Are suicide bombings acts of “Altruism”? Another Guardian moral inversion

A guest post by Mitnaged

The CiF article by Aditya Chakrabortty is quite up to the usual standards of Comment is Free.  Those of us who are acquainted with The Guardian world view (Islamism good = opposition to Islamism, particularly by Israel and Jews = bad) might be forgiven for believing that the headline alone – “Are al-Qaida and the Taliban driven by a desire to help others” – is an attempt to sanitise the murder and mayhem by Al-Qaida and the Taliban in the wake of the hunting down and killing of Osama bin Laden.

True, Chakrabortty asks the question of whether two of the most barbaric terrorist organisations are driven by altruism rather than states it as fact.  However, the article lacks the depth to examine the answers fully.  It cherry-picks from research into terrorism but in such a way as only to lean towards its tendentious thesis, and as usual uses the end results of that selectivity to argue that bin Laden’s death is the single biggest distraction from a serious analysis of the roots of terrorism.  It is not.  That serious analysis is still ongoing.

The author says that “some” researchers view suicide bombers/jihadis as desperate but rational human beings, operating in wrecked countries.  He refers to Ariel Merari, whose work has provided valuable insights into the mindsets of suicide terrorists, notably that they are not depressed or suicidal, by and large, and neither are they insane.

Chakrabortty goes on to quote from what I believe to be a cursory, and therefore over simplistic interpretation of Eli Berman who provides a predominantly economic explanation for the growth of suicide terror and argues that cutting their funding can undermine them fatally.  Chakrabortty says that the Taliban and Hamas also provide vital social services which they can use to bring people to their cause (or equally to threaten by deprivation of them, or to distribute them unevenly as does Hamas in Gaza).

But altruism?  How like CiF to batten onto that word, so positive in its connotations, and yet so misplaced in the way Chakrabortty and The Guardian want us to believe it means.   Can any rational, intelligent person believe that men, women and children who walk into crowds of civilians anywhere in the world, and blow themselves and the surrounding crowds to smithereens do so out of their own altruism?   And can we really argue that the motives of the sociopaths who recruit them are altruistic as it is defined below* and as most of us might construe it?

The psychological explanations of suicide terror, whether they result in a personality typology or not, are, in my opinion, most illustrative of the lack of altruism of the bomber’s mindset.  Can a person who possesses no altruistic motivation be talked into it?  The poor fools whose heads have been ideologically conditioned to further the Islamist cause may not be altruistic at all.  True, they may well have been told that their deaths will serve the greater good, but that is a calculated ploy on the part of their handlers to get them to perform the deed:

According to Dr Ami Pedahzur (2006) terrorists seeking to recruit suicide bombers look for individuals who are personally committed to a leader, group or ideology or who have suffered a personal crisis brought about by the suffering of family, friends or community members with whom they feel a deep sense of identification. Furthermore, they must be in an environment that supports suicide terrorism.  Such people, although sane, are emotionally vulnerable and have potential to be inspired by the network’s goals.  They may be recruited by family members, close friends or even casual acquaintances.

More recently, in Iraq, another type of suicide bomber, female, has entered the scenario, women who have been deliberately raped and forced to become human bombs to save their and their families’ honour.  What we see here is cynical, sociopathic exploitation, the reduction of these women to mere “means/ends” objects rather than evidence of the altruism of their recruiters and trainers who are sending them to certain painful death, while they themselves remain safe.

Once identified, training the suicide bomber can occur very quickly sometimes in a matter of hours.  The trainers convey the basics about the operational side of the mission, and ensure the recruit’s mental preparedness for the mission so as to reduce the chances that he or she will change his or her mind at the last-minute.   

While Islam condemns suicide just as many other religions do, terrorist recruiters position the act as “self sacrifice” for a supreme cause—a sacrifice that brings the individual honour and respect and guarantees him or her eternal salvation (see here for various Islamic rulings on the permissibility of suicide bombing, the use of prisoners as human shields, etc). This may further complicate matters for people like Charkrabortty who appear all too willingly to believe that those regimes who willingly send people to blow themselves up among innocent people are motivated by “altruism”.

The indoctrination process into suicide terrorism generally includes showing the recruit persuasive thematic material that supports the effort and exploiting charismatic images to help them internalize the cause. Recruits also are often shown final testimonials from “successful” suicide bombers that reinforce the commitment to die for the cause. The conditioning process may occur in such a manner that the recruit is not even aware of what group he or she is acting on behalf of.

