The Guardian has absolutely no idea why a Jewish man was murdered near Hebron

To understand the latest report by Peter Beaumont (the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent), it’s necessary to comprehend the Guardian’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in which Israelis represent privileged Western colonialists, and are almost completely the guilty party, while Palestinians are the weak, the dispossessed and colonized – and are almost entirely the victims.

Since their journalistic ethos seems inspired by a desire to, as one Guardian journalist phrased it, ‘comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable’, even the most brutal Palestinian terror attacks will necessarily be framed in a manner which robs Israeli victims of their humanity, and obfuscates the malevolence of the Palestinian perpetrator.

To wit, a April 14 story by Beaumont on a deadly terrorist attack near Hebron, on the eve of Passover, in which a Jewish man (Baruch Mizrachi) was killed, and his wife (Hadas) and children injured by Palestinian sniper fire, is notable for the absence of the words “terrorist” or even “militant”, its subtle attempts to downplay the deadly assault and the suggestion that the motive for the attack is ‘unclear’.  

The story, titled Israeli man killed and family members hurt as car fired on in West Bank, begins thusly:

One Israeli was killed three others injured after their car was hit by gunfire as they travelled through the West Bank on the eve of the Jewish Passover holiday.

The dead man, aged 40, was understood to be the father of the family while his pregnant wife, aged 28, and two children – one of them a nine-year old – were injured.

At least one man armed with an automatic weapon and apparently wearing a helmet opened fire on several cars travelling on route 35 near the city of Hebron, according to witness reports.

Note the passive language in the title and the opening passage, in which the victim’s car was hit by “gunfire”.  It isn’t until the third paragraph that “an armed man” makes an appearance.  However, the identity or likely motive of “the armed man” is not explored.

Beaumont continues:

The family in the car that was hit was understood to be en route from their home in Modi’in – an Israeli town split across occupied Palestinian and Israeli territory – to visit the mother’s family for the traditional meal that commences the Passover religious festival. The shooting was the second incident in the past two days on the West Bank.

This paragraph represents the first attempt to impute ‘settler’ status upon the victim.  However, Beaumont gets it wrong. Modi’in does not extend into “Palestinian territory”. (The Maccabim section of the greater Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut municipality – encompassing a few zip codes – are in what’s known as No Man’s Land, which refers to land between Israel and the West Bank whose sovereignty was never fully clarified after the War of Independence in 1948.)

Beaumont continues, and fails to properly contextualize additional information which clearly indicates a terror attack had taken place.

A traveller in another of the cars relayed the incident to an Israeli news agency describing the man as armed with a Kalashnikov and wearing a helmet. “He opened fire but didn’t hit us. He kept firing at the cars behind us,” the man said.

Israel‘s Channel 10 quoted another witness describing the man as dressed in black.

Beaumont then adds information which could easily be read as possible motives – if not justifications – for the shooting, which is curious in that, up until this point, he hasn’t so much as hinted that the attack could be nationalist (or political) in nature.

The shooting comes amid increasing tensions following a stalemate in peace talks.

It also comes hard on the heels of permission by the Israeli army on Sunday for three settler families to move into a building in nearby Hebron, after a long legal battle and culminating on Sunday with the authorisation by Israel’s defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, of the first new settlement in Hebron since the 1980s.

Then, in the penultimate paragraph, Beaumont descends to the absurd, feigning ignorance as to the likely motive:

However, with no immediate claim of responsibility the precise motives for the shooting remained unclear.

Finally, there this closing paragraph:

In the last 12 months five Israelis have been killed in attacks on the West Bank. According to figures collated by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem between January 2009 and the end of February this year 82 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces or civilians on the West Bank and 20 Israelis.

Note that, per Beaumont, Israelis have been killed by “attacks” perpetrated by faceless perpetrators, while Palestinians have been killed by “Israelis”.

Finally, in light of Beaumont’s callous, agenda-driven report, here’s a first-hand account of the shooting (per the Israeli media) which will humanize the victims:

“We left our house in Modi’in and headed to the Seder,” Hadas Mizrahi told Ynet. “We passed the Tarqumia checkpoint and a traffic circle, and then Baruch saw a terrorist. He told me, ‘they’re shooting, they’re shooting, they’re shooting. There’s a terrorist.’ Baruch put his foot down on the gas pedal.

“I felt a pain in my back. I told the kids, ‘take off your seatbelts and lie down on the floor’. I took the steering wheel, shifted into low gear and used the handbrake to reduce the speed. I used a rag to wipe up the blood; I saw that Baruch was dead. When the soldiers arrived, I told them to dress my wounds and put the children in a protected vehicle, so that they didn’t see their father lying dead.”

The initial investigation into the attack found that the terrorist fired dozens of rounds from a Kalashnikov at vehicles, hitting the car in which Baruch and Hadas Mizrahi and five of their children were travelling. The children, aged between 3 and 13, did not suffer any injuries, in no small part thanks to Hadas’ quick thinking.

I’ll be strong for the children, because that’s what Baruch would have wanted. We should also be thankful for the miracle that my children and I survived. We will stay strong and God willing, my children will grow and succeed, and that will be my victory against the terrorists,” said the mother, whose condition is defined as moderate. “I have two bullet wounds and a fractured rib.”

hadas

(This post was revised at 19:30 Israeli time to more accurately explain the boundaries of Modi’in.)

Guardian covers tabloid scandal about Bibi’s wife; ignores Gaza terror attacks

In 2005 Israel evacuated every Jew from Gaza, an act which provided Palestinians in the coastal strip a chance to have an independent polity free of foreign interference for the first time in history.  

In 2006, despite assurances from the ‘international community’ that the absence of an Israeli military and ‘settler’ presence would moderate the Palestinian electorate in Gaza, a plurality of Gazans voted for Hamas – an extremist group committed to the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews.  Hamas has run the territory without political opposition since their violent purge of Fatah in 2007.  

