Focus below the line: Guardian readers ‘reflect’ on Israel and the Jews (June 25)

This post is part of a series which re-focuses on the problem of biased moderation at the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’ (CiF) – particularly, reader comments which are off-topic, ad hominem or antisemitic, and yet not deleted by their professional moderators. All of the following comments have been posted under ‘CiF’ op-eds which have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

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Here’s phindrup’s answer to the question “where will their [ISIS] killing stop?”

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None of these reader comments have been deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.

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

A guest post by Joe Geary

NEWS: Middle East

Good evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good night.

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Guardian text & image almost suggest Israeli culpability in Egypt bus bombing

Take a look at the following headline, strap line and photo in a Feb. 18 Guardian story:

headline failThe title, image and caption would leave many readers with the false impression that ‘Israeli agents’ may have played a role in the recent terror attack on a civilian bus in the Egyptian Sinai that killed four tourists.  In fact, you’d have to read pretty far into the report to determine that this isn’t of course the case.

Here are the first six paragraphs:

Egypt’s public prosecutor has charged two men said to be Israeli intelligence agents and two Egyptians with conspiring in Israel’s interests, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

“The public prosecutor ordered Ramzy Mohamed, Sahar Ibrahim, Samuel Ben Zeev and David Wisemen – two officers in the Israeli Mossad – to be sent to a Cairo criminal court for spying for the interests of the state of Israel,” the statement read.

The two Egyptians are already in jail pending investigation, the statement said. The public prosecutor ordered the arrest of the two Israeli officers. It was not clear from the statement if the Israelis were in Egypt. There was no immediate reaction from Israel.

The Egyptians are accused of providing information about Egypt to the Israeli officers with “the intent of damaging national interests in exchange for money and gifts and sex”.

The statement accuses Mohamed of sleeping with women who work in Israeli intelligence. He is also accused of recruiting the accused woman, Ibrahim, to work for Israeli intelligence.

The statement said the two Egyptians had admitted during investigations that they had spied for Israel.

Here are the subsequent paragraphs:

Earlier on Tuesday, a militant group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a Egyptian bus that killed three South Korean tourists and an Egyptian driver close to the border crossing into Israel in the volatile Sinai desert.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, Arabic for Champions of Jerusalem, said in a statement posted on militant websites late on Monday that one of its “heroes” carried out Sunday’s bombing in Taba as part of an “economic war” against the army-backed government.

Egyptian officials have called it a suicide attack, but the Ansar statement did not use any language that would suggest the perpetrator was dead.

The al-Qaida-inspired group has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, but has previously targeted primarily police and the military.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified but it was posted on al-Qaida-affiliated websites.

As you can see, following the headline and image – which evoke the recent terror attack in the Sinai – we immediately learn that Israeli Mossad agents were arrested by Egyptian authorities.  Then, with no transitional text, we learn that “earlier in the [same] day”, there was an attack near the Israeli border.

So, we’re left with two completely different stories which almost seem connected based on the report.  

As you can see by opening these links to other news sites (including in the Arabic media), the Guardian seems to be the only major news site conflating the two events, and juxtaposing a photo the burned bus with the arrest of Israeli ‘agents’.  Indeed, if you want to get an idea of how egregiously misleading the Guardian headline and photo truly is, even the anti-Zionist conspiracy-minded ‘journalists’ at Iranian PressTV showed greater restraint in their report on the story:

mossad

Though the Guardian report is attributed to news “Agencies”, someone at the paper had to review and approve the headline, photo and text – an editor who clearly failed to abide by basic journalistic standards requiring that the media “take care not to publish “misleading or distorted information”.

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CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel, Dec.19-31: Guardian, BBC, Ma’ariv, Ha’aretz, Ynet

Our periodic round-up of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

BBC Watch

Crude stereotyping of ‘expansionist’ Israelis in BBC 3 comedy showBBC guidelines permit national stereotyping “for comic effect” if there are “audience expectations”, but does BBC coverage of Israel in fact create such expectations? (BBC Watch)

BBC’s Knell amplifies UNRWA’s political campaigning on R4′s ‘The World Tonight’BBC reports on the recent flooding in Gaza cite “tight restrictions” on imports of fuel which do not exist . (BBC Watch)

CiF Watch

Guardian: Non-Jewish Israelis who live in settlements should not be called ‘settlers’According to the Guardian’s ‘Style Guide’, the term “settler” can only be used to characterize ‘Jewish’ Israelis who live beyond the green line. So, according to this logic, a Christian or Muslim citizen of Israel living in a “settlement” in the West Bank or “East” Jerusalem would NOT be considered a “settler”. (CiF Watch)

