Worst prediction about Israeli presidential vote goes to Times of London

For those political animals among us, closely following yesterday’s Israeli Presidential election in the Knesset (the vote and subsequent run-off) on Twitter and sites live-blogging the tally was the political equivalent of a nail-biting overtime back and forth during the NBA Finals. (Brits may contemplate a more appropriate soccer football reference.) 

Though the post is largely ceremonial, as Shimon Peres demonstrated, the president can serve as an important quasi-ambassador for Israeli democracy, and can leverage the office to enhance the state’s image abroad and advocate on behalf of issues beyond the interests of the prime minister.   

Going into the election, it was clear – based on polls – that MK Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin was in the lead – and indeed eventually won the contest.  Further, while the horse-race for second – the candidate to face Rivlin in the eventual run-off – was bit less clear (Dalia Dorner, Meir Sheetrit, and Dalia Itzik were all mentioned), there was one contender, Dr. Dan Shechtman, whose candidacy was universally dismissed – often as quixotic – as he had no public supporters going into the race.

Yet, here’s what Times (of London) Middle East correspondent Catherine Philp wrote in her pre-election analysis published on June 10 (pay wall):

Mr Rivlin’s closest contenders are the Nobel chemistry laureate Dan Shechtman and a former supreme court judge, Dalia Dorner. 

When the votes in the first round were tallied at a little before 1 pm Israeli time, Rivlin was on top with 44 votes, Meir Sheetrit came in second with 31, Dalia Itzik had 28, Dalia Dorner received 13 and Dan Shechtman trailed the pack with just one.

Anyone can of course make a mistake. However, as we’ve demonstrated in previous posts about her coverage of the region, Philps’ wildly inaccurate election prediction isn’t a one-off when it comes to misreading the politics of the region.

Though the Times – editorially speaking – is among the more sensible media voices in a UK, their correspondent in Jerusalem at times doesn’t seem up to the job of providing accurate, nuanced and objective analyses of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

 

Harriet Sherwood’s Shame: On racism, real and imagined.

In Harriet Sherwood’s nearly three and a half years as the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent – an assignment which includes frequent visits to cities such as Ramallah, Bethlehem and Gaza City – she hasn’t devoted even one stand-alone story to the disturbingly ubiquitous antisemitism which permeates Palestinians society.  

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jul/02/jerusalem-divided-new-guardian-correspondent

Photo of Sherwood accompanying her inaugural story as Jerusalem correspondent, July 2, 2010 

In attempting to contextualize the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Sherwood consistently fails to inform her readers of the racist and often violent vitriol directed against Jews – not Israelis, but Jews – by Palestinian political and religious leaders.  Indeed, if Sherwood was at all curious about the disturbing volume of hate and intolerance which inspires much of the ideological energy of Palestinian nationalism, all she – or any journalist sincerely interested in fairly covering the region – would need to do is visit websites of organizations which research and meticulously translate and document this phenomenon.

But, as anyone who’s been following this blog would surely know, Harriet Sherwood cannot fairly be described as a “reporter” in the traditional sense  – as the word typically refers to someone committed to fairly, accurately and dispassionately conveying the full story. As with so many of her colleagues at the Guardian, Sherwood is more akin to an advocate – someone whose agenda-driven reports accurately reflect the increasingly blurred line within the mainstream media between journalism and activism. 

On Dec. 12, Harriet Sherwood saw yet another opportunity to tell a story of Israeli racism, and the mere dearth of evidence supporting such a supposition was not going to temper this narrative.  Her story, ‘Israeli president condemns rejection of Ethiopian born MP [sic] as blood donor‘, didn’t contain any significant errors as such, but as with most tendentious ‘journalism’ which egregiously distorts reality, the devil lies in the particular quotes selected, the sources not interviewed and the vital background and comparative analysis not provided.

The deception begins in the first paragraph:

Israel‘s president, Shimon Peres, has criticised the refusal of the country’s emergency medical services to accept a blood donation from an Ethiopian-born member of parliament on the grounds that it was a “special kind” of blood – a move that has prompted charges of racism.

However, while the MDA (Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross) did, on Wednesday, refuse to accept blood from an Ethiopian Jewish lawmaker, Pnina Tamano-Shata, the selective quote attributed to the MDA volunteer in question, which was used again by Sherwood in the third paragraph, is extraordinarily misleading.

It’s only by the fourth paragraph down where Sherwood provides any real context, noting that “the director of the MDA’s blood service, said ministry of health regulations prohibited the use of blood donations from people who had lived for more than a year in countries with a high rate of HIV infection.”

However, this paragraph is all but buried, and only about 90 words in Sherwood’s 490 word story are devoted to providing vital context which balances the sensationalist tone of the accusations.  More typical are the quotes attributed to Israeli MK Uri Ariel, who reportedly said he was “shocked to hear that someone thinks that the blood of … Ethiopian Jews is less red than the blood of the rest of us”, and MK Ahmed Tibi, who concluded that “Israeli society and its systems continue to be infected by the deadly virus of racism…”

Of course, the “virus of racism” has nothing to do with the Israeli policy on blood donations.  As Elder of Ziyon pointed out, “anyone calling Israel racist based on a policy of not accepting blood from some African countries may want to read the American Red Cross guidelines for people they don’t want to donate blood for fear of AIDS”:

You should not donate if you are at risk for contracting HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). The following activities would cause you to be at risk:If you were born or have lived in, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, Nigeria, since 1977.