Since 2006, and despite the absence of Israeli occupation, over 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli towns.  Or, to put it more accurately, there have been 8,000 individual attempts to murder innocent Israelis since that time. 

To those who don’t understand why many Israelis are reluctant to cede more land to the Palestinians without sufficient and sustainable security guarantees that aren’t dependent on the good will of Palestinian leaders or the casual ‘assurances’ of Western governments, the answer can be culled from the results of this real-life ‘land for peace’ experiment.  In short, though most Israelis strongly support, in principle, a two-state solution, most wearily expect that the new Palestinian state will quickly devolve into either failed state or, more likely, a terror state.

The reason why this blog focuses at times on the Guardian’s failure to report terror attacks from Gaza (and the West Bank), is that such an egregious failure to report the full story about the conflict allows their readers to lazily dismiss Israel’s insistence on defensible borders. This security doctrine is based on past wars and terror attacks, as well as the current reality of terrorist enemies on their borders (Hezbollah and Hamas) who are in possession of a combined arsenal of up to 170,000 (increasingly sophisticated and accurate) rockets and missiles.

So, for instance, the Guardian has failed to publish even one stand-alone article  (by their regional reporters) on any of the 100 plus rocket attacks from Gaza since January, 2014.  (The only minor exception pertains to two AFP stories (not written by Guardian staff) which characteristically focused on Israel’s response to rocket attacks.)

Here are the headlines of the two AFP reports which even mentioned Gaza rocket attacks. (Note the ‘tit for tat’ narrative, and emphasis on Israel’s response to the Gaza rockets):

AFP/Guardian story, March 3:

march 3AFP/Guardian story, March 13:

March 13

 Though their regional correspondents evidently didn’t find scores of deadly projectile fired at Israeli civilian targets newsworthy, they did, however, find time to pen two articles on complaints by former employees of the Netanyahus (a maid and a household assistant) about alleged unfair treatment by the prime minister’s wife, Sara.

Here’s a January 17 report by Rory McCarthy:

jan 17

Here’s an April 9 report by the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont:

april 9

 ‘Shocking’ details in the Jan. 17 report, included the following:

Peretz [the former maid] worked in the Netanyahu family home, in Caesarea, for six years. In the lawsuit she reportedly claimed that the prime minister’s wife, a psychologist, denied her basic social benefits and shouted at her for not following rules. Among the rules was allegedly the instruction that the employer be addressed only as “Mrs Sara Netanyahu,” following her husband becoming prime minister last spring.

Peter Beaumont’s story including even more ‘explosive’ charges:

He alleges that on another occasion Mrs Netanyahu woke him at 3am to complain that he had bought milk in bags rather than cartons. “When I complained about the time and the tone in which she spoke the harsh words to me, Mr Netanyahu interfered in the discussion and said I should do everything Mrs Netanyahu asked ‘so she will calm down’,” Naftali claims.

To put the Guardian’s priorities in some perspective, here are stats comparing their coverage of over 100 rockets attacks (100 individual Palestinian war crimes) vs their coverage of complaints against the prime minister’s wife by two former employees:

  • Guardian stories covering Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 2
  • Number of words in two Guardian reports on Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 1228
  • Guardian stories primarily devoted to terrorist attacks from Gaza: 0
  • Number of words devoted to Gaza rocket attacks on Israel within two broader Guardian/AFP reports (which focused on the general ‘tit for tat’ attacks between Gaza and Israel): 110

In case you were wondering, the latest illegal attack on Israeli civilians by the terrorists in control of Gaza (not reported by the Guardian) occurred on April 9, the very day the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent published the latest installment of L’Affair Sara.

Such contrasting priorities, which place greater emphasis on gossip about the Israeli prime minister’s wife than on deadly projectiles fired at innocent Israeli men, women and children, explains quite a bit about British misconceptions on the root cause of the conflict, and the main impediments to its resolution. 

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The Guardian inflates the number of Palestinian refugees by 4,970,000

The Palestinian “refugee” problem is an issue this blog has explored on quite a few occasions, often in the context of pointing out UK media errors relating to the true number of actual refugees.

A case in point is a long article published on April 6 in The Observer (sister site of the Guardian) by incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont, titled ‘Middle East: does either side have the will to strive for peace?.  Though the nearly 2,000 word article is largely unproblematic, the print version included the following graphic which includes extremely inflated figures on “refugees”:

refugees

First, the wording of the passage (underlined in red) on “refugees” is quite confusing, as the words “5 million refugees and their descendants” could be understood as implying that there are ’5 million Palestinian refugees’ from 1948, PLUS an additional number of descendants.  

Alternately, it could be an attempt to acknowledge that not all of the “5 million” Palestinians who are regarded as refugees (per UNRWA’s bizarre formula) are actually refugees, but, rather, are the descendants of the original (unstated number of) refugees.  However, even assuming it’s the latter, this is extremely misleading, since readers would likely never imagine that there are only 30,000 or so actual Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (out of the original 711,000) still alive – or less than 1 percent of the ’5 million’ figure cited.

As we’ve noted previously, the 5 million figure (used by UNRWA) includes the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren (ad infinitum) of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived somewhere in Mandate Palestine, and includes even those who are citizens of other Arab countries (such as Jordan or Lebanon) as “refugees”.

Though such egregious distortions about the actual number of Palestinian refugees are ubiquitous throughout the UK media, we had at least one notable success when we prompted a correction last August in The Telegraph to a passage mirroring the language used by The Observer cited above.  After a series of communications with Telegraph editors, they agreed with our argument and our figures, and revised the original passage (which you can see here) thusly:

corex

Emphasis added

Even this passage isn’t perfect, because it fails to note how many Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (of the original 700,000 or so) are actually still alive, but, in comparison to the Guardian, it at least represents an attempt to accurately represent this widely misunderstood issue. 

h/t Izzy

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Following CiF Watch post, Guardian corrects false claim in Peter Beaumont report

Roughly two hours ago (11:00 Israeli time), we posted about an April 2 report by the Guardian’s incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont which falsely claimed that Israel’s reluctance to release the final 26 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners was due to Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians first recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

We noted that this claim was contradicted not only by every other MSM report we were able to find, but by Beaumont himself.

