CiF Watch prompts revision to Financial Times claim about Palestinian prisoners

On April 7, we posted about a shamefully propagandistic ‘analysis’ on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks by their previous Associate Editor, David Gardner.  

The problems in Gardner’s article (pay wall) included a passage containing a toxic trope regarding ‘Jewish power’, a mischaracterization of Israel’s settlement freeze in 2010, an egregious distortion of the series of events leading to the current impasse between Abbas and Netanyahu, as well as a completely false claim seen in the following passage:

The [pre-Oslo] prisoners in question were supposed to have been released 20 years ago as part of the Oslo accords, at the high water mark for hopes that these two peoples could close a deal on sharing the Holy Land. They were not.

As we noted, this is flatly untrue.  

The pre-Oslo prisoners – scheduled for release under terms agreed upon last year to restart (and continue) negotiations – are all convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder, and there was no provision in the Oslo Accords requiring their release.   

Israel (per Annex VII of the agreement) agreed to release women, administrative detainees and minors, as well as elderly and sick prisoners, but stated quite clearly that they would not release “prisoners who killed Israeli citizens or were deemed likely to become involved in future acts of violence”, or otherwise had “blood on their hands”.  Additionally, “only members of organizations that had stopped supporting terrorism” would be considered for this amnesty.

Later, in a series of emails with editors at the Financial Times, they claimed that it was the Oslo 2 Accords that Gardner was referring to, and not Oslo 1.

However, as we noted in a subsequent email to editors, Oslo 2 (Article XVI, Confidence Building Measures) mentioned prisoners, but referred back to the language of the text in the original Oslo 1 Agreement, which (again) didn’t require Israel to release violent terrorists.

Following our last email with FT editors, they revised Gardner’s article and added this addendum:

corext

However, the change is completely inadequate.

Here’s the original:

orig

Now, here’s the slightly revised passage:

revised

The only change is that they added the modifier “some” to the original claim that “the prisoners in question were supposed to have been released…”.

However, as the language of the Oslo Accords cited above clearly indicates, NO violent terrorists (such as the pre-Oslo prisoners in question) were required to be released under the terms of either Oslo Agreement.

The Financial Times still has it wrong.

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Peter Beaumont vs Peter Beaumont: Guardian journo contradicts himself on prisoner release

In ‘Middle East peace talks edge towards collapse despite Kerry’s frantic efforts, Guardian, April 2, the newspaper’s incoming Jerusalem correspondent writes the following about the collapsing ‘peace process’.

Eight months ago, Netanyahu signed a US-sponsored agreement to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners in a quid pro quo that would block the Palestinian application to membership of a raft of UN bodies in exchange for talks. But despite the agreement, Netanyahu has refused to release the fourth group of prisoners unless the Palestinian Authority recognises Israel as a Jewish state.

This is flat-out untrue.

The Jewish state recognition demand is a separate issue, was voiced prior to the current crisis about the release of the final batch of pre-Oslo prisoners and has never been cited as a factor why Israel is reluctant to release the remaining 26 Palestinians.

As reported by media sites across the political spectrum, Israeli negotiators have only demanded that – for the prisoner release to go ahead – Palestinians must at least agree to extend talks past the April 29 deadline, and have asked why they should release these prisoners when (immediately following their release) Palestinians will likely decide to end the talks.

Interestingly, three days prior to his April 2 story, Peter Beaumont himself acknowledged that the fear of Palestinians walking away from talks was the reason for Israel’s hesitation over the final prisoner release.

In his report on March 31, he wrote the following:

The Israeli government has said it is unwilling to go ahead with the latest prisoner release until it has a commitment from Abbas to extend this phase of the negotiations. On Sunday the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said the talks were “verging on a crisis”.

Just to make it easier, here are snapshots of the competing Peter Beaumont passages.

Beaumont, March 31:

1

Beaumont, April 2:

2

Which one is it, Peter?

 

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Evidently, some Palestinian prisoners don’t evoke Harriet Sherwood’s sympathy

Sympathetic portrayals of Palestinian terrorists serving sentences in Israeli jails are something of a specialty for the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, and her Nov. 18 report about suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Samir al-Baraq (Palestinian held without trial takes case to Supreme Court) continues in this tradition.

samir

Samir al-Baraq

Sherwood begins:

Israel‘s supreme court is set to rule on the continued detention of a Palestinian man accused of being an al-Qaida member who has been held in an Israeli jail without charge or trial for more than three years.

Samir al-Baraq has demanded to be released from “administrative detention”, the system by which Israel keeps security suspects locked up without going through a normal judicial process. The Israeli authorities are seeking a further six-month extension to the detention order.

