Guardian incites the crowd: Israel quickly blamed for Gaza school attack

Is there any provocation in which bombing schools and hospitals can be deemed a proportionate response by a civilized state?

The above quote was just a stray comment (in response to media reports about the attack on a UN school in Gaza yesterday) by an acquaintance on Facebook, but it  sums up exactly what happens when the media presumes the worse about Israel before the facts are in, ignoring counter evidence.

The incident occurred yesterday when 15 Palestinian civilians were killed at a UN school in Beit Hanoun – an assault that both Hamas and Israel claim might well be the fault of the other.

Though all the facts aren’t completely clear, here’s what we do know:

  • According to the IDF, there has been, for several days, continuous fire by Hamas from near the UN school (representing a violation of international law). However, before retaliating, the IDF attempted (over the course of three days) to facilitate the evacuation of all civilians per an official humanitarian window from 10:00 to 14:00 on Thursday – a temporary ceasefire which was evidently communicated to the UN and International Red Cross. 
  • As far as the tank shells or rockets which may have hit the school on Thursday, resulting in the civilian casualties, we know that, according to official sources, IDF sensors detected ‘errant’ Hamas rockets falling at least in the neighborhood of the school. It is also is being reported that Hamas fired at the IDF from near the Beit Hanoun school and that “soldiers responded by targeting the source of the fire”, tank fire which may have hit the school or the area around the school.
  • So, while we know that Hamas was once again using its illegal human shield strategy at the school in Beit Hanoun to shield its fighters, as of now, the UN still hasn’t determined whether Hamas rockets or IDF tank shells were ultimately to blame.

So, though while the sequence of events are unclear at this point, a day after the tragedy, this didn’t stop the UK media’s immediate rush to judgment – blaming Israel for the Palestinian deaths, and ignoring Hamas’s use of human shields.

While some US media outlets were – quite tellingly – much more fair and circumspect in their initial assessments (avoiding headlines which blamed either side), the following headlines at the Guardian, Independent and Times (of London), published when very little information was known, indicate a troubling lack of restraint and objectivity. 

(First, here’s the Telegraph, the only major UK paper we reviewed that avoided immediately blaming Israel for the Palestinian deaths. Though the British tabloid The Daily Mail used an AP report with a similarly non-judgmental headline.)

telegraph

Now, for the others:

Owen Jones:

Indy, New Statesman and Guardian commentator Owen Jones Tweeted this, early in the morning on Thursday, before any facts were established (and even before major news sites reported the story), using the unproven allegation of an Israeli ‘atrocity’ to promote an anti-Israel event on Saturday.

owen jones tweet (2)

The Guardian being, well, the Guardian:

guardian

Guardian home page, July 24

(Additional Guardian reportsand live blog updates, on the incident yesterday and this morning similarly judged Israel guilty in the attack, and downplayed evidence of Hamas culpability)

Times (of London):

times

The Independent:

indy

One last thing. If you think that the media isn’t capable of employing restraint and avoiding the tempting rush to judgment, here’ are two stories featured side by side yesterday on the Indy’s Middle East page: one on the attack in Beit Hanoun and the other one focusing on reports that the Islamist extremist group ISIS (aka, The Islamic State) announced that women in the territory they control would be forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

unnamed

Independent, July 24th, Middle East page

It’s interesting that while the Indy was quick to defend the jihadist group from the ‘smear’ that they’re enforcing FGM, they showed no such concern for what may be another vicious libel against the Jewish state – one which, as we’ve seen, may have dangerous repercussions for Jews in the UK and across Europe.  

 

Independent’s demonization of Israel continues: Op-ed accuses state of genocide

As we noted earlier in the week, the Independent doesn’t have a correspondent in the region, but has a stable of Israel ‘critics’ ready on a moment’s notice to launch polemical assaults on the Jewish State.  Last week, they published one op-ed (by Mira Bar-Hillel) which evoked Nazi Germany in vilifying Israeli military actions in Gaza, and another one (by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown) which all but accused Israel of engaging in a plan to exterminate the Palestinians.

This week, Mira Bar-Hillel (a British Jew who has admitted to being antisemitic) returns in a July 17th op-ed erroneously suggesting that the Israeli media has demanded the IDF bomb Gaza “back to the Stone Age” (see here), and accusing the country of believing that “Palestinians aren’t quite human”.  (She also falsely claimed that no Israelis were killed during previous Gaza war in 2012.)

Another July 17th op-ed by Yana Hawari actually endorsed Hamas’s refusal to agree to a ceasefire last week, and finished her diatribe with the following accusation:

It [the war] also allows them to break up the unity between Hamas and Fatah. But most importantly it allows them to continue the strangulation and the genocide of the Palestinian people of Gaza in front of an international audience. 

Of all the hateful, perverse smears against Israel leveled by the hard-left against Israel, the genocide charge is by far the most ludicrous, and the most pernicious. 

As we’ve argued previously, debating the “question” of whether Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians seems at first glance to be as productive as ‘arguing’ whether or not Jews are trying to take over the world. However, unlike the latter charge, which, no matter how bigoted and irrational, is not really quantifiable, the former malicious smear – reflecting the “Israel as the new Nazis“ narrative – can be easily refuted by a few population statistics.

  • The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1949 to more than 2.5 million today.
  • In Gaza, the population increased from 82,000 in 1949 to 1.7 million today.

Additionally, to add further context:

  • The number of Arabs killed (since 1920) in Arab-Israeli wars is far less than the number of Arabs killed by Arabs in Syria alone since 2011.

As a point of reference, the Jewish population of Gaza and Palestinian controlled West Bank is practically zero (save a few pro-Palestinian “journalists” who reside there), while the Jewish population in the entire Arab Middle East has decreased from over 850,000 in 1949 to less than 5,000 today.  (Yet, relatedly, despite the almost complete disappearance of Jewish inhabitants in territories they control, some Palestinian and Arab leaders often incite their citizens to engage in the mass murder of Jews in Israel, and even in the diaspora.)

The broad charge that Jews are ethnically cleansing Arabs (Palestinians or otherwise) in the Middle East, based on the numbers, represents the opposite of the truth.  The only group which has actually been ethnically cleansed in the Middle East since the end of World War 2 has been Jews. (Though, it should be noted that Christians are also in danger of extinction.)

The Independent – which risibly claims to be guided by “enlightened” values and once even strongly denied that it demonizes Israel – should be ashamed of itself for peddling such lies.

Independent demonizes Sderot residents for cheering IDF strikes on Hamas

Sderot, dubbed the bomb shelter capital of the world, is a working-class community located 2.5 km from Gaza, and has absorbed the largest percentage of the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza at Israel since 2001.  Such ubiquitous attacks have killed 13 Sderot residents, wounded dozens and profoundly disrupted daily life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder incidences among young children of Sderot, as with depression and miscarriages among the adult population, are abnormally high.

