Hidden in the final sentence of a Guardian/Reuters report on Sept. 20th, Egypt to host Gaza talks between Palestinian factions, on upcoming reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas and subsequent indirect talks between Hamas and Israel, is a remarkable accusation – albeit one not surprising to those familiar with Hamas‘s widespread human rights violations against their own civilians.
On July 20th, we posted about two Guardian reports, by Harriet Sherwood and Peter Beaumont, on recent fighting between the IDF and Hamas in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shejaiya, a few kilometers from Israel’s border.
We noted that the Guardian devoted 625 words to the battles that took place in Shejaiya and, while focusing almost entirely on civilian casualties, failed to include even a word about the reason for the military operation. Specifically, Sherwood and Beaumont didn’t inform readers that the civilian neighborhood of Shujaiya housed an underground terror headquarters and storage areas for rockets, bombs, and other weapons.
Below are excerpts from two articles about the battle, written by two of the leading Israeli journalists, Ron Ben Yishai and Nahum Barnea, both in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot.
The translation is by CAMERA:
Ron Ben YishaiYediot Achronot, “Gaza time, Cairo Time”Sunday July 20, 2014 (excerpts)
Regarding the fighting in Shejaiyya: it is reasonable to assume that the main reason there was so much resistance, was the lack of surprise. Four days prior to entering Shejaiyya, the IDF demanded again and again from the residents to evacuate. Towards the entrance, the IDF started a heavy artillery attack on the outskirts of Shejaiyya. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad, therefore, had four days and a warning of a few hours that the IDF is going in. This is why – as opposed to Hamas fighters escaping to their hiding places when the IDF launched the sudden ground attack – this time they hid traps, prepared anti-tank ambushes and waited for the Golani brigade, tanks and bulldozers to come in.
Another reason is that Shejaiyya is in effect a military compound prepared for fighting, which is planted in the heart of the civilian population. All of the assets that are important for the terror organizations are there: welding workshops for manufacturing rockets, labs for making explosives, rocket warehouses, hidden rocket launchers, command centers, and a tunnel system that enables the terrorists to move between these facilities quickly without being concerned about getting hit from the air. There are also entrances to tunnels that lead into Israel.
Shejaiyya’s location makes it preferable in the context of distance and as an observation point – for shooting towards the local surroundings as well as towards the Tel Aviv area and northwards. This is why it’s not surprising that Hamas and Jihad decided to fight for Shejaiyya, and they had time to prepare for such fighting.
Golani did what they came to do, fought and died, but it is quite clear that they continued and completed the mission, including extricating their [wounded and dead] friends.
That was the reason that the IDF began a heavy attack on Shejaiyya in the morning, with artillery, planes, helicopters and tanks. There was concern that Hamas will try to grab bodies of soldiers who lay dead in the streets, or wounded Golani soldiers. In order to cover the rescue mission and prevent [the terrorists from] coming close, the IDF shot into the neighborhood, and this is why many Palestinians who were not involved in the fighting were hit – including women and children. These photos did, and are still doing, damage for Israel in the international arena. But, as just said, there was a necessity to act in order to prevent the kidnapping of dead or injured soldiers. It seems the international community understands this.Nahum BarneaYediot Achronot, The Bint Jbeil of Gaza
Monday July 21, 2014, page 2 of the print edition (excerpts)(The words of an IDF officer to the journalist Nahum Barnea):
“Shejaiyya probably has the most concentrated number of tunnels in Gaza. The neighborhood is dense, the homes are high, some have five or six stories… Many residents fled. Some stayed. Hamas people were threatening them with weapons. I saw this with my own eyes. We dropped warning pamphlets on them telling them to leave; we called them on the phone; we shot towards the outskirts of the open areas; we shot close to the houses. We could not do more than this. Anyone who had half a brain left and whoever stayed, stayed.”
- Top Nine Gaza Myths (CAMERA.org)
Here’s the scare headline accompanying a Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood and Peter Beaumont on July 20th:
The article centers on a few recent battles in Gaza, including a large anti-terror operation in the northern city of Shejaiya.
Regarding Shejaiya, we are told the following:
All morning, terrified people ran from their homes, some barefoot and nearly all empty-handed. Others crowded on the backs of trucks or rode on the bonnets of cars in a desperate attempt to flee. Sky News reported that some had described a “massacre” in Shujai’iya. Witnesses reported hearing small arms fire inside Gaza, suggesting gun battles on the streets. Heavy shelling continued from the air and sea.
Bodies were pulled from rubble amid massive destruction of buildings in the neighbourhood. Masked gunmen were on the streets.
Late on Saturday evening, Israeli forces hit eastern areas of Gaza City with the heaviest bombardment yet of the 13-day war. The assault was most intense in the direction of Shujai’iya, where an orange glow of flames lit up the sky. At one stage, artillery and mortar rounds were hitting the outskirts of the city every five seconds. Later in the night jets flew low passes over the coast.
The Guardian saw families squeezing into the back of what few vehicles were available as streets further east were pounded by artillery fire.
Columns of people, many of them too scared, angry and shocked to speak, approached down the main road to the east and from side streets even as small arms fire was audible in the distance.
One of those fleeing was Sabreen Hattad, 34, with her three children. “The Israeli shells were hitting the house. We stayed the night because we were so scared but about six in the morning we decided to escape,” she said.
