire seen in the photo, however, characterizing the Palestinians at the protest as merely ‘rock throwers’ is extremely misleading.

While Palestinian Authority leaders, or groups tacitly supported by the PA, may be initiating the recent “low-scale” conflict in the Palestinian territories, it seems certain that those responsible can continue to count on a compliant media which will employ language serving to significantly downplay the lethalness of such Palestinian violence.

Guardian falsely claims that “almost no” construction materials have entered Gaza

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, ‘Hamas bans Palestinian journalists from Israeli media cooperation‘ Dec. 27, took a detour from the issue indicated in the title in the penultimate paragraph.

Sherwood writes:

“Meanwhile, Israel is to allow construction materials to enter Gaza from next week for the first time since 2007. Despite easing its blockade of the enclave two and a half years ago, it has continued to ban the import of almost all construction materials, such as cement and steel, saying they could be used for military purposes.”

The first sentence is completely untrue.

The passage highlighted in the second sentence is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.

At the Kerem Shalom Crossing, every day, around 250-350 trucks bring goods into Gaza – food, electrical products, clothing, and construction materials.

trucks

Here’s a photo I took while on tour of Kerem Shalom in September, 2012.

In order to ensure that dual-use items (construction materials which could be used by Hamas and other terror groups to build fortified bunkers, military installations, etc.) COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) coordinates such shipments with international sponsors (US Aid, the World Bank, the UN, etc.) who can guarantee that the materials are used for their original civilian intent.

Since 2010 (the period Sherwood is referring to), out of 268 submitted construction proposals by the PA (in conjunction with international sponsors) 235 were approved.

Such projects include housing, schools, clinics, roads, agricultural installations and other civilian infrastructure.

According to COGAT, the only ones not implemented on the ground have been those in which the sponsor didn’t have the funds.

Here’s a breakdown of the material. (The numbers cited below represent the amount of construction materials, in tons.)

graphic

Here is a further breakdown of what has been built, or is in the process of being built, in Gaza with construction materials sent since 2010, quantified above.

  • 1900 housing units completed or underway
  • 14 health clinics completed or underway
  • 42 schools (new or renovated) completed or underway
  • 22 water and sewage projects
  • 10 new roads 

rafah

And, lets not forget the five-star hotel, the al-Mashtal, which opened in 2012 in Gaza – which Sherwood herself reported on.

guardianYou don’t need to be a building contractor to conclude that an awful lot of construction material was required for these luxury accommodations.

You can see a full list of construction projects in Gaza underway or already completed, here.

Such facts and figures regarding construction materials entering Gaza completely contradict Harriet Sherwood’s claim that all, or “almost all”, construction materials have been banned from entering Gaza over the last two years.

Please consider sending a respectful email to the Guardian’s readers editor requesting a correction to Sherwood’s story.

reader@guardian.co.uk

Harriet Sherwood sees another ulterior motive for Israel’s operation in Gaza

On Nov. 12 we posted about a report by Harriet Sherwood on Nov. 11 about the “escalation” in Gaza which suggested that the upcoming Israeli elections were quite possibly motivating Bibi Netanyahu to consider a major military operation in response. 

“In the south, dozens of rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza between Saturday evening and midday on Sunday by militants from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organisations. 

Netanyahu warned that the military was ready to intensify its response to rocket fire from Gaza following the escalation of attacks and counter-attacks.

The round of violence followed a similar spike almost three weeks ago, which subsided after intervention by Egyptian mediators. But some observers believe Netanyahu may be more inclined to order a robust approach in the runup to Israel’s general election on 22 January.”

Sherwood attempted to buttress the claim by suggesting that Operation Cast Lead, in 2008-09, was similarly launched just before an Israeli election.

Operation Cast Lead, the three-week assault on Gaza in which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed, was launched in the build-up to Israel’s last election in 2009.” [emphasis added]

The Guardian’s ongoing live blog on the current conflict included an audio interview with Sherwood (who at the time was waiting to cross into Gaza), by the Guardian’s Haroon Siddique (posted at roughly 10:30 Israeli time), in which she walked back a bit from that claim.  

However, at the 3:55 mark in the audio (embedded below) Sherwood suggested another possible cause for the conflict: The Palestinian Authority’s current bid to gain non-state membership at the United Nations.

The degree to which the Israeli government’s current military act is motivated by a simple desire to protect its citizens from enemy rocket fire, as any other nation in the world would most certainly do, evidently didn’t factor in to her analysis.  

Harriet Sherwood parrots ugly smear about Israel

In June 2007, Hamas violently took over Gaza, overthrowing the Palestinian Authority. In its place, Hamas, committed to the annihilation of Israel, set up a radical Islamist entity.

