Guardian likens Hamas rockets to “useless fireworks”

The Guardian, in an official editorial on the war in Gaza, argued the following:

In all the years they have been swooping over the border like useless fireworks, the primitive rockets that Hamas fires at Israel have killed hardly anybody. They scare people, close supermarkets, disrupt business and increase insurance premiums.

They’re of course referring to the more than 15,000 deadly projectiles fired from Gaza since 2001.

Here is the arsenal of “primitive rockets” the Guardian is referring to:


Here’s a glimpse into the effects of the “useless” fireworks” “swooping over the border” to the southern Israeli city of Sderot:


Contrary to Guardian claims (that “hardly anybody” has been killed by these “useless fireworks”), at least 20 Israelis have been killed in Gaza rocket attacks since 2001, and 15 have been killed in Gaza mortar attacks. (sources: here, here, here, here, here, and here). Over a thousand Israelis have been injured in such attacks.

Finally, every Gaza rocket (all 15,000) of course has the capacity to kill an Israeli man, woman or child, and all represent an attempt to do just that.

Describing such deadly instruments of war as “useless fireworks” (which have killed ‘hardly anyone’) is simply untrue, and grossly insensitive to Israeli victims. 

Independent demonizes Sderot residents for cheering IDF strikes on Hamas

Sderot, dubbed the bomb shelter capital of the world, is a working-class community located 2.5 km from Gaza, and has absorbed the largest percentage of the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza at Israel since 2001.  Such ubiquitous attacks have killed 13 Sderot residents, wounded dozens and profoundly disrupted daily life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder incidences among young children of Sderot, as with depression and miscarriages among the adult population, are abnormally high.

Naturally, they are not too fond of Hamas, the movement most responsible for the terror their community has suffered, and are pleased whenever the IDF attempts to reign in their rocket launching capacity.

Yet, a surreal report by Adam Winthall at the Independent on July 13th, which focuses on fifty Sderot residents who gathered to watch the conflict unfold at a lookout point northwest of the city last week, frames their pleasure at the periodic sight of Hamas terror sites being shelled as nothing short of sadistic.

Here’s the headline:


Withnall begins:

An image that appears to show a group of Israelis on a hilltop cheering and applauding as they watch the deadly aerial bombardment of Gaza has caused international outrage after it was shared by thousands on Twitter.

Taken by the Middle East correspondent for a Danish newspaper, the picture shows rows of people sitting on plastic chairs looking out over the Gaza Strip as rockets and explosions light up the night sky.

Allan Sørensen, who posted the image, wrote that it showed a kind of “cinema” on the hilltop outside the Israeli town of Sderot, and a caption added: “Clapping when blasts are heard.”

Sørensen’s newspaper, the Kristeligt Dagblad, reported that the gathering involved more than 50 people who had transformed the hill into something “most closely resembling the front row of a reality war theatre”.

It said that people were seen taking popcorn up onto the hill with their chairs, and that they sat cheerfully smoking hookahs.

Then the Indy shows the Tweet by the outraged Danish journalist:

Winthall then adds a few more ‘shocking details’ about the ‘cruel’ Israelis.

“We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas,” said Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American who lives in Israel.

Sørensen’s tweet was met with anger by fellow Twitter users. One user wrote: “If this is true then God help us all. What’s become of the human race?

Where to begin?!

First, it’s quite telling that the Indy reporter doesn’t even note the rockets fired on Sderot in the months and years prior to the event he describes.  Withnall completely erases this vital context from his report.

Additionally, do Winthall and the “shocked” Norwegian journalist really not know that Palestinians often celebrate the murder of Israeli civilians as the result of terror attacks?

As you no doubt recall, there were enthusiastic street celebrations when the news broke about the attacks on 9/11.

In 2011, there were celebrations in Gaza when they learned that five Israeli civilians – including three children, one a three months old baby -were literally butchered by Palestinian terrorists in Itamar.

