Owen Jones, and the Left’s blind spot over antisemitism

Cross posted by Jeremy Havardi at The Commentator

Owen_Jones

Owen Jones

Leftists have long had a blind spot when it comes to antisemitism. This is partly because some have found comfort in this rank bigotry, seeing Jews as a privileged elite and a personification of the capitalism they abhor. But it is also because they like to define antisemitism on their own terms, showing disdain for how Jews themselves feel.

They recognise and condemn its more usual manifestations, particularly when it comes packaged with swastikas, jackboots and lethal rhetoric. But they refuse to recognise the other side of Jew baiting — the double standards, the conspiracy thinking, the Holocaust inversion and the anti-Zionism.

Owen Jones clearly has the blind spot just mentioned. In an article in Monday’s Guardian [Aug. 11], Jones discusses the menace of antisemitism in Europe. He recognises that it has spiked during the conflict in Gaza and argues that ‘attempts to belittle it are dangerous, allowing the tumour to spread unchecked’.

He dismisses those who try to deflect blame onto the Jews themselves. This, he says, is like ‘rationalising anti-Muslim prejudice as the inevitable consequence of Islamist fundamentalist terror’. So far, so good.

But then he gets unstuck. First, he raises the old canard that pro-Israel supporters accuse ‘pro-Palestinian’ protestors of being antisemitic in an attempt to silence criticism of Israel.

The danger is that the ‘meaning of antisemitism is lost, making it all the more difficult to identify and eliminate hatred against Jewish people at a time when it is rising’. He goes on to say that for some defenders of Israel’s governments, the ‘supposed special attention received by the conflict is itself evidence of antisemitism’.

In reality, he argues that these protestors are condemning the actions of a heavily armed state backed by the West.

The idea that Israel’s supporters routinely accuse their critics of antisemitism is essentially fictitious. The vast majority of these supporters can recognise the difference between criticism of Israeli policy and baseless hatred. Virtually no sane Zionist sympathiser would label someone antisemitic simply for criticising policy on the West Bank or settlements. These are matters of legitimate public discourse.

But what these supporters will argue, justifiably, is that the discourse on the conflict has become badly corrupted. Israel has been likened to a Nazi state that is engaged in a policy of wholesale extermination. Only recently, Lord Prescott labelled Gaza a ‘concentration camp’ in an article for the Mirror. Others, like David Ward and Lee Jasper, have used Holocaust Memorial Day to attack Israel and the Jews.

Cartoonists have routinely tapped into antisemitic stereotypes to depict Israeli leaders, the most popular of which evoke images of the blood libel. The ‘all powerful’ Israel lobby is accused of being an evil puppet master, manipulating western foreign policy for its own insidious ends. This taps into a centuries old stereotype of sinister and demonic Jews controlling the world.

Supporters of Israel have every reason to condemn such ugly displays of bigotry. Yet the accusation is trotted out that they accuse every critic of anti semitism, which is absurd. This is an attempt to silence and smear Zionists, not critics of Israel. Maybe Owen Jones should answer this question: How nasty must criticism of Israel become before it can be considered antisemitic, or at least bigoted?

Is it acceptable to portray Netanyahu as a hook nosed Jew revelling in Palestinian blood, as a latter day satanic Hitler or perhaps as an evil puppet master controlling western leaders? Unfortunately, images such as these have proliferated at anti-Israeli rallies around the world.

Jones is anxious to defend those who go on ‘pro-Palestinian’ rallies. But the unmistakeable sentiment from marchers is unmitigated hostility to Zionism and a Palestine free ‘from the river to the sea’. Yet Zionism is simply the acknowledgement that the Jews are a nation with a collective right to self-determination.

Anti-Zionists deny Jews this right while granting it to every other nation. That is why true progressives, like the great Martin Luther King, have long recognised the connection between hostility to Zionism and hostility to Jews.

Jones secondly fails to understand how antisemitism is often dressed up in ‘progressive’ form. He (rightly) mentions the danger from Front National, Jobbik and Golden Dawn, three extreme groups suffused with xenophobic prejudice against Jews, immigrants and Muslims. He condemns attacks on synagogues in Paris as well as other assaults.

But antisemitism is not just about jackboots and swastikas, torched synagogues and racist insults. It is about discriminating unfairly against Jews, Jewish institutions and Israelis.

It is about holding Jews to a different standard or demanding from them a unique level of behaviour. It is about calculated offence, such as abusing the memory of the Holocaust for political ends. Nor does antisemitism have to be intended for it to be real.

When we stop viewing this prejudice through far right tinted spectacles, we can understand why Kilburn’s Tricycle theatre has been accused of racism. Last week, the Tricycle boycotted the UK Jewish Film Festival after the latter refused to accept a condition that it first reject £1,400 of funding from the Israeli embassy.

The Tricycle suggested that UKJFF was being politicised by this money and, by implication, the theatre would be taking sides over the Gaza conflict.

Yet this condition has not been imposed in other cases where cultural institutions have received government funding. To take one example, the Tricycle hosted the London Asian Film Festival, even though it was financed by the Indian government, a party to the long running conflict over Kashmir.

