Compare and contrast: Guardian coverage of demonstrations in Israel and Greece.

This week we witnessed a much reported demonstration in south Tel Aviv pertaining to the subject of the influx of illegal migrants into one of the poorest areas in Israel. As ever, the situation is significantly more nuanced than the Guardian’s editors would have us believe – as reflected in the commentary of veteran Israeli journalist Ben Dror Yamini on the subject. 

“It was all known. It was all expected. A violent incident was a matter of time. Sentences such as “South Tel Aviv neighbourhoods becoming a pressure cooker” have been written more and more in recent weeks. This week it happened. A justified and legitimate demonstration, which was directed against government neglect, was turned by a few tens of people into a hooligans’ parade. It is a miracle that the events did not end in bloodshed. That could happen.  

This is the hour of the hitch-hikers. From Left and from Right. The former spread tales that if we would only conquer racism, and turn the refugees into new immigrants, they would become honest and contributing citizens. For a small proportion of them – annoying and inciting; mostly anarchists – there is in the background the ideology which wants to crush the state of Israel as the Jewish state. The infiltrators are yet another means by which to achieve that aim. From the Right step up to the line the inciters who suffer from pure racism – including racism against colour – and direct the anger towards the infiltrators themselves. 

And in the background are to be found the residents of the neighbourhoods of south Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Eilat. They are the victims. Because the infiltrators who arrive here, from the moment of their arrival, raise their standard of living by ten degrees. Even when they are sleeping in public parks. And only the residents of the weak neighbourhoods are paying the price. They alone. Everyone is wise at their expense. The human-rights workers are causing more and more infiltrators to arrive in exactly the same neighbourhoods which are already exploding from the pressure. They don’t pay any price. They load them onto the weak. And the weak are exploding. Just exploding. Their children’s education is worse. The fear on the streets is greater. Quality of life plummets to new lows. And when they try to cry out, they are called racists. And then the activists from the Right arrive, with matches in places already saturated with petrol. Afterwards we all wonder about the explosion.” 

The incidents which took place on the night of May 23rd in south Tel Aviv were the subject of no fewer than three Guardian articles. 

The first, by Conal Urquhart, was headlined “African asylum seekers injured in Tel Aviv race riots”. Only in the ninth paragraph (out of ten) did Urquhart get round to hinting – albeit very superficially – that there may actually be more sides to the story than pure ‘race riots’. 

“Some work illegally and the majority live in the poorest areas of Tel Aviv where they find themselves in competition with working class Israelis mostly from a Middle Eastern or north African background. The sparse greens and parks of south Tel Aviv are dominated by the African migrants who sleep there at night.

The second article dedicated by the Guardian to the subject was Seth Freedman’s polemic (addressed by Adam Levick here). Freedman also employed the term ‘race riots’ and referred to “the level of hate coursing through the veins of Israelis furious at the influx of non-Jewish Africans into their country”. His article closed with the warning that “Israeli opponents of such base racism must act now”: again presenting a one-dimensional view of the story. 

The third article on the subject published on the same day as the previous two came from Harriet Sherwood. It too focused exclusively upon the reprehensible acts of violence which took place and it too failed to provide any information on the broader context of the events or to examine the reasons why the residents of south Tel Aviv (the majority of whom did not participate in the violence) felt compelled to voice their opinions on the streets in the first place. 

But Israel is not the only country struggling with the effects of uncontrollable immigration and Tel Aviv was not the only place in which a demonstration turned violent this week. 

In Patras, Greece, local residents and supporters of the far-Right ‘Golden Dawn’ party – which gained considerable support in the recent Greek elections stormed a factory in which migrants were sheltering on two consecutive days after a local man was allegedly  stabbed and killed by an Afghani immigrant, resulting in clashes between demonstrators and police. 

The Guardian dedicated one article to these incidents. 

In that story there were no ‘race riots’ – instead there were “anti-immigrant protests”. No ‘asaGreek’ was summoned to chastise his countrymen for the “hate coursing through their veins” and nobody was accused of “base racism”. There were no dire warnings about the collapse of Greek democracy and nowhere was it implied that the Greek demonstrators (even those among them who support an extreme-right party) were motivated by a racism which infects their society as a whole. 