A Palestinian man offers sweets to a woman in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on March 12, 2011 to celebrate an attack which killed five Israelis (Getty Images)

More recently, upon hearing of the abduction of three Israeli teens last month, some Palestinians handed out candy in the streets and posted messages lauding the incident on social media sites and in the state-run media.

University students in Birzeit University distribute sweets in celebration of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.

University students in Birzeit University distribute sweets in celebration of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.

Also, a video recently surfaced showing “hundreds of Arabs” celebrating ‘the attack on occupied Palestine’ atop the Temple Mount after hearing bomb sirens in Jerusalem on the first day of the war.

Indeed, just yesterday, according to Times of Israel, Channel 2 showed footage of Palestinian youths dancing and cheering in Gaza “minutes after a heavy rocket barrage was launched at the greater Tel Aviv area”.

So, while Palestinians have often celebrated lethal attacks on innocent Jewish civilians, Indy readers are evidently supposed to be shocked when a few dozen Sderot residents celebrate IDF attacks on a terrorist group committed to their country’s destruction? 

The UK media’s moral myopia, as with their seemingly unlimited capacity to impute malevolence to Israelis, is at times staggering.

Guardian misleads in tale of ‘heroic’ Palestinian sperm smuggling

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

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

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


Sherwood begins her story, thus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Harriet Sherwood’s “five months of calm” in Israel actually looks like.

Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Palestinian who was serving a life term for recruiting a terrorist to carry out a suicide attack against Israeli civilians inside a crowded Jerusalem cafe in 2002, died of cancer on Tuesday. 

(Dozens of people at the Caffit Cafe on Emek Refaim were spared death or injury when the bomber’s suicide belt failed to detonate.)

Despite the fact that the convicted terrorist – who was diagnosed with advanced cancer of the esophagus in February – had been treated by Israel’s top oncology doctors at Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital, his death was immediately used by the Palestinian Authority to stoke violence in the West Bank.  President Mahmoud Abbas, and Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe, among others, immediately accused Israel of medical negligence.

In addition to riots by prisoners in Israeli jails which ensued after Hamdiyeh’s death, Palestinians have been violently taking to the streets in Hebron and throughout the West Bank and throwing rocks and explosives at Israeli soldiers.  Israeli civilian vehicles have also increasingly come under attack on roads in the West Bank since Tuesday.

Also since Tuesday, terrorist organisations in Gaza have launched missiles at Israeli communities for the third time since the eight-day November war ended.  For three straight days, rockets were fired from Gaza, with two rockets exploding in open areas near Sderot on Wednesday “triggering alerts and sending frightened families fleeing for shelter”.  Additionally on Wednesday, a global jihadi group in Gaza  targeted Sderot with rocket fire just as parents were bringing their children to school. Fortunately, there were no injuries stemming from the attacks.

In response, the Israeli Air Force struck two terror targets in the Gaza Strip, representing the first Israeli response to Gaza rocket fire since the end of the November war in Gaza.  The IAF didn’t respond to a rocket attack launched from Gaza on March 21 during President Obama’s visit to Israel, which ended up striking an Israeli nursery school in Sderot (which was closed for the holidays), nor to a Feb. 26  Gaza missile fired towards the town of Ashkelon.

Rocket believed fired last month during Obama visit; kindergarten had been closed for Passover holiday, delaying discovery. (Photo courtesy of Sderot Media Center)

Rocket believed fired last month during Obama visit; kindergarten had been closed for Passover holiday, delaying discovery. (Photo courtesy of Sderot Media Center)

The recent violence was reported by Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian on April 4th.

Her report, from Hebron, was titled ‘Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers in West Bank, and contained the following strap line:

Clashes come as militants fire rockets at Israel for third day, sparking fears of fresh wave of violence after five months of calm

Sherwood echoed the narrative advanced in the strap line in her second paragraph:

Palestinian protesters clashed with soldiers after thousands of mourners turned out for the funerals of a 64-year-old cancer-stricken prisoner and two teenage boys shot dead by the Israeli military, the latest sign of the increasing turbulence across the West Bank.