Moreover, the Tricycle has happily taken a sizeable grant from the Arts Council, a government funded body. Yet British governments have recently been mired in controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a blatant case of an egregious double standard applied to a Jewish cultural group. They, and only they, have been forced to sign up to a political credo (i.e. to dissociate from Israel) before they are deemed ‘acceptable’. In an attempt to appear self-righteous, the Tricycle’s organisers have engaged in a most pernicious form of bullying.

Had he cast his net further, Jones might have condemned George Galloway after his recent statement that no Israeli tourists were welcome in Bradford.

Galloway was saying that a boycott of Israeli goods and services was not enough; not one Israeli was welcome to step foot in his constituency either. By demanding that Bradford become Israelfrei, Galloway was not engaging in political debate. He was demonising an entire nation.

Equally bigoted was the decision of the Edinburgh Festival to axe ‘The City’, a play staged by Jerusalem’s Incubator Theatre. There were calls for its artists to publicly dissociate themselves from Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank before being allowed to perform.

But again, such draconian demands have not been imposed on other nationalities. No other performers have been asked to pass a ‘values test’ before they can appear, nor should they be. Such behaviour is an outrageous affront to the principle of artistic freedom.

All three examples revolve around Israel and its conflict in Gaza. But Israel is the ‘Jew among nations’ and the country deserves equal treatment in the court of international opinion. Singling her out unfairly demands some form of explanation.

The motive for doing so is not always racist. Anti-Americanism and hostility to western power galvanise the left, and Israel is a bastion of democratic, western values as well as a staunch ally of America. It is also perceived, wrongly, to be a colonialist power. Hence it is a target of leftist discontent with western power. But the effect of such irrational discrimination and disproportionate focus is no less hurtful than a verbal insult.

It is still targeting the Jews.

It is only when we understand the many ways in which antisemitism manifests itself that we can start tackling it properly. It must be confronted warts and all, and with the blinkers and blind spots removed.

Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton

A typical Guardian distortion about Ariel Sharon and Sabra/Shatila massacre

Cross posted from The Commentator with the expressed permission of their publisher, Robin Shepherd

There is obviously nothing funny about the 1982 massacre in Lebanon of hundreds of mainly Muslim Palestinians at the hands of an Arab Christian militia at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

But, since practically the entire world has blamed the incident on Israel and one Ariel Sharon, it is hard not to chuckle at the way he once characterised the situation following his removal as defence minister, not for carrying out the massacre of course, but for not doing enough to prevent a massacre carried out by others.

“I’m the only minister of defence in the world — the only one — who left his post and went back to work on a tractor, on his farm, as a result of what Christians did to Muslims. The only one.”

It’s so true, and so piercing because it cuts down to size the flat-out liars who have always blamed him for something he just didn’t do. It can even get as absurd as this nasty little lie slipped into today’s editorial in the Guardian, without question the most bigoted British newspaper when it comes to matters Israeli.

“In 1982, serving as defence minister, he allowed Christian Phalangists into the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila, where they massacred more than 700 men, women and children. An Israeli government inquiry concluded that Mr Sharon bore personal responsibility for the incident,” the paper, which is the house journal of the BBC said.

The only way to make sense of this garbage is to conclude that Sharon must have ordered the Phalangists to do it — which obviously he didn’t — or that he was clairvoyant — which obviously he wasn’t; and knew in advance exactly what was going to happen.

The lie is doubled up with reference to the Israeli government report which simply says he was responsible for not doing enough to stop the incident, not that he actually bore responsibility for what took place. That’s why he and several others were held to have had a measure of indirectresponsibility, but not to have been responsible for the incident itself.

In other words, the truth is the exact opposite of what the Guardian says it is. And they know it.

The Guardian also knows that less than 1 percent of readers will drill down to get to the truth; and in spreading outright lies, a 99 percent success rate is good enough for them. It’s all done of course to discredit, by association, Israel as a whole, because mud sticks.

Oh, you don’t think mud sticks?

Let’s finish with a question or two. Everyone who has heard of Sabra and Shatila has heard of Ariel Sharon in relation to it. But how many people do you think know the names of the Phalangist leaders who actually commanded, led and carried out the massacre?

Do you know their names? Worth a thought isn’t it…?

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Outrage over a cartoon…and yet no one died

Cross posted by Raheem Kassam, Executive Editor of The Commentator

Only on a BBC radio call-in show in Britain could you have heard listeners phoning in to express how the West would get what it has coming to it for a peasant-like film being uploaded to YouTube by some anonymous character in the United States. 

But that is precisely what I heard, when as a guest on the BBC Asian Network last year, I was asked to take part in a phone-in discussion with listeners about the “Innocence of Muslims” film. 

At the time, protests in Pakistan, Libya and other Muslim countries terrified pusillanimous Western leaders into apologising for the freedom of expression, or freedom to offend. The fallout was the death of an American ambassador and diplomatic staff, although the links to the protests in this case are spurious.

The same of course can be reflected upon of the firebombing of the Charlie Hebdo office in 2011, and of the response on the streets of Britain when a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. Hundreds died. Property was burned. Unknown numbers of people were injured.

Against this backdrop, I have been assessing the implications of the Benjamin Netanyahu cartoon over the past 48 hours. 

The Commentator, as you know, first reported the extraordinarily offensive cartoon on Sunday morning, noting the invocation of the long-standing blood libel against the Jewish people. Many have argued, that the cartoon depicting a big-nosed, blood-loving Netanyahu is nowhere near as offensive as depicting Prophet Muhammed as a terrorist, or similar.

I would argue that actually, the Netanyahu cartoon was worse. Not for ‘criticising’ the Israeli leader, but rather, for invoking the Der Stumer-esque view that the Jews have big noses and dabble in the blood of Arabs or Muslims. This is outright racism. The Mohammed cartoons, were (distasteful) parodies against a singular religious figure, not the demonisation of an entire people.

But even if you don’t buy that – and really, I understand if you don’t because it’s quite a fine line – then upon taking the two incidents as equal, and asserting that the freedom to offend should remain paramount, I would tend to agree with you

The fact is, the Sunday Times exercised its right to offend this past Sunday, on Holocaust Memorial Day, thus making its blood libel doubly, trebly, quadruply more offensive. And indeed, the appropriate levels of offence were taken.

But you didn’t see rioting in the streets, or the calls for the beheading of the perpetrators of the cartoon. You may have heard moans of the decline of Western civilisation, but you never heard encouragement towards it. In fact, the response to the Sunday Times cartoon was quite the opposite of what we’ve seen in recent years when religions take offence.

There were articles, quotes, comments, letters, political interventions and more. But never did the outcry overspill, and only ever was there a call towards more civility, not less.

Now, to be clear, we know full well that Muslim communities around the world, by and large, were not rioting and inciting violence after Mohammed was depicted in a provocative fashion – but it is these ‘moderate Muslims’ who must work to bring their house in order, casting out the crazies, expunging the extremists, declaring vehemently and repeatedly, “Not in my name.” 

It is these demons that Muslims in West still have to overcome – and until they do, they can claim no moral high ground over offences they feel are perpetrated towards them. 

British government promises new cooperation with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

This essay was written by CiF Watch’s Hadar Sela and published at The Commentator

Following the recent lethal violence and rioting which broke out across the Middle East and North Africa – on the pretext of being offended by a third-rate, amateurish YouTube video – the subject of the defence of the right to free speech is once more upon the agenda in the Western world.

Strangely, the British government has chosen this time to sign a new agreement with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (formerly known as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference or OIC) which it describes as a “Cooperation Framework” designed to lead to “closer dialogue”.

“Baroness Warsi, who in 2010 became the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet, said, ‘This agreement is another significant step in strengthening the vital relationship between the UK and the OIC. When I addressed the OIC Conference in Kazakhstan in June 2011, I said we face the global challenges together. This agreement formalises that establishing our many, many areas of co-operation, from security to conflict prevention; from religious freedom to human rights. One of the central aims of my new role will be to strengthen this relationship further and I am looking forward to ensuring we continue to work closely to achieve our mutual goals.’”

In the same year that Sayeeda Warsi became the first British Minister to address the OIC annual conference, the government appointed Mohammed Shokat as UK Special Representative to the OIC.

The new Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the UN General Assembly in New York, even as OIC members such as Iran and the Palestinian Territories took advantage of  the UN platform to talk of Israel being “eliminated” and to accuse it of threatening Muslim holy places and “colonial occupation”.

Bizarrely, following the signing of the agreement, Saeeda Warsi was to be found championing the OIC’s “interest” in human rights, conflict prevention, and religious freedom on Twitter. 

Click to Enlarge

 

READ THE REST OF THE ESSAY HERE.

The UN, Ahmadinejad and atonement

The following essay, by Hadar Sela, was published at The Commentator

Most of us would probably like to believe that in this modern age we are better prepared than our grandparents and great-grandparents were in the task of avoiding the kind of mass carnage which the League of Nations failed to prevent and which shocked the world into dissolving that body and establishing the United Nations in its place in the aftermath of the Second World War.

As the preamble to the United Nations charter reads:

“We the peoples of the United Nations determined: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”

However, on Wednesday this coming week – a mere 67 years since those fine words were written – the President of Iran will yet again stand on the UN podium.

Ahmadinejad has his plans in sight

Chillingly, the very body established as a result of the world bearing witness to the consequences of racial hatred and genocide will host an anti-Semitic denier of that same genocide.

Shamefully, a regime which fails to uphold that organisation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even towards its own citizens, will be honoured with the right to address its General Assembly.

Shockingly, the representative of a regime which, according to the founder of “Genocide Watch”, Professor Gregory Stanton, has already taken six steps along the eight-step route to perpetrating yet another genocide, will be allowed to address the family of nations as an equal – despite the fact that the UN’s own Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide makes incitement to genocide illegal.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Guardian’s beacon of Islamist justice – the crescent moon shines bright on ‘Comment is Free’

Cross posted by The Commentator

The Guardian’s cartoon, 29 August 2012, Nick Hayes

You’d be forgiven for glossing over The Guardian’s daily cartoon. We usually do.

Today however, something caught our eye.