Naturally, they are not too fond of Hamas, the movement most responsible for the terror their community has suffered, and are pleased whenever the IDF attempts to reign in their rocket launching capacity.

Yet, a surreal report by Adam Winthall at the Independent on July 13th, which focuses on fifty Sderot residents who gathered to watch the conflict unfold at a lookout point northwest of the city last week, frames their pleasure at the periodic sight of Hamas terror sites being shelled as nothing short of sadistic.

Here’s the headline:

headline

Withnall begins:

An image that appears to show a group of Israelis on a hilltop cheering and applauding as they watch the deadly aerial bombardment of Gaza has caused international outrage after it was shared by thousands on Twitter.

Taken by the Middle East correspondent for a Danish newspaper, the picture shows rows of people sitting on plastic chairs looking out over the Gaza Strip as rockets and explosions light up the night sky.

Allan Sørensen, who posted the image, wrote that it showed a kind of “cinema” on the hilltop outside the Israeli town of Sderot, and a caption added: “Clapping when blasts are heard.”

Sørensen’s newspaper, the Kristeligt Dagblad, reported that the gathering involved more than 50 people who had transformed the hill into something “most closely resembling the front row of a reality war theatre”.

It said that people were seen taking popcorn up onto the hill with their chairs, and that they sat cheerfully smoking hookahs.

Then the Indy shows the Tweet by the outraged Danish journalist:

Winthall then adds a few more ‘shocking details’ about the ‘cruel’ Israelis.

“We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas,” said Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American who lives in Israel.

Sørensen’s tweet was met with anger by fellow Twitter users. One user wrote: “If this is true then God help us all. What’s become of the human race?

Where to begin?!

First, it’s quite telling that the Indy reporter doesn’t even note the rockets fired on Sderot in the months and years prior to the event he describes.  Withnall completely erases this vital context from his report.

Additionally, do Winthall and the “shocked” Norwegian journalist really not know that Palestinians often celebrate the murder of Israeli civilians as the result of terror attacks?

As you no doubt recall, there were enthusiastic street celebrations when the news broke about the attacks on 9/11.

In 2011, there were celebrations in Gaza when they learned that five Israeli civilians – including three children, one a three months old baby -were literally butchered by Palestinian terrorists in Itamar.

A Palestinian man offers sweets to a woman in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on March 12, 2011 to celebrate an attack which killed five Israelis (Getty Images)

More recently, upon hearing of the abduction of three Israeli teens last month, some Palestinians handed out candy in the streets and posted messages lauding the incident on social media sites and in the state-run media.

University students in Birzeit University distribute sweets in celebration of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.

University students in Birzeit University distribute sweets in celebration of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.

Also, a video recently surfaced showing “hundreds of Arabs” celebrating ‘the attack on occupied Palestine’ atop the Temple Mount after hearing bomb sirens in Jerusalem on the first day of the war.

Indeed, just yesterday, according to Times of Israel, Channel 2 showed footage of Palestinian youths dancing and cheering in Gaza “minutes after a heavy rocket barrage was launched at the greater Tel Aviv area”.

So, while Palestinians have often celebrated lethal attacks on innocent Jewish civilians, Indy readers are evidently supposed to be shocked when a few dozen Sderot residents celebrate IDF attacks on a terrorist group committed to their country’s destruction? 

The UK media’s moral myopia, as with their seemingly unlimited capacity to impute malevolence to Israelis, is at times staggering.

Challenge to UK media: name an army that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians

Writing in Jerusalem Post on Friday, Amotz-El noted that “twenty-seven years after its establishment in the wake of the first intifada, Hamas was in its worst strategic situation ever”.

Amotz-El elaborated:

[It lost Syria] its longtime ally and host – after having gambled on President Bashar Assad’s defeat in his country’s civil war. 

Down with Syria went its Iranian sponsor’s financial infusions and arms shipments to Gaza, and also the cheerleading of Hezbollah, which this week remained conspicuously quiet even as Gaza came under flames.

Having lost Syria, Hamas went on to lose Egypt.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s wrath at Hamas is fully shared by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, all of which also loathe any threat to the Arab world’s established regimes. Finally, Hamas managed to ruin its fledgling harmony with the Palestinian Authority, just weeks after its much-heralded announcement of a unity government with Fatah.

In short, Hamas has isolated itself so hermetically that it is shunned by monarchies and republics, Sunnis and Shi’ites, Iranians and Americans, and a world that now sees Hamas as part of a trouble-making Islamist international that runs from Nigeria through Iraq to western China.

Even Hamas’s last ally, Turkey, said little this week when the Israel Air Force pounded targets in Gaza

However, despite its diplomatic isolation, Hamas still knew it had one trump card to play: provoking a war with Israel which would result in Palestinian civilian casualties, thus eliciting positive media coverage from a compliant Western media.

As Jeffrey Goldberg observed in his recent column, in the context of trying to explain Hamas’s objectives in provoking a war:

Mahmoud Abbas, the sometimes moderate, often ineffectual leader of the Palestinian Authority, just asked his rivals in Hamas a question that other bewildered people are also asking: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”

Later in his op-ed, Goldberg provides an answer to Abbas:

Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.

Dead Palestinians represent a crucial propaganda victory for the nihilists of Hamas. It is perverse, but true. It is also the best possible explanation for Hamas’s behavior, because Hamas has no other plausible strategic goal here.

This propaganda strategy, however, is dependent on Western media groups playing along, not only by highlighting every tragic Palestinian civilian death, but by also pretending that such casualties are not the result of Hamas’s cynical strategy of using human shields and other tactics meant to maximize the number of casualties.

To boot, the following heartbreaking photo and headline appeared in the print edition of The Independent on July 12th which highlighted the tragic case of a young Palestinian girl named Mariam Al-Masery.

indy

The Indy journalist who wrote the story, Kim Sengupta, also addressed the broader issue relating to the number of civilian deaths, and seemed incredulous in the face of IDF “claims” that the Hamas use of human shields (and related tactics) largely explains the phenomenon.

In the story’s sixteen paragraphs, only two present the Israeli side, with almost all of the remaining text providing details of the civilians’ deaths and quotes from Palestinian expressing their outrage.

Here’s one of the two paragraphs which even tries to present the Israeli side, though it immediately dismisses Israeli claims as running counter to the evidence: 

Many residents, however, maintain that missiles and bombs aimed at the homes of militants considered legitimate targets by the Israelis have also hit neighbouring family homes. This claim would run counter to repeated insistence by the Israeli authorities that the air strikes are being carried out with surgical precision to avoid collateral damage.

Of course, this is an absurd conclusion to reach, as the fact that ‘family homes’ were hit doesn’t in any way contradict IDF claims that “air strikes are being carried out with surgical precision to avoid collateral damage”. It simply means that such homes are placed in close proximity to military targets, and that the precision IDF strikes – no matter how carefully executed – obviously can’t guarantee 100% success at avoiding hitting civilian structures.  

