Economist: Is it possible to understand why Hamas fires rockets at civilians?

No, the Economist didn’t explicitly ask the question: Is it possible to understand why Hamas fires rockets at civilians?  The headline of this post is inspired by an article by Ben White in 2001 titled ‘Is it possible to understand the rise in antisemitism?‘, which empathized with anti-Semites.

To boot, a July 19th article in the print edition The Economist purports to explain ‘Why Hamas Fires those Rockets‘ (pay wall), and reaches a predictable conclusion.

The anonymous article begins:

MANY Gazans, not just their leaders in Hamas, think they have little to lose by fighting on. For one thing, the spotlight has been switched back onto them since the Israeli campaign began earlier this month. In Gazan eyes, Hamas gains from the violence because the outside world may, as a result of the grim publicity generated by the bloodshed, feel obliged to consider its grievances afresh.

Whilst there is no doubt that Hamas perversely believes a war in which Palestinian civilians are killed strengthens their position, there is little evidence that this view is supported by ordinary Gazans. Though there’s been no polling during the current conflict, last month The Washington Institute commissioned a leading Palestinian pollster to gauge the views of Gazans, and the results appear to contradict the Economist’s conclusions:

While you can see the full poll here, the results to some of the questions clearly seem to contradict the Economist’s claim that Gazans “think they have little to lose by fighting”.

As tensions mounted and Hamas and other Gazan factions began to step up rocket fire [in June], the people of that territory were heavily in favor of a ceasefire — 70 percent of the poll respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank.” This attitude is corroborated by the 73 percent of Gazans who said Palestinians should adopt “proposals for (nonviolent) popular resistance against the occupation.” Similarly, when asked if Hamas should accept Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s position that the new unity government renounce violence against Israel, a clear majority (57 percent) answered in the affirmative. The responses to all three questions clearly indicate that most Gazans reject military escalation.

The Economist article continued:

After the last big Israeli effort to stop the rockets, in November 2012, it was agreed that, along with a ceasefire, the blockade of Gaza would gradually be lifted and the crossings into Egypt and Israel would be opened. The ceasefire generally held, but the siege continued. As Gazans see it, they have remained cruelly shut up in an open-air prison. Firing rockets, many of them argue, is the only way they can protest, even though they know the Israelis are bound, from time to time, to punish them.

First, the ceasefire (after the 2012 war) did not hold, as they claim, as there were roughly 40 rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from Gaza in 2013 alone.  As far as ‘the siege’ (by which he’s referring to Israel’ legal blockade of arms and dual use items which could be used for military purposes), Israel did in fact ease restrictions on imports into Gaza. This included allowing for the import of greater quantities of construction material (including cement) for private use and humanitarian purposes, much of which has clearly been diverted by Hamas to build terror tunnels and other military facilities. 

The Economist then makes the following claim:

Mr Netanyahu’s government has prevented Mr Abbas from reasserting his authority, as part of the unity deal, over Gaza—and from paying off Hamas civil servants there. 

However, Netanyahu had nothing to do with the failure of the new unity government to pay Hamas civil servants, as multiple reports demonstrate.

Reuters:

The inauguration on Monday of a unity government under a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact raised expectations among Hamas-hired servants that they would now receive their wages. Thousands joined their PA-payroll colleagues at Gaza ATMs on Thursday, hoping to withdraw their salaries.

But the Hamas employees came away empty-handed, and a spokesman for the [Palestinian] unity government said they still had to be vetted by a committee before they could be added to the new leadership’s payroll

Al-Jazeera and other news sites reported the exact same thing.

The Economist concluded their report thusly:

The Gazan grievance over prisoners stirs great passion among Palestinians everywhere. After three Israeli students were kidnapped on the West Bank on June 12th and later found murdered, the Israeli security forces rounded up more than 500 Hamas people, even though the movement did not claim responsibility for the crime. The increase in rocket fire was partly intended as a protest against the round-up of prisoners. Any ceasefire, says Hamas, must include the release at least of those detained in the past month.

First, the two main suspects in the Israeli boys’ murders are Hamas members. Second, Hamas (who, let’s remember) praised the kidnapping) has been planning and publicly calling to kidnap Israelis for years. Indeed, there were dozens of unsuccessful attempts at kidnapping Israelis (many by Hamas members) in the year prior to the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.

As Etta Prince-Gibson wrote in Ha’aretz (pay wall):

Last year, the organization [Hamas] even distributed an 18-page “Field Manual for Kidnapping” to its Qassam Brigades, providing detailed explanations on how to target Israeli soldiers, when to kidnap (rainy days are best) and how to avoid being caught (don’t use the Internet or phone).

