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:

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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).

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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.  

 

Guardian brings back Jihad Misharawi photo to illustrate ‘Israeli attacks’

Hamas terrorists fired approximately 2270 rockets at Israeli civilians since the beginning of the current war. We know that a percentage of mortars and Grad rockets have fallen short and landed in Gazan territory – quite possibly (based on past experiences) injuring or killing Palestinian civilians. You may recall that most UK media outlets accused Israel of firing a missile, during the 2012 war in Gaza, which killed the 11 month old son of BBC Arabic cameraman Jihad Misharawi.

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Elder of Ziyon and BBC Watch (and other blogs) were among those who examined the evidence and suggested that Omar Misharawi was actually more than likely killed by an errant Palestinian rocket.

Their skepticism was well-founded.

On March 6th 2013 the United Nations Human Rights Council issued an advance version of its report on the November war and noted the following about the death of Ahmad Misharawi.

“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” [emphasis added]

Following communication with CiF Watch in the days following the release of the UNHRC report, quite a few UK media outlets corrected their original stories, and noted that a Palestinian rocket likely caused the death of Misharawi’s son. 

greenslade

So, we were somewhat surprised to say the least to see the following photo accompany a batch of Guardian letters published on July 23rd. (Note the caption below the photo.) 

masharawiThey decided to use a photo of an infant who was killed by an ‘errant’ Palestinian rocket to illustrate the view – expressed by one letter writer – that “Israel’s attacks are an extension of military rule and collective punishment by a brutal apartheid state”.

Evidently, old, disproven media smears against Israel never actually die.  

They simply get recycled at the Guardian. 

How the 30,000 remaining Palestinian refugees from ’48 morph into 5 million

The Times of Israel reported today that, during his meeting with Barack Obama last Monday, Mahmoud Abbas not only refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, but reiterated his refusal to abandon the so-called “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees”. 

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To understand why Abbas continues playing the “refugee” card, a brief look at how the world’s refugees are treated is necessary. 

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the UN agency responsible for aiding all the world’s refugees - “all” the world’s refugees, that is, except for the Palestinians. The tens of millions of actual refugees this agency aids receive initial assistance – which often entails helping to resettle them in a new state – and then they are no longer refugees.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – the UN agency which deals exclusively with Arabs of Palestinian descent – ‘Palestinian refugees‘ are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”  And, the number of Palestinian refugees from the ’48 war who are still alive – out of the initial 711,000 or so – is estimated to be roughly 30,000.  However, due to UNRWA’s expansive definition of who qualifies for “refugee” benefits – which includes the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived in Historic Palestine – over 5 million Arabs of Palestinian descent are considered “refugees”.  This means that 99 percent of their clients are NOT in fact refugees.

Remarkably, under UNRWA’s bizarre rules, even Arabs of Palestinian descent who are citizens of other Arab states – such as Jordan – are still considered “refugees“.  

(Additionally, given that there are 30,000 actual Palestinian refugees, and UNRWA has a payroll of 29,000 employees, the ratio of UNRWA employees to actual refugees is nearly 1:1. In contrast, UNHCR, which handles roughly 43 million refugees throughout the world, has a payroll of only 7,685.)

Keep this mind when reading the following passage from Karma Nablusi’s op-ed at ‘Comment is Free’ titled Despite the cruelties heaped on them, Palestinian refugees’ spirit has not broken, March 21:

The only thing heard nowadays about the majority of the Palestinian people – those made refugees in the Nakba of 1948 – is that they must consider themselves and their fate entirely forfeited. Surrendering their right to return to the place they were expelled from the most basic right every refugee has under international law – is apparently a given.

However, there is no such “right of return” enshrined in international law – and certainly no such right afforded to descendants of refugees. 

When Nablusi, Mahmoud Abbas and most Palestinian advocates speak of the so-called ‘right of return‘ in international law for 5 million Palestinians, they’re possible referring to an amorphous passage from the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which says “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country”.

Or, more likely, they’re alluding to UN General Assembly Resolution 194 – a non-binding resolution from December 1948 which reads in part:

This Resolution established a Conciliation Commission for Palestine and instructed it to “take steps to assist the Governments, and authorities concerned to achieve a final settlement of all questions outstanding between them.” Paragraph 11 deals with the refugees: “The General Assembly … resolves that the [48] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

Regardless of the proper interpretation of 194 regarding the status of the 30,000 remaining refugees from 1948, there appears to be no serious legal argument which would support the inclusion of the descendants of Palestinian refugees, those who were never Israeli citizens or residents – which, again, constitutes 99 percent of the total Palestinian “refugee” population.  

Such an expansive definition would, if applied universally, guarantee the right of millions of descendants of Jewish refugees to ‘return’ to the Arab nations from which they were expelled.

Given that UNRWA and the international community refuses to resettle this population into their host countries in the Middle East where most have lived for generations – and Palestinian leaders won’t allow them into the future state of Palestine - there will likely be no end anytime soon to the ‘refugee crisis’.

As one study projects, if descendants maintain their current status, the number of “refugees” in 2050 will reach 15 million.  

If those truly inspired by a desire to reach a two-state deal would honestly grapple with finding a just resolution to the problem of 30,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War, a solution could easily be found.  

However, if we fail to challenge the fabricated figure of 5 million, then, even when the last actual Palestinian refugees from ’48 have passed on, Palestinian leaders (and activists provided a forum by sympathetic media groups) will still have an endless supply of ‘refugees’ to bludgeon Israel and stymie a possible peace agreement – all of which helps to explain the position of the Palestinian President at the White House last week. 

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Harriet Sherwood misleads on UNRWA statement about Gaza construction ban

Harriet Sherwood’s Nov. 22 report continues in the Guardian tradition of ignoring Hamas’s responsibility for the situation in Gaza, devoting nearly all of the text to highlighting Egyptian and (mostly) Israeli responsibility for the reported economic downturn in the territory.  

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The two opening paragraphs set the tone for her story:

Gaza is becoming uninhabitable as humanitarian conditions deteriorate rapidly following Egypt’s destruction of smuggling tunnels and Israel’s renewed ban on the import of construction materials, the United Nations and aid agencies have said. 

A year after the end of the eight-day war between Gaza and Israel last November, the UN said the situation in the tiny coastal strip was worse than before the conflict.

Further, a passage later in her report – about the IDF’s discovery last month of a tunnel from Gaza into southern Israel – represents a classic Guardian obfuscation: 

In addition, Israel last month halted the import of building materials through the crossings it controls, after the discovery of a sophisticated tunnel built by Hamas militants from Gaza to Israel. According to the Israeli military, it was constructed using materials that Israel had permitted to enter Gaza.

Sherwood doesn’t acknowledge that the purpose of this 1.7 km tunnel was to kidnap Israeli soldiers, nor does she acknowledge – in a story devoted to Gaza’s economic situation – that the construction materials diverted by the Islamist regime to build such an elaborate terror facility could have been used to build schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure projects.  The Guardian Jerusalem correspondent also failed to note that, prior to the discovery of the tunnel, Israel had actually started to increase the quantity of construction materials allowed into Gaza to compensate for the draconian anti-tunnel measures taken by the Egyptian government.

