Economist refers to Jews wanting to pray at the Temple Mount as “militants”

In a great example of the media’s use of language to blur moral differences within the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Economist expanded the common understanding of the word “militant” – a word fancied by those fearing “terrorist” is too judgmental a term for those committing violence for political ends – to include Jews wanting to peacefully pray at Judaism’s holiest site.

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From left to right per The Economist: Palestinian militants, and Jewish militants

 

An article published on Nov. 17th titled ‘The trouble at the Mountincluded the following passage:

THE Temple Mount in Jerusalem is one of the world’s most explosive bits of real-estate. It has started to rumble again in recent weeks, with demands by Jewish militants to extend prayer rights, riots by Palestinians and the killing of several Israelis in knife or car-ramming attacks.

So, the term “Jewish militant” includes:

1. A Jew who wishes to extend prayer rights to Jews at the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

Further in the article, the term is used again.

On the religious front, Jewish militants have stepped up their visits to the Haram, often to pray surreptitiously (for instance by pretending to speak into mobile phones).

So, now, the term “Jewish militant” includes:

1.  A Jew who wishes to extend prayer rights to Jews at the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

2. A Jew who insidiously engages in Jewish prayer at the Judaism’s holiest site while “pretending to speak into mobile phones”.

However, that’s not all. The term is actually used a third time, in the following passage:

Moreover, privately financed militant groups have been buying houses in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods, which have in any case largely been cut off from their hinterland in the West Bank by Israel’s security barrier. 

So, now, the term “Jewish militant” includes:

1.  A Jew who wishes to extend prayer rights to Jews at the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

2.  A Jew who insidiously engages in Jewish prayer at the Judaism’s holiest site while “pretending to speak into mobile phones”.

3.  A Jew who – as part of a “privately financed” group – buys a home in a previously non-Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem.

Though there are good practical reasons for maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount (where Jews can visit but not pray), it’s difficult to fathom how the British magazine can justify using a term which refers to those “favouring confrontational or violent methods in support of a political cause” to characterize Jews peacefully campaigning for the right to pray. 

Former UK minister Warsi tweets ‘morally indefensible’ equivalence in Jerusalem terror attack (Update)

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was Minister of State for Faith and Communities, until her resignation after disagreeing with David Cameron’s position on the war in Gaza, a policy she described as “morally indefensible” in its support for Israel.  

The row over her resignation was widely (and quite sympathetically) covered by the Guardian. 

Here’s Warsi’s Tweet this morning in response to today’s terror attack, in which Palestinian terrorists massacred Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

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In addition to the morally indefensible equivalence she imputes, the first line of Warsi’s tweet was the kind of shamefully dishonest agitprop you’d expect to see at Electronic Intifada.  Israeli extremists have not of course “stormed the mosque”, nor “intimidated” Muslim worshippers – unless you consider the wish to peacefully recite Jewish prayers to be a form of “intimidation”.

Just about all the violence at the Temple Mount in recent memory has been instigated by Muslim extremists, targeting Israeli police and Jewish worshippers.

It’s truly #Tragic that such putatively respectable British leaders so willingly parrot the most crude and risible Palestinian propaganda about the root cause of ‘tensions’ in Jerusalem. 

(UPDATE)

The Guardian’s Live Blog just covered for Warsi in deciding to ignore the shameful tweet we cited above and, instead, highlight a more moderate tweet thirty minutes later.

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Guardian erases “Palestinians” from Reuters story on Jerusalem terror attack

At least five Israelis were killed and eight wounded Tuesday morning when Palestinian terrorists armed with knives, axes and guns began attacking Jews in a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers.  The terrorists, who were reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, were eventually shot and killed by police.

The Guardian’s first report on the incident was a Reuters story which they posted at roughly 9 AM Israeli time.

First, here’s a snapshot of the original story, as it appeared on Reuters’ website, titled ‘Up to five dead in suspected Palestinian attack on Jerusalem synagogue‘.

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However, as you can see, the Guardian’s version (Deadly attack in Jerusalem synagogue) deleted the word “Palestinian” from the headline.

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But, that’s not the only revision to the Reuters article by Guardian editors.

Here’s the opening passage of the original Reuters report:

(Reuters) – Two suspected Palestinian men armed with axes and knives killed up to five people and wounded four in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday before they were shot dead by police, Israeli media said, the worst such attack in years.