Supported by Iran, Hamas used Gaza as its launching pad to conduct terrorist attacks against Israel, and amassed an extensive armed force which included thousands of rockets.  By late 2008, Hamas rockets could reach some of Israel‘s largest cities.

Between 2007 and 2008 Israeli citizens were bombarded by over 5,000 rockets and mortar bombs, deliberate attacks which caused deaths, injuries, and terrorized tens of thousands of Israelis.

In 2007 alone, 15 Israelis were killed, and 578  injured, by rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel pursued numerous non-military efforts to try and stop attacks, including appeals to the U.N. Secretary General as well as diplomatic overtures.

On Dec. 25, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued an appeal to Palestinians in an interview with the Arabic language satellite channel al-Arabiya, saying “Israel would not hesitate to respond with force if the attacks continued”.

The attacks didn’t cease and Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27.

What other nation on earth would fail to defend itself from constant rocket attacks launched by a designated terrorist movement on its borders? 

It’s a simple story of a nation defending its citizens – as it is morally obligated to do – from enemy rocket fire, right?

Well, if you’re the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, and you’re contemplating any act or policy by the Jewish state, you’re inclined to see darker motives.

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, on Nov. 11, is ostensibly about the latest round of violence from Gaza, but also includes news of IDF warning shots fired into Syria in response to a number of Syrian shells from their civil war which landed in the Golan over the past several weeks.

The piece, titled ‘Israel fires warning shots into Syria as violence escalates in Gaza, focuses on the Syria dimension for several paragraphs before pivoting to the Gaza situation, thus:

“In the south, dozens of rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza between Saturday evening and midday on Sunday by militants from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organisations. Six Palestinians, including four civilians, were reported killed in at least nine separate Israeli air strikes.

Netanyahu warned that the military was ready to intensify its response to rocket fire from Gaza following the escalation of attacks and counter-attacks.

The round of violence followed a similar spike almost three weeks ago, which subsided after intervention by Egyptian mediators. But some observers believe Netanyahu may be more inclined to order a robust approach in the runup to Israel’s general election on 22 January. [emphasis added]

While we’ll likely never learn the identity of the sage “observers” Sherwood is referring to who believe that Netanyahu is likely to launch a war to boost his prospects of being re-elected, they obviously influence her thinking a great deal, as she employs their political logic in the next passages as well:

“Militants in Gaza were “sustaining harsh hits” from the IDF, Netanyahu told ministers at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “The world needs to understand that Israel will not sit with its hands tied in the face of attempts to harm us. We are prepared to intensify our response.”

Operation Cast Lead, the three-week assault on Gaza in which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed, was launched in the build-up to Israel’s last election in 2009.” [emphasis added]

In these paragraphs Sherwood reveals one of the more telling polemical ticks often employed by Guardian journalists reporting on Israel: using blurry language which conveys an idea in a manner which is clear to those who understand the context, but without explicitly advancing the narrative – a journalistic version of ‘plausible deniability’.

While it is narrowly true that Cast Lead was launched on Dec. 27, 2008, and the Israeli elections were held on Feb. 10, 2009, Sherwood’s attempt to connect the dots – noting that the war “was launched in the build-up” to the election, without including even a word about the thousands of rocket attacks which preceded the war – represents ideologically driven propaganda at its worst.

The crude Israeli caricature Sherwood conjures, of an aggressive, hostile, violent state cynically ‘beating the drums of war to gain political points, or divert attention away from other issues, indeed often colors the Guardian’s analysis of the region, particularly in their coverage of the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Sherwood’s latest narrative of Israeli villainy is merely a more sanitized, “respectable” version of the explicitly anti-Zionist malice expressed on sites such as Mondoweiss, CounterPunch and Indymedia.

One of the most chilling cartoons (published by Indymedia and elsewhere) involving Cast Lead depicted Olmert cradling a dead Palestinian baby while dreaming of the votes he’ll garner as the result of Zionist infanticide, suggesting that not only do Israeli leaders intentionally kill Palestinian children, but also that such child murder can help Israeli politicians get elected.

The cartoon was the work of an extreme left antisemitic activist named Carlos Latuff. (Open link and scroll to section on Latuff.)

If you think my suggestion that the anti-Zionism of “mainstream” journalists at the Guardian at times overlaps with such extremism is over-the-top, here’s a cartoon the Guardian published during their ‘Palestine Papers’ series, on the apostasy of Mahmoud Abbas.

This cartoon, conveying the idea that Abbas was a traitor for allegedly expressing a willingness (during peace negotiations with Israeli leaders) to compromise on the refugee issue, by depicting him as the most loathsome possible figure, a religious Israeli Jew, was a Carlos Latuff production.

When, as a media institution, you’re willing, in the name of leftist solidarity, to make common cause with political extremists, antisemites, terrorists, and their apologists it is inevitable that some of your “journalists” will begin to normalize, at times even advance, elements of their radical, racist ideology.