Harriet Sherwood wants Israeli Jews to feel the ‘pain’ of exclusion

A few hours before the Israeli government was set to approve a new deal with the Palestinians to extend peace talks till 2015 – which involved the release of the final batch of pre-Oslo prisoners,  hundreds of additional prisoners and a partial curb in construction beyond the green line – the Palestinians signed letters seeking acceptance to 15 UN treaties and conventions, reneging on their agreement of July 2013 to refrain from making unilateral moves. 

The last-minute breakdown throws the possibility that talks will proceed past the April 29 deadline into serious doubt, and was followed by additional Palestinian demands. These include Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, the release of 1,200 more prisoners (including Marwan Barghouti), a complete cessation of settlement construction, the imposition of PA sovereignty over Area C, a halt to Israeli anti-terror operations in PA-controlled territories, and a lifting the arms blockade on Gaza.

Anyone who’s been closely following negotiations would understand that Palestinians were counting down the days until the April 29 deadline when they would be free to execute what Jerusalem Post correspondent Herb Kenion refers to as their Plan B – waging diplomatic warfare against Israel to isolate it, delegitimize it, and eventually force it through international pressure to give in to their maximalist demands.

Such a plan of political warfare is largely inspired by what’s known as the Durban Strategy, a declaration adopted in the 2001 NGO Forum of the UN’s Durban conference. The Durban campaign – itself the political successor to the Arab boycott launched in 1945, three years before Israeli statehood – featured numerous expressions of antisemitism, focused on labeling Israel an ‘apartheid state’ guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘genocide’, and ‘war crimes’”, and adopted a resolution calling for the “complete and total isolation of Israel…the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, [and] the full cessation of all links between all states and Israel.”  

What’s known today as the modern BDS movement – which singles out the Jewish state, alone among the family of nations, for a coordinated campaign of boycotts, sanctions, divestment and social exclusion – was essentially born on that day.

Though the Guardian’s coverage of the region has consistently legitimized, amplified and provided succor the BDS movement, an op-ed published at ‘Comment is Fee’ (A boycott can jolt Israelis from their somnolence on Palestine, April 4) explicitly endorsing BDS was noteworthy in that it wasn’t written by an anti-Zionist activist, but rather by one of their ‘serious journalists’ – their outgoing Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood.

To those of us familiar with Sherwood’s brand of activist journalism, it is not at all surprising that she has expressed her support for BDS, nor that – despite glaring evidence attesting to Palestinian refusal to budge on vital topics such as the long-term final agreement issues of refugees, mutual recognition, or even the demand that a final peace agreement include an end to all Palestinian claims against Israel – would be ignored.

What largely stands out in her polemical attack is the contempt she seems to possess for average Israelis.  While she has eloquently expressed her affection for Palestinians, Israeli Jews – even after all this time in the country - clearly seem to stand beyond the limits of her imaginative sympathy. 

The op-ed – illustrated with photo of privileged Israelis “soaking up the sun on a Tel Aviv beach”, oblivious to “the daily grind experienced by more than 4 million Palestinians” – begins by citing a few recent BDS victories before contending that BDS, in protest of its “47-year occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza”, is gathering steam.  Sherwood repeats a quote by Israel’s prime minister which attacked Europe and its “dark history” and demanded that “the boycotters must be exposed for what they are… classical antisemites in modern garb”, to which the Guardian journalist responds:

“This is a serious charge, and one that causes deep discomfort to many who want to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government over its policies towards the Palestinians, but who also vigorously oppose antisemitism in any form. Opposing the occupation does not equate to antisemitism or a rejection of Jews’ right to, and need for, a homeland. The repeated accusation of antisemitism does not make it true, however frequently it is leveled by those who defend Israel unconditionally.”

Of course, Sherwood – who has never, in nearly four years of covering the region, addressed the issue of the extreme (and quite real) expressions of Judeophobia within Palestinian society – fails to explain why precisely the “accusations of antisemitism” against boycott advocates who often defend Palestinians unconditionally, are unfair.  And, though she draws a distinction between BDS advocates who merely support boycotting ‘settlement’ goods and those who call for a complete boycott of the state, she doesn’t acknowledge that those who support the latter approach largely reject the right of the state to exist within any borders.

Finally, Sherwood writes about the increasing frustration felt “by Israel’s intransigence…and the failure of the international community to back up critical words with meaningful actions”, before concluding that “only when Israeli citizens and institutions feel the consequences of their government’s policies will they force change from within”.  She argues that Israelis are “shielded from the [daily grind] of occupation”, before reaching the conclusion that “economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium” will surely force Israelis “to take notice”.

First, like so many journalists covering the conflict, Sherwood seems to take as a given the benign nature of Palestinian intentions despite so much evidence to the contrary, and doesn’t acknowledge that Israelis overwhelmingly support two-states for two peoples while refusing to ignore the failure of previous ‘land for peace’ guarantees and, therefore, remaining skeptical that the creation of a Palestinian state will actually bring peace.