Israel says Baraq, a Palestinian born in Kuwait, is a biological weapons expert who was planning attacks against Israeli targets when he was arrested in July 2010 while attempting to enter the country from Jordan.

According to court documents, Baraq studied microbiology in Pakistan, underwent military training in Afghanistan and was recruited in 2001 to al-Qaida by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is the group’s leader today. In 2003, he spent three months in Guantánamo Bay, the US high-security jail in Cuba, and later spent five years in prison in Jordan.

Later in her report, she quotes Baraq’s lawyer:

Baraq’s lawyer, Mahmid Saleh, told Army Radio: “If he is such a senior terrorist, then why hasn’t he been prosecuted? There is no evidence against him.”

However, in addition to the fact that administrative detention is a widely used judicial method for dealing with suspected terrorists in other democratic countries, Ynet published a more detailed report about the case on the same day that Sherwood’s piece ran, and there seems to be little doubt about Baraq’s desire to engage in violent jihad.

In 1998, Samir Abed Latif al-Baraq was a BA student in biology in Pakistan when he decided to become an ‘a-aa’dar’ and start planning for a jihad that he believed would soon begin. He went to an Islamist militants’ camp in Afghanistan and tried to convince some of his friends to go with him. It was the first of many training camps in which he would spend time in upcoming years, training to become a terrorist.

The records [interrogation transcripts from the defense establishment which Ynet obtained], shed light on the path that he chose, and how he managed to make use of his academic education to become a member of al-Qaeda’s mysterious “biological project,” and not just a regular terrorist.

When he got to the camp in Afghanistan, he and his friends quickly learned how to operate weapons and how to make and use poisons, such as cyanide. In the summer of 1998, on his way back to Pakistan, he started talking about an attack on Israel for the first time.

When the interrogators asked him about this, he responded: “Yes, this is true

Baraq also reportedly told his interrogators quite explicitly in how he planned to kill Jews.

Beyond the specifics of the case, such ubiquitous stories at the Guardian about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prison stand in stark contrast to the dearth of stories about Palestinians prisoners in Arab countries.  Moreover, whilst Palestinian prisoners in Israel are treated as heroes by the Palestinian Authority, the PA (per a recent story by Khaled Abu Toameh) has “long been ignoring the fact that thousands of Palestinians are languishing in prisons in several Arab countries,” including in Kuwait, the country of birth for Sherwood’s Palestinian protagonist.

Toameh’s report includes the following:

The families of the prisoners held by Israel at least know where their sons are and most visit them on a regular basis.  But in the Arab world the story is completely different.  The daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi recently revealed that dozens of Palestinians have been held in Kuwaiti prisons since 1991. The families of these prisoners do not know anything about their conditions.

Kuwait expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians after U.S.-led coalition forces liberated the tiny oil-rich emirate in 1991. The move came in retaliation for the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s [PLO] support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait a year earlier

After liberation, the Kuwaitis also arrested many Palestinians on suspicion of collaboration with the Iraqi occupation army.

Recently, the Kuwaitis finally allowed the Palestinian Authority to reopen the Palestinian embassy in the emirate. The move came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas apologized for the PLO’s support of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

But the Palestinian Authority leadership is apparently too afraid to ask the Kuwaiti authorities about the Palestinians who went missing in the emirate during the past two decades. Abbas does not want to alienate the Kuwaitis; he is apparently hoping that they will resume financial aid to the Palestinians.

Hundreds of Palestinians are held in various prisons in Syria, some for more than two decades. In the past year, at least two prisoners were reported to have died in Syrian and Egyptian prisons.

Again, the Palestinian Authority leadership has not even demanded an inquiry into the deaths or the continued incarceration of Palestinians in the Arab world.

A prominent Palestinian writer who spent three weeks in jail in Syria described the prisons there as “human slaughterhouses.” Salameh Kaileh [a Palestinian intellectual] was arrested in April last year on suspicion of printing leaflets calling for the overthrow of Bashar Assad.

“It was hell on earth,” Kaileh told Associated Press. “I felt I was going to die under the brutal, savage and continuous beating of the interrogators, who tied me to ropes hung from the ceiling.”

Salameh Kaileh

Salameh Kaileh

Toameh concluded thus:

For the Palestinian Authority, the plight of Palestinians in Arab prisons does not seem to be an important issue. As far as the Palestinian Authority leadership is concerned, the only “heroes” are those prisoners who are held in Israel. For the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians who are being tortured and killed in Arab prisons are not worth even a statement.

And, neither is their plight deemed worth a story, or evidently even viewed sympathetically, by Harriet Sherwood.