Here is Beaumont’s claim in the April 2 report:

2

Now, here’s a passage from a report by Beaumont on March 31, dealing with the same topic:

1

As we noted, both can’t be correct.

CiF Watch (and another media watchdog group) contacted Guardian editors shortly after our post was published, requesting a correction, and (though we haven’t received a reply yet from the paper) we noticed that (at roughly 12:45 Israeli time) the report was corrected.  

Here’s the addendum at the bottom of the article:

corex

UPDATE at 2:30: Guardian editors contacted us to explain that the error (per the addendum above) had been rectified.

 

 

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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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Peter Beaumont continues Guardian tradition of callously ignoring Israeli terror victims

It would be tempting in critiquing Peter Beaumont’s report on Marwan Barghouti to cite the adage with roots in the Midrash which roughly translates to ‘He Who is Compassionate to the Cruel
Will Ultimately Become Cruel to the Compassionate’, except that there’s no indication that the incoming Guardian Jerusalem correspondent would even acknowledge the malevolence possessed by the arch-terrorist.

Indeed, Beaumont’s report (Palestinians renew calls to free ‘leader-in-waiting’ Marwan Barghouti, March 26) employs all the requisite Guardian methods for covering a story about an imprisoned terrorist whose cause is championed by the Palestinians.

First, Beaumont highlights the ‘suffering’ of family members of the terrorist:

pic 1

Then, there’s the quote from a far-left, marginal former Israeli politician:

pic 2

There’s also an especially strange suggestion that some Israelis don’t consider him a convicted terrorist.

pic 3

And, there is obfuscation of the clear fact that Barghouti has stated repeatedly that he continues to support terrorism as a legitimate tactic to ‘free Palestine’

non-violence

However, the most disturbing element of Beaumont’s report – a dynamic present throughout much of the UK media’s coverage of such issues – is his failure to even note the details of Barghouti’s trail of terror, nor give voice to his Israeli victims.

Barghouti’s ‘fight for the liberation in Palestine’ included several terror attacks in which five Israelis were murdered.

The court which convicted Barghouti found him responsible for a June 2001 attack in Maale Adumim in which a Greek monk was murdered, a January 2002 terror attack in Givat Zeev, a March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv’s Seafood Market restaurant in which three people were murdered, and a car bomb attack in Jerusalem. (Details from the original indictment, which accused Barghouti of responsibility for 33 additional murders, can be viewed here.)

As CAMERA reported, Barghouti is also widely considered to have been one of the main leaders in the Palestinian campaign of violence during the 2nd Intifada and helped found and lead the Fatah-based militias (the Tanzim and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades) which carried out numerous deadly suicide attacks. 

Barghouti also reportedly was complicit in a suicide bombing at a crowd of shoppers on King George Street in Jerusalem on March 21, 2002 which claimed the lives of three and injured 86 others.  Yonatan Bauer, then age 7, was severely wounded in the attack when a screw from the suicide vest passed through his brain.  The picture below was taken within minutes of the attack:

Alan Joseph Bauer stands over his son Yonatan, minutes after they were both injured in suicide attack in Jerusalem on March 21, 2002.

Obfuscating terror; falsely imputing peaceful intentions; and prioritizing the suffering of a terrorist’s family over that of the Israeli victims?

It looks like Harriet Sherwood can be confident her replacement at the Guardian’s Jerusalem desk will be following in the proud tradition of pro-Palestinian “journalism” which represents the unique ideological niche of the London broadsheet.

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What about ‘Palestinians want to kill us’ don’t well-meaning critics of Israel understand?

On Wednesday night, when news was breaking that terrorists in Gaza had fired a volley of more than 40 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians in the south, the Guardian’s incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont reacted on Twitter as Guardianistas typically do to obfuscate such Palestinian war crimes: he highlighted one crazy quote by an Israeli in response to the attack.

The quote, by Israel’s foreign minister – threatening to reoccupy Gaza – was as hysterical as it was irrelevant, as the chances that such a re-occupation would happen are practically zero.

The habit of providing obsessive coverage to every hyperbolic or ill-considered statement by an Israeli, while ignoring even the most egregious examples of Palestinian racism and incitement to violence is not of course limited to Guardian journalists.  Indeed, even some of Israel’s friends often find it more morally satisfying to attack even minor Jewish misdeeds than far more injurious Palestinian crimes.

Whether it’s a case of liberal racism (holding groups believed to be powerless to a lower standard than those deemed to be powerful), moral myopia or antisemitism, this double standard weighs heavily on Israelis who desire more than anything to make peace with the Palestinians, but are haunted by the cognitive dissonance elicited by seeing Palestinian leaders talk peace in English to the West, while promising endless war when speaking to their own people in Arabic.

A perfect illustration of this disturbing double standard was evident when Palestinian Media Watch revealed that Senior Palestinian official Abbas Zaki said, in an interview yesterday on official PA TV, that Israelis “are an advanced instrument of evil” and that “Allah will gather them so that we can kill them.”

Here’s the video:

If you’re tempted to dismiss this call to murder as the rant of an insignificant or marginal voice, PMW explained that this simply isn’t true.

“Zaki’s public anticipation of the extermination of the Israelis is significant because, as Palestinian Media Watch has reported, he is a close associate of Mahmoud Abbas. He was sent to Syria as Mahmoud Abbas’ personal representative in October 2013, and he speaks at public events representing Fatah.

Do we even need to ask what the reaction at the Guardian, New York Times and BBC would be if a top Israeli official associated with Likud (and close associate of Netanyahu) said that ‘Palestinians were an instrument of evil and that God will gather them together so they can all be killed’?