Meanwhile Gaza militants fired rockets towards Israel for the third consecutive day in a move that threatens to trigger a fresh cycle of violence after almost five months of calm since the eight-day war last November.

Whilst some narratives about the conflict are open to interpretation, it really is difficult to understand how a professional journalist covering the region can honestly characterize the months since the November war as “calm”.

The following is terror data was compiled by the Israel Security Agency, but many of the attacks listed were also reported in the media at the time:

  • In March 2013 there were 125 terror attacks, with most of the attacks executed in the form of firebombs. Six Israelis were injured: five citizens and one security officer. Five of them were injured by firebombs (a security officer in Judea on March 3, and 4 Israelis on the Trans-Samaria Highway on March 14), and one citizen was shot (March 18) near a gas station in Kedumim (West Bank).
  • In Feb 2013, there were 139 terror attacks. Again, most attacks were in the form of firebombs. Three Israelis – one civilian and two security officers – were injuredThey were all wounded during separate stone hurling and firebombing incidents during rioting in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The civilian was injured in Bitunya / Binyamin area (21 Feb.), and the two security officers were injured in Issawiya / Jerusalem (9 Feb.) and in Hebron (22 Feb.).
  • In January 2013, there were 83 terror attacks: Three Israelis were injured: an Israeli citizen was moderately injured in a stabbing attack in the West Bank (January 29), and two security officers were injured by a firebomb near Al Aroub (January 3) and by stone-throwing in the nearby area of Rachel’s Tomb (January 13).
  • In December 2012 there were 112 terror attacks. Three Israeli security officials were injured: two were stabbed in the West Bank (December 3), one was run over by car in Jerusalem (December 23).

It was difficult to gather information on terror attacks which may have occurred in the last nine days of November (after the Nov. 21 ceasefire), but, even assuming for the sake of argument that there were no attacks during that period, in the four-months beginning in December there were 459 terror attacks – a fact which definitively undermines Sherwood’s characterization of life in Israel during that time. 

One of the victims of Palestinian terrorism during this period, 3-year-old Adele Biton, is still fighting for her life in an Israeli hospital – weeks after the car she was travelling in with her mother and two sisters was hit by Palestinian rock throwers.  The rocks caused the car to swerve, and it rammed into a truck parked on the side of the road. 


Adele Biton

Though her mother and siblings were also injured in the attack, Adele suffered severe trauma and is still listed in critical condition.

Harriet Sherwood on today’s Palestinian rocket attack: An error & an improvement

Earlier today Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired four Kassam rockets at Israel, triggering red alert sirens throughout the south.  One rocket landed in a residential courtyard in Sderot, seen here:

rocketAt 10:26 GMT, the Guardian’s Live Blog on President Obama’s visit to Israel included the following dispatch by Harriet Sherwood.

Two rockets fired from Gaza landed in Sderot, an Israeli city in southern Israel, this morning. It was the first time that militants in Gaza have fired rockets since a truce ended the eight-day mini-war, Operation Pillar of Defence, in November.

According to Israel’s Army Radio, one of the rockets exploded in the yard of the Haziza family. The mother of the family, Sara, said: “Let Obama come and see how people live, we build houses and villas but we live inside a cage, in a protected room. Nothing is worth it for us. Let Obama come and see how an eight-year old girl has to run to a protected room that is completely open, and how I can’t close the door of the protected room.”

Obama referred to the southern Israel city, which he visited before becoming president, in his short speech on arrival in Israel, saying: “I’ve stood in Sderot, and met with children who simply want to grow up free from fear.”

There were no casualties, and no immediate claim of responsibility. [emphasis added]

First, it is important to note that Sherwood’s brief post represents an improvement in comparison to how the Guardian typically covers news of such terrorist attacks. She personalized the Israeli victims, noting the name of the family whose home was nearly hit, and even included a quote by the mother of the family.  (For additional posts on Sherwood’s improvement in covering the region, see here and here.)