Guardian makes egregious “error”; refers to Palestinian “terrorists” without quotes

A few days ago the Guardian made an egregious “error”.  They used the word ‘terrorism’, in the Israeli-Palestinian context, without quotes.  Here’s the relevant passage in the online edition of a story about the recent release of a second batch of Palestinian prisoners titled ‘Tension among Israelis after release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, Oct. 30:

terroristOf course, anyone who reads the Guardian would know that at least their unofficial editorial policy seems to forbid use such a value-laden term as “terrorist” to refer to Palestinian extremists who murder Israelis, at least without quotations or some other grammatical qualification. More typically, they use the word “militant” instead - even, as seen below, in reference to the 2011 Itamar massacre.

militant

Guardian headline, March 14, 2011

Sure, enough, a mere day after their online “faux pas” about the freed Palestinians, the Guardian “corrected” their “blunder” in the print edition of the paper.  In a shortened version of the Oct. 30 story about the released prisoners, the quotes were wrapped safely around the potentially offending term. 

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Guardian print edition, Oct. 31

Finally, we should note that the one seeming exception to the Guardian ‘no terror without quotes’ policy relates to stories about the murder of innocent civilians by violent extremists which occurs on British soil.  

LondonWe of course eagerly await a column by the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor explaining the moral difference between the murder of Lee Rigby in London and the murder of more than 1400 innocent Israelis since Oslo.

Guardian columnist compares Israel to an autistic child

Here’s the headline of a Nov. 1 column by the Guardian’s Giles Fraser,

austistic

Fraser was evidently inspired to explore such analogy by his dismay over Israel’s recent decision to build homes in its capital:

This week the Israeli government announced final approval for 1,500 new apartments in East Jerusalem. Much of the rest of the world – even the US – complains vigorously about all this highly contentious settlement building. But it makes little difference. Israel doesn’t listen. It just keeps on doing its own thing, indifferent to the calls of the international community. The impression given is that Israel doesn’t give two hoots what anybody else thinks.

Naturally, Fraser fails to mention the 104 Palestinian prisoners – convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder – who Israel agreed to release (despite the anguished pleas of terror victims’ families) in order to please the ‘international community’ and resume peace talks – a fact inconsistent with his caricature of a country not giving “two hoots” about what others think.

Now, for Fraser’s pseudo-intellectualizing:

It is, claims French academic Diana Pinto in a recent book, a form of national autism. Back in 2009, French Europe minister Pierre Lellouche called British foreign policy “autistic” for being introverted and self-absorbed…

Her argument begins by noting that Israel is brilliant scientifically and technologically. Amazingly, for so tiny a place, it has more companies listed on the Nasdaq, the hi-tech stock market, than all of Europe combined. This start-up revolution has, she insists, replaced the kibbutz as Israel’s “conceptual motor”. Israel works fantastically well in cyberspace. Perhaps it always has. Zionism, until very recently, has long been a dream, a sort of virtual reality. Those who have, for centuries, been hounded as aliens in other people’s lands, might have learnt to live more freely in the imagination than in the harsh reality of poverty and pogroms.

But the flip side of all this prodigy-like technological mastery is a lack of empathy, an inability to meet the gaze or to enter into the emotional reality of its neighbours. In this Rain Man caricature, Israel lives in an existential bubble, cut off (by a wall, both mental and literal) from its surroundings.

Of course, it was the unimaginable lack of empathy of Palestinian terrorists – who indiscriminately targeted Israeli men, women and children in waves of sadistic suicide bomb attacks in the early and mid 2000s – which necessitated the security fence in the first place.

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Passover massacre, Netanya, 2002

Later, Fraser’s argument gets even stranger, as he suggests that even Judaism’s lack of interest in proselytizing also suggests a lack of empathy.

This introversion Pinto links with Judaism’s lack of interest in religious conversion. “Any attempt to convert others implies finding the best way to interact with them by penetrating into their deepest values and symbols … in brief, dialoguing. 

Now, for the finale in Fraser’s efforts at “dialoguing” with those ‘stiff-necked’ Israeli Jews:

Autistic personalities rarely dialogue.” In other words, Israel lives in its own little cyberspace, a loner that doesn’t play well with other people.

So, to conclude, Fraser posits that Israel is not unlike a child – with arrested cognitive development – who doesn’t play well with others!

Of course, only someone suffering from the most pronounced political myopia could fail to acknowledge that it has been Israel’s neighbors – through 65 years of war, terrorism, antisemitic indoctrination, boycotts, and other forms of racist violence and exclusion – who have been guilty of “not playing nicely with others”.

Perhaps Fraser can write a follow-up post, psychoanalyzing Arabs (and Palestinian Arabs) who clearly prefer wallowing in their malign obsession with Israel (and their own sense of victimhood) than learning to accept (and benefit from) a normal relationship with the Jewish state.

