Earlier today, we posted about an article in the Independent on Gaza post-war reconstruction which included the claim that the only construction materials permitted to enter Gaza are those which come from Israeli sources.
Last week, CiF Watch celebrated its 5th anniversary.
In our inaugural post on Aug. 24, 2009 we announced our intention to combat antisemitism and anti-Israel bias at the Guardian, and “to regularly post articles exposing the bigoted and one-sided nature of [their] obsessive focus on Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people.”
In recent years we have evolved in several respects:
- We improved our efficacy by establishing an extremely successful affiliation with CAMERA.
- We began leveraging our experience and CAMERA affiliation to increasingly hold UK newspapers accountable to their own editorial standards (and the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice), thus facilitating numerous corrections to false claims made by the Guardian, Independent, Economist, Telegraph, Financial Times, Times of London and elsewhere.
Please continue reaching out to us – by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, or the ‘old fashioned’ way, by emailing us at email@example.com – when you come across misleading claims, or outright factual errors, in reports and commentaries within the UK media.
On the occasion of our fifth anniversary, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the work we do, and how we can more effectively carry out our mission, and continue speaking truth to power.
Adam Levick, Managing Editor
You no doubt recall when, during the last war in Gaza in 2012, BBC’s Jon Donnison tweeted a photo of a girl with the title “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”. It of course turned out that the genuinely heartbreaking image was actually from Syria and not from Gaza – a mistake for which Donnison subsequently apologized.
Well, within the last hour, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal just retweeted the following, to his nearly 4,000 followers, a Tweet by Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, for Human Rights Watch.
The article posted at the site of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund explains:
Thanks to the support of donors all over the world, the hard work of the PCRF Jordan Chapter, and Mr. Charl Stenger, an orthotics specialist working in Dubai, 8-year-old Eid from Syria got his new artificial legs after losing them from a bombing earlier this year (his mother was killed and his 5-year-old sister also lost a leg). The PCRF is dedicated to helping any child in need, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnicity.
No doubt, apologies from McGreal and Whitson will be forthcoming.
UPDATE: Whitson deleted her tweet and wrote this:
No word yet from McGreal.
- Surprise, surprise! Jon Donnison’s fauxtographic Tweet partner is a Guardian journalist (cifwatch.com)
- BBC’s Jon Donnison breaches editorial guidelines in straw-clutching Tweet (bbcwatch.org)
- The return of the BBC’s Jon Donnison and his tall Twitter tales (bbcwatch.org)
- BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets malicious fauxtography (cifwatch.com)
Cross posted from Harry’s Place
Have you or any of your colleagues been intimidated by Hamas?
2. Do you feel restricted in your ability to ‘say what you see’ in Gaza?
3. How do you feel about the Spanish journalist who said Hamas would kill any journalist if they filmed rocket fire?
4. Has Hamas pressured you to delete anything you have published?
5. Has Hamas ever threatened to take your phone, laptop or camera?
6. Has Hamas ever taken the phone, laptop or camera of a colleague in Gaza?
7. Have you seen Hamas fighters in Gaza?
8. If yes, why have you not directly reported Hamas fighting activity when you are eye-witnesses in Gaza, but rather indirectly reported about what the IDF says Hamas has done?
9. Are you scared to publish photos of Hamas operatives on your Twitter page, or broadcast images of Hamas fighting and aggression on your news channel?
10. Have you published any photos of terrorists launching rockets in Gaza? If so, are these images being turned down by your newspaper or broadcaster?
11. Have you thought of interviewing the traumatised residents of southern Israel?
12. When Israeli authorities say that most of the dead in Gaza are terrorists, and Hamas says most of the dead in Gaza are civilians, how do you differentiate?
14. Is an underage armed terrorist still counted as a terrorist or a child when killed? Or both? Do you explain to your readers how this is possible?
15. Have you put to Hamas spokespersons that firing rockets from civilian areas in a war situation will draw return fire and lead to the death of civilians?
16. Nick Casey of the Wall Street Journal tweeted: “you have to wonder with the shelling, how patients at Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media.” Never mind wondering; did you ask any patients how they feel?