Lastly, note that the Economist characterized Hamas rocket attacks – intentional attacks on Israeli civilians which constitute war crimes under international law – as a mere “protest” against Israel. 

In reading the Economist’s imputation of reasonableness to Hamas, you’d be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that they’re antisemitic extremist terror group which rejects the existence of the Jewish State within any borders.

The empathy for the terrorist group Hamas – and not merely for innocent Palestinian civilians – displayed by the ‘sophisticated’ Brits at the Economist (as with much of the UK media during the current war) is at times astounding. 

Palestinian Envoy more honest than the Guardian on Hamas ‘war crimes’

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont reacted angrily to rather mild criticism directed towards him, and his paper’s coverage of the war, in a Times of Israel report by Raphael Ahern.  Beaumont protested Ahern’s piece in a series of Tweets yesterday, which included the following:

However, it’s the Guardian who has consistently be “suppressing” the news, by filing report after report on Palestinian suffering in Gaza while erasing the context of Hamas war crimes – both what the Islamist terror group commits by use of Palestinian human shields, and those committed each time they fire a rocket at Israeli civilians.

Though the media group never tires in characterizing every Jewish home built across the 1949 armistice lines as “illegal under international law” (despite the specious legal logic of such an argument), their reports which note rocket fire from terrorists in Gaza – prior to and during the current conflict – never explain to readers that each deadly projectile aimed at civilians is “illegal under international law”, and constitutes a war crime. 

Interestingly, the Palestinian Envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khreishesh, was much more honest during an interview on Palestinian Authority TV on July 9th, per a clip translated by MEMRI. 

 

Since 2005 – the year Israel evacuated every last Jew from the coastal strip – more than 8,000 rockets have been fired by Gaza terrorists at residential communities in Israel.  Thus, as the Palestinian Envoy himself acknowledged, each and every such attack represents a war crime – an uncontroversial fact which the Guardian continues to ‘suppress’.  

 

One man’s “illegal settlement” is another man’s “historic Jewish homeland”

Even though Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the US and EU, most Western journalists don’t dare use the word “terrorist” when characterizing the group, out of concern that the term is prejudicial and subjective.  They often opt instead for the term “militant”.  

A great example of this ‘sensitivity’ can be found in the Guardian’s Style Guide, which cautions its writers that they “need to be very careful about using the term” as “it is still a subjective judgment”, before concluding that “one person’s terrorist may be another person’s freedom fighter”.  

Regarding Israeli communities across the 1949 Armistice Lines, however, there is rarely any such concern about using subjective, tendentious terminology.  

Such towns on the ‘wrong’ side of the green line are almost always characterized as “illegal”, despite the fact that this designation largely rests on an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice – a decision (based on an interpretation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) which many believe was reached using specious legal logic.

In fact, most journalists don’t even bother explaining to readers why they believe Israeli settlements are illegal. They don’t cite the ICJ advisory opinion. And, they certainly don’t note the existence of dissenting opinions by highly respected legal scholars.

Interestingly, however, a journalist for the Independent named Ben Lynfield recently tried to explain the international legal basis for describing settlements as “illegal”, in a report on June 5 titled ‘Israel plans to build 3,000 new settler homes in occupied territories to punish the Hamas backed Palestinian Authority’.

Here’s the relevant paragraph:

Palestinian leaders said they would not remain quiet over the settlement expansion and spoke of using their non-member state status at the UN to hold Israel accountable for violating international law. Settlement contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention’s ban on an occupying power settling its nationals in the occupied territory.

In addition to the fact that Lynfield fails to explain which legal body reached an “advisory” opinion that settlements “contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention”, he also distorts the language of the Convention, and omits key words which are highly relevant to the debate.  

Here’s the exact language of Article 49, in the opening sentence. (You can read the full text here)

Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

As you can see, contrary to Lynfield’s claims, the passage does not seem to prohibit the “settling” nationals in “occupied territory”, as Lynfield claims, but speaks explicitly of a prohibition against “forcible transfers“.

International lawyer Prof. Eugene V. Rostow, a former dean of Yale Law School and U.S. Undersecretary of State, wrote the following in 1990:

[T]he Convention prohibits many of the inhumane practices of the Nazis and the Soviet Union during and before the Second World War – the mass transfer of people into and out of occupied territories for purposes of extermination, slave labor or colonization, for example….The Jewish settlers in the West Bank are most emphatically volunteers. They have not been “deported” or “transferred” to the area by the Government of Israel, and their movement involves none of the atrocious purposes or harmful effects on the existing population it is the goal of the Geneva Convention to prevent.