In Focus

Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg Pull Out of ASA Program in Response to BoycottASA takes a more extreme stance on Israel than the president of the Palestinian Authority. (in Focus)

Review of the Fall Semester 2013: Israel Awareness Week at the University of HoustonOver 70 students attend an event with Israel’s highest ranking Muslim diplomat during Israel Awareness Week at the University of Houston, organized with CAMERA’s help and support. (in Focus)

Event Held at the University of Miami Celebrates Gay Life in Israel: About 70 students attend event at the University of Miami to learn about the rights that Israel gives gays in Israel. (in Focus)

The Failures of Sam BahourJ-Street at Brandeis helps bring to campus a speaker that is against Israel’s existence, and that suggested that Israel is responsible for chemical weapon use in Syria. J-Street is part of Hillel on that campus. (in Focus)

CAMERA Helps Bring Jeff Jacoby to Florida: Jeff Jacoby connects Zionism to American history and covers the big lies – big truth phenomenon. Our Owls for Israel Board member at Florida Atlantic University writes about it. (in Focus)

Senior Campus Coordinator at CAMERA Writes to Hampshire College President, Calling on Him to Condemn the ASA BoycottRead her well written letter here. (in Focus)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Gil Magen at Ohio State University Photography Under Fire event draws in many people, including adults over age 50, students from a diverse number of academic department such as Middle East Studies, photography, sociology, political science and others. (in Focus)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Sgt. Benjamin Anthony at George MasonAbout 70 students attend event designed to decrease apathy and increase awareness of Israel. Students involved in Greek life, students enrolled in ROTC and others learn about what drove Benjamin Anthony to leave all he knew in his native U.K. and enlist in the IDF. (in Focus)

Professor Rotella, Director of the American Studies Program at Boston College, Speaks Out Against the ASA Boycott of IsraelRead his letter here. So far 55 institutions have condemned the ASA boycott. (in Focus)

CAMERA

The Samer Issawi TestReleased Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi is an important test case for journalists. His hunger strike continues to garner news coverage. His conviction for multiple attempts of murder, not so much. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts NY Times Correction on Gaza Shortages, ‘Palestinian’ CitiesCAMERA prompts a New York Times correction after the newspaper claimed Israeli cities are “Palestinian,” blamed Israel for water, gas and electricity shortages in Gaza. (CAMERA)

At end of 2013, Ha’aretz Drops Ball on Depo-Provera StoryIn an end of the year round up of most read articles, Ha’aretz drops the ball on the Ethiopian contraception story, repeating errors that the very same news outlet corrected back in March. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts Corrections on Ethiopians’ ContraceptionMonths after CAMERA’s Israel office prompted Ha’aretz to correct coverage about Depo Provera injections for Ethiopian women, the media watchdog sets off another round of corrections at the Israeli news outlet. (CAMERA)

In Jordan Valley, Ha’aretz LostA Ha’aretz photo caption wrongly states that Israel “had voted to extend Israeli law over parts of the Jordan Valley,” even though the original AP caption correctly identified the proposed legislation in question as “a proposed Israeli bill.” (Snapshots)

Presspectiva

Ma’ariv’s Misplaced RageThe cause of a demonstration seems to baffle Ma’ariv (Presspectiva)

Is Israel’s Christian Population Really Declining?A nasty Independent Op-Ed repeats a modern day slander (Presspectiva)

Ma’ariv and Makor Rishon Greatly Over report European antisemitismA report on a new poll on European antisemitism manages to cite every figure wrong. (Presspectiva)

The Reemergence of the Green LineHa’aretz’s updated style guide, no longer encourages translators to avoid using the term “The Green Line”. (Presspectiva)

Who Needs To Check Facts If You Can Read Ynet?A scathing op-ed in the “7th eye” against the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was completely based on an error published in Ynet (Presspectiva)

ReVista de Medio Oriente

Who condemns Palestinian terrorism?: In the Spanish-speaking press, very few voices were given space to condemn the attack to the 240 bus line near Tel Aviv, while only a handful of papers actually published news about the incident. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish-speaking press: These are the weekly highlights about Israel and the Middle East in the Latin American and Spanish press. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Proof of official Palestinian incitement and antisemitism the Guardian won’t report

Israeli security officials recently presented the annualPalestinian Incitement Indexwhich includes findings from recent months in which peace talks have been taking place. The findings demonstrate that incitement against Israel (and Jews as such) is continuing in the state controlled Palestinian media, and that during the period of negotiations, not only did incitement not lessen, but in certain areas even increased.

The data suggests that incitement encompasses several main messages:

  • Israel has no right to exist, and Jews have no link to the holy Land;
  • The Jews are sub-human creatures and must be dealt with accordingly;
  • In principle, all forms of struggle, including terrorism, are legitimate in order to realize the final goal.