But the most deceptive paragraph appears near the end, where Sherwood addresses the alleged effects of the new Israeli restrictions: 

As a result of the renewed [Israeli] ban, 19 out of 20 construction projects – including 12 schools – initiated by Unrwa have ground to a halt, putting at risk thousands more jobs. Unwra [sic] said Israel’s action was collective punishment, which is illegal under international law.

It appears as if Sherwood significantly mischaracterized UNRWA’s position, as she is almost certainly referring to a statement by the outgoing Commissioner General of UNRWA, Filippo Grandi, as reported by the agency on Nov. 19.  Here is the UNRWA text in its entirety. 

The outgoing Commissioner General of UNRWA, Filippo Grandi, has warned that 19 out of 20 UNRWA construction projects in Gaza have “ground to a halt”. Speaking to the Advisory Commission of major donors and governments hosting Palestinian refugee populations, Grandi said that since March UNRWA has “not had any construction projects cleared by the Israeli government, and for the past month, has been “unable to import building materials.”

Grandi told the “AdCom” delegates that “following the closure of most smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt”, and “given that Israel does not allow exports and hence a resumption of normal economic activities, prices are rising because commodities are becoming scarce, lack of fuel has provoked the closure of the power plant, the few jobs available in the construction industry are disappearing; and the list continues”, said Grandi.

Grandi had a stark warning about regional stability. “Gaza is quickly becoming uninhabitable, and further conflict is bound, as before, to affect civilians in Gaza and southern Israel, unless its causes are addressed.”  Grandi, who leaves office in the new year, called on the international community not to forget Gaza and to address the human dimension.

The time had come to rethink security concerns and political considerations, Grandi argued. “Perhaps strengthening the human security of the people of Gaza is a better avenue to ensuring regional stability than physical closures, political isolation and military action. To obtain this, first and foremost, the Israeli blockade – which is illegal – must be lifted. Meanwhile, the United Nations must be allowed to at least continue construction projects and provide a few extra jobs to the beleaguered population.”

First, Grandi makes no mention in the statement of “collective punishment”.  Moreover, it’s clear that he wasn’t merely arguing – as Sherwood seems to suggest – that the renewed Israeli ban on construction materials was “illegal”, but that Israel’s entire military blockade to prevent the import of rockets and other deadly weaponry was “illegal”.  However, as Sherwood surely knows, the UN Palmer Commission concluded in 2011 that the IDF blockade is fully consistent with international law and is NOT a form of collective punishment.  It’s especially curious that Sherwood didn’t reveal this fact as she reported on the conclusions of the Palmer Commission herself in a story published on Jan. 23, 2011. In ‘Israeli soldiers fired at Gaza aid flotilla in self-defence, says inquiry‘, she wrote the following:

The commission also found that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, which the flotilla was attempting to breach, was primarily for security reasons and was imposed lawfully. It added that it did not “constitute ‘collective punishment’ of the population of the Gaza Strip”.

Whilst the language in her Nov. 22 report is not completely clear, if Sherwood is claiming that UNRWA characterized the recent Israeli restrictions on construction materials into Gaza as “illegal”, and as a form of “collective punishment”, it is clear that the outgoing UNRWA Commissioner General never in fact made such an argument.  

Alternately, if Sherwood was merely attempting to characterize the Commissioner General’s opinion on the broader issue of the Israeli blockade, then she failed to reveal that this view was definitively contradicted by the UN inquiry which she herself reported more than two years ago.  

Either way you read Sherwood’s awkward prose, the reader is significantly misinformed. 

The Guardian tries out a new narrative: Islamist “dove” vs the Zionist “hawk”.

Here’s the Guardian headline used in Joel Greenberg’s report on Sept. 29: bibi Whilst we addressed the fictitious narrative that Hassan Rouhani is a “moderate” in a previous post, note that this latest story not only imputes such liberal politics to the president of a country which leads the world in exporting terror abroad, while terrorizing women, gays and religious minorities at home, but contrasts the “dovish” Islamist with the “hawkish” Zionist. Of course there is one serious problem with the claim made in the headline: It isn’t at all supported in the subsequent text.  

Here’s the entire story:

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, vowed to “tell the truth” about Iran‘s nuclear programme as he flew to the US on Sunday to meet Barack Obama and address the United Nations.

diplomatic offensive at the UN last week by Iran’s new president,Hassan Rouhani, who had a historic 15-minute phone conversation with Obama on Friday, has raised concerns in Israel, which fears improving relations between the US, one of its closest allies, and Iran, one of its worst enemies.

There is concern that if the US eases economic sanctions and removes any military threat, Tehran would be freer to create a nuclear bomb.

Officials say Netanyahu will present evidence of continued Iranian efforts to attain a nuclear weapon, and will urge the US and others not to be taken in by Rouhani’s charm offensive.”I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and offensive of smiles,” Netanyahu said on Saturday night before boarding his plane to New York. “One must talk facts and tell the truth. Telling the truth today is vital for the security and peace of the world and, of course, it is vital for the security of our country.”

As Netanyahu travelled to the US, Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency announced it had arrested an Iranian with Belgian nationality who was suspected of spying for Tehran. The agency said Ali Mansouri, 58, carried photos of the US embassy in Tel Aviv and had been promised $1m (£620,000) to set up companies in Israel on behalf of the Iranian intelligence services “to harm Israeli and western interests”.

Israeli commentators said Netanyahu would have to work hard to offset the impression left by Rouhani in his UN speech and media appearances, where he presented himself as a peace-seeking moderate. “The Iranian president was very successful in convincing many in the US who want to be convinced that there is a new spirit in Tehran and a great willingness now for compromise. It will be an enormous challenge for Netanyahu to reverse that trend,” said Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya.

In the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, prominent columnist Nahum Barnea wrote that, in his phone conversation with Rouhani, Obama had “folded the flag which Netanyahu had waved to Israelis and the world, the basis of his diplomatic existence”.

Barnea added: “The threat of a military attack by the US has been removed, at least in the coming months, and it is doubtful if there ever was an Israeli military threat.”

Netanyahu has argued for increased sanctions on Iran, backed by a “credible military threat” that he said proved itself in the case of Syria, which under threat of a US strike agreed to international control of its chemical weapons.

The Israeli leader has urged that Iran be pressed to halt all uranium enrichment, remove enriched uranium from the country, dismantle the Fordo nuclear plant and stop “the plutonium track” to a nuclear weapon.

Yossi Alpher, an Israeli strategic analyst, said that Netanyahu’s “strident tone”, which included ordering the Israeli UN delegation to walk out of Rouhani’s speech, meant that “he’s coming across as a kind of spoiler”.

“I don’t think he will be able to persuasively argue that Rouhani is not worth talking to,” Alpher said. “We lose a degree of credibility when we allow ourselves to be totally out of synch with our allies on this issue.”