In fairness, Fraser walks back his argument a bit towards the end of his column by citing a Cambridge University professor who was critical of his Autism analogy. Nevertheless, the fact that such a facile (and remarkably bizarre) hypothesis ever saw the light of day in a ‘mainstream’ UK broadsheet in the first place speaks volumes about the strange obsession with Jews and Israel by a significant segment of the British Left.

The Guardian corrects false Palestinian “political prisoner” claim

As we’ve noted previously, CiF Watch has been able to leverage information we obtained from the Israel Justice Ministry on the 104 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners, who are to be released as a concession to resume peace talks, to prompt corrections to false characterizations of these Palestinians as “political prisoners” at the Guardian and Independent. 

We demonstrated conclusively (per a detailed report on the prisoners translated and published exclusively by CAMERA) that most of the 104 Palestinians were convicted in Israeli courts (before the signing of the Oslo Agreements in September 1993) for murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder.  Thus, British media efforts to paint these violent criminals as “political prisoners” (a term which refers to those imprisoned for their political beliefs) were impossible to defend.

Whilst the corrections we obtained thus far were prompted by communication between CiF Watch and the editors of the British papers in question, yesterday we noticed that the Guardian issued a correction, to an Oct. 31 report by Matthew Kalman on the recent release of the latest round of 26 pre-Oslo prisoners, before we contacted them.

corexYes, they indeed “erred”, but we’re glad to see the correction.

Though this may seem like a narrow issue to some, it needs to be understood as part of the British media’s increasing tendency to submit to the corruption and politicization of ordinary language by radical ideologies which attempt to turn truth, logic and moral common sense upside down.  

It is quite urgent that we continue to resist efforts to mainstream such horribly misleading euphemisms, so please contact us if you see other examples of British media reports on the Palestinian prisoner release issue which employ such propagandistic terms.

contactus@cifwatch.com

 

Independent’s coverage of Palestinian terror again highlights perpetrator’s family

indyLast Thursday, Oct. 17, a Palestinian named Younes al-Radaideh, from Beit Hanina, rammed a tractor he was driving into an IDF base north of Jerusalem in an attempted terror attack. He succeeded in breaking through the fence and rammed into buildings and several vehicles, injuring one Israeli, before being shot and killed by two soldiers.

Reports indicate that Younes al-Radaideh is the brother of Marei al-Radaideh, the man who carried out another terror attack involving a tractor in March, 2009, in Jerusalem.

The Independent’s coverage of this latest terror incident consisted of the following photo (and accompanying caption) in a photo story titled ‘Pictures of the day: West Bank simmers as Palestinian anger builds in face of occupation’.

indy

The caption reads: 

A relative shows a picture of Palestinian Yunes Ahmed al-Radaydeh, the construction worker who was shot dead after forcing his way into a West Bank army base.

In addition to the misleading nature of the caption – which seriously downplayed the potentially lethal attack – the Indy’s decision to highlight the family of the perpetrator mirrors their use of photos in a story on July 28 about Israel’s decision to release 104 Palestinian ‘pre-Oslo’ prisoners – a group largely consisting of terrorists who murdered or attempted to murder Israeli citizens.

Here’s the July 28 caption:

The mother of Palestinian Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 20 years, hugs her grandson upon hearing the news that her son may soon be released

Additionally, when the first 26 Palestinian prisoners – out of the larger group of 104 – were released the following month (a group which included Ateya Abu Moussa), the Indy covered the story with another photo series depicting the reaction of Palestinian family members.  Here’s the photo they used to illustrate Ateya Abu Moussa’s release:

moussa

The caption reads:

Freed Palestinian prisoner Ateya Abu Moussa (3rd R), who was held by Israel for 20 years, hugs his father upon arriving at his family’s house in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip

The Indy evidently didn’t deem it worthy to note that Ateya Abu Moussa had been imprisoned for murdering an Israeli Holocaust survivor named Isaac Rotenberg in 1994.

Whilst, fortunately, no Israelis were killed in the terror incident on Thursday, the decision by Indy editors to again highlight the attacker’s family represents another example of the moral inversion continually on display in British media coverage of Palestinians who attempt to murder Israeli citizens.

Following CiF Watch post, Guardian amends ‘terrorist sperm’ story

On Oct. 14 we posted about a bizarre story by Harriet Sherwood alleging that the sperm of a Palestinian terrorist prisoner was smuggled out of an Israeli jail and used to impregnate a Palestinian woman in Gaza.  

Though the veracity of the Palestinian claim that the baby, shown above, was in fact the result of smuggled sperm, was questioned by Israeli prison officials, we focused on the inaccurate claim by Sherwood that the Palestinian donor (Tamer Za’anin) was merely convicted of membership in a “militant’ organization.