Elder argued that those who “say that Israel is racist for limiting blood donors from countries in Africa, as well as Southeast Asia and the Caribbean” must conclude that “the US must be racist as well.” 

In Canada, Elder added, all potential donors are asked “Were you born in or have you lived in Africa since 1977?

As Martin Ellis, the secretary of the Israel Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, wrote recently in response to the row, Israeli blood donors “are screened and tested on the basis of epidemiology and statistical probability of carrying an infection that may be transmitted by blood and thus endanger the lives of recipients, not by color or creed.”

Erik Levis, a spokesperson for American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) told The Algemeiner: “A health-related story…has degenerated – without merit – into a story about alleged racism and discrimination based on ethnicity.”

While the MDA may indeed have cause to update their rules, new policy recommendations should be determined objectively by the probability a donor’s blood will endanger the lives of recipients, not by mindless platitudes and non sequiturs about “equality” and “racism” which have little relevance in determining effective public health policy.  Indeed, evidence abounds attesting to the fact that Israel’s health care system is among the world’s best in both efficiency and efficacy.

Of course, Harriet Sherwood wouldn’t have considered writing a careful, sober and nuanced story comparing health care policies – including blood donation guidelines – in the region, any more than she would consider devoting more coverage to the injurious effects of Palestinian antisemitism and incitement on efforts currently under way to bring about a peace deal.  

Regardless of the facts of the particular story she’s reporting, a narrative affirming her predetermined conclusion of Israeli oppression and Palestinian victimhood is assured. 

On PRI, Chris McGreal resuscitates his discredited ‘theory’ on Israel-SA nukes

On Monday, we posted about a ‘Comment is Free’ essay by Chris McGreal on the death of Nelson Mandela.  McGreal complained of the “hypocrisy” of Western leaders who now “extol South Africa’s first democratically elected president,” while failing to acknowledge their nations’ histories of “consigning Mandela and the [ANC] to the terrorism list”.

We noted that though McGreal poured particular scorn on Israeli President Shimon Peres (for praising “Mandela’s sacrifices for freedom” while ignoring the military pacts with Pretoria he allegedly signed decades earlier), McGreal failed to mention his own blockbuster Guardian “scoop” in 2010 alleging that Israel offered to sell the apartheid regime nuclear weapons.

Indeed, McGreal’s silence over his Guardian expose, we surmised, was likely influenced by the fact that the conclusions he reached (from allegedly select documents) were categorically denied by both governments, and widely discredited by commentators familiar with the issue.

However, just yesterday, during an interview on Public Radio International (PRI), McGreal attempted to resuscitate his wild theory. (Here’s a short clip we edited from the full PRI interview on Dec. 10, which we uploaded onto YouTube.  Pay particular attention to what McGreal says at the 2:10 mark)

In case you didn’t catch it, McGreal claimed that Israel and South Africa “worked together on atomic issues, including South Africa’s development of a nuclear weapon.”

However, as we demonstrated in our previous post – and contrary to McGreal’s suggestion during the interview – there is still no credible evidence that Israel helped develop South Africa’s nuclear weapons program. (The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reported that South Africa’s nuclear program was supported by France, the United States and Germany.)

So, unless McGreal has new evidence we can reasonably conclude that this latest claim represents yet another example of the journalist’s insistence that facts should never get in the way of a desired anti-Zionist conclusion.

h/t Nurit

Chris McGreal story on Mandela omits his (discredited) Guardian ‘expose’ on SA nukes

The anti-Zionist malice of Guardian “journalist” Chris McGreal has been the subject of many posts at this blog.  Indeed, the error-prone propagandist – who seriously fancies the idea that Israeli snipers target Palestinian children, and is characteristically obsessed with the power of the Israel lobby – has achieved the rare status as one of the few Guardian reporters singled out by the Community Security Trust in their annual report on antisemitic discourse.

table

2011 CST Report on Antisemitic Discourse, Table of Contents

Though McGreal has been keeping away from his Israel obsession of late – and only sparsely reporting for the paper – he took time out of his busy schedule re-Tweeting Glenn Greenwald and Michael Moore to pen a ‘Comment is Free’ piece titled ‘Mandela: never forget how the free world’s leaders learned to change their tune‘.

What especially stands out in this particular polemic is not merely that McGreal cynically exploits Mandela’s death to again take aim at Israel, but that there is one juicy nugget of “information” he, for some reason, decided not to mention. 

After criticizing UK and US leaders for “extol[ing] South Africa’s first democratically elected president,” while failing to acknowledge their history of “consigning Mandela and the [ANC] to the terrorism list”, he pivots to his desired target, Israeli President Shimon Peres:

Israel’s president,Shimon Peres, issued a statement extolling Mandela’s sacrifices for freedom, apparently hoping that no one would remember that, as defence minister in the 1970s, Peres signed secret military pacts with Pretoria that, among other things, helped developed weapons used against black Africans.

At that time, Peres was also unctuously praising co-operation between Israel and the apartheid regime as “based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and our refusal to submit to it”. All this as Mandela sat in prison for seeking justice in equality

First, and quite tellingly, McGreal’s passage about the alleged “co-operation between Israel and the apartheid regime” has a hyper-link which leads to a story by Ben White, a propagandist (well known to CiF Watch readers) notorious for publishing a 2002 essay at CounterPunch sympathizing with anti-Jewish racists.