Of course, the significance of such homicidal expressions by top Palestinians officials to the peace process is hard to overstate.  If Israelis are to make painful concessions for peace, they must have confidence that Palestinian leaders signing a final status agreement truly intend to settle the decade’s long conflict, that all historical claims are settled and that their war against the Jews has truly ended.

If Israelis – soberly aware of the price paid by previous ‘land for peace’ chimeras – don’t have confidence that a real and lasting peace will be achieved, and that the extremism and homicidal antisemitism within Palestinian society will one day end, then what incentive do they have to relinquish more than 90 percent of Judea and Samaria (and possibly east Jerusalem), thus forfeiting the IDF’s capacity to operate in these communities and thwart planned terror attacks?   

Leaving aside the pro-Palestinian UK media, many Israelis are at times also astonished by the hubris of many truly well-meaning progressive advocates for a two-state solution who, in the safety of affluent Western cities, imperiously lecture them on the risks they must take to end ‘the occupation’. 

Such peace advocates will never have to live with the consequences of their policy recommendations, and it seem quite reasonable to demand of them just a bit of humility – and some deference to Israelis for whom such decisions are more than political abstractions, and often matters of life and death.  

To put it simply:

The overwhelming majority of Israelis support current peace talks, and support a two-state solution. 

However, the overwhelming majority of Israelis also are skeptical that a two-state deal (under current circumstances) will actually lead to peace.

The failure of otherwise sober, erudite and reflective minds to keep these two ideas in their head simultaneously is at times breathtaking.

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Guardian Group editors fail to correct false claim on Sabra and Shatila massacre

We’ve been in communication with editors at The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) regarding a false claim (about the massacre of Palestinian civilians in 1982 by Christian Phalangists), by their foreign affairs editor, Peter Beaumont, in a Jan. 11 report titled ‘Ariel Sharon: a warrior blamed for massacres and praised for peace making‘.

Here are the relevant passages in Beaumont’s report:

It was during this period [the Lebanon War in 1982] he was found by the Kahan commission – investigating the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, when Israeli forces allowed Christian Phalangist militiamen into two refugee camps in Beirut to slaughter hundreds of Palestinian refugees – to have been personally negligent in the killings “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge [and] not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed”.

The average reader would likely take this to mean that Israeli forces sent Phalangist militiamen with the intent of “slaughtering” Palestinian refugees. However, the Israeli fact-finding mission on the massacre (Kahan Commission) that Beaumont cited was clear – in an over 51,000 word document – that there was no evidence of such an Israeli intent. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The commission found, per the highlighted passages below, that there was no intention by any Israelis to harm the non-combatant population in the Palestinian camps.

Here are a few of the relevant passages from the report:

Contentions and accusations were advanced that even if I.D.F. personnel had not shed the blood of the massacred, the entry of the Phalangists into the camps had been carried out with the prior knowledge that a massacre would be perpetrated there and with the intention that this should indeed take place; and therefore all those who had enabled the entry of the Phalangists into the camps should be regarded as accomplices to the acts of slaughter and sharing in direct responsibility. These accusations too are unfounded. We have no doubt that no conspiracy or plot was entered into between anyone from the Israeli political echelon or from the military echelon in the I.D.F. and the Phalangists, with the aim of perpetrating atrocities in the camps…. No intention existed on the part of any Israeli element to harm the non-combatant population in the camps. … Before they entered the camps and also afterward, the Phalangists requested I .D.F. support in the form of artillery fire and tanks, but this request was rejected by the Chief of Staff in order to prevent injuries to civilians. It is true that I.D.F. tank fire was directed at sources of fire within the camps, but this was in reaction to fire directed at the I.D.F. from inside the camps. We assert that in having the Phalangists enter the camps, no intention existed on the part of anyone who acted on behalf of Israel to harm the non-combatant population, and that the events that followed did not have the concurrence or assent of anyone from the political or civilian echelon who was active regarding the Phalangists’ entry into the camps.

The report further explains IDF instructions to the Phalangist militia prior to the operation to root out terrorists from the camps.

The commanders of the Phalangists arrived for their first coordinating session regarding the entry of their forces into the camps at about 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, 16.9.82, and met with Major-General Drori at the headquarters of one of the divisions. It was agreed at that meeting that they would enter the camps and coordinate this action with Brigadier-General Yaron, commander of the division. This coordination between Brigadier-General Yaron and the Phalangist commanders would take place on Thursday afternoon at the forward command post. It was likewise agreed at that meeting that a company of 150 fighters from the Phalangist force would enter the camps and that they would do so from south to north and from west to east. Brigadier-General Yaron spoke with the Phalangists about the places where the terrorists were located in the camps and also warned them not to harm the civilian population.

If Beaumont had decided to read the report he cited, he would have noted the egregious distortion in his claim that “Israeli forces allowed Christian Phalangist militiamen into two refugee camps in Beirut to slaughter hundreds of Palestinian refugees.”

We’re continuing to press editors at The Observer to revise the passage to more accurately reflect the findings of the Kahan Commission, and will update you when we receive a definitive response.

In the meantime, you can Tweet Peter Beaumont and ask him to address the error.

@petersbeaumont

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Execution, Inc.: Quick tutorial for Peter Beaumont on an Iranian moderate’s first 100 days

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor for the Guardian and Observer, argued in a November 30 article that the interim deal inked in Geneva between Iran and the world’s six leading powers could, “redraw the map of an area that has been gripped by conflict or the threat of conflict for generations.”  Specifically with regards to Israel, Beaumont notes that “An Iran a step further back from conflict with Israel, and potentially minded to meddle less in the region, would be a good thing if Tehran sticks to its part of the deal.”