The sharp contrast between the style and volume of the Guardian’s reporting on two similar incidents which took place almost at the same time is an excellent indicator of the fact that when it comes to Israel, reporting the actual news is frequently of minor concern. Too often, it is the opportunity which that news may provide to advance an agenda which is seized at the detriment of providing Guardian readers with a ‘fair and balanced’ view of events. 

Moral posturing as serious thought: Context-Free essay on migrants in Israel by Seth Freedman

Gidon Ben-Zvi, in a guest post on these pages yesterday titled “Growing pains: The birth of Israel’s illegal immigration crisis” made a few important points:

  • Israel’s illegal African immigration challenge is a recent phenomenon, going back to 2005, after the Egyptian police attacked Sudanese refugees who were camped out in Cairo, demanding asylum. Jerusalem proved generous and word spread that migrants would be greeted hospitably and provided with job opportunities upon arrival in Israel.
  • Since Hosni Mubarak was swept up and out of power during the ‘Arab Spring’, government authority has all but collapsed in the Sinai Peninsula. One by-product of this lawless state of affairs has been a spike of illegal immigration to Israel from Africa. Over the last several months, Israel’s southern border with Egypt, by way of the Sinai, has turned into the primary point of entry for thousands of work-seeking migrants (economic migrants, as opposed to political refugees).

Ben-Zvi was responding to a May 20th report by Harriet Sherwood titled “Israeli PM: illegal African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish state” which was characteristically devoid of such context – instead playing the ‘Jewish state should be held to the higher standard’ card, ending thusly:

“Amid the anti-immigration clamour, some Israelis have argued that, in the light of Jewish history, their state should be sympathetic and welcoming to those fleeing persecution.”

Seth Freedman’s piece – Israeli politicians are fanning the flames of anti-migrant tension - includes fair criticism of some unnecessarily hyperbolic rhetoric from a couple of Israeli politicians but, true to form for many Israeli Left commentators on the pages of CiF, Freedman’s rhetorical excesses are numerous and include the following:

  • Framing Israeli policies he finds disagreeable in the most extreme, unserious manner 
  • Imputing anti-black racism to Israel
  • A  failure to offer a concrete policy alternatives to a vexing political problem
  • Transparent moral posturing (Freedman is ‘the good Jew’) 
Framing Israeli policies he finds disagreeable in the most extreme terms:
The first dynamic is apparent in the opening passage, which quotes a counter protester at an anti-immigrant march in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, May 22nd, which tragically turned violent. 

“In 1936 my grandfather stood against the fascists in Cable Street. Today I did the same in Tel Aviv.” After five years on frontlines, Nic Schlagman is used to untrammelled hostility towards the African refugees and migrants with whom he works, but he says the situation has never been as critical as it is at present.”

The comparison to Blackshirts in London (circa 1936), in the context of a growing Nazi-inspired fascist movement throughout Europe, is morally, historically and intellectually unserious. It represents one of those rhetorical perversions which says more about those advancing the analogy (or those uncritically repeating it) than the analogy itself.  (See CiF commentator Mya Guarnieri hysterically advancing the narrative that Israel is moving in a “fascist” direction, here and here.)

Imputing racism: 

 There was this passage by Freedman:

“The climate of fear amongst the African community is at fever pitch,” [Nic] Schlagman said. “Mothers pulled their kids off the streets in anticipation of the marchers arriving, and everyone’s saying it’s only a matter of time until someone gets killed.” The spectre of such violence is hardly unfounded…[and] has revealed the level of hate coursing through the veins of Israelis furious at the influx of non-Jewish Africans into their country.” [emphasis added]

The accusation of racism against Israelis is of the most facile and lazy arguments employed in the anti-Zionist arsenal.  Israelis, like people in many states in the world, are of course struggling with the dilemma of balancing humanitarian concerns with the requirements of national cohesion and economic security. Concerns about unlimited immigration do not suggest that Israelis have “hate coursing through their veins”.  

Twenty percent of Israelis are Arab and among Jewish Israelis, roughly half are ‘Jews of color’ – that is Jews from the Middle East, North Africa (or Ethiopia). So, there is simply no rational reason to believe that the reaction to the influx of illegal immigrants would be any different in they were not from Africa.