In the cartoon by Nick Hayes, The Guardian illustrates its interpretation of yesterday’s Israeli court verdict that ruled that Rachel Corrie’s death in 2003 was accidental.

The image, as you can see below, shows a bulldozer with the Israeli flag across its blade, pushing up the earth and in its wake, scooping up and supposedly uprooting or destroying Lady Justice’.

The Guardian, of course, is entitled to its view that Rachel Corrie, defender of terrorists, was Lady Justice in disguise. We would expect no less of their crass and nuance-deficient analysis on the matter.

But what stands out to us is the beacon of light shining through the stormy clouds behind the scene.

The star and crescent is the internationally recognised symbol of Islam, seen in the flags of nations such as Pakistan and Azerbaijan. You know, those guiding lights of human rights, transparency and democracy.

The Islamist party in Gaza, which, to use Guardianista’s language, ‘rejects Israeli occupation and fights for a free Palestine’, is none other than the internationally recognised terrorist organisation, Hamas.

The crescent therefore, taken in context, is an effective endorsement of a terrorist entity; of Hamas.

Nick Hayes and The Guardian may well believe that the Islamist outfit guilty of endless terrorist atrocities, endangering the lives of Palestinians, the relentless murder of Israeli citizens, the subjugation of the Gazan population under an effective dictatorship (when were the next elections due, again?) is a shining beacon of hope casting a light on Lady Justice and the Israeli oppressors – but we implore the common reader to see past this subliminal and disgraceful narrative.

Whatever readers think of Rachel Corrie’s death and of the ongoing Middle East conflict, it is certainly another step to legitimise a terrorist outfit like Hamas. It is a discredit, even to the likes of The Guardian, that this cartoon ever made it past the editors at Comment is Free.

Let’s see what some Guardian commenters said:

“Not too sure about the crescent shining rays of light at this moment in time.” – showmaster

“The reasoning behind the presence of the crescent moon is fairly obvious” –cmnimo

“Though Palestine is benighted and Justice is toppled, the crescent moon of Islam shines like a beacon through the Israeli smokescreen. Not exactly subtle.” –peterNW1

It’s also interesting and distressing to note that when Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced, The Guardian did not run any form of cartoon on the much commented upon injustice (short length) of his sentence.

It’s safe to assume they also did no such thing for the Itamar massacres and never have we seen them do anything of the sort illustrating rocket fire from Gaza landing in Israeli towns. You get the picture.

The unofficial alliance of the BBC and Guardian

Cross posted by Raheem Kassam, Executive Editor of The Commentator 

Spirit. I’ll tell ye. ‘Tis not vain or fabulous

(Though so esteemed by shallow ignorance)

What the sage poets, taught by the heavenly Muse,

Storied of old in high immortal verse

Of dire Chimeras and enchanted isles,

And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to Hell

 John Milton, Comus (1634)

In his masque in honor of chastity and free thinking, John Milton introduces to his audience the virtues of recta ratio, the ability to exercise reason and restraint in the face of temptation and libidinal desire.

Of course, Britain’s media “behemoths” representing the Islington-dwelling liberal intelligentsia are already beyond reproach, having fallen between the rifted rocks of Hell long ago.

Thus Comus was created and thrives in the form of The Guardian and the BBC’s somewhat overt friendship. It appears in our media as the three-headed chimera, with the lion head of The Guardian, the bleating mouth of the BBC goat and the small yet venomous serpent tail of The Independent. Comus continues to lure anyone who will entertain him into his lair of necromancy.

Earlier this week, The Commentator broke the story that the BBC, between April 2010 and February 2011, procured nearly 60,000 copies of The Guardian and over 10,000 less of the nearest right-leaning paper, The Daily Telegraph. Also, the BBC curiously procured inordinate numbers of The Independent (43,709).

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade argues a “so what?” case, making the point that The Guardian and the BBC effectively stand for the same thing. This is the very problem.

The Guardian has a circulation of about one-third of its right-wing competitor, The Telegraph, and yet it enjoys a significantly larger presence within the confines of Broadcasting House and the BBC beyond. The Independent, with a daily circulation of only around 90,000, was bought in almost the same quantities as The Telegraph, a paper that enjoys some six times the daily public consumption.

What this tells us of this unofficial alliance, or Comus as we have come to know it, is that there is little wonder why on key issues, the BBC and The Guardian differ very little.

Distinguishing between their lines on the National Health Service, on European integration, on climate change, Israel and the Middle East, and economics is becoming more and more difficult.

Many of their staff is indeed interchangeable, with former Guardian editor Allegra Stratton now perched at the Beeb as political editor. The Guardian’s trans-Atlantic buddy, The New York Times, today procured Mark Thompson, of BBC fame, as its new president.

The Beeb’s own Andrew Marr has noted:

“The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly funded, urban organization with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities, and gay people. It has a liberal bias, not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.”

Swallow that alongside the stark admission from Roy Greenslade in The Guardian Tuesday, responding to The Commentator’s exclusive

“There are so many similarities between the BBC and the Guardian… Both are imbued with a public interest ethos… It is therefore fair to say that the corporation and the paper have deeply ingrained shared values.” 