Ambassador Morris Abram, a member of the U.S. staff at the Nuremberg Tribunal who was later involved in the drafting of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is on record as stating the following:

[The Convention] was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but rather the forcible transfer, deportation or resettlement of large numbers of people.

Similarly, international lawyer Prof. Julius Stone, in referring to the absurdity of considering Israeli settlements as a violation of Article 49(6), wrote:

Irony would…be pushed to the absurdity of claiming that Article 49(6), designed to prevent repetition of Nazi-type genocidal policies of rendering Nazi metropolitan territories judenrein, has now come to mean that…the West Bank…must be made judenrein and must be so maintained, if necessary by the use of force by the government of Israel against its own inhabitants. Common sense as well as correct historical and functional context excludes so tyrannical a reading of Article 49(6.)

David M. Phillips argued thusly in an essay at Commentary:

Concluding that Israeli settlements violate Article 49(6) also overlooks the Jewish communities that existed before the creation of the state in areas occupied by today’s Israeli settlements, for example, in Hebron and the Etzion block outside Jerusalem. These Jewish communities were destroyed by Arab armies, militias, and rioters, and, as in the case of Hebron, the community’s population was slaughtered. Is it sensible to interpret Article 49 to bar the reconstitution of Jewish communities that were destroyed through aggression and slaughter? If so, the international law of occupation runs the risk of freezing one occupier’s conduct in place, no matter how unlawful.

While reasonable people can of course disagree with Israeli settlement policy – in the context of efforts to one day reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians – lazily asserting that such settlements are “illegal” is ahistorical, and has, at best, a highly questionable basis in international law.  

Professional journalists (such as Ben Lynfield) should at least avoid language suggesting that the “illegality” of Israeli settlements represents a universally agreed upon understanding of international law, and acknowledge – at the very least – the existence of highly credible dissenting legal opinions.

Employing the Guardian’s post-modern logic regarding the word “terrorist”, you could say that “one man’s illegal settlement is another man’s (legally codified) historic Jewish homeland”.

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A perfect illustration of how the PA fools the UK media into believing they’re ‘pro-peace’

The double standards employed by foreign journalists when covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict are especially egregious in the context of terms used to characterize the two governments.  For instance, while the Guardian has described Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party as an “extreme rightwing nationalist party, the antisemitic terror group Hamas has been characterized by the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent on multiple occasions as merely “conservative“, and an official Guardian editorial claimed that PA President Abbas is a “leading moderate“.

Indeed, in order to maintain the edifice of moderation, Abbas and his PA ministers routinely perform a simple trick: engage in antisemitic, pro-violence, extremist rhetoric in Arabic to their own people, while feigning ‘moderation’ and pro-peace politics in English when speaking to Western audiences.  However, for this to work, foreign journalists must play their part when reporting the words and deeds of Palestinian leaders: suspending their normal skepticism and failing to employ the critical scrutiny which Israelis are routinely subjected to.

A perfect example of this dynamic – in which Palestinian hypocrisy almost certainly won’t be reported by the UK media – can be found in a report today at Media Line titled “Senior Palestinian Official Lashes Out at Hamas Encouragement of Violence“.

A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian leadership rejects any efforts to teach a culture of violence to Palestinian children. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs was responding to a report on Israel’s Channel 2 on a Hamas rally in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

In the video, Palestinian boys, some of them wearing black ski masks, carried toy guns and waved the Islamist group’s green and white flag. One boy said he wanted to become a “martyr” and take revenge on Israeli soldiers for killing his uncle. Other boys said they wanted to “resist” Israeli control of “Palestine.”

“It will be very dangerous to allow any party to educate the children according to the ideology of this party (Hamas),” Al-Habbash told The Media Line. “The children must be educated according to the Palestinian culture, Palestinian understanding, and Palestinian heritage without any relation to violence.”

Al-Habbash went on to explain that Islam is a peaceful religion in dialogue with all peoples. “We reject violence against anybody, against Muslims, against Christians, against Jews, against anybody in the world,

Wonderful, isn’t it?  Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the PA minister of Religious Affairs, has come out strongly and unequivocally against Hamas-style violence and incitement.

Except that, well, that doesn’t seem to accurately represent  Al-Habbash’s true views – as we revealed in a post back in February.