A  failure to offer a concrete policy alternative to a vexing political problem:
In 900 words of criticism, Freedman fails to include anything resembling a concrete suggestion regarding how Israel should deal with the influx of immigrants. Freedman doesn’t even acknowledge the scope of the problem, nor is there a single policy proposal or a passage devoted to what he believes should be done by the Israeli Knesset in order to develop a codified series of laws and regulations to handle the influx of African migrants.  Such journalistic Israel critics are continually defined by their failure to offer real-world alternatives in addition to their scathing and often scurrilous critiques of the state, and its foreign and domestic policies.
Transparent moral posturing (Freedman is ‘the good Jew’):
Freedman is an Israeli Jew, and leverages that fact to opine at ‘Comment is Free’ quite effectively. His critiques of Israel are leveled, ostensibly, as is the case with so many other CiF commentators, ‘As-a-Jew’.
Indeed, a necessary corollary to the former principle (Israel’s critics’ failure to offer any specific alternatives to the government policies they’re admonishing) is the dynamic I’ve expanded upon previously: the vanity and moral posturing of placing oneself above the fray; beyond the day-to-day real life and necessarily imperfect decisions of a modern democratic nation-state.
To be clear, those Israelis using irresponsible, incendiary rhetoric against illegal immigrants should rightly face social opprobrium and, if the facts warrant it, even be arrested under Israel’s anti-incitement laws.
However, the Jewish state need not be held to a higher standard than other states similarly dealing with the moral dilemma of economic migrants crossing its borders.  
Finally, commentators like Freedman (and his Jewish fellow political travelers at the Guardian) need desperately to see Israel through a more mature, sober lens, and avoid the endless hyperbole, clichés and posturing. 

Ultimately, they fail to recognize a vital political and moral truth: in responsible statecraft rarely is there the luxury of making choices which will lead to perfect justice for all concerned.

Rather, with every serious decision in front of her, Israel (like all nations) must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of various possible actions and try to make the decisions which are most likely to result in a positive outcome for as many of her citizens as possible.  The perfect will always remain the natural and mortal enemy of the good. 


Seth Freedman’s attack on Israel’s Jewish nature: Classically Guardian egregious absence of context

The 192 nations in the world (including most democracies) all represent and embody (via legal codification or just custom) various ethnic, religious, or social historical traditions.

In Europe, and N. America, many retailers (based on local or national laws) prohibit the retail and service industry from operating on Sunday, a day that Christian tradition typically recognizes as the Sabbath, a “day of rest”,

EU law allows each Member State to set its own policy concerning work on Sundays. The following European Union countries currently have legal restrictions on Sunday shopping: Spain, France, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Italy, the UK and Sweden.

Germany’s Constitutional Court, in 2009, upheld a ban on retail stores opening on Sundays, following a complaint made by the country’s Catholic and Protestant churches, based on a clause in the German constitution that Sunday should be a day of rest and “spiritual elevation“.

The conservative Die Welt wrote, in supporting the court decision:

“The churches have argued correctly that employees in the retail sector are not given the possibility of organizing their Advent Sundays according to Christian principles: going to church.

While I’m sure there were those who opposed the (Christian) religious inspired ruling (issued in a “secular” European country), I don’t suspect Jews saw it, by and large, as a draconian infringement on their religious liberties.

More broadly, most diaspora Jews live in countries where such Christian traditions determines that Sunday, and not Saturday, is the day of rest, and where Christian holidays (such as Christmas) are national holidays, and (depending on the employer) must often use vacation time to get off from work for Jewish holidays.  Again, this is less than ideal, but it’s hardly an assault on non-Christian religious minorities.

In the United States (with a strict constitutionally ensured separation between church and state) some municipalities still prohibit Sunday shopping. Some local jurisdictions have regulations regarding when bars and restaurants may be open on Sundays (and when alcohol may be sold or served).

Do such laws negatively affect the lives of non Christians? Certainly. Such restrictions necessarily create significant inconveniences for observant Jews, whose Sabbath is Friday at sundown till Saturday at sundown.