Sherwood wrote the following:

Za’anin, who had been denied permission by Israel to visit her husband in prison since his conviction for membership of the militant organisation Islamic Jihad just a few months after their marriage, consulted [the fertility doctor] by phone. 

We demonstrated, per Israeli court records, that Za’anin not only belonged to a terror organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but volunteered for their military wing (Al-Quds Brigades), and was convicted after pleading guilty to four counts of being an accessory to attempted murder, a plea bargain in which he admitted his active participation in several terror attacks.

Today, we noticed that the article was amended (on October 15) to include details of Za’anin’s criminal record. The passage in question now reads:

Za’anin, who had been denied permission by Israel to visit her husband in prison since his conviction on four counts of aiding in attempted murder and for membership of the militant organisation Islamic Jihad just a few months after their marriage, consulted him by phone.

We commend Guardian editors on their revision to Sherwood’s story.

Guardian misleads in tale of ‘heroic’ Palestinian sperm smuggling

The latest story by Harriet Sherwood about Palestinian prisoners reportedly smuggling sperm out of Israeli jails to impregnate women in Gaza continues the Guardian method of significantly downplaying the terror record of Palestinian prisoners.

First, we should note that this is actually the second such report by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent on the pressing issue of ‘smuggled sperm’ and Palestinian prisoners. On Feb. 8 she published the following:

oneYesterday, Oct. 13, the day, incidentally, in which other papers were reporting the discovery by the IDF of a major terror tunnel between Gaza and Israel, Sherwood detailed the latest ‘victory’ for the Palestinians’ burgeoning underground terrorist sperm trade, reporting the following:

two

Sherwood begins her story, thus:

Hana al-Za’anin and her husband, Tamer, have not set eyes on each other, let alone had physical contact, for almost seven years. But the young Palestinian couple are delighted to be expecting their first child in January.

The baby – a boy already named Hassan – is not a modern-day miracle but the result of medical science combined with old-fashioned subterfuge. He was conceived after Tamer’s sperm was smuggled out of an Israeli prison, across a stringent military checkpoint into Gaza, and impregnated into an egg harvested from Hana at a fertility clinic in Gaza City. The resulting embryo was transplanted into her uterus.

Hassan will be the first “prison baby” born in Gaza, but he will join at least three infants delivered in the West Bank as a result of a rapidly growing sperm-smuggling phenomenon,

Sherwood does briefly quote an Israeli prison official expressing doubt that sperm had in fact been smuggled out of their jail, but most of the story is devoted to celebrating the Palestinian ingenuity .  

Later in the report, we learn a bit more about al-Zanin and his ‘heroic’ example of Palestinian ‘resistance’ in the face of Israeli conjugal oppression:

Za’anin, who had been denied permission by Israel to visit her husband in prison since his conviction for membership of the militant organisation Islamic Jihad just a few months after their marriage, consulted [the fertility doctor] by phone. “He was surprised that I asked. He had also heard about this, and had wanted to ask me, but thought people might wonder about me being pregnant with my husband in jail. So when I asked, he agreed right away,” she said at the family’s home in Beit Hanoun.

It not only took Sherwood eight paragraphs before briefly noting (in roughly ten words out of an 875 word story) that Tamer al-Za’anin is a convicted terrorist, but she characteristically downplayed his terrorist record.

According to Israeli court records (Hebrew), al-Za’anin not only belonged to a terror organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but volunteered for their military wing (Al-Quds Brigades), a group which has carried out numerous attacks against Israelis, including deadly suicide bombings.  Further, court records show that he was imprisoned after pleading guilty to four counts of being an accessory to attempted murder, a plea bargain in which he admitted his active participation within terror cells that on one occasion laid an explosive (IED) and fired two missiles at an IDF vehicle, and on three other occasions fired rockets at civilians in Sderot.

In other words, the protagonist in Sherwood’s celebratory tale allegedly brought life into the world only after a career in terror focused on trying desperately to end as many Israeli lives as possible.

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.

Peter Beinart’s Open Zion feels the pain of pre-Oslo murderers and their loved ones

An Aug. 20 essay by  at Peter Beinart’s blog Open Zion, titled ‘Palestinian Prisoners Are Released and No One Cares‘, mostly stands out in the way in which Arab murderers are characterized sympathetically while the victims of their brutal crimes are all but ignored.

graphic

Indeed, we’ve been posting frequently on the sympathetic portrayal, by some in the media, of the the 104 pre-Oslo prisoners who Israel has agreed to release – all of whom were convicted of murder, attempted murder, or being an accessory to murder, and the dearth of information about the victims and their families.  And, in fact, Zayid spends most of the space allotted to her commenting on the pain felt by the recently released murderers – in “the middle of the night”!, we are reminded – and the ‘feelings’ of their families.