Now, here’s the Guardian’s version.

Two men armed with axes and knives killed up to five people and wounded four in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday before they were shot dead by police, Israeli media said after the worst such attack in years.

Consistent with the omission in the  headline, the word “Palestinian” was deleted from the lead sentence, despite the fact that Israeli police have clearly identified the attackers as Palestinians from east Jerusalem.  (Indeed, other UK media outlets we reviewed have clearly identified the terrorists as Palestinian.)

Once again, the Guardian has demonstrated their institutional bias when reporting on Israeli-Palestinian issues – specifically, a pattern of obfuscating even the most unambiguous examples of Palestinian culpability for terror, violence and incitement.

(See also CAMERA’s recent blog post, ‘In CNN Headline on Jerusalem Terror, Integrity is Another Casualty‘)

Hamas official’s Guardian op-ed includes lie that the group is NOT antisemitic

No, an op-ed published in the Guardian on Nov. 14th (Judge Hamas by the measures it takes for its people) was not the first time a Hamas member was granted a forum by the media group.  

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Guardian, Nov. 14th

 

Over the past couple of years the Guardian has published commentaries by the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Musa Abumarzuq, Hamas’s ‘Prime Minister’ Ismail Haniyeh, their head of international relations Osama Hamdan, and advisor Azzam Tamimi.

However, what stands out in the piece by Ahmed Yousef (senior political adviser to Ismail Haniyeh), which attempts to rebrand the Islamist terror group as a benign democratic political movement, is a claim in the following passage, which follows a risible defense of their (evidently misunderstood) racist charter.

Were pundits to truly scrutinise Hamas’s actions since its inception, they would find not a single official statement or position that is based on denigrating another faith, certainly neither Judaism nor Christianity. Nor can anyone produce a shred of evidence that Hamas formally encourages prejudice against anyone’s ethnicity.

Though we know by reading public opinion polls that Palestinian society is nearly universally compromised by the acceptance of anti-Jewish bigotry, you don’t need to even burden yourself with fisking the methodologies of such empirical analyses, or to even read the group’s antisemitic founding charter, to familiarize yourself with Hamas’s ‘official’ embrace of the most racist narratives about the alleged danger posed by international Jewry.

Indeed, antisemitism can accurately be characterized as “a major pillar in the ideology of Hamas”, and Hamas’s state-run media consistently ‘explains’ to Palestinians the evil character of Jews – not merely Israelis or Zionists, but “Jews”.

Whilst there are countless examples of ‘official’ statements “denigrating” Jews (documented by sites such as Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI), here are just a few videos and quotes:

Videos:

Top Hamas Official Osama Hamdan: Jews use blood in their Passover Matzos

Hamas top leader Mahmoud Al Zahhar: Jews are “blood suckers” and “wild beasts” who deserve to be annihilated.

 Quotes:

Sermon delivered by ‘Atallah Abu Al-Subh, former Hamas minister of culture, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV, April 8, 2011, translation by MEMRI

The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth, because they have displayed hostility to Allah.

Dr. Yussuf Al-Sharafi, Hamas representative, April 12, 2007; as reported by Palestinian Media Watch, April 23, 2007

…the Jewish faith does not wish for peace nor stability, since it is a faith that is based on murder: ‘I kill, therefore I am’… Israel is based only on blood and murder in order to exist, and it will disappear, with Allah’s will, through blood and Shahids [martyrs].

Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Bahar, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, April 20, 2007; as reported by Palestinian Media Watch, April 23, 2007

This is Islam, that was ahead of its time with regards to human rights in the treatment of prisoners, but our nation was tested by the cancerous lump, that is the Jews, in the heart of the Arab nation…

Official Hamas Media:

Children’s Program on Hamas TV (Al-Aqsa TV, April 6-13, 2007), featuring Farfur – a copy of Mickey Mouse - entertains children while advocating the murder of Jews.

Host Saraa, a young girl: “Sanabel, what will you do for the sake of the Al-Aqsa Mosque? How will you sacrifice your soul for the sake of Al-Aqsa? What will you do?”

Sanabel (a young Palestinian girl on the phone): “I will shoot.”

Farfur, a Mickey Mouse character in a tuxedo: “Sanabel, what should we do if we want to liberate…”

Sanable: “We want to fight.”

Farfur: “We got that. What else?”

Saraa: “We want to…”

Sanabel: “We will annihilate the Jews.”