A unique and seminal insight into the process, from recruitment onwards can be found here .   From this and from other articles I have read, it seems that any altruism possessed by these “dead men walking” is introjected from the pretence of their handlers and then bedded in by their training.  Note particularly the warning to the reporter that she must not refer to these operations as “suicide” operations because suicide is forbidden by Islam.  The suicide bomber recruitment process is almost identical to that employed by the Moonies and other cults, even down to the distortion of language it uses.

But, returning to the theme of “altruism”,  from a psychological perspective, in psychology and psychiatry, altruism is considered to be one of the healthiest types of psychological defence mechanism, and is *defined as “constructive service to others which brings pleasure and personal satisfaction.”  Note the “constructive”.   Altruism may be a way of turning one’s bad impulses into behaviour which is positive and pleasurable to the self and others, it cannot be said to be the driver for nihilism and murder.

Now, there seems to be little reason to doubt that every explosion of a human bomb among Israeli civilians or soldiers in Afghanistan is pleasurable to the people who ordered it, and in the case of Palestinians and others who react with joy to the murder of Israelis.  However, to assert that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and their offshoots in infamy are acting from altruistic motives is to make the worst sort of category mistake,[1] as well as, given that this is after all published on CiF, almost certainly a deliberate attempt to mislead.


[1] Category mistake is a term introduced by English philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) for cases where we talk of something in terms appropriate only to something of a radically different kind.

Awards in perverse moral equivalence: Guardian Letters Edition

The murder of Israeli actor Juliano Mer Khamis by masked gunmen in Jenin, likely by Palestinian terrorists who saw Khami’s secularism, social liberalism, and peace activism as a threat, was a horrible blow to those brave but marginal forces in Palestinian society who are truly working towards co-existence.  Indeed, Khami’s background – his mother was Jewish while his father was a Christian Palestinian – rendered him uniquely suitable to bridge such enormous political divides.

This murder also represents a dilemma for those with a cognitive predisposition to believe that terrorist movements in the Middle East may at least marginally be defined as representing authentic “resistance” to oppression, as evidence by the following letter printed in the Guardian, one of only two published by the Guardian regarding Khamis’s murder:

The murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, actor, director, founder of the Jenin Freedom Theatre in Jenin refugee camp, is an assault on art and artists, peacekeepers and the creative lives of young people who live under the constant threat of violence. As American theatre-makers whose work is dedicated to understanding of the other and the self, we condemn this unspeakable act and the policy of targeted assassination which is widely practised by militant non-state actors and by governments. [emphasis mine]

Karen Malpede, George Bartenieff Theatre Three Collaborative, New York James Nicola, Linda Chapman New York Theatre Workshop

One of the defining features of the Guardian Left – an ideology which transcends the political context in the UK which the Guardian operates – is a mind numbing inability to draw moral distinctions between the defensive actions of liberal democracies and the wanton violence employed by terrorist groups to achieve explicitly reactionary ends.

To equate Israeli military actions meant to take out hardened terrorists operating on their borders – in order to prevent such groups from targeting their civilians – with the cold-blooded murder of a peace activist who ran afoul of Islamist ideology represents a dangerous political pathology – an ideology nurtured daily in the pages of the Guardian.

Fat cats, hedge funds, & off-shore tax havens? The Limousine Liberalism of the Guardian

The Guardian has recently been crusading against large donations from the London financial sector to the Conservative Party, describing in ominous tones the hedge fund managers who have passed millions to Tory coffers, and asking if such donations may influence the policy decisions of Prime Minster David Cameron’s Government.

Typical is a Guardian picture gallery, which portrayed, in unflattering profiles, some of the largest donors – often darkly noting their hedge fund ties.

Well, according to Guido Fawke’s Blog, it looks like the Guardian Media Group (GMG) has quite a cozy relationship with such fat cats, and indeed invested over £223 million in Hedge Funds during the height of the banking crisis, netting a cool £39 million – investments largely off shore from the UK and managed by an enormous, and highly secretive, assets management company (Cambridge Associates) whose client list includes billionaires and foreign governments.

Even more revealing, however, these funds are in addition to GMG assets held in Cayman Islands corporations where the rate of corporation tax is zero. Sources from Guido Fawke’s Blog suggest that GMG has between £300 million and £500 million held offshore. Such tax haven corporate vehicles are used to shield assets from tax.