More pertinent to the theme in Sherwood’s op-ed, Israelis – and most Jews around the world – indeed view current calls to exclude Israeli Jews from the international community in the context of the dark history of such measures.  Such Jews naturally question the motivation of sophisticated (putatively progressive) Europeans who see the unimaginable violence and brutality meted out to Arabs by other Arabs in the Middle East – which includes the systemic violation of the rights of women, gays and political dissidents, and (in some cases) industrial-scale killing and torture – and yet believe that the only country whose citizens deserve to be boycotted just so happens to be the only one with a Jewish majority.

The duplicity of pro-Palestinian activists is represented not merely by the manner in which they gain support from the liberal-left despite the decidedly illiberal nature of the Palestinian national movement, nor the way they promote an understanding of the dispute which conflates cause (the more than 70 year Arab war against the Jewish state) with effect (the territorial dispute which only came about as the result of that war).  No; their supreme deceit relates to how they manage to convince so many within the opinion elite that – unlike every other time in history - this time those campaigning for the exclusion of Jewish professionals, academics and artists are morally justified; that this time a small community of Jews can truly represent an organic obstacle to peace and progress; that this time it truly is malevolent Jewish behavior that brings about measures singling out Jews for opprobrium and sanction.

However, though many Zionists are secular, most thankfully are imbued with a rich and edifying tradition which explains that ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; and there is nothing new under the sun’.  Try as they may, no degree of sophistry employed by boycott proponents can possibly convince us to accept the supremacy of the au courant morality over the ethics of our fathers, to not see this latest political attack through the lens of Jewish history, nor to avoid reaching the conclusion that - as in every generation – resistance to their assault will be fierce and, in time, succeed.

‘This too shall pass’. 

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Malice through the looking glass: What if Israel behaved like other Mid-East nations?

A guest post by Joe Geary

NEWS: Middle East

Good evening.

In the usual weekly display of anti-Iranian feeling, thousands of Israelis poured into the streets of Tel Aviv after Saturday prayers, chanting “Death to Iran, Death to Islam” and burning effigies of President Rouhani and John Kerry.

We are hearing reports of several dead and dozens injured as five Christian churches have been attacked and set on fire by a Jewish mob in central Jerusalem after allegations that an Israeli Christian claimed to be the Prophet Moses. The man was arrested before he could be lynched. Doctors say he suffers from severe mental problems but could still face stoning if found guilty under Israel’s strict blasphemy laws.

Scenes of jubilation, music mingling with gunshots,  were witnessed all over the Israeli town of Ashdod as Mr Avi Sand returned there after serving four years in prison for murdering an entire Arab family, including two young children and a three-month old baby. The town’s Mayor declared a Day of Celebration for his return. Flowers and sweets were distributed among the children in his honour. His poster could be seen on walls alongside other celebrated Israeli militants who had killed Arab civilians in recent years.

The Israeli Prime Minister has reiterated yet again his firm line on the fate of Muslims in the future state of Israel, following any successfully negotiated two-State peace talks. “Muslims have no right to live on this side of the border” he told the collected journalists. “We will not tolerate a single Arab on the Holy soil of Israel. Israel must be Muslim-frei.”

An Education Ministry inspection of a number of Jewish schools has revealed that Jewish children as young as five are routinely being taught not only that the whole of Palestine belongs to the Jews, but also that the Arabs who live there are descended from pigs and apes. A spokesman for the Ministry told the press: “They are only innocent animal stories for children, a bit like Aesop’s Fables”.

A group of Arab NGOs, the Red Crescent and UNWRA issued a joint statement today condemning the continued firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian centres, which they described as “war crimes”. “We deplore not only the loss of life but the terrible psychological trauma inflicted in particular on the children by these constant acts of barbarity”, a spokesman told us.  Along with a number of sympathetic Western NGOs such as War on Want and Save the Children, they are documenting crimes against civilians which will help bring a case against Hamas at The Hague of preaching genocide.

In other news, the UN is expected later today to pass a motion condemning fifteen Arab states for human rights abuses including the enslavement of foreign workers, religious and gender apartheid and the widespread, indiscriminate use of torture and the death penalty.  The Head of the Arab League was heard earlier to remark: “They have us bang to rights. All this has being going on for far too long. Well, forever, actually. It has to stop.”

And finally, on a lighter note, several witnesses are claiming to have seen what they describe as a pig slowly flapping its wings over the offices of the BBC and the Guardian newspaper in central London.

Well, some people will believe anything, won’t they?

Good night.

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Guardian editor struggles with Jewish Geography, but puts ‘Israeli hawks’ back in Jerusalem

On Nov. 18 we reminded readers that until the summer of 2012 the Guardian’s Style Guide stated that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel - a shamefully false claim which was only officially retracted by their editors after a complaint was filed with the PCC.  We noted this quintessentially Guardianesque misinformation in response to a recent report by their Middle East editor, Ian Black, titled ‘Hawks squawk even before Iran nuclear deal is sealed‘, Nov. 8.  

Black’s report included this sentence:

Hardliners in Tehran, hawks in Tel Aviv and Washington, nervous Saudis and their Gulf allies are all alarmed at the prospect of a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and the international community [in Geneva].