But much like Comus, these two organizations, alongside The Independent, appear to lure in the public with its promises of guilt alleviation and the scapegoating of certain nations or ideologies. This basic level of seduction, in appealing to a falsified notion of conscience, asks that the reader abandon rationality and indulge in often morally depraved or unscientific reporting.

We’ve seen this over time. With The Guardian’s obsession with “the Jewish lobby,” their intractability over climate science — despite being disproved time and again — and recently with our scoop on the BBC and its implacable hostility to the State of Israel (refusing to even acknowledge that it has a capital city, no less.)

And so it is up to us to act as the Attendant Spirit of this saga, who instructs on how Comus’s captive can be freed. Sabrina, the water nymph who ends up finally liberating the captive lady, can only do so due to her steadfast virtue and rejection of Comus’s necromancy. We must urge the public to exercise such chastity.

Over time, the liberal-left media will be shown to be the aggressor with the public conscience as its captor. Those who work relentlessly against the media bias are the Spirit and Sabrina, and inevitably, will triumph.

Dicky’s faux scoop: The Anti-Zionist synergy of Richard Silverstein and the BBC

H/T Israellycool, Harry’s Place, The Commentator and fellow Hasbarafia* members

Richard Silverstein is one of the more shrill and dishonest commentators in a very crowded anti-Zionist blogosphere and – as the title of his blog, Tikkun Olam, (To heal the world) suggests – continues to make a mockery of such self-styled progressive bloggers.

Several months ago, for instance, he thought nothing of exposing the identity of a Zionist blogger – including his address – potentially placing his entire family at risk.

For those unfamiliar with his brand of “liberalism” and “social justice”, it includes expressions of support for a one-state solution, defenses of terror groups like Hamas, and characterizations of IDF soldiers as “bestial” and “subhuman.

He has even likened Israel to Nazi Germany.

More recently, Silverstein engaged in a horrendous smear of Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard, suggesting that The JC knowingly associated with BNP member  Carlos Cortiglia – a claim which is beyond ludicrous and grossly defamatory.  

Silverstein’s original story about the row over Cortiglia (which he later slightly revised) even suggested that the BNP candidate had been hired as “a columnist” by The JC. In fact, as we reported at the time, The JC originally had an open blogging platform which allowed literally anyone to post, including Cortiglia.  But, as soon as Pollard was alerted to the BNP membership affiliation of Cortiglia they immediately barred his access to The JC site.

Even the revised post at Silverstein’s blog still shamelessly claimed (in the caption under the photo of Cortiglia) that The JC “offered” the white supremacist a blogging platform, which was a complete lie.

So, with such a disgraceful record of smears, distortions, outright lies (and various false “scoops”) – in the service of his anti-Israel political agenda – why on earth would any mainstream, “respectable” media outlet legitimize Silverstein?

Well, perhaps we should ask the BBC which, on Wednesday, saw fit to publish a story lending credibility to Richard Silverstein’s post “Bibi’s secret war plan” – a post which he claims was based on information he received from a high-level Israeli source.

The report at the BBC claims that Silverstein has been leaked a document from the IDF detailing the possible methods of an upcoming attack on Iran.

“…a US blogger has published what he says are Israel’s attack plans.

Richard Silverstein told the BBC he had been given an internal briefing memo for Israel’s eight-member security cabinet, which outlined what the Israeli military would do to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.”

The BBC then details, per Silverstein’s “briefing”, the detailed plan of Israel’s “planned” 30-day war against Iran.

As The Commentator explains:

“The problem is, while Silverstein is quick to publish information he ‘receives’, the veracity of such information can of course never be verified. The BBC has not seen the so-called documents that Silverstein purports to have, nor has it double-sourced any information of the sort.

It appears that Silverstein has been duped into thinking that some text on a Hebrew forum was some kind of coded message or secret document, though he excuses the fact that he is quoting almost verbatim from the forum [which used open source information] by stating on his blog that, ‘My original IDF source may have leaked the post to someone at Fresh [forum].  But whoever published it there embellished it with much material that is not in the original document.'”

The BBC, despite being unable to verify any information beyond that of a blogpost, has run full pelt with the story, interviewing Silverstein on several occasions and quoting him widely.”

Regarding his post’s overlap with the Hebrew forum, Silverstein responded by writing:

“Contrary to claims made by many in the hasbarafia at sites like Harry’s Place and CIF Watch, anyone who actually reads the Fresh post and compares it to what I translated & published would see that there is very little overlap. Of the entire 500 word (in English translation) document, perhaps 100 words are in the Fresh post, which itself is quite long, probably over 1,000 words (I haven’t checked).”

This is our first post on the latest Silverstein row, so I don’t know what claims at this blog he is referring to. (I guess he has CiF Watch on the brain.)

More importantly, as Israellycool revealed today, contrary to Silverstein’s claims that a “Fresh member wrote a largely fictional account that included very limited portions of the actual document which I published in full”,  the Fresh post contains Silverstein’s entire document with a few minor, grammatical changes.

Aussie Dave published a comparison of the Forum text with Silverstein’s, provided by Harry’s Place.

So, more broadly, what was Silverstein’s motivation for the post?

