Did Jon Snow engage in Jon Donnison-style fauxtography? (UPDATED)

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow may have just made the same mistake that the BBC’s Jon Donnison made back in 2012, when, you likely recall, he tweeted a photo of a girl with the title “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.

However, it turned out that the genuinely heartbreaking image was actually from Syria and not from Gaza – a mistake for which Donnison subsequently apologized. 

The following was Tweeted by Jon Snow at 12:24 AM, July 24, which included a link to his blog at Mashable, in a post tiled “Will I die tonight Daddy‘?

tweet by snow

Here’s the original post at Snow’s blog (at Mashable), which the tweet linked to:

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Then, a little more than an hour later, someone Tweeted the following in response:

syria

 

Later, we saw this:

first tweet

 

Snow then deleted the photo from blog, and it now includes the following:

UPDATE 4:02AM ET: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story featured an incorrect photo.

However, the damage was already done, as the Tweet (with the original erroneous photo) went somewhat viral, garnering over 4000 mentions in 24 hours.

Interestingly, we were able to trace the original photo (the one Snow deleted) back to Getty Images, and it contains the following caption:

Injured Palestinians at the Al Shifa Hospital

 So, is the boy from Syria, as Snow claimed in his apology Tweet, or from Gaza?  

At this stage it’s unclear exactly what kind of “editing error” the Channel 4 News presenter made.

UPDATE: It get’s stranger. Snow has deleted his apology tweet, and his blog post now includes the original photo that they had taken down, and they’ve noted the following:

update

Challenge to UK media: name an army that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians

Writing in Jerusalem Post on Friday, Amotz-El noted that “twenty-seven years after its establishment in the wake of the first intifada, Hamas was in its worst strategic situation ever”.

Amotz-El elaborated:

[It lost Syria] its longtime ally and host – after having gambled on President Bashar Assad’s defeat in his country’s civil war. 

Down with Syria went its Iranian sponsor’s financial infusions and arms shipments to Gaza, and also the cheerleading of Hezbollah, which this week remained conspicuously quiet even as Gaza came under flames.

Having lost Syria, Hamas went on to lose Egypt.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s wrath at Hamas is fully shared by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, all of which also loathe any threat to the Arab world’s established regimes. Finally, Hamas managed to ruin its fledgling harmony with the Palestinian Authority, just weeks after its much-heralded announcement of a unity government with Fatah.

In short, Hamas has isolated itself so hermetically that it is shunned by monarchies and republics, Sunnis and Shi’ites, Iranians and Americans, and a world that now sees Hamas as part of a trouble-making Islamist international that runs from Nigeria through Iraq to western China.

Even Hamas’s last ally, Turkey, said little this week when the Israel Air Force pounded targets in Gaza

However, despite its diplomatic isolation, Hamas still knew it had one trump card to play: provoking a war with Israel which would result in Palestinian civilian casualties, thus eliciting positive media coverage from a compliant Western media.

As Jeffrey Goldberg observed in his recent column, in the context of trying to explain Hamas’s objectives in provoking a war:

Mahmoud Abbas, the sometimes moderate, often ineffectual leader of the Palestinian Authority, just asked his rivals in Hamas a question that other bewildered people are also asking: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”

Later in his op-ed, Goldberg provides an answer to Abbas:

Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.

Dead Palestinians represent a crucial propaganda victory for the nihilists of Hamas. It is perverse, but true. It is also the best possible explanation for Hamas’s behavior, because Hamas has no other plausible strategic goal here.

This propaganda strategy, however, is dependent on Western media groups playing along, not only by highlighting every tragic Palestinian civilian death, but by also pretending that such casualties are not the result of Hamas’s cynical strategy of using human shields and other tactics meant to maximize the number of casualties.

To boot, the following heartbreaking photo and headline appeared in the print edition of The Independent on July 12th which highlighted the tragic case of a young Palestinian girl named Mariam Al-Masery.

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The Indy journalist who wrote the story, Kim Sengupta, also addressed the broader issue relating to the number of civilian deaths, and seemed incredulous in the face of IDF “claims” that the Hamas use of human shields (and related tactics) largely explains the phenomenon.

In the story’s sixteen paragraphs, only two present the Israeli side, with almost all of the remaining text providing details of the civilians’ deaths and quotes from Palestinian expressing their outrage.

Here’s one of the two paragraphs which even tries to present the Israeli side, though it immediately dismisses Israeli claims as running counter to the evidence: 

Many residents, however, maintain that missiles and bombs aimed at the homes of militants considered legitimate targets by the Israelis have also hit neighbouring family homes. This claim would run counter to repeated insistence by the Israeli authorities that the air strikes are being carried out with surgical precision to avoid collateral damage.

Of course, this is an absurd conclusion to reach, as the fact that ‘family homes’ were hit doesn’t in any way contradict IDF claims that “air strikes are being carried out with surgical precision to avoid collateral damage”. It simply means that such homes are placed in close proximity to military targets, and that the precision IDF strikes – no matter how carefully executed – obviously can’t guarantee 100% success at avoiding hitting civilian structures.  