(It’s actually quite telling that after more than 1300 Israeli strikes on terror targets thus far during the war – in the ‘densely populated’ strip – the number of Palestinians killed, combatants and non-combatants, is roughly 120. )

Of course, if the Indy journalist wanted to write a fair account of the civilian deaths, evidence abounds of Hamas culpability, whose leaders have explicitly acknowledged their human shield policy.

Additionally, the Indy journalist could have cited videos proving that Hamas places weapons caches in civilians areas, and how carefully the IDF works to attack the terror target while avoiding harming homes, schools and clinics:

Here’s another video of a precision strike:

Humanitarian tactics employed by the IDF include dropping leaflets, placing phone calls and sending text messages to Palestinians in harm’s way, and the ‘knock on the roof’ tactic (seen above).

It’s also worth noting, in the context of such reports imputing Israeli culpability in Palestinian deaths, that the Indy has thus far failed to note that almost all of the more than 800 rocket attacks on Israeli towns since the war began have been fired at civilians – each, therefore, clearly constituting a war crime.

The real story of the war – one which the UK media won’t tell – is how Hamas uses tactics which maximize the danger to their own civilians and intentionally targets all Israeli civilians, while the IDF goes to extraordinary lengths to protect both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

On Twitter recently, we asked a source cited in a Guardian Live Blog (who had criticized as ineffective IDF tactics of warning civilians prior to an attack on a terror target) to respond to a simple question:

Name one army in the world that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians during war.

We’re still awaiting his response.

Telling Lies about Israel: Robert Fisk cites misleading Begin quote about ‘two-legged beasts’

There is much to object to in Robert Fisk’s latest op-ed at the Independent suggesting a moral equivalence between the intentional murder of innocent Israeli teens by terrorists and Palestinian teens unintentionally killed during the course of anti-terror operations, but there’s also a blatant fabrication – one which he employed previously in a 2001 op-ed titled ‘Telling the truth about Israel‘.

Here’s the quote by Fisk in Israeli teenagers’ funeral: It is obscene when either side kills children – not only Palestinians‘, July 1.

But the obscene theatre of the Israeli-Palestinian war follows a script as scandalous as it is lethal. This week, the Israeli Prime Minister called the Palestinians who killed three Israelis “beasts”. So what? Didn’t Menachem Begin call Palestinians “two-legged animals” in 1982?

However, what Begin said – per a superb expose by CAMERA in 2004 (addressing Fisk’s first use of the false quote) was that those who come to kill Jewish children are “two-legged animals”.

In fact, if you Google the quote you’ll see that the source generally given is an article by a radical French-Israeli journalist, Amnon Kapeliouk, titled “Begin and the Beasts,” which appeared in the New Statesman, June 25, 1982.  

Here’s Kapeliouk’s claim:

For this reason the government has gone to extraordinary lengths to dehumanise the Palestinians. Begin described them in a speech in the Knesset as “beasts walking on two legs“.

However, the actual speech upon which Kapeliouk based his quote gives it a completely different meaning. Begin was talking, not about “the Palestinians” but about terrorists who target children within Israel, during a June 8, 1982 speech he gave in the Knesset in response to a no-confidence motion over Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

In the context of talking about defending the children of Israel from terror attacks, he said the following:

The children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington, in Moscow, and in Peking, in Paris and in Rome, in Oslo, in Stockholm and in Copenhagen. The fate of… Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations. No more. We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.

But, here there are Katyushas, missiles and artillery shells day and night, with the sole intention of murdering our women and children. There are military targets in the Galilee. What a characteristic phenomenon, they are protected, completely immune to these terrorists. Only at the civilian population, only to shed our blood, just to kill our children, our wives, our sisters, our elderly. 

He clearly wasn’t characterizing ‘Palestinians’ as two-legged/footed beasts/animals, only those who would murder innocent children.

There is of course a profound difference between referring to Palestinians who murder Israeli children in cold blood as “two-footed animals”, and using such demonizing language to characterize all Palestinians.

The Independent’s “award-winning” Middle East correspondent should be ashamed of himself for peddling such falsehoods.

Robert Fisk accuses B’nai Brith Canada of peddling lies “used by the Nazis”.

The latest column by Robert Fisk – the Independent’s “award-winning” Middle East correspondent - contains the usual distortionshalf-truths and fabrications, as well as an especially appalling smear of Canadian Jewry’s largest human rights organization, B’nai Brith.

The inspiration for his latest polemical tirade – oddly titled ‘How on earth can Israel tolerate this filth from B’nai Brith Canada?‘ - was an advert in the National Post.

Fisk begins:

Not long ago, I was handed the most outrageous, vile, dishonest and slanderous calumny uttered against the people of Canada. It was contained in a full-page advertisement in the National Post (founder, Conrad Black), a newspaper handed out – free, I’m happy to say – on my Air France flight out of Toronto. Here is the headline: “Almost 4 million Canadians are afflicted by this disease.”

Beneath this title is a half-page, very blurred and uncaptioned colour photo of a large crowd – they could be football supporters, rush-hour commuters in Vancouver, you name it; they are mostly white males but include women and with at least one dark-skinned man close to the camera. Beneath the picture, this incredible ad continues: “Left unchecked, it [the disease] can result in violence tendencies. Many times, those infected haven’t been diagnosed and may pass it on to their children, grandchildren, colleagues or friends. Please help stop the spread of this disease before it contaminates your community.”

the “disease” afflicting “almost 4 million Canadians” is “anti-Semitism” and this disgusting advertisement – published without comment by one of Canada’s leading right-wing newspapers – was produced by B’nai Brith Canada and the “Jewish Christian Alliance”.

Fisk fails to note that the advert’s claim is based on a well-publicized poll commissioned by Anti-Defamation League which, in gauging antisemitic attitudes around the word, determined that 14% of Canadians hold antisemitic views.

He then begins his tirade against the ‘false’ accusation of antisemitism:

In other words, this pro-Israeli Jewish group – whose exaggerations and hateful propaganda have been rightly condemned by Jewish Canadians – claims that four million of their fellow-countrymen and women are sick, racist neo-Nazis

Of course, B’nai Brith does not claim that 4 million Canadians are “neo-Nazi” style racists.  In fact, the group’s press release on the ADL poll contextualized levels of antisemitism in Canadian society quite soberly in arguing that “these results clearly show that Canadians are being exposed to mediums containing antisemitic messaging, since almost a third of respondents have little to no contact with the Canadian Jewish community directly”.  Another B’nai Brith press release on the ADL poll correctly noted that the levels of antisemitism in Canada are “relatively low” compared to other parts of the world. 

Fisk continues:

Now let’s forget that B’nai Brith regards any criticism of the state of Israel – however justified, however mild, made by Jews and non-Jews alike – as anti-Semitic.