Though the documentation on Palestinian incitement was made available to foreign journalists – and subsequently covered even by the New York Times – the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, never shy about framing every Israeli announcement on housing tenders across the green line as an obstacle to peace – has not, as of yet, reported on the disturbing findings.

Here’s the sideshow that was released by the government:

(Note: The video clips seen in some slides can be viewed by clicking on the image.)

Louise Mensch: What The Independent tells us about the Guardian’s crimes

The following was written by Louise Mensch and originally posted at her blog, Unfashionista.  It’s republished here with permission.

Julian Smith MP has filed a complaint to the Metropolitan Police about the Guardian and its potential breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000. Under the Act, it is a terrorist offence to communicate names, or any identifying material, of GCHQ personnel – not just to publish those names, but to communicate them.

The Guardian shipped GCHQ files to American bloggers and the New York Times. In so doing they did a lot more than journalism, ie receiving files and reporting on them. They became traffickers and distributors.

They have refused to answer my questions on Twitter as to whether their trafficked files included names of GCHQ staff, issuing a classic non-denial denial to the Daily Mail that reads like an admission: “We did not include the names of any British spies.” Spies? It’s a terrorist offence to communicate identifying info on any GCHQ personnel.

Well, the Guardian gets all the love and money from this betrayal of our security forces, but there’s another British paper that got to see the Snowden files. The Independent, in August, ran a story about a secret British base in the Middle East.

I believe this story was abominably irresponsible and a betrayal of national security. The excuse was the paper didn’t provide an address and a map. So what? They revealed the existence of the base and put all its operations and operatives in jeopardy.

However, and it is a big however, the Independent here was “committing journalism” as the Guardian likes to put it when trying to avoid the police. They received the files and they reported on them. Irresponsibly and morally wrongly, but that’s all they did,

They didn’t copy the files. They didn’t traffic the files. They didn’t hand the files to foreigner papers and bloggers. They just reported on them.

Once the Telegraph and the Daily Mail – to their eternal credit – started to challenge the Guardian’s muling and commercial trading on our agents’ safety, the Independent published this little-noted editorial. But for the purposes of the police investigation, it is a crucial one, because it tells us just exactly what Guardian editors copied and gave to foreigners in order to get their dying paper more money from online clicks.

In August, we too were given information from the Snowden files. It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain’s security.

I think that’s pretty damned clear.

Yes, it is ludicrous that the Independent thinks publishing a front-page story revealing a secret British Middle Eastern base is not “sensitive” or “damaging”. But they are informing their readers – roughly the same base as the Guardian, the liberal left – just how awful the GCHQ Snowden files are.

Glenn Greenwald, who has now left the Guardian for a French-funded company with his fellow traitor Laura Poitras, was kind enough to tell the world on Twitter that Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson were concerned not to expose any NSA spying, but merely to endanger British operations. He told us what the documents they copied and muled to a blog and the NYT were on September 10th

@peterkofod As for NYT, I had no role at all in that – those were 1 set of docs only about UK that G had. They made that choice without me.

Julian Smith MP’s letter does more than ask the police to investigate if GCHQ personnel were identified in these “just about Britain” documents the Guardian trafficked to foreigners. He also asks the police to compel Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson to help in decryption efforts. After all, they have the documents, and they are happy to hand them to bloggers. And from the Independent, we know that the documents could not be more dangerous to the security of this nation. If a British commercial media company is sitting on the decryption key, they have to hand it over to our intelligence forces. Instead of helping the police and GCHQ see what damage has been done, which agents’ names are out there, and assisting them in saving lives, Rusbridger has admitted online that he has actively prevented this vital information being accessed:

 Are you taking any precautions to prevent US/UK government tampering/stealing with the documents?

Alan Rusbridger: Yes. And many of them are now with the NYT

Julian Smith MP has taken direct action by referring all of this to anti-terrorist police. But of course, it is a question for the Government too. The Home Office Committee is now investigating the Guardian. I have no doubt they will rightly ask ministers if they asked the Guardian for access to these terrible documents and if denied, whether and when they sought an injunction or subpoena to compel this commercial company to give the security forces access.

Once again, thanks to the Independent’s honesty in its editorial, we know the stakes for our intelligence services could not be higher.

It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain’s security.

I believe that anti-terror police are already actively on to breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000. But the Government, for whom defence of the realm is its first duty, must also play its part and not be cowed by the Guardian-BBC axis. We must never let fear of the press stop us from doing the right thing. The legal tools are there to compel the Guardian to share access to these files not just with commercial papers and bloggers but with the forces that defend us. In the same Q&A Rusbridger also said this:

Would The Guardian have been willing to hand  copy to authorities if there hadn’t been threat of prior restraint? 