However, Sherwood made an error. Today’s rocket attacks were not the first since the end of ‘Pillar of Defense’.

On Dec. 23, 2012, Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket aimed at Israel (but which didn’t reach the Israeli side of the border).  

Additionally, on Feb. 26, 2013, Palestinians fired an M-75 rocket at the city of Ashkelon.  (The rocket fell on a road south of the city.) Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the terrorist group associated with the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah, claimed responsibility for the attack.  The group reportedly stated that the attack was a response to the death of Al Aqsa Brigades member Arafat Jaradat while in Israeli custody. 

Of further interest in the context of Sherwood’s omission, the the Guardian’s  actually reported the Feb 26 rocket attack on Ashkelon, on that day’s edition of their ongoing Middle East ‘Live Blog’.

A glimpse of life near the Gaza border: #IsraelUnderFire

I spent the day participating in a media tour of Sderot and other Israeli towns close to the border with Gaza.  

The day included a security briefing, several Code Red (Tzeva Adom) alerts, an unexpected view of the immediate aftermath of a rocket which landed in Sderot, a play by children at a local kibbutz and an analysis of the military situation with Col. Richard Kemp.

Here a brief account of my day via updates on Twitter and Facebook.



We then went to Sapir College, near Sderot.  All classes were cancelled due to rocket fire.  

We were listening to a presentation by an academic expert on the psychological trauma caused by terrorism when the Code Red alert sounded.


The rocket landed in a neighborhood nearby, so our guides took us to the site of the blast.


Fortunately, there were no injuries.

A boy whose home was right next to where the rocket landed displayed a bit of bravado and claimed a souvenir.


A minute later there was another Code Red and we were able to get to a bomb shelter in a home near where we were standing.

Sderot residents have 15 seconds to get to safety once they hear the alert.

This was a tiny glimpse into the intolerable situation which residents of Israeli towns within close range of Gaza must deal with constantly.  


We then toured Kibbutz Alumim and saw the children perform a play dramatizing how they deal with the constant threat of rocket fire, entitled ‘Code Red’. 

We then listened to a military assessment of Israel’s current operation by Col. Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, who explained the extraordinary efforts of the IDF to avoid civilian casualties – resulting in a civilian to combatant ratio in Cast Lead, and Pillar of Defense, far superior to recent NATO operations.

Finally, we took a brief detour to get a glimpse at an Israeli tank stationed near the Gaza border.

More than 1200 rockets have been launched at Israeli towns since November 10, and over 12,800 since 2001.

The Guardian yawns in reaction to Gaza terrorists targeting Israeli school children

A guest post by AKUS

On Sunday, August 26th, two rockets hit the small industrial area of Sderot at about 9:00 am. Had they fallen about 100 meters to the west, they would have landed in the densely populated “shikunim” (low-cost housing projects) across the road. The satellite picture below shows the area where the rockets fell. The white oblongs are the little workshops and factories in the area, and the long one on Kopenhagen Street is a supermarket.

The timing was not coincidental – it is the time in the early morning when children go to school and adults go to work and are more likely to be caught out in the open. Had the kassam that hit the factory in Sderot fallen into one of the suburbs shown to the left, above, there would have been a high probability of killing or injuring people leaving home to go about their day’s activities.

Today, at the time children return from school, two more rockets were fired towards the town. Again, the timing was not coincidental. The objective was to hit people – children – caught in the street between school and home.

Three rockets were fired at the area on Saturday. During the school holidays, Ma’ariv reports that over 100 rockets were fired at the area (I heard a few of them)

The people firing these rockets are the so-called “militants” that the Guardian brings to write op-eds and columns that attempt to cover up the use of terror against Israeli civilians, and, specifically, as we can see from the timing of the rockets, children. There is not a mention of these attacks in the Guardian, currently obsessing again over Rachel Corrie while ignoring all the Israeli Rachels who get no trial, no plays written, and no sympathy.