Beaumont is placing his faith in a regime founded on the systematic suppression of Iranian citizens and dissidents – a nearly thirty-five year record of domestic oppression which has been facilitated to a large extent by a decidedly expansionist foreign policy. Indeed, creating scapegoats - such as Iraq, Israel and the United States - for tens of millions of Iranians to target their rage and misery allows Iran’s ruling clerics to legitimize their barbarity under the cloak of religion.

Beaumont believes that that the “…diplomacy that led to the interim six-month agreement is the first indication that [Iran’s] new president Hassan Rouhani now sees the benefit of negotiating solutions to the region’s problems.”

However, Rouhani’s domestic policy to date is one marked by executions, persecution, torture, denial of political rights and a general assault on the rule of law.

Frequently hailed at the Guardian as a moderate and a pragmatist, the Iranian leader’s actions over the course of his first 100 days in office leave little doubt that – behind the diplomatic window dressing – little has changed. In fact, since Rouhani’s election, the rate of executions has actually accelerated.  Iran’s regime imposed the death penalty on over 200 people during Rouhani’s tenure, including a record number of 50 executions during a two-week period in September. So far in 2013, Iran has executed more than 400 of its citizens.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said in a report presented to the General Assembly on October 31 that he’s “alarmed by the spate of executions.” 

And while Rouhani’s rhetoric inspired hope in Geneva, it is not being matched by his regime’s draconian policies vis-a-vis Iran’s minorities. The best hope for peace in our time’s government continues to disregard the rights of its Christians, Bahais, Sufis, Jews and members of other religious groups. Furthermore, homosexuality under Iranian law remains punishable by imprisonment and even the death penalty.

Yet, just when this bloody tyranny was beginning to wobble as a result of a crippling sanctions regime that was battering the nation’s economy, the thuggish Mullahs were handed a lifeline: the release of approximately $7 billion – a sum equivalent to 1.4 per cent of Iran’s entire national income.

As a result of this partial lifting of sanctions, Beaumont postulates that “Tehran’s clerical regime might now see the benefit of negotiating solutions to the region’s problems, rather than its previous angry posturing…”.

Yet the tone inside Iran has been anything but conciliatory. Here’s a direct quote from the state-controlled Press TV: “…but so far with the Geneva joint plan, the knife has scarcely been pulled out [of Iran’s economic back] three inches.”

Has ‘conflict resolution’ ever sounded more ominous?

(Gidon Ben-Zvi is a Jerusalem-based writer who regularly contributes to Times of Israel and the Algemeiner)

Related articles

The Guardian: Confirming an obsession

Cross posted by Snoopy The Goon at Simply Jews

Verb: Confirm 

Establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts

I was just making sure (establishing) that I understand the meaning of that word.

Anyway, looking for an old post on this blog, I have stumbled on another old post of mine (almost 6 years old). That post - Measuring an obsession - shows quite clearly the mind-boggling overabundance of Israel – related articles on the Guardian’s CiF (Comment is Free). It has to be read to be believed, I can assure you.

The obsession, as I said, is unbelievable. I doubt there is another non-Jewish media outfit dedicating so much space and effort to Israel – or to bashing Israel, to be precise. Of course, I clearly understand that this phenomenon is not necessarily mirroring the general sentiment of British society, which, by and large, couldn’t give a flying donut about Middle East in general and Israel in particular. I understand that Guardian, catering to a specific slice of British population, does what it has to do to keep its congregation happy, other means of entertainment like boob shots and juicy scandals being cornered by other media channels. Still, one would prefer the Guardian scribes and the multitude of CiF contributors to enjoy the said bashing of Israel a bit less obviously. But it’s a moot point anyway. 

So, for confirmation sake, I’ve decided to take a look at the last few days of the Guardian’s output, to see if something changed. Here come a few of the headlines for three days, from February 13 to February 15:

Guardian01

Guardian02

Guardian04

Guardian03

Guardian07

Guardian06

Guardian05

Guardian08

 

Three days and nine articles, all of them strictly negative, and this is only a partial selection! Now you tell me – is it sick or is it sick?

So, the conclusion cannot be anything but a confirmation: indeed, in our ever-changing world there remains at least this one steady and permanent fixture: the Guardian relentlessly whacking the Zionist entity, no matter what. And you can take it to the bank – not that the banks, owned by the Elders, as it is well-known to the readers of the Guardian, will take it from you as a collateral for anything.

Now, you may ask: how could a minor newspaper with a limited customer base be of any significance in this big and busy world? The answer is: this small newspaper with a relatively minuscule customer base punches way above its weight. This is one of the remaining paradoxes related to the twilight of the British Empire: even powerless and reduced (more or less) to confines of that wet island, its press has an influence that still transcends borders. When BBC barks, people still listen. When Guardian yaps, people at least check their shins for damage. 

You may be sure that any “criticism” of Israel that appears in the Guardian will be widely disseminated by eager followers of the same ilk. And even by people who are (ostensibly) Guardian’s enemies, such as assorted right wing extremists, neo-Nazis and other gutter life, who know a good thing when they see one. 

So you can now better understand why a CiF Watch post about the Prisoner X affair starts with: 

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor at the Observer (sister publication of the Guardian), has already authored, or co-authored, six separate reports (totaling over 5000 words) in less than two days at the Guardian on the row over ‘Prisoner X’.

(Emphasis mine).

Now remind me again: is it sick or is it sick?

Peter Beaumont’s “unnamed source” affirms Guardian narrative about ‘Prisoner X’

Observer foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont just published his seventh report over the course of three days on Prisoner X – a man believed to have been an Australian-Israeli Mossad agent jailed by Israel because he was about to reveal state secrets to Australian authorities or the media, who committed suicide in his cell in 2010.

His latest piece, co-authored with Phoebe Greenwood, on Feb. 16 is titled ‘Israeli government to compensate family of Prisoner X‘, and is based on “an unnamed source” quoted in Haaretz, claiming a compensation deal was agreed to following the conclusion of an inquiry into the death of the prisoner (aka, Ben Zygier).