But, neither do most Jews living in Western democratic countries see themselves (by virtue of living in countries with decidedly Christian cultures) as, in any way, second class citizens. 

In classic Guardian style, such relevant context escapes Seth Freedman’s Erev Pesach attack on the Jewish nature of Israel, in his CiF essay, Time for Israel to allow buses on Sabbath, April 7.

Writes Freedman, criticizing Israel’s restrictions on public buses running on Shabbat, in the context of a debate (and impending court decision) currently going on about whether to permit buses to operate in Tel Aviv on Shabbat:

In a free country it should be [everyone’s] cast-iron right to [take buses on Shabbat].

Yet the vagaries of a country defiantly defining itself along religious lines are disrupting the lives of millions of Israel’s citizens every weekend, and there seems precious little the state is prepared to do about it.

Among the more characteristic consistencies within Guardian commentary about Israel is imputing undemocratic values when critiquing Israeli polices deemed objectionable.  So, a law which merely demands that NGOs report foreign income is hyperbolically characterized by CiF commentators (not to mention NGOs like New Israel Fund) as nothing less than an assault on Israel’s democratic nature.

Similarly, for Freedman, in addition to characterizing restrictions on public transit one day of the week as inconsistent with a “free country”: Israeli officials opposed to changing the laws are “zealots”; arguments that such restrictions on public transport on Shabbat (consistent with maintaining the Jewish nature of the country) are “ludicrous”; and non Jews, by virtue of the limits on Shabbat transportation, are “second class citizens”.

Freedman’s piece also has this risible passage:

For those for whom Saturday is neither Sabbath nor sacred, why should they be denied the right to public transport on their one day off in the week, just to pander to the rights of one religious group? [Because] the state is not interested in giving Christian and Muslim citizens any say in such matters – as rightwing politicians like to say: if you don’t like the rules, no one is keeping you here, and don’t forget to shut the door behind you when you leave.

(And, it includes this unintelligible, and unintentionally comical, mixed metaphor: “But banning buses operating on Shabbat is shutting the stable door long after the horse has bolted down to the beachside cafe for a seafood salad.”)?!

In addition to the use of a classic right-wing Zionist straw man (who precisely said what he attributes to unnamed right-wingers in the final sentence of the passage?), Christians and Muslims do have a say in Israel’s democratic legislature (Knesset), such as Jews serving in the U.S. Congress (though a small minority in both houses of congress, state legislatures and city councils) have a say in laws passed in their country.

While there are very good arguments in favor of overturning the restrictions on public buses on Shabbat, here are a few details Freedman omitted:

  • Some public buses do indeed run on Shabbat. I was able to take an early Saturday afternoon bus from Kiryat Shmona to Tel Aviv, for instance, an exception necessitated, I suppose, by the length of the trip (about 4 hours) and the wish not to have passengers arrive at their destination too late (Shabbat now ends around 7:40 pm on Sat.)
  • Buses in Haifa (with a large Arab population) run on Shabbat, as do buses in Eilat. (H/T alert reader)
  • Buses Nos. 370 and 380, on the Be’er Sheva-Tel Aviv route, depart Be’er Sheva before the Shabbat is over. 
  • In addition to the option of cars or taxis, Sheruts (shared van sized taxis) run on Shabbat, and are quite inexpensive. For instance you can take a Sherut from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv on Shabbat for less than 40 shekels (roughly $8 U.S.).

On Passover, one of the questions asked during the seder is “why is this night different from all other nights?” (Why do we eat Matzoh?, etc.), and those who attack the Jewish nature of Israel seem unmoved by the fact that Israel (the world’s only Jewish state) is indeed different from all other countries (especially those governed by Christian or Muslim traditions). 

Israel is the only state in the world which has a uniquely Jewish character: where Jews don’t have to assimilate into a non-Jewish culture to thrive, and can observe Shabbat and the Jewish holidays without fear of losing their job or suffering any social opprobrium. 

This is one of the reasons why the Jewish state was born, its raison d’etre.  That’s what makes Israel different from all other nations.

Agree or disagree with the policy regarding public buses on Shabbat, but such policies have absolutely no connection with the democratic nature of the state.  Similarly, such laws don’t undermine the general liberal freedom enjoyed by its citizens, and nor do they impute second class status to its Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bahai (or secular) citizens, all of whom enjoy religious liberties unimaginable for religious minorities throughout much of the world.