Again, this is a lie, one typically peddled by those who downplay antisemitism.  B’nai Brith has often used language which clearly distinguishes between legitimate criticism of Israel and that criticism which evokes anti-​Semitic canards.  In fact, on the site of B’nai Brith Canada there’s a fact sheet by the group’s senior legal counsel David Matas which makes their position quite clear:

 It is legitimate to criticize discriminatory practices wherever they are found, whether in Israel or elsewhere.

However, to criticize alleged discrimination only in Israel and in no other country of the world becomes a political act of selective criticism, itself a form of discrimination against Israel.

Fisk is fighting a straw man. As, there is no major Jewish organization we are aware of which has ever claimed – explicitly or implicitly – that “any criticism of Israel” is antisemitic.

Fisk’s rant continues:

 Let’s forget previous protests by Jewish Americans against the organisation’s grotesque exaggerations. Let’s even ignore its equation of Palestinians with Nazis…

However, the ad in question did not equate “Palestinians with Nazis”, only the antisemitic goals of Radical Islamic groups (such as Hezbollah) with that of the Nazis.

Further in the article, after criticizing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s condemnation of antisemitism, Fisk throws in a Nazi comparison of his own:

But what, we have to ask, possesses Israel’s “friends” to publish this pernicious material about 4 million “diseased” Canadians? Does B’nai Brith Canada not realise that these very same despicable lies were used by the Nazis in their hate propaganda against the Jews of Europe? In Hitler’s Germany, Jews were described as microbes. Jews, according to Julius Streicher, were “the carriers of disease and vermin among men”. In August 1941, Goebbels called Jews “the carriers of infectious diseases” and two weeks later referred to Jews as “parasites”. By November, he was calling them “lice”. But now, 4 million Canadians carry “disease”. Undiagnosed “infections” will be passed on to children and grandchildren. The “community” is in danger of being “contaminated”. If this stuff was not so revolting, it could be laughed off.

In addition to the shameful smear, his logic is stunning – and goes something like this: 

  1. Nazi propagandists used the “disease” metaphor to characterize the threat posed by world Jewry.
  2. B’nai Brith Canada used the word “disease” to characterize the threat posed by anti-Jewish racism.
  3. Ergo, since both groups used the disease metaphor – albeit one to characterize Jews and another to characterize those who hate Jews – both are nonetheless guilty of using Nazi-style propaganda.

It really is stunning that the Independent – a newspaper which prides itself on being guided by “enlightenment values” – can ‘tolerate such filth’

Fisk is certainly correct about one thing: ‘If this stuff was not so revolting, it could be laughed off’!

 

UK media coverage of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens – a CiF Watch review

On June 15th, we posted about a Guardian report co-authored by Peter Beaumont which included a gratuitous (and erroneous) characterization to the three Israeli teens abducted by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday night as “teenage settlers”.  (As we noted in a subsequent post, the Guardian amended the article following our complaint.)

Today, we’re reviewing the coverage of the abduction by the Guardian and other major UK news sites (The Telegraph, Independent, Times of London, and Financial Times), to determine if other reports include tendentious, biased reporting or misleading claims.

The Guardian:

The first report on the incident was written by Peter Beaumont and Paul Lewis on Friday, June 13, was titled ‘Israelis launch search around Hebron after three teenage settlers go missing‘, and (as we noted) falsely claimed, in the headline and subsequent text, that the abducted teens were all “settlers”.

The second report by Beaumont was published in the Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) on June 14th, was titled Fears grow for missing Israeli teenagers and also included the false claim that the three were ‘settlers’. (The Guardian has not thus far revised this passage.)

A third report, Guardian/Associated Press, was published on June 14th and titled ‘Israeli raids target Hamas members as Netanyahu accuses group of kidnapping. Unlike the previous two reports, it didn’t characterize the teens as settlers, and included no other misleading claims.

A fourth report was published by Beaumont on June 15th titled ‘Israeli forces tighten grip on West Bank in search for three abducted teenagers‘. This report also didn’t falsely characterize the teens as settlers, and included nothing similarly problematic.

A fifth report was published by Beaumont (and Agencies) on June 15th titled ‘Israel detains scores in West Bank as fears grow for missing teenagers‘, and included nothing problematic. However, they used the following still shot – a deceptive photo illustrating the IDF’s search for the abducted teens, in an angle in which the soldier’s rifle appears to be pointing directly at Palestinian civilians – accompanying a brief video.

photo

A sixth report was filed by Beaumont (and Agencies) on June 16th titled ‘Palestinian parliamentary speaker arrested in search for kidnapped teens‘.  And, a seventh report by Beaumont was published on the same day titled Israel considering expelling Hamas leaders from West Bank to Gaza‘.  Neither of these articles included any especially problematic material.

The Independent

The first Indy report on the abduction was written by Ben Lynfield on June 15th, was titled ‘Israel lays blame for abduction of teenagers on Fatah-Hamas pact‘, and was largely fair, but did include the same highly inappropriate photo that the Guardian used.

photo

A second report (as we noted in our previous post on June 15th) in the Indy, written by Jack Simpson, was titled ‘Netanyahu accuses Hamas of kidnapping Israel’s three missing boys‘ and included the false suggestion that all three teens lived in settlements.  (Indy editors corrected the relevant passage shortly after our complaint.)  A third report in the Indy, by Lizzie Dearden, on June 16th, titled ‘Facebook campaign calls on Israelis to kill a Palestinian ‘terrorist’ every hour until missing teenagers found‘, focused on a marginal Israeli Facebook group while of course ignoring reports that the official Facebook page of Fatah openly celebrated the terrorist kidnapping. 

A fourth report in the Indy, by Ben Lynfield, on June 17th, titled ‘Israeli search for kidnapped youths turns into push against Hamas‘, actually included a photo of the three teens, and – as we note below in our summary – also stood out by reporting on the “60 attempts to carry out abductions  in the past 12 months” by Palestinian terrorists.  (As we note in our summary, such vital context was also non-existent in the UK media’s reporting on the incident.)

Times of London

A Times report by David Rankin on June 14th, titled ‘Search continues for three teens feared kidnapped in Israeland a second report by Tony Bonnici on June 15th, titled ‘Israel PM says teenagers ‘kidnapped by terror group‘, are both unproblematic.  A June 16th report at the Times by Joshua Mitnick titled ‘Hamas leaders held in Israeli hunt for kidnapped teenagers‘ was unusual in respect to the fact that Mitnick quoted the parents of Eyal Yifrach, one of the kidnapped boys, who addressed the media on Monday with ‘an emotional address to their son’. (As we note in our summary, the UK media mostly ignored the families of the kidnapped teens.)

The Telegraph

The Telegraph published a report on June 15th by their Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait titled Hamas to blame for youths’ “kidnapping”, Benjamin Netanyahu says, and was unproblematic, save a curious use of quotes around the word “kidnapping” in the headline. (Note: even the Guardian refers to the incident as a kidnapping, without the use of quotes.)  And, on the same day, the Telegraph published a story (attributed partially to Reuters) titled ‘Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims Hamas militants behind teenagers’ abduction‘ which included a video of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s press conference that day.