As we noted, the context made it clear Black was referring to the putatively “hard-line” and “hawkish” political leaders within the governments of Iran, Israel and the United States.  Yet, while the capitals (where the ‘seats of government’ is located) in Iran and the United States were of course correct, the paper’s Middle East “expert” bestowed this status to the wrong Israeli city.

Though no change was prompted to Black’s misleading Nov. 8 report after our complaints, the following sentence in Black’s latest report (a ‘Middle East Year in Review’ published on Dec. 19) included an update on the nuclear deal which, at the very least, is quite curious.

It is an interim [nuclear] agreement and faces opposition from hardliners in Tehran who mistrust the emollient Rouhani, Republicans in Washington and hawks in Jerusalem, where Israel – anxious to maintain its monopoly of (undeclared) nuclear weapons – was ignored by Barack Obama

Yes, those ‘squawking Zionist hawks’ are safely back in their nation’s capital.  

We of course can’t formally claim credit for Black’s ‘evolving’ expertise in the subject of Jewish Geography which likely inspired his implicit acknowledgement that it is wrong to suggest that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital.  But, in the event that one of their contributors attempts similar rhetorical slights of hand in the future, you may want to ‘gently’ remind them of the following:

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CAMERA sites monitor media coverage of Israel, Nov. 20-26: Guardian, BBC, NYT, Ynet, Europa Press

Our regular round up of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

Brooklyn College Hosts Ben White’s Lecture on ‘Israeli Apartheid’Anti-Israel activist Ben White was invited to speak at Brooklyn College by the college’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Event is co-sponsored by two college departments. (in Focus)

SFSU President Condemns Campus Event With Slogan “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers”San Francisco State University President Les Wong publicly condemned this week an event held on campus in which students created posters that read, “My heroes have always killed colonizers.” The posters were displayed in the campus square, and were created as part of a larger event celebrating Edward Said, according to AMCHA. The event was organized by the General Union of Palestinian Students . (in Focus)

Where’s the coverage? With the exception of two media, Spanish press did not cover the murder of the young Israeli Eden Atias at the hands of a Palestinian. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The order of the factors alters the product Europa Press not only ignored the murder of Eden Atias, but used the incident as a pretext to insist portraying once again the Palestinians as “victims”. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Impartiality: Europa Press offers 367 words to the Palestinian version and only 27 to the Israeli. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Pattern: A brief review of the coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict of Europe Press shows a very striking pattern: the agency appears to officiate as a spokesman for Hamas. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Where’s the coverage?: Censorship on the press by the Palestinian Authority is silenced by Spanish-speaking media (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

A Return to Bias: Our CAMERA Fellow at Concordia writes in her Op-Ed that “Israel was the only specific country on the agenda when the United Nations met on September 10, 2013. At this time the world was praying for the victims of chemical weaponry in Syria. The UN made no specific or emergency condemnation of Syria at the time. It took a backseat to the permanent agenda article against the Jewish State. The executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer noted that day that the same amount of time was allotted to Israel as was committed to the rest of the world. (In Focus)

The Scary World of Uri MisgavUri Misgav’s column is analysed applying the same psychoanalytic method he applies to others. (Presspectiva)

The New York Times Admits Its ErrorThe New York Times publishes an apology for illustrating a shocking terror attack, with a picture of the terrorist’s mother (Presspectiva)

That renowned BBC accuracy and impartialityBBC’s man in Gaza invents an Israeli air raid. (BBC Watch)

BBC misrepresentation of Israel’s stance on Iran talks continues in Kim Ghattas report: The BBC’s State Department correspondent was the latest to misinform audiences about Israel’s stance on P5+1 deal. (BBC Watch)

Arab Israeli Citizen Shares Minority Experience with SF State: CAMERA on Campus Is In the News! This article was written by Guadalupe González and was printed in the Golden Gate Xpress on October 29, 2013. (In Focus)

Evidently, some Palestinian prisoners don’t evoke Harriet Sherwood’s sympathySympathetic portrayals of Palestinian terrorists serving sentences in Israeli jails are something of a specialty for the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, yet she seems strangely unmoved when Palestinians are imprisoned (and often tortured) in Arab countries. (CiF Watch)

Napoleon, Ben Gurion and the Jewish StateWas Napoleon a harbinger of Zionism? (Presspectiva)

Tel Aviv, Israel’s Eternal CapitalWhy the foreign media keeps claiming that Tel Aviv is the capital city of Israel. (Presspectiva)

We Must Take Ownership of Our Own Humanity: Eliot Hamilton of our CCAP group Claremont Colleges for Israel: “I have found that if I mention of the State of Israel, someone will not respectfully disagree with me, but will get angry with me personally for supporting something that they see as flawed. I did not expect to be disrespected so vehemently, or to experience such hatred. . .” (In Focus)

The Guardian AGAIN falsely suggests that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital

As absurd as it may seem to those unfamiliar with the ideological bias which colors most Israel related items published at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, up until the summer of 2102 the Guardian’s Style Guide stated that Jerusalem is NOT the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”.  This false claim was only retracted after a complaint was filed with the PCC.  