Saraa: “We are defending Al-Aqsa with our souls and our blood, aren’t we, Sanabel?”

Sanabel: “I will commit martyrdom.”…

Despite our frequent criticism of UK media outlets, this blog rarely accuses commentators and media outlets of engaging in outright ‘lies’.  

However, it speaks volumes that Guardian editors chose to publish the claim that Hamas is NOT antisemitic – an inversion of reality so complete that it could only be expressed (or accepted as reasonable) by those immune from the cognitive dissonance normally affecting those who possess any measure of honesty or integrity.

Guardian article suggests Yasser Arafat abandoned terrorism after 1990

A nearly 5000 word hagiographic profile of Yasser Arafat by  and  in the Guardian characteristically obfuscated the decades-long record of planning and carrying out terror attacks against innocent Israelis by the late Palestinian leader and groups under his control.

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Here’s the key passage in the Guardian’s ‘long-read’ (Yasser Arafat: Why he still matters, Nov. 13) concerning the man known to some as the “father of modern terrorism.”

Without armed struggle the Palestinian awakening heralded by Fatah was unlikely to have occurred, yet Arafat and his colleagues knew both the value and limits of force. They were aware of the need to modulate or discard force entirely when necessary. Their political programme developed accordingly, from an emphasis on armed action as the sole means of struggle in 1968 to its eventual disappearance from the PLO’s political programme altogether after 1990.

However, the fact is that, though in 1988 he claimed to accept Israel’s right to exist and in 1993 shook hands with Yitzchak Rabin (inaugurating the Oslo Accords), Arafat continued to encourage and provide financial support to “groups directly under his command, such as the Tanzim and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade”.

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CiF Watch prompts Indy correction to claim about Muslim prayer at the Mount

In addition to the bizarre suggestion by Ben Lynfield at The Independent that recent violence in Jerusalem can be attributed to Israeli restrictions on Muslim “access to al-Aqsa Mosque”, his Nov. 6th report included the following historical error concerning the history of Muslim prayer at the Temple Mount Compound.
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Lynfield omits the Crusader period (1099 to 1187) in which Christian prayer was of course permitted. (In the 13th century, there were several years of additional Crusader control, before Muslim rule was re-established in 1244.)

After contacting Indy editors, they revised the passage to note the period when Christians ruled the holy city.

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We commend Indy editors on the prompt correction.

 

The Guardian misrepresents Netanyahu’s comments on rioters

A Nov. 9th article by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont, on recent Arab protests in response to the deadly police shooting of a man in the Galilee town of Kufr Kana (Violence spreads across Israel after shooting in Galilee, Nov. 11) included a clear distortion of recent comments by Israel’s prime minister.

Here are the relevant passages from Beaumont’s report:

Amid calls for protests in Israeli Arab towns and a general strike, Israeli police raised their alert to the second highest level of preparedness. The police’s internal investigations department is looking into the shooting to determine whether proper protocol was followed.

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in comments before the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, said he has ordered officials to examine whether citizenship could be removed from those participating in demonstrations.

However, as official transcripts from Netanyahu’s cabinet meeting clearly indicate, he was asking to examine whether citizenship could be removed from those specifically calling for the destruction of Israel.

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Beaumont’s text, regarding who precisely Netanyahu was referring to when he spoke of ‘revoking citizenship’, would lead readers to believe that the prime minister of Israel is seeking a draconian response to those merely participating in benign “demonstrations”  -  a significant mischaracterization of his cabinet meeting remarks. 

UK media lie begins: Jewish prayer rights activists cause Palestinian terrorism

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Chaya Zissel Braun (3 months), killed by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem on Oct. 22

The question of whether the recent increase in Palestinian terror attacks – which has included two lethal stabbings, and the murder of three Israelis by Palestinians who intentionally ran their vehicles into crowds of pedestrians in Jerusalem – will one day be categorized as the start of a new intifada is debatable.  

However, we can already see how the UK media will likely be framing the story if indeed the uptick in deadly attacks continue and increase: that demands by some Jews to be able to pray at the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism) is responsible for the violence. 

A Nov. 6th article by the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont, following the two vehicular terror attacks, opined that “Demands for greater access have been blamed by Israelis and Palestinians for a recent increase in violent confrontations in Jerusalem”.