In addition to the moral inversion typical in the far-left’s coverage of the prisoner release story, here are a few of the smears and falsehoods in Zayid’s Open Zion essay. 

Israelis simply don’t care about the release of prisoners who murdered their fellow citizens:

Zayid writes:

“The Israeli families who claimed to be directly affected by the freed prisoners’ actions seemed to be the only folks who really cared about the move to send these notorious men home.” 

It’s unclear how Zayid gauged the pulse of the Israeli public in a manner sufficient to make such a claim about their attitudes towards the prisoners’ release, but polls certainly indicate she’s flat-out wrong.  In fact, 77.5 percent of Israelis polled recently opposed the release – results which are quite intuitive to most Israelis, an extremely large number of whom have been personally affected by Palestinian terrorism.   

Palestinian “Political Prisoners” in Israel:

Zayid writes:

It is also important to remember whom Israel chose to free. These are not women, children, or prisoners of conscience. They are not your average Palestinians serving time for rock throwing or because an acquaintance who could no longer handle the torture volunteered their name as a scapegoat. These are not the Palestinians being held without charges or as political prisoners for nonviolent resistance.

It’s a small comfort that Zayid doesn’t at least parrot the Palestinian narrative of the pre-Oslo prisoners as “political prisoners“, but she still legitimizes the absurd notion that there are such prisoners in Israeli jails – those whose incarceration are, per the accepted definition of the term, based purely on their political or religious beliefs.

Imputing the most sinister motives to Israelis, even in response to the most painful concessions for peace:

Zayid writes:

Israel chose these prisoners specifically knowing that after over two decades of rotting in jail, these men no longer pose a threat, and that the move to free them could be used to Israel’s advantage. As the families cheer the homecoming of their loved ones, Israel can use those images to reinforce the myth that Palestinians are terrorist-loving savages. 

Of course it was Mahmoud Abbas who demanded the release of the ‘pre-Oslo’ prisoners, and so to imply that releasing them was a strategic, calculated, cynical Israeli decision continues in the illiberal tradition of those who deny Palestinian moral agency, and see in all political events a sinister Israeli motive. Further, to impute Israeli racism in the ‘belief’ that Palestinians routinely engage in incitement and glorify terrorists is to deny evidence documented daily on sites which monitor such incitement.  

It is an indisputable fact that Palestinians routinely celebrate even those citizens who’ve committed the most barbaric crimes, such as the honors bestowed upon Dalal Mughrabi, the woman who led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, when she and other terrorists hijacked a bus in 1978 and killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children.

Moral equivalence between terrorists and the IDF

Zayid writes:

“Others who come to cheer see little difference between Palestinian armed resistance and an Israeli sniper shooting an unarmed 13-year-old through the heart. Both are murderers and both will find a couple hundred people to give them a hero’s welcome, regardless.”

Such a moral equivalency between Palestinian terrorists who intentionally kill Israelis and IDF soldiers who, during the course of engaging Palestinian terrorists, accidentally kill Palestinians is a common theme in anti-Zionist propaganda, and since Zayid doesn’t provide a link it’s impossible to know for sure what incident she’s even referring to.  

However, while Palestinians who murder Israelis (such as the 26 recently released prisoners) have received heroes’ welcomes when they return home, it strains credulity to even imagine a situation where an IDF soldier whose actions may have resulted in the death of a Palestinian child is celebrated because of Palestinian deaths.

One of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel is greeted by relatives and friends at the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Atef Safadi, European Pressphoto Agency / August 14, 2013

One of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel is greeted by relatives and friends at the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. (Atef Safadi, European Pressphoto Agency / August 14, 2013

Religiously segregated housing:

Zayid writes:

“Freeing 26 prisoners out of 5000 means nothing compared to the Israeli Housing Minister announcing the construction of 1200 new religiously segregated housing units

Here, Zaid is likely talking about the recent announcement of 1187 new homes mostly in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods where, as CAMERA has documented on several occasions in response to false claims, no such segregation exists.  (Indeed, in Dec. 2012, this blog was able to even get the Guardian to acknowledge that it is inaccurate to assert that such racially exclusive housing exists.)

However, in addition to the factual errors and smears, what most stands out in Zaid’s piece is how Arab murderers are humanized, while Israeli victims and their families remain nameless and largely faceless. 

It’s hard to know when Peter Beinart’s Open Zion, supposedly inspired by his love of Israel, devolved into a project which promotes the views of those who are contemptuous of Israelis, and even those who have defended anti-Semites, but, whatever his motivations, this latest piece of agitprop places his blog in an ideological direction closer to Electronic Intifada or Mondoweiss than any site which would proudly identify as Zionist.