Alan Rusbridger, Guardian’s Editor-in-Chief, by the way, sits on the Board which approved these investments – authorizing tax avoidance tactics which his paper has crusaded against, noting that such investments costs the UK billions in lost revenue.

In one Guardian expose, Brendan Barber, TUC (Trade Union Congress) general secretary, said:

“Tax avoidance is hollowing out the tax system. With the rest of us having to fill the tax gap left by Britain’s most wealthy, there is a real threat to the future of public services – especially as the recession takes its toll on normal tax flows.

The hypocrisy here is exquisite: a crusading “progressive” activist newspaper which routinely peddles in populist rhetoric about “afflicting the comfortable” and “comforting the afflicted” turns out to be quite comfortable failing to pay their fair share of taxes, thereby playing a major role in diluting the UK Treasury of funds necessary to alleviate the social problems they are always campaigning about.

I guess we can sum up the Guardian’s social mission this way: Do as I say, not as I do.

The Limousine Liberal’s defining modus operandi.

The Guardian sucks because……competition. Enter for a chance to win $50!

We’re trying something new at CiF Watch: we’re running our first competition.

Over the next week,  tell us why the Guardian sucks in 140 characters or less.

Entries must begin with the words “The Guardian sucks because” and can be posted either in the comments sections of this post, or by tweeting your reply @cifwatch in Twitter using the hashtag #cwcomp. If you’re minded to do so, tweet your answer also to chief editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, @arusbridger.

The best entry as selected by the CiF Watch judges wins a whopping $50 gift card.

Yes, I know.  This is really unfair, but – given the limits of Twitter – not only are we asking that you kindly reduce your litany of complaints about the Guardian to just one answer, we’ve also got the gall to require that you limit your response further to no more than a miserly 140 characters.

While we’re a comparatively small organization, and the winning entry will only net you a $50 gift card (and, no, we didn’t accidentally omit another zero in that sum), think of how good you’ll feel getting out all of that frustration – the groans, gasps, and grumbles elicited by even a casual glance at the Guardian – and knowing that your thoughts will be on record, prompted by the site which, day after day, truly speaks truth to power.

(h/t to Chas for the inspiration)

668 Guardian readers agree: The dearth of political freedom in the Arab world is Israel’s fault

Slavoj Žižek, who in the past has characterized Israel as something approaching a totalitarian state, penned a CiF piece on Feb. 1st mocking Western

concerns about the potential for radical Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood to take advantage of recent uprisings across the Middle East.

However, more striking than Zizek’s predictable narrative, downplaying the threat posed by radical Islam, were the readers comments it inspired.

Zizek’s piece – which quoted Mao, and was curiously published both in English and Arabic – elicited this:

668 Guardian readers recommended the claim that the only progressive democracy in the Middle East somehow represents an obstacle to freedom in the Arab world (an opinion which J Street funder George Soros is in agreement with), proving that no argument critical of Israel, no matter how absurd, is beyond the fertile imagination of those predisposed to such bigotry.

The surrender of Joseph Harker

It would be tempting to accuse the Guardian’s assistant comments editor, Joseph Harker, of lacking the fortitude necessary to resist a radical ideology which openly seeks the West’s destruction, but the facts don’t really support such an attack.

The reason I couldn’t, in good faith, make such an accusation against Mr. Harker, based on his CiF column “Beware of the bearded white man“, is because to accuse him of surrendering to such reactionary forces would imply that he comprehended the threats posed by radical Islam and simply didn’t possess the strength to resist.

However, you can’t accuse someone of giving in to an enemy he or she doesn’t believe exists in the first place.

Harker’s piece, brimming with ugly racial undertones, mocks the efforts by British law enforcement to combat the myriad of active terrorist threats by Islamist cells operating within their borders, and vilifies those who expect moderate Muslims to denounce and distance themselves from such extremism practiced in their name.

Harker says:

Since I heard the news last week I’ve been terrified. Could it be him? Could it be her? Every time I get on the train or bus. Every time I go into a shop. There they are. Looking so ordinary – but are they about to blow themselves up, taking all us innocent passersby with them?

Yes, since the news emerged that two white British al-Qaida members had been killed in a US drone attack, I can’t help wondering if all white people are potential terrorists. I’m sure only a small minority are actively signed up to the jihadists; but what about the others? Are they sympathisers?…That young white man opposite me with the rucksack: what’s in there? Please, don’t make any sudden movements….Some look blatantly sinister, especially those with beards. The others: well, you just don’t know if they’re simply trying to blend in.