However, what is surprising is that McGreal’s passage dealing with the “co-operation” between Israel and South Africa fails to reference his own 2010 Guardian “scoop” (Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa the bomb) purporting to show that Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons in the mid-70s – an omission suggesting perhaps that even he knows that the sensational claims were proven false.

Guardian, May 24, 2010

In his 2010 report McGreal claimed that “secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime.”

However, shortly after his story broke, CiF Watch (among others) demonstrated that McGreal manipulated a key document.  Specifically, McGreal “quoted from a part of the type-written document that was edited by hand soon afterwards”, including one sentence that implies nuclear weapons were available. It appeared that McGreal injected his own opinion to infer that Israel was ready to supply the apartheid regime with nuclear bombs.

jpost

Jerusalem Post, May 31, 2010

The Jerusalem Post summarized CiF Watch’s analysis as follows:

The paragraph McGreal used, written by a civil servant, states in its original form, prior to hand-written editing and deletions: “[South African Defense] Minister [P.W.] Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet [said to be the Jericho missile] provide [sic] the correct payload could be provided, Minister Peres said that the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice.”

CIF Watch points out that words “provide” and “could be provided” were crossed out in the by-hand edit, and that “provide” was replaced by the words “subject to.” The latter part of the paragraph was also deleted, so that the only part of the paragraph that remained was the first part of the first sentence, which now read: “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload.”

Ignoring the edit and using the entire original draft to back his claim, McGreal, in his Guardian article, asserted, based on the deleted wording: “The ‘three sizes’ are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.”

CIF Watch said that this was McGreal’s own opinion: “The person who ‘believes’ this last sentence is not identified, nor are his qualifications to draw this inference given, nor is any source provided for the inference. Plainly, McGreal does not have enough confidence in it to say “I believe it” and give his grounds.

The words ‘provide’ and ‘could be provided’ have both been deleted. The latter deletion is crucial and shows that Botha was expressing interest in acquiring ‘Chalets’ [missiles] with a certain payload, not asking for the payload itself to be provided. The sentence which is left can only have one meaning: Botha expressed interest in acquiring a number of Chalets subject to them being capable of carrying the correct payload,” CIF Watch added.

CIF Watch then accused McGreal of adding words to make his argument work.

The dishonest reporting by McGreal was revealed by a number of other commentators as well:

  • Waldo Stumpf, who led the project to dismantle South Africa’s nuclear weapons in the late 80s, “doubted Israel or South Africa would have contemplated a [nuclear] deal seriously.”
  • Avner Cohen, author of Israel and the Bomb and The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb, said that “The headline, sub-headline, and lede of Chris McGreal’s story are erroneous and misleading“, and that “nothing in the documents suggests there was an actual offer by Israel to sell nuclear weapons to the regime in Pretoria“. To the contrary, Avner added, “the conversation amounted to a probe by the South Africans, which ultimately went nowhere.
  • Another analysis published by frequent CiF Watch contributor AKUS included a video clip of McGreal’s ‘source’ (Sasha Polakow-Suransky) on Al-Jazeera which showed Polakow-Suransky acknowledging that there was nothing even resembling a “smoking gun”.

Additionally, Shimon Peres’s office issued a definitive statement (shortly after McGreal’s story broke) that “Israel has never negotiated the exchange of nuclear weapons with South Africa“, that “there exists no Israeli document or Israeli signature on a document that such negotiations took place,” and there was “no basis in reality for the claims” which were “based on the selective interpretation of South African documents and not on concrete facts.”

Of course, the aim of McGreal – whose highly misleading articles in 2006 suggesting that Israel was an apartheid state (and of having had close ties to South Africa) were effectively refuted by CAMERA – wasn’t so much to ‘reveal’ a putative nuclear deal, but to demonize the Jewish state.

If such a deeply flawed article – including sloppy reporting and attempts to pass off wild speculation as “fact” – was published in the paper today we’d be in contact with Guardian editors immediately and aggressively pursue a correction.  

The failure of McGreal in this latest piece to even mention his sensationalist propaganda from only a few years back perhaps represents an implicit acknowledgement that there is now a price to be paid at the “liberal” broadsheet for “journalists” who attempt to defend the indefensible.

A note to Harriet Sherwood on the difference between a rock and a spitball

A guest post by AKUS

Approximately two years ago an ugly incident in the Israeli town of Bet Shemesh drew wide – in fact, global – attention.  An ultra-Orthodox fanatic spat on a little (orthodox) girl on her way to school.  Hillary Clinton was even moved to condemn the incident.

Of course, Harriet Sherwood reported for the Guardian on the truly outrageous behavior of the ultra-Orthodox in Bet Shemesh. Her first article, ‘The battle of Bet Shemesh‘,  appeared on October 31st, 2011. On December 27th, 2011 she published an article about additional incidents in the town, titled ‘Shimon Peres condemns ultra-orthodox extremists as tensions escalate‘.  There was also a video report on December 28th, 2011 about a protest against ultra-Orthodox extremism in Bet Shemesh.  

(More recently, Giles Fraser wrote a column at the Guardian about attempts by some to force women to sit at the back of buses in Israel, titled ‘Ultra-orthodox attitudes towards gender segregation go to the core of what Israel is all about‘, outrageously drawing the inference that these minority attitudes are “at the core” of Israeli attitudes towards women.)