The Economist suggested – in an article in their print edition on Nov. 8th titled Temple Madness - that “dangerous campaign for Jewish prayer rights” is a form of “Jewish agitation” which is driving Palestinians to violence.

And, Ben Lynfield of The Independent – in a Nov. 10th report titled “Fears of new intifada: Israel is hit by wave of Palestinian violence linked to concerns over al-Aqsa mosque – was even more brazen in arguing that the recent deadly attacks on Israelis “was triggered largely by a Palestinian perception of an Israeli threat to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest shrine.”

There is, of course, no threat to the al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s prime minister has been adamant about the need to preserve the status quo at the holy site – where Jews are allowed to visit the site, but not to pray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guardian/Reuters buries the lead on Hamas targeting of Palestinian civilians

Hidden in the final sentence of a Guardian/Reuters report on Sept. 20th, Egypt to host Gaza talks between Palestinian factions, on upcoming reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas and subsequent indirect talks between Hamas and Israel, is a remarkable accusation – albeit one not surprising to those familiar with Hamas‘s widespread human rights violations against their own civilians.

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Guardian champions their favorite Israeli causes: Disloyalty and Insubordination

Former AP correspondent Matti Friedman, in his essay at Tablet on media coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, explained that reporters “working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel”, whose “every action and flaw is analyzed, criticized and aggressively reported”, while, alternately, “Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate”.

The Guardian coverage of Israel and the greater region perfectly reflects this principle.

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Bizarre claim in the Guardian: ‘Red roofs are mandatory in Israeli settlements’

What can ‘forensic architecture’ reveal about the conflict in Gaza?‘, Guardian, Sept 1, focuses on the Haifa-born, London educated architect Eyal Weizman, evidently famous in some circles as the “chief proponent of “forensic architecture”, which analyzes the “impacts of urban warfare” for clues about the crimes perpetrated there.

When he looks out across the landscape of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, as he does in the film The Architecture of Violence, to be aired on Al Jazeera today, [Eyal Weizman] sees a battlefield. “The weapons and ammunitions are very simple elements: they are trees, they are terraces, they are houses. They are barriers.”

In the kitchen of his east London home…he says the most obvious and contentious aspect of what he calls the “architecture of occupation” is the system of Israeli settlements. Perched on West Bank hilltops, they are strategically positioned, according to Weizman, so that they look out over the Palestinian valleys and towns below, in order “to dominate”.

Then, the kicker:

Each of the uniformly suburban-looking houses – all with mandatory red roofs so that on flyovers the Israeli army know[s] not to target them – is “itself like an optical instrument,” he tells me.

As bizarre as this claim is, amazingly it has been advanced previously.  Just a few months ago, the Chairman of Norwegian People’s Aid, Finn Erik, said pretty much the same thing at a lecture in Norway.  But, as popular blogger Elder of Ziyon demonstrated, there are multiple reasons why this claim doesn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny.  

  • Most Palestinians in Judea and Samaria live in areas A and B under control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA has full responsibility for zoning and import of building materials, including the type of roof tiles that can be used. There are no Palestinian regulations that prohibit the use of red roof tiles.
  • Israel has no laws or regulations that prohibit the use of red roof tiles in Area C which is under Israeli control. This means that both Arabs and Jews who build in this area can use red roof tiles in their houses, if they want to. 
  • The Israeli air force uses precision weapons that can hit its target with great accuracy both day and night, and is completely independent of the color of the house or on the roof tiles.
  • Most Palestinian houses do not have red roof tiles is that they do not tile their roofs at all. The traditional Arab architecture in the area includes a solarium that can be used for different purposes.
  • A number of houses built in recent years in Arab settlements in Israel, Judea and Samaria, have red tiles.
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Photo from Elder of Ziyon

Additionally, Elder noted that Israeli aircraft does not bomb houses in Judea and Samaria. And, indeed, as far as we can tell there hasn’t been an air strike anywhere in the West Bank, for any reason, since the height of the 2nd Intifada.

Finally, an article by architecture critic Ran Shechori  published provides a bit of history on red-tiled roofs in Israel:

Since there were no local skilled builders at the beginning of the 19th century the English had even been forced to import stonecutters from Malta no antagonism was felt towards the foreign styles that sprouted on the local landscape. Consciously or not, that century witnessed the belated victory of the Crusaders, with the creation of a Christian presence in the Holy Land, which took over the educational and welfare system and began the Europeanization of this part of the world.