Beaumont’s latest post attempts to buttress the narrative, advanced in his other reports on Prisoner X, that Israel behaved in a manner inconsistent with democratic norms.  As we noted previously, one of Beaumont’s reports from Feb. 14 includes the following passage, citing the analysis of unnamed commentators:

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

In his latest report, he cites an “unnamed source“, thus:

“According to one unnamed source familiar with the Zygier case who spoke the YNet website: “When an Israeli is detained for security offences, a process begins, but no one knows how it will end. He disappears into interrogation rooms, and no one knows where he is. They do it using two tools: A gag order and an injunction that prevents the detainee from meeting with an attorney.”

However, contrary to the claims made by the source cited by Beaumont, not only did the detainee in this case meet with his attorney (Avigdor Feldman), but did so, according to an official at the State Prosecutor’s Office quoted in the same Feb 15. Ynet story Beaumont cited, “within days” of being incarcerated.

The official at the State Prosecutor’s Office added the following: 

 “…the picture painted by the media is far from reality. There are no ‘prisoners x’ in the State of Israel…It’s an expression taken from dictatorships where people were made to disappear without having seen a lawyer or family. There was no such thing here.”

In the past 25 years there were very few cases in which it was decided for security reasons to hold prisoners under pseudonyms.

In those cases, as in this particular case, the families were immediately made aware of the arrest and within a number of days the prisoner was given access to legal counsel. As in regular cases, there was due criminal process with the prisoner able to petition the court like any other inmate.”

Consistent with this Israeli official’s argument, a definitive study in ‘Homeland Security Affairs’ determined that, regarding issues “such as how long an individual can be detained without access to counsel for purposes of interrogation”, Israel “provides more overall due process and substantive rights to [security] detainees than America’s years of incommunicado and indefinite executive detention”.

To serious journalists, providing readers with relevant context and a comparative political or legal analysis of the issue matters.

Beaumont’s story, on the other hand, like so many other reports about Israel written by his fellow Guardian Group ‘journavists‘, cited only those “sources”  who confirmed his desired political narrative.

Peter Beaumont’s absurd political analogy regarding Israel and ‘Prisoner X’

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor at the Observer (sister publication of the Guardian), has already authored, or co-authored, six separate reports (totaling over 5000 words) in less than two days at the Guardian on the row over ‘Prisoner X’.

part 1

part 2

Prisoner X is believed to have been a Mossad agent (reportedly an Australian Israeli dual citizen named Ben Zygier) jailed by Israel because he was about to reveal Mossad secrets to Australian authorities or the media.  He reportedly committed suicide in his cell in 2010.

Due to the secrecy involved in any alleged spy case, there is a relative dearth of verifiable facts regarding Prisoner X’s background and incarceration.  However the absence of such information hasn’t prevented Beaumont from advancing the desired Guardian narrative regarding alleged Israeli violations of human rights and international legal norms.

Though the Observer is supposedly the more moderate of the two Guardian Group publications, Beaumont’s framing of the spy row has included one particularly hysterical political analogy, casually leveled without even an attempt to support its validity.

One of Beaumont’s reports from Feb. 14 includes the following passage:

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

Naturally, Beaumont doesn’t inform us who specifically is making such a comparison, and even a cursory look at the judicial process, and the rights afforded Prisoner X, makes a mockery of the charge.

First, the prisoner’s incarceration was supervised by the Israeli judiciary, the original arrest warrant was issued by the authorized court, and the proceedings were overseen by the most senior Justice Ministry officials. We also now know that Prisoner X was legally represented by a top Israeli lawyer who reported, after meeting with his client, that he was in good health, was considering a plea bargain and didn’t appear to have been mistreated.

After the prisoner was found dead in his cell roughly two years ago, the President of the Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court held a coroner’s inquest into the cause of death and, though it was determined that suicide was the cause, “the Presiding Judge sent the file to the State Attorney’s Office for an evaluation regarding issues of [possible] negligence” by prison authorities.  

Further, the prisoner’s family was notified during the course of his incarceration, and Australian officials knew of the proceedings.

Though Prisoner X likely represented a serious security risk for Israel, he was afforded due process in a manner which certainly seems consistent with democratic norms.

To evoke a comparison with the USSR – where, for instance, several million Soviet “enemies of the state” died (due to overwork, starvation, torture or summary executions) after being sent, without trial, to Gulag camps spread out across the entire country – is beyond parody.

Indeed, it’s likely that the true identity of Beaumont’s unnamed commentators comparing Israel’s handling of the spy case to that of the most repressive totalitarian regimes of the 20th century will prove to be far more elusive and mysterious than the identity of Prisoner X himself.

Surprise, surprise! Jon Donnison’s fauxtographic Tweet partner is a Guardian journalist

In a BBC Watch post which went viral  - the effects of which are still reverberating today – Hadar Sela reported on a Tweet by BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison with a photo he erroneously claimed was that of a dead child in Gaza.

The incorrect information sent to 7,971 of Donnison’s followers was originally Tweeted  by Hazem Balousha – a Palestinian ‘journalist and social activist’ – and included the photo with the words “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.

However, blogger Adam Holland replied to Donnison, informing the BBC journalist that the photo was not from Gaza – but, rather, from Syria.

Donnison later acknowledged his mistake and deleted the Tweet.

However, in addition to the sloppy journalism by Donnison, the man who originally Tweeted the photo of the child, whose judgment Donnison trusted, has an interesting background himself.

Hazem Balousha is a Palestinian Journalist & social activist based in Gaza, and founder of Palestinian Institute for Communication & Development Palestine/Germany ‘ – an organization based in the Rimal District in Gaza

Quite interestingly, Balousha is also a Guardian journalist who has co-written pieces with Harriet Sherwood, Peter Beaumont and Chris McGreal – and was described as a “colleague” by the Guardian’s Richard Adams in a live blog on the Palestine Papers in 2011.

