Is the Economist concerned that Jews may be judaizing the Jewish state?

To provide some sense of how Jewish holy sites that are currently secured by Israel would likely fare under Palestinian rule, you could recall the period between 1949 and 1967, when Jews were ethnically cleansed from ‘east’ Jerusalem by the Jordanians and prevented from even visiting their holy places.  The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was all but destroyed, dozens of synagogues were demolished and some Jewish religious sites were turned into animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was ransacked; graves were desecrated; thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material or even toilets. The Western Wall became a slum.

Or, you could fast forward to a more recent time, and see how Joseph’s tomb – the resting spot of the patriarch Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe – was razed soon after Nablus was transferred to Palestinian Authority control in 2000. Though renovations to the site were completed by 2009, vandalism by Palestinians continues, and as recently as two months ago Jewish pilgrims visiting the building discovered vandalism and attempted arson.

In contrast, in 1967, when Israel unified Jerusalem and took control of the holy sites in the Old City, Israel passed the Protection of Holy Places Law, granting legal protections the holy sites and making it a crime to desecrate or impede freedom of access to them. Though the Al Aqsa Mosque (part of the Temple Mount complex) is administered by Jordan’s Islamic Waqf, Israel retains sovereignty and secures the area.  As such, thousands of Muslims (including Palestinian Arabs) are granted entry to the Mosque each day.  (In contrast, in 2011, only 8,247 Jews visited the Temple Mount the entire year.)

Additionally, the Israeli government supports religious services for communities of all faiths – which includes spending millions of Shekels each year for the operating costs of more than 100 mosques, the salaries of Muslim religious leaders and the upkeep of holy sites for all religions.

As Freedom House reported, while Israel’s founding documents define it as a “Jewish and democratic state,” freedom of religion for all faiths is respected.

Such facts about Israel’s continuing commitment to safeguarding the rights of religious minorities would not come as a surprise to those of us who live here, or those journalists interested in dispassionately examining contrasting religious freedom in the region.  However, as we’ve demonstrated continually, ‘dispassionate’ and ‘objective’ are not words typically associated with British reports from Israel or the Palestinian territories – as a story in The Economist (and accompanying video) clearly demonstrates.  

Though the article in the print magazine has some balance, much of the video report by their Middle East correspondent Nicolas Pelham has little relation to the reality on the ground in the Holy Land.

As you can see in the video, Pelham imputes international significance to the vandalism of King David’s Tomb, the burial-place of biblical King David located at Mt. Zion at the ground floor of a Byzantine church.  Further, he not only suggests (at 1:10 of the video) that the site has only NOW become a Jewish religious shrine, but contextualizes the destruction of some Ottoman ceramic tiles in the interior of the tomb’s main room as part of a broader pattern of Israeli negligence of ‘Muslim’ holy sites.  

In fact (as you can see at 1:23 of the video), he also tells of the threat posed to the Temple Mount by Jewish extremists – who, we are told, occasionally incite Muslims by flying the Israeli flag – while never mentioning the frequent rioting by Palestinian extremists, or violence coordinated by Hamas, Fatah and Israel’s Islamist Movement.  And, no mention is made by the Economist journalist of Palestinian political and religious leaders‘ campaign to deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and routine libels that Israel is attempting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Finally (at about 4:00 of the video) Pelham, when asked how the threat to Muslim holy places may affect the overall peace process, explains that the big fear of Palestinians (and ‘Muslims around the world‘) is that the Israeli government’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” will “erode what has been a historically Muslim country..”.

Of course, Jerusalem is the birthplace of Judaism, and Jews are an indigenous people to the land of Israel.

As one commentator explained on Facebook in response to Pelham, Roman conquests in the first century of the common era may have disintegrated Jewish political and military power, but there was – during Byzantine, Persian, Muslim, Crusader, Mameluke, Ottoman and British rule until 1948 - a constant and uninterrupted Jewish presence in the land.  Further, Jews represented a plurality of Jerusalem’s population by the mid-19th century.

The League of Nations, in 1922, determined in a decision of international law that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”.  

History is on the side of the Jewish connection to Israel, yet you’d almost be forgiven for concluding that Pelham is deeply troubled by the possibility that Israel is surreptitiously Judaizing the Jewish state. 

A few seconds later in the video, when asked about the future of Israel, Pelham expressed doubts over the future of Israel’s Muslims, who, he claims, “have a second class status“.