The local population began to copy the European styles of building. Wealthy Arab families who had left the Old City began building villas and mansions in the European style, albeit heavily decorated with traditional Moslem embellishments. The cities that were then growing adopted European terraced housing and the sloping red-tiled roofs.

The Jews, who had lived till then in homes rented from Arabs, also began to establish their own independent neighbourhoods. Mishkenot Shaananim (lit. “tranquil dwellings”) was the first such area in Jerusalem. It was built with the help of the British philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, in 1860, as a series of long buildings topped by sloping, red-tiled roofs

Red-tiled roofs, which came to symbolize the Jewish presence and represented the idealized “home”;

Just as in the beginning, the Israeli still sees the red roof as a status symbol.

As Matti Friedman explained in his masterful essay at Tablet Magazine, one of the iron-clad rules of media coverage of the region requires that “every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported”, to which he should have added: even those ‘flaws‘ which are merely a figment of the increasingly wild anti-Zionist imagination.  

CiF Watch prompts correction at the Indy over Hamas executions claim

An Aug. 22nd article in The Independent by Kashmira Gander about the war in Gaza included the following passage in reference to the recent public execution of 18 Palestinians by Hamas.
 
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 However, there were widely reported public executions in Gaza much more recently than the 90s.

So, it clearly is not accurate to claim that the recent public executions in Gaza were the first since the 1990s.

After our communication with Indy editors, they deleted the sentence which claimed that these recent executions were the first in the enclave since the 90s.

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We commend Indy editors on their positive response to our complaint.

Everything you always wanted to know about media coverage of Israel but were afraid to ask

In carrying out this blog’s mission, we often attempt to contextualize Guardian/UK media coverage of Israel and the Jewish world by explaining not only what they get wrong, but also why they get it wrong.

eye_stardavid400x246_3k8lxgc5Tablet Magazine just published a long and extremely important article (by former AP correspondent Matti Friedman) which masterfully dissects such institutional bias against Israel – in the broader Western media – and we strongly encourage those who’ve thought seriously about the subject to read the 4,000 word essay in full.

Here are some excerpts:

Intro:

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; 

How Important Is the Israel Story?

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel.

What Is Important About the Israel Story, and What Is Not

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate

Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011, I…counted 27 separate articles, an average of a story every two days….this seven-week tally was higher than the total number of significantly critical stories about Palestinian government and society, including the totalitarian Islamists of Hamas, that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.

The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP

What Else “Isn’t” Important?

In early 2009..two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story….

This decision taught me a lesson that should be clear to consumers of the Israel story: Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.

How Is the Israel Story Framed?

The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls—0.2 percent of the Arab world—in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries…

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party

The Old Blank Screen

For centuries, stateless Jews played the role of a lightning rod for ill will among the majority population. They were a symbol of things that were wrong. Did you want to make the point that greed was bad? Jews were greedy. Cowardice? Jews were cowardly. Were you a Communist? Jews were capitalists. Were you a capitalist? In that case, Jews were Communists. Moral failure was the essential trait of the Jew…

Like many Jews who grew up late in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents. One thing I have learned…is that I was foolish to have done so. Today, people in the West tend to believe the ills of the age are racism, colonialism, and militarism. The world’s only Jewish country has done less harm than most countries on earth, and more good—and yet when people went looking for a country that would symbolize the sins of our new post-colonial, post-militaristic, post-ethnic dream-world, the country they chose was this one.

Who Cares If the World Gets the Israel Story Wrong?

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer…requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is not democracy or modernity. It is rather an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots

Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. 

Read the rest of the essay here.

Dishonourable Brits: Why the Guardian can’t distinguish between Semites & anti-Semites

If a radical right-wing U.S. group possessed an ideology which was homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic, and continually attempted to murder a historically oppressed minority to clean the region of their ‘pernicious influence’ – due to their fundamentalist interpretation of a religious text – anti-racist commentators at the Guardian would stand proudly on the side of the besieged minority and rightfully demonize the racist extremist group.

Transplant this scenario to the Mid-East (and replace the white sheets with black face masks and green headbands) however, and such moral clarity – which distinguishes between a racist extremist group and the minorities they’re targeting – often gets blurred.