In the August 7 edition of their ‘Corrections and Clarifications’ section, the Guardian accepted that “it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country’s financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital”.

Here’s the Guardian Style Guide before the change:

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And, now:

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So, while reading the following opening passage, in a Nov. 8 article by the Guardian’s Middle East Editor Ian Black (Hawks squawk even before Iran nuclear deal is sealed), keep in mind that the paper has at least officially ‘acknowledged’ that Tel Aviv is NOT the capital of Israel and that the seat of government is located in Jerusalem.

Hardliners in Tehran, hawks in Tel Aviv and Washington, nervous Saudis and their Gulf allies are all alarmed at the prospect of a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and the international community.

The context makes it clear that Black is referring to the putatively “hardline” and “hawkish” political leaders within the governments of Iran, Israel and the United States.  Yet, while the cities (where the ‘seat of government’ is located) in Iran and the United States are correct, the paper’s Middle East “expert” bestows this status to the wrong Israeli city.

Jerusalem is of course where the Israeli Knesset, Supreme Court, Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office are located, and thus – by the Guardian’s own definition per it’s ‘amended’ style guide – is where the evidently ubiquitous ‘squawking’ Israeli ‘hawks’ routinely gather.

knesset

The Israeli Knesset, Jerusalem

The Guardian erred on a fundamental fact about the Jewish state – ‘a mistake they’ve made more than once’.

Sounds Israeli: Tom Jones – Delilah – Tel Aviv – BDS Fail

Tom Jones shrugged off an especially anemic BDS campaign, and performed in front of a packed house at the Nokia Stadium in Tel Aviv last Saturday, fifteen years after his last show in the Jewish state.

Here’s the ‘Welsh wizard’ performing his hit, Delilah. 

Just for fun, here’s the original recording of his song in 1968:

 

Sounds Israeli: Rihanna ‘finds love’ in Tel Aviv

The international pop sensation Rihanna gave a spirited performance in front of more than 50,000 in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. The following is an amateur video taken during the show of Rihanna singing her hit song, We Found Love. 

(Additionally, you can click here to learn about the row which ensued after her show.)

Guardian falsely claims that most new Israeli immigrants move to the West Bank

A recent edition of The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) published their weekly top 20 photographs, which included this image of a new Israeli immigrant being greeted outside the old airport terminal by a cheering crowd:

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The photographer is Oliver Weiken of EPA.  Here’s the Observer caption:

An Israeli immigrant from the US is cheered by a crowd after her arrival at the Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv. New immigrants predominantly move to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a key negotiation point in potential new peace talks between Israel and Palestine

So, a photo depicting a joyous occasion for a new arrival to the Jewish state was contextualized by the editor to suggest that since such immigrants disproportionately become “settlers”, they can be seen as injurious to the peace process.   

However, contrary to the claim made in the caption, most new immigrants do NOT move to “settlements” in the West Bank. As statistics over the last several years published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics indicate, the most popular destinations are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, with a small minority going to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

In 2012 there were 16,557 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 664 moved to the West Bank.

In 2011 there 16,892 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 540 moved to the West Bank.

In 2010, there were 16,663 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 666 moved to the West Bank.  

In 2009, there were 14,572 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 675 moved to the West Bank.

So, over this four-year period, out of 64,684 new Israeli immigrants (Olim), 2,545 (about 4%) decided to move to communities across the green line – a figure which corresponds (roughly) with the total percentage of all Israeli citizens who live in the “settlements”.

The claim made in the Observer photo captions is false, and we will be seeking a correction.

(UPDATE: CiF Watch obtained a correction to this photo caption on August 6.)

Guardian rock ‘n roll fantasy: Paper blurs identity of Palestinians and Arab Israelis

What’s the first thing you think of when you see this headline?

headline

A great human interest story on rock ‘n roll artists modelling “peace and understanding” between two peoples who have historically been in conflict, right?

Indeed, here are the opening passages from the story:

They are united by facial hair, frayed jeans and a love of heavy metal – plus a belief that music is above politics, religion and conflict. Now the Israeli band Orphaned Land is joining forces with the Palestinian group Khalas to take a message of coexistence through rock’n’roll across Europe.

An 18-gig tour will see the bands perform in six countries, including Britain, this autumn. The musicians will share both a stage and a tour bus for three weeks, proving in practice that their “metal brotherhood” overrides differences of religion and national identity.

At a concert to launch their European tour in Tel Aviv last week, Orphaned Land’s lead singer, Kobi Farhi, and Khalas’s lead guitarist, Abed Hathut, explained their mission.

“We can’t change the world, but we can give an example of how coexistence is possible,” said Farhi. “Sharing a stage and sharing a bus is stronger than a thousand words. We’ll show how two people from different backgrounds who live in a conflict zone can perform together.”

“We are metal brothers before everything,” said Hathut. But, he added, “there is no bigger message for peace than through this tour”.