Large number of Guardian readers morally justify terrorist attack against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem

In response to Seth Freedman’s unusually sober, and largely unqualified, condemnation of the terrorist attack in Jerusalem yesterday (Jerusalem bus bomb will harm the Palestinian cause“, CiF March 24) Guardian readers, in relatively large numbers, offered their dissent, many explicitly justifying the intentional killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists.

Murder of Israeli civilians justifiable considering Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians.

Such terrorism is “understandable”.  Some Palestinians, given their circumstances, will inevitably “just snap”.

We have no right to morally judge such terrorists acts.

Violence, and only violence, is the answer to Israeli “colonization”.

Such “resistance” is justified.

What other choice do Palestinians have other than violence against Israeli civilians?

The Guardian and the OECD

A guest post by AKUS

The third shot in the Guardian’s attempts to influence the OECD (The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) has been fired in an article headed Can the OECD stand up to Israel? by Sam Bahour and Charles Shamas. The proximate reason for the article is the decision by the OECD to hold a “tourism summit” in Jerusalem.

(The previous attempts were: OECD is ushering Israel in too easily - by the Guardian’s economic expert, Seth Freedman – and Put conditions on Israel’s OECD entry. The latter was co-authored by none other than Avi Shlaim, arch anti-Israeli historian, and Simon Mohun, a supporter of anti-Israeli views as a signatory to a  letter published by Independent Jewish Voices essentially demanding that the British PM support the Goldstone report and one headed What is Israel doing? put out by that impartial organization, “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”).

Sam Bahour is an American Arab born in Ohio in 1964 to a father who left El Bireh for the USA in 1957. One can only wonder Bahour Sr. did not remain among Raja Shehadeh’s “blue velvet hills” on the West Bank under the benign eyes of the Jordanian military rulers. Sam Bahour has moved to the West Bank (rather like the orthodox Jewish settlers, in fact, and for much the same reason). He has been involved in several high-profile business activities on the West Bank and overcame his dislike of Israel enough to earn “an MBA in a joint program between Northwestern University in Illinois and Tel Aviv University in Israel.” This is most likely the prestigious Kellogg – Recanati Executive MBA program funded by the Israeli Recanati family. He runs a blog called ePalestine, where, among other things, despite his hatred of Israel, he refers to TAU as his “Israeli alma mater, Tel Aviv University”. Notably, he has contributed to one of most virulent sources of anti-Israeli polemics and misinformation, “Counterpunch” – “Refugees are the Key”.

Charles Shamas is a different fish altogether. Shamas is a “Senior Partner and founder of the MATTIN Group” where he spends his time invoking international law and the Geneva conventions against Israel – though not, apparently, against Hamas in the case of Gilad Shalit. For example, he has written an article entitled Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Laws of War, in what appears to be a blog called Crimes of War, that lumps in the Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead) together with wars in Congo, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Cambodia. Never mind that those latter conflicts resulted in the deaths of millions of civilians, and that Israel’s response, to years of rocket attacks, resulted in 1400 deaths, mostly combatants.

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Why was this deleted?

Below the CiF essay by Seth Freedman, The Second Intifada: 10 years on, Oct. 1, there was this comment suggesting support of the Palestinian “right of return”:

Which produced this quite reasonable reply:


Yet, the Guardian moderators would have none of it:

Can someone please tell me what was even remotely offensive – or inappropriate – about epidermoid’s comment?

Ethnic Cleansing, real and imagined

“Historically, there was an exchange of populations in the Middle East and the number of displaced Jews exceeds the number of Palestinian Arab refugees. Most of the Jews were expelled as a result of an open policy of anti-Semitic incitement and even ethnic cleansing. However, unlike the Arab refugees, the Jews who fled are a forgotten case because of a combination of international cynicism and domestic Israeli suppression of the subject. The Palestinians are the only group of refugees out of the more than one hundred million who were displaced after World War II who have a special UN agency that, according to its mandate, cannot but perpetuate their tragedy. An open debate about the exodus of the Jews is critical for countering the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” and will require a more objective scrutiny of the myths about the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” – Avi Becker

The Israelis are the worst ethnic cleansers on the planet.  They have consistently, throughout their 62 year history – despite its dastardly desire (according to its critics) to cleanse the state of its non-Jewish citizens - allowed the Arab/Muslim community to grow exponentially throughout the years.

However, the insidious charge of ethnic cleansing against Israel at the Guardian is so frequent its become a banality. Ben White, Gideon Levy, Seth FreedmanNeve Gordon, Daphna BaramKen Livingstone and others casually employ such vitriol.

Most recently, a letter was published in CiF by serial Israel haters, again leveling the charge of ethnic cleansing, imploring Labor’s new leader, Ed Miliband, to break from tradition and withdraw his support for the Jewish National Fund.  The open letter was signed by (among others) Tony GreensteinProfessor Moshe Machover, and Professor Mona Baker.

Ethnic Cleansing” is typically described as the planned deliberate removal from a specific territory, persons of a particular ethnic group, by force or intimidation.

Indeed, such a definition perfectly describes the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries between 1948 and 1967.

In April 2008 a bipartisan resolution (H. Con. Res. 185) passed the U.S. Congress that recognized the forgotten exodus of nine hundred thousand Jews from Arab countries who “were forced to flee and in some cases brutally expelled amid coordinated violence and anti-Semitic incitement that amounted to ethnic cleansing.”

Between the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Six Day War in 1967, there was a mass Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim lands, Jews  that either fled from persecution and anti-Semitism or were forcibly expelled.  They were ethnically cleansed from their homeland. Most migrated to Israel, where today, they and their descendants constitute about 40% of Israel’s population.

In all, (approximately) there were 856,000 Jews living in Arab countries in 1948, while today the population is about 5100.  That means that over 99% of Arab Jews have been cleansed from Arab lands.

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The Guardian and Yom Kippur

A guest post by AKUS

The Guardian has become notorious for the dissemination of anti-Israeli articles. Many contain factual errors, some outright lies, but we never see significant attempts by the Guardian to correct its errors. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are about the year that has passed, and the year ahead. We examine our souls and our conduct towards others, and ask forgiveness for our sins and faults. It is time for the Guardian to conduct a “cheshbon nefesh” – an accounting of one’s conscience – for the New Year. I will be even more specific – it is time for the Guardian’s Jewish writers to issue apologies for the attacks against Israel that they have largely led on the Guardian’s website.

This year, once again, we have had several egregious and inflammatory articles run by the Guardian. Perhaps the worst was a story about rape in Israel that that was picked up by the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood on July 21st and repeated on July 25th in more detail as Saber Kushour: ‘My conviction for “rape by deception” has ruined my life’ . The articles built on extraordinary claims made largely by Israel’s home-grown hater, Gideon Levy, of Israeli racism when an Arab was apparently found to have committed “rape by deception”.

Rachel Shabi had no trouble using this issue on July 23rd as the “hook” for an article with the attention-grabbing headline Israel turns on its own.  Shabi’s article played to all the tropes so beloved by the Guardian’s Israel haters (Israel as a racist, violent, European, Mizrachi- and Arab hating implant in the Islamic world). But it was her brief reference to the rape case (“and now a Palestinian man from Jerusalem has just been convicted of rape after pretending to be Jewish and having consensual sex. This verdict, in effect turning the obfuscation of race into a criminal offence, also reveals the extent to which Israelis consider Palestinians to be abhorrent”) that  resulted in the extraordinarily large number of 591 comments below the line:

Arch Israel-hater JRuskin (formerly Moeran) was quick to pick up on the allusion to the rape case:

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The Guardian’s anti-Israel Jews, and a letter to my teenage nephew

CiF’s Jewish Israel defamers

When joining the team here at CiF Watch, and attempting to understand why Jewish writers for the Guardian are often among the most vociferous in expressing their contempt for Israel, and so willing to demonize the state’s Jewish supporters, I had to get up to speed on the termTheobald Jew.”

I soon learned that:

According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who, swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations.