The IDF has announced that the rockets were fired by the Salfist Jihad group in Gaza. Nevertheless, Israel holds Hamas responsible as the group that purportedly governs the Gaza Strip, and retaliated, destroying an arms warehouse owned by Hamas. The Salafis may be trying to push Israel to war, and they are about one child’s death away from succeeding. If Hamas does not want a repeat of Cast Lead, it had better do something about this – quickly.

A public bomb shelter in Sderot, painted so as not to scare children.

AKUS’s postcard from Israel: Sderot and Sapir College

A guest post by AKUS

A barrage of 20 or so kassams from Gaza seems to have ended, so it’s time to hop into your rented car and visit the local branch of the University of Beersheva, Sapir College, and stop in for lunch on the way back at Sderot. Both are frequent targets for the murderous “militants” of Gaza, and worth a visit to see what and who the Gazans are targeting.

Reaching the Sapir College, you can park in a public lot equipped with a bomb shelter just in case your visit is interrupted by a siren and announcement of “Tseva Adm” – incoming kassams.

But once past this uninspiring entrance, you encounter some of the students. Casually dressed men and elegantly dressed Bedouin women seem to be the norm:

Numerous Bedouin woman students of all ages can be seen strolling around the campus – in indication of the increasing acceptance of modern way such as education for women by this formerly nomadic community:

Their modest dress makes a contrast with the statue created by the Souriya Nazarian,  from Los Angeles, at the entrance to the spectacular library building donated by the Nazarians:

A sign nearby tells us that there is a room set aside for breast-feeding mothers and a Muslim prayer room:

Lunch is available in the student building – not crowded since it’s the summer break:

Remember that this college is 15 seconds from Gaza as the kassam flies, so if you need to take a bus home, you can be sure there is a nearby shelter adjoining the bus-stop in case someone in Gaza decides it’s a good day to try and hit the college:

But it’s time for lunch, so let’s head 5 minutes up the road to the center of Sderot:

Perhaps purchase a couple of Endi Blyton’s books at Steimatsky’s for the kids – the Secret Seven and the Famous Five seem to be popular:

And then head to Café Café for lunch before driving home:

Just another day within range of Gaza.

Eleven years of rockets from Gaza.

On April 16th 2001 the first Hamas-orchestrated rocket attack from Gaza took place. In the eleven years since then, the one million civilians living within the range of fire have suffered over 12,700 additional rocket and mortar attacks. Forty four people have been killed and over 1,600 injured.

An estimated 55% of the residents of the southern Israeli town of Sderot – located less than a mile from the Gaza Strip – have suffered either physical or mental injury as a result of the rocket attacks. 86% of children between the ages of 12 and 14 suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. One in 24 of the town’s residents receive psychiatric care due to trauma stemming from the attacks.

When the ‘Colour Red’ warning of an incoming rocket sounds, Sderot’s residents have 15 seconds in which to take cover in one of the town’s fortified bus stops, fortified schools, fortified playgrounds or in the nearest air-raid shelter or safe room.

At intermittent junctures throughout the past eleven years, the UN has “urged” Hamas to stop firing rockets and called the attacks “unacceptable“. The EU has occasionally “condemned” them and Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have defined the rocket attacks on civilians as war crimes.

And yet, despite these platitudes, UN bodies host Hamas representatives and the EU allows various Hamas-linked lobbying groups to operate on its premises and take its MEPs on trips to Gaza.  European MEPs have even participated in Hamas-run anti-Israel publicity stunts and the European Parliament was quick to endorse the Goldstone Report which managed to largely avoid dealing with the highly significant aspect of Operation Cast Lead which is  Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians. Amnesty International, meanwhile, continues its flirtation with the most hard-core of Hamas supporters.