So, when I read that a two-year-old Jewish toddler had almost been killed by a rock thrown by Arab teens at the car her mother was driving, I naturally assumed this would receive considerable coverage in the Guardian. After all, a toddler being hit by a rock is surely more serious than an 8 year being spit upon, as horrible as that is.

car

Photo of the location where the rock struck the vehicle

However, Harriet Sherwood, now barely managing to turn in one story a week, evidently found the matter so mundane that it was not worth an article.  Giles Fraser has not drawn the conclusion that this kind of violence goes to ‘the core’ of what Arab society is “all about”.

In fact, the attack and its consequences were only mentioned in passing.  The reference is at the end of an AP article (‘Seven Israeli Arabs jailed for lynching IDF soldier who went on shooting spree‘, Nov. 28) about an entirely different incident:

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a two-year-old girl was moderately wounded when she was struck in the head by a stone hurled at the car in which she was traveling. A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said the attack appeared to be nationalistic in nature as Jewish vehicles are often targeted in the area by youths in nearby Arab villages.

The baby girl was taken to hospital, where the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, called on authorities to crack down on a recent wave of stone-throwing attacks in the city. “It’s about time we start treating a stone as a weapon,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 TV.

The prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, wished the girl a speedy recovery. “We will find these criminals and bring them to justice,” he said.

But perhaps the “moderate” injuries the little two-year-old sustained were not worth noting. After all, her mother Shirin Ben-Zion told Channel 2

“Avigail will be fine. She has a fractured skull, and we wait. I never thought that something like this could happen. Initially, I thought it was an accident, but then I realized very quickly that what crashed into us wasn’t any vehicle.”

So a fractured skull, if it belongs to a two-year old Jewish toddler, merely represents a “moderate wound”. How, I wonder, would AP and the Guardian report a similar attack in which an Arab toddler was dangerously wounded in the same manner?

Experienced Guardian readers, I am sure, will have no difficulty in imagining the outpouring of articles and comments below the line in that event.

Guardian video of Peres discussing Iranian nuclear issue inserts unrelated clips of ‘settlements’

The Guardian recently posted a one and a half-minute video on their Israel page showing a recent interview with Shimon Peres.  The clip, which, though dealing almost entirely with the Iranian nuclear issue and Middle East terrorism – and consisting largely of a straight-on shot of Peres speaking to the interviewer – bizarrely inserted two short clips of what appear to be Israeli settlements at several moments during the film.

At the 30 second mark, an image of an Israeli settlement is included while Peres is talking about the danger of terrorism and violence in Middle Eastern countries, such as Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.  And, again, at the 1:13 mark, while Peres is expressing his hope that President Obama can stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, an image of Israeli settlements can be seen for nearly 10 seconds. 

(The only time Peres even mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian ‘Peace Process’ in any context was towards the very end of the clip.)

Here’s the video post, titled ‘Shimon Peres: US can curb Iran’s nuclear threat – video‘, at the Guardian.

So, a video of Israel’s President talking almost entirely about the Iranian nuclear threat, and the problem of Arab terrorism throughout the Middle east, did not include any images of terrorists or Iranians, but managed to add two clips of Israeli communities presumably in Judea and Samaria. 

Are we to somehow believe that Jewish homes in Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim and Efrat are somehow related to Iran’s ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons and attain regional dominance?

The preoccupation by the hard left with Israeli towns across the green line is clearly obsessional, and at times seems nearly delusional.  

Quick stats on the Guardian’s coverage of Stephen Hawking boycott story

The Guardian’s initial report that Stephen Hawking was boycotting Israel was published on May 8.

The statistics in the first row in the table below were derived by a survey of the Guardian’s Israel page between May 8 and May 16 – the date of their last Hawking related entry. The second row’s numbers were gathered by a simple word count of the text. 

numbers

The third row’s data was derived by Intel.

intel-300x280

Update on Hawking story: Cambridge retracts statement denying boycott claims

Though original reports yesterday that Stephen Hawking cancelled his planned Israel trip in order to express support for the academic boycott were (as we reported earlier today) flatly denied by Tim Holt, Acting Director of Communications at Cambridge and Hawking’s spokesperson, Holt recently informed us via an email of the following new statement just released by the University:

“We have now received confirmation from Professor Hawking’s office that a letter was sent on Friday to the Israeli President’s office regarding his decision not to attend the Presidential Conference, based on advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the boycott.

“We had understood previously that his decision was based purely on health grounds having been advised by doctors not to fly.”

The Guardian got it wrong: Stephen Hawking is NOT boycotting Israel (Updated)

Last night, May 8, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood and Matthew Kelman ‘broke’ a story claiming that Stephen Hawking was joining the academic boycott of Israel, and that he was “pulling out of a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem as a protest at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.”

The report, based it seems on claims made by British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), was picked up by news sites around the world, was featured prominently on the Guardian website and was followed up with a poll asking readers if they agreed with Hawking “decision” to boycott Israel.  

Here’s how the Guardian’s Israel page looks at the time of this post:

hawking

As you can see, the original story was read by quite a few Guardian readers:

hawking

There was just one problem.

The Guardian evidently didn’t check their facts, as information has been released strongly suggesting that the world-renowned theoretical physicist and former Professor at Cambridge pulled out of the Israeli academic conference purely for health reasons.  

The Commentator reported the following:

…a Cambridge university spokesperson has confirmed to The Commentator that there was a “misunderstanding” this past weekend, and that Prof. Hawking had pulled out of the conference for medical reasons. A University spokesman said: “Professor Hawking will not be attending the conference in Israel in June for health reasons – his doctors have advised against him flying.”