And how do you feel about the fact that Casey subsequently deleted his tweet?
18. Russia Today journalist Harry Fear mentioned rocket-launching sites near his hotel. Have you noticed any terrorists or terror bases near your hotel?
19. How do you feel about Fear’s expulsion from Gaza, for tweeting about the rocket launches from civilian areas? Are you worried that you might also be expelled from Gaza?
20. Did you see any Hamas terror personnel inside Al-Shifa hospital?
21. Have you interviewed a Hamas spokesperson inside Al-Shifa?
22. Have you seen any rocket-launching sites in or around the vicinity of a hospital?
23. Have you interviewed hospital staff or patients as to how they feel about their buildings being used for terror activity?
24. Hamas’ command and control bunker is underneath Al Shifa hospital. Is this worth reporting? Have you asked to gain access to it, so you can interview Hamas commanders?
25. French newspaper Liberation reported that Hamas’ Al Qassam offices are next to the emergency room at Shifa hospital, before deleting the article. Was the reporter right to delete the article, and will the information appear in the media at some point still?
26. When the missile hit Al-Shati hospital where children were killed, did you see Hamas operatives collecting the debris of the fallen Palestinian rocket, as Gabriel Barbati reported? Did Barbati pick up on something you missed?
27. Barbati prefaced his tweet by writing “Out of Gaza, far from Hamas retaliation.” Will you also report differently about Gaza when you are out of Gaza, far from Hamas retaliation?
28. Can live journalism by reporters who are scared of retaliation from the authorities they are reporting about really count as pure journalism, or is journalism in that context fundamentally compromised?
29. Have you seen or heard evidence of Hamas using civilians as human shields, by forcing or “encouraging” them to stay inside or enter into a building that has received a knock on the roof?
30. Have you seen or heard evidence of Hamas storing weapons inside schools, houses, flats, mosques or hospitals?
31. Have you interviewed Gazan residents to find out if they have – or know someone who has – a tunnel dug underneath their house? How do they feel about this?
32. Have you tried to interview any of the parents of the 160 Palestinian children who died building the terror tunnels?
33. Have you asked Hamas spokespersons why they are setting out to murder children by firing rockets towards civilian populations?
34. Have you interviewed any UNRWA officials about why Hamas are storing weapons in their schools, and how the weapons got there?
35. Are you currently investigating how Hamas rockets ended up in UNRWA schools?
36. Are you currently investigating why UNRWA returned rockets to Hamas and their police force?
37. When Hamas breaks a ceasefire with Israel – as it has done 6 times – how easy is it to report on this from Gaza?
38. Is there any anti-Hamas sentiment in Gaza, and how is it expressed?
39. Were you aware that Hamas chose to execute dozens of anti-war protesters in Gaza, and did you not consider this to be worth
40. Is international media reporting from Gaza free from pressure and intimidation, or is there a real problem – and if so, how will you address it?
Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow may have just made the same mistake that the BBC’s Jon Donnison made back in 2012, when, you likely recall, he tweeted a photo of a girl with the title “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.
However, it turned out that the genuinely heartbreaking image was actually from Syria and not from Gaza – a mistake for which Donnison subsequently apologized.
The following was Tweeted by Jon Snow at 12:24 AM, July 24, which included a link to his blog at Mashable, in a post tiled “Will I die tonight Daddy‘?
Then, a little more than an hour later, someone Tweeted the following in response:
Later, we saw this:
Snow then deleted the photo from blog, and it now includes the following:
UPDATE 4:02AM ET: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story featured an incorrect photo.
However, the damage was already done, as the Tweet (with the original erroneous photo) went somewhat viral, garnering over 4000 mentions in 24 hours.
Interestingly, we were able to trace the original photo (the one Snow deleted) back to Getty Images, and it contains the following caption:
Injured Palestinians at the Al Shifa Hospital
So, is the boy from Syria, as Snow claimed in his apology Tweet, or from Gaza?
At this stage it’s unclear exactly what kind of “editing error” the Channel 4 News presenter made.