The third article (Reuters) published at the Telegraph on June 16th, titled ‘Hamas kidnapping: Israel expands West Bank hunt for Palestinian teenagers as Palestinian killed‘, is illustrated with an unrelated and highly inappropriate photo depicting the aftermath of an Israeli strike in Gaza. Additionally, the caption failed to explain that the IDF strike came in response to the firing of Grad rockets at Ashkelon the previous day.  

telegrpah photo

However, almost as if to make up for the misleading and inappropriate Gaza photo, the story also included a photo of the abducted teens to illustrate the story.

addendumLater the same day, the Telegraph published their fourth report, by Robert Tait, titled ‘The bus stop that voices Israel’s anguish over missing teenagers‘, which, for the second time in their coverage of the kidnapping to date, used a photo which evokes sympathy for the missing teens.

bus

The report explained:

At first sight, it appears to be just an isolated, lonely bus shelter.

But the yellow ribbons and defiant messages bedecking it eloquently attested to how it has become a symbol of Israel’s anguish over three missing teenagers.

“We will bring you back” and “The people of Israel are alive” read Hebrew messages on large posters beside smaller leaflets bearing the English inscription “# bring our boys homes”

The report also included a photo of the three teens.

Financial Times

On June 15th the Financial Times published a report by John Reed, titled ‘Netanyahu accuses Hamas over kidnapping of Israeli teenagers‘, which opened with this curious passage:

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, on Sunday blamed the Palestinian militant group Hamas for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, raising the stakes in a missing-person case that has transfixed the country and its leaders.

Though Reed’s obfuscatory language isn’t quite as egregious as the New York Times recent conflation of cause and effect, as revealed by CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal, it is still troubling that the passage nonetheless suggests that the prime minister ‘raised the stakes’ in the kidnapping (what’s characterized as a “missing person case”) when he blamed Hamas for the abduction.  

Reed also makes a gratuitous reference to “radical Jewish settlers” in Hebron, who he claims represent the cause of “tensions between Israelis and Palestinians”, without noting the extremely destabilizing presence of a large number of Hamas terrorists in the city.

Summary:

  • The Guardian has published the greatest number of stories on the kidnapping to date, filing seven out of the nineteen total reports covered in this review.
  • With the exception of two reports in the Telegraph, and one in the Independent, every photo used to illustrate the teens’ abduction by terrorists focused on the Israeli military response to the incident, rather than on the boys, their families or reactions by the Israeli public.  In contrast, as we’ve noted in previous posts, the UK media almost uniformly focused on the families of Palestinian terrorists released over the past year by Israeli authorities, rather than on the families of the Israeli victims.
  • With the exception of Robert Tait’s story on June 16th and a report the same day by Peter Beaumont in the Guardian, no other UK media outlet quoted a family member of one of the teenage victims.  Alternately, several reports quoted Palestinians in the West Bank condemning the IDF’s military response to the terrorist abduction.
  • Only one report, in the Indy, provided context on the high number of thwarted kidnapping attempts by Palestinian terror groups over the last year.  However, the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont did cite three specific examples of previous kidnappings – one in 2001, one in 2011 and another in 2013. 
fatah-e1402847026600-635x357

This caricature depicting three rats caught on a fishing line was posted on the official Facebook page of Fatah (Mahmoud Abbas’s party) shortly after the kidnapping was reported

One man’s “illegal settlement” is another man’s “historic Jewish homeland”

Even though Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the US and EU, most Western journalists don’t dare use the word “terrorist” when characterizing the group, out of concern that the term is prejudicial and subjective.  They often opt instead for the term “militant”.  

A great example of this ‘sensitivity’ can be found in the Guardian’s Style Guide, which cautions its writers that they “need to be very careful about using the term” as “it is still a subjective judgment”, before concluding that “one person’s terrorist may be another person’s freedom fighter”.  

Regarding Israeli communities across the 1949 Armistice Lines, however, there is rarely any such concern about using subjective, tendentious terminology.  

Such towns on the ‘wrong’ side of the green line are almost always characterized as “illegal”, despite the fact that this designation largely rests on an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice – a decision (based on an interpretation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) which many believe was reached using specious legal logic.

In fact, most journalists don’t even bother explaining to readers why they believe Israeli settlements are illegal. They don’t cite the ICJ advisory opinion. And, they certainly don’t note the existence of dissenting opinions by highly respected legal scholars.

Interestingly, however, a journalist for the Independent named Ben Lynfield recently tried to explain the international legal basis for describing settlements as “illegal”, in a report on June 5 titled ‘Israel plans to build 3,000 new settler homes in occupied territories to punish the Hamas backed Palestinian Authority’.

Here’s the relevant paragraph:

Palestinian leaders said they would not remain quiet over the settlement expansion and spoke of using their non-member state status at the UN to hold Israel accountable for violating international law. Settlement contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention’s ban on an occupying power settling its nationals in the occupied territory.

In addition to the fact that Lynfield fails to explain which legal body reached an “advisory” opinion that settlements “contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention”, he also distorts the language of the Convention, and omits key words which are highly relevant to the debate.  

Here’s the exact language of Article 49, in the opening sentence. (You can read the full text here)

Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

As you can see, contrary to Lynfield’s claims, the passage does not seem to prohibit the “settling” nationals in “occupied territory”, as Lynfield claims, but speaks explicitly of a prohibition against “forcible transfers“.

International lawyer Prof. Eugene V. Rostow, a former dean of Yale Law School and U.S. Undersecretary of State, wrote the following in 1990:

[T]he Convention prohibits many of the inhumane practices of the Nazis and the Soviet Union during and before the Second World War – the mass transfer of people into and out of occupied territories for purposes of extermination, slave labor or colonization, for example….The Jewish settlers in the West Bank are most emphatically volunteers. They have not been “deported” or “transferred” to the area by the Government of Israel, and their movement involves none of the atrocious purposes or harmful effects on the existing population it is the goal of the Geneva Convention to prevent.

Ambassador Morris Abram, a member of the U.S. staff at the Nuremberg Tribunal who was later involved in the drafting of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is on record as stating the following:

[The Convention] was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but rather the forcible transfer, deportation or resettlement of large numbers of people.

Similarly, international lawyer Prof. Julius Stone, in referring to the absurdity of considering Israeli settlements as a violation of Article 49(6), wrote:

Irony would…be pushed to the absurdity of claiming that Article 49(6), designed to prevent repetition of Nazi-type genocidal policies of rendering Nazi metropolitan territories judenrein, has now come to mean that…the West Bank…must be made judenrein and must be so maintained, if necessary by the use of force by the government of Israel against its own inhabitants. Common sense as well as correct historical and functional context excludes so tyrannical a reading of Article 49(6.)