Further, a spokesman for Cambridge University sent the following email to a CiF Watch reader in response to an inquiry, which is consistent with the following story in the Cambridge News:

email

The only questions which seems to remain is how long it will take for the Guardian to issue a mea culpa on their faux scoop.

Update: The Guardian’s Matthew Kalman is now claiming that the Cambridge denial is untrue, and that Hawking indeed supports the boycott.

Update II: It now appears that the original denial by Hawkings spokesperson was not accurate, and that Hawking indeed cancelled his trip as an expression of support for the boycott of Israel.   

Racism in football, Israel and Egypt: Contrast in Guardian coverage

Israel

The Guardian has devoted five separate stories (including three videos) in their coverage of recent acts of anti-Muslim racism by fans of the Israeli football team, Beitar Jerusalem, who are unhappy with the club’s decision to sign two Chechen Muslim players.

one

two

three

four

fiveA few additional facts:

  • “Beitar’s owner, Arcadia Gaydamak, refused to bow to the fans’ pressure. “As far as I’m concerned, there is no difference between a Jewish player and a Muslim player…”
  • “Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Friday’s apparent arson attack was “shameful”, adding: “The Jewish people, [who have] suffered boycotts and persecution, should be a light unto other nations.””
  • “President Shimon Peres said the entire country was shocked, and former prime minister Ehud Olmert, a Beitar fan for more than 40 years, said that he would no longer attend matches because of fans’ behaviour.”
  • “Israel’s attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, said police would take action against any “manifestation of [racism] that crosses the line into a criminal act”. The Israeli Football Association imposed a 50,000 shekels (£8,595) fine on the club for the racist slogans of its fans and ordered the closure of the eastern stand of its stadium, where hardcore fans congregate, for five matches.”

Egypt:

On April 6, 2011, scores of football fans in Egypt hurled gigantic banners with the words:

One Nation for a new Holocaust [against the Jews].

There are no Jews on any of Egypt’s football teams, and there are merely three dozen Jewish citizens left in the entire country.  (There were over 75,000 in 1948.)

More importantly, in contrast to the reaction in Israel:

  • Is it even conceivable that Egyptian authorities investigated those who hurled the antisemitic banners on April 6?
  • Will criminal hate crime charges be brought against the culprits?
  • Have any Egyptian public officials denounced such an ugly display of racism by Egyptian football fans?
  • Are ordinary Egyptian citizens outraged by such despicable behavior?

While the questions above are largely rhetorical, there is one important question which we no longer even need to ask, as the answer was found by a web and Lexis-Nexus search: 

The Guardian didn’t devote even one story to the pro-genocide messages at an Egypt football stadium on April 6, 2011.

‘Comment is Free’ publishes an essay by a Hamas leader…again.

IDF strikes on Nov. 18 knocked out the Hamas television stations Al Aqsa and Al Quds in Gaza, but Hamas leaders were likely not too concerned, and knew they could always count on Plan B: Propagandizing at the Guardian.

In fact, later that same day, Nov. 18, a ‘Comment is Free’ essay by the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Musa Abumarzuq, was published – one out of several members of the Islamist terror group who has been published by the paper which aspires to be the ‘world’s leading liberal voice’.

Other than Abumarzuq, who published a previous essay at CiF in 2011, the list includes Hamas ‘Prime Minister’ Ismail Haniyeh, their head of international relations Osama Hamdan, and their advisor‘, Azzam Tamimi.

Abumarzuq’s piece, ‘We in the Gaza Strip will not die in silence‘, is full of unserious, vitriolic claims befitting a group whose founding charter cites the antisemitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ as “proof” that Jews indeed are trying to take over the world.

However, Abumarzuq also advances a narrative of Israeli villainy which had already found fertile ground within the Guardian coven of “journalists” and commentators.  Echoing the “analysis” of  Harriet SherwoodSimon Tisdall, Ahdaf Soueif, and Jonathan Freedland, on the “real reasons” for Israeli operation ‘Pillar of Defense’, the Hamas apparatchik writes the following:

“With the approach of the Israeli elections, the Israeli prime minister,Binyamin Netanyahu, wanted to trade with the blood of the Palestinians, especially after his alliance with the ultra-extremist Avigdor Lieberman failed to boost his popularity in the polls as he’d expected. This is not the first time the Israelis have launched a war for electoral gain. Shimon Peres did it to Lebanon in 1996 and the Olmert-Livni-Barak alliance did it to Gaza in 2008.”

Interestingly,  Abumarzuq’s rhetoric is restrained compared to Ahdaf Soueif (a frequent CiF contributor) who, in her piece, literally accused Israeli leaders of murdering Palestinian children for political gain.

Turning to the issue of supreme concern to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, “human rights”, Abumarzuq complains thus:

“The human rights that Europe claims to defend all over the world are denied to the Palestinian people.”

Which freedoms are cruelly denied to Palestinians, per Abumarzuq?

“The right of people to resist occupation and confront aggression is guaranteed to all peoples; but if Palestinians seek to exercise this right it immediately becomes terrorism and for this they must be persecuted.”

Yes, of course. The Palestinians’ ‘universal’ right of “resistance”, murdering civilians with impunity, is stymied by their cruel Jewish oppressors.

Abumarzuq then adds the following:

“The Israeli military attacks on Gaza did not stop after the last Gaza war. Since 2009, 271 Palestinians have been killed, compared to three Israeli deaths.”

The numbers he cites about Israeli deaths are incorrect.