“But where are we supposed to go? The ambulances could not enter and so we ran under shell fire.”
Three other men pass by in a hurry clutching bedding in their arms. Asked what they had seen they would only answer: “Death and horror.”
Many of those escaping Shujai’iya made for Gaza’s central Shifa hospital, which was engulfed by chaotic scenes and ambulances ferrying the dead came in a steady steam, among them a local TV cameraman, Khaled Hamad, killed during the overnight offensive, wheeled out wrapped in a bloody plastic shroud.
Those who had fled congregated in corridors, on stairs and in the hospital car park. Staff put mattresses on floors to accommodate the injured, while some patients were being evacuated.
Aish Ijla, 38, whose leg was broken by shrapnel, said: “We live very close to the border. When the shells started we couldn’t leave the house. It is two storeys. The shells were hitting the upper floor so we all moved downstairs. There were 30 of us in the house. Then the shrapnel started hitting the door.
“It was quiet for a moment and we decided to run. But as we were on the road a shell landed near me, breaking my leg. I told the family to go on with out me and carried on going for a little bit and stopping then going on. Eventually an ambulance reached me after two hours.”
An accompanying article by Sherwood and Beaumont included this about Shujai’iya:
Late on Saturday evening, Israeli forces hit eastern areas of Gaza City with the heaviest bombardment yet of the 13-day war. The assault was most intense in the direction of the Shujai’iya neighbourhood, where a constant orange glow of flames lit up the sky.
As the assault continued into Sunday morning, Israel disclosed that four of its soldiers had been killed in the ground offensive.
At one stage, artillery and mortar rounds were hitting the outskirts of the city every five seconds. Later in the night, jets flew low passes over the coast.
As Sunday dawned, a thin pall of smoke hung over the seafront while tank fire echoed through deserted streets.
Large numbers of residents of the areas under attack fled the outskirts for Gaza’s city centre, while residents called radio stations pleading for evacuation.
In total, the Guardian provided 625 words to the battle in Shuja’iya, and failed to include even a word about the reason for the military assault, despite the fact that Israeli officials were quick to post the following information:
This civilian neighborhood in Gaza is home to extensive Hamas infrastructure. In only 13 days, Hamas has fired over 140 rockets from this neighborhood into Israel.
IDF soldiers have found 10 openings to terror tunnels in Shuja’iya. These tunnels are used for infiltrating Israel, smuggling weapons, and launching rockets at Israeli civilians.
The IDF warned civilians in Shuja’iya to evacuate the area many days before striking the terror infrastructure within it. Dropping leaflets, making phone calls and sending text messages are just some of the many actions the IDF has been taking to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza.
Hamas knows that Israel is reluctant to attack areas with many civilians. The terrorist organization fights from within civilian population and uses them as human shields.
Hamas ordered the residents of Shuja’iya to ignore the IDF’s warning and stay in the neighborhood. By doing so, Hamas put them in the line of fire.
Despite the fact that many of the residents ignored warnings and didn’t leave the neighborhood, the IDF continued to operate in the most precise and surgical way possible, targeting only terrorists and their infrastructure.
The IDF agreed to the Red Cross’ request for a two-hour humanitarian window in Shuja’iya. This humanitarian window was opened despite the threats emanating from the neighborhood, including continuous Hamas rocket fire at Israel.
Hamas broke the humanitarian window when firing at Israel during the two-hour period. Still, the IDF agreed to the Red Cross appeal to extend the Humanitarian widow by another hour.
In light of the selective reporting and unsubstantiated accusations of massacres, you should recall that for two weeks in April of 2002, the Guardian ran wild tales of an Israeli massacre in the West Bank city of Jenin — a massacre that didn’t happened.
As Harry’s Place wrote in 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the non-massacre:
On the heels of a thirty-day Palestinian suicide bombing campaign in Israeli cities which included thirteen deadly attacks (imagine thirteen 7/7’s in one month), Israel embarked on a military offensive in the West Bank. The fiercest fighting in this offensive occurred in the refugee camp just outside the West Bank town of Jenin, the launching point for 30 Palestinian suicide bombers in the year and half previous (seven were caught before they could blow themselves up; the other 23 succeeded in carrying out their attacks). In this battle, which lasted less than a week, 23 Israeli soldiers were killed as well as 52 Palestinians, of whom at most 14 were civilians (there is some marginal dispute about that last figure).
[Seumas] Milne referred to ‘hundreds’ killed, ‘evidence of atrocities,’ and ‘state terror.’ Not to be outdone, Suzanne Goldenberg reported from Jenin’s ‘lunar landscape’ of ‘a silent wasteland, permeated with the stench of rotting corpses and cordite.’ She found ‘convincing accounts’ of summary executions, though let’s be honest and concede that it’s not generally difficult to convince Goldenberg of Israeli villainy. In the next day’s report from Jenin, a frustrated Goldenberg reported that the morgue in Jenin had ‘just 16 bodies’ after ‘only two bodies [were] plucked from the wreckage.’ This didn’t cause her to doubt for a moment that there were hundreds more buried beneath or to hesitate in reporting from a Palestinian source that bodies may have been transported ‘to a special zone in Israel.’ Brian Whitaker and Chris McGreal weighed in with their own equally tendentious and equally flawed reporting the following week.