This is simply a lie - one which evokes the oft-repeated Apartheid smear.  Though there are economic and educational disparities between Jews and Muslim in Israel (as there such disparities between minority and majority groups in many democracies), Muslims are represented in all spheres of Israeli public life, and are afforded equal rights under the law. Indeed, they enjoy political rights which far exceed those in any Arab country in the region.  (According to a recent poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute, most Arab Israelis are patriotic and proud to be called Israeli.)

As BICOM so accurately stated, specifically relating to the idea of Israel as a ‘Jewish State’:

Being a ‘Jewish state’ means being a state in which Jewish traditions, language and customs are given full expression. Thus, Jewish holidays are observed by the organs of the  state, Hebrew is the national language, traditional Jewish law is integrated into jurisprudence, and so on. There is nothing discriminatory in this, as long as minority rights to express their traditions, language and customs are protected too. And they are. For example, Israel’s civil service allows non-Jewish civil servants to celebrate their own religious holidays without having those days docked off their annual leave. (The same cannot be said to apply to Jews in Britain.)

To sum up:

  • Muslim holy sites in Israel are NOT in danger.
  • Israel is not a “historically Muslim country”.
  • Arab Israelis don’t have “second class status”.

Though The Economist of course fancies itself an erudite media institution, Nicolas Pelham’s report again shows us that what often passes for ‘sophisticated’ analysis of the Middle East conflict in the UK media is merely just the mindless parroting of agitprop, half-truths and lies more befitting the ‘Palestinian hasbara’ blogosphere

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How Jewish prayer represents “an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide”

UK media coverage of “tensions” at the Temple Mount at times devolves into the absurd, mostly due to the way in which ‘professional’ journalists accept and normalize the logic of Islamist intolerance towards Jews and other religious groups.  

A report by Ben Lynfield at The Independent (‘Mounting tension: Israel’s Knesset debates proposal to enforce its sovereignty at Al-Aqsa Mosque – a move seen as ‘an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide’, Feb. 26) represents a classic example of this strange inversion in which those advocating for freedom of worship for all groups are labeled as provocateurs, while those seeking to curtail that religious freedom are cast as victims.

Lynfield begins:

The Arab-Israeli conflict took on an increasingly religious hue when the Jordanian parliament voted unanimously to expel Israel’s ambassador in Amman after Israeli legislators held an unprecedented debate on Tuesday evening over a proposal to enforce Israeli sovereignty at one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, currently administered by Jordan, and to allow Jewish prayer there.

The Indy reporter later acknowledges that the legislation has no chance of becoming law – due to opposition from, among others, Binyamin Netanyahu – but still contextualizes the debate as feeding the “perception of an Israeli threat to Al-Aqsa Mosque” which could “ratchet up tensions in the wider Arab and Muslim worlds.”

Lynfield then gives some background about the Temple Mount:

Al-Aqsa is situated in an area revered as Judaism’s holiest site for housing the temples destroyed in 586BC and AD70 and is in the locale where religious Jews pray a third temple will be built. The Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, has been an exclusively Muslim prayer site for the last 1,300 years, with the exception of the crusader incursions to the Holy Land.

Indeed, this passage in indicative of the convoluted logic often at play in the debate: Because the site has been an exclusively Muslim prayer site for over a thousand years, any attempt to abrogate such an exclusionary practice is itself a dangerous provocation.

Later, Lynfield deceptively weaves the following into the story.

On Tuesday morning, violence erupted at the Mount in advance of the debate. The police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that about 100 Palestinians, most of them masked, began throwing stones and fireworks at police, lightly wounding two officers. Police then entered the mount to ”disperse the rioters“, he said.

The suggestion here is as clear as it is erroneous: that Palestinians were rioting at the site due to a debate in the Knesset over a bill which will never become law.  However, as anyone who routinely reads news stories on such violence at the Temple Mount would know, such outbreaks occur, not due to any provocations by Israel – which arduously defends the rights of all faiths in the holy city – but by Palestinian extremists intent on provoking a conflict.  

As Israeli Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld continually tells journalists genuinely interested in understanding the cause of the violence, riots are usually coordinated by elements within Fatah and Hamas – as well as by local groups, such as Israel’s Islamist Movement.  (The northern branch of the Islamist Movement is led by a radical preacher fancied by the Guardian named Raed Salah.)

While the overwhelming majority of Israeli politicians are, as the Indy article suggests, not going to take any measures which will have the effect of inflaming the political situation, the surreal manner in which the issue is framed is best illustrated by a quote in the article by Hanan Ashrawi:

Hanan Ashrawi, the PLO spokeswoman, termed the holding of the Knesset debate an “extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide. Using religion as a pretext to impose sovereignty on historical places of worship threatens to plunge the entire region into great conflict and instability. It is reminiscent of the same regressive ideology that brought the crusades to Palestine in the Middle Ages’.’ 