David M. Phillips argued thusly in an essay at Commentary:

Concluding that Israeli settlements violate Article 49(6) also overlooks the Jewish communities that existed before the creation of the state in areas occupied by today’s Israeli settlements, for example, in Hebron and the Etzion block outside Jerusalem. These Jewish communities were destroyed by Arab armies, militias, and rioters, and, as in the case of Hebron, the community’s population was slaughtered. Is it sensible to interpret Article 49 to bar the reconstitution of Jewish communities that were destroyed through aggression and slaughter? If so, the international law of occupation runs the risk of freezing one occupier’s conduct in place, no matter how unlawful.

While reasonable people can of course disagree with Israeli settlement policy – in the context of efforts to one day reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians – lazily asserting that such settlements are “illegal” is ahistorical, and has, at best, a highly questionable basis in international law.  

Professional journalists (such as Ben Lynfield) should at least avoid language suggesting that the “illegality” of Israeli settlements represents a universally agreed upon understanding of international law, and acknowledge – at the very least – the existence of highly credible dissenting legal opinions.

Employing the Guardian’s post-modern logic regarding the word “terrorist”, you could say that “one man’s illegal settlement is another man’s (legally codified) historic Jewish homeland”.

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UK media silent about Pope’s meeting with Mufti who claimed that Muslims’ destiny is to kill Jews

A report at the Independent by Ben Lynfield focuses on Palestinian activists who are “scathing about the Pope’s plans to make the first visit by a pontiff to the tomb of Theodor Herzl”, the founder of Zionism – the political movement, Lynfield explains, “that established Israel and displaced the Palestinians.”

Lynfield continues:

Omar Barghouti, a Ramallah-based member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, termed the planned visit to the grave “nauseating”.

“Laying a wreath on the grave of the founder of Zionism, a patently racist ideology that has served to enable and justify the ethnic cleansing of most of the indigenous people of Palestine, is a nauseating, offensive act of complicity that Palestinian civil society cannot but condemn,” Mr Barghouti wrote in an emailed statement. He added that the gesture would “serve to whitewash Israel’s occupation and apartheid”.

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central council, also questioned the Pope’s choice. He said that if the Pope is to visit Herzl’s tomb, he should make a visit to the Yasser Arafat mausoleum in Ramallah for “balance”

Of course, neither Lynfield nor any of his colleagues within the UK media have yet noted that, though the Pope will not be visiting the grave of the ‘father of modern terrorism‘, he will be meeting with the Grand Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein. The Grand Mufti is the most senior religious figure in the Palestinian Authority (the Palestinian equivalent of the Israeli Chief Rabbi), and has an appalling record of extreme antisemitic hate speech and support for suicide bombings.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported the following:

What Pope Francis may not be aware of is that the Mufti has an ongoing record of vicious Antisemitic hate speech, which has been condemned internationally. In 2012, the Mufti preached that it is Muslim destiny to kill the Jews. On a different occasion, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he taught that Jews were “enemies of Allah,” and in another speech he said that the souls of suicide bombers “tell us to follow in their path.”

PMW recently cited a speech, broadcast on PA television in January 2012, from a Fatah celebration in East Jerusalem, where the Mufti endorsed the murder of Jews.

Here’s the transcript:

Moderator at Fatah ceremony: “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs (i.e., Jews) is a war of religion and faith.

Long Live Fatah! [I invite you,] our honorable Sheikh.”  

Palestinian Authority Mufti Muhammad Hussein: 
“47 years ago the [Fatah] revolution started. Which revolution? The modern revolution
of the Palestinian people’s history.
In fact, Palestine in its entirety is a revolution,
since [Caliph] Umar came [to conquer Jerusalem, 637 CE],
and continuing today, and until the End of Days.
The reliableHadith (tradition attributed to Muhammad),
in the two reliable collections, Bukhari and Muslim, says:
‘The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. 
The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. 
Then the stones or trees will call: 
“Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” 
Except the Gharqad tree [which will keep silent].’ 
Therefore, it is no wonder that you see Gharqad [trees] 
surrounding the [Israeli] settlements and colonies.
[Gharqad trees] surrounding, surrounding and surrounding.
That’s the Palestine we are talking about,
with the beginning of the Jihad and the continuation of the Jihad,
with the struggle and the procession of the Martyrs.”

[PA TV (Fatah), Jan. 9, 2012] 

As PMW explained, not only didn’t the Grand Mufti retract or condemn these statements by the moderator, but instead cited the Hadith to buttress the narrative that Palestinians are indeed destined to murder the Jews. 

Though the UK media often characterize mainstream Israeli politicians who are on the right side of the political spectrum as “ultra-nationalist”, “far-right”, or even “extreme”, it seems certain that journalists working for the Independent, Guardian, Economist, Telegraph, or other newspapers covering Pope Francis’s visit to Israel, will fail to use similar pejoratives when reporting on his meeting with the PA Mufti who incites Palestinians to kill Jews.

As was demonstrated recently by a Guardian op-ed’s shameful justification for unparalleled antisemitism within Palestinian society, such egregious double-standards in moral accountability (the bigotry of low expectations) continue to skew media’s coverage of the region, and deny news consumers the opportunity to fairly assess those dynamics which truly represent the ‘root cause’ of the conflict. 

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CiF Watch prompts Indy correction – acknowledges that Arab towns were built since ’48

On May 7th we posted about Ben Lynfield’s column (Netanyahu’s ‘Jewish state’ law angers Arab Israelis, May 2) at the Independent, which included the following claim:

For example, while hundreds of new cities, towns and localities for Jews have been established since 1948, not a single new Arab town has been created

Whilst the suggestion that hundreds of “Jewish towns” have been established is itself very misleading (as we noted in our original post), the claim that “not a single Arab town has been created” is flat-out untrue. There have been 7 new towns built for the Arab Bedouin. (Bedouins are a sub-group with Israel’s Arab minority)

Since 1948, there have…been seven towns that the government planned and constructed for Bedouin residents of the Negev

Between 1965 and 1990, Israel indeed built seven new towns, which were able to absorb half of the Negev Bedouin…

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):

State-planned [Arab-Bedouin] towns…were set up in the 1960s and 1970s: Hura, Kseifa, Laqia, Arara, Rahat, Segev Shalom and Tel-Sheva.

We contacted Indy editors to point out the error, and they ultimately agreed that the claim was inaccurate – and revised the passage in question. 

It now reads:

For example, while hundreds of new cities, towns and localities for Jews have been established since 1948, not a single new Arab town has been created (aside from the seven settlements built specifically for the Negev’s Bedouin residents, which have been the source of considerable controversy). 

We commend Indy editors for responding positively to our complaint.

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The Independent fails to fact-check claim in story about ‘Jewish State’ proposal

As our posts noting CiF Watch-prompted corrections often demonstrate, beyond the UK media’s biased coverage of the region there lies another somewhat related problem – the failure to fact-check claims used to buttress their anti-Israel narrative.