Well, commenting on Bibi’s alleged “war plan” on his blog, Silverstein explained:

“[It is] the product of the Israeli dream factory which manufactures threats and then creates fabulist military strategies to address them.

Remember Bush-era Shock and Awe? Remember those promises of precision-guided cruise missiles raining death upon Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? Remember Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” ceremony on the deck of the USS Lincoln, only six or seven years premature? Remember the promises of decisive victory? Remember 4,000 U.S. dead, not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

Now, think of what an Israeli war against Iran could turn into. Think about how this sanitized version of 21st century war could turn into a protracted, bloody conflict closer to the nine-year Iran-Iraq War.”

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Silverstein has run interference for Israel’s foes.

The New York Times reported in September 2011 that the blogger to whom Israeli-born Shamai Leibowitz (who was working for the FBI) gave sensitive information including details of a potential strike on Iran – which he heard from FBI wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. – was none other than Richard Silverstein.

The NYT reported that Leibowitz was working as a Hebrew translator for the FBI when he became concerned about Israeli lobbying efforts in Washington as well as a potential Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. 

Silverstein, who admitted publishing posts on his blog using the information he received from Leibowitz, discussed the case with The NYT out of what he said was a desire to prove that Leibowitz, though in violation of federal law, was acting out of a sense of justice.  Wrote Silverstein:

“I see him [Leibowitz] as a…patriot and a whistle-blower, and I’d like his actions to be seen in that context…” 

Leibowitz has since been charged under the Espionage Act and is now in a Federal custody.

So, it seems that Silverstein sits there in his Seattle home with the supreme belief that Israelis are children who do not understand either their own interests nor the true nature of foreign threats and must be rescued from their leaders’ malevolent designs.  Such unenlightened Jews must, it seems, be liberated from their evidently fantastical belief that Iran represents an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Silverstein represents a perfect example of the supreme hubris – present to varying degrees on the American left – which informs the belief that Israelis must be “saved from themselves” by the more sophisticated.

Such imperiousness regarding the Jewish state manifests itself consistently among the British media elite and it comes as no surprise that the BBC decided to hitch their wagon to Silverstein’s anti-Zionist far-left agitprop.

The only question which remains is how long it will take the Guardian to pick up on Dicky’s faux scoop.

BDS enthusiast David Martin, MEP, and a Hamas-linked trip to Gaza

The following was written by Hadar Sela and published at The Commentator

In the economic climate currently plaguing Europe, one would expect elected officials (and perhaps in particular, members of the Labour Party) to be among the first to support an initiative which has the potential to contribute to easing the strain both on government budgets and the purses of ordinary citizens – especially those with lower incomes. 

However, it seems that for some UK MEPs, political posturing is far more important than the well-being of their constituents.

The European Union – Israel Agreement on Conformity, Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) was approved by the European Council of Ministers in March 2010 and then sent on to the European Parliament for ratification. The European Parliament has delayed that process for over two years – supposedly as a reaction to the May 2010 flotilla incident in which nine Turkish political activists were killed after having attacked Israeli soldiers.

As the wheels of that process begin to turn again, anti-Israel activists are once more trying to scupper the ACAA; among them Labour Party member and Scottish MEP David Martin, who spoke against the agreement in the European Parliament, had a letter of objection published in the Guardian and wrote about the subject on his blog.

If ratified and enacted, the ACAA will mean that European pharmaceutical companies will be able to purchase Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and medicines from Israeli companies at lower costs as the need for additional testing in Europe will in many cases be significantly reduced or even no longer exist.

That of course will bring about lower manufacturing costs for European drug companies, ultimately resulting in savings for the European governments which provide their citizens with healthcare, as well as cheaper  medications for European citizens paying for certain products out of their own pockets .

In addition, as the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the EU move closer towards putting into place legislation that would require APIs from non-EU countries to be certified as guaranteed to conform to EU Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, some of the EU’s current main suppliers (for example in China) are likely to have difficulties in meeting EU standards immediately and could require significant time and investment to adjust.

In such a situation, a cheap and reliable supply of APIs which already conform to EU standards – such as those found in Israel – could be vital both for the guarantee of an uninterrupted supply of medications to European patients and the safeguarding of jobs within the European pharmaceutical industries.

None of that appears to be of any interest to the members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which has been lobbying MEPs to vote against the ACAA.

But the PSC’s lack of respect for the right of European citizens to effective and reasonably priced healthcare appears to be of no concern to quite a few British MEPs, including David Martin, with the PSC claiming that no fewer than 23 of them are against the agreement. Unsurprisingly, several of the same names have also publicly endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Read the rest of the essay, here

Olympic Committee spurning of memory of murdered Israeli athletes is no suprise

The following was written by Hadar Sela, and published at The Commentator:

It is by now pretty clear that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has no intention of changing its stance on the subject of the modest request for a minute’s silence to commemorate the eleven Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists forty years ago at the Munich Olympics.

IOC President, Jacques Rogge

In his letter of response to the request, IOC President Jacques Rogge wrote:

“What happened in Munich in 1972 strengthened the determination of the Olympic Movement to contribute more than ever to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.”

But of course the real message which Rogge and his committee are transmitting loud and clear to the young people they claim to educate is that the ‘Olympic spirit’ is craven in the face of political pressures and that the IOC considers a ‘peaceful and better world’ to be one in which terrorism is appeased and overlooked.