It is often said that no other country besides Israel would put up with 12,700 rocket attacks on its civilians and that may very well be true. Eleven years on, there are now thousands of Israeli children who have never known life without the 15 second run to the nearest bomb-shelter as part of their daily routine.

The UN, EU and Human Rights community bodies which aid and abet the mainstreaming of extremism and terror by collaborating with Hamas and its supporters are ensuring that many more Israeli children will have their lives shattered too.

15 seconds in Sderot: An open letter to Harriet Sherwood, the Guardian’s Jerusalem, Israel correspondent

Dear Harriet,

Recently you and some apparently intrepid ‘human rights operatives’ went out for a sail with a fleet of Gazan fishermen to experience for yourselves how Israeli ships patrol the sea off Gaza.  You helpfully informed us of how lenient the Israeli Navy is, by giving us GPS coordinates which indicated that you were right outside the three-mile limit while the only deterrent used by the IDF was water.

I sent you a little note via Twitter asking you and these unnamed ‘human rights monitors’  to complete the experience.  

As defined by their title, it must surely be their aim to see things from all angles and to find out whether the treatment on the other side of the divide is as humane and if the threats from Gaza are as empty by spending some time in Sderot.  

You haven’t replied yet and I’m sure that you wouldn’t wish to miss the opportunity to be fair and objective.  So just answer in the comments below this short note and tell me how many of you there will be and when you can make it.  I’ll ask your hosts to make sure that you get accommodations very near a bomb shelter. Although Sderot doesn’t have the water parks, luxury accommodations and fine-dining restaurants of Gaza  I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people willing to show you the nearest route to safety.  

One thing: I do hope that these monitors are young and fit. You really shouldn’t neglect your visits to the gym before going: your 15 second sprint rate is going to be tested there, possibly with your life as first prize.


Terrorism in their backyard

In the aftermath of today’s missile attack on an Israeli school bus by Palestinian terrorists which left a 13-year-old boy critically injured, and as Israeli communities in the south continue to bear the brunt of increased rocket attacks (110 projectiles were launched into Israel from Gaza in March alone), we’re posting this video (produced by StandWithUs) about Sderot, the Israeli city most effected by such acts of terror in recent years.

Sderot is only a half mile away from the Gaza border and has been described as the bomb shelter capital of the world.

Lies, Big Lies and Comment is Free

The concept of the Big Lie is nihilistic. Formulated and first set out by Hitler in Mein Kampf in 1925 it is a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”. Thus Hitler set out that there was no objective truth, that repeating the Big Lie would establish the truth as set out by him.

This sort of moral relativism which fostered Big Lie-type thinking styles which in turn led to the Jewish genocide is alive and well in the world today. We seem to have learned nothing from the consequences of of the Nazis’ egregious behaviour.

Indeed, so entrenched is the Big Lie philosophy in the blogosphere that even intelligent people are unaware that they are being manipulated by it. Nowhere is there a better exemple of the blurred distinction between truth and outright falsehood, between objective reality and opinion expressed as fact, than in the Guardian Unlimited’s Comment is Free (CiF).

Big Lies abound on CiF, aided and abetted by the philosophy of its editorial team and their writers. A vital aspect of the effectiveness of the Big Lie is its perpetuation by regular repetition. The reiterative posting of the same lies on CiF makes one suspect that they are all gathered from the same source – the intellectually challenged who post them even use identical or similar phraseology again and again and again.

The first and most obvious Big Lie which CiF promulgates is that Palestinians are the only victims in the Middle East. True, the unremarkable Seth Freedman wrote one article about Sderot in 2008 (and Sderot has been under almost daily rocket fire since but he has not written about Sderot since), but instead of concentrating upon the psychological and other trauma of the residents who were under almost continuous rocket fire, we were presented with criticism of the Israeli government for failing to take adequate care of them.