As you can see, if there has been any strident “anti-Iran” rhetoric by the Israeli prime minister, such quotes certainly weren’t included in Greenberg’s report. 

Moreover, the Guardian continues to all but ignore reports which contradict their desired narrative of a new “peaceful” Iranian president.  These include vitriolic rhetoric by Rouhani claiming that Israel is “an occupier and usurper” that has brought instability to the region with its “warmongering policies” and “institutionalized aggression”, and even comments by the new president which seem to liken the Holocaust to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Such obfuscations are par for the course at the Guardian.  Indeed, as the paper’s associate editor, and chief “anti-imperialist”, Seamus Milne even expressed sympathy for the ‘tragically misunderstood’ former Holocaust denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, we shouldn’t be surprised by continued selective reporting – and what will almost certainly be a chorus of pro-Rouhani propaganda – in the weeks, months and years to come.

Buried by the Guardian: The extremism of Hassan Rouhani

If you were to rely solely on the Guardian to understand what the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, said during an NBC interview last week you’d never know that he described Israel as “an occupier and usurper…that has brought instability to the region, with its warmongering policies.“  

rouhani-ayatollah-khomeini

You wouldn’t know this because the report on the interview by the Guardian’s Dan Roberts only mentioned those comments by Rouhani which could be interpreted as conciliatory, while completely omitting his demonizing rhetoric about Israel, quotes which featured prominently in the NBC report which Roberts’ report was based on.

Similarly, upon reading two recent reports by the Guardian’s Saeed Kamali Dehghan, pertaining to Rouhani’s address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, you’d be forgiven for believing that Rouhani avoided criticizing Israel at all.  Dehghan wrote the following in one of his two Sept. 25 reports:

Rouhani made sure his speech was a step forward, however minimal, and that it did not add fuel to the existing tensions, not further complicate the current standoff.

Nevertheless [the speech] was positive. Western representatives at the UN remained seated and did not join Israel’s inevitable boycott of the speech. Intriguingly, Rouhani did not mention, even once, the word that so infamously was associated with his predecessor: Israel (or, as Iranian leaders prefer, “the Zionist regime”). At the end of his speech, he recited a verse from the Qu’ran that talked about the Jewish holy book, the Torah. Those two choices should have pleased the sole Iranian Jewish MP accompanying Rouhani in his UN visit to New York.

 Dehghan’s second report on Sept. 25 that dealt with Rouhani’s speech at the UN included the following:

During his visit to the UN in New York, Rouhani attempted to revamp the image of Iran so badly hurt under Ahmadinejad. He was accompanied by Iran’s only Jewish MP, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, and made no direct mention of Israel in his speech to the general assembly on Tuesday.

Despite the charm offensive, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered his delegation to boycott Rouhani’s speech at the general assembly on Tuesday.

However, despite the implicit message conveyed by Dehghan in two reports, that the new Iranian President stayed clear of polarizing, anti-Israel rhetoric, his UN address included the following:

What has been – and continues to be – practiced against the innocent people of Palestine is nothing less than structural violence. Palestine is under occupation; the basic rights of the Palestinians are tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland. Apartheid as a concept can hardly describe the crimes and the institutionalized aggression against the innocent Palestinian people.

Rouhani didn’t explicitly use the word “Israel”, but those listening to the speech obviously understood that Israel was the state Iran’s President was referring to.

Moreover, whilst some have justly focused on an extremely misleading report by CNN claiming that Rouhani, in a recent interview, acknowledged the Holocaust, (a narrative parroted by the Guardian), critiques of this specific obfuscation should be contextualized as part of a larger pattern, in which media outlets cherry pick quotes by Rouhani and fail to report information which contradicts the desired story of “Rouhani the moderate”.  

Here are a few examples of Rouhani’s far less than moderate political record:

Rouhani: ‘Death to America’:

Rouhani, boasting of duping the West on the nuclear issue:

  • Rouhani, who was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator with Europe for two years (2003-2005), “proudly admitted that he successfully bought time to advance nuclear technology while the EU leaders were busy in negotiations with him.” (The Telegraph)

Rouhani, supporter of terror abroad:

Rouhani, supporter of terror and repression at home:

  • Rouhani (as head of the Islamic National Security Council) had a major role in the violent crackdown on a 1999 student uprising against the Islamist regime, and said, at a pro-regime rally in July that year: “At dusk yesterday we received a decisive revolutionary order to crush mercilessly and monumentally any move of these opportunist elements wherever it may occur.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Rouhani’s current pick for Justice Minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, has been criticized by human rights groups for his role in the summary executions of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in 1988, the assassination of political figures abroad, and the 1998 killings of intellectuals inside the country while he was a director at the Intelligence Ministry. – Al Monitor and Radio Free Europe

As Charles Krauthammer wrote recently about the president of a nation which is among the world’s leaders in fomenting terrorism abroad, and terrorizing women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents at home:

“[Rouhani has a] strange résumé for a moderate: 35 years of unswervingly loyal service to the Islamic Republic as a close aide to Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei [and] one of only six presidential candidates, another 678 having been disqualified by the regime as ideologically unsound. That puts him in the 99th [per]centile for fealty.

And, if the past is any guide, we can expect the Guardian – inspired by an ideology which evokes sympathy for the political aspirations of the most reactionary, anti-Western political movements in the world – to rank in the top percentile for fealty to the new president as he engages in a surreal campaign to cast himself as a political “moderate”.   

UNRWA Summer Camp: Planting the seeds of perpetual war against the Jews

H/T Israellycool

The following documentary by David Bedein about UNRWA children’s camps represents another example of how the UN agency ostensibly charged with caring for the few remaining refugees from the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli War (and, mostly, their descendents who have never set foot in historic Palestine), perpetuates the conflict.

As you watch this film (made up almost exclusively of interviews with children and instructors at UNRWA camps), those committed to two states for two peoples should ask themselves this:

How can any agreement be expected to bring genuine peace when Palestinian children are continually indoctrinated in jihad, martyrdom, and perpetual belligerence – values which, by definition, reject the existence of a Jewish state within any borders?

Peace isn’t made on paper, but among people – an intuitive understanding of human affairs which continues to elude so many.

Hunger Games: A Palestinian terrorist who tried to kill ‘as many Israelis as possible’

Cross posted at the blog,This Ongoing War, edited by Arnold and Frimet Roth. 

Barghouti Guitar from Impact of Terror

(Photo: Abdullah Barghouti created a guitar case filled with explosives, bolts and nails to maximize the lethal devastation of terror attack. Screenshot from the documentary movie “Impact of Terror”)

Trust us on this: being the parents of a child who was murdered changes the way you look at things.

Others might glance at a report quoting this political figure or that official, but that lens of bereavement and the immense frustration and anger that accompanies it tends to make you look a little more deeply than others do.

The secretary-general of the Arab League probably makes headlines whenever he issues a public pronouncement. Without wanting to be unkind, we don’t really care that much what he says or thinks under normal circumstances, and the feeling is probably mutual. Naturally, we  respect and defend his right to speak in the name of the people who appointed him, but Nabeel Elarabys views are background noise so far as we’re concerned.

For the record, he’s a professional diplomat who served as Egypt’s Foreign Minister of Egypt for four months in 2011 and before that was his country’s ambassador in New Delhi between 1981 and 1983. A lawyer, he has an Egyptian law school degree as well as a Masters in Law from NYU.

This morning, we noticed that he has some things to say that actually do intrude into matters about which we take a personal interest. Speaking about a group of convicted practitioners of terror who are serving long prison sentences in Israel, the jurist/politician is quoted yesterday (Tuesday) saying that he is 

following with concern the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners who entered indefinite food strike under very serious health conditions, especially the captive, Abdullah Barghouti, who entered into a dangerous condition due to his continued food strike since last May… Elaraby called on the international community to put an end to arrogance of the Israelis who use violence against the Palestinian prisoners [Emirates News Agency/WAM]

In the name of the Arab League, this senior figure launches into an appeal to “the international community, particularly the United Nations, the International Committee of Red Cross and human rights organization [sic]” to get involved and to “save the lives” of the terrorists who are refusing to eat and “to stop the inhumane practices against them“.

It’s significant that the hungry terrorists are not named by Mr Elaraby except for one of them: Barghouti. (We have the other names here.)

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt: Mr Elaraby may have said the things he said because his Arab League secretariat aides failed to give him a proper briefing ahead of his speech. So we will try to help. And we plan to send this posting to his office by mail right after it goes up on our site.

We have written about this dedicated killer several times in this blog. Most people who speak about him seem to know next to nothing factual, so allow us to share some basics.

Start with this: the judges who sentenced him expressed regret that condemning Abdullah Barghouti to the death penalty was not an option available to them.

If you have seen the award-winning CNN/CBC/Associated Producers documentary “Impact of Terror”, you will recall that it opens with an extreme closeup of a musical instrument, while an explosives expert explains its diabolical character:

The uniqueness for me was the guitar. Nobody was thinking that inside there is a bomb. He put inside the guitar something like four or five kilogram of explosives, four kilogram or five kilogram of nuts and nails. That’s enough. That’s enough to kill tens of people [CNN transcript]

Among the fifteen people, mostly children, killed by the work of Barghouti’s hands was Malki, our daughter. 130 others were maimed. The lives devastated by his evil amount to many times more than those awful numbers.

We noted here a week ago that Barghouti has done an outstanding job from his prison cell of highlighting the bestiality that underpins his psychopathic nature66 innocent people killedNot enough, he says without blushing. In the intimate setting of a 2006 interview beamed throughout the world by CBS television’s ’60 Minutes’ program, Barghouti clarifies things unambiguously:

I feel bad because the number is only 66. This is the answer you want to hear? Yes, I feel bad because I want more.” [Quoted on a CBS site]

Speaking in an Israeli court in 2010, he again reiterated his dedication to killing more Jews once he is freed again.

Do the people in the Arab League’s leadership know these things? Perhaps we will be able to let our visitors know when our letter gets answered. (We recommend to stay busy in the meantime.)

The wheels of justice caught up with Barghouti a decade ago. Convicted for the murder of dozens of ordinary people, he is serving a longer custodial sentence than anyone else in the history of this country. Yet, when parts of the Arabic press write about him, they call him “administrative detainee and “captive”; bitter experience tells us their readers largely believe such nonsense.

(The following is a snapshot of Barghouti’s Facebook page on July 10th – essentially representing a shrine to a confessed and proud mass-murderer.)

Facebook Barghouti 10Jul13

The people who operate the world’s most influential social media website allowed an Abdullah Barghouti page to go up, and have permitted it to stay upDo they know the facts? We pointed this out two weeks ago [see "25-Jun-13: Dogs, psychopaths and the Internet"], when Barghouti’s active Facebook page had gotten 6,805 Likes; that’s more than a hundred for every one of the dead Israelis he murdered. Go visit his Facebook site this morning and notice that Barghoutti’s savagery now has 7,266 Likes. And of course rising.

What does the Arab League leadership think about such things? Who do they say to questions like these?

  • When you seek to put an end to what you call “arrogance of the Israelis“, is this part of a larger anti-arrogance plan? Is it arrogance when Barghouti boasts willfully proudly, openly about how good it is to kill Jewish children? Is it arrogance for him (and the others like him, and who Like him) to come out in favour?
  • How will the world know when the “arrogance of the Israelis” has come to an end? If Barghouti is allowed (heaven forbid) to leave his Israeli prison cell under pressure from you, would that be a sign in your value system that the Israeli arrogance is over?
  • When the woman who delivered Barghouti’s bomb to the door of the pizza restaurant on that awful summer afternoon on August 9, 2001 was freed in a tragically misconceived deal with the terrorists two years ago, did that demonstrate reduced Israeli arrogance?
  • When the proud, unrepentant Islamist murderers like Barghouti and Tamimi make speeches in public congratulating themselves on their great deeds, is that arrogant? Will you condemn it? Have you ever said one critical word in public – in Arabic – about the satanic hubris that it represents? Did any other Arab leader? Ever?

Why do we write about matters like this? Because so many people are interested in hearing what we think? Think again. Because we are obsessive? No, though others think we are. Because we’re vengeful? No; others have certainly told us we seek revenge, but we say and firmly believe this is about justice, and injustice, and about human rights in the original, honest, non-politicized sense of that term. And to be clear about this: it’s not for lack of constructive things to do with our time.

We are the parents of a child whose beautiful life, filled with constructive acts of goodness, was brutally ended by the guitar-case bomb engineered by Barghouti. Inside us, there is a burning sense of obligation – call it a hunger - to shake the apathy of people who fail to see that of the dozens of innocent victims of this despicable man, not a single one was caught in the crossfireThey were his target as Barghouti himself confessed. The same is true every time jihadists and other terrorists seek out civilian victims, as they invariably do.

His mission, his passion, was “to kill as many Israelis as possible”. That ought to be on people’s minds when the debate over how to think about the hunger-striking terrorist prisoners reaches the mainstream media’s headlines as it soon will. The imperative to understand this needs to extend in all directions – even into the lofty heights of the executive leadership suite at the League of Arab States.

CiF Watch prompts correction at ‘The Independent’ to Omar Misharawi story

correctionsOn March 13, we posted a round-up of how the major British papers responded to new revelations regarding the death of Omar Misharawi (the 11-month old son of journalist Jihad Mishrawi) during the Gaza war.

Misharawi’s death was widely attributed to an Israeli missile, but a recent UN report demonstrated that the boy was most likely killed by an errant Palestinian rocket.

We reviewed the Guardian, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Spectator, The Sun, The Times and The Independent.

Since that post, we’ve been in contact with the papers which hadn’t already published a retraction (or a new story) based on the recent news about Misharawi’s death, and, as a result of our communication with The Independent (as well as emails by a concerned reader) they’ve added additional text to their Nov. 15 report by Amol Rajan, ‘11-month old son of BBC picture editor is killed in Gaza‘.