Only on the tenth consecutive day of breathless Jenin Massacre reporting did Peter Beaumont report on detailed Israeli accounts refuting the massacre accusations, though predictably this was presented as part of an Israeli PR campaign rather than as conclusive proof. Two days later, Beaumont conceded that there hadn’t after all technically really actually been a massacre but then proceeded to repeat a handful of falsities as fact all over again. Without a doubt, though, the most memorable article the Guardian published on Jenin was its April 17 leader ‘The Battle for the Truth.’ The high dudgeon prose included the following sentences: ‘Jenin camp looks like the scene of a crime’; ‘Jenin smells like a crime’; ‘Jenin feels like a crime’; ‘Jenin already has that aura of infamy that attaches to a crime of especial notoriety’; and, unforgettably, the assertion that Israel’s actions in Jenin were ‘every bit as repellent’ as the 9/11 attacks in New York only seven months earlier.
No correction or retraction has ever been printed for this infamous editorial.
On the contrary, though mounting evidence emerged that the whole massacre calumny was a fabrication (never adequately reported by the Guardian), twice over the following year this leader article was obliquely cited — once in condemning another Israeli action by comparing it to the ‘repellent demolition of lives and homes in Jenin’ and most outrageously under the headline ‘Israel still wanted for questioning.’
Whilst it’s too soon to tell if subsequent Guardian articles on the battle in Shuja’iya will be modeled after their Jenin Lie, the galling omissions in the first two reports by Beaumont and Sherwood suggest, at the very least, the media group has learned nothing from past journalistic failures.
The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont was interviewed by Anshel Pfeffer of Ha’aretz about the tragic killing of four Palestinian children on the Gaza Beach yesterday.
(Though the IDF is still investigating the incident, it appears as if one of the missiles which hit the beach was fired on a Hamas target, while the second one was mistakenly fired on what was believed to be a group of Hamas members fleeing the scene, but were actually Palestinian children.)
The beach harbor is a civilian area with a hotel nearby (The Al-Deira) where many foreign journalists (including Beaumont) have been staying during the war. Washington Post reporter William Booth’s report about the incident noted that “it is not unusual for militants to launch rockets from sites” near the hotel.
More recently, in a Guardian article published today, July 17th, Beaumont himself even noted that the shipping container on the beach which was hit by the IDF in the attack which caused the boys’ deaths had been used by Hamas:
A witness who identified himself only as Abu Ahmed said the boys had been scavenging for scrap metal when the first shell hit a nearby shipping container used in the past by Hamas security forces.
This passage is actually quite unique, as it represents the first time Beaumont has acknowledged (though only implicitly) this widely reported tactic (acknowledged by Hams leaders themselves) of using civilians as human shields. This tactic involves Hamas purposely placing combatants and military facilities used to stage attacks on Israel in areas populated by civilians (such as mosques, schools, hospitals, etc.) and telling Palestinians to “remain in their houses if they are about to be bombed” when warned by the IDF in advance of an attack.
In 20 reports (and over 18,886 words) filed by Beaumont since the start of hostilities on July 8th (see links at the end of this post), most of which highlighted (often in heartbreaking detail) civilian casualties in Gaza, he has never contextualized his accounts of Palestinian deaths by informing readers about Hamas’s cynical use of this illegal tactic.
He not only hasn’t filed a report on the use of human shields (a war crime under international law), but there are actually only four references to the term (in any context) in his 20 reports, two passages which simply quote Israeli officials who “claim” that Hamas uses this tactic, and two additional references which blandly characterize the independent actions of Palestinian activists.
Israel has said it is acting in self-defence against rockets that have disrupted life across much of the country. It also accuses Hamas of using Gaza’s civilians as human shields.
In two other articles, Beaumont used the term to dryly describe the actions of Palestinians, without even suggesting that this tactic is used and actively encouraged by Hamas.
Early on Wednesday morning, Israel dropped leaflets and delivered warnings by phone and text that tens of thousands of residents of two Gaza City neighbourhoods, Zeitoun in the south and Shujai’iya in the east, should evacuate their homes before planned strikes and head to the city centre. Among those ordered to leave were the patients of a rehabilitation hospital. But the hospital’s director, Basman Ashi, said everyone would remain and that foreign volunteers had arrived to serve as human shields.
In the most serious single incident, seven Palestinians including two children were killed and about 25 wounded in an attack on a house in the Khan Younis area in south Gaza. Residents said the house belonged to the family of a Hamas member and the casualties occurred when the property came under attack for the second time. After the first strike people had gathered on the roof of the house as “human shields“, hoping their presence would deter a second strike, the residents said. The Israeli military made no immediate comment about the incident.
In one article, Beaumont actually seems to dismiss the Israeli ‘claim’ that Hamas uses human shields:
For its part Israel has long alleged that the militants “hide” among the civilian population, but what is clear is that targets have included homes and public streets as well as missile sites and buildings associated with Hamas.
As Jeffrey Goldberg argued early in the war:
Dead Palestinians represent a crucial propaganda victory for the nihilists of Hamas. It is perverse, but true. It is also the best possible explanation for Hamas’s behavior, because Hamas has no other plausible strategic goal here.
This propaganda strategy, however, is dependent on Western media groups playing along, not only by highlighting every tragic Palestinian civilian death, but by also pretending that such casualties are not in fact the result of Hamas’s cynical strategy of using human shields and other tactics meant to maximize the number of casualties.