Coexistence ventures may be new in the world of heavy metal, but precedent was set in the high-brow realm of classical music more than two decades ago, when Jewish conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian intellectual Edward Said co-founded an orchestra of young Israeli, Palestinian and Arab musicians.

So, it indeed still seems that Israeli and Palestinian bands are touring together to champion peace and reconciliation, doesn’t it? 

Except that, by the seventh passage, we learn something which changes the context a bit. Pay especially attention to the text I’ve place in bold.

The members of Khalas, which is the supporting act on the tour, and Orphaned Land have “become soulmates” since meeting at a radio station and realising they have more in common than divided them, said Farhi. Last week’s gig was their second performance together. But joint ventures between Jewish and Arab artists in Israel have in the past met with boycott calls from Palestinian activists, who argue that coexistence projects sanitise discrimination against Israel’s 1.5 million Arab citizens…

Further passages in the story finally confirm what the above text implies – that the band, Khalas, is made up of Arab citizens of Israel (from Acre) not, as the title and most of the text suggests, Palestinians living in the Palestinian territories who don’t have Israeli citizenship. Whilst some activists do use the term “Palestinian citizens of Israel’ instead of ‘Arab Israelis’ to refer to Israelis who are ethnically and linguistically Arab (but full citizens of the state), the average reader looking at the headline and accompanying text wouldn’t likely understand this distinction.

Moreover, as anyone who lives in Israel, or has spent any serious time here, would surely know, Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel mix, mingle and interact in nearly every area of daily public and private life, and whilst the notion of Arab and Jewish (Israeli) bands going on tour together certainly is a nice symbol, it’s hardly groundbreaking.

Surely, Harriet Sherwood has been in the country long enough to realize this.

h/t Matt

No reports of Jewish riots after grossly antisemitic show begins airing on Arab TV

The streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and every other city throughout Israel – and in communities outside of Israel with large Jewish communities – were calm over Shabbat despite the decision by several Arab TV satellite channels to begin airing an antisemitic mini-series during Ramadan called “Khaybar.”  The program reportedly demonizes Jews, who are depicted as immutably “treacherous” and the “enemies of Islam” who “can’t be trusted”.

The series – produced by a Qatari media company and currently being aired in Dubai, Egypt, Algeria, Qatar and UAE – is described by the screenwriter and the film’s actors as simply demonstrating that “The Jews are the Jews…and still act according to their nature and corrupt any society in which they live.”

Though a prominent pro-Israel blogger, Elder of Ziyon, initiated a passionate campaign to draw attention to the series, the act of racist incitement has been ignored by major human rights organizations – characteristic of the silence by such self-described “humanitarian” groups in the face of poisonous anti-Jewish animus which is commonplace throughout Arab and Muslim countries.

Additionally, whilst the Guardian published over 100 reports and commentaries after the Muhammad cartoons controversy in 2005, and a similarly large volume of stories on the row last year over a brief trailer for an anti-Islamic film posted on YouTube called ‘Innocence of Muslims’, there has been nothing published at the Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ about Khaybar.

Further, in contrast to the eruption of riots and violence over the Muhammad cartoons, which led to death threats against the cartoonists and riots in cities across the world resulting in over 200 people dead, and the reaction to the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which led to hundreds of injuries and over 50 deaths, there have been no reports of Jewish riots in reaction to the hideously antisemitic Khaybar broadcast.

While the narrow issue of the Guardian’s decision not to inform readers about an antisemitic TV series which will potentially be seen by tens of millions of Arab viewers  is important – representing one example of their wider failure to report even the most extreme examples of antisemitic incitement within the larger Arab world – there is another important angle to this story worth exploring.

My observation regarding the dearth of anything resembling violence by Jews over the racist Arab series was not meant to be at all cheeky, but rather was an attempt to illustrate the absurdity of the ubiquitous refrain from Guardian Left commentators that the Israel lobby ‘intimidates’ elected representatives, exercises undue influence over the media and stifles debate over issues of concern to the Jewish community.  

Whilst organized Jewry, and pro-Israel commentators, certainly use the power of the pen, lobby their representatives and use every other legitimate democratic means available to advocate for Israel and campaign against antisemitism, newspaper cartoonists who run afoul of ‘the lobby’ do not receive death threats from AIPAC; commentators who engage in antisemitic tropes don’t have to go in hiding for fear of retribution by philo-Semitic bloggers; and ‘spontaneous’ acts of mass Jewish violence do not erupt on the streets of Paris, London, New York, or Jerusalem when the religious sensibilities of Jews are offended.

Though it is of course true that the overwhelming majority of Muslims don’t resort to violence in response to cartoons, films or commentaries deemed offensive to Islam, the small minority who do engage in such anti-social and destructive behavior clearly create a chilling effect on Western journalists and opinion leaders – anti-democratic bullying and intimidation which simply has no parallel within the Zionist community.