(It’s actually quite telling that after more than 1300 Israeli strikes on terror targets thus far during the war – in the ‘densely populated’ strip – the number of Palestinians killed, combatants and non-combatants, is roughly 120. )

Of course, if the Indy journalist wanted to write a fair account of the civilian deaths, evidence abounds of Hamas culpability, whose leaders have explicitly acknowledged their human shield policy.

Additionally, the Indy journalist could have cited videos proving that Hamas places weapons caches in civilians areas, and how carefully the IDF works to attack the terror target while avoiding harming homes, schools and clinics:

Here’s another video of a precision strike:

Humanitarian tactics employed by the IDF include dropping leaflets, placing phone calls and sending text messages to Palestinians in harm’s way, and the ‘knock on the roof’ tactic (seen above).

It’s also worth noting, in the context of such reports imputing Israeli culpability in Palestinian deaths, that the Indy has thus far failed to note that almost all of the more than 800 rocket attacks on Israeli towns since the war began have been fired at civilians – each, therefore, clearly constituting a war crime.

The real story of the war – one which the UK media won’t tell – is how Hamas uses tactics which maximize the danger to their own civilians and intentionally targets all Israeli civilians, while the IDF goes to extraordinary lengths to protect both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

On Twitter recently, we asked a source cited in a Guardian Live Blog (who had criticized as ineffective IDF tactics of warning civilians prior to an attack on a terror target) to respond to a simple question:

Name one army in the world that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians during war.

We’re still awaiting his response.

Read Adam Levick’s latest article in The Jewish Chronicle

Here are the first few paragraphs of Adam Levick’s latest article in the Jewish Chronicle:

“You have to keep an eye on who you are following on Twitter and where the picture you’re tweeting came from,” warned a BBC journalist in a short video that accompanied an article posted on BBC Trending, a section on the corporation’s website which selects stories that are popular on social media around the world.

The article was entitled, “Are #GazaUnderAttack images accurate?”, and looked at images shared on social media by pro-Palestinian activists during the current war in Gaza.

The short post focused on the above Twitter hashtag, which, the BBC noted, “has been used hundreds of thousands of times, often to distribute pictures claiming to show the effects of the air strikes”.

The BBC warned that a “BBC Trending analysis has found that some date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq”.

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday Times journo gets caught with a Twitter faxutography

Courtesy of blogger JudgeDan, here’s a tweet by Sunday Times ‘award winning’ reporter Hala Jaber:

faux

 As Dan pointed out, the photo was from the Gaza War in November 2012.

Here’s her apology:

Though not quite at the level of the fautography of the BBC’s Jon Donnison exposed by BBC Watch in 2012, Jaber’s carelessness represents more evidence of the necessity of monitor groups and citizen journalists holding journalists accountable to professional, accurate and ethical reporting within the social media and more traditional media.   

Brussels Jewish Museum shooting suspect – lessons for Europe

 Cross posted from the blog of the CST

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Miriam and Emanuel Riva, two of the Brussels victims.

On Friday 30 May, customs officials in Marseilles, southern France, arrested 29-year-old French national Mehdi Nemmouche on suspicion of having perpetrated the previous Saturday’s terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium. If this is the terrorist, then there are some blatant lessons to be learned about modern Jihadism and the security implications for Jews and non-Jews in Western Europe.

The truth is that by now, after over a decade of terror attacks and plots, from Madrid to Manchester, these lessons ought merely to be confirmed: but many people are still reluctant to accept them.

The Brussels attack occurred on Saturday 24 May and was carried out by a gunman using a pistol and an AK 47 assault rifle. CCTV images showed an unidentified man walking into the unguarded building, before he opened the museum door and shot inside, leaving three dead and another on the brink of death. The gunman then walked away. News of Nemmouche’s arrest was supplemented by statements from Belgian prosecutors and French authorities.

These were initial responses and came before Nemmouche’s initial questioning had concluded, never mind any actual trial and confirmation of guilt. Nevertheless, a summary of the current information is extremely worthwhile:

  • Nemmouche was radicalised whilst in French prison. He was jailed for robbery and spent five stints in prison. Of Muslim origin, he went from having little or no interest in Islam, to becoming a would be Jihadist radical.
  • He joined Jihadists in Syria. He left for Syria on December 31, 2012, three weeks after being released from prison.
  • In Syria, he fought with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the most radical of the Syrian Jihadist groups: more so even than Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusrah, from which it split (and to which it is now hostile). ISIS is the most popular destination for western Jihadists traveling to Syria.
  • Nemmouche returned to Europe in March 2014. (Having spent over one year in Syria.)
  • He was known to the French authorities. How closely they were monitoring him before, during or after the Brussels attack remains to be seen. He was arrested in what is described as a customs search of the coach on which he was traveling from Brussels to Marseilles. (It had originated in Amsterdam.)
  • In his luggage was found the same weapons as apparently used in the Brussels attack; a baseball hat similar to that worn by the shooter; and news cuttings about the attack.
  • The weapons were found with a white cloth bearing in Arabic the name of ISIS and “G-d is great”.
  • Nemmouche also had a Go Pro camera similar to that used by Mohamed Merah when he filmed his murderous shooting attack at the Jewish Ozar Hatorah primary school in Toulouse, France in April 2012. Nemmouche has apparently admitted that the camera was strapped to his bag so it would film the attack, but it failed to do so. In his possession, Nemmouche had a 40 second film of the weaponry, which includes someone (seemingly him, but not definitely) saying they carried out the attack.