UPDATE: It get’s stranger. Snow has deleted his apology tweet, and his blog post now includes the original photo that they had taken down, and they’ve noted the following:
(Note the last sentence at the bottom of this snapshot of the update, which we marked with a red arrow)
Here’s the tweet they likely removed:
- Guardian blames ceasefire failure on Israel (thejc.com)
The Independent recently covered the evidently serious controversy surrounding the following Tweet by comedian Bill Maher.
Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u – u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) July 18, 2014
The Indy, in an article published today (July 18th), had a clear critical editorial stance towards the Tweet:
Bill Mayer has sparked a bitter backlash online for appearing to condone Israeli aggression in Gaza and domestic violence in one, foul Twitter swoop.
“You can only hold her wrists for so long before you have to slap her,” he wrote.
The caustic American comedian, who is himself of Jewish heritage, compared Palestinian Sunni Islamic organisation Hamas to a “crazy woman trying to kill you”.
His controversial “joke” comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the IDF had launched a directive for “ground action” against Gaza.
Palestinian health officials say that 233 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air and naval strikes during 10 days of conflict. Meanwhile, one Israeli civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza.
His comments were heavily criticised, not just for appearing to suggest a pro-Israel stance, but also for appearing to be insensitive to victims of domestic violence:
Note that readers are informed that Maher is Jewish, despite the fact that he’s only half-Jewish, and is a well-known agnostic and fierce critic of religion – a gratuitous reference which may be inconsistent with the section of the Editor Code which warns against providing details of an individual’s religion unless relevant to the story.
However, for some reason, editors at the Indy covered the story of a British comedian named Alexis Sayle – who gave an interview where he likened Israel to a child rapist and a psychopath – in a context which appeared to at least legitimize his comparison:
First, here’s the video:
The July 15th Indy story begins:
Comedian and pro-Palestinian activist Alexei Sayle has fiercely condemned Israel’s air strikes in the Gaza Strip, by comparing the nation’s behaviour to that of prolific sex offender Jimmy Savile.
His comments were released after Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip – killing one Palestinian civilian – after Hamas rejected a ceasefire plan and continued rocket attacks. 166 people in Gaza have died in the week-long offensive, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
“Israel is the Jimmy Saville of nation states,” Sayle said on Tuesday during an interview with advocacy group Caabu.
“It clearly doesn’t care about damaging the lives of children,” he added, referring to the late entertainer.
Sayle also described Israel as a “teenager that’s never been given any boundaries.”
“[Israel] is endlessly indulged by its doting parents, the West, and has become a psychopath as a result.
“It thinks that everybody else is in the wrong and it is in the right,” he said.
Note that while Maher’s Tweet was criticized for “taking a pro-Israel stance” (and offending women, which, by itself, is a reasonable conclusion), there’s not a word in the Sayle story suggesting that his comparison between Israel and a child molester just may be a bit offensive, either to Israelis or victims of child abuse.
Of course, the big difference between Maher and Sayle is that the former was taking aim at an Islamist group which openly incites its followers to kill Jews, while Sayle was going after the state being targeted by these antisemitic extremists.
The moral confusion amongst segments of the British Left is at times astounding.
Here are the first few paragraphs of Adam Levick’s latest article at The Jewish Chronicle:
On Monday night, Israel formally accepted the Egyptian proposed ceasefire calling for an end to “all hostilities” between Hamas and Israel from the following morning.
Though the IDF halted its military operations, Hamas rejected calls to stop attacks and fired dozens of rockets at Israeli cities during the declared truce. After six hours of continued attacks, Israel announced it would resume its military operation and began attacking Hamas targets.
Despite this straightforward series of events, some media outlets found a way to obscure Hamas’s culpability, with the Guardian leading the pack. Even when the paper acknowledged that Hamas was still firing rockets, they somehow concluded that the “ceasefire was holding” and later managed to blame Israel’s eventual retaliation for causing it to collapse.
After the paper was criticised on Twitter, Guardian deputy editor Phoebe Greenwood defended the coverage, arguing in one Tweet that since Hamas never agreed to the ceasefire, their rocket attacks did not represent a violation of its terms.