A case in point is an article at The Independent by Ben Lynfield on May 2nd titled ‘Netanyahu’s Jewish state law angers Arabs‘, reporting on the prime minister’s proposal ‘to advance a constitutional Basic Law identifying Israel as a Jewish nation-state’.  While the article itself was predictably hostile to the proposal, and quoted critics who charged that defining Israel as ‘a Jewish nation-state’ would erode the rights of non-Jews, the following passage particularly caught our eye.

The Arab citizens of Israel, who number a fifth of the population, comprise Palestinians who remained behind when their compatriots were expelled or fled when Israel was established in 1948. They have the right to vote but regularly face discrimination from authorities. For example, while hundreds of new cities, towns and localities for Jews have been established since 1948, not a single new Arab town has been created.

First, Lynfield’s claim that hundreds of towns and cities have been built “for Jews” is, at best, highly misleading, as new Israeli cities, towns and localities generally do not distinguish between Jews, Muslims, Druze, Christians or members of other faiths.

Additionally, his claim that “not a single new Arab town has been created” since 1948 is false. In fact, there have been 7 new towns built specifically for Israeli Bedouins. (Bedouins are a sub-group within Israel’s Arab minority.)

Human Rights Watch:

in 60 years [there] have been seven towns that the government planned and constructed for Bedouin residents of the Negev

Ha’aretz:

Between 1965 and 1990, Israel indeed built seven new towns, which were able to absorb half of the Negev Bedouin…

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):

State-planned [Arab-Bedouin] towns…were set up in the 1960s and 1970s: Hura, Kseifa, Laqia, Arara, Rahat, Segev Shalom and Tel-Sheva.

We don’t know what led Ben Lynfield to believe that there were no Arab towns built since 1948, and why Indy editors didn’t fact-check the passage in question, but the claim is clearly inaccurate. 

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Indy publishes letter (whose signatures include Desmond Tutu) with lie about ‘maimed’ Palestinian ‘footballers’

Here are the signatories to a letter published at The Independent on April 30, titled ‘Leave Jerusalem off Euro 2020 host city list‘:

John Austin, Victoria Brittain, Rodney Bickerstaffe, Breyten Breytenbach, Caryl Churchill, William Dalrymple, The Rev Garth Hewitt, Dr Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Paul Laverty, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Miriam Margolyes, Mairead Maguire, Kika Markham, Professor Nur Masalha, Karma Nabulsi, Professor Steven Rose, Professor Hilary Rose, Salman Abu Sitta, Ahdaf Souief, Baroness Jenny TongeArchbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker and Roger Waters

The letter (whose signatures include Tutu and several Guardian contributors) opens with the following:

During the next five months Uefa will select 13 host cities for its Euro 2020 football competition. We appeal to Uefa to exclude Jerusalem from this list of hosts.

Here’s one of the reasons these serial Israel haters provide for opposing Jerusalem’s possible hosting of the UEFA football competition:

In February this year, Amnesty International published a report entitled Trigger Happy which documents the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli occupation forces. The report describes this treatment as “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal”.

You can see NGO Monitor’s take on the Amnesty ‘trigger happy’ report here.

The letter continues:

Just one example of this was seen earlier this year when Israeli soldiers shot repeatedly at the legs and feet of two talented teenage Palestinian footballers at a checkpoint, maiming them for life.

However, the charges about the alleged attack on the ‘talented teenage Palestinian footballers’, which was first published in the Arab media and then by Dave Zirin at The Nation, were proven to be a lie in a superb fisking at Elder of Ziyon.

First, the two Palestinians were not ‘targeted’ because they were “football players”, but because they were allegedly seen throwing bombs.

The incident, which occurred in late January near Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, reportedly began when a group of Palestinians (including the two “footballers”) threw bombs at Israeli security forces. The security forces evidently only opened fire when  the group attempted to run away and tried again to toss explosives at them. 

Additionally, both of the Palestinian ‘victims’,  Joher Naser and Adam Johar, are evidently supporters of the terror group, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Here’s a photo of Joher Naser from his own Facebook page:

Joher

Here’s a photo from the Facebook page of the other ‘footballer’, Adam Johar, who evidently didn’t get the memo from Mahmoud Abbas:

adam

Additionally, though Arab media sites (and The Nation) claimed that the two suspects were shot repeatedly in their feet, there are quite a few photos online documenting their injuries in detail but none which show a foot injury.  (By the way, the ‘footballers’ were initially treated at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.)

football knees

Joher Naser (left) and Adam Johar (right)

football walk 3

Joher Naser (left) and Adam Johar (right)

Do these footballers-cum-terror supporters seem “maimed for life” to you?

Perhaps editors at the Indy should be more careful before legitimizing wild, libelous anti-Israel allegations which have little if any relationship to reality. 

(See more on this story in a post published by my colleague Tamar Sternthal

 

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‘Fisking’ Robert Fisk’s latest on Israel: distortions, half-truths and fabrications

Robert Fisk isn’t very happy with the latest “betrayal of the Palestinians”, which is how he characterizes the US decision to temporarily end their aggressive engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after Fatah’s reconciliation with Hamas.  

In his latest report for The Independent, ‘Yet another betrayal of the Palestinians‘, April 25, Fisk blames Barack Obama for ‘cowardly’ walking away from the process, and laments that the US President has shown himself once again to be ‘in lock step’ with Jerusalem.

However, beyond the narrow and quite risible claim that Obama and Netanyahu are in cahoots, or at least using the same political playbook, Fisk’s ‘analysis’ is laden with distortions, half-truths and outright fabrications. 

Fisk derides “claim” that Hamas is a terror group

Fisk:

Of course – lock-stepping with Israel as usual – Obama condemned Mahmoud Abbas for the “unhelpful” step of trying to form a unity government with Hamas, a skewed version of events that entirely chimes with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s predictable claim that the Palestinian President “formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction”.

So, to Fisk, Obama and Netanyahu are merely parroting an evidently debatable “claim” that Hamas is a “murderous terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction”, despite the fact that the group is an internationally recognized terror organization whose founding charter unambiguously calls for Israel’s destruction and the murder of Jews, and has launched terror attacks that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians.

Fisk uncritically accepts Palestinian talking points about Hamas’s imminent move to the political centre.

Fisk:

Forget that Mr Abbas insists that this Palestinian unity would be founded on recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of previous agreements.

Of course, the suggestion that Hamas – whose leaders have called for genocide against the Jews – would ever betray its fundamental anti-Zionist doctrine and recognize Israel (and renounce violence) is ludicrous. Not only has a Hamas spokesperson already distanced the group from suggestions that they may recognize Israel, but the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reportedly already walked back Abbas’s claim, and stated that Hamas is not obligated to recognize Israel to be part of the government.