For now, the most important lessons appear to be very obvious:

  • Europeans (including hundreds of Britons) who travel overseas to fight Jihad pose a potentially deadly terrorist threat upon their return here.
  • The lack of internal European border controls makes it easy for radicals and weaponry to travel throughout the continent.
  • Comparisons of European Jihadists with International Brigade fighters of the Spanish Civil War are misguided, dangerous nonsense.
  • Those who rushed to claim that these killings were somehow not what they appeared (such as supposed brilliant intellectual Tariq Ramadan) should have kept their biases to themselves.
  • Even if some west European commentators and politicians want to keep hiding from the ramifications of each successive Jihadist terrorist attack and plot, their local Jewish communities can have no such luxury.
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Guardian op-ed suggests that Jerusalem ‘drives’ Barack Obama’s foreign policy

The argument that Israeli leaders or pro-Israel groups in Washington drive US policy in the Mid-East represents something akin to conventional wisdom at the Guardian, and a recent op-ed in the paper by Carne Ross, about Barack Obama’s May 28th foreign policy speech, contributes to the media group’s impressive body of work in perpetuating this reactionary narrative.

Ross - a British diplomat turned political analyst, Occupy Wall Street fan and apparent Noam Chomsky enthusiast - writes the following in the section of his op-ed dealing with the Mid-East:

The Obama administration can hardly be blamed for the descent of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and much of Northern Africa into fratricidal and sectarian violence. But you can challenge it for supporting the Al-Sisi regime in Egypt, the repressive behavior of which tragically mimics that of Mubarak, who was the perfect recruiting sergeant for al-Qaida. As Egypt drifts into a persistent low-level civil war, and thousands of Muslim Brothers are imprisoned with barely the pretense of judicial process, the soil is being fertilized for yet another generation of anti-Western terrorists.

There’s a legitimate suspicion that US foreign policy on this front is not being driven by America’s own needs. Even Obama said as much

Then, to buttress his claim, Ross quotes a small excerpt from Obama’s May 28th speech:

In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism.

However, as you can see, Obama is certainly not acknowledging, as Ross suggests, that his administration’s foreign policy “is NOT being driven by America’s own needs”. The president is merely saying that his administration’s policy is driven by US security interests in the region – the desire to maintain peace between historic adversaries and the effort to fight violent extremism.

Next, Ross contextualizes – and grossly distorts – the Obama excerpt further:

Indeed, Israel prefers “stability” in Egypt – just as it resists military intervention in Syria or significant game-changing arms supplies, like MANPADs, to the pro-democracy Syrian opposition.

First, Israel has not resisted US military intervention in Syria, and indeed openly supported possible US strikes against Syrian defense capabilities (in response to Assad’s chemical weapons attack against civilians) last year.  

Additionally, Israeli and US opposition to MANPADs (sophisticated shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles – or SAMs) is not, as Ross suggests, driven by fear that such “game changing weapons” will get in the hands of “the pro-democracy Syrian opposition”, but is driven by concerns that these SAMs will eventually get in hands of non-democratic extremists like Hezbollah or jihadists groups.

Moreover, even if there is a significant degree of overlap between Israeli and US interests in the Mid-East, policy agreements between two countries are of course not evidence of causation.

Indeed, perhaps someone should remind Ross of the painfully obvious fact that Barack Obama is the President of the United States, and that it is Obama and his advisers – not political leaders in Jerusalem – who determine US foreign policy, based on what they determine to be, rightly or wrongly, “America’s own needs”.

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Fighting the caricature that spawned the boycott threat

The following essay was written by Roslyn Pine and first published at the Jewish News

The President and Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews  recently commented on how the Diaspora should deal with the threat of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) following the refusal of the Methodists to reject it, and how to influence the Israelis and PA “to make the difficult concessions necessary for a lasting peace”.

Their Panglossian sentiment that peace will come when we engage in “bridge building” between Palestinians and Israelis doesn’t address the problem any more than would treating a very sick patient with paracetamol.

Enormous efforts towards reconciliation and peace have been expended by Israel and world Jewry for decades, only to be rewarded by hatred and a denial of the national, religious and historic rights of the Jewish people to its nation-state in its ancient homeland.

Numerous acts of outreach by Israelis towards Palestinians and disaster relief abroad are viewed with cold indifference by those promoting BDS of ‘apartheid’ Israel, because their ultimate goal is the demise of the Jewish state. Who acknowledges, for example, the ongoing dangerous Israeli rescue of Syrians caught up in the civil war, or the generosity of many Jewish charities for this cause?

So what to do?

We need a structured educational programme to negate the grotesque caricature that has spawned BDS, namely, that Israel is a colonial enterprise committed to the usurping of an indigenous, powerless third-world people.

We must teach that the wellspring of Israel’s sovereignty and legitimacy in international law derives from the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920 (recognising the Balfour Declaration), as does that of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, following the WWI settlement. It was supplemented by the Mandate for Palestine of July 1922, and the Franco British Boundary Convention of December 1920, all binding to the present day.