So, let’s get this straight:

  1. Some Jews are asking for the right to quietly pray at the site in Jerusalem holiest to their faith.
  2. Millions of Muslims worldwide will, it is alleged, be provoked at the mere possibility that a faith other their own will have that right which they want exclusively for themselves.
  3. And, yet, it’s the Jews in this scenario who are portrayed as the “regressive” political force?

‘Orwellian’ doesn’t begin to fairly characterize the mental gymnastics employed by journalists in order to accept such bizarre logic.  

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Guardian ‘inadvertently’ acknowledges that the Western Wall is NOT Judaism’s holiest site

As we’ve noted in previous posts, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood) is the holiest site in Judaism.  The Western Wall, on the other hand, is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray – an uncontroversial, firmly established fact we leveraged to prompt a correction to a story at The Telegraph on Oct. 24 which falsely claimed that the Western Wall was the holiest site.  

Other news sites which have corrected their original false claims over the significance of the Western Wall include the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC (corrections which were prompted over the years by CAMERA).

In contrast to these corrections, however, the Guardian has engaged in characteristic obfuscations and stonewalling in refusing to revise Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.  Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism

So, we were quite surprised to see the following caption accompanying a Guardian photo of a member of ‘Women of the Wall’ praying at the Western Wall (10 Photo Highlights of the Day, Nov. 4).

kotel

Whilst this is of course merely a photo caption, Guardian editors have, on occasion, revised such accurate descriptive text below their photos when they believed it to be misleading.  So we’ll continue to monitor this entry and see whether this inadvertent collision with accuracy is eventually ‘rectified’. 

CiF Watch prompts Telegraph correction over false Western Wall claim

We’re not normally in the business of comparing the quality and editorial judgment of British papers, but the speed in which The Telegraph corrected a false claim regarding the Western Wall in Jerusalem is worth noting.

telegraphAn Oct. 23 story in The Telegraph by Dina Rickman titled ‘Meet the Women of the Wall: Israel’s answer to Pussy Riot‘ included the following passage:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

We failed to take a snapshot, but here is the original text via a Google search:

kotelLate this morning, we contacted Telegraph editors and alerted them to the mistake.  

We demonstrated that the Temple Mount (where the Second Temple stood) is in fact the holiest site in Judaism, while the Western Wall (The Kotel) is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray.  We forwarded them information relating to other news sites which corrected their original claims that the Western Wall was the holiest site (many of which were prompted by CAMERA), as well as a 2008 BBC correction to their false claim.

Less than an hour ago, Telegraph editors responded to our complaint, informing us that they agreed with our concerns and had corrected the piece accordingly.  It now reads as follows:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world where Jews are permitted to pray, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

Here it is on Google:

kotel 2This quick revision stands in stark contrast to the stonewalling and obfuscations we encountered when filing a similar complaint to the Guardian over Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.

Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism…

Telegraph editors should be commended for their prompt revision – quick, decisive editorial judgment (based on historically undeniable facts) which should certainly be emulated by other British dailies. 

CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction #2: Evidently, Jewish ‘extremists’ didn’t enter the mosque

We recently commented on two false and remarkably propagandistic photo captions at the Guardian in a Sept. 21 story titled ‘Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures, both of which have now been corrected.  

Whilst we already posted about one of the corrections (a caption, before the correction, which included the comical claim that Jews had “stormed” the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur!), there was an additional caption we complained about which also prompted a correction.

Here is the photo:

Here is the original caption:

As we noted in our original post, regardless of what the Palestinians in Betunia thought they were protesting, the claim that “Jewish extremists” had entered the al-Aqsa mosque was untrue.  Whilst non-Muslims are permitted to walk around the mosque compound (The Temple Mount, which is the holiest place in Judaism), all non-Muslims (including Jews) are forbidden from entering inside the mosque. Additionally, we asked, even if Jews had somehow managed to enter the mosque itself, how would anyone be able to determine if they were “extremists”?

The Guardian was unable to defend the original caption and revised it as follows:

new

Whilst we’re glad they acknowledged that their original claim (that “Jewish extremists” entered the mosque) was untrue and that Jews had in fact only entered the area around the mosque (as they are permitted to do every day except Friday), note that the word “extremists” was curiously changed to “settlers”.