- Read Adam Levick’s article at The Jewish Chronicle on UK media’s anti-Israel bias (cifwatch.com)
- Read Adam Levick’s latest article in The Jewish Chronicle (cifwatch.com)
- Media bias was everywhere (thejc.com)
- Guardian logic used to blame Israel for ceasefire violation in one tweet (cifwatch.com)
Here’s a Tweet from earlier today by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont:
The hasbara goons are restless and angry today
— peter beaumont (@petersbeaumont) July 15, 2014
Though we’re not sure what his Tweet was specifically referring to, the word ‘hasbara’ (a Hebrew word which merely means ‘explaining’) is often used by anti-Israel activists to characterize, in a pejorative manner, those who defend Israel online.
Tellingly, if you Google the term “Hasbara Goons”, the first two results show posts from the hate site, Mondoweiss.
Interestingly, Beaumont received some flack from his swipe at pro-Israel activists, in the following replies:
Beaumont perhaps should refer to the Guardian’s Social Media Guidelines for Journalists:
The Guardian has created a set of guidelines for staff on the use of blogging, tweeting and the use of social media in order to maintain editorial standards and help create effective communities on the web.
staff are asked to remember the former editor CP Scott’s famous dictum that “comment is free, but facts are sacred” by not blurring facts and opinions, and to exemplify the Guardian’s community standards in contributions.
The community standards, which Guardian journalists are asked to exemplify, include 10 guidelines, and summarizes their suggestions as follows:
- If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.
- Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
- Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.
In addition to being shrill and unprofessional, it seems clear that Beaumont’s Tweet was thoroughly inconsistent with his own company’s community standards.
- Palestinian Envoy more honest than the Guardian on Hamas ‘war crimes’ (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent re-tweets the hate site, Mondoweiss (cifwatch.com)
- Why the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent won’t take Palestinian antisemitism seriously (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent slammed for misleading Tweet about Iranian arms shipment (cifwatch.com)
- What the Guardian won’t report: Arabs terrorize Jewish kids at Temple Mount (cifwatch.com)
According to the Jewish News, Jones Tweeted the accusations during an exchange with Jewish News editor Justin Cohen. Jones subsequently deleted the Tweet as you can see by his timeline (and per a site which keeps track of deleted Tweets by MPs) and apologized to Cohen. According to Breitbart London, additional Tweets by Jones – which he also deleted – directly accused Cohen, who is Jewish, of ‘killing children’, despite the fact that he is not Israeli.
Beyond Jones’ vicious smear of Israel, “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” (per Jones’ Tweet to the Jewish journalist) is defined as antisemitic according to the EUMC Working Definition.
- Labour Whip Accuses British Journalist of “Killing Children” (order-order.com)
- Labour MP denies he compared Israel to Nazis in tweet (thejc.com)
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.
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:
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:
Sderot cinema. Israelis bringing chairs 2 hilltop in sderot 2 watch latest from Gaza. Clapping when blasts are heard. pic.twitter.com/WYZquV62O7
— Allan Sørensen (@allansorensen72) July 9, 2014
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.
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.
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.
Here are the first few paragraphs of Adam Levick’s latest article in the Jewish Chronicle:
“You have to keep an eye on who you are following on Twitter and where the picture you’re tweeting came from,” warned a BBC journalist in a short video that accompanied an article posted on BBC Trending, a section on the corporation’s website which selects stories that are popular on social media around the world.
The article was entitled, “Are #GazaUnderAttack images accurate?”, and looked at images shared on social media by pro-Palestinian activists during the current war in Gaza.
The short post focused on the above Twitter hashtag, which, the BBC noted, “has been used hundreds of thousands of times, often to distribute pictures claiming to show the effects of the air strikes”.
The BBC warned that a “BBC Trending analysis has found that some date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq”.
If those on the political right wanted to invent a caricature of their far-left political opponents (of the Red-Green Alliance variety), it would look something like George Galloway MP.
Between his obsessive hatred of Israelis, his embrace of both Islamist extremists (like Hamas and Hezbollah) and secular Arab tyrants (Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad come to mind), and his decidedly anti-feminist stance on sexual assaults, Galloway is a poster child for the pathos which continues to infect sections of the once proud anti-racist, anti-totalitarian, progressive movement in the UK.