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In a review of BBC2′s The Honourable Woman, the Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent Julian Borger (Can The Honourable Woman teach us anything about the Gaza conflict?, Aug. 20) presents another example of media group’s profound moral confusion when interpreting conflicts between Israel and Islamist extremists.

Borger characterizes the show as “a tale of intrigue, betrayal and silk blouses set against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, and then adds: “Whether we will have learned anything about Gaza or the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is another matter”.

Border then writes:

So the ruthless and omnipotent assassin, a regular plot device of political thrillers, is in this case a Palestinian militant. Just like the show’s American inspiration, Homelandit revives the spectre of the Arab bogeyman as the evil genius among us, ghosting across borders on false passports. 

This is understandably vexing for Palestinians. After all, it is Mossad that has won itself the reputation in recent years for sending assassins to kill abroad on forged identity papers. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have largely fought their battles on home turf with much blunter methods.

Likewise, the agony of liberal British Jews looking on in horror at the bloodletting in Israel and the Palestinian territories is true to life. What feels like a sentimental anachronism is the central premise in the plot: that they can do anything to change it. It is hard to imagine in these dark times that it would be so easy for a well-meaning Jewish philanthropist to breeze through the West Bank and for her saccharine, slightly condescending speeches to be received so admiringly by Palestinian students. Hard to imagine, too, that Nessa Stein would have such an easy time of it in Netanyahu’s Israel. These days, there would be rightwing mobs outside her doveish events, chanting: “Death to the Arabs.”

Leaving aside Borger’s risible suggestion that Palestinian jihadist groups have shown more restraint than Israel when carrying out attacks on their enemies, the Guardian editor’s review is notable in which political actor in the Middle East is identified as the racist (Jewish mobs chanting “death to Arabs”) and which one is the unfairly stereotyped minority (the “Arab bogeyman”).

It’s important to read such passages in the context of the Guardian overall coverage of both the current war between Hamas and Israel, and the broader Israeli-Islamist Conflict.

Though Guardian correspondents sometimes note that Hamas is ‘considered’ a terrorist group by much of the West, their reporters, editors and commentators almost never explain to their readers that Hamas is an antisemitic extremist group - a reactionary racist, violent, fundamentalist movement at odds with the liberal, enlightenment values they claim to champion.

Whilst the Guardian never tires in highlighting racism (real or imagined) expressed by the most unrepresentative fringe elements in Israeli society, they almost uniformly avoid mentioning that the group currently ruling Gaza literally calls for the extermination of Jews.  It simply isn’t possible for UK news consumers to clearly understand the battles being waged in Israel and Gaza while ignorant of this fundamental fact about Hamas’s eliminationist antisemitism.

Reports about ceasefire negotiations between the two parties in Cairo which merely emphasize that Hamas demands a loosening of the Israeli blockade, while ignoring that their end goal continues to be the annihilation of the only Jewish state, are akin to media reports during WWII noting Germany’s territorial aspirations without any context regarding Hitler’s belief in Aryan racial supremacy and his wish to exterminate Jews and other ‘undesirables’.

On the other hand, it is heartening to see the support – among many Guardian contributors – for the West’s efforts to rein in an apocalyptic and genocidal Middle-East based, Sunni extremist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood with a global expansionist worldview, which targets civilians, ruthlessly murders its enemies, possesses a pathological hatred for Jews and advocates Sharia Law over universal human rights.

However, whilst we’re of course referring to ISIS (Islamic State), we also just accurately described the fundamental ideological orientation of Hamas.

So, what accounts for such a profound moral inconsistency? Why are Palestinian jihadists not like the other jihadists?   

Though antisemitism is one factor which partly explains this phenomenon (among some Guardian contributors and journalists), the more widespread political dynamics at play are moral relativism, an egregiously skewed understanding of anti-imperialism, a glorification of ‘Palestinian resistance’ and an obsession with Jews and Israel  - in short, the signature ideological ticks of the Guardian Left.

There is, however, one more factor. 

We are often asked if we believe the Guardian to be institutionally antisemitic.  While their obsessive and almost entirely negative coverage of the Jewish State fans the flame of antisemitism, this writer, for one, does not believe the media group is compromised institutionally by anti-Jewish racism.

It may be more accurate to observe in the Guardian worldview a capacity to forcefully condemn antisemitism in the abstract, but an inability to summon such righteous indignation when doing so would require parting company with other ‘historically oppressed’ groups, and indeed challenge their very ideological identity.

In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community.