McGreal’s Jan 7, 2009 report written with Balousha – which McGreal cited in a recent report, on Nov. 23, 2012 – suggested, without any proof, that Israeli soldiers beat Palestinians in front of the their children to humiliate them, and even resurrected the Al-Durra libel in service of a broader narrative suggesting that IDF cruelty towards Palestinians “draws many into the cult of [suicide bombing] the ‘martyr’”.

The overwhelming majority of Balousha’s pieces at the Guardian were published between Dec. 28 2008 and Jan. 19, 2010, focusing on the suffering (most by children) during Cast Lead.  However, he also contributed prior to the war and, in an article he wrote in 2007, for instance, he admitted to having an eldest brother close to Hamas.

Much of his Guardian work explores the theme of dead children, and children otherwise victimized by the Israeli military, and many of Balousha’s tweets include pictures of dead or injured Palestinian kids. (Many of these pictures are from a photographer named Ashraf Amra, an activist who has a history of using children to engage in photographic propaganda.)

Interestingly, on Nov. 21, two days after the scandal involving Donnison’s Tweet, while the war was still raging, Balousha wrote a story at Deutsche Welle titled ‘Israel and Palestinians wage social media war‘.

Here’s a passage from his report:

“False information about the current war is also being spread via Twitter and Facebook – pictures of dead children, for example, that are actually from Syria. That angers [Gaza activist] Ebaa Rezeq. “We have to stick to the truth, or no one is going to believe us any more.” Ulla Papajak also believes that pictures and information need to be verified for accuracy – even if he also understands that there is no time to do so.”

It would be interesting to know if he and Donnison were similarly angry at themselves for casually propagating patently false information (to nearly 8,000 followers) about the horrific death of a child.

Hadar Sela, managing editor of BBC Watch, said:

“The reliance of Western media outlets upon local staff for information, translation and introductions is not a new phenomenon. Neither is the fact that some of those local journalists may have additional connections to regional actors, as was apparent a decade ago during the second Intifada. But as technology advances and social media increasingly cuts out the ‘middle man’ between the journalist and the audience, it is obvious that editors and journalists shoulder a greater responsibility for checking the reliability – and motives – of their local staff and sources.” 

Such journalist activists – whether they’re at the Guardian or the BBC – are risking more than their own reputations.  If Guardian and BBC editors continually allow their journalists to make such egregious errors with impunity, and report the news in a manner resembling political advocacy rather than professional journalism, whatever remaining credibility they may have will continue to erode. 

Increasingly, as Gaza activist Ebaa Rezeq noted, “no one is going to believe [them]“.

Guardian reviews of ‘Homeland’ reveal failure to understand antisemitic motives of extremists

The U.S. drama ‘Homeland’, based on the Israeli series Hatufim, was the subject of a column by Peter Beaumont on Oct. 13.  The series stars Claire Danes as a CIA officer who believes that a U.S. Marine held captive by Al-Qaeda as a POW was turned by the enemy and now threatens the U.S.

Though the show has received much critical acclaim, Beaumont (foreign affairs editor of the Observer, sister publication of the Guardian) published a piece, ‘Homeland is brilliant drama but does it present a crude image of Muslims, expressing a dissenting view.

Beaumont found the show’s depictions of Muslims “crude, childish, offensive” and “Islamophobic” which he blamed in part on the fact that the show was “rooted in its genesis as an Israeli drama, where the view of the surrounding neighborhood is more paranoid and defensive.”

Similarly, the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, was also offended by the show. In ‘Homeland: does it give an accurate picture of Middle East politics?‘, Oct. 25, Black sums up his concerns, thus:

“Homeland purports to portray a nuanced version of the “war on terror” but the story is still told through a national security prism and (as Peter Beaumont pointed out recently in the Observer) with more than a touch of Islamophobia — from Brody’s badly pronounced “Allahu Akbar” while praying secretly in his garage, to the portrayal of all the Muslim characters as devious and cruel.

Strikingly, the cast has not (yet) included any Palestinians – important players in the contemporary Middle East. Like it or not their grievances are highly relevant to Arab/Muslim hostility to Israel and its US protectors. You don’t have to be Abu Nazir to observe that neither are simply the passive victims of evil and motiveless terrorists.”

In Beaumont’s narrative, Israelis possess a large degree of paranoia about Muslims, irrational hostility which arguably informs and influences the Islamophobia present in the American show.  And, for Black, the show’s failure stems from the absence of context which would instruct the viewer that Arab/Muslim violence can be explained, in large part, by legitimate Palestinian grievances against Israel.

Both Beaumont and Black illustrate the most glaring antisemitic habit present on the Guardian Left: the failure to take modern Jew hatred, manifested in Judeophobic propaganda throughout the Arab/Muslim world, or in terror attacks against Jewish targets, seriously as an unjustifiable form of racism.

The reason why the obscene, often demonic, portrayal of Jews – seen routinely in Arab and Muslim newspapers, caricatures, websites, TV news, films and educational materials - is almost never reported by the Guardian is arguably related to their belief that such hatred stems not from traditional antisemitism, but is merely a reaction to the politics of the Jewish state. 

The narrative which ties global antisemitism to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, which has its roots in the far left, has tragically found fertile ground within the mainstream left, and among Western policy makers.

Speaking at a Jewish conference on antisemitism organized by the European Jewish Union (EJU) last December, Howard Gutman, the US Ambassador to Belgium, argued that a distinction should be made between traditional antisemitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Gutman’s stunning moral logic – echoing narratives advanced in the Guardian – posits that the West must be careful not to impute Jew hatred to Muslims in the Middle East whose animosity towards Jews may be merely informed by anti-Zionism.

Such rationales would suggest that demonic depictions of Jews, the belief in Jewish global conspiracies, Holocaust denial and blood libels should not be condemned as dangerous signs of cultural pathogens which evoke the darkest periods in antisemitic history, but, rather, should be contextualized – their “root causes” understood and rationalized.  