The report, which had originally attributed the boy’s death to Israeli fire, now includes the following before the opening passage of the report:

A report of 6 March by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that the death of Omar Masharawi was the result of “what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel” .

Additionally, shortly after our correspondence with the Daily Mail over their Nov. 15 report on the death of Misharawi, which similarly blamed Israel for the boy’s death, they added the following bullet above the text:

The BBC Arabic employee’s son Omar was killed in Gaza by an airstrike, probably a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel

We appreciate the prompt response by editors at both The Indy and Daily Mail.

Of the papers we reviewed, The SunThe Telegraph, and The Times  haven’t, thus far, issued a retraction or published a new story in light of the new information.

An extremist named Sharmine Narwani finds a home at ‘Comment is Free’

Cross posted by Zach at Huffington Post Monitor

It isn’t an easy title to win, but Sharmine “Dignity Rockets” Narwani is probably the most loathsome of all the Huffington Post bloggers, past or present. We’ve documented in the past her hatred for AmericaIsrael (of course), and Huffington Post bloggers who dare to say stuff that she doesn’t like. She’s a liaran anti-Semite, and a propagandist, not to mention a proud terrorism supporter. If all that doesn’t convince you, check out this page of quotes here.

Sharmine_Narwani

Of course it goes without saying that being an insulting, lying, anti-Semitic, America hating supporter of terrorism isn’t enough to get one removed from the Huffington Post. That’s exactly the kind of thing that they like to see. The problem is that Narwani went a bridge too far and started defending the regime in Syria while it was bombing its own people. This caused her to be removed from the Huffington Post and sent to Al-Akhbar and Veteran’s Today, where presumably the readership would mirror her views to a larger degree. 

Fortunately for her, she has found a website far left enough to take her in, despite this long, ugly and checkered history. This website would be the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’, of course! Were you expecting anything less? Narwani hits the ground running with a stalwart defense of the Assad regime in the grand tradition of calling everyone who isn’t her a liar.

Here is how she starts off:

“Less than two months after the UN announced “shocking” new casualty figures in Syria, its high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay estimates that deaths are “probably now approaching 70,000″. But two years into a Syrian conflict marked by daily death tolls, the question arises as to whether these kinds of statistics are helpful in any way? Have they helped save Syrian lives? Have they shamed intransigent foes into seeking a political solution? Or might they have they contributed to the escalation of the crisis by pointing fingers and deepening divisions?”

This paragraph is rich on so many levels. First of all, if the UN were to report tomorrow “shocking” numbers of Palestinians had been killed by Israel, do you think Narwani’s reaction would be the same? She would use it as the perfect excuse to fight harder.

Secondly, once again the UN, so beloved when it is passing toothless resolutions bashing Israel, is thrown under the bus once again when it doesn’t toe the left-wing line.

Finally, and most unbelievably, Narwani seems to be saying that if the fact that seventy thousand people are dead isn’t ‘helpful,’ then no one should know about it. That is not only an extremely heartless point of view, it actually contributes to the ongoing fighting there. Narwani seems to want to have it both ways: if the outside world won’t intervene, then no one should know about the death toll in Syria. On the other hand, if no one knows about the death toll then why would anyone intervene?

If you are wondering where she is going with this, after dismissing the death toll of 70,000 she then seeks to deny it:

“Syria’s death toll leapt from 45,000 to 60,000 earlier this year, a figure gathered by a UN-sponsored project to integrate data from seven separate lists. The new numbers are routinely cited by politicians and media as fact, and used to call for foreign intervention in the conflict.

But Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), whose casualty data are part of this count, calls the UN’s effort “political” and the results “propaganda”.”

SOHR may claim to be opposed to the regime, but Abdulrahman and Narwani are more or less saying the same thing: that the UN’s toll isn’t completely accurate. I say: does it really matter whether 45,000 are dead or 60,000? The point is that way too many people are dying in a terrible, ugly conflict. Ah, but Narwani has something to say about that as well:

“But questions about the accuracy of casualty numbers is only part of the story. Dig deeper, and it’s clear that this data also offers an insight into the Syrian conflict at odds with the story that this is essentially about a brutal regime killing peaceful civilians.” 

Maybe I read the news with more cynicism than Narwani does, but here is what I was thinking about Syria:

1) It is a brutal regime in power. However, the rebels are also populated by Islamists.
2) The regime has no problem killing civilians if they think it will advance their interests.
3) During this fighting a lot of civilians have been killed.

I never gave the rebels a free pass and neither did most people, at least as far as I can tell. But as usual, Narwani just has to take it one step further and apologize for the Assad regime that she loves:

“It’s time to stop headlining unreliable and easily politicised casualty counts, and use them only as one of several background measures of a conflict. It’s essential too that the media help us avoid such manipulation by asking questions about reported deaths: how were these deaths verified? Are they combatants? Who killed them? How do we know this? Who benefits from these deaths? Was this a violent death or one caused by displacement? How is it even possible to count all these dead in the midst of raging conflict?”

Believe me, I see where this is going quite clearly. Have a good time on CiF, Narwani. You’ll fit right in.

 

Guardian’s capital lie included in CAMERA’s Top 10 MidEast Media Mangles

Our friends at CAMERA published a 2012 end-of-year top-ten list of the most egregious false accusations about Israel in the media.  Coming in at number 5 was the Guardian’s ever-changing Israeli capital.

Style Guide

CAMERA wrote the following:

Originally, The Guardian correctly stated in the caption of a photograph that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Days later, they issued a “correction” saying they had “wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: ‘Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is.’”

Nearly four months after that, following many complaints, The Guardian re-corrected, sort of, writing:

text

Got it?

 

Guardian falsely claims that “almost no” construction materials have entered Gaza

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, ‘Hamas bans Palestinian journalists from Israeli media cooperation‘ Dec. 27, took a detour from the issue indicated in the title in the penultimate paragraph.

Sherwood writes:

“Meanwhile, Israel is to allow construction materials to enter Gaza from next week for the first time since 2007. Despite easing its blockade of the enclave two and a half years ago, it has continued to ban the import of almost all construction materials, such as cement and steel, saying they could be used for military purposes.”

The first sentence is completely untrue.

The passage highlighted in the second sentence is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.

At the Kerem Shalom Crossing, every day, around 250-350 trucks bring goods into Gaza – food, electrical products, clothing, and construction materials.

trucks

Here’s a photo I took while on tour of Kerem Shalom in September, 2012.

In order to ensure that dual-use items (construction materials which could be used by Hamas and other terror groups to build fortified bunkers, military installations, etc.) COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) coordinates such shipments with international sponsors (US Aid, the World Bank, the UN, etc.) who can guarantee that the materials are used for their original civilian intent.

Since 2010 (the period Sherwood is referring to), out of 268 submitted construction proposals by the PA (in conjunction with international sponsors) 235 were approved.

Such projects include housing, schools, clinics, roads, agricultural installations and other civilian infrastructure.

According to COGAT, the only ones not implemented on the ground have been those in which the sponsor didn’t have the funds.