There have been 3 Israeli deaths since Nov. 14, when operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ began, but the Israeli death toll from Gaza terror attacks since 2009 is 13, not 3.

While you can contact the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, at readers@guardian.co.uk, to request that Abumarzuq’s lie be corrected, perhaps you should consider asking Mr. Elliott a more pertinent question:

How does he reconcile the ‘progressive’ politics he and the paper he works for evidently aspire to with their decision to continue providing a platform to violent religious extremists who represent ultra right-wing values on issues such as democracy, freedom of the press, the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities?

Though I don’t expect anything resembling an honest answer from Elliott, he and his colleagues need to be confronted with the mounting evidence of their supreme moral hypocrisy. 

As events refute their dogmatic doctrine ‘two-staters’ are looking more like ‘flat-earthers’

Cross posted by Dr. Martin Sherman, and originally published at the Jerusalem Post on April 6.

(Editor’s note: While CiF Watch doesn’t necessarily endorse the views expressed by Sherman, his commentary, fisking the premises behind most 2-state solution proposals, is thoughtful, politically and morally sober, and needs to be taken seriously.)

“If a Palestinian state is established, it will be armed to the teeth. Within it there will be bases of the most extreme terrorist forces, who will be equipped with anti-tank and anti-aircraft shoulder-launched rockets, which will endanger not only random passers-by, but also every airplane and helicopter taking off in the skies of Israel and every vehicle traveling along the major traffic routes in the coastal plain. 

Even if the Palestinians agree that their state have no army or weapons, who can guarantee that a Palestinian army would not be mustered later to encamp at the gates of Jerusalem and the approaches to the [coastal] lowlands.”
– Shimon Peres 

My column last week was largely a historical account of the monumental failure of the endeavor to implement a two-state approach following the 1993 Oslo Agreements. This column will focus more on some of the conceptual defects and inconsistencies that made past failure – and will make future failure –inevitable.

Two kinds of ‘two-staters’ 

In principle there are two categories of “two-staters:” (a) Those who insist that in their version of a two-state solution, “secure/defensible” borders for Israel are an indispensable imperative; and (b) Those for whom “secure/defensible” borders appear to be consideration of minor–if any–significance in their vision of the two-state arrangement.

Arguably one of the most eminent spokesmen for the first category is Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz; while the second category includes figures such as Peter Beinart, and groups such as J-Street and the Geneva initiative, endorsing the Obama-prescription that the frontiers of the Palestinian state be based on the indefensible 1967-lines with “agreed” (read “minor/cosmetic”) land swaps.

To assess the ramifications of these two schools of thought (or rather “wishful thinking”), it is necessary to comprehend clearly the geo-political significance of the territory ear-marked by them for the putative Palestinian state east of the 1967 frontier.

This is crucial for a responsible risk-assessment on the part of anyone professing pro- Israel credentials. For one would hope that– whatever their political proclivities – they would be mindful not only of the cost of error, but also of the probability of success, of any proposed policy option–particularly in the light of the failed optimism of the past.

‘An arrow aimed at Israel’s heart’ 

“An arrow-head aimed at Israel’s very heart with all the force of the Arab world behind.”

These words, conveying the danger entailed in the establishment of a Palestinian state, are not those of a radical right-wing rejectionist, but of 2006 Israel Prize (Law) laureate, Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, who served as an MK – and education minister–for the dovish Meretz party.

They are of course very apt, for as I have reiterated in previous columns, any territorial configuration even remotely acceptable to even the most moderate of Palestinians would allow them topographical command the all of the following: Most major airfields in the country (civilian and military) – including the only international airport; 

• Major sea ports and naval bases; 

• Vital infrastructure systems/installations; 

• The sweet water system;

• Main land (road and rail) transportation axes –including the Trans-Israel Highway; 

• Principal power plants; 

• The nation’s parliament, crucial centers of government and military command; • Eighty percent of the civilian population and of the commercial activity in the country.

All of these would be in range of weapons being used today against Israel from territory transferred to Palestinian control–making the notion of “demilitarization” largely irrelevant (something on which I will elaborate in a future column).

Peril presaged 

This ominous prospect can no longer be dismissed as “right-wing scaremongering,” for it reflects no more than proven past precedents.

Indeed it was clearly predicted in vivid detail by none other than Nobel laureate Shimon Peres who expressed his skepticism regarding the credibility of any prospective peace partner. In a more perceptive era, before of political correctness eclipsed political truth and facts succumbed to fads, he cautioned:

“The demilitarization of the West Bank seems a dubious remedy. The major issue is not [reaching] an agreement on demilitarization, but ensuring its actual implementation in practice. The number of agreements which the Arabs have violated is no less than number which they have kept.”

Presciently, he warned that if a Palestinian state were established:

“in a short space of time, an infrastructure for waging war will be set up in Judea, Samaria [note the non-compliance with the newly proposed “Beinartian” terminology] and the Gaza Strip. Israel will have problems in preserving day-to-day security….

In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence, to impede the freedom of action of the Israeli air-force in the skies over Israel, and to cause bloodshed among the population.”

In similar vein – and similarly prior to the advent of Oslo-mania, which relegated common sense to “rejectionism”– Amnon Rubinstein cautioned”

“Israel will neither be able to exist nor to prosper if its urban centers, its vulnerable airport and its roads, are shelled….

This is the terrible danger involved in the establishment of a third independent sovereign state between us and the Jordan River.

What are ‘secure borders’? 