Among the most active participants in Hamas’s scheme to fool the West is Peter Beaumont.
Links to all of Beaumont’s articles referenced in this post:
- Palestinian Envoy more honest than the Guardian on Hamas ‘war crimes’ (cifwatch.com)
- Is the media really pro-Israel? (Tom Gross)
Here’s a Tweet from earlier today by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont:
The hasbara goons are restless and angry today
— peter beaumont (@petersbeaumont) July 15, 2014
Though we’re not sure what his Tweet was specifically referring to, the word ‘hasbara’ (a Hebrew word which merely means ‘explaining’) is often used by anti-Israel activists to characterize, in a pejorative manner, those who defend Israel online.
Tellingly, if you Google the term “Hasbara Goons”, the first two results show posts from the hate site, Mondoweiss.
Interestingly, Beaumont received some flack from his swipe at pro-Israel activists, in the following replies:
Beaumont perhaps should refer to the Guardian’s Social Media Guidelines for Journalists:
The Guardian has created a set of guidelines for staff on the use of blogging, tweeting and the use of social media in order to maintain editorial standards and help create effective communities on the web.
staff are asked to remember the former editor CP Scott’s famous dictum that “comment is free, but facts are sacred” by not blurring facts and opinions, and to exemplify the Guardian’s community standards in contributions.
The community standards, which Guardian journalists are asked to exemplify, include 10 guidelines, and summarizes their suggestions as follows:
- If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.
- Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
- Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.
In addition to being shrill and unprofessional, it seems clear that Beaumont’s Tweet was thoroughly inconsistent with his own company’s community standards.
- Palestinian Envoy more honest than the Guardian on Hamas ‘war crimes’ (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent re-tweets the hate site, Mondoweiss (cifwatch.com)
- Why the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent won’t take Palestinian antisemitism seriously (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent slammed for misleading Tweet about Iranian arms shipment (cifwatch.com)
- What the Guardian won’t report: Arabs terrorize Jewish kids at Temple Mount (cifwatch.com)
The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont reacted angrily to rather mild criticism directed towards him, and his paper’s coverage of the war, in a Times of Israel report by Raphael Ahern. Beaumont protested Ahern’s piece in a series of Tweets yesterday, which included the following:
Times of Israel’s bizarre media critique by a ‘journalist’ who thinks our job is suppress details of what we see …
— peter beaumont (@petersbeaumont) July 13, 2014
However, it’s the Guardian who has consistently be “suppressing” the news, by filing report after report on Palestinian suffering in Gaza while erasing the context of Hamas war crimes – both what the Islamist terror group commits by use of Palestinian human shields, and those committed each time they fire a rocket at Israeli civilians.
Though the media group never tires in characterizing every Jewish home built across the 1949 armistice lines as “illegal under international law” (despite the specious legal logic of such an argument), their reports which note rocket fire from terrorists in Gaza – prior to and during the current conflict – never explain to readers that each deadly projectile aimed at civilians is “illegal under international law”, and constitutes a war crime.
Interestingly, the Palestinian Envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khreishesh, was much more honest during an interview on Palestinian Authority TV on July 9th, per a clip translated by MEMRI.
Since 2005 – the year Israel evacuated every last Jew from the coastal strip – more than 8,000 rockets have been fired by Gaza terrorists at residential communities in Israel. Thus, as the Palestinian Envoy himself acknowledged, each and every such attack represents a war crime – an uncontroversial fact which the Guardian continues to ‘suppress’.
The UK media continues to churn out stories about the brutal murder of Mohamed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen whose burned body was found near Jerusalem last week, with most reports focused on the police investigation and, most recently, new videos of the abduction (from CCTV) which show the faces of the likely perpetrators.
However, though the coverage to date has been decidedly one-sided – in focusing almost entirely on the possibility that the Palestinian was murdered by a Jew in a revenge killing in response to the murder of three Israeli teens – almost all reports have qualified their claims by noting that this theory hasn’t yet been proven.
Typical is the following passage by the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont’s in a July 6th report:
The Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and murdered on Wednesday in what many suspect was a revenge killing by Israeli extremists in response to the murder of three Israeli teenagers.
Similarly, Guardian headlines have been relatively restrained. When the word ‘revenge‘ has been used, it’s surrounded by “quotes” indicating that this is still only an allegation.
However, The Times (of London) displayed no such restraint in a story written by and published in the print edition of the paper on July 3rd.
Here’s a photo of the article:
Whilst it may very well be that the Palestinian was indeed killed in a revenge attack by Jews (or even ‘settlers’), the headline takes an unsubstantiated claim, blaming Israeli ‘settlers’, and sells it as a proven fact.
Though the subsequent online edition (titled ‘Appeal for calm after Palestinian boy murdered in ‘revenge’ killing, pay wall) softened the charge a bit, the damage – per the nearly 400,000 Times print edition readers – has already been done.
We got a sneak peek into the editorial standards of the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont today in two tweets.
First, at 8:06 this morning he expressed his “shock” that the Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by the former Executive Editor of the paper, Amotz Asa-El:
— peter beaumont (@petersbeaumont) July 2, 2014
You can read the essay (A pan Arab scourge) yourself, but suffice to say that anyone who has ever seen the well-documented reports at Palestinian Media Watch wouldn’t at all be surprised by Asa-El’s sober warning – in the context of the murder of three Israeli teens – about the injurious impact of Palestinian incitement and the desperate need for their leaders “to launch a long-term educational effort to humanize the Israelis”.