‘Comment is Free’ contributor Abdel al-Bari Atwan sympathizes with Osama Bin Laden

Abdel al-Bari Atwan is the editor-in chief of the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, and has been named among the 50 ‘most influential Arabs’ by Middle East Magazine.  His pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist politics can be best summed up by his fanciful boast a few years ago that he would dance in the streets in London’s Trafalgar Square if Iranian nuclear missiles were to hit Tel Aviv.

iran

In fact, Atwan’s satisfaction when contemplating the murder of Jews wasn’t theoretical, and certainly was not a one-off.  

In March 2008, for instance, Atwan said that the Mercaz HaRav Jerusalem terrorist attack, in which a Palestinian gunmen murdered eight students (aged 15 to 26), was “justified”, and that the celebrations in Gaza following the attack symbolized “the courage of the Palestinian nation”.  Atwan also praised the 2011 Palestinian terror attack on civilians in southern Israel which resulted in 8 dead and 25 injured, and was even critical of Mahmoud Abbas’s recent condemnation of the abduction of Israeli soldiers, in an essay which praised Hamas for its achievement in releasing over 1,000 prisoners as part of the Gilad Shalit deal.

As my colleague Hadar Sela recently noted, Atwan is regular guest on BBC’s Newsnight. He is also, unsurprisingly, a frequent contributor to ‘Comment is Free’ – having penned 12 essays at the Guardian blog over the past two years.

Most recently, MEMRI reported, Atwan told Egypt’s Channel 2 on June 2nd that Osama Bin Laden was only “half a terrorist,” since his organization’s attacks against American forces in Saudi Arabia could not be considered terrorism, before adding:

If you support the Palestinian resistance, you do not consider [Bin Laden's attacks] terrorism. But if you are with America, Europe, and Israel, you do consider it terrorism…It depends on your definition of terrorism.

Here’s the video:

According to Atwan, who in 2010 characterized the late al-Qaeda leader a “great man“, the question of whether or not Bin Laden was in fact a “terrorist” depends on your definition of the term.

Sound familiar?

As we’ve reported on multiple occasions, ‘Comment is Free’ correspondent Glenn Greenwald has advanced similar arguments, alternately decrying the “meaninglessness” of the word, suggesting that the term is ‘racially loaded’ and that it typically represents rhetorical propaganda exploited by the U.S. to justify ‘state violence’ against Muslims. 

However, lost in the “debate” about whether fanatics like Bin Laden are terrorists is the much more important truth regarding the ideology which inspires their tactic of terror.  The West opposes al-Qaeda, and other Islamist extremist groups, not merely because they support the use of violence against innocent civilians, but also due to the fact that their political objectives include replacing liberal, democratic governments with Taliban-style tyrannical regimes antithetical to democracy, religious pluralism, gender equality, and sexual freedom.

Terrorism, for al-Qaeda and like-minded jihadists around the globe, represents merely a ‘strategy’ in their dangerously reactionary political crusade. 

As those like Atwan and Greenwald continue to engage in such cynicism and sophistry – in an attempt to make us debate the narrow question of the meaning of the term “terrorism” – it’s vital to remember that we fight such enemies not solely due to the extremist (terrorist) methods they employ, but because their political vision is diametrically opposed to the progressive values we cherish.

Glenn Greenwald’s dishonesty on the rights of women and gays in the Mid-East

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In Glenn Greenwald’s latest column at ‘Comment is Free’ (Sam Harris, the New Atheists and anti-Muslim animus, April 3) he attacks the “New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens for promoting what he claims is “Islamophobia under the guise of rational atheism”.  

Greenwald lambasts Harris – and, to a lesser extent, Dawkins and Hitchens – for suggesting that the threat posed by Islamic traditions and doctrines to Western political freedom is greater than that of Christianity and Judaism.

Greenwald’s response includes the following passage, which accurately sums up the gist of his narrative.

One can legitimately criticize Islam without being bigoted or racist. That’s self-evident, and nobody is contesting it. And of course there are some Muslim individuals who do heinous things in the name of their religion just like there are extremists in all religions who do awful and violent things in the name of that religion, yet receive far less attention than the bad acts of Muslims Yes, “honor killings” and the suppression of women by some Muslims are heinous, just as the collaboration of US and Ugandan Christians to enact laws to execute homosexuals is heinous, and just as the religious-driven, violent occupation of Palestineattacks on gays, and suppression of women by some Israeli Jews in the name of Judaism is heinous. That some Muslims commit atrocities in the name of their religion (like some people of every religion do) is also too self-evident to merit debate, but it has nothing to do with the criticisms of Harris.

If you’re wondering how Greenwald backs up his rhetorical inference – that there is moral parity between Muslim countries and Israel regarding the oppression of women and gays – his first link opens to a July 1, 2005 report about a Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade (the previous day) in which one ultra-orthodox man stabbed and lightly wounded three gay participants.

Gay rights in Israel

First, it’s telling that in researching attacks on gays in Israel he had to go back nearly eight years, and chose to focus on one isolated incidence of violence in a country which is – certainly by Mid-East standards and even in comparison to European countries – decidedly gay-friendly. Whilst even in Jerusalem, since the mid 2000′s, the gay pride parade has grown, and has been staged without incident (see CiF Watch’s coverage of last year’s  parade here), in Tel Aviv, as many within the LGBT community knows, they hold one of the most prominent and raucous annual gay pride parades in the world.  In fact, the city was recently voted ‘best gay city’ on a LGBT travel website.  