UPDATE: There was one additional error in Zayid’s essay which I originally decided not to focus on, but which, based on a Twitter exchange about the issue, is worth at least mentioning. She cited the number of Palestinians as seven million, a number we’ve never seen before and which is greater, by more than two million, than the official Palestinian figures.  Here’s her reply:

Remarkably, she included Arab Israelis in her total count of Palestinians!

The Guardian faces stiff competition for most sympathetic depiction of murderers

As Israel begins the process of releasing 104 pre-Oslo prisoners (all of whom were convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder) as a concession to the Palestinians to renew negotiations, it’s hard to avoid noticing the media’s sympathetic coverage of the perpetrators and their families, and their callousness towards the victims and their surviving family members.

We’ve commented on this previously, but the recent increase in pictorial coverage relating to the release of the first 26 prisoners requires greater focus.

The Independent, July 28

irish times

Caption:

The mother of Palestinian Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 20 years, hugs her grandson upon hearing the news that her son may soon be released.

Irish Times, July 29

irish times

Caption:

The mother (R) of Palestinian Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 20 years, reacts as she is hugged by her sister after hearing news on the possible release of her son. Abu Moussa was expected to be among more than 100 Arab prisoners to be released as a step to renew stalled peace talks with the Palestinians in Washington today. Photograph: Reuters

The Telegraph, Aug. 14. (Behind pay wall)

telegraph

Caption:

Palestinians wave flags and shout as they await the release of prisoners outside the Israeli prison of Ofer, near the West Bank city of Ramallah Photo: REUTERS

The Times, Aug. 14 (Behind pay wall)

A freed Palestinian prisoner, one of 26 to be released, reaches the Gaza Strip Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Caption:

A freed Palestinian prisoner, one of 26 to be released, reaches the Gaza Strip Suhaib Salem/Reuters

The Times, same story:

A small crowd of wellwishers cheered as the men entered Palestinian territory Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Caption:

A small crowd of well wishers cheered as the men entered Palestinian territory Suhaib Salem/Reuters

The Guardian: Here are three photos from their Picture Desk Live series on Aug. 13 and 14:

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Caption:

The father and brother of Palestinian prisoner Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held by Israel for 20 years, hug after hearing news of his expected release in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. On Monday Israel named 26 Palestinian prisoners to be freed this week under a US-backed peace talks deal. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

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Caption:

Freed Palestinian prisoner Ateya Abu Moussa, who was held by Israel for 20 years, hugs his father upon arriving at his family’s house in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Prisoner Release

Caption:

Palestinian people greet and celebrate freed prisoners who arrive in a bus at the Erez crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ali Ali/EPA

Palestinians celebrate while waiting for arrival of released prisoners

Caption:

Palestinians wait the arrival of released prisoners near the Erez crossing. Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners ahead of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/Demotix/Corbis

The Guardian: Finally, here’s a photo used to illustrate a story by Harriet Sherwood on Aug. 14.

Released Palestinian prisoner Nihad Jendeia is welcomed upon his arrival by his relatives in Gaza

Caption:

Released Palestinian prisoner Nihad Jendeia is welcomed upon his arrival by his relatives in Gaza city. Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA

Question: Can you quickly tell us what all of these photos and captions share in common?

Answer: None of these photos – featuring the perpetrators, their families and supporters – included even a word about the often barbaric crimes committed, nor anything about the victims or their surviving family members.  

If you’re interested in learning about the victims of the 26 prisoners, please see our post published on Aug. 12.

Indy posts, then deletes, reference to Palestinian terrorists as ‘political prisoners’

h/t Gidon and Christopher

We recently posted about a grossly dishonest characterization in The Independent of the 104 Palestinian prisoners who will reportedly be released by Israel as a pre-negotiation concession to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The prisoners, held since, before Oslo, were described by the Indy’s Jerusalem correspondent Alistair Dawber as “political prisoners”, despite the fact that (as CAMERA conclusively demonstrated in April) all are incarcerated for committing violent acts – most for terrorist related violence including murder and attempted murder. 

We contacted Indy editors shortly after the post, and, in addition to providing the data we secured from the Justice Ministry on the prisoners and their crimes, noted that even the Guardian (following our complaint) had corrected a story in April which originally contained the false description of the prisoners as “political prisoners”.  Though the Indy has yet to respond to our complaint, there was recently an indication that such a correction may be forthcoming.  

A July 28th story by Dawber on the most recent news concerning Israel’s decision to release the prisoners seems to have initially referred to the Palestinians as “political prisoners”, a term used in the headline and accompanying text – but which was subsequently revised.

Here’s what you get if you Google the original story:

pol p

Now here’s a cached page of the article as it first appeared:

indy

The opening passage also includes the term “political prisoners”.

Israel’s cabinet voted today to release more than 100 Palestinian political prisoners after hours of debate, paving the way for the first direct peacetalks between the two sides for three years.