Then, at 3:01pm, he tweeted the following:
In photos: Israeli soldiers destroy kidnapping suspects’ family homes in retribution attac… – http://t.co/AiUDz4rylV
— Mondoweiss (@Mondoweiss) July 2, 2014
Before we address the content of the site in question, let’s briefly note that the claim in the post per the headline (‘Israeli soldiers destroy kidnapping suspects’ family homes in retribution attack) is not true. News reports clearly indicate that the homes of the two suspects (Marwan Kawasme and Omar Abu Aysha) in the murder of three Israelis were damaged but clearly not “destroyed”.
However, more important than the content of this particular story which Beaumont chose to Tweet to his 10,000 followers is the fact that Mondoweiss is an extremist site which trades in antisemitic calumnies. Though you can read a post (Mondoweiss: Hate as “Progressive” Jewish Politics) this writer published at Elder of Ziyon to get a sense of the hateful material, here are a few examples:
Mondoweiss has published cartoons by Carlos Latuff (including the one below).
Remarkably, even Ian Black, the Guardian’s own Middle East editor, noted that Latuff is among those cartoonists “drawing, without inhibition, on judeophobic stereotypes”.
Further, Mondoweiss’s editor Philip Weiss has complained that the “suffering of Palestinians that has been perpetrated politically in large part by empowered American Jews who are all over the media and political establishment”.
He also has called for a quota on Jews who work in the media.
Additionally, Weiss has claimed that Barack Obama’s desire to oppose Israel “colonization” has been “nullified politically because of the Jewish presence in the power structure.”
He went on (in the same post) to warn darkly of the Jewish influence in Washington:
“[One fifth] of [the U.S. Senate] are Jews, even though Jews are just 2 percent of the population. Over half of the money given to the Democratic Party comes from Jews. Obama’s top two political advisers are Jewish, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. The news lately has been dominated by Obama’s aides Kenneth Feinberg and Larry Summers. And what does it mean that the Treasury Secretary gets off the phone with Obama to confer immediately with Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman and Jamie Dimon of Morgan (Dimon’s Jewish; Blankfein would seem to be)? As I have frequently said, the biggest money game in town on the Republican side is Sheldon Adelson, a Zionist Jew.”
Though there is no reason to believe that Beaumont holds such views, it’s a sad commentary that he nonetheless sees fit to legitimize Mondoweiss’s brand of ‘progressive’ antisemitism.
Shortly after complaining to Guardian editors (within the past hour) over this latest error, they corrected the passage.
We commend Guardian editors on their speedy correction.
Last night the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont tweeted an article from Haaretz/Reuters about a new UN report (obtained by Reuters) on the shipment of rockets intercepted in the Red Sea by the Israeli Navy in March.
Here’s the text of Beaumont’s Tweet:
“Despite Israeli claims, UN panel decides missiles on the seized ship Kos were for Sudan NOT Gaza”
However, here’s headline to the Haaretz story by Louis Charbonneau, published earlier in the day, that Beaumont linked to:
‘UN panel: Arms ship seized by IDF came from Iran, but not bound for Gaza
First, note Beaumont’s distortion of the Haaretz headline. Though the headline only claimed, per the article, that the UN had determined that the ship itself (carrying the arms) was heading for Sudan, Beaumont twisted it to appear as if the UN had concluded that the arms (that the ship was carrying) were destined for Sudan – and not Gaza.
Indeed, if you read the article you’d see that the UN panel didn’t even address the question concerning the final destination of the arms, and certainly didn’t conclude that they were not heading for Gaza. The article in fact noted Sudan’s role as a conduit for arms to Gaza.
The experts do not speculate in the report about why the arms were being sent to Sudan, a country which Western diplomatic and intelligence sources have told Reuters has in the past been a conduit for Iranian arms shipments to other locations in Africa, as well as the Gaza Strip.
In fact, the article clearly states that the UN report was primarily concerned with the narrow question of whether Iran was responsible for the shipment of arms, and thus in violation of the international arms embargo.
A UN expert panel has concluded that a shipment of rockets and other weapons that was seized by Israel came from Iran and represents a violation of the UN arms embargo on Tehran, according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters on Friday.
“The Panel finds that the manner of concealment in this case is consistent with several other cases reported to the (Security Council’s Iran Sanctions) Committee and investigated by the Panel,” the experts said.
“The Panel concludes that the shipment of arms and related material found aboard the Klos C is a violation of Iran’s obligations under paragraph 5 of resolution 1747,” they added, referring to the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran.
Indeed, the IDF never claimed – at the time of the interception – that the ship itself was heading to Gaza, only that the arms on the ship were to be smuggled by land from Sudan into Gaza via the Sinai.
Beaumont’s tweet twisted the text of the Haaretz/Reuters article to make it appear as if the UN had ruled out Gaza as a final destination for the arms – a distortion pointed out by a few Tweeters, including Yiftah Curiel (Spokesperson of the Israel Embassy in London), Peter Lerner (IDF Spokesman), Judge Dan (blogger at Israellycool) and this writer.
It doesn’t appear as if Beaumont has thus far responded to any of his critics.