It’s as if imputing antisemitism to Muslims who express hatred towards Jews either demonstrates a lack of political sophistication or could even itself suggest a form of ‘Islamophobia’. 

Nobody with a good understanding of the history of antisemitism should be surprised that, once again, antisemitism has found fertile ground.

What is surprising, however, is that many of the most highly educated Western elites fail to understand the most fundamental lesson of centuries of anti-Judaism and antisemitism (and indeed on all forms of racism): that such hatred is always a commentary on the haters – their moral and intellectual failures – and never on the object of such hate.

In every generation there are those who find new reasons to engage in antisemitism, and there are those who will invariably argue that, this time, such hostility towards Jews may be justified – insidiously asking the question, in one form or another, “What have Jews done to make people hate them so much”?

Crude, childish and offensive: Peter Beaumont criticizes Islamophobia of “paranoid” Israelis

The Emmy-Award winning U.S. television drama ‘Homeland’, based on the Israeli series Hatufim (Abductees חטופים), is the subject of Observer foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont’s latest column. (The Observer is the sister publication of the Guardian.)

While the Israeli series depicts the lives of Israeli soldiers who were captured seventeen years ago while on a mission in Lebanon, and their return home, the American series stars Claire Danes as a CIA officer who believes that a U.S. Marine held captive by Al-Qaeda as a POW was turned by the enemy and now threatens the U.S.

The show has received much acclaim by critics (including by several contributors at the Guardian), and has even received praise from President Obama.

Beaumont’s piece, ‘Homeland is brilliant drama but does it present a crude image of Muslims?‘, Oct. 13, contains this strap line:

The slick US drama, now into its second series on Channel 4, draws praise from critics and viewers, but its ridiculous view of Arabs and Islam is a distortion of Middle Eastern realities

Beaumont writes:

[The] fictional drama tells us truths about ourselves in ways that can be as uncomfortable as they are unintended. The Emmy-winning Homeland on Channel 4 is a case in point. Its plotting is as ridiculous as it is exciting. But what makes it difficult to watch is its treatment of Muslims.

In the first episode of the new season we were confronted with a new character, a glamorous correspondent with a cutglass English accent, a Palestinian family and access to both the CIA and the US Congress. Like the Saudi prince from the last series and the academic, behind the scenes these high-profile Muslims living in the US share a secret: both willingly or otherwise they are covert helpers of Abu Nasir, the al-Qaida terrorist leader.

In other words, it does not matter whether they are rich, smart, discreetly enjoying a western lifestyle or attractive: all are to be suspected.

I admit I have no idea how the story arcs in Homeland will develop and what surprises are in store. What I do know is how both Arabs and Islamists have been portrayed thus far as violent fanatics, some of whom are powerful and influential infiltrators.

As someone who has spent much time in the Middle East, I find the depictions not only crude and childish but offensive.”

Beaumont later adds:

“Should any of this matter in a fictional series? The answer is yes.

The reality is that what Homeland portrays is a peculiar view of the Islamic world, one rooted, perhaps, in its genesis as an Israeli drama, where the view of the surrounding neighbourhood is more paranoid and defensive. It matters for this reason. Popular culture both informs and echoes our prejudices.” [emphasis added]

Beaumont’s moral inversion is extraordinary.

He’s not only criticizing the U.S. show for engaging in anti-Muslim racism, but arguing that such a pattern of ‘Islamophobia’ may be rooted, at least in part, in Israeli “paranoia” about their Arab and Muslim neighbors.

While we’ve often argued that the most egregious antisemitic habit at the Guardian Group involves their continuing sins of omission - ignoring endemic Judeophobia in the Muslim and Arab world – Beaumont, in imputing irrationality to Israeli concerns about Arab and Muslim terrorism and antisemtism, seems to suggest that Jews are in fact the racists in the region.

To such Guardian Left commentators it is evidently paranoid of Jews to express concern over polls demonstrating that roughly 95% of the citizens in Arab countries neighboring Israel admit to disliking Jews, and not merely Israelis, and that, within such cultures, the demonization of Jews (and Judaism) represents not aberrant but normative behavior.

Additionally, it is apparently a sign of Islamophobia for Israeli Jews to fear a Palestinian political culture which incites terrorism against Jewish civilians and promotes extreme antisemitism.

Similarly, those who take it seriously when one of the most popular Islamist spiritual leaders in the world literally calls for Allah to kill every last Jew on earth are, no doubt, engaging in fear-mongering or cynical Zionist ‘hasbara’.

For such faux-liberals, Israelis who merely ask that the world remember the nearly 900,000 Jews ethnically cleansed from Arab countries – lands where their ancestors had lived for centuries – stand outside of their sympathetic imagination.

Finally, those who would characterize Israelis as paranoid somehow fail to recognize that non-Jewish Middle Eastern culture is dangerously susceptible to the most crude anti-Zionist (and antisemitic) conspiracy theories. 

What else other than paranoia would lead such a large number of Muslims to engage in Holocaust denial, believe that Jews were behind 9/11 or are even plotting to take over the world?

More broadly, the tendency of some on the left to ignore even the most conclusive statistics and reports – and the most chilling videos – attesting to the fact that the central address for Jew hatred in the world has clearly shifted from Europe to the Middle East represents more than merely a dangerous moral blind spot.  

Those who attempt to “contextualize”, or even excuse, such hatred towards Jews – sometimes masked by anti-Zionism and sometimes not – are making a broader point.  They seem to be suggesting that (unlike other times in history) this time those aligned against the Jews may be justified in their enmity; this time Judeophobic conspiracy theories could in fact be based on an understandable frustration; that, this time, it is the behavior of Jews, and not the Jews haters, that drives, antisemitism.  

“Is it possible to understand the rise of antisemitism?”, they seem to be asking.

This blog consistently attempts to provide a clear and unambiguous answer to various forms of such a maddening query: No, it is not.