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.


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)

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.