Update: At some point following my reply (above) to Beaumont’s misleading Tweet, he blocked my account.
On June 15th, we posted about a Guardian report co-authored by Peter Beaumont which included a gratuitous (and erroneous) characterization to the three Israeli teens abducted by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday night as “teenage settlers”. (As we noted in a subsequent post, the Guardian amended the article following our complaint.)
Today, we’re reviewing the coverage of the abduction by the Guardian and other major UK news sites (The Telegraph, Independent, Times of London, and Financial Times), to determine if other reports include tendentious, biased reporting or misleading claims.
The first report on the incident was written by Peter Beaumont and Paul Lewis on Friday, June 13, was titled ‘Israelis launch search around Hebron after three teenage settlers go missing‘, and (as we noted) falsely claimed, in the headline and subsequent text, that the abducted teens were all “settlers”.
The second report by Beaumont was published in the Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) on June 14th, was titled ‘Fears grow for missing Israeli teenagers‘ and also included the false claim that the three were ‘settlers’. (The Guardian has not thus far revised this passage.)
A third report, Guardian/Associated Press, was published on June 14th and titled ‘Israeli raids target Hamas members as Netanyahu accuses group of kidnapping‘. Unlike the previous two reports, it didn’t characterize the teens as settlers, and included no other misleading claims.
A fourth report was published by Beaumont on June 15th titled ‘Israeli forces tighten grip on West Bank in search for three abducted teenagers‘. This report also didn’t falsely characterize the teens as settlers, and included nothing similarly problematic.
A fifth report was published by Beaumont (and Agencies) on June 15th titled ‘Israel detains scores in West Bank as fears grow for missing teenagers‘, and included nothing problematic. However, they used the following still shot – a deceptive photo illustrating the IDF’s search for the abducted teens, in an angle in which the soldier’s rifle appears to be pointing directly at Palestinian civilians – accompanying a brief video.
A sixth report was filed by Beaumont (and Agencies) on June 16th titled ‘Palestinian parliamentary speaker arrested in search for kidnapped teens‘. And, a seventh report by Beaumont was published on the same day titled ‘Israel considering expelling Hamas leaders from West Bank to Gaza‘. Neither of these articles included any especially problematic material.
The first Indy report on the abduction was written by Ben Lynfield on June 15th, was titled ‘Israel lays blame for abduction of teenagers on Fatah-Hamas pact‘, and was largely fair, but did include the same highly inappropriate photo that the Guardian used.
A second report (as we noted in our previous post on June 15th) in the Indy, written by Jack Simpson, was titled ‘Netanyahu accuses Hamas of kidnapping Israel’s three missing boys‘ and included the false suggestion that all three teens lived in settlements. (Indy editors corrected the relevant passage shortly after our complaint.) A third report in the Indy, by Lizzie Dearden, on June 16th, titled ‘Facebook campaign calls on Israelis to kill a Palestinian ‘terrorist’ every hour until missing teenagers found‘, focused on a marginal Israeli Facebook group while of course ignoring reports that the official Facebook page of Fatah openly celebrated the terrorist kidnapping.
A fourth report in the Indy, by Ben Lynfield, on June 17th, titled ‘Israeli search for kidnapped youths turns into push against Hamas‘, actually included a photo of the three teens, and – as we note below in our summary – also stood out by reporting on the “60 attempts to carry out abductions in the past 12 months” by Palestinian terrorists. (As we note in our summary, such vital context was also non-existent in the UK media’s reporting on the incident.)
Times of London
A Times report by David Rankin on June 14th, titled ‘Search continues for three teens feared kidnapped in Israel‘, and a second report by Tony Bonnici on June 15th, titled ‘Israel PM says teenagers ‘kidnapped by terror group‘, are both unproblematic. A June 16th report at the Times by Joshua Mitnick titled ‘Hamas leaders held in Israeli hunt for kidnapped teenagers‘ was unusual in respect to the fact that Mitnick quoted the parents of Eyal Yifrach, one of the kidnapped boys, who addressed the media on Monday with ‘an emotional address to their son’. (As we note in our summary, the UK media mostly ignored the families of the kidnapped teens.)
The Telegraph published a report on June 15th by their Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait titled ‘Hamas to blame for youths’ “kidnapping”, Benjamin Netanyahu says‘, and was unproblematic, save a curious use of quotes around the word “kidnapping” in the headline. (Note: even the Guardian refers to the incident as a kidnapping, without the use of quotes.) And, on the same day, the Telegraph published a story (attributed partially to Reuters) titled ‘Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims Hamas militants behind teenagers’ abduction‘ which included a video of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s press conference that day.
The third article (Reuters) published at the Telegraph on June 16th, titled ‘Hamas kidnapping: Israel expands West Bank hunt for Palestinian teenagers as Palestinian killed‘, is illustrated with an unrelated and highly inappropriate photo depicting the aftermath of an Israeli strike in Gaza. Additionally, the caption failed to explain that the IDF strike came in response to the firing of Grad rockets at Ashkelon the previous day.
However, almost as if to make up for the misleading and inappropriate Gaza photo, the story also included a photo of the abducted teens to illustrate the story.
Later the same day, the Telegraph published their fourth report, by Robert Tait, titled ‘The bus stop that voices Israel’s anguish over missing teenagers‘, which, for the second time in their coverage of the kidnapping to date, used a photo which evokes sympathy for the missing teens.