Here’s Al-Habbash saying something very different about violence – in Arabic of course – in front of an audience which included President Abbas:

Whoever wants resistance, whoever wants Jihad, the direction for Jihad is well-known and clear… Those who send young people to Syria or elsewhere to die for a misdirected cause must stop and understand that Jerusalem is still waiting. Jerusalem is the direction, Jerusalem is the address

Here’s the video:

Additionally, Palestinian Media Watch also recently reported that in another speech where Abbas was present, “Al-Habbash said that the PA’s negotiations with Israel are modeled after the Hudaybiyyah agreement between Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and the tribes of Mecca, and explained that Muhammad signed a 10-year truce, yet two years later conquered Mecca”.

Here’s the video:

To recap: The PA Minister of Religious Affairs was quoted recently in English criticizing violence and incitement and supporting peace.  However, several months ago, in two separate speeches in Arabic, he called for terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and explained – as did Yasser Arafat before him – that the PA’s putative entreaties for peace are merely tactical decisions with the ultimate aim of vanquishing their Israeli ‘peace partners’.  

As Jennifer Dyer, a retired US Naval intelligence officer, explained: “A treaty of Hudaybiyyah is an agreement you break as soon as you’re able to.  Its function is to constrain the other party and buy time for you”.

Of course, the chances the UK media will call out the Palestinians in their double-talk are close to zero. 

However, this isn’t merely about the dishonesty of one PA minister.  Such revelations about the PA’s true agenda (along with the consequences of recent ‘land for peace’ policies in Gaza and S. Lebanon) help explain Israeli skepticism that even the most generous and equitable two-state agreement will actually lead to a genuine peace, in which Palestinians ‘drop all historical claims’, lay down their armaments of terror, and nurture a culture of tolerance.  

Journalists reporting  about the peace process who claim the mantle of professionalism simply can not continue to wax eloquently on the ‘provocation’ of Israeli settlements while feigning ignorance about the injurious impact to the peace process of such egregious examples of Palestinian duplicity.

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UK media silent about Pope’s meeting with Mufti who claimed that Muslims’ destiny is to kill Jews

A report at the Independent by Ben Lynfield focuses on Palestinian activists who are “scathing about the Pope’s plans to make the first visit by a pontiff to the tomb of Theodor Herzl”, the founder of Zionism – the political movement, Lynfield explains, “that established Israel and displaced the Palestinians.”

Lynfield continues:

Omar Barghouti, a Ramallah-based member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, termed the planned visit to the grave “nauseating”.

“Laying a wreath on the grave of the founder of Zionism, a patently racist ideology that has served to enable and justify the ethnic cleansing of most of the indigenous people of Palestine, is a nauseating, offensive act of complicity that Palestinian civil society cannot but condemn,” Mr Barghouti wrote in an emailed statement. He added that the gesture would “serve to whitewash Israel’s occupation and apartheid”.

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central council, also questioned the Pope’s choice. He said that if the Pope is to visit Herzl’s tomb, he should make a visit to the Yasser Arafat mausoleum in Ramallah for “balance”

Of course, neither Lynfield nor any of his colleagues within the UK media have yet noted that, though the Pope will not be visiting the grave of the ‘father of modern terrorism‘, he will be meeting with the Grand Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein. The Grand Mufti is the most senior religious figure in the Palestinian Authority (the Palestinian equivalent of the Israeli Chief Rabbi), and has an appalling record of extreme antisemitic hate speech and support for suicide bombings.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported the following:

What Pope Francis may not be aware of is that the Mufti has an ongoing record of vicious Antisemitic hate speech, which has been condemned internationally. In 2012, the Mufti preached that it is Muslim destiny to kill the Jews. On a different occasion, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he taught that Jews were “enemies of Allah,” and in another speech he said that the souls of suicide bombers “tell us to follow in their path.”

PMW recently cited a speech, broadcast on PA television in January 2012, from a Fatah celebration in East Jerusalem, where the Mufti endorsed the murder of Jews.

Here’s the transcript:

Moderator at Fatah ceremony: “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs (i.e., Jews) is a war of religion and faith.

Long Live Fatah! [I invite you,] our honorable Sheikh.”  