Fisk grossly under counts the population of Arab Israelis

Fisk:

Since Mr Netanyahu has been demanding that Mr Abbas accept – even before the latter’s renewed love affair with Hamas – that Israel was a “Jewish state” (thus deleting its tens of thousands of Israeli Arab citizens), no “recognition of Israel” without its Jewish definition would be of any use to him.

We’re not sure how he made such a big error, but a simple tour of the website of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (among the myriad of sources he could have used to check this ‘fact’) would have demonstrated that the population of Arab Israelis is over 1.6 Million, not “tens of thousands”.

The US is “in hock” to the Israeli government?

Fisk:

How on earth did Mr Kerry think that he could bring this nonsense off in nine months?  For as long as the US administration remains in hock to the Israeli government and continues to support Israel, right or wrong, it can never – and will never – negotiate peace between the two.

Though we weren’t previously familiar with the term “in hock”, it appears that (based on a popular online dictionary) if you are “in hock” to someone, you feel you have to do things for them because they have given you money or support.  Given the context, it appears that Fisk is (furtively) evoking the alleged influence of the ‘Israeli lobby’ over US foreign policy.

New Jewish “colonies” in east Jerusalem?

Fisk:

Only a month ago, Israel approved the construction of yet another 186 houses in the newly colonised Jewish areas of East Jerusalem

Fisk is likely referring to Israel’s recent approval of 40 new homes in Pisgat Zeev and 146 in Har Homa.  However, contrary to his claim, these are not “newly colonized” areas.  The Har Homa neighborhood was established in 1997, while Pisgat Zeev was founded in 1982.  

The Oslo Accords prohibit Israeli construction across the green line?

Fisk:

From the start, Mr Arafat agreed that his land would exist only in 22 per cent of Mandate Palestine. Fair enough. But then he accepted the growing Jewish colonies on the West Bank, allowed America to dictate the terms for peace – which were supposed to prevent any such territorial expansion after the Oslo agreement – and then permitted the US to blame him for the failure of negotiations

Contrary to Fisk’s suggestion, the Oslo Accords (Oslo 1 and Oslo 2) did NOT prohibit Israeli settlements in the territories.  The Accords stipulated that such issues – relating to final borders and the fate of Israeli settlements – were to be settled in a final status agreement.

Hamas rocket attacks on Sderot (and only Sderot?) were a “gift” to Israel:

Fisk:

Hamas…handed Israel a gift by bombarding Sderot from Gaza with thousands of inaccurate rockets, most of them home-made. It allowed Israel to kill hundreds of Palestinian civilians as it sought revenge, and deprived the Israeli left (that which still existed) of their support for the original Israeli withdrawal from Gaza;

So, to Fisk, thousands of Hamas rocket attacks (on Sderot, and, presumably, only Sderot) were a gift to Israeli leaders who were intent on finding an excuse to kill Palestinian civilians.  

Additionally, addressing Fisk’s other contention, beyond Sderot, towns targeted by the more than 8,000 quite deadly rockets (Heavy Mortars, Qassams, Grads, and the FAJR-5) fired from Gaza since its withdrawal in 2005 include Netivot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Kiryat Malachi, Okafim, Kiryat Gat, the greater Tel Aviv area and even the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Finally, here’s a glimpse at a few of those “home-made” “inaccurate” rockets in action:

 

Robert Fisk: So many distortions and fabrications in so few words of text.

There’s indeed a reason why bloggers refer to the point-by-point refutation of such blatant errors in an article or op-ed as ‘Fisking‘.

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Stealth ‘corrections’ at the Indy in Mira Bar-Hillel’s confessional about Olmert

A couple of hours ago we posted about an op-ed by Mira Bar-Hillel, titled ‘I dated Ehud Olmert once. His ambition stood out, but the corruption was yet to come‘, which included two errors:

First, she got the date of Ariel Sharon’s coma wrong.

More significantly, Bar-Hillel greatly inflated the casualty figures from the 2008-09 war in Gaza.  Here’s the original passage:

he [Olmert] ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead, 

As we noted, even B’tselem (the NGO which has one of the highest casualty tallies) didn’t claim that the three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas “left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead”.  While other sources (including, quite tellingly, Hamas) place the civilian casualty figures dramatically lower, B’tselem has claimed that 773 of the 1387 Palestinians killed “did not take part in hostilities”.

Shortly after contacting Indy editors and alerting them to the errors, we noticed two changes:

First, the date of Sharon’s coma was corrected.

However, though there was a second change, it was not at all sufficient.  They merely changed this…

Two years later, he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead… 

to this:

Two years later he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left nearly 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead..

So, do they accept B’tselem’s figures, or don’t they? If they do, then are we to believe that 773 is “nearly 1000″?

Finally, it’s important to note that though newspaper editors (at the Guardian and elsewhere) who respond positively to our correction requests typically explain the revision or acknowledge it somewhere on their site, the changes to Bar-Hillel’s op-ed were not acknowledged or explained via an email, nor noted by Indy editors anywhere on the page.

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UK journalist who dated Ehud Olmert corrupts Gaza War casualty figures

Mira Bar-Hillel, the British journalist who has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews, penned an op-ed on April 1 at the Independent which contained an even more startling revelation:
mira

In what reads at first glance as an April Fool’s joke, Bar-Hillel writes the following about the former Israeli Prime Minister.

Reader, I didn’t marry him. Not even close. But I did once go out with the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has just been convicted of bribery and corruption.

Back in late 1969 a blind date was arranged for us. We moved in the same circles for a few years: he as an aspiring politician, me as a journalist. Then as now, Olmert was highly intelligent, with a sharp legal mind. On the downside was his raw ambition.

Olmert was the accidental PM. ‘Arik’ Sharon made him his deputy mainly to force him to toe the line. But when Sharon fell into a coma in 2004, Olmert inherited the job without having to bother with an election which he would probably not have won.

His legacy as PM includes the ill-fated adventure in Lebanon in August 2006, which killed over 1,000 people, mostly civilians, devastated civil infrastructure and displaced approximately one million Lebanese. Two years later, he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead, many of them, as in Lebanon, children.

First, she of course got the date of Ariel Sharon’s coma wrong, which occurred in 2006, not 2004.

Additionally, Bar-Hillel significantly inflates the casualty figures in the 2008-09 war in Gaza.

Even such politicized pro-Palestinian NGOs such as B’tselem haven’t claimed that the three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas “left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead”.  While other sources (including, quite tellingly, Hamas) place the civilian casualty figures dramatically lower, B’tselem has claimed that 773 of the 1387 Palestinians they claim were killed in the war “did not take part in hostilities” – more than 20 percent less than the figure cited by Bar-Hillel.

While Bar-Hillel acknowledges that the failed shidduch with the disgraced former PM didn’t provide an opportunity to really get to know the man, readers of the Independent would likely benefit from an equally frank admission that the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is an issue about which she knows even less about.

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