Answer:

Alan Rusbridger: We had not yet decided what eventually to do with the original material at the point the Government asked us to return it or destroy it.

Theresa May and the Home Office should help Mr. Rusbridger to make up his mind. ‘Destroying’ it is not an option now the Guardian has distributed and trafficked it. Instead, Rusbridger and Gibson, who have access to it, must share that access with our security forces. As the Indie has told us clearly, national security is at stake.

Is the Guardian romanticizing Palestinian child marriages?

There is little debate that the continuing international phenomenon of child marriages represents a serious human rights violation.

Indeed, it is estimated that more than 142 million girls will be coerced into becoming child brides by 2020 if current rates continue. Of that number, 50 million will be younger than 15.  Child marriage “increases health risks through early pregnancy and motherhood”, and increases the chances of girls being the victims of physical and sexual abuse in the home.  In poor countries, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for teenage girls.

According to Babatunde Osotimehin, M.D, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund, “Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects,” 

In Gaza, the problem is especially serious. A recent Al Monitor report claimed that of about 17,000 marriages registered in the courts of Gaza, a staggering 35% of the brides were under 17 years old. The author of the story cites, as the cause of this widespread problem, “old traditions that do not allow girls the right to decide their fate, and a lack of legal and legislative action to grant them this right.”

Yet, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the photographer and Guardian editor responsible for the following Sept. 30 photo story on a recent child marriage in Gaza was almost romanticizing such underage marriages.

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Here’s the caption of the photo:

Ahmed Soboh, 15, is welcomed by his relatives a day before his wedding party, in Beit Lahiya, near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip

In fact, the captions used under the 13 pictures in the series (some of which were featured previously at the Guardian in their ‘Picture Desk Live’ series) don’t even attempt to contextualize the recent marriage of Ahmed, 15, and Tala, who’s only 14, in a manner which would convey the message that such a young union is widely acknowledged to be a grave violation of children’s human rights.

Here’s another photo from the series: 

The newlywed couple pose

Tala and Ahmed

The caption reads: “The newlywed couple poses”.

Here’s another photo:

Palestinian groom Ahmed Soboh, 15, and his bride Tala, 14, stand inside Tal

Ahmed and Tala

The caption reads: “Ahmed Soboh, 15, and his bride Tala, 14, stand inside Tala’s house during their wedding party in Beit Lahiya.”

Finally, the horror of child marriages was recently articulated by an 11-year-old Yemeni girl, Nada al-Ahdal, whose account of escaping her own arranged marriage went viral on YouTube.

It’s difficult to avoid detecting a whiff of liberal racism in the Guardian’s photographic celebration of the young girl’s exploitation – a misplaced fear, perhaps, of offending cultural sensitivities by holding poor Palestinians accountable to Western standards – and, just as likely, an inability to frame stories of injustice in ‘Palestine’ which don’t fit the template of Israeli oppression. 

h/t Elder 

The Guardian faces stiff competition for most sympathetic depiction of murderers

As Israel begins the process of releasing 104 pre-Oslo prisoners (all of whom were convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder) as a concession to the Palestinians to renew negotiations, it’s hard to avoid noticing the media’s sympathetic coverage of the perpetrators and their families, and their callousness towards the victims and their surviving family members.

We’ve commented on this previously, but the recent increase in pictorial coverage relating to the release of the first 26 prisoners requires greater focus.

The Independent, July 28

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Caption:

The mother of Palestinian Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 20 years, hugs her grandson upon hearing the news that her son may soon be released.

Irish Times, July 29

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Caption:

The mother (R) of Palestinian Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 20 years, reacts as she is hugged by her sister after hearing news on the possible release of her son. Abu Moussa was expected to be among more than 100 Arab prisoners to be released as a step to renew stalled peace talks with the Palestinians in Washington today. Photograph: Reuters

The Telegraph, Aug. 14. (Behind pay wall)

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Caption:

Palestinians wave flags and shout as they await the release of prisoners outside the Israeli prison of Ofer, near the West Bank city of Ramallah Photo: REUTERS

The Times, Aug. 14 (Behind pay wall)

A freed Palestinian prisoner, one of 26 to be released, reaches the Gaza Strip Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Caption:

A freed Palestinian prisoner, one of 26 to be released, reaches the Gaza Strip Suhaib Salem/Reuters

The Times, same story:

A small crowd of wellwishers cheered as the men entered Palestinian territory Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Caption:

A small crowd of well wishers cheered as the men entered Palestinian territory Suhaib Salem/Reuters

The Guardian: Here are three photos from their Picture Desk Live series on Aug. 13 and 14:

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Caption:

The father and brother of Palestinian prisoner Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held by Israel for 20 years, hug after hearing news of his expected release in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. On Monday Israel named 26 Palestinian prisoners to be freed this week under a US-backed peace talks deal. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

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Caption:

Freed Palestinian prisoner Ateya Abu Moussa, who was held by Israel for 20 years, hugs his father upon arriving at his family’s house in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Prisoner Release

Caption:

Palestinian people greet and celebrate freed prisoners who arrive in a bus at the Erez crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ali Ali/EPA

Palestinians celebrate while waiting for arrival of released prisoners

Caption:

Palestinians wait the arrival of released prisoners near the Erez crossing. Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners ahead of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/Demotix/Corbis

The Guardian: Finally, here’s a photo used to illustrate a story by Harriet Sherwood on Aug. 14.

Released Palestinian prisoner Nihad Jendeia is welcomed upon his arrival by his relatives in Gaza

Caption:

Released Palestinian prisoner Nihad Jendeia is welcomed upon his arrival by his relatives in Gaza city. Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA

Question: Can you quickly tell us what all of these photos and captions share in common?

Answer: None of these photos – featuring the perpetrators, their families and supporters – included even a word about the often barbaric crimes committed, nor anything about the victims or their surviving family members.  

If you’re interested in learning about the victims of the 26 prisoners, please see our post published on Aug. 12.

You may need to read this twice – the Guardian Denies that Jerusalem is Israel’s Capital.

A guest post by AKUS

Read the caption to the picture below, captured off the Guardian’s website.

“Passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observe a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, when the nation remembers the 6 million Jews who died during the Holocaust”.

Apparently in the April 20th 2012 print edition, on page 24, a fuller version of the caption also correctly termed Jerusalem the Israeli capital.

Now read the following correction made by the Guardian on Sunday 22 April 2012, which is found on the web here. As I did, you may have to read it twice to realize what it says:

• The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is” (Eyewitness, 20 April, page 24).

Did you need to read it again to grasp the “wrong reference” that the Guardian is correcting? In case you missed it, here it is again: the caption, the Guardian claims, violated its style guide by noting in passing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

This calls for a correction, since the Guardian style guide apparently decrees:

 “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”

The Guardian has decided that even though Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since the founding of the state, its Parliament, Supreme Court and ministerial offices are there, it, the Guardian, believes that Tel Aviv is the country’s real capital. It has apparently enforced this absurdity by codifying it in its style guide.

Is there any other country in the world for which the Guardian’s style guide defines the capital as being other than the city that country has selected as its capital? If any newspaper’s “style guide” decreed that London is not the capital of England, would that not be ludicrous? Is the next step for the Guardian style guide to decide that Israel is not a country but Palestine is, even though exactly the opposite is true?

More than anything else this absurd refusal to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital demonstrates the utter perversity of the Guardian’s reporting about Israel. It shows in their own words, in print, the Guardian’s cringing acceptance of Arab propaganda that is rewriting the history of Jerusalem, the attempts to write the Jewish history out of the history of Jerusalem, and the Guardian’s attempts to delegitimize Israel and deny its right to exist. 

If they had any shame, the people running the Guardian should be ashamed of their style guide and this ridiculous “correction” of a truthful statement. But they have no shame.


Ezra Nawi and an Irish Scandal: A praised Guardian “activist” is now not so praiseworthy

A guest post by AKUS

A long time ago – actually, on July 3, 2009 – before the Guardian decided to ban me from commenting on CiF, the Guardian ran one of its “In Praise” editorials – this time In praise of … Ezra Nawi.  

Ezra Nawi, a fanatically anti-Israeli Israeli, was to be tried for assaulting a police officer while interfering with the removal of an illegal Bedouin settlement. This was a follow-up to a previous tear-jerker on the same topic by the reprehensible Israeli BDS supporter, Neve Gordon – Israeli activist to be jailed for caring.

Nawi has a long history of anti-Israeli activities. Both articles played fast and loose with the truth about the case and his personal history, which is no surprise given that they appeared in the Guardian. You can read commentary by Abtalyon and, yes, AKUS, in the threads below the line, pointing out the numerous errors and falsifications in both articles.

Neve Gordon went to some trouble to describe Ezra Nawi as a simple, high-minded and special person, even pointing out his relatively unique status as a gay Israeli of Iraqi Jewish origins and his humble proletarian class-status as “a plumber by trade”:

Nawi is not a typical rights activist. A member of Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership he is a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent who speaks fluent Arabic. He is a gay man in his fifties and a plumber by trade. Perhaps because he himself comes from the margins, he empathises with others who have been marginalised – often violently. 

Now a political scandal in Ireland reveals that Ezra Nawi was not always the simple and heroic soul Gordon and the Guardian were so anxious to defend and praise. The Guardian may have been ignorant of Nawi’s past (after all, ignorance about Israel is a hallmark of Guardian reporting on Israel), but one can only wonder whether Gordon decided to avoid mentioning a rather unsavory event from Nawi’s background.

In Ireland, a scandal has erupted because it turns out that a gay Irish politician named Senator David Norris, who is (or perhaps now we should say, was)  running for the presidency of Ireland, had Ezra Nawi as his partner for 30 years  and intervened in an earlier court case brought against Nawi in 1992. In that case, Nawi was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year old boy.  According to the Daily Mail report:

In the eight-page letter on official notepaper to the Israeli court dealing with Nawi, Mr. Norris described him as a trustworthy, good and moral person for whom the ‘present difficulty’ is uncharacteristic.

Neither the Guardian nor Neve Gordon mentioned the trustworthy and moral Mr. Nawi’s prior conviction in their articles. Did Neve Gordon know about Nawi’s less than praiseworthy past? Well, in the Guardian’s archives, there is yet another article from November 29, 2004, in praise of Ezra Nawi, this time by Dafna Baram- My plumber, the hero .  Baram is a virulently anti-Israeli contributor of articles to the Guardian from a famous Israeli family.  Her article has the following reveling information:

Ezra came round straight away; he was cheap, efficient and accompanied by a gorgeous young Palestinian.

Further into Baram’s article, we meet one of Ezra’s lovers, Fuad, a West Bank Arab. Then the second intifada breaks out and the Israeli police wish to return Fuad to the West Bank. This poses a serious threat to Fuad’s life according to Baram:

For Fuad, returning there [to Ramallah] as an openly gay man was not far short of suicide…

Although at the time this probably did not mean much to the Guardian’s readers, in the light of the Irish political scandal it becomes interesting to note that Ezra the humble plumber living his activist life in caves near Hebron taps his extensive network of foreign contacts for support to prevent Fuad from being returned to the West Bank. The timing that Baram provides is also interesting in light of the 1992 case:

Five years ago, [i.e., in 1999] he showed up with Fuad, who was here to stay. They had had their fling four years earlier, [i.e. 1995] but this time it was love. … Soon enough, nearly every human rights organisation in Israel, and quite a few abroad, were involved in the Ezra and Fuad case…

Well, once again, it looks like the Guardian, ardent supporter of Hamas and determined foe of Israel may have some back tracking to do – except it never does.

In case you might wonder how the Guardian would protect Ezra Nawi, so suddenly and embarrassingly revealed as a convicted rapist, consider this article from August 2nd, 2011 – Scandal scuppers prospect of Ireland electing first gay president. The Guardian, ever eager to point out the misdeeds of this or that Israeli, or this or that politician, carefully hides the identity of its praiseworthy hero in the header and sub-header in a way designed, apparently, to evoke sympathy for Norris and an unnamed former partner:

“David Norris drops out of race over revelation he pleaded for clemency for former partner over rape of 15-year-old boy”

But a little deeper in, Nawi’s name emerges:

David Norris announced he was withdrawing from the contest after it emerged he had written to the Israeli authorities in 1997 appealing for clemency for his former partner, Ezra Yitzhak Nawi. The Israeli peace activist was later found guilty of the statutory rape of the Palestinian boy and served time in prison.

Courtesy of the Guardian, we have had the faked Al Durrah affair, the “Jenin Massacre” that never happened, the various lies about Cast Lead, the disaster of the repudiated Goldstone report, the embarrassing blow-up of the Palestinian Leaks, the Mavi Marmara affair determined by the UN to be exactly the opposite to what the Guardian has reported, and the rubbish about Israel – posted by commentators like Ben White, Rachel Shabi, Mya Guarnieri, Harriet Sherwood, and on and on – which we have debunked time after time on these pages.

Now we have the Ezra Nawi affair that once again shows the laxness of the Guardian’s reporting about Israel. One can only wonder if there was a deliberate cover up that involved Baram, Gordon, and the Guardian.  They all presented Nawi as a simple plumber (“Ezra Nawi lives on the modest wages he earns as a plumber” according to the Guardian). However, the humble proletarian activist, Ezra Nawi, it turns out, has a network of international contacts the Clintons might envy and a less than savory past that it is hard to believe that at least Gordon and Baram did not know about.

Pardon my Schadenfreude as they all examine this anti-Israeli activist’s feet of clay.