That message, however, is neither new nor surprising.

The background to Rogge’s current stance begins with the fact that just eight years after Munich, Yasser Arafat – under whose leadership the PLO created the Black September terrorist group which carried out the murders – attended the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow at the invitation of the Soviet government and with an apparent blind eye from the IOC.

It continues with the Palestine Olympic Committee’s acceptance to the Olympic Council of Asia just 13 years after the terror attack and the IOC decision to accept Palestine as a full member in 1995, despite the fact that Arafat headed the Palestine Olympic Committee in its early days.

Palestine’s first ever Olympic participant (at the 1996 Atlanta games) held a day job with Force 17 – Arafat’s elite security unit – which also engaged in terror attacks. Force 17 was founded and initially commanded by Ali HassanSalameh, who was also chief of operations for Black September.

One of Force 17’s more notable alumni is Imad Mughniyah – who later went on to join Hizballah.

Today, the Palestine Olympic Committee is headed by Jibril Rajoub – himself no stranger to terrorism, having joined Fatah in his youth and been convicted of throwing a grenade at Israeli soldiers in 1970. Rajoub was released from prison in 1985 under the ‘Jibril deal’  prisoner exchange with the PFLP-GC.

His repeated re-arrest for terrorist activities and his role as organiser in the first Intifada caused him to be deported to Lebanon in 1988. From there he moved to Tunis, where he was the aide and advisor of Khalil al Wazir – aka Abu Jihad – the commander of Black September in the early 70s.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Anti-Israel culture war of British liberal elites is not a grassroots movement

The following is cross posted by Peter C. Glover at The Commentator

The NUJ has been a prominent backer of the boycot

Over the past few years the unions for British journalists, architects, doctors, even the Synod of the Church of England, have all sought boycotts or censure motions against Israel.

In 2007 British academics added themselves to the list – imposing a boycott of relations between British and Israeli universities at a conference of the British University and Colleges Union (UCU).

In 2009, after yet another violent spat with Hamas in Gaza, Britain’s leftist culture warriors again took to the streets.In March, 400 British academics lined up outside London’s Science Museum to protest against workshops merely celebrating the achievements of Israeli Scientists.

A letter to the museum’s organizers, written by Professor Rosenhead from the London School of Economics and signed by 150 academics, said, “This is a dubious venture at the best of times but at this particular moment, after the offensive in Gaza, it’s particularly insensitive.” It went on to claim that the seven academic institutions involved in the workshops were “up to their necks” in Israel’s actions in Gaza.

In April the same year, London’s Bloomsbury Theatre was forced to cancel a Zionist Federation event that included an act put on by an Israeli Defence force dance troupe.  That May, the Anglican Communion, yet again, condemned Israel for allegedly creating “severe hardship” for Palestinians.  In the same month Liverpool city council cut funding for a festival that was to include an anti-Semitic play after the organisers rejected the chance to include a response play by Richard Sterling. And May ended with the hypocritical victimization of a young British Jewish film director at the hands of international British film director Ken Loach and others.  The anti-Semitic nastiness of the British elites – every bit a match for the vileness of the leftie Hollywood glitterati – is exemplified by this particularly illogical spat.  

Prior to his appearance at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), Loach put out a statement, ostensibly under the auspices of the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. In it Loach rounded on the Israeli embassy’s funding the attendance at the EIFF of the 31 year-old Israeli film-maker Tali Shalom Ezer.  

“I’m sure many filmmakers will be as horrified as I am to learn that the Edinburgh International Film Festival is accepting money from Israel,” said Loach. Loach went on to call for “all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation, and stay away.”

Such strong views expressed by a leading light at the festival, was sufficient to prompt the EIFF to hand back the small sum involved, however, the EIFF did subsequently agree to fund the film-makers attendance themselves. For the record, Ezer’s film, ‘Surrogate’, was a romance set in a sex therapy clinic – hardly the stuff of frontline politics.  Ezer was simply targeted by Loach because she was from Israel.  None of this bigotry is anything new.

A short history of boycotts

In April, 2007 the National Union of Journalists, which represents 40,000 British journalistsvoted by meagre 66 to 54 to call for a boycott of Israeli goods demanding that the British government impose sanctions on Israel after denouncing Israel for its “military adventures” in Gaza and Lebanon. 

The conservative Daily Telegraph suitably skewered the move by journalists as “brilliantly singling out the only country in the region with a free press for pariah treatment”.  Even former Guardian reporter and Yahoo Europe news director, Lloyd Shepherd, was moved to respond cryptically: “I look forward to similar boycotts of Saudi oil (abuse of women and human rights), Turkish desserts (limits to freedom of speech) and, of course, the immediate replacement of all stationary in the NUJ’s offices which has been made or assembled in China.” They didn’t come.

Perhaps the greatest irony, however, was that on the very day the British NUJ passed their condemnation of Israel, the International Federation of Journalists was calling upon the Palestinian Authority to secure the release of captured British BBC journalist Alan Johnston. At the time, kidnapped five weeks before the NUJ meeting, Johnston’s kidnap did not even warrant a mention on the British NUJ’s mean-minded agenda.  