We should emphasise that Israel behind the Green Line sits on just 8,000 square miles, 17 percent originally allotted to it, while the 21 countries of the Arab League occupy more than five million square miles, almost double that of the United States.

The mantra of “illegal settlements” must be exposed as a dishonest device to prevent Jews from living in land designated for Jewish sovereignty, defying Article Six of the Mandate for Palestine, the provisions of which are still binding.

As the eminent American jurist Eugene Rostow ruled in 1967: “The Jewish right of settlement in Palestine, west of the Jordan River, was made unassailable” by the Mandate, and “has never been nullified”. Other international jurists, like Stephen Schwebel, came to the same conclusion on the ground that the West Bank had itself been illegally occupied previously.

Such an educational programme must reach universities, the press and government bodies and demands a concise, memorable and convincing message. Additionally, the use of existing legislation in the UK and elsewhere regarding boycotts should be increasingly deployed by experienced lawyers to counter them.

Future negotiations must be dependent on the deletion from The Palestine Charter of articles calling for the destruction of Israel, characterising its creation an illegal act and denying any Jewish connection to Palestine. It was promised in the past, but never delivered.

There should be intense lobbying of the EU whose largesse, courtesy of our taxes, helps fund the PA, that such humanitarian aid be conditional on the cessation of the incessant stream of hate-filled PA propaganda against Israelis and Jews in its media and schools, poisoning the minds of every generation. It should come as no surprise that reliable surveys among Palestinians demonstrate that a majority supports the two-state solution only as a conduit towards a unitary state of Palestine replacing Israel.

Ben Gurion’s legacy of standing firm in 1949 against intolerable threats from President Truman to “give up land for peace” including “occupied West Jerusalem and the Negev” should serve as a reminder to our leaders that, in rejecting this formula, he delivered peace for many years.

Following the War of Independence when the Jews prevailed against six invading Arab armies, the resultant armistice line (the Green Line) represented an area 40 percent greater than that allocated to the Jews under the illegitimate 1947 UN Partition Plan. Ben Gurion enacted legislation to incorporate the liberated land into Israel, which today everyone accepts as Israel proper.

As US Ambassador to Israel, James McDonald recorded, Ben Gurion’s determined stance ushered in a strong strategic relationship between the two future allies (“My Mission in Israel 1948-1951”). The rest is history.

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Did Mahmoud Abbas outrage Syria’s Palestinian refugees by waiving their right to live?

Mahmoud Abbas outrages Palestinian refugees by waiving his right to return‘ screamed the Guardian headline accompanying a November, 2012 report by Harriet Sherwood.  

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Sherwood explained that Abbas was “facing widespread condemnation” in ‘Palestine’ and abroad “after he publicly waived his right of return” – a repudiation, she added, which is “of huge significance for Palestinian refugees”.

She then wrote the following:

After his image was burned in refugee camps in Gaza, Abbas rejected accusations that he had conceded one of the most emotional and visceral issues on the Palestinian agenda, the demand by millions of refugees to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.

He insisted that comments made in an interview with an Israeli television channel were selectively quoted and the remarks were his personal stance, rather than a change of policy.

Abbas told Channel 2 he accepted he had no right to live in Safed, the town of his birth, from which his family was forced to flee in 1948 when Abbas was 13.

The comments sparked protests in Gaza, where people in refugee camps burned images of the Palestinian president. Abbas was denounced on Twitter by pro-Palestinian activists.

This story came to mind when Elder of Ziyon reminded us of news a couple of months later (which the Guardian didn’t cover) that Abbas rejected Israel’s conditional agreement to allow thousands of Palestinian refugees from war-torn Syria to resettle in the West Bank and Gaza.

AP reported the following on Jan. 10, 2013:

The Palestinian president said he has rejected a conditional Israeli offer to let Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria resettle in the West Bank and Gaza, charging it would compromise their claims to return to lost homes in Israel.

Abbas said he asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon last month to seek Israeli permission to bring Palestinians caught in Syria’s civil war to the Palestinian territories. The request came after fighting between Syrian troops and rebel fighters in Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. About half of the camp’s 150,000 residents have fled, according to a U.N. aid agency.

Abbas told a group of Egyptian journalists in Cairo late Wednesday that Ban contacted Israel on his behalf.

Abbas said Ban was told Israel “agreed to the return of those refugees to Gaza and the West Bank, but on condition that each refugee … sign a statement that he doesn’t have the right of return (to Israel).”

Finally, AP noted Abbas’s chilling response:

So we rejected that and said it’s better they die in Syria than give up their right of return,” Abbas told the group.

Think about this for a moment.  

The Palestinian leader rejected a deal to save the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians caught in an orgy of violence and deprivation in a neighboring country because they would (reportedly) have been forced to relinquish their ‘right of return’.  

According to Abbas’s own words, he’d rather let them die.

First, as we’ve demonstrated previously, the overwhelming majority of ‘Palestinian refugees’ aren’t even refugees but, rather, are the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived in historic Palestine. (Indeed, the number of actual Palestinian refugees from the Arab-Israeli War who are still alive, out of the initial 710,000 or so, is estimated to be roughly 30,000.)

Additionally, everyone – including Abbas – of course knows that, in the event a final status agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel will, at most, only allow a few thousand Palestinian ‘refugees’ in total into Israel – as a symbolic gesture meant facilitate an end to the conflict.

So, here are two questions:

  1. Are Palestinians in Syria and throughout the Middle East – as well as their mouthpieces in the media - outraged by the fact that the Palestinian President decided that tens of thousands of Syrians of Palestinian descent should rather die than give up on the chimera that they will, one day, “return” to a land where they have never lived?
  2. Can anyone at this point refute the argument made at this blog and elsewhere that those keeping the ‘Palestinian refugee issue’ alive are engaged in a supremely cynical exercise meant to demonize Israel, and are not even remotely concerned with the actual welfare of Palestinian refugees and their descendants?

We’re not holding our breath for some sort of mea culpa from pro-Palestinian activists, but we can at least hope that those sympathetic to the cause of ‘Palestine’ will remember Abbas’s cold indifference to the lives of Syria’s Palestinians the next time he waxes eloquently on the plight of the ‘refugees’.

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Guardian fails to reveal that Brit arrested for terror is ‘Comment is Free’ contributor

As we first learned from Guido Fawkes, Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who became a spokesman for the “human rights” group Cageprisoners, was arrested by British police on Tuesday morning for terror offences which he is alleged to have committed in Syria.

Begg is widely believed by American intelligence officials to have been a jihadist involved with Al-Qaida and reportedly attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the UK “so he could assist in waging jihad against enemies of Islam.”  Begg reportedly assisted several prominent terrorists, recruited young operatives for jihad and provided financial support for terror camps.

AdditionallyBegg is believed to have been associated with the radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki, the senior al Qaeda recruiter who was involved with planning operations for the group, and later killed by U.S. forces.  Al Awlaki helped motivate at least three terrorist attacks inside the U.S. (Begg’s group actually lobbied to free Al Awlaki from Yemeni custody after he was detained in 2006, broadcast his live messages and reproduced his propaganda on their website.) 

Begg – who, you may recall, was promoted by the NGO Amnesty International - is also a frequent contributor to the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’, having penned 20 essays at the site since 2006, most of which were aimed at casting himself as an innocent victim of US and British intolerance and Islamophobia. 

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Interestingly, the Guardian’s report on Begg’s arrest by  (Moazzam Begg among four arrested in Birmingham terror raids, Feb. 25) didn’t even note this extremely inconvenient relationship.

While we don’t yet know the details of Begg’s alleged terror activity in Syria, if it turns out that he was fighting for jihadists it wouldn’t be at all surprising.  

As we’ve demonstrated previously, the Guardian is a media group which often promotes and defends Islamist extremists, and frequently welcomes into their ‘ ‘liberal’ salon ‘demopaths‘ such as Begg – those who cynically exploit the language of democracy when it serves their interests, and demand stringent levels of human “rights” of the West yet don’t apply these basic standards to their own behavior.

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American Studies Association ‘boycott Israel’ motion: The Justification

Here’s the 3rd post on the proposed ASA boycott, by Jon from DivestThis! (Here’s part 1 & part 2)

ASAProbably the most embarrassing part of the entire ASA boycott debate is the response of those defending a choice to flush devotion to academic freedom down the toilet for the sake of one (and only one) political pet peeve.

Long-time BDS watchers will recognize the well-rehearsed responses to typical questions about why an organization is choosing to target one nation and one nation only for boycott vs. targeting nations with far worse human rights records (which pretty much includes every nation supporting the BDS “movement”). 

First you’ve got the pre-digested word-blobs that seem to get trotted out whenever BDS selective morality is brought into question.  My favorite is the one about how the boycotters would gladly respond to any call if it came from members of non-Palestinian civil society organizations (implying that the best way to avoid the wrath of the morally perfect is to actually be a totalitarian government that crushes civil society, rather than one which lets it exist to organize global boycott campaigns).

And whenever these and all the other hypocrisies and inconsistencies are exposed (not to mention the truncated arguments and outright fabrications that fill the BDSer’s bill of indictment), the next automatic set of responses include:

  • Ignoring critics and pretending that smashed arguments were never responded to
  • Flooding the airwaves with pictures and stories of Palestinian broken children (even if some of those photos need to be imported from Syria) in hope to elicit an emotional response from the audience that will overwhelm reason
  • Claiming (falsely) that any argument against a boycott boils down to nothing but accusations of anti-Semitism

The thing is, when years ago I summed up the various defenses and responses you are now seeing used by the ASA leadership and its supporters as a blast shield against legitimate criticism, I was thinking about them in the context of how undergraduates use these tactics when making their case to other undergrads on a college campus.  But in the case of the ASA, it is not just grownups using the same tired strategies to avoid the debate they set in motion, but college professors who allegedly represent the virtues of open-mindedness, critical thinking and the importance of following evidence and inquiry wherever it leads.

In other words, the people claiming that their role as scholars gives them and their proposed boycott special meaning have chosen to act like garden variety propagandists – hiding facts, substituting gut emotion for rational debate, limiting rather than encouraging inquiry and debate – to get what they want.  And if they manage to eke out a victory, they will immediately try to use the virtues of scholarship they had so recently jettisoned to give their decision extra moral weight.