Britons warned to respect Yom Kippur when visiting Israel this October

The Guardian, in a story about Israel that I simply can’t defend, recently noted:

UK’s Foreign Office has warned Britons holidaying in Israel this Fall that eating in public during Yom Kippur, or conspicuously violating the laws of Shabbat in religious neighborhoods, could land a fine, or imprisonment for repeat offenders. The new guidance says “failure to comply” with local customs “could result in arrest” and that “discretion should be exercised” even in the case of children over 13, pregnant women and nursing mothers. Israeli police have said that non-Jews will receive one warning before arrest.

The Foreign Office advice reads:

“Do not eat in public during the Jewish fast day (including in your car). This is considered highly disrespectful.”

“The majority of eating and drinking establishments will be closed, but you can find some coffee houses with screens that are intended to allow people to eat during the daytime away from public view.”

Its “British Behaviour Abroad” report, based on consular statistics, found that of the 20 countries in the world with the largest British expatriate populations, Britons were more likely to be arrested in Israel than in any other country covered in the report except Thailand.

This is largely because the Israeli laws and customs are very different to those in the UK. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK,” said the Foreign Office. Last month a British woman living in Jerusalem was fined 350 Shekels – around $100 – for insulting Zionism.

Sean Tipton, from the Association of British Travel Agents, recommended that holidaymakers study the Foreign Office advice.

He said:

“In addition, we will be reminding ABTA members who sell trips to Israel to signpost their customers to this information. However, whilst we fully understand and appreciate the importance of the Jewish high holy days, we would strongly recommend that the Israeli authorities practise these enforcement measures with a degree of sensitivity and discretion so as to avoid causing unwarranted distress to foreign visitors and the risk of significant damage to their tourist industry.”

Major hotels in Israel are also working to help their guests stay within the law. The Jerusalem Tourism board is issuing a new booklet “to communicate to non-Jewish guests the etiquette surrounding such an important religious time”. 

Finally, I neglected a couple of important facts about the Guardian report.  First, the country which the UK Foreign Office issued a warning about was Dubai, and not Israel. Second, the holiday which visitors can be arrested is not Yom Kippur, but the month-long Muslim Holiday of Ramadan. Oh, and of course the Brit mentioned, who was issued the fine, per a previous passage was penalized, not for insulting Zionism, but for insulting Islam on Facebook.

As I was reading that Brits could face arrest, fine and/or imprisonment for violating Muslim religious laws, I was imagining the CiF headlines if such intolerance were suddenly codified in Israel.  

New Israeli laws forcing non-Jews to abide by Jewish rituals signifies a growing tide of religious fascism in the country.

Or

New Israeli laws constraining freedom of religious expression,  the latest in a series of outrageously discriminatory and exclusionary laws enacted over the past year.”

“Human Rights NGOs issue urgent statements condemning new Israeli laws a violation of fundamental human rights, and another in a serious of bills eroding the countries religious tolerance.”

We’d also no doubt have a perfunctory photo of a menacing looking Orthodox Jew, or a quite scary looking Israeli leader to illustrate the malevolence of the prohibitions  – such as this photo of Bibi which accompanied in one of Harriet Sherwood’s hysterical warnings over recent anti-BDS legislation (and that simply chilling rule requiring kindergarten students to sing the national anthem once a week).

Instead, the 500 word report, (filed under the category of UK News) by Guardian’s religious correspondent, , reports the story quite matter-of-factly, as if she was reporting on a warning by Dubai authorities to take precautions in light of the emirate’s extreme Summer heat.  

Indeed, the Guardian report also includes this professional, quite stunning, photo which could have been provided by the Dubai Tourism Board.

Moreover, is there really any doubt that this will be the last report on Dubai’s culture of intolerance?  

No, unlike such stories about Israel, which would likely be reported continually and include straight news stories covering every considerable negative angle of the bill, and CiF commentaries with hyperbolic warnings about Israel’s descent into totalitarianism, Butt’s report likely will represent the last such dispatch on the quite audacious and seemingly illiberal requirement that non-Muslims abide by Muslim laws.

And, whatever gives CiF Watch the nutty idea that the Guardian employs egregious double standards when reporting on the Middle East?

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

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

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

Yes, the author is one “Shimon Peres”.