However, here’s the headline as it now appears:

indy 2

Note that the term “political prisoners” is gone.

Further, the opening passage also omits the term “political prisoners”

More than a hundred Palestinian prisoners are to be released after Israel’s cabinet voted to authorise the move today, paving the way for the first direct peace talks between the two sides for three years.

We’re not sure what prompted the change, but are certainly more hopeful that they’ll correct Dawber’s previous piece, and, more importantly, will instruct their contributors not to mislead readers by portraying homicidal extremists who target innocent civilians as something akin to political dissidents or ‘prisoners of conscience’. 

Detailed information on pre-Oslo prisoners reportedly to be released by Israel

As reports are coming in that Israel has agreed to Palestinian demands to release all 104 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners held since before the Oslo Accords in 1993, we encourage you to see the complete list of prisoners, along with a summary of their crimes and names of their victims, in the following document produced by CAMERA. 

Indy’s Alistair Dawber refers to Palestinian terrorists as “Political Prisoners”

On April 10th we commented on a Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood about efforts by John Kerry to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which included several passages about concessions demanded by Mahmoud Abbas before he’d agree to resume negotiations, including the following:

[Abbas] also wants the release of 123 political prisoners who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed almost 20 years ago, and for Israel to present a map showing proposed borders. [emphasis added]

As we noted at the time, many Palestinians regard even those compatriots held in Israeli jails who committed acts of terrorist brutality against Jews as “political prisoners”, and Sherwood’s prose served to legitimize this extremist Palestinian narrative.

Some time after our post, however, we were able to obtain detailed information on the pre-Oslo prisoners from the Israeli Justice Ministry, data which included details of the crimes, the dates of conviction and other relevant facts on every Palestinian prisoner in question.  The Justice Ministry’s information proved conclusively that all of the prisoners were indeed common criminals convicted of murder and (mostly) terrorists who murdered or attempted to murder Israeli civilians, soldiers, or foreign tourists.  This data was collated, translated and published for the first time exclusively at CAMERA in early June.

Some time after providing the Guardian with proof that the Palestinians in question can not fairly be referred to as “political prisoners” the paper’s editors agreed to revise the passage, and noted that the pre-Oslo prisoners are merely described as “political prisoners” by the Palestinians.

Today, however, another UK paper made the same serious error.

Alistair Dawber, Jerusalem correspondent for The Independent, penned a report today on recent concessions Israel reportedly offered to the Palestinians in order to restart peace talks, with the following headline:

indy

Here are the first two paragraphs of Dawber’s report:

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 Palestinian political prisoners, many of whom have been behind bars for decades. Prisoner releases have been a longstanding demand of the Palestinian leadership.

Whilst you can view the complete CAMERA list of the prisoners here, to provide a brief understanding of the absurdity of using the term “political prisoners” in this context, here are brief descriptions of the crimes committed by only a few of the prisoners Dawber alludes to:

  • Stabbed to death a civilian woman who was walking along the street; attempted to cause the death of three additional civilians.
  • Shot and murdered a soldier. In addition, beat to death a Palestinian civilian who was suspected of collaborating with the authorities. Also killed 4 Palestinian civilians whom he suspected of being collaborators
  • Threw an incendiary bomb at a passenger bus and caused the death of a mother, her three children, and a soldier who attempted to rescue them.
  • Beat an elderly man from the Sharon region with a hoe, thus causing his death.
  • Along with his accomplice, used a knife to stab to death an elderly man living in Kadima.
  • As a condition of being accepted to a terrorist organization and along with his accomplice, used an ax to murder a Jewish civilian who worked with them.
  • Participated in laying an explosive device in Mahaneh Yehudah Market in Jerusalem, causing the death of one civilian and the injury of nine. In addition, participated in an additional attempted attack in Mahaneh Yehudah and plotted to lay an explosive device at Carmel Market.
  • Participated in lynching an IDF soldier. Afterward threw rocks at the soldier, poured fuel on his vehicle, and set it on fire, with the soldier inside it. He did not express remorse for his deeds.
  • Oversaw a cell that committed 5 attacks on civilian buses and caused the injury of 16 passengers. In addition, on his orders the cell murdered three civilians on two occasions. Also, personally participated in the murder of two civilians.
  • Participated in the abduction, interrogation through torture, and murder/killing of 4 Palestinian residents suspected of collaborating with the Israeli authorities

(You can see a partial list of the victims here.)

As we argued previously, to refer to violent Palestinian criminals and terrorists (many of whom committed cruel and sadistic crimes against innocent Israelis) as “political prisoners” represents an egregious corruption of the term – propaganda of terror apologists legitimized by those in the media ideologically sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

(Update: We just learned that Alistair Dawber will soon become the Indy’s foreign editor)