Additionally, Israeli laws guarantee equal rights for gays.  Israeli gays have represented their country in the Knesset and have been serving openly in the IDF since 1993 (years ahead of the US on such laws). And, in 1994, an Israeli court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same common law benefits as opposite-sex couples.  Israel is also the only country in the Middle East with legal protections for gays from discrimination and hate crimes.

Gay rights in the the Arab and Muslim Middle East

In contrast to Israel, merely engaging in same-sex acts is illegal in most Muslim and Arab countries in the Middle East (including in Gaza), with sentences for such proscribed sexual activity including imprisonment and (in countries like Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia) even state execution.  Additionally, gays in some Arab countries are murdered due to their sexuality by extra-judicial “vigilante squads”.  Even in Middle East countries where homosexuality isn’t explicitly outlawed (like in the PA), gays often face harassment, arrests, beatings and even death.

Greenwald’s other link, from the passage cited above, opens to a report on protests by women in Jerusalem over gender based restrictions on davening (praying) at the Kotel (Western Wall).

Women’s rights in Israel: 

Though such issues are of course a legitimate cause for criticism (see our report on the row over praying at the Kotel here), no reasonable person could seriously take issue with the fact that women in Israel enjoy a level of freedom which not only surpasses non-Jewish Middle Eastern countries, but are on par with that of other Western democracies.

Israel codified gender equality within their basic law in 1949 and was the third country in the world to be led by a female prime minister, Golda Meir.  Further, Israeli women continue to be represented in all levels of Israeli society.  They have served as Supreme Court justices, as government ministers, and, in 2013, 23% of the nation’s 120-member Knesset are women.    

As Freedom House reported: “Women have achieved substantial parity at almost all levels of Israeli society“.

Women’s rights in the Arab and Muslim Middle East:

In contrast to Israel, in the Arab and Muslim Middle East discriminatory laws and misogynistic customs are pervasive.  Here are some examples:

In Egypt, spousal rape is not illegal, the penal code allows for leniency in so-called honor killings, and female genital mutilation is still widely practiced.

In Iran, women cannot obtain a passport without the permission of her husband or a male relative, do not enjoy equal rights under Sharia-based statutes governing divorce, inheritance, and child custody, and “a women’s testimony in court is given only half the weight of a man’s”.  

In Saudi Arabia, women are almost completely excluded from the political process, are not allowed to drive a car, and cannot travel within or outside of the country without a male relative. The religious police “enforce a strict policy of gender segregation” and often use physical punishment to ensure that they dress “modestly” in public. 

In the Palestinian territories, due to laws and societal norms derived (or inspired) in part from Sharia, women are also at a disadvantage in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Rape and domestic abuse are pervasive, and even “honor killings” are not uncommon and are rarely prosecuted. Under Hamas, “women’s dress and movements in public have been increasingly restricted by the so-called morality police”, who are tasked with enforcing orthodox Islamic customs.

A 2010 Freedom House report on systemic gender discrimination in the Middle East noted that the overall conditions for women have actually worsened (since their previous report in 2005) in three places: Iraq, Yemen, and the West Bank and Gaza.

Finally, though most essays published by Greenwald contain serious distortions, the suggestion in his recent post that there is anything resembling moral equivalence between Israel and its Muslim and Arab neighbors in the rights afforded to women and gays is an out-and-out lie – and effectively illustrates the propagandistic style constantly employed by such Guardian Left activists. 

israel_freedom

Map of political freedom in the Mid-East, per the human rights group ‘Freedom House’. (courtesy of CAMERA)

UPDATE: Read a great post on Greenwald’s egregious misrepresentation of Sam Harris’s views here.

The Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood ignores Arafat Jaradat’s terror affiliation

Israeli pathologists involved in the autopsy of a Palestinian prisoner named Arafat Jaradat, who died in Megiddo Prison on Saturday, are awaiting the results of toxicology tests (that might take weeks to receive) which may definitively determine the cause of death.

The death of Jaradat, who was arrested on Feb. 18 after residents in his West Bank village reported that he “was involved in a rock-throwing attack” that injured an Israeli, sparked rioting in Hebron and other cities in the West Bank – a characteristic rush to judgement by Palestinian radicals which mirrors the journalistic rush to judgement by Phoebe Greenwood.

Greenwood led her Feb. 24 Guardian report with unsubstantiated claims by the Palestinian Authority that Jaradat died as the result of torture.

greenwoodHere’s how the story is presented on the Guardian’s home page, employing inverted quotes around the words “tortured in prison” and deleting the qualifier, “says Palestinian Authority”.

Hebron

Greenwood’s piece begins thusly:

A Palestinian prisoner whose death in Israeli custody fanned violent clashes across the West Bank over the weekend was tortured before he died, the Palestinian Authority has said.

