More pseudo academic anti-Israel propaganda in London

Cross posted from Richard Millett’s blog

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

It must be November because Joel Beinin, Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University, was in town. Last November Beinin was telling a SOAS audience that “Israel is heading into the abyss” and that Israel is putting Bedouin “into what would effectively be concentration camps”.

At LSE last Tuesday when asked during the Q&A after his talk “Why has the world stood by while Israel built the wall when we boycotted South Africa in the 80s?” Beinin replied, inter alia, that:

“The state of Israel is in some measure a response to western guilt for having sat on their hands during the murder of six million Jews. Now the Palestinians had nothing to do with that but, as Edward Said said, they are ‘the victims of the victims’.”

Beinin’s talk was called High Risk Activism and the Popular Struggle Against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank and was chaired by well-known Israel boycotter Dr John Chalcraft under the auspices of LSE’s Middle East Centre.

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Guardian’s photo choice again illustrates their obsession with Israel

Even by the standards of the Guardian Left, George Monbiot represents an extreme example of those commentators who go beyond mere hostility to Israel and the United States, but, more broadly, seem to wake up in the morning convinced that reactionary jihadists are actually victims of the democratic (“imperialist”) West. 

Though his Oct. 21st op-ed in the Guardian is about the ‘duhumanising rhetoric’ used by political leaders to demonize and exploit vulnerable minority groups, he naturally avoids citing the most egregiously racist and violent Islamist extremist movements, instead citing – as examples of those who use dehumanising rhetoric to render people expendable – Israel, the UK and the United States.

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Guardian fails to report antisemitic comment by Tory MP

Last night in London, British lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution recommending that the “Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”  

While the most morally obtuse comment during the debate belongs to Sir Richard Ottaway, who said that Israel’s “annexation” [sic] of 950 acres of the West Bank outraged him “more than anything else” in his political life – suggesting that terror attacks by Islamists on Western civilians, mass slaughter and systemic repression of human rights in the Mid-East come are less outrageous than the ‘horror’ of potential Israeli homes on a small stretch of land near the green line – another MP’s comments represented an altogether different level of political pathos.

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Focus below the line: Profile of ‘anti-Zionist’ Guardian commenter Eileen Kuch

We first noticed commenter ‘Eileen Kuch’ on a ‘Comment is Free’ thread about the Ukrainian-Russian crisis in April, where she vehemently supported Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

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This comment, putting aside the “Zio-controlled” trope (that can be explained off as some kind of anti-Zionism – she didn’t write “Jewish controlled”; did she?), reminded us of a crazy conspiracy theory – on some completely off the mental spectrum website – alleging that Barack Obama’s stepfather Lolo Soetoro must have been Jewish because “soetoro” is a Hebrew word used in the Hebrew Bible.

We were mildly surprised that the Guardian allowed such a bizarre claim on their site, and, wishing to understand the very generous flexibility of the moderators, searched for her other comments.

Reading her writings taken from her public profile on CIF is a beautiful example of the level of racist hate speech that the World’s Leading Liberal Voice is evidently ready to tolerate, completely disregarding their own ‘community standards’. Here are a limited number of examples of her comments, along with the ‘source’ of her knowledge.

Israel and its puppet the USA are the instigators of all ongoing unrest and upheaval in the world:

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Another comment puts some light on her ‘sources’.

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Her suggested useful reference on the mass murder of “Christians” by the hands of Lenin and Trotsky is a book of a certain Estonian author – Juri Lina – titled ‘Under the Sign of the Scorpion‘. To illustrate what she considers ‘an important source’, we will only quote the well-known neo-Nazi and conspiracy theorist Henry Makow: 

Estonian journalist Juri Lina has examined the recently opened Soviet archives and documented the connection between the Bolshevik Revolution and Jewish Illuminism in his book “Under the Sign of the Scorpion.” (1994)

I will probably devote a separate column to this book. Suffice to say here that Communism was the outcome of the plan outlined in Protocols. No wonder this book was banned in the USSR on pain of death! Its informal ban in America is a measure of our condition.

Karl Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, were all Jewish Freemasons, dysfunctional losers who were employed by the Illuminist bankers to hoodwink the masses. Lenin for example had been an unsuccessful lawyer who had only six cases in which he defended shoplifters. He lost all six cases. A week later he gave up the law to become a highly paid revolutionary.