Continue reading

On the Palestinians, Israel, and American moral clarity

I was tempted to simply post the following image created by Elder of Ziyon without comment.

However, upon reflecting on the significance of the message Elder was conveying, it seemed more fitting to provide a bit of context.

Much of the American hard-left intelligentsia always seem so baffled by the fact that the U.S. has historically been so steadfast in their support of Israel.  They simply can’t understand why, in poll after poll, Americans overwhelmingly side with Israel over the Palestinians.

Some, in an effort to “understand” this dynamic, resort to answers which call upon historic anti-Semitic tropes – such as the injurious “power” of organized Jewry (their control of Congress, the media, etc.)

However, for the overwhelming majority of Americans – who don’t read the Guardian, aren’t smitten with Walt and Mearhsheimer, and aren’t seduced by the vitriol of Glenn Greenwald – the answer is a simple one.

Though Israel, like every Western democracy, of course isn’t perfect, most average Americans instinctively know the difference between a democracy under siege and a reactionary movement whose values simply do not reflect their own.

Per Elder of Ziyon:

Americans are, far more than Europeans, a proudly and passionately patriotic lot, aren’t crippled by moral relativism and, most importantly, know the difference between a friend and a foe.

Yes, some things in life really are that simple.

The Guardian’s Mya Guarnieri, and junk-food journalism

Mya Guarnieri’s recent article on CiF prompted me, not for the first time, to ask myself just what makes her ( and others like her who sometimes grace the pages of CiF) qualified to analyse events in Israel according to ‘Guardian think’. A Master of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University is no doubt a worthy achievement in itself, but it hardly seems to be the natural qualification of choice to be demanded from a person engaging in analysis of one of the more politically and historically complicated regions of the world.

Like Seth Freedman with his background in the London stock market and Rachel Shabi with her degree in politics and literature, Guarnieri’s major qualification as far as the Guardian is concerned appears to be that she relatively recently relocated to Tel Aviv-Yaffo. But that in itself is obviously not enough to secure a column on CiF – otherwise we would have several hundred newish residents of Israel’s second city furiously scribbling away on behalf of the Guardian.  The point seems to be that the English-speaking new immigrant should be able to combine a familiar Anglo-centric view of Israel which the Guardian reader will not find remotely challenging, together with the moral justification of being a Jewish Israeli in order to deflect criticism of anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic bias.

And thus the reports the reader is served by writers such as Guarnieri, Shabi and Freedman are like choosing a kosher McDonald’s hamburger in a region rich with unfamiliar, exotic food. It may be kosher, but it’s still a hamburger; it has no connection to the deep-rooted traditions and culture of the region.  It doesn’t reflect anything of the environment in which it is served – instead it keeps the consumer safely within the confines of known and comfortable reference points. It is neither challenging nor outlook-broadening. It demands nothing of the reader other than to file yet another already anticipated experience in the memory file labelled ‘Israel’.

Like all fast-food, this junk journalism can become addictive, both to the consumer and the producer. A perusal of Guarnieri’s blog shows that since its establishment in April 2008, she has been churning out the same old stuff again and again for outlets such as Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, Ma’an and, of course, CiF.  She also contributes to sites which explicitly call for the end of the Jewish state such as Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada. Her promotion of the one-state ‘solution’ and her recurrent theme of Israel as an ever-more totalitarian and fascist state no doubt go down well with the audiences at those outlets, but that doesn’t make her material any more representative of what really goes on in the country which for some reason she has chosen to live than a McDonald’s hamburger eaten between the cramped and bustling market stalls of shouk Hacarmel.

Continue reading

Despite the catastrophic fire in Israel, the Guardian’s demonization of the Jewish state proceeds as usual

A Guest Post by AKUS and Israelinurse

The fire raging on the Carmel has caught the world’s attention, and has made headlines in print and on TV.

The Guardian’s vicious anti-Israeli bias has rarely been better demonstrated than in the report by Haroon Siddique, filing from London (Forest fire kills 40 in Israel).

As Backseatblogger pointed out:

The Guardian has only published one story written by Haroon Siddique. That story appeared on December 2nd.  There has been nothing since. The fires are still spreading and are now approaching the University of Haifa.

Originally his story stated that 40 prison guards were killed fleeing the fire. (i.e. insinuating that the guards had left their prisoners to die).