Earlier today, as part of his social media advocacy on behalf of Hamas’s efforts to defeat the ‘Zionist entity’, he re-Tweeted the following from a pro-Palestinian propagandist who – her timeline demonstrates – continually Tweets old images of Palestinians casualties and passes them off as photos taken during the current war.
The problem of course is that the photo (whatever its origins) appears to be at least 8 years old.
Indeed, though it’s hard to trace the precise origin of the photo (as we were unable to find the image used by a reputable news source), it’s quite tellingly used frequently by anti-Israel extremists online, as indicated by the first three results in our Google search of the image.
In fact, there have been multiple reTweets by Galloway over the last 24 hours (to his 182,000 followers) sold as current, but which go back many years.
Here’s another one he reTweeted earlier, but which dates back to 2012.
Oh, and one more thing: it should be noted that the Bradford West MP continues to have op-eds published at the Guardian.
As Dan pointed out, the photo was from the Gaza War in November 2012.
Here’s her apology:
A picture tweeted as a house attacked in #Beit_Lahya has been removed as it was tweeted as current when in fact it was frm a previous year.
— Hala Jaber (@HalaJaber) July 8, 2014
Though not quite at the level of the fautography of the BBC’s Jon Donnison exposed by BBC Watch in 2012, Jaber’s carelessness represents more evidence of the necessity of monitor groups and citizen journalists holding journalists accountable to professional, accurate and ethical reporting within the social media and more traditional media.
Last night the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont tweeted an article from Haaretz/Reuters about a new UN report (obtained by Reuters) on the shipment of rockets intercepted in the Red Sea by the Israeli Navy in March.
Here’s the text of Beaumont’s Tweet:
“Despite Israeli claims, UN panel decides missiles on the seized ship Kos were for Sudan NOT Gaza”
However, here’s headline to the Haaretz story by Louis Charbonneau, published earlier in the day, that Beaumont linked to:
‘UN panel: Arms ship seized by IDF came from Iran, but not bound for Gaza
First, note Beaumont’s distortion of the Haaretz headline. Though the headline only claimed, per the article, that the UN had determined that the ship itself (carrying the arms) was heading for Sudan, Beaumont twisted it to appear as if the UN had concluded that the arms (that the ship was carrying) were destined for Sudan – and not Gaza.
Indeed, if you read the article you’d see that the UN panel didn’t even address the question concerning the final destination of the arms, and certainly didn’t conclude that they were not heading for Gaza. The article in fact noted Sudan’s role as a conduit for arms to Gaza.
The experts do not speculate in the report about why the arms were being sent to Sudan, a country which Western diplomatic and intelligence sources have told Reuters has in the past been a conduit for Iranian arms shipments to other locations in Africa, as well as the Gaza Strip.
In fact, the article clearly states that the UN report was primarily concerned with the narrow question of whether Iran was responsible for the shipment of arms, and thus in violation of the international arms embargo.
A UN expert panel has concluded that a shipment of rockets and other weapons that was seized by Israel came from Iran and represents a violation of the UN arms embargo on Tehran, according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters on Friday.
“The Panel finds that the manner of concealment in this case is consistent with several other cases reported to the (Security Council’s Iran Sanctions) Committee and investigated by the Panel,” the experts said.
“The Panel concludes that the shipment of arms and related material found aboard the Klos C is a violation of Iran’s obligations under paragraph 5 of resolution 1747,” they added, referring to the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran.
Indeed, the IDF never claimed – at the time of the interception – that the ship itself was heading to Gaza, only that the arms on the ship were to be smuggled by land from Sudan into Gaza via the Sinai.
Beaumont’s tweet twisted the text of the Haaretz/Reuters article to make it appear as if the UN had ruled out Gaza as a final destination for the arms – a distortion pointed out by a few Tweeters, including Yiftah Curiel (Spokesperson of the Israel Embassy in London), Peter Lerner (IDF Spokesman), Judge Dan (blogger at Israellycool) and this writer.
It doesn’t appear as if Beaumont has thus far responded to any of his critics.
Update: At some point following my reply (above) to Beaumont’s misleading Tweet, he blocked my account.