Here’s a breakdown of the material. (The numbers cited below represent the amount of construction materials, in tons.)

graphic

Here is a further breakdown of what has been built, or is in the process of being built, in Gaza with construction materials sent since 2010, quantified above.

  • 1900 housing units completed or underway
  • 14 health clinics completed or underway
  • 42 schools (new or renovated) completed or underway
  • 22 water and sewage projects
  • 10 new roads 

rafah

And, lets not forget the five-star hotel, the al-Mashtal, which opened in 2012 in Gaza – which Sherwood herself reported on.

guardianYou don’t need to be a building contractor to conclude that an awful lot of construction material was required for these luxury accommodations.

You can see a full list of construction projects in Gaza underway or already completed, here.

Such facts and figures regarding construction materials entering Gaza completely contradict Harriet Sherwood’s claim that all, or “almost all”, construction materials have been banned from entering Gaza over the last two years.

Please consider sending a respectful email to the Guardian’s readers editor requesting a correction to Sherwood’s story.

reader@guardian.co.uk

What the Guardian won’t report: Israel wins at the UN. Israeli culture wins in the Middle East

On Dec. 21, 2012, a UN resolution on “Entrepreneurship for Development” was proposed by Israel, along with 97 co-sponsors.

The resolution encourages private and public sector entrepreneurship, “developing new technologies and innovative business models, and enabling high, sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth while protecting the rights of workers as the best way to deal with the challenges of poverty and job creation.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, said the following:

“The Israeli spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity prevailed at the UN today.  As a state that was founded in difficult circumstances, we have been able to create opportunities for talented people and have become an enterprising superpower. Creating a culture of entrepreneurship can work miracles and drive economies forward. Investing in human resources is a real message that Israel conveys to the developing world.”

The UN adopted it by a vote of 141 in favor to 31 against, with 11 abstentions.

The Guardian – which continually informs their readers when the UN censures the Jewish state – hasn’t reported the Israeli sponsored resolution.

Why does it matter?

If you recall, there was a huge row over comments during the US Presidential campaign suggesting that Israeli culture is a major factor in the state’s economic and social prowess in the region.  

Many commentators on the far left (including ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Rachel Shabi) scolded those who would suggest a connection between culture and success – imputing racism to such arguments.

Shabi characterized the broader narrative that Israeli culture may be more conducive to success than Palestinian culture as “standard-issue superiority complex racism”.

To those so easily manipulated by au courant post-colonial causation, the stubborn reality of Israeli success (as with Western success more broadly) must be explained by Western hegemony or other global injustices.

To the far-left crowd which occupies the Guardian, the word “racism” – typically understood as a belief in the inherent, immutable, biological or genetic inferiority of a group, race, or ethnicity – has been defined so expansively as to even impute such bigotry to those observing intuitively that some cultural habits are necessarily inimical to economic achievement and social development.

Now, take a look at the countries who voted against the Israeli resolution advocating “entrepreneurship for development”.

Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia, Comoros, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yemen.

Do you see a pattern?

A strong majority of these states are plagued by poverty, under-development and despotism – and would greatly benefit from the ‘development through entrepreneurship’ growth strategy recommended by Israel.

Unfortunately, the majority of these states are opposed to Israel’s very existence, and some have a shameful history of having ethnically cleansed their Jewish citizens in the twenty years following 1948.

The resolution, based on the most intuitive reasoning, was opposed because it was the Jewish state which proposed it.

By obsessing over Israel, refusing to concentrate on the real problems plaguing their societies, and failing to instill the liberal cultural habits necessary to alleviate poverty and throw off the yoke of tyranny – as well as ignoring the lessons on how a small, innovative, Jewish country accomplished so much in just six and a half decades - they ensure that little progress will likely be achieved.

Those in the West who continue  to indulge such nations in the fantasy that their anti-Zionist delusions are justified, even righteous, are complicit in condemning millions to poverty, tyranny and hopelessness.

The Guardian approved malice of Joseph Massad

Even by ‘Comment is Free’ standards, the anti-Zionist diatribe published by Joseph Massad, a Middle East Studies professor at Columbia University, on Nov. 30 is remarkable.

Massad’s objective, in ‘The UN vote to recognize Palestine legitimises the status quo‘, was clearly not to advocate for the Palestinians, nor even to merely question the utility of the UN’s decision to grant the Palestinians non-member observer status but, rather, to undermine Israel legitimacy and frame the state as morally beyond the pale.

Certainly, what Massad has written for ‘Comment is Free’ is not at all surprising given his background.

As CAMERA has observed, Massad has characterized Palestinians seeking to destroy Israel benignly as pursuing (ala Seumas Milne) “the legitimate rights of the Palestinians to resist,” whereas he’s cast Israel as a “racist settler colony” which acts with “unceasing brutality and sadism”.

CAMERA cited, as one example of Massad’s extremism, a passage in Cairo’s weekly Al-Ahram paper, in which Massad criticized a European philosopher (CiF contributor, Slavoj Zizek) who, despite being a severe critic of Israel, supports its right to exist.  

Massad wrote the following:

“What concerns [Slavoj Zizek] most is not the foundational racism of Zionism and its concrete offspring, a racist Jewish state, nor the racist curricula of Israeli Jewish schools, the racist Israeli Jewish media representations of Palestinians, the racist declarations of Israeli Jewish leaders on the right and on the left, or the Jewish supremacist rights and privileges guiding Zionism and Israeli state laws and policies” [emphasis added]

‘Comment is Free’ editors have granted space to Hamas members on several occasions, so it is not surprising that they published a piece by an ideological extremist who has characterized Jews as “supremacists”, a term popularized by Gilad Atzmon and David Duke.  Nonetheless, the sheer volume of lies and the degree of malice in his CiF polemic are both staggering.

Massad’s rhetorical malevolence begins in the first paragraph, writing thus:

“On 29 November 1947, the UN general assembly voted to partition Palestine between native Palestinians and overwhelmingly European Jewish colonists. The partition plan granted the colonists (one-third of the population) 57% of the land, and granted the native inhabitants (two-thirds of the population) 43%.”

The word “colonists”, which Massad employs repeatedly throughout the essay, to characterize Israeli Jews past and present represents a popular lie parroted by those who wish to delegitimize Jews’ presence in Israel.  

However, as “colonists” would refer to interlopers and outsiders – those who have no connection to the land and have forcefully conquered its indigenous population – the word simply does not apply to Jews in Israel.

Jews are the only people for whom the land of Israel was their ancient homeland, dating back to 1300 BCE, and “by 1000 BCE Jews ruled themselves for over 400 years, more than a thousand years before Islam was established.” Even after exile, Jews maintained a continuous presence in the land throughout Roman, Christian, Ottoman and British occupation, with Jewish majorities in several towns. By the ninth century there were Jewish communities in Tiberias, by the eleventh century in Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea, by the thirteenth century in Safed and by the mid-nineteenth century there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

The Jews’ connection to the land of Israel (and their legal right to settle anywhere in Western ‘Palestine’) was codified by the ‘Mandate for Palestine‘, the League of Nations document approved unanimously in 1922, and never abrogated.  The Mandate recognized the “historic connection of the Jewish people to Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

Not only has there has never been a Palestinian state, but the term “native Palestinians” is a misnomer, as there was never any distinct Palestinian identity until the later half of the 20th century.  Most Arabs who lived within the boundaries of historic Palestine were considered to be part of greater Syria.  