The CiF contributors I refer to include Naomi KleinNeve Gordon, Richard SilversteinAntony LermanSeth FreedmanTony Greenstein, among others.  These Jewish writers don’t merely critique Israeli policy, but routinely engage in hyperbole, vitriol, and gross distortions.  Their rhetoric is often spewed with hate towards the Jewish state, all but ignoring the behavior of her enemies - the terrorist and reactionary movements who openly seek her annihilation.  Such commentators often infer that the democratic Jewish state (the most progressive nation, by far, in the region) is almost always in the wrong, is usually motivated by a hideous malevolence, and represents a national  movement which they, as Jews, are ashamed to be associated with.

Freedman, for instance, has suggested that Israel is a theocracy – one which is on moral par with Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Gordon has on several occasions accused Israel of ethnic cleansing - once advancing such an ugly calumny in the radical anti-Zionist magazine, Counterpunch.  Tony Greenstein has ardently defended the ugly comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, typically advanced by extremists. Richard Silverstein has called the behavior of Israelis serving in the IDFsubhuman“, and has defended Hamas from “charges” that they are an extremist movement. Naomi Klein actually accused Israel of being so cruel and sadistic as to “bury children alive in their homes.”

While, for the Guardian, employing the services of Theobald Jews serves to inoculate them from charges of anti-Semitism, such Jewish writers, in return, receive the progressive and universalist credentials they so eagerly seek.

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Katharine Viner nails her colors to the mast (head)

This is a guest post by AKUS (Update below)

In April, Israeli Nurse wrote of the impending changes at the Guardian, following the departure of Georgina Henry to the “Culture” section of the Guardian, which apparently was in need of extra clicks that can only be ensured by posting the anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian articles that are so successful in bringing out the Israel-bashers on CiF’s Middle East section.

Although Georgina Henry was a hard act to follow for sheer malice and double-talk, the Guardian appears to have scored a home-run with the idea of bringing in  a feminist Jewish editor to replace Georgina – Katharina Viner (see also ‘She never hated men’ – “But the death at the age of 58 of ‘the most maligned feminist on the planet’ has deprived feminism of its last truly challenging voice, says Katharine Viner”).

We now have a female as-a-Jew leading the charge for endless articles intended to delegitimize and denigrate Israel. Viner sees herself as the torchbearer for Rachel Corrie, the American inadvertently killed  as she tried to protect an arms-smuggling tunnel with her body in Gaza.

Viner has quickly equipped herself with a stable of equally biased, fringe female Jewish contributors. There is the deplorably uninformed Mizrachi Shabi. Viner introduced us to new face on the block (see the parrot on Viner’s shoulder), Florida native Guarnieri,(“a Tel Aviv  based journalist”), an ultra-leftist new arrival in Israel thoroughly disgraced in her CiF debut by chortling CiFers when she revealed a total lack of understanding of the issue of global foreign worker regulations – and Israel’s adherence to widely accepted policies. A  US native, and now, apparently, Israeli immigrant taking advantage of the right-of-return to condemn her new country, as-a-Jew  Guernieri performed the remarkable feat of avoiding any mention of what is happening to Mexicans back home in Arizona in her eagerness to condemn Israel for proposing to implement the same rules applied across the Western world.

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Whataboutery? No, dear Reader. It’s through-the-looking-glass mote-and-beamery

This is a guest post by Geary

Nobody’s perfect and every country has its dirty linen; Israel is no exception. But even the most distracted visitor to CiF won’t have failed to notice how the Guardian gets its rocks off by sniffing around – quite exceptionally – for Israel’s. If it can’t find any, it’ll employ one of its crew ofAs-a-Jewsto wash some in public (if you’ve ever thought, for instance, “What is the point of Seth Freedman?”, now you know). But should you point out on CiF that many of Israel’s sworn enemies never ever wash their smalls and that the stench cries out to heaven, you will – as sure as paint dries – be accused of whataboutery.

We’ve recently been treated to the spectacle of one Mya Guarnieri (who?- quite) using Israel’s immigration policy – a carbon copy of that of most European countries, even though Israel inhabits a rather more dangerous part of the world – as proof of the unique “inhumanity” of the country. Come again? I hear you say. We’re talking about  a region of the world where it’s common practise to sequester migrant’s passports, beat them, even keep them under lock and key, where expulsion without recourse is quite normal. But should you think to write this on CiF, you will be accused of whataboutery: “Don’t come up with ‘what about Saudi?’ or ‘what about Lebanon?’ – it’s Israel we’re currently (as ever) dumping on”.