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

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

The Guardian finds fresh new talent to whitewash terror connections of flotilla movement, and demonize Israel

When Ruqaya Izzidien is not minimizing the threats posed by radical Islam, or decrying European Islamophobia, blogging for the extreme anti-Israel site Mondoweiss, or contributing to Al Jazeera, she serves as the UK correspondent for Bikyamasr, an online magazine which focuses on “Egypt and the region” – a site which has, on the sidebar of their home page , a “resistance to occupation” video which contains scenes like these:

Among her more notable contributions, in the course of covering the UK for Bikyamasr, was an op-ed about the terrorist attacks on 7/7 and British Muslim terrorism more broadly, where, despite describing herself as a “justice-seeking”, “anti-violent” “hippy”, says, employing the Ben White formula of not explicitly endorsing hateful ideologies and actions, but expressing, nonetheless, an “understanding” or “empathy” towards it:

“I can…provide a valuable insight which will begin to help us understand [terrorist attacks by UK Muslims]. It is awful to feel uncontrollably out-of-place. Add to that a feeling of injustice about British involvement in the Middle East and the implementation of an apparently racist state policy of arresting anyone who has a Muslim look about them, as if it were possible to define religion according to skin color, and we have a real recipe for creating the type of alienated person who will seek control through other mediums”

 She is also, naturally, given such an impressive resume of anti-Zionism and “contextualizing” Islamist terror, a contributor to the Guardian, and penned a piece, Gaza flotilla: ‘Solidarity more important than aid’, July 6 (on the Guardian’s ‘Global Development Page, a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).

The piece is notable in its frank admission that the flotilla movement was never about providing Palestinians with humanitarian aid (which, we’ve noted, is not in short supply) – and represents the reason why, according to Izzidien, “Gazans are quick to dismiss the Israeli-Greek offer to offload and transport to Gaza the humanitarian aid aboard the flotilla.”

She further explains that the desires of those involved in the flotilla campaign are to seek “peace” and “justice”, yet, characteristically, never once , in a 800 word essay, mentions the word Hamas in the context of Palestinians desire for rights, and further cites an “activist” as alleging Israel’s blockade is “illegal” – despite the paucity of any such designation by any official institution, and a body of international law and historical precedents attesting to the legal legitimacy of Israel’s blockade of arms flowing to the hostile Hamas regime.

Izzidien’s exercise in polemical obfuscation is perhaps most evident when she quotes a member of the International Solidarity Movement – whose unambiguous malicious intent, regarding the flotilla movement, was revealed in a video by member Adam Shapiro –  saying the following:

“The dirty campaign against this flotilla has informed much of the world about Israeli subversion, from coercing foreign governments to act against the express wishes of their citizens to sabotaging civilian ships in international ports under the cover of darkness” [emphasis mine]

Indeed, such a narrative, imputing in Israel’s efforts to defend themselves from an increasingly well-armed terrorist group committed to its destruction – conjuring a “dirty campaign” of “subversion” and “coercion”, by the Zionist entity – could have been written by the sponsors and organizers of the latest flotilla campaign who, it was revealed, just so happen to be Hamas operatives.

I now understand Izzidien’s curious omission of the word Hamas anywhere in her diatribe.  I mean, after all, who needs the painful cognitive dissonance which would naturally arise from the understanding that no matter how much she hates the Zionist regime, the flotilla movement’s “grass roots” effort by “peaceful activists” to show solidarity with Gaza is actually an orchestrated propaganda event by a reactionary terrorist movement.  

Vilifying Israel is just so much more satisfying – and much more likely to give you a platform at the Guardian.

Pat Condell’s take on the Guardian

H/T Armaros

I don’t agree with everything Pat Condell (a British writer and comedian) says, and I personally think that his anger sometimes blurs what is, otherwise, often quite sober analyses of the injurious effects of political correctness on efforts to fight Islamic extremism, but his take down of the Guardian is simply spot-on and needs to be heard.

Guardian readers come to the defense of the tragically misunderstood Islamic Republic of Iran

An Iranian-Israeli named Meir Javedanfar penned a piece for CiF (Why Israel is wrong about Iran, June 25) which argued against an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear weapon sites.

While Mr. Javedanfar’s argument certainly leaves much to debate, the most interesting theme in the comment thread pertained to the Iranian apologists it produced – those who see Israel as the root cause of turmoil in the Middle East and evidently don’t care much for criticisms of Iran’s atrocious human rights record, or the truth about their most successful exportterrorism.

Almost comical moral inversion: Iran as “conservative” and “inward looking”. Israelis, in contrast to the introspective Iranians, are zealots. Israel is a state built on terror and expansionism.  (260 Recommends)

The following, seriously making the claim that Iran holds the “moral high ground” in regional and international affairs, is too comical to have been written by a mere Guardian reader alone, as it seems more like a communique from the Iranian Ministry of Information. (88 Recommends)

The world can only hope and pray that Iran reigns in Israel. (25 Recommends)

While only the Guardian would publish a so-called Global Peace Index which places Israel below Iran in terms of peace and human rights, it takes a Guardian reader to actually give such a report credibility. (26 Recommends)