The results of an autopsy conducted in Tel Aviv were revealed at a press conference in Ramallah on Sunday evening after a day of angry protests across the West Bank and Gaza in which dozens were injured.

The findings contradict the Israeli prison service’s claim that Arafat Jaradat died on Saturday from a cardiac arrest.

A Palestinian doctor’s investigations found that while Jaradat’s arteries were clear, the state of his body suggested he had been beaten in the days before his death.

It isn’t until the fifth paragraph that the Israeli version is emphasized.

That contrasts with an Israeli health ministry statement that said that the autopsy found “no signs of external trauma … apart from those pertaining to resuscitation [attempts] and a small graze on the right side of his chest”.

It said: “No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy. Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest. Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts. The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death. At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings.”

Then, we’re treated to Greenwood’s selective bio of Jaradat.

The 30-year-old, a petrol station worker and father of two, was arrested on 18 February in relation to a stone-throwing incident in November during which an Israeli was slightly injured. [emphasis added]

However, unbeknownst to those who depend on the Guardian as their source for information on events in the Palestinian territories, when Jaradat wasn’t working in a petrol station and providing for his two children, he was evidently involved in other, far less noble pursuits.

According to multiple sources, including even the BBC and Arab sites such as Ahram Online, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, Jaradat was a member of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade – the terror group affiliated with Fatah.

Here’s the relevant passage from Ahram:

Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah national liberation movement, mourns with all pride its hero, the martyr of freedom, the prisoner Arafat Jaradat,” the statement said, in reference to Jaradat’s membership of the group.

Here’s Al Jazeera:

Palestinians said Jaradat was a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

Remarkably, even Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency, reported on Jaradat’s ‘suspected’ affiliation:

Violent clashes with Israeli soldiers broke out after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat, a father of three and charged of affiliation with al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in Megiddo Israeli prison Saturday as a result to possible torture during interrogation.

Whilst the PA’s motivation for propagandizing about Jaradat’s death is clear – and thoroughly consistent with what many believe has been their tacit encouragement for the increasing number of violent Palestinian confrontations with the IDF in recent weeks – Greenwood’s putative role as a professional journalist requires that she avoid ideologically inspired, selective reporting.  

Though we likely won’t learn the cause of Jaradat’s death for weeks, until that time we can be assured that subsequent Guardian reports on the incident will continue to ignore information which interferes with desired narratives invariably showing the deceased Palestinian prisoner in the most favorable light.

Guardian’s capital lie included in CAMERA’s Top 10 MidEast Media Mangles

Our friends at CAMERA published a 2012 end-of-year top-ten list of the most egregious false accusations about Israel in the media.  Coming in at number 5 was the Guardian’s ever-changing Israeli capital.

Style Guide

CAMERA wrote the following:

Originally, The Guardian correctly stated in the caption of a photograph that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Days later, they issued a “correction” saying they had “wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: ‘Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is.’”

Nearly four months after that, following many complaints, The Guardian re-corrected, sort of, writing:

text

Got it?

 

Guardian fails to take home top prize at 2012 Dishonest Reporting Awards

It just wasn’t their year.

Oh, how they tried to repeat the performance which earned them the 2011 HonestReporting Dishonest Reporting Award‘, but it simply wasn’t to be.

Though the Guardian failed to take home the top prize this year, they did receive less high-profile awards for their denial of reality itself (Biggest Train Wreck Over Principle: The Guardian, and UK Press Complaints Commission) by telling readers that Tel Aviv was Israel’s capital, as well one for most antisemitic cartoon (Most Anti-Semitic-Themed Cartoon: Steve Bell, The Guardian) for a depiction of feckless, slavish British leaders being controlled like a puppet by Israel’s Prime Minister.

While this year’s winner, Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, indeed deserves credit for a very compelling polemical performance in attempting to convince readers that Israelis support apartheid, the Guardian’s body of deceit for the year was, at least in the eyes of this blogger,  impressive nonetheless.

The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, interviewed after being informed by HonestReporting’s judges that their media group lost the coveted award, said the following:

“Though it’s rare for a media institution to take home two Dishonest Reporting prizes in a row, we really thought our overall anti-Israel bias was the most effective in a very crowded anti-Zionist field, and should have won.  In addition to elevating Tel Aviv to the status of Israel’s capital, and publishing a cartoon indistinguishable from what’s found in the most Judeophobic Arab media, I’m also quite proud of the work done by Chris McGreal, whose characterization of the US relationship with Israel as ‘slave-like’ earned him a coveted spot in CST’s 2011 Report on Antisemitic Discourse. 

And, naturally, we thought that the buzz over Deborah Orr’s pejorative reference to Jews as ‘The Chosen People’ would also get the judges attention. 

Overall we had a great year of obsessively dishonest reporting about Jews and Israel and, while we congratulate Gideon Levy for his simply sublime smear of the Jewish state, we respectfully believe that the award academy overlooked our overall body of work. After all, we literally wrote the book on how to avoid reporting fairly about Israel and making antisemitism respectable among the liberal elite.”

academy

Rusbridger and Levy react to Dishonest Reporting Award announcement