As this story plays out, don’t forget that nothing is preventing any ASA members from writing and saying anything they like about the Arab-Israeli conflict or joining a group dedicated to defaming the Jewish state.  But that’s not what they want, is it?  For a professor speaking in his own name is just a partisan individual who can be judged based on the strength and honesty of his or her arguments. 

But get a boycott passed by an organization (by any means necessary) and suddenly those partisans can claim to speak in the name of every man and woman in the association and, by extension, the field (if not the academy as a whole).  In other words, getting a voting majority (which may very well constitute a membership minority) to pass a boycott will allow a group of single-issue partisans to punch considerably above their weight, the needs of the association and the profession be damned.

As with other equally ill-conceived campaigns, Israel will survive this particular flaccid string and blunt arrow.  But I’m not sure the same thing can be said regarding the American Studies Association.

 

Guardian columnist blames the persecution of Mid-East Christians on Israel’s creation

Yes, the Guardian’s religion blogger Andrew Brown really did blame Israel for the Arab persecution of Christians in the Arab Middle East.

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Here are the relevant passages in his latest post on former president George W. Bush’s recent work with a group of Messianic Jews: 

…there is widespread confusion among evangelicals about whether Israel is really a kind of America overseas – a recent poll for the Pew Foundation found that twice as many American Evangelicals as American Jews were unwavering in their support for Israel. This is something that successive Israeli governments have deliberately cultivated.

But the links between Zionism and Christianity go much further and deeper than that. The conversion of the Jews, and their restoration to Jerusalem, was a great enthusiasm among English evangelicals in Victorian times. Barbara Tuchman’s marvelous book Bible And Sword chronicles some of the consequences.

It’s fair to say that without the belief of Victorian upper class evangelical Englishmen – almost exactly the equivalents of George W Bush – there never would have been a Balfour Declaration. And without that declaration, there could not have been the Jewish immigration to Palestine that laid the foundations for the state of Israel.

Some people will see this as an example of the destructive craziness of religion, and perhaps it is, but it is also an example of the way in which theology is only powerful and important when it is wrapped up in identity. Because if there is one group that has suffered as a result of the establishment of the state of Israel and its support by Western Christian countries, it is the historic Christians of the Middle East – who are now the victims of persecution throughout the region and scapegoats of an angry nationalism.

Whilst Brown’s characterization of the foundation of Zionism and the establishment of Israel is completely ahistorical, the magnitude of Brown’s fabrication regarding the cause of anti-Christian racism in the modern Middle East is simply difficult to comprehend. 

Christians are facing systemic persecution throughout the Arab and Muslim Middle East to the point where studies have predicted that “Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands”, or will at least “effectively disappear from the region as a cultural and political force within our lifetime”.  As The Telegraph commented on a recent study by the think-tank Civitas, “the most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam”. The report estimates that “between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.”  Some 2 million Christians have reportedly fled in the past 20 years alone.

Such racist oppression against the beleaguered Christians occurs daily in countries such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq – as well as in Palestinian controlled cities in the West Bank.  

Of course, the one country in the region where the Christian population is growing in total numbers is Israel.

Yet, the Guardian blogger not only ignores this statistical evidence, but views the disturbing news broadcast daily of Coptic churches being burned, Christians arrested for ‘blasphemy’, and clergy kidnapped and killed in Muslim dominated countries in the region, and somehow sees the root cause in Israel’s very creation.  

As Walid Phares, a Lebanese-American scholar who advises the U.S. on issues related to terrorism, said at a conference on protecting Christians in the Middle East in 2012 sponsored by CAMERA, the plight of religious and ethnic minorities in Muslim and Arab majority countries in the region is ignored due in part to political correctness, cultural relativism and a malign obsession with Israel.

In the future when we cite examples of how antisemitism manifests itself in unusual ways at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, Brown’s astonishing moral inversion, in which Muslims persecute Christians but Jews are still to blame, will be near the top of our list.

‘Comment is Free’ claim on Bibi’s ‘opposition’ to Syria peace begins to unravel

Yesterday we critiqued an essay at ‘Comment is Free’ (‘In the Middle East, the prize of peace is now there for the taking‘, Oct. 17which somehow managed to assign at least partial blame for the continuing wars and violence in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere in the region to Israel and its supporters.

cifWhilst we spent most of our response refuting the broad narrative of the ‘CiF’ commentary – jointly written by three former UN officials, including the Ahmadinejad-supporting Marxist who served as Daniel Ortega’s foreign minister – there was a specific claim about Netanyahu’s alleged opposition to peace in Syria which appears to be totally erroneous.

Here are the relevant passages:

There are signs that the situation is changing. First, the British and then the American people and their representatives rejected a new war in Syria. Russia, the US and Syria reached an agreement over Syria’s chemical weapons. US president Barack Obama is making moves towards honest negotiations with Iran, and the EU’s foreign policy chief and Iran’s foreign minister judged talks just concluded in Geneva as “substantive and forward-looking”.
All these developments should be pursued with the utmost energy. The planned second Geneva conference on Syria must include all internal and external parties to the conflict if it is to constitute an important step towards finding a solution to the tragedy of that war-torn country.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his supporters are staunchly opposed to these moves towards peace.

So, there are two issues raised by the authors regarding Syria: the chemical weapons deal, and the upcoming peace conference in Geneva.