The report explained:
At first sight, it appears to be just an isolated, lonely bus shelter.
But the yellow ribbons and defiant messages bedecking it eloquently attested to how it has become a symbol of Israel’s anguish over three missing teenagers.
“We will bring you back” and “The people of Israel are alive” read Hebrew messages on large posters beside smaller leaflets bearing the English inscription “# bring our boys homes”
The report also included a photo of the three teens.
On June 15th the Financial Times published a report by John Reed, titled ‘Netanyahu accuses Hamas over kidnapping of Israeli teenagers‘, which opened with this curious passage:
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, on Sunday blamed the Palestinian militant group Hamas for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, raising the stakes in a missing-person case that has transfixed the country and its leaders.
Though Reed’s obfuscatory language isn’t quite as egregious as the New York Times recent conflation of cause and effect, as revealed by CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal, it is still troubling that the passage nonetheless suggests that the prime minister ‘raised the stakes’ in the kidnapping (what’s characterized as a “missing person case”) when he blamed Hamas for the abduction.
Reed also makes a gratuitous reference to “radical Jewish settlers” in Hebron, who he claims represent the cause of “tensions between Israelis and Palestinians”, without noting the extremely destabilizing presence of a large number of Hamas terrorists in the city.
- The Guardian has published the greatest number of stories on the kidnapping to date, filing seven out of the nineteen total reports covered in this review.
- With the exception of two reports in the Telegraph, and one in the Independent, every photo used to illustrate the teens’ abduction by terrorists focused on the Israeli military response to the incident, rather than on the boys, their families or reactions by the Israeli public. In contrast, as we’ve noted in previous posts, the UK media almost uniformly focused on the families of Palestinian terrorists released over the past year by Israeli authorities, rather than on the families of the Israeli victims.
- With the exception of Robert Tait’s story on June 16th and a report the same day by Peter Beaumont in the Guardian, no other UK media outlet quoted a family member of one of the teenage victims. Alternately, several reports quoted Palestinians in the West Bank condemning the IDF’s military response to the terrorist abduction.
- Only one report, in the Indy, provided context on the high number of thwarted kidnapping attempts by Palestinian terror groups over the last year. However, the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont did cite three specific examples of previous kidnappings – one in 2001, one in 2011 and another in 2013.
- None of the articles mentioned the enthusiastic support by some Palestinians - including by journalists working for the state-run Palestinian media - for the terrorist kidnapping
Yesterday, we posted about a Guardian report co-authored by Peter Beaumont which included a false and characteristically tendentious reference to the three Israeli youths abducted by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday night as “teenage settlers“.
While we await a response from Guardian editors in response to our complaint about the erroneous characterization, we recently came across a similar claim in a June 15th report in The Independent by Jack Simpson titled ‘Israel accuses Hamas of kidnapping three Israeli teens‘.
Here’s the relevant passage:
As we noted in our original post about the Guardian report, only one of the three abducted teens – Gil-ad Shaar – resides in a settlement.
Shortly after contacting Indy editors, they agreed to make a revision to the passage, and it now reads:
At what age, in the eyes of the media, can Israelis who live with their parents in communities across the green line be characterized as “settlers”? Evidently, for the Guardian at least, such a pejorative can be imputed to a 16 year-old victim of Palestinian terror.
Here’s the headline of the Guardian’s first report (on Friday, June 13, by Peter Beaumont and Paul Lewis) about the three teenage yeshiva students kidnapped by terrorists on Thursday night in the Gush Etzion area of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
Here’s the opening passage:
Israeli security forces have launched a mass search of the Hebron hills after three teenage settlers, one believed to be a US citizen, were reported missing amid fears they may have been kidnapped by a Palestinian group.
First, the Guardian got it wrong, as two of the three teens do no in fact live in Israeli ‘settlements‘.
Per Times of Israel:
The three — Shaar (16) from the settlement of Talmon, Frenkel (16) a dual Israeli-American citizen from Nof Ayalon near Modi’in, and Yifrach (19) from Elad near Petah Tikva — were reportedly last spotted at a hitchhiking post in the vicinity of Hebron on Thursday night. No one has seen or heard from them since
Here’s a map of the three communities. As you can clearly see, only Talmon, where Naftali Frenkel lives, is situated across the green line:
In addition to the factual error, however, what possible moral significance does Beaumont and Lewis assign to the fact that the parents of one of the innocent Jewish teens decided at some point to move to an Israeli community across the green line?
Additionally, we’d like to know where precisely the Guardian is prepared to draw the line in their use of such a loaded term. Would they refer to even young children (including infants) killed by Palestinian terrorists – such as the family members murdered by terrorists during the 2011 massacre in Itamar, including 11-year-old Yoav, 4-year-old Elad, and three-month-old Hadas – as “settlers”?
Let’s be clear: The Guardian’s use of the term “settler” – as an adjective to modify an otherwise factual description of an Israeli who’s been kidnapped, injured or killed by a Palestinian terrorist – represents a political decision which dehumanizes the victim, and serves as a potent reminder of the media group’s egregious bias even when publishing putatively straight news stories about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
If the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont had looked at financial reports from Breaking the Silence (BtS) he would have realized that the NGO is generously funded by foreign governments and foundations like the New Israel Fund and George Soros’s Open Society Institute, and, with a yearly income of roughly 3.7 million shekels, isn’t in need of the free PR he provided the group in a Guardian/Observer feature on June 8th.