Further, hundreds of thousands of Arabs who were living in ‘Palestine’ by 1947 had in fact emigrated from other Arab countries and so, by definition, were not “native Palestinians” even in the narrow sense of the term.

As Dore Gold observed:

“During the years that the Jewish presence in Eretz Israel was restored, a huge Arab population influx transpired as Arab immigrants sought to take advantage of higher wages and economic opportunities that resulted from Jewish settlement in the land. President Roosevelt concluded in 1939 that “Arab immigration into Palestine since 1921 has vastly exceeded the total Jewish immigration during the whole period.””

Additionally, an estimated “25 percent to 37 percent of immigrants to pre-state Israel were Arabs, not Jews.” Between 1922 and 1946, roughly 100,000 Arabs entered the country from neighboring Arab lands.  

The question, then, of who was an “authentic” Palestinian in 1947 – even if we were to bestow political significance to such a loaded term – is not one easily answered.    

Massad’s CiF piece continues:

“On 30 November, the colonists embarked on the military conquest of Palestine, expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.”

In fact, something closer to the opposite is true.

The Arabs responded to the UN vote by engaging in organized violence against Jews.

Jamal Husseini, the Arab Higher Committee’s spokesman, told the UN prior to the partition vote the Arabs would “drench the soil of our beloved country with the last drop of our blood” and they indeed attempted to follow through on that promise.

As Martin Gilbert, in his book, ‘Israel: A history’, wrote (page 155):

“From the moment of the UN vote, Arab terrorists and armed bandits attacked Jewish men, women and children all over the country, killing 80 Jews in 12 days following the vote. looting Jewish shops and attacking Jewish civilian buses on all the highways”.

[On the day after the UN vote] a bus taking Jewish civilians from Netanya to Jerusalem was attacked by three Arabs with a machine gun and grenades. Five Jews were killed.

This attack on the bus came to be the beginning of the war [of Independence] that would take 6,000 lives”

Moreover, the Arab war against Jews preceded the 1947 UN vote on partition. Major eruptions of Arab violence directed against Jews took place in the late 1920s (including the Hebron and Safed massacres of 1929) and mid 1930s, but systemic violence began as early as 1920.

As CAMERA explained:

“The primary agitator behind these attacks was Haj Amin al Husseini, who marshalled Arab discontent over Jewish immigration into violent riots.

In 1929, Husseini and his associates fomented a violent jihad as they called upon Muslims to “defend” their holy places from the Jews. As a result, pogroms were carried out across Palestine. Arab villagers sympathetic to Jews were often targets of murderous attacks by their Arab brethren as well. British forces were sharply criticized for not policing the territory adequately, for sympathizing with the Arabs, and for standing by and allowing havoc to be wreaked upon Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Also, Arab terrorism against Jews (for five and half months from November until May when Israel declared independence) wasn’t limited to the Jews of ‘Palestine’, as Martin Gilbert further explained:

“For Arabs outside Palestine, a similar wave of anti-Jewish hatred led to violence against Jews in almost every Arab city.”

Hundreds of Jews were killed by mobs - populations which were incited to violence by Arab political and religious leaders - in Arab cities across the Middle East. Jewish shops were looted, and synagogues attacked.

Over the next 20 or so years, more than 800,000 Jews would be forcibly expelled from Arab lands where their families had lived for centuries

Massad’s piece continues:

“They declared their state on 14 May 1948.

Palestinians rejected the plan as it dispossessed them of their lands.

Arab armies intervened to stop the expulsion but failed and hundreds of thousands more Palestinians were expelled. The colonists conquered the territory assigned to them by the partition plan plus half the territory assigned to the Palestinians.” [emphasis added]

Massad’s claims are completely ahistorical. Arab armies didn’t “intervene to the stop the expulsion” of Arabs, as Arabs within Israel’s new boundaries were not being threatened with expulsion.  

The Arabs “intervened” to expel all of the Jews and initiated the violence.

On February 16, 1948, the UN Palestine Commission reported the following to the Security Council:

“Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.”

In fact, the Arabs didn’t deny they began the war to eliminate the nascent Jewish state. As Jamal Husseini told the Security Council on April 16, 1948:

“The representative of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday that they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight”

Again, Massad:

“The partition plan stipulated…insisted that the two states could not expel or discriminate against their minorities. For the UN, the “Jewish state” meant a state that champions Jewish nationalism without discriminating against non-Jews, and that its definition of Jewish and Arab states did not allow ethnic cleansing, which is what the Jewish colonists embarked upon immediately. Since then, the colonists and their descendants insist that for them the “Jewish state” is able to discriminate by law and policy against non-Jews for example, through ethnic cleansing.” [emphasis added]

Of all the unserious charges leveled against Israel, perhaps the most egregious one involves the charge of “ethnic cleansing”.

First, regarding the refugees as a result of the War of Independence, Mitch Bard wrote the following:

“The Palestinians left their homes in 1947-48 for a variety of reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ calls to get out-of-the-way of the advancing armies, a handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a battle. Had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee and an independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel.”

However, even more interestingly, the Secretary of the Arab League Office in London, Edward Atiyah, wrote the following in his 1955 book, The Arabs:

“This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boastings of an unrealistic Arabic press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders that it could be only a matter of weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to re­enter and retake possession of their country.”

And, as CAMERA notedSyria’s Prime Minister in 1948-49 acknowledged Arab responsibility for the original refugee crisis in his memoirs, writing thus:

“Since 1948, we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the United Nations to resolve on their return” (The Memoirs of Haled al Azm, p. 386-7).

Further, subsequent charges that Israel, post 1949, engaged in “ethnic cleansing” are contradicted by population statistics in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

  • In Gaza, the Arab population increased from 82,500 in 1950 to roughly 1.5 million today.
  • In the West Bank, the Arab population increased from 462,000 in 1950 to more than 2.4 million today.
  • In Jerusalem, the Arab population increased from roughly 65,000 in 1948 to over 285,000 today.

So, the Arab population has increased (in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem) from 1948 till today by more than six fold.

Meanwhile, the Jewish population in the Arab world has decreased by over 100 fold – from over 850,000 in 1948 to, at most, 7,500 today.

Based on any criteria, it has been Jews, not Arabs, who have been ethnically cleansed.

Massad continues:

“The UN has affirmed the right of the refugees to return to their homes and be compensated for their losses, which Israel refuses.”

First, the UN resolution 242 only alludes to the Palestinian refugees issue in the second clause of the second article, which calls for “a just settlement of the refugee problem.” UN Resolution 194 refers to “refugees”, not just Palestinian refugees.  So, it could also be applied to the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Moreover, nowhere in 242 and 194 are descendants of the original 1948 refugees mentioned.