We asked in our original post how the photographer (and Guardian editors) could possibly have determined if Jewish visitors to the site were political “extremists”, and their revision begs a similar question: Absent interviews with each visitor, how precisely can the Guardian determine if the Israelis touring the holy sites were in fact “settlers”?

It’s almost as if Israelis who live in the “West Bank” have some sort of distinct physical marking on their body which is absent from those who live within the state’s pre-1967 boundaries – an idea which may be a bit of a stretch, but no less fantastical than the Guardian tale (implicit in their original captions) of masses of crazed, extremist Jews storming the al-Aqsa mosque!   

 

CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction: Evidently, Jews didn’t ‘storm the mosque’

On Sept. 22 we posted about a false and incredibly propagandistic photo caption at the Guardian in a Sept. 21 story titled Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures‘. Here’s the photo in question:

Here’s the original caption:

We contacted Guardian editors, pointing out that – in addition to their comical, extremist-inspired narrative that Jews had ‘stormed the mosque’ – Jews weren’t even at the mosque compound on the day in question because Yom Kippur was on Friday, the day every week the site is closed to non-Muslims. Additionally, we demonstrated that the Palestinians seen in the photo (in Gaza City) were actually protesting security restrictions imposed at the mosque compound which were unrelated to Yom Kippur.

They agreed to revise the text, and here’s how it now appears:

new

We’re thankful that Guardian editors belatedly (if only implicitly) acknowledged the fantastical nature of the claim that Jews were ‘storming the mosque’ “for Yom Kippur.” 

Guardian caption falsely claims “Jewish extremists” entered al-Aqsa mosque

Yesterday we posted about a Guardian story titled ‘‘Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures‘, Sept. 21, which included one photo of a protest in Gaza City with a caption claiming that the Palestinians were demonstrating in response to “Jewish settlers” who had recently “stormed” the al-Aqsa mosque.  This bizarre charge, as we clearly demonstrated, was a lie.

Additionally, a second photo in the same Sept. 21 Guardian set included a caption which is similarly untrue. 

Here’s the photo:

A Palestinian protester aims a slingshot towards Israeli soldiers

Here’s the caption:

caption

However, regardless of what the Palestinians in Betunia thought they were protesting, the claim that “Jewish extremists” entered the al-Aqsa mosque is untrue.  

For beginners, though non-Muslims are permitted to walk around the mosque compound (The Temple Mount, which is the holiest place in Judaism), all non-Muslims (including “Jewish extremists”) are forbidden from entering inside the mosque. (I confirmed that this is the policy by calling the Islamic Waqf, which is responsible for the Temple Mount area, and asking if I, as a non-Muslim could enter. I was told that I can walk around the mosque, but not inside. A professional Israeli tour guide I spoke to also confirmed that this is the policy.) Additionally, even if Jews had somehow entered the mosque, how would anyone be able to determine if they were “extremists”? 

As with the previous photo caption, the Guardian again allowed pure Palestinian propaganda regarding the al-Aqsa mosque – consistent with a larger anti-Zionist narrative advanced by extremists alleging that the mosque is threatened by Jews – to pass as straight news. Whilst the Guardian likely isn’t responsible for the photo itself (as such images are typically taken by photojournalists at outside agencies), their editors are indeed responsible for editing the caption for accuracy.  In the last two examples we’ve highlighted, Guardian editors failed miserably at this task. 

h/t Avi

Guardian photo caption claims Jewish settlers “stormed” al-Aqsa mosque

On Sept. 21 the Guardian published ‘Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures‘, which included the following photo:

Anger as Israel Restricts Access to Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday

Here’s the caption:

caption

According to the Guardian, Jews ‘stormed the mosque’, an incendiary and completely fantastical claim typically only advanced by the Palestinian Authority (and their extremist supporters) to characterize Jews who simply visit the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.  Indeed, the site of Friends of Al-Aqsa (a pro-Hamas UK organization which advocates Israel’s destruction) had an almost identical claim on the same day.

Regarding the specific Guardian photo in question, it actually depicts (per Getty Images) Palestinians in Gaza City protesting restrictions imposed on visitors to the mosque that day due to previous riots, as well as recent calls by Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade to confront the ongoing “invasion of herds of settlers to the compound“.  Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades is a terror group historically tied to Abbas’ Fatah party.

Further, the Temple Mount compound is closed to non-Muslim visitors on Fridays and Saturdays.  As Yom Kippur fell on Friday night, Sept. 13, at sundown, and ended at sundown on Saturday, “Jewish settlers” weren’t present at the compound, and obviously couldn’t have “stormed” the mosque. 

The Guardian not only published a photo caption which was simply a lie, but, even more shamefully, actually used language that mirrored the propaganda of Palestinian terror groups whose goal it is, as always, to stoke riots and ‘spark’ violence. 

Guardian Jerusalem Syndrome postscript: Jewish ‘provocations’ at the mosque

On Sept. 15th we posted in response to a ‘Comment is Free’ column by Giles Fraser which lent support to the often repeated lie that Israeli policy threatens to ignite tensions at the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism). In An Israeli claim to Temple Mount Would Trigger Unimaginable Violence‘, Fraser played up the fringe view that the Jewish Temple should be rebuilt (at the site where the Al Aqsa Mosque now stands) and suggested that Jews who even visit such holy sites – prohibited for Jews when controlled by the Jordanians – was an act of extremism and an example of “the settler mentality”. 

Jews at Temple Mount, April 2013

Jews at the Temple Mount

Typical for Guardian journalists, Fraser completely ignored the Palestinians’ long campaign of incitement concerning the Temple Mount, and legitimized those who warn of a broader Israeli scheme to “Judaize” the city which represents the epicenter of the Jewish faith. 

Now, just this morning, it was reported that Muslim worshippers at the Temple Mount rioted and threw stones at Israeli police officers from inside the Mosque, injuring two.  The altercation reportedly broke out as the result of calls by the Islamist Movement (partly led by the Guardian’s favorite martyr Raed Salah) to create disturbances at the Mount. Salah, who has a history of antisemitic incitement which includes preaching to his followers that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to bake their “sabbath bread”, was recently arrested for incitement after he warned that Israel was going to torch the Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Salah’s latest attempt to provoke violence at the Mount was not reported by the Guardian.

(FILES)--Sheikh Raed Salah, the firebran

Raed Salah at the Temple Mount

As we’ve argued continually, noting the stories and incidents that the Guardian ignores or downplays is as important, in understanding their institutional bias, as it is to critically examine the stories they do report.

The paper’s coverage regarding the Temple Mount (and other holy sites) would lead the casual observer to not have the slightest clue about the steady stream of incitement spewing from Palestinian religious leaders, and believe that it is Jews – by merely demanding that their religious freedoms should not be abridged – who are the ones creating dangerous ‘provocations’.

Like so much of what passes for analysis at “the world’s leading liberal voice“, the impression created by their commentators and reporters about the root cause of tensions in the Holy Land represents the complete antithesis of reality.

Guardian Jerusalem Syndrome: Giles Fraser fears Judaisation of Temple Mount

Jerusalem Syndrome: a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. 

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday continued in its long campaign of incitement concerning the Temple Mount, condemning Jews who tour the holy site by suggesting that their visits represent a broader Israeli scheme to “Judaise” the site with the ultimate goal of rebuilding a Jewish Temple.

The PA-controlled media has specifically claimed that “hordes of settlers and Jewish extremists plan to storm and desecrate the Aksa Mosque” – part of a broader campaign of incitement by Islamist extremists in Jerusalem which has triggered several Palestinian riots at the Temple Mount over the past few months.

wafa

Wafa, official Palestinian News Agency, Sept. 4, 2013

The threat of riots last month around Ramadan, for instance, prompted Israeli police to close off the Temple Mount to non-Muslim visitors.

Lending polemical support to such an often repeated lie that Israel – which allows freedom of worship for all faiths at holy sites in Jerusalem – represents a threat to the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism), is the Guardian’s Giles Fraser, whose latest piece at ‘Comment is Free’ is titled ‘An Israeli claim to Temple Mount Would Trigger Unimaginable Violence.’

fraser

Fraser’s essay includes the following:

Jewish access to Temple Mount has been strictly forbidden (by religious, not secular, law) for centuries – though some of the more secular Israeli nationalists increasingly want access simply to insist upon their jurisdiction over that part of Jerusalem. It was Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative visit to the Temple Mount on 28 September 2000 that sparked the second intifada. 

First, as we’ve demonstrated on several occasions, Fraser’s claim that Ariel Sharon sparked the second intifada is a complete lie, as evidence abounds that the violence was coordinated at the highest levels of the Palestinian government. As we noted, for instance, Yasser’s widow, Suha, admitted that her husband explicitly told her, in early 2000, that he was going “to launch an intifada.”

suha

See video, here.

Moreover, contrary to Fraser’s suggestion in the passage, Jews already have access to the Temple Mount. Though Jews who visit are forbidden from praying there, the site has regular visiting hours, and is open to all faiths.  

Fraser continues:

The orthodox position has long been that the Temple can only be rebuilt and sacrifices resumed when the Jewish messiah returns. There have been a few dissenting voices to this consensus – most notably, Maimonides – but since the foundation of the state of Israel, the idea of Jews returning to Temple Mount prior to the arrival of the messiah has been the obsession of a tiny minority. And mostly, like Sharon, driven by secular political rather that theological concerns. But as Israel continues its shift to the right, these dangerous voices are now entering the political mainstream.

Whilst Fraser’s broad suggestion that Israel has been shifting to the right – a favorite narrative of the Guardian which was undermined by the results of the last election – is erroneous, his more central claim that support for rebuilding the Temple has reached the mainstream is absurd.  

Though some on the extreme right have supported the right of Jews to merely pray at the Temple Mount, the Jewish legal (halakhic) ban on visiting the site is supported by most orthodox Jewish leaders.  Additionally, the number of religious Jews who even visit the Temple Mount each year is tiny.  Further, only those on the extreme fringes of Israeli society seriously discuss rebuilding the Temple, a fact that Fraser himself alludes to in his subsequent passage:

It would be hard to overstate how dangerous an idea this is. The vast majority of orthodox rabbis have reiterated their opposition to it.

It would be dangerous if there was any chance that it was seriously being contemplated by Israeli political leaders, but that is clearly not the case. 

Finally, Fraser wouldn’t be a Guardian Left journalist if he didn’t include a gratuitous pejorative reference to “settlers”, so his essay includes this throw away line near the end:

But the settler mentality is now increasingly focusing on what is politically the most explosive site on the planet. If they succeed, a billion Muslims worldwide would go ballistic. 

It’s of course unclear what the ideological connection is between 350,000 Jews, both religious and secular, who live (for varying reasons) across the green line, and a tiny politically insignificant minority of Israelis who call for the Temple to be rebuilt.

Moreover, it’s remarkable how Fraser could write an essay about religious tensions at the Temple Mount without even mentioning the long history of ideological incitement by their political and religious leaders which continues to represent the root cause of such “tensions”.  Fraser, who has filed his last two reports while visiting the holy land, has joined the chorus of those on the far left who shamefully amplify the incitement, fear mongering and Jerusalem delusions of Palestinian extremists. 

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 (the holiest site in Judaism) in 2001 “sparked” the 2nd Intifada – a lie repeated so often that casual observers could be forgiven for believing it.

Here’s a photo and caption from a 2006 Guardian story titled ‘Ariel Sharon: A life in pictures.

There’s also permanent content on the Guardian’s Israel page titled ‘The Arab-Israel Conflict‘, which consists of 22 photos illustrating the history of the conflict. Here’s the photo meant to illustrate the 2nd Intifada.

2000.-Opposition-Leader-A-031

Here’s the caption:

caption

Most recently, David Shariatmadari, deputy editor on the Guardian comment desk, wrote a review (Guardian, Sept. 7) of a book titled ‘What do you buy the children of the terrorist who tried to kill your wife?’, by David Harris Gershon, which began thusly:

Jerusalem is a city electric with tension. There are frequent sparks, as the circuits that cross the city make contact, separate currents suddenly, dangerously flowing into one another. At their least serious, they ignite a monkish fight in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. At their worst, they can set the region alight, as when Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in 2000.

No matter how many times responsibility for the Palestinian violence which began in 2000 is assigned to Ariel Sharon, implicitly or explicitly, evidence abounds that the five-year war was orchestrated at the highest levels of Palestinian leadership.

A thorough report at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs by Jonathan Halevi included the following:

Extensive testimony at the time and in retrospect demonstrates the Palestinian Authority’s role in initiating and managing the Second Intifada as an extensive terror onslaught, designed to impose a unilateral, unconditional withdrawal upon Israel, and improve conditions in anticipation of the battle for realizing Palestinian demands for the return of the refugees.

The final decision to initiate the Second Intifada was made by Yasser Arafat immediately upon the conclusion of the second Camp David summit, which ended on July 25, 2000. Directives were disseminated to the national security forces, instructing them to prepare for the immediate option of initiating a violent campaign against Israel. 