Now that story has been ‘corrected’ to read as follows:

A forest fire in northern Israel killed about 40 people today. Authorities cleared the Carmel Forest area of hundreds of people, including some 500 Palestinian inmates from the Damon prison, after the fire broke out early today. The bus was carrying some 50 prison guards when it flipped over and got caught in the flames.

But this is still not the whole story, despite a rare admission of a correction from the Guardian, which, however, managed to omit the reason the correction was required:

This article was amended on 3 December 2010. The original, reflecting information then available, referred to the bus evacuating prison guards from blaze in Carmel mountains (sic). This has been corrected

(Note to the Guardian – the world, generally speaking, refers to the area as Mount Carmel, as it has been known for approximately 2,500 years, despite anything the Palestinian Authority might have to say on the matter).

In fact, it appears that the article was “corrected” once again, with the addition of a link to Ha’aretz and a change of subheader:

Authorities cleared the Carmel Forest area of hundreds of people, including some 500 Palestinian inmates from the Damon prison, after the fire broke out early today. The bus was carrying some 50 prison guards when it flipped over and got caught in the flames, according to Haaretz.

According to JustJournalism, the  original subheader (“standfirst” in journalese) of Siddique’s article  read:

the bus was ‘evacuating prison guards from blaze’

And that was corrected too, to read:

Many of the dead were killed when bus taking prison guards to rescue Palestinian inmates from blaze in Carmel mountains went up in flames, say rescuers

Continue reading

How Harriet Sherwood reported on the Fire in Israel

A Guest Post by AKUS

The worst fire in Israel’s history has been burning out of control on the Carmel Mountain near Haifa since Thursday morning. So how has the Guardian’s reporter in Israel, Harriet “ChickenLady ” Sherwood, choose to cover it? The same way she covers Palestinian terrorism – I see nothing, I hear nothing, I say nothing.

The Guardian had to rely on Haroon Siddique reporting from London. (Still the Guardian’s only report on the catastrophic fire which has raged for 0ver 36 hours.)

No doubt the ChickenLady was too busy writing about the sufferings of the Palestinians – who are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials to build yet more upscale restaurants, hotels, and single-sex water parks.

This woman is a disgrace and if the Guardian had any beitzim they would yank her out of Israel.

Slow news day in Israel for Sherwood? No worries. Just regurgitate lies, damn lies, and statistics about the “cruel” Gaza blockade

A guest post by blogger Daphne Anson

Reading the Guardian on Israel is always a queasy experience.  Were it not for the fact that Harriet Sherwood’s Guardian report of 30 November headed “Israel accused over ‘cruel’ Gaza blockade” reflects the customary tone and thrust of her Jerusalem-based reports concerning Israel, I might have assumed that her willingness to swallow the detrimental assertions of a lynch mob of NGOs hook, line and sinker is just a case of Sherwood being green.  Alas, I know better: the Guardian has an agenda, and one that’s in perfect harmony with that of the NGOs who are in the forefront of efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. In reporting the latters’ report uncritically, with no genuine look at the countervailing facts, Ms Sherwood acts less as correspondent than as cheerleader.

Gaza‘s 1.5 million people are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials, a ban on exports and severe restrictions on movement six months after Israel agreed to ease its blockade on the territory, according to a report from 21 international organisations”, her opening sentence tells us. “The loosening of the embargo has done little to improve the plight of Gaza’s civilians, according to the coalition, which includes Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians.”  The usual suspects, then, well-known for their antipathy to Israel’s cause – though if we don’t already know that for ourselves we’d be none the wiser, for Ms Sherwood has not volunteered that salient fact. We have to have read the thoroughly researched reports and empirical analyses at the website of NGO Monitor to know who pushes their buttons and why they do and say the things they do.

Like the Guardian itself, the organisations named all peddle the familiar narrative of Palestinian victimhood and Israeli evil that the Guardian under Alan Rusbridger’s editorship has done so much to bolster.  The report which they and the sixteen other NGOs involved (many of which are in the forefront of efforts to promote BDS and delegitimize Israel) have just issued, entitled Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade, tells us, according to Ms Sherwood’s précis:

“Israel agreed to ease its restrictions on goods and materials allowed into Gaza following its attack on a flotilla of aid boats in May, in which nine Turkish activists were killed. Since then the import of food and many other consumer items has resumed, although there is still a ban on exports and severe restrictions on construction materials. Israel argues that the latter could be used by militants for military purposes.”