First, Bibi’s response to the Syrian chemical weapons deal was certainly cautious, but there is nothing to suggest he ever opposed it. Indeed, most media outlets reported that the prime minister gave his cautious support to the deal.  Even the Guardian reported at the time that Netanyahu said that the “deal between the US and Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons must be judged on whether it achieves ‘complete destruction’ of the arsenal.”  

So, while it would be accurate to characterize Bibi’s response as cautious or guarded – or even as representing ‘qualified’ support – it is erroneous to suggest, per the ‘CiF’ contributors, that he “opposed” the deal.

Second, regarding the proposed Geneva Peace Conference (tentatively scheduled for late Nov.), upon searching for a source to back of the authors’ claim we were unable to find any report suggesting that Netanyahu is “staunchly opposed” to the proposed Syria peace conference, or that he’s taken a clear position on it either way.  

In light of the dearth of information online regarding his position on the Geneva conference, we contacted the Prime Minister’s office directly to inquire about their official position, and were informed by a spokesperson that they have not taken an official position on the matter.

It appears as if the strong suggestion at ‘Comment is Free’ that Bibi opposes Syria peace talks is completely without merit.

Finally, the apparent inaccuracy of these two particular claims likely don’t represent merely an honest mistake by Messrs. DEscoto Brockmann, Halliday, and Von Sponeck but, more likely, an intentional obfuscation which serves to advance the desired narrative of a war-mongering Israeli state and it’s equally belligerent Zionist supporters in the diaspora.

As we’ve demonstrated previously when critiquing the paper’s Middle East “analyses”, when facts clash with the desired Guardian narrative on Israel, the latter wins out over the former nearly every time.

‘Comment is Free’: The West’s militarism inspired by “blind support for Israel”

An Oct. 17 essay at ‘Comment is Free’ titled ‘In the Middle East, the prize of peace is now there for the taking not only assigns partial blame for the wars in the Middle East to Israel and its supporters, but takes the imputation of Israeli responsibility a step further, risibly evoking the Roman destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE to illustrate Zionist villainy.

The essay was jointly written by  (Former UN assistant secretary-general and participant in the 2010 Gaza ‘Freedom Flotilla‘) (former UN assistant secretary-general) and , the Sandinista-style Marxist  (and president of the UN general assembly between 2008 and 2009) who previously served as Daniel Ortega’s foreign minister.

Brockmann has an especially noteworthy anti-Zionist pedigree, one forged in part by his response to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hate-filled diatribe in front of the General Assembly in 2008 which evoked classic racist canards of Jewish domination. Ahmadinejad’s conspiratorial speech – which accused “Zionists” of “dominating an important portion of the financial…centers [and] political decision-making centers of…the US in a deceitful…manner” - may have earned him wide scorn, but also the warm embrace of Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann

Brockmann embraces Ahmadinejad after his 2008 UN speech.

The ‘CiF’ commentary by Brockmann and his co-contributors addresses the issue of how peace in Middle East conflict zones can be realized and begins by noting how peace has been achieved elsewhere in recent history:

In 1973 Nixon and Henry Kissinger signed the Paris accords that put an official end to the US war in Vietnam. A decade before that, John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev resolved the Cuban missile crisis by, on the Soviet side, withdrawing missiles from Cuba, and, on the US side, by promising not to attack Cuba and withdrawing missiles from Turkey.

These events changed the course of history away from endless confrontation and the risk of global war.

..

Peace is not something to be made between friends but between adversaries. It is based on a recognition of reality. When countries or ideologies are in conflict, there are only two issues: total destruction of one side, as with Rome and Carthage, or peace and negotiations.

So, there are really only two choices: “total destruction of one side, as with Rome and Carthage, or peace and negotiations“.  

Brockmann and his co-contributors continue:

All these developments should be pursued with the utmost energy. The planned second Geneva conference on Syria must include all internal and external parties to the conflict if it is to constitute an important step towards finding a solution to the tragedy of that war-torn country. The unjust sanctions against Iran, as in the earlier case of Iraq, are severely punishing the population and must be lifted as soon as possible.

Who stands in the way of diplomatic solutions to these problems? Brockmann and his co-contributors explain:

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his supporters are staunchly opposed to these moves towards peace.

Other than the Israeli Prime Minister, what is the primary obstacle to achieving similar peaceful results throughout the Middle East? Brockmann and his co-contributors elaborate:

During recent decades, when it comes to the Middle East, the west has forgotten the very notion of diplomacy. Instead, it has followed the line of “total destruction of the enemy“, whether Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, the Assad regime in Syria or the Islamic Republic of Iran. That line has been based on ideology: a mixture of human rights fundamentalism and blind support for the “only democracy in the region”, Israel.

So, the West’s failure to pursue diplomacy in the Middle East (in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Libya), and their adoption instead of an ethos of “total destruction of the enemy” is based, in large measure, on “blind support for…Israel.”

According to these ‘CiF’ contributors, Israel and its blind supporters in the West are in the ‘Roman destruction of Carthage’ camp.

Up to 110,000 have been killed in Arab on Arab violence in Syria since 2011, thousands of Iraqis continue to die as the result of Islamist inspired terror attacks which continue to ravage the country, and ‘Comment is Free’ contributors look around the region and see the ideological footprint of Zionism.