Additional evidence that Ariel Sharon didn’t start the 2nd Intifada includes comments by Suha Arafat (and Palestinian leaders), in 2011, acknowledging that Yasser Arafat planned the terror onslaught, as well as the following interview with Suha in late 2012 on Dubai TV:

The Palestinian campaign of suicide bombings and other deadly assaults at Israeli cafes, bus stops, markets (and other crowded public areas where families and children typically gather) claimed over 1000 lives, and injured and maimed thousands more – an orgy of violence for which Palestinian terrorists and their leaders are solely to blame. 

Harriet Sherwood misleads on religious significance of the Western Wall

Harriet Sherwood’s June 25 report on the upcoming visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, devoted some text to outlining his itinerary while in the Holy Land, and included this passage: 

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism; and the Haram al-Sharif, the site of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque and the third-holiest place in Islam. All three sites are inside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

However, Sherwood gets the significance of the Western Wall and Haram al-Sharif wrong - an error which she has made previously and which has been made (and at times corrected) by other media outlets as well.

Haram al-Sharif is known in Judaism as ‘The Temple Mount’ (Har Habayit), and is identified in Jewish (and Islamic) tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered his son in sacrifice.  It is where the Second Temple stood between roughly 515 BCE until 70 CE and – while it is true, per Sherwood, that it is the third holiest place in Islam – it is recognized as the holiest site in Judaism. While the Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews are permitted to regularly pray, it derives its holiness from its proximity to the Temple site.

Western Wall (Kotel) looking towards Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

Western Wall (Kotel) looking towards Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

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Jews touring the Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

Though we have credited Sherwood recently on her progress towards more fair and accurate coverage of the region, this report on the Archbishop’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem includes clearly misleading information about the significance of these Jewish and Muslim holy sites which is simply not open to interpretation.  

(We recommend you consider reading a great CAMERA backgrounder on the issues surrounding the Temple Mount, here.)

Misleading Guardian caption below photo of Israeli injured by Palestinian rioters

On Friday, March 8, hundreds of Palestinians emerged from prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque to throw rocks and petrol bombs at Israeli security personnel stationed near the entrance of the compound.

Eleven policemen were injured during the violence, including one Israeli who was injured by a molotov cocktail thrown at officers by Palestinians, reportedly from inside the mosque. 

Police dispersed the rioters using stun grenades and other non-violent crowd control measures.

The Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’ published the following photo shortly after the Friday riots showing the officer who was set on fire.

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Here’s the Guardian caption:

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Note that the Israeli policeman is described as “injured”, with no text indicating that he was injured by a Palestinian who intentionally hurled an incendiary device in his direction. (Other news sites which published photos of the injured Israeli managed to explain that the injury was indeed caused by Palestinians.) 

Another glaring distortion is achieved by the caption’s blurred causation. Readers are informed only that “clashes broke out”, without assigning blame, as if there was any doubt that it was Palestinian ‘worshipers’ who initiated the violence. 

A twenty-eight word caption: so much obfuscation. 

“I am going to start an Intifada.”

The narrative regarding the deadly terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, which the MSM and the Guardian advanced, but which soon was proved to be completely erroneous, suggested that an obscure anti-Muslim film – which, it was claimed, was produced by an Israeli Jew – triggered a “spontaneous” protest outside the embassy, leading to an assault which left four people dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

It soon became apparent that the film – which was actually created by a Coptic Christian – had absolutely nothing to do with the attack.  

It is now known that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a premeditated act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.

On September 28, 2000, an Israeli Jew was blamed for inciting what would become known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada – a brutal five-year campaign of Palestinian terrorism, directed largely against Jewish civilians, which claimed over 1,100 innocent lives and injured thousands more.

The Intifada was defined by the hideous tactic of suicide bombing, in which the Palestinian terrorists detonated explosive belts in crowded public places (in order to maximize the loss of life), sending thousands of pieces of shrapnel tearing into human limbs and organs. 

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On March 27, 2002, a Palestinian suicide bomber named Abdel-Basset Odeh murdered 30 people at a Seder meal at the Park Hotel in Netanya, including several Holocaust survivors

Most who truly understand the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict would have known already that Yasser Arafat started the Second Intifada, but the latest admission by Arafat’s widow, Suha, about the origins of the Intifada – which she similarly acknowledged last year - serves to completely discredit those who continue denying the obvious.

Suha Arafat in an interview in December on Dubai TV, said the following:

“Yasser Arafat had made a decision to launch the Intifada. Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return, in July 2001 [sic]. Camp David has failed, and he said to me: “You should remain in Paris.” I asked him why, and he said: “Because I am going to start an Intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so. I do not want Zahwa’s friends in the future to say that Yasser Arafat abandoned the Palestinian cause and principles. I might be martyred, but I shall bequeath our historical heritage to Zahwa [Arafat's daughter] and to the children of Palestine.”