It is the combination of geographic proximity to, and topographical dominance over, Israel’s urban megatropolis in the coastal plain that makes a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria so potentially perilous. It is this fact – with all its politically incorrect ramifications– that has brought a host of security experts – Israeli and American – to the conclusion that for Israel to maintain secure borders it must retain control of wide swathes of territory between the 1967 Green Line and the Jordan River.

The most recent study, updated in 2011, authored by five former IDF generals – including a former chief of staff and the current national security adviser–stipulated that “secure borders” necessitate Israeli control of the highlands in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and the entire air space from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

This coincides in large measure with Yitzhak Rabin’s vision of the permanent solution with Palestinians, articulated in his last address to the Knesset, a month prior to his assassination. In the speech, significantly delivered after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and being feted around the world as a valiant warrior for peace, Rabin proclaimed that

“…the security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.”

He endorsed the retention of Israeli sovereignty over large tracts of land on the highlands including the settlements of “Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities… which are east of what was the “Green Line” and urged:

“…the establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria [again note the noncompliance with the newly proposed “Beinartian” terminology].”

242 and ‘secure borders’ 

This prescription for “secure borders” presented by an array of Israeli experts – with nary a radical right-wing religious rejectionist among them –closely reflects the findings of an earlier study of Israel’s security requirements, made by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The study was referred to in an article published in 1993 by Eugene Rostow, former US under-secretary of state and one of the principal authors of UN Security Council Resolution 242. According to Rostow:

“[The study] is useful in interpreting Resolution 242 because it reveals… what the US government had in mind in pushing the resolution through.”

He went on to observe:

“[t]he study advised …that the security of Israel required Israel to receive [substantial] parts of the territory of the West Bank as essential to its defense”

And, he pointed to the wide-ranging consensus on this, remarked:

“In fact, all the studies of the Israeli security problem reached the same conclusion – from the security point of view, Israel must hold the high points in the West Bank and areas along the Jordan River.”

He summed up stating:

“I do not know if the Joint Chiefs of Staff would draw a different map today, but I doubt is very much.”

Findings of subsequent studies provide strong support for his assessment.

Clueless, conniving, corrupt? 

What does all this mean for the two previously delineated categories of “two-staters”? It perhaps simpler to begin with the second category–those who minimize (or disregard) the issue of “secure borders” for the Jewish state and are willing to accept withdrawal to the 1967 “Auschwitz” borders – with or without minimal adjustments.

Clearly in light of the potential perils these lines portend for Israel, this is a proposal comprises – at best – a gamble of epic proportions.

Its endorsement portrays its proponents as either clueless, conniving or corrupt: clueless because they are unaware of the mortal dangers their suggested policy entails; conniving because – although they may be aware of these dangers – they persist in collaborating with Israel’s adversaries to advance their pernicious agenda – equipped with nothing more than naiveté and alleged goodwill (read “wishful thinking”) to prevent the lethal consequences of their implausible political credo; corrupt because are advancing a policy that clearly menaces the security of Israel and safety Israelis in exchange for benefits – material or otherwise – from foreign sources with interests often divergent from those of Israel.

Of course, there is always an outside chance that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad will miraculously morph into a benign liberal social-democratic party, but are these “ two-staters” seriously suggesting that we “bet the farm” on that? Are the “enlightened” proponents of this version of the two-state paradigm suggesting that Israel base its policy on the wildly improbable? Surely prudence dictates heeding the accumulated lessons of past experience and the proven patterns of previous behavior? 

Insincere or inconsistent 

The other class of “ two-staters ”–t hose who claim they insist on “secure borders”– are if anything, more exasperating. Take, for example, the following excerpt from Dershowitz’s The Case for Peace, which shows that he is keenly aware not only of dangers that might arise from a Palestinian state but that the Palestinian signatory to any “two-state” agreement would be powerless to ensure his contractual commitments, even if he sincerely wished to:

A Palestinian state will not soon secure the monopoly on the use of arms. Terrorists organizations and militias – such as Hamas, Al-Aqasa Martyrs Brigades, Islamic Jihad and others – will continue to have access to weapons of all kinds. Even if the Palestinian state renounced all support for terrorism, other states, most particularly Syrian and Iran, will likely continue to arm terrorist groups dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Nor is it out of the question that someday Hamas might gain control over the Palestinian government, either by means of a coup, or an election, or some such combination of both. Israel cannot be asked to accept a fully militarized Hamas state on its vulnerable borders.

In many ways, this is a stunning admission for a “two-stater.”

Given the clear recognition of the potential dangers, several trenchant questions arise: In light of the plausible scenarios he himself raises, what are the geographical parameters that Dershowitz proposes to provide Israel with “secure borders”? What Palestinian could survive–politically or physically–the wrath of his rivals, were he to accede to frontiers that would provide Israel with “secure” borders that even remotely approach the parameters set out by military experts? And if such borders are politically unfeasible, why advocate entering into an arrangement with some Palestinian counterpart who – by Dershowitz’s own admission – may not be able to prevent the onset of situations which – by Dershowitz’s own admission – are intolerable…and far from improbable.

So is it just me or are “secure-border-two-staters” seriously advancing a policy that is either unattainable politically or unachievable geographically? And if so, why? Are they being mindfully insincere or mindless inconsistent? 

To be continued…

Much of which needs to be said about the dangerous and detrimental delusion of the two-state paradigm, and the corrosive consequences it has had on Israel, its national security, its diplomatic standing, its international legitimacy and the level and vibrancy of its public discourse, has still been left unsaid.