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann is a Marxist ideologue – whose ‘special advisors‘ as UN president included Noam Chomsky and Richard Falk – so the extreme nature of the commentary he co-authored is not surprising. However, the licensing of such hateful anti-Zionist agitprop by ‘Comment is Free’ editors again demonstrates how the Guardian continues to make mockery of their claim to represent ‘liberal’ values.

Note to Gary Younge: The year 2002 called, and they want their Ha’aretz link back!

Gary Younge, a Guardian feature writer, didn’t focus his latest essay at ‘Comment is Free’ on Israel but, rather, on the potential U.S. military intervention in Syria. Nonetheless, Younge, in opining against an American attack against Bashar al-Assad, based largely on what he claims is the nation’s moral hypocrisy, couldn’t help but add this throwaway line about the ‘truculent’ Zionists he’s taken aim at in the past:

The problem for America in all of this is that its capacity to impact diplomatic negotiations is limited by the fact that its record of asserting its military power stands squarely at odds with its pretensions of moral authority. 

Its chief ally in the region, Israel, holds the record for ignoring UN resolutions,

Whilst it’s difficult to take seriously those, like Younge, who don’t understand the endemic and obsessive anti-Zionist bias at the United Nations (and UN Human Rights Council), I was nonetheless curious about Israel’s ‘world record’ of snubbing the esteemed international club of despots, and so opened the link in the passage highlighted.

Here’s where it takes you:

2002

The Ha’aretz report, citing a “study” on Israel’s refusal to heed the advice of many countries hostile to its very existence (written by an apologist for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad named Stephen Zunes), is eleven years old.

Whilst, relatedly, we have been indeed noticing a greater tendency by Guardian contributors to use actual links in support of their often fantastical allegations about Israel, as we revealed recently about Glenn Greenwald (who tried to hoodwink readers into believing that President Obama intentionally kills Muslim civilians), the links they use often don’t even minimally buttress their claims.

In Gary Younge’s case, we’d humbly recommend that, when assaulting Israel’s legitimacy in the future, he should attempt to cite sources which are more recent than, say, 2002!

Tripod: CAMERA links in 3 languages, Sept. 1-9. BBC Watch, Presspectiva, In Focus and ReVista

Our regular roundup of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

Sept. 4-9

Toned down BBC reporting on Iranian, Syrian threats against Israel
Despite its intensive coverage of the Syria crisis, the BBC is barely reporting threats against Israel coming out of Tehran and Damascus. (BBC Watch)

Filmed reports on the BBC News website’s Middle East page in August
Over half the Israel-related filmed reports appearing on the BBC News website during August promoted the theme of Israeli building as an obstacle to peace . (BBC Watch)

Our CCAP groups are starting the new year tabling on campus
Scroll down to see photos. (In Focus)

Parallel Manual of Style
The Spanish news agency Europa Press Israeli police raids are “reprisals” instead of operations to find those responsible for a crime or an offense. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Anti-Israel Professors at Northeastern
Students are studying in a biased and anti-Israel climate created by their professors. A new documentary is coming out soon exploring this issue. (In Focus)

Ma’ariv Proves It Can Be Haaretz
Maariv gives a one-sided (and erroneous) summary of the case of fire zone 918 (Presspectiva)

Middle East in the Spanish speaking press
The press points out the possibility of a chemical attack from Syria to Israel but, at the same time, emphasizes Syria’s decision to deliver their chemical arsenal to the UN. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The Guardian again promotes myth that Ariel Sharon started 2nd Intifada
One of the more common false narratives regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict advanced by the Guardian is that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in 2001 “sparked” the 2nd Intifada – a lie repeated so often that casual observers could be forgiven for believing it.. (CiF Watch)

Sept. 1-4

BBC defence correspondent: Al Kibar was a ‘suspected’ nuclear facility
The International Atomic Energy Agency says it was. US intelligence says it was. The BBC, however, is apparently not convinced. (BBC Watch)

BBC ESC: ‘lack of due accuracy’ on Davies Tweet from Operation Pillar of Cloud
Twitter – being fast-moving ‘instant’ messaging and cutting out the editorial ‘middle-man’ between the journalist and the public – is particularly susceptible to breaches of BBC editorial guidelines. (BBC Watch)

Robert Fisk finds Zionist smoking gun in likely U.S. attack against Syria
Before the U.S. has launched even one cruise missile against Syria in response to the regime’s use of deadly chemical weapons, the Indy’s Robert Fisk has already concluded that such an attack would be motivated by Zionist interests. (CiF Watch)

Haaretz Translators Are Back in the Habit
A Haaretz mistranslation turns a visiting Syrian nun from an Israeli fan to an Israeli critic (Presspectiva)

Lets Try Sticking To Facts
Haaretz op-ed falsely claims Netanyahu has never condemned racially motivated violence. (Presspectiva)

Palestinians Support Caterpillar
The BDS campaign calls for boycotting companies such as Caterpillar, while Caterpillar dealerships do business in Gaza and Ramallah. (In Focus)

Middle East in the Spanish speaking press
The press points out that “all the alarms” have been started in the region due to Israel’s military exercise, but not because of Syria’s internal turmoil. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)