This is a deplorably shallow and one-sided description.  We don’t necessarily expect investigative journalism, but surely we deserve honest reporting.  Ms Sherwood has omitted to remind readers (and if any readers need reminding, they are the Guardian’s!) that the “attack” was not on “a flotilla” – it was, by the law and custom of the sea, a legitimate raid on a particular vessel that had refused to cooperate with the Israeli authorities.  The flotilla sailed under the auspices of the IHH, a fundamentalist Islamic group with direct links to terrorism.  Antisemitic chants had preceded the flotilla’s sailing.  “Go back to Auschwitz!” was an audible taunt from the vessel when contacted by Israeli coastal radio operators and asked to put into Ashdod so that its cargo, avowedly of humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza, could be searched and assessed prior to being sent to its destination overland.  Israeli commandos had been brutally beaten with iron bars as they attempted to go aboard, and responded accordingly.

It’s true that there is still a ban on exports – although as Ms Sherwood tells us at the end of her report – strawberries and carnations for European markets are allowed out.  (To be precise, starting from last Sunday, 2.5 tons of strawberries and 2,000 blooms are being exported to Europe via the Kerem Shalom crossing.)  She tells us, again précising the NGOs’ report, that: “imports of construction materials are 11% of the 2007 pre-blockade levels” and that “Despite having agreed to allow in materials for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to rebuild its schools and clinics damaged or destroyed in the three-week war in 2008-09, Israel has permitted only 7% of the necessary amount.”

While big-noting the report is part and parcel of what we have come to expect from the Guardian, ever-zealous to highlight something, however tenuous, that might damage the image and interests of the Jewish State, in many respects the NGOs – like the Guardian in its enthusiastic airing of their indictment against Israel – have been overtaken and outsmarted by events.  Its assertions are nicely diluted by Israeli governmental statistics, more specifically by those of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).  Thus, since the beginning of this year, 78 projects, largely concerned with education, health and infrastructure, have been approved for funding – 64 of them since Israel’s easing of the blockade.  This past Sunday, 286 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid and commercial products crossed from Israel into Gaza, along 21 imported vehicles.  In October, 2569 Palestinians left Gaza through the Erez crossing.

Continue reading

Water cooler conversation at the offices of the Guardian between Harriet Sherwood and a new intern*

CiF Watch’s team of crack reporters recently went undercover at the offices of the Guardian.  After getting lost in a large dank room which houses all of their Soviet memorabilia (I guess I should probably return the shoe I stole, you know, the one Khrushchev used at the UN during his infamous “We will bury you!” speech), we were able to secretly record a short, yet revealing, conversation between Harriet Sherwood, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, and a new intern.

*satire

Guardianistas Make a Quantum Leap

A guest post by AKUS

Quantum leap – a change in an electron’s state that appears to be discontinuous; the electron “jumps” from one energy level to another very quickly, after existing briefly in a state of superposition

Superposition – the property of a particle to occupy all of its possible quantum states simultaneously.

Cognitive dissonance – the ability of a Guardian reader to believe two completely conflicting things simultaneously. In fact, the Guardian reader is often capable of believing all possible conflicting things simultaneously even when there is no evidence for any of them. This is the preferred quantum state of the average Israel basher on the Guardian threads.

With the Guardian’s hope of creating a major international uproar out of the Wikileaks cables deflating like a child’s party balloon as the almost totally innocuous contents of the leaked material becomes increasingly apparent, the editors have had to turn to juicier fare.

As luck would have it, two Iranian nuclear scientists have been mysteriously assassinated. The Guardian saw fit to run two stories about this (so far). One was not for comment – Attack on Iranian nuclear scientists prompts hit squad claims, and lines up the usual suspects (Mossad and CIA) with a couple of possible Iranian players – one called Jundallah and the other “The People’s Mujahedin (MeK or PMOI)”.

The second, with a suitably sci-fi picture of a masked worker next to an ominous set of vats like the ones in the dairy on my former kibbutz comes to us courtesy of JulianBorger’sGlobalSecurityBlog (note the impressively missing spaces between the words). It carries the provocative header Who is killing Iran’s Nuclear Scientists? and “[raises] the question of whether there is a nuclear hit-team at work”.

Borger points out that they were both “senior figures in Iranian nuclear science.” He rather fatuously claims there are similarities between the attacks that killed these two and an attack that killed another Iranian nuclear scientist in January. The first similarity is motorcycles. In the latest case, the killers apparently rode bikes up to the scientists’ cars, stuck bombs on the sides and detonated them while fleeing. In the earlier case, a motorcycle exploded. The second similarity is that all three were nuclear scientists ….