As Ben Dror Yamini has argued about the broader issue of the refugees and UN:

“The UN has two bodies which deal with refugees. The High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which deals with all the world’s refugees and UNRWA, which deals only with those who became Palestinians. The Commissioner has taken care of fifty million people. They received initial help and they are not refugees. UNRWA, in contrast, began with 711 thousand and magically turned them into more than five million. The commission rehabilitates refugees. UNRWA nurtures, clones and perpetuates the refugee problem.’

Interestingly, a former UNRWA official, Sir Alexander Galloway, wrote the following all the way back in 1952:

“The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.”

Moreover, the fact that millions of Palestinian Arabs (mostly descendants two or three generations removed from the original refugees) are still living in towns administered by UNRWA in Arab states, and haven’t been granted full citizenship rights, is not a commentary on Israel but, rather, on the cynicism of those perpetuating the refugee “crisis”.

Massad:

“After Israel’s conquest of the remaining 22% of Palestine in 1967 and its establishment of more colonies in the conquered territories, more resolutions were passed condemning Israeli violations of international law.”

The “conquest” Massad refers was a defensive war (Six Day War) which was forced upon Israel in 1967 by Arab leaders who were openly threatening the Jewish state with destruction.

Further, Massad’s mention of “22% of Palestine” represents another fiction, as it suggests a percentage of what was all of pre-state Mandatory Palestine – which never existed as an independent Arab state.  After the 1948-49 War, Israel was in control of 78% of Mandatory Palestine. The remaining 22% (West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and Gaza) was split between Jordan and Egypt .

Again, an independent Palestine was never created.  So, if a Palestinian state is eventually established on most of the West Bank it will be, by definition, 100% more sovereign territory than Palestinians ever previously could claim under Arab or Jewish rule.  “Palestine” never existed, so the words “22% of Palestine” represent a rhetorical deception. 

Massad continues:

“The vote [by the UN General Assembly to grant Palestine observer status] is essentially an update of the partition plan of 1947, whereby the UN now grants Jewish colonists and their descendants 80-90% of Palestine, leaving the rest to the native inhabitants, and it risks abrogating the refugees’ right of return.

A small minority native to the West Bank (about 1.3 million people), for whom the PA claims to speak, will gain UN status as a state under occupation, while the Palestinian refugees in the West Bank (1 million people), along with six million other refugees, risk losing their right of return.

By recognising a diminished Palestinian state, the vote effectively abandons the UN understanding of the “Jewish state” as one that has no right to discriminate against or ethnically cleanse non-Jews. The new arrangement confers the blessing of this international forum on the Israeli understanding of what a “Jewish state” entails– namely, the actually existing legal discrimination and ethnic cleansing practised by Israel –as acceptable.”

In other words, for Massad, any outcome which denies the unlimited “right of return” to Palestinians – the alleged right of millions of Palestinian Arabs who never set foot on Israeli soil, and whose only claim rests on the fact that many of their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents may have once lived there – is unworthy of consideration.

Any solution which leaves the Jewish state standing represents, for Massad, a grave offense to social justice.

Massad concludes, thus:

“That this occurred on 29 November, the date of the partition plan, reiterates this date as one of continuing defeats for the Palestinians who continue to suffer from Israel’s colonial laws, and repeats UN guilt in denying Palestinians their rights not to suffer dispossession and racism. The Palestinians, however, whose majority is not represented by the PA, will no more heed this new partition plan than they did the last one and will continue to resist Israeli colonialism until it comes to an end and until Israel becomes a state for all its citizens with equal rights to all regardless of national, religious, or ethnic background.”

Massad makes one thing clear: he is among the many rejectionists gracing the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ who dismiss, as a craven surrender to the Palestinian cause, any diplomatic solution, any compromise with the Jews.

To put Massad’s solution more succinctly:

“…initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the …Resistance Movement.

Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility…”

That last quote was excerpted from Hamas’s charter.

It’s truly getting harder and harder to distinguish between ‘Comment is Free’ and the Islamic Resistance Movement.

Hanan Ashrawi lies at ‘Comment is Free’ about homes for ‘Jews only’ in Jerusalem

Hanan Ashrawi’s ‘Comment is Free’ essay on Nov. 29, ‘Supporting Palestine today at the UN is a vote for peace in the Middle East‘, included these opening passages:

“It might seem stating the obvious that Palestinians and Israelis find solutions only through negotiation, until you look at the record. It is a story in which one side makes proposals for nothing in return; one side makes agreements that the other side breaks; and one side keeps commitments that the other side ignores.

Take a recent decision by Israel to approve 100 new homes for its Jewish citizens in the illegal settlement of Gilo, when the Israeli army was bombarding and shelling Gaza.” [emphasis added]

Though Ashrawi provides no source for her contention regarding new homes being built in Jerusalem, she is referring to this construction announcement (per Ir Amim):

“Today the Jerusalem District Committee officially announced the approval of TPS 13290 for 100 housing units in Gilo. 
According to Ir-Amim’s previous alert on May 10, the plan entails 100 residential units—three 12 story buildings—to the north, between Gilo and Bit Safafa. The plan came before the District Committee for discussion of objections on May 22. The committee rejected the objections and decided to approve the plan.”

First, here’s some relevant background to better understand the issue of home construction in Israel:

The overwhelming majority of land in Israel is owned by the government, and administered (since 1960) by the Israeli Land Administration (ILA), which doesn’t sell the land but, rather, leases it out. (Only about 6.5% of the land in Israel is privately owned.)  The ILA leases government-owned land to all Israeli citizens (Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Druze, etc.), legal Israeli residents (including Arabs living in the East part of Jerusalem) or foreigners who would qualify for citizenship under the ‘law of return’. 

In the particular case Ashrawi is referring to, these homes would not exclude anyone based on religion.

Moreover, Ashrawi’s false assertion likely represents a broader attempt to impute racism (or even the more unserious charge of ‘ethnic cleansing’) into the Jerusalem building equation, ignoring the fact that Muslims in the city, both in total numbers and as an overall percentage of the population, have increased significantly since 1948.

In fact, the Muslim population of Jerusalem increased roughly 5 fold from 1967 (when Israel unified the city) to 2009, from 58,000 to over 278,000, while the Jewish population increased by a factor of only 2.8, from 196,000 to 480,000.

Beyond the broader dishonest narrative advanced by Ashrawi, however, her narrow claim that Israel has approved “100 new homes for its Jewish citizens” in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo is flat-out untrue. 

Please consider contacting Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s readers editor, to request a correction to Ashrawi’s lie.

reader@guardian.co.uk
(Editor’s note: This post was corrected on December 23 to correct a mistake in the original. I initially wrote that Ashrawi was likely referring to an announcement that 180 new homes would be set aside in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo for Israeli security personnel. This was not, we learned, the construction that Ashrawi was referring to.  The 100 homes mentioned in her commentary are to be built in East Talpiyot between Gilo and Bit Safafa, according to the Jerusalem District Committee. See the Ir Amim link above.)