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How to succeed in Israel as a Journalist, without really trying


Q: I’m a new immigrant to Israel from an English-speaking country, with no transferable skills. What’s the best way for me to get ahead?

A: Welcome to Israel! The traditional way to make a new life in Israel is to first attend Ulpan for at least six months and learn the language. Then, as time goes by and your command of the language improves, it is possible to take the courses and exams necessary to convert foreign qualifications into those recognised in Israel, or alternatively to learn a new profession.

However, pioneers in the field have recently shown that there is actually no need to waste one’s time on such a lengthy and antiquated process: if you are capable of stringing a few words together in your native language, the world is your oyster. Unprecedented opportunities exist in the field of journalism and no previous experience is required.  Inspiring examples such as Seth Freedman, Rachel Shabi and Mya Guarneiri have proved that it’s not how well you write, but the political narrative you advance, that really matters.

Q: Don’t I need to have some sort of qualifications or experience in order to become a journalist and isn’t there a lot of competition?

A: Absolutely not. If you take care to stick to the correct subject material, the market is virtually unlimited and constantly expanding. Outlets such as the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss and Richard Silverstein will be only too happy to print anything you can come up with, as long as it meets the basic condition of painting Israel in the worse possible light.

Of course if you happen to have studied creative writing at some non-exclusive academic establishment this can only help, as you will sometimes find it necessary to rely more upon fiction than the available hard facts. The key words to get into every article are ‘racist’, ‘apartheid’, ‘far-right settlers’ and ‘so-called democracy’. There is little to fear as far as a drying-up of the market is concerned; great care is being taken by a number of elements in the region, in collaboration with respected international bodies, to make sure that the present commercial climate is perpetuated for as long as possible.

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Support from a surprising source

This is a guest post by Joy Wolfe

Gradually, as the true facts about what happened when the Israeli commandos were dropped from a helicopter to board the Mavi Marmara in an attempt to halt the so-called Freedom Flotilla, a few more supportive media stories are starting to filter through.

And none is more welcome than Seth Freedman’s posting on “Comment is Free”.

It is one thing to get support from people who are known to be Israel’s friends who have consistently backed Israel in the past, but when that support comes from someone better known for his unrelenting criticism of the Jewish state, it carries so much more weight. Thus when Seth Freedman writes that Iisrael had no option other than to stop the flotilla it is music to my ears.

This week I have been on a roller coaster of emotions.

When the news first broke that there had been fatalities among those on board I was filled with horror and disbelief. How could Israel have been stupid enough to get drawn into this scenario I thought? As one by one countries throughout the world rushed to condemn Israel before any of the facts had a chance to filter through, the scale of the incompetence became clear.

Just Journalism Highlights More Double Standards at “Comment is Free”

Just Journalism released another one of their insightful media analyses yesterday comparing coverage of Iran’s acceptance into the UN Commission on the Status of Women with that of Israel’s acceptance into the OECD.

Last week, The UN Commission on the Status of Women accepted the membership of Iran, despite the Islamic regime’s poor record on women’s rights. Then, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) accepted Israel, a country with both a free-market economy and a stable, well-regulated financial services sector, into its ranks.

Importantly, Just Journalism observed that in the UK media, only Israel’s accession to the OECD was reported “including negative opinion pieces on the Guardian’s Comment is free website”. Commenting on the double standards at play, Just Journalism stated:

No other country’s political behaviour has been subject to such scrutiny, or been viewed as an impediment to joining an organisation that is primarily concerned with the development of economic policies. Indeed, when the OECD was formed in September 1961, one of the initial members was Turkey, which at that time was being ruled by a military junta following a coup earlier that year. While Turkey’s human and civil rights record remains a stumbling block to it joining the European Union, which is as much a political body as an economic one, it has never been raised in relation to its continued membership of the OECD.

I guess this is another fine example of the “fair and balanced” nature of “Comment is Free”.

Read the entire analysis here.