Similar small groups of activists have equally influenced key votes at British medical and architect union meetings. British trade unions have also encouraged The South African Congress of Trade Unions and key ANC members to work for a boycott of Israeli goods. In February 2006, the Church of England’s General Synod voted to sell off shares, amounting to £2.5 million, in the US earth-moving equipment company Caterpillar as a company “profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation” of Palestine.

The British boycotters know what they are doing by striking at Israel’s higher educational institutions. Steven Rose, secretary of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, making his case for why Israel should be targeted, explains, “It is precisely because Israel prides itself on its academic prowess…that the idea of an academic boycott is so painful. Israel has uniquely strong academic links with Europe…and…receives considerable financial research support from the EU.”

All of which begs two fundamental questions: why single out Israel? And why is Britain leading the international boycott movement so obsessively?

Why Israel? Why Britain?

Writing in the Jerusalem Post in May 2007, Gerald Steinberg noted the impact that years of campaigning by politically active non-governmental agencies (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, War on Want and Pax Christi will have had.  But still: why Israel?

Well, Evelyn Gordon, addressing the issue “Why Britain?” in the Jerusalem Post a couple of years ago, identified what she described as “two obvious reasons”. First, Britain’s association as America’s closest ally and, second, (back then) Tony Blair’s personal support of Israel’s right to defend itself. But, for me, Gordon gets far nearer the mark when she identifies the role of the activist liberal in British society.

“After all,” says Gordon, “the NUJ controls what Britons read in their papers, hear on their radios and see on their televisions; the Anglican Church controls what they hear from the pulpit; the UCU controls what college students hear in class;  unions play a major role in setting and carrying out policy.” All absolutely true; but not the wholepicture, I think.

It is clear from these various union boycotts that leftwing, highly vocal activists, having ingratiated themselves into key executive power in the UK, are turning the leadership of institutions into bastions of Western liberalism – fed by graduates from equally left-dominated universities. These same universities turn out most of our leading journalists.

As already noted, BBC, anti-Israel, anti-American political bias, in particular, is a thoroughly well documented reality. And though the Anglican Church has many evangelicals (and thus conservatives) in its parish pulpits, the General Synod and hierarchy of the Anglican Church, at least in Britain, remains yet another bastion of leftwing liberalism.  I should know, I am an Anglican Lay Reader.  

Even so, when the Anglican Church entertained more general calls for full boycott of Israel the subsequent grassroots and public reaction was sufficient to divert them to focus on the divestment issue only, the only issue within its specific remit. Similarly, trade union debates on boycotts have often led to calls being rejected outright.

In short, it is premature to conclude, as Evelyn Gordon did in the piece noted above, that as far as the security of the people of Israel is concerned Britain should be written off as “a lost cause”.

While it is patently true that too many of our leading British academic and cultural institutions are in the thrall of cabals of left-wing activists, factor in public backlash that often does not attract mainstream – read liberal – media coverage, and the inherently English (note, I do not say British) instinct for fairness, and anti-Semitism is far from rifeat the British grassroots.  

That fact alone ought to be anything but culturally ‘academic’ to our Israeli friends in the Middle East’s only real democratic, non-despotic, state.      

Peter C Glover is a British writer specialising in international affairs, energy and media issues. See:http://www.petercglover.com

The Commentator picks up BBC fact-check fail.

The now one year-old (congratulations all!) news and commentary site The Commentator brings us the story of a report by the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell which includes lengthy quotes from a source whose name she could not even get right. 

This is a screenshot of the original, which was later amended following the article in The Commentator:

‘Robert’ Falk is, of course, the infamous Richard Falk. Despite his position since 2008 as ‘UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories’, he makes no pretence of objectivity. Here  is Falk on his personal blog expressing support for the 2010 Stuttgart Declaration which opposes a two-state solution and at the bottom line calls for the eradication of Israel.

As The Commentator points out, his anti-Israel ‘CV’ includes much more.

“In a nutshell, Falk is so hostile to Israel that he’s a de facto anti-Israel activist. But even that fails to do justice to the sheer viciousness of his diatribes against the Jewish state. Here’s just a smattering of examples of his approach. First there are the suggested comparisons with Nazi Germany. He has sometimes claimed that he doesn’t quite mean it literally. On others he has talked of Israeli policies as “genocidal”.

He’s ambivalent about Hamas as a terrorist outfit. His language about Israel is peppered with references to “apartheid“, “criminality“, “collective punishment“ and so on. The picture is clear enough.”

Read the whole article here.

So if the BBC could not get Falk’s name right, does that also mean that they failed to run a background check on his suitability as a quotable source before publishing an article relying so heavily upon his opinions? 

And why (just like the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood only a few days ago) did Yolande Knell fail to point out that the two Palestinian prisoners named in her article – Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla (Tha’er Halahleh) – are Islamic Jihad activists

In Hebrew there is a useful phrase: ‘Itonut mita’am’ – עיתונות מטעם – which translates as ‘media on behalf of’. The British public funding the BBC through its compulsory license fee may well ask on behalf of whom or what.