Indeed, as time goes by and events consistently refute their dogmatic doctrine, “ two-staters ”– seemingly oblivious to the facts and dismissive of the dangers – are looking more and more like “flat-eathers.”

But as Pessah is almost upon us and as I do not wish to incur the wrath of my very patient editor, I will defer further discussion for a future opportunity.

“A Tale of Two Cities”: Contrasting BBC headlines on Homs and Bet Shemesh

A guest post by AKUS

Although the BBC has since updated its site with additional news from Israel and Syria, this morning I was struck by the way it reported on events in two Middle Eastern cities.

The BBC noted that that Israeli President Shimon Peres is supporting a rally to condemn violence by a small group of extremist ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Israeli town of Bet Shemesh. Simultaneously, it carried a report on the visit by Arab League observers to the battle-scarred town of Homs.

But look at how two events are headlined by the BBC:

On the one hand, Bet Shemesh, where indeed some unpleasant but hardly deadly events have recently occurred, is a hotbed of “extremism”:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16338376

           Shimon Peres urges Israelis to rally against extremism

On the other hand, Homs, where dozens of Syrian citizens are being murdered by government forces, is merely “restive”:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16340299

          Syria unrest: Arab League monitors visit restive Homs

Another example of fair and balanced reporting by the BBC, and the way language is used to keep a firm finger on the scales when dealing with anything in the Middle East.

Is Israeli President Shimon Peres the Guardian’s new Middle East correspondent?

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker at  the blog of Honest Reporting

RSS feeds often publish the first version of an article without any subsequent updates or corrections. I was surprised to see the author of a report from Syria on my Israel news feed from The Guardian:

Yes, the author is one “Shimon Peres”.

A look at the full article on The Guardian website reveals that the author is actually Nour Ali, a pseudonym for a journalist in Damascus.

Is The Guardian really that obsessed by Israel that the first pseudonym they came up with was that of Israel’s president?

CiF post by Shimon Peres elicits enormous volume of vicious anti-Israel hatred by Guardian readers

A good barometer of the degree to which Guardian readers’ hatred for Israel is, characteristic of most bigotries, immutable, and not tied to specific Israeli policies nor tied to the behavior of particular Israeli politicians is the reaction to the CiF commentary by the Israeli leader perhaps most associated with the desire for peace and reconciliation, President Shimon Peres.

In a commentary titled “We in Israel welcome the Arab spring“, Peres’s plea that the Arab world turn their back on decades of tyranny and turn instead to a more tolerant, liberal, and democratic culture, was met with a staggering amount hostility and hatred by Guardian readers.

The military use of white phosphorous, as a smoke screen, is legal and has been used by NATO forces during recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet the word is part of the arsenal of anti-Israel agitprop with the implicit suggestion that Israel’s use of the weapon was illegal. Note how causally the commenter employs the term to impute malice – as if its use in Israel’s war against Hamas during Cast Lead was the reason why there’s a “psychological divide” between Israelis and Palestinians. (361 Recommends)

The ideological arsenal of the anti-Israel Guardian Left often includes the absurd argument that Israel’s economic prowess is merely the result of U.S. Aid, ignoring that the aid is a tiny percentage of Israel’s overall budget (Egypt receives far more aid as a percentage of GNP) and that all such military aid Israel receives from the U.S. must be used to purchase weaponry from U.S. defense contractors – an amount that actually represents a tiny fraction of Israel’s overall budget.  (261 Recommends)

Israel has been guilty of not compromising (presumably with the Arab world) since its very founding. (189 Recommends)

Israel’s very founding was a “land grab”. (283 Recommends)

Israel murders Palestinian children (242 Recommends)

Israel is an illegitimate “colonial outpost”. (208 Recommends)

Female IDF soldiers point there automatic weapons in the fact of Palestinian children just for fun. (323 Recommends)

Israeli is an oppressive, apartheid state, and agent of the U.S. (277 Recommends)

Israel “ethnically cleans” Arabs. Israel should no longer exist. (119 Recommends)

Israel’s economic success is merely driven by weapons of destruction.

Israel is an apartheid state.

Israel should return to “1947” borders, and allow “right of return” (euphemism for the end of Israel).

Israel is a state based on ethnic cleansing, and is not a democracy. (47 Recommends)

Israel has no right to exist, and is merely an apartheid Kafkaesque regime. (68 Recommends)

Israel has no moral right to exist. (66 Recommends)

Suicide bombing against citizens of the oppressive Israeli state is justified.

Israel is not a democracy and has no right to exist. (29 Recommends)

Israel has bombed orphanages. (54 Recommends)

Israel has attempted to bomb Palestinians back to the “stone age”. Settler are fascists. (34 Recommends)

Shimon Peres has committed “crimes against humanity”. Israel moral legitimacy is tainted by the blood of Arab children. (30 Recommends)

Israel is an apartheid, racist state, which ethnically cleansed Palestinians. (45 Recommends)

Israel kills innocent Palestinian children. (36 Recommends)

Israelis (including Peres) are fascists. (20 Recommends)

Israel’s creation was an act of terrorism and ethnic cleansing. (51 Recommends)

Quotes Illan Pappe in claiming that Israel ethnically cleansed 250,000 Palestinians while the British were still there, before the the 1948 war. (71 Recommends)

Israel is doomed for destruction due to their colonial project. (36 Recommends)