In a stunning display of fair and balanced reporting, Borger claims, rather contradicting the first article, that “the two attacks today, … would in any case represent something of a leap in sophistication for Jundullah operations. There are also reasons to be sceptical of the role of the People’s Mujahedin (MeK or PMOI)”. On the other hand, not shy to advance his own conspiracy theory, Borger postulates that “The last possibility is that these scientists have been killed by the state either for giving away secrets, or on suspicion of contemplating defection.”.

Despite having two perfectly good Iranian possibilities, and a half way decent conspiracy theory implicating Ahmadinajad,  it is but a short quantum leap for the eager readers to assume that Israel (and, in some cases, the CIA) was involved. Proof, of course, is unnecessary when leaping from one quantum state to another. As usual, the danger of the Iranian nuclear weapons program is immediately dismissed, which led to this scathing comment:


Continue reading

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

A Guest Post by AKUS

A new article by Harriet “ChickenLady” Sherwood, the Guardian’s woman in Jerusalem, who almost never has a good word to say about Israel, revealed a shocking new initiative by Israel: Israel recruits citizen advocates in Europe.

Yes – Israel has decided to ask eight or so of its European embassies to each identify 1,000 of the 300 million EU citizens who could help offset the drip-drip of anti-Israeli venom that daily oozes out of Europe’s mass media, blogs, and organizations – from media like, in fact, the Guardian. According to Sherwood, “These individuals – likely to be drawn from Jewish or Christian activists, academics, journalists and students – will be briefed regularly by Israeli officials and encouraged to speak up for Israel at public meetings or write letters or articles for the press.” Five of the embassies have been authorized to hire PR firms to help.

In fact, I am shocked – in a good way. This represents a remarkable change of direction for Israel. Until now, the Foreign Office and the laughable Information Ministry have never even indicated that they are aware of the problem and that something needs to be done about it. So – bravo, Israel – a shekel late and a shekel short, but if not now, when? And if not us, who? as Rabbi Hillel would have said if he were running the Foreign Ministry.

Of course, since we are talking about Israel, Sherwood has to make it clear in tone and words that the Guardian views this as yet another underhand effort by Israel to refute the attacks on its legitimacy.

Rather than comparing Israel’s PR efforts with those of every developed country on the planet (for example, the UK in the USA here and here and here) she chose to compare them with Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar, citing a Guardian article that took aim at the efforts by the first two to overcome their image problems. Rwanda and Sri Lanka, of course, are well-known for actual acts genocide and mass murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians – so Sherwood is implicitly stating that Israel is in the same category.

Sherwood provides a strong hint that in her opinion Israel is doing something underhand by using PR firms to assist with its initiative. She provides a link to a critical Guardian article about various countries’ PR efforts, noting in a non-sequitor that “Bell Pottinger, headed by Lord Bell, a former adviser to Lady Thatcher represents Sri Lanka and Madagascar.” She provides no proof that Israel is using this firm, just the insinuation that there is something underhand about the firm and a country that would hire it. What could be more despicable, after all, than to use a PR firm whose head once advised Lady Thatcher and now advises Sri Lanka?

Continue reading

At the Guardian, pictures are really worth a thousand (misleading) words

In “The Guardian has a problem with Photographs“, (CiF Watch, Aug. 8), Akus cited several examples of Guardian photos being used which either were misleading, inflammatory, and/or downright dishonest (one photo of Gaza used in a 2010 article by Laila El-Haddad, to reinforce the essay’s suggestion that Gaza was “worse than a prison camp“, below, was actually a shot taken back in 2005, before Israel’s withdrawal.  Subsequent criticism resulted in the Guardian removing the photo.)

Here is Harriet Sherwood’s recent dispatch about Israeli legislation which requires a national referendum before any decision to withdraw from Golan.

Of all the photographs to use, Guardian editors chose one from Ghajar at an angle showing the IDF soldier’s weapon pointed at a Palestinian child.

Can anyone seriously claim that the angle of the weapon in relation to the child is merely a coincidence?  Can someone truly argue, with a straight face, that the juxtaposition may not have been noticed by Guardian editors when making the decision to use this photograph?

For anyone even faintly familiar with the Guardian’s relentless demonization of Israel, the answer should be obvious.