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Click on image to go to video

Here’s permanent content on the Guardian’s Israel page, The Arab-Israel conflict:

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The photo story consists of 22 photos illustrating the history of the conflict.

Here’s the photo representing the Second Intifada. (Note the caption)

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Click to Enlarge

Here’s a photo and caption from a 2006 Guardian piece titledAriel Sharon: A life in pictures‘.

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Indeed, among the more common erroneous narratives advanced by the mainstream media (and, of coursethe Guardian) is that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, “sparked” the Second Intifada and that the Intifada began organically – lies repeated so often that causal observers could be forgiven for believing them.

However, commentators of good faith can no longer make such a claim.

Arguing that an Israeli Jew sparked the Second Intifada, however, often serves a broader polemical objective: to deny Palestinian terrorists, and their leaders, moral responsibility for the five-year war of terror against Israeli civilians, and its injurious political consequences, in a manner consistent with an anti-Zionist narrative which rarely assigns such moral agency to the Palestinians under any circumstances.  

The claim that, in 2000, Jews incited Palestinians to kill Jews, like so much of what passes for conventional wisdom about the conflict, is a total lie.

Did the Guardian just implicitly recognize “East” Jerusalem as part of Israel?

It’s been a tough year for the Guardian’s “research” department.

Earlier in Oct., the Press Complaints Commission concluded that the Guardian’s “unequivocal statement” in their “Style Guidethat “Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel” was incorrect and therefore breached “the Editors’ Code of Practice.”

Here’s what their Style Guide stataed about Jerusalem a few months ago.

Thanks to action by Honest Reporting, in taking the complaint to the PCC, their Style Guide now reads as follows:

Ok, they don’t refer to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but this is the Guardian, after all, and we’re always pleased when even a small dose of reality penetrates their ideological bubble. 

However, the small admission that Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital didn’t prepare us for what follows.

You see, the Guardian typically refers to the section of Jerusalem illegally occupied by Jordan between 1949 and 1967 as “East Jerusalem”, inspired by the belief that a future Palestinian state will inevitably include a capital in that part of the city, and that any Jews who live there are illegal “settlers”.

They even have an East Jerusalem page:

Typical is a report by Harriet Sherwood in 2010, titled Jerusalem “Western Wall Development plan opposed by Palestinians as illegal“, which included this passage:

“Jerusalem’s key Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites lie in and around the Old City, just on the eastern side of the “green line” or pre-1967 border. Israel captured and later annexed East Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967 in a move not recognised by the international community.”

However, Sherwood left out quite a bit.

In the aftermath of Israel’s War of Independence, Jerusalem was arbitrarily divided, and Jews living on the “east” side were expelled by Jordanian forces, and dozens of synagogues (and other physical traces of Jewish life) were destroyed.

This map of the 1949-1967 boundary between “East” and “West” Jerusalem shows that the line cut off the Old City from Israel, including the Jewish Quarter, as well as Judaism’s holiest site (The Temple Mount).

The misnomer of “historically Arab East Jerusalem” – based on a geographical reality imposed by Arabs for a short 18 years in its long history – has become so part of the official meme that the UK Advertising Authority ruled in 2010 that an Israeli tourism ad featuring the Western Wall, Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock was a violation of advertising laws.  

The Advertising Authority ruled that the historic Jewish locations were, in fact, located in “East Jerusalem and part of the occupied territories.”

So, given the Guardian’s strict adherence to such absurd narratives about the Israeli capital, I was shocked to find the following caption in an Oct. 3 edition of the Guardian’s series, “Picture Desk Live”.

While the “holiest site” in Judaism is actually the Temple Mount, and not the retaining wall where Jews are seen praying, this is a minor fact compared to the text at the end of the caption. Indeed, I had to look at the caption twice as I truly didn’t believe my eyes the first time.

Amazingly, the Guardian evidently now recognizes “East” Jerusalem as part of Israel!

So, now that they have started “Judaizing” Jerusalem, I think it’s reasonable to wonder what other concessions to Zionism we can now expect?

Will their reporters start referring to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria?

Will “settlers” now be called “Israelis”, and “settlements” now called “Yishuvim”?

Will Harriet Sherwood begin to characterize Palestinians who murder innocent Israeli civilians as “terrorists”, instead of “militants”?

Alright, perhaps I’m over-reacting just a bit!