Additionally, if you think our claim that the story represents ‘PR’ is over the top, keep in mind that Beaumont’s piece – largely consisting of ‘testimony’ from former Israeli soldiers alleging that “war crimes” and “violations of international law” are routinely committed by the IDF – runs at over 2800 words, and yet is almost entirely devoid of anything critical of the Israeli activists, or the organization which they represent.
Beaumont sets up his feature by informing us that “350 soldiers, politicians, journalists and activists” organized an event at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on June 6 – the anniversary, we are told, “of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land in 1967″ – to recite soldiers’ accounts “collected by the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence“.
However, Naftali Balanson of NGO Monitor has persuasively argued that BtS tailors its “anecdotal and unverifiable accounts” of soldiers to fit their predetermined conclusion that it is Israeli policy to intimidate and instill “fear, and indiscriminate punishment [on] the Palestinian population.” Balanson also noted that “many testimonies contradict this harsh claim, explicitly noting that incidents of individual misconduct were opposed and punished by officers”.
The group’s broader political message given to foreign audiences is, in the words of one BtS member, ‘Israeli self-defense measures are pretexts for “terrorizing” Palestinians’. As another BtS member said: “We are the oppressors … We are creating the terror against us, basically.”
Though it’s next to impossible to fisk the soldier accounts published in the Guardian report, because they lack details necessary to research the specific incident they’re allegedly recounting, one account included by Beaumont (by an anonymous Sergeant from the Nablus Regional Brigade) is quite telling:
The logic is stunning. According to the account, the IDF moved into Area B of the West Bank, an area in which they are permitted to operate per the Oslo Accords (as even the Guardian’s editor note in the [brackets] makes clear), likely to conduct a security or anti-terror operation, and the anonymous sergeant strangely accuses the army of “provoking [Palestinian] stone throwings”.
Beyond the specifics of the soldiers’ testimonies, however, and since Beaumont shows no interest in employing his professional skills (and honed journalistic skepticism) to critically scrutinize the group or its members in a manner he would do with almost any other story, here are a few questions for the NGO:
1. How can BtS claim they’re a human rights organization when, by any measure, they have a clearly radical political agenda? For instance, BtS members Yonatan and Itamar Shapira were on the Jews for Justice for Palestinians boat “Irene” which sought to violate Israel’s legal (arms) blockade of Gaza. Yonatan Shapira also once sprayed “Liberate all the ghettos” on to a wall nearby the actual Warsaw Ghetto where so many Jews lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis. As NGO Monitor’s president Gerald Steinberg argued: “BtS’s campaigns to discredit the IDF have turned the organization into an invaluable ally of those NGOs behind the “Durban Strategy” – with the explicit goal of “the complete international isolation” of Israel, using repeated accusations of “war crimes,” “genocide” and “apartheid.”
2. Why does BtS court the international media rather than presenting its allegations through the normal military chain of command?
3. Relatedly, why won’t BtS give any identifying details in their accounts – such as the sector, date or unit – so that the incident can be properly investigated by the military, the media or other interested parties?
4. Finally, in light of the fact that Israel is such a strong democracy, with a robust grassroots civil society, and a free, feisty and adversarial media, what “silence” is this foreign-funded group attempting to break?
Of course, Peter Beaumont wouldn’t dare ask such probing and critical questions, as he (as with so many of his Guardian colleagues) clearly sees his role as an advocate for the Palestinians – and their radical NGO allies – and not a journalist in the traditional sense of the word – one who’s committed to fair, balanced and accurate reporting.
- Al-Durah Redux? Facts emerge contradicting Guardian presumption of IDF guilt in Palestinian deaths (cifwatch.com)
- Repulsive Guardian op-ed justifies Palestinian antisemitism (cifwatch.com)
- Following CiF Watch post, the Guardian quietly removes image of Camp Hamas (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian provides PR for failing BDS campaign against EU football championship in Israel (cifwatch.com)
On June 3rd we posted about a photo used by Guardian editors to illustrate a report by Peter Beaumont (‘Israel condemns US for backing Palestinian unity government‘) about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request that Washington not rush to immediately recognize the new Palestinian “technocratic government” backed by the terror group Hamas.
Their decision to use a photo of Palestinian children frolicking at a Hamas summer camp was deceptive for two reasons. First, the photo they used was only one in a series published by Getty Images in 2013 which were most notable for shots depicting the kids engaged in jihadist paramilitary training. Second, the image – conveying the putatively benign nature of the Hamas government – could be seen as an editorial decision to make light of Israeli concerns about the consequences of the US legitimization of the Islamist extremist group.
Interestingly, a few hours after our post, the Guardian decided to remove the original photo, and instead opted for this:
Though it’s unclear if our post prompted the Guardian revision, and no explanation was provided, we’re glad they at least implicitly acknowledged the highly tendentious nature of the original photo.
UPDATE: The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor responded to our post with the following Tweet:
@CiFWatch The picture was changed to one that reflected the story better within hours, as I am sure you are aware.
— Chris Elliott (@chriselliott57) June 5, 2014
However, our subsequent exchange with Elliott (which you can see here) suggests that his intent was to make it clear that Guardian editors recognized the error and changed the photo of their own accord. We thank them for the clarification.