Palestinian Authority Mufti Muhammad Hussein: 
“47 years ago the [Fatah] revolution started. Which revolution? The modern revolution
of the Palestinian people’s history.
In fact, Palestine in its entirety is a revolution,
since [Caliph] Umar came [to conquer Jerusalem, 637 CE],
and continuing today, and until the End of Days.
The reliableHadith (tradition attributed to Muhammad),
in the two reliable collections, Bukhari and Muslim, says:
‘The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. 
The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. 
Then the stones or trees will call: 
“Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” 
Except the Gharqad tree [which will keep silent].’ 
Therefore, it is no wonder that you see Gharqad [trees] 
surrounding the [Israeli] settlements and colonies.
[Gharqad trees] surrounding, surrounding and surrounding.
That’s the Palestine we are talking about,
with the beginning of the Jihad and the continuation of the Jihad,
with the struggle and the procession of the Martyrs.”

[PA TV (Fatah), Jan. 9, 2012] 

As PMW explained, not only didn’t the Grand Mufti retract or condemn these statements by the moderator, but instead cited the Hadith to buttress the narrative that Palestinians are indeed destined to murder the Jews. 

Though the UK media often characterize mainstream Israeli politicians who are on the right side of the political spectrum as “ultra-nationalist”, “far-right”, or even “extreme”, it seems certain that journalists working for the Independent, Guardian, Economist, Telegraph, or other newspapers covering Pope Francis’s visit to Israel, will fail to use similar pejoratives when reporting on his meeting with the PA Mufti who incites Palestinians to kill Jews.

As was demonstrated recently by a Guardian op-ed’s shameful justification for unparalleled antisemitism within Palestinian society, such egregious double-standards in moral accountability (the bigotry of low expectations) continue to skew media’s coverage of the region, and deny news consumers the opportunity to fairly assess those dynamics which truly represent the ‘root cause’ of the conflict. 

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In search of Palestinians who are sickened by PA’s celebration of Sbarro bomber

Cross posted from This Ongoing War, a blog edited by Arnold and Frimet Roth

Yesterday’s post ["5-May-14: The making of a martyr: it takes more than a village"] reported on the Palestinian state funeral given to the remaining body parts of a Palestinian human bomb named Izz Al-Din Al-Masr. 

The official government-controlled WAFA News Agency gave major prominence to the funeral of the Sbarro bomber "martyr" and to the messages of PA officials inciting to fresh acts of murder. Only in Arabic, naturally. [Via Google Translate]

The official government-controlled WAFA News Agency gave major prominence to the funeral of the Sbarro bomber (“martyr”} and to the messages of PA officials inciting to fresh acts of murder. Only in Arabic, naturally. 

He exploded in August 2001 inside a [Sbarro] restaurant filled with Jews, and died a happy young man, perhaps even an ecstatic one. His life, in accordance with the insane religious dogmas that had been pumped into his head, had reached its point of fulfillment.

Shahid_Poster

Shahid poster for Sbarro bomber, Izz Al-Din Al-Masr.

sbarro-bombing

Aftermath of Sbarro bombing

Our post made the point that representatives of the major segments of Palestinian Arab society took part in last week’s funeral. 

If you were looking for moderates – say, the so-called moderates of the Mahmoud Abbas regime – they were indeed there but they were not moderating anything. When it comes to murder and incitement to murder of Israelis and of Jews, they are not moderate; they are enthusiastic. In last Wednesday’s funeral procession in Tubas, they participated, heart and soul, to ensure the strongest possible message of support, encouragement, adulation for acts of calculated murder like the one in which the dead human bomb had engaged, and that stole the life of our 15 year old daughter Malki. They amplified this message of hatred and jihad via the official Palestinian Arab state media, as did the Hamas regime in Gaza. They wanted everyone to know – at least, everyone who speaks Arabic. 

As for publishing the same news in other languages, they were much less interested. Try (just as one random example) finding any mention on the English-language, Bethlehem-based, high profile European-funded Maan News Agency website. But Maan’s Arabic side [here] has all the death-cult worship an Arabic reader with an interest in such things could want. Interesting, no?

We received some feedback that suggested this characterization was unfair. They said there are voices in the Palestinian Arab world that are as sickened as people like us are by the unconcealed blood-lust of Hamas, of Islamic Jihad, of Fatah, of the Palestinian Authority and of Mahmoud Abbas.

So here’s an invitation for anyone who has such evidence to send us public, published statements in the Arabic language, in which Palestinian Arab voices condemn what sickens the rest of the world: the process of turning psychopaths like the human bomb who murdered our daughter Malki into martyrs, heroes, figures to be emulated.

Over to you.

Send what you have to thisongoingwar@gmail.com or add them to the comments below. We’ll publish what we receive here. (Remember – in Arabic. We’ll take care of the translating into English.)

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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‘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.

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The Independent, Nov. 8

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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

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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.