Elsewhere on CiF readers are continually treated to variations on the Big Lie theme about alleged ill-treatment of Palestinians by Israel: that Gaza is variously being strangled or being starved, or is the object of systematic genocide.

It matters little to those who persist in this vein that the population of Gaza is growing, or that reliable evidence is posted that Hamas confiscates the aid provided free to its people and sells it back to them at extortionate prices.

The most intractable aspect of the psyches of the Big Liars on CiF is their imperviousness to reasoned argument. Time and time again responding posters provide evidence of Israel’s help to the Palestinians in Gaza, of Hamas’ brutality towards its own people – pace its treatment of Fatah before Hamas came into power and after Cast Lead, as well as the stealing of aid for its people which I have already mentioned.

However, so uncomfortable are the CiF Israel haters made by such disclosure that they entrench ever more deeply into their distorted views.

One explanation for such an ingrained belief in lies – big or otherwise – even where there is evidence to prove them to be what they are – may be that this is a defence against cognitive dissonance.

Leon Festinger (1954) described this as “the feeling of psychological discomfort produced by the combined presence of two thoughts that do not follow from one another.”

Festinger (1954), and Harmon-Jones & Mills, (1999) argued that the desire to reduce cognitive dissonance is greater in people who are made most uncomfortable by the contradictory thoughts they hold. This is often evident in the comments made to articles on CIF.

The theory of cognitive dissonance suggests that if people feel pressured to act in ways contradictory to their beliefs, then they will tend to change their beliefs to make these more consonant with their actions (or vice-versa).
We have seen that the anti-Israel posters on CiF hunt in packs, reiterate the same terminology and faulty reasoning in their attacks on Israel’s people and policies. It seems reasonable to conclude, therefore, that they feel pressured to follow the herd mindlessly in this manner.

The very rigidity and imperviousness of their beliefs, and their implacable opposition to the opposing arguments as expressed on CiF, may indicate that at some unconscious level these posters are nervous about them, that they cause emotional discomfort and even that they cause the Israel-haters to waver in their beliefs.

The dissonance becomes plain and worsens when these posters are confronted by facts which refute their rigidly held views – that the alleged deliberate bombing of the UN school in Gaza was a lie, that Hamas itself steals food from the mouths of its own people (and therefore that it, rather than Israel, is responsible for any starvation that might ensue); that it behaves barbarously towards its own people by killing and torturing them in front of their own families.

This dissonance is further exacerbated by carefully-constructed opposing arguments and, as the dissonance increases, we can see that the posters become more and more uncomfortable (because in spite of their furious disagreement with them, those opposing arguments actually register) and they post more contributions in quicker and quicker succession as if to overwhelm with volume of words what they cannot carry by dint of reasoned argument.

Such people seem to have no means to soothe themselves. They have lost all contact with reality: for them, CiF is no longer merely a blog, these are no longer mere words – rather, each measured disagreement with their arguments, carefully crafted and backed up by evidence, is construed as a personalised attack.

Of course, incensed anti-Israel posters are nothing new and indeed CiF relies upon them for ‘hits’. The sting in the tail, however, is that the arguments, the Big Lies, continue to be repeated until they become common currency and accepted as truths if they fall upon receptive ground.

We have seen variations of this effect in the increasing acceptability of Jew-hating discourse on CiF and the minimising of antisemitism there.

What to do? Careful, reasoned fact-based argument works – we see it daily in the obvious discomfiture of the CiF posters whose arguments are emotion-based rather than fact-based and are countered accordingly. It is possible to undermine the equilibrium of such people. Of course, CiF stacks the cards heavily against reasoned argument or the right to reply to the more off-the-wall examples of hatred – but that need not put us off.

We none of us know the far-reaching effects of what we may write. A casual surfer, not filled with hatred or otherwise compromised by the emotional rollercoaster of defending against cognitive dissonance, may happen on what we write and be encouraged to learn more about both sides of the argument – rather than only one.

In this way, albeit slowly, we may impact on closed minds.