Ms Kuch can’t be fooled; she knows the real name of the players in Ukraine:

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Notorious UK paper posts op-ed by failed US president defending racist extremists

 

Jimmy Carter embraces Khaled Mashal

Jimmy Carter embraces Khaled Mashal

Perhaps no phrase more accurately embodies the moral relativism which began capturing the zeitgeist during the 60s and 70s than ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter‘.

If Cyrus Vance, Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of State, aptly echoed the political derivative of this principle when he asserted that U.S. and Soviet leaders “have similar dreams and aspirations about the most fundamental issues”, then his boss’s career after being rejected by the American electorate would come to embody the truism that dangerous ideas which begin on the intellectual margins can slowly become conventional wisdom among political leaders and the opinion elite. 

Indeed, Carter’s history of shilling for the terror group Hamas is perfectly consistent with his perverse empathy for dictators and tyrants around the globe in the name of ‘peace’ while, conversely, demonizing and smearing progressive democratic states like Israel.

Such an ideological persuasion of course makes him a perfect candidate to pen an op-ed at the home address in the UK for such moral inversions, The Guardian.

Gaza blockade must end“, by Carter and Mary Robinson (former UN high commissioner for human rights) begins with a premise which employs a tortured casuistry – suggesting that the blockade is the cause of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and not the consequence of Hamas violence –  that was, tellingly, endorsed recently by the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black.

After citing erroneous casualty figures for the war, presumably from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, Carter and Robinson blame Israel for deliberately obstructing Hamas’s “promising move towards peace”, citing the reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions which, they claim, included the rejection of violence.

However, they fail to note that Hamas emphatically rejected this commitment to non-violence after the unity government was announced, and that that the group demonstrated this insistence upon retaining their ‘right of violent resistance’ by reportedly orchestrating the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens.

Carter and Robinson then insist that “there is no humane or legal justification” for how the IDF pulverized “large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools and hospitals”, which follows the dominant narrative among the far left of ignoring the undeniable, widespread evidence that such structures were targeted (in compliance with international law) because Hamas was illegally using them to house and fire weapons – consistent with the group’s human shield policy

Then they finally pivot to the issue they likely realized would galvanize fellow Hamas apologists, ‘recognition':

US and EU should recognize that Hamas is not just a military force but also a political one“.

It cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise. Only by recognising its legitimacy as a political actor – one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people – can the west begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons. Ever since the internationally monitored 2006 elections that brought Hamas to power in Palestine, the west’s approach has manifestly contributed to the opposite result. 

Jimmy Carter believes that Hamas will lay down its arms with the right political concessions, demonstrating the capacity of self-styled humanitarians to blame the West for all Arab political failures, delude themselves into accepting the benign nature of even the most dangerous extremists, and whitewash the reactionary, racist principles which guide such movements.

In short:

Hamas will never lay down their weapons, because they are fundamentally committed to violent jihad as the only true path to ‘liberating Palestine’.

Hamas will never lay down their weapons, because they are fundamentally committed to the mass murder of Jews.

Hamas will never lay down their weapons, because they don’t share the same “dreams and aspirations” as we do.

And, the Guardian will never cease legitimizing voices which demonize the nation-state of the Jewish people and running interference for even the most loathsome and malevolent antisemitic movements.

The truth about Gaza’s civilian casualties: Essay by Col. Richard Kemp

This essay was written by Col. Richard Kemp, and originally published at Gatestone Institute.

“So are you going after innocent civilians or is it incompetence Colonel Lerner?” asks the interviewer, her face contorted with a contempt apparently reserved only for Israelis. Such shrill disrespect hurled at an American or British officer would alienate viewers, and, at an Arab commander, provoke accusations of racism.

This line of questioning – repeated across the networks on a daily basis – betrays a naïve and uncomprehending willingness to believe, and encourages viewers to believe, the absurd notion that the Israel Defence Force [IDF] is commanded and manned from top to bottom by psychopathic baby-killing thugs.

To suggest that military incompetence is the only explanation for civilian deaths other than deliberate mass murder reveals a breathtaking but unsurprising ignorance of the realities of combat.

Although rarely allowed to complete so much as a single sentence, Israeli attempts to explain IDF targeting policies are inevitably dismissed as laughable fabrication.

The truth is very different. The IDF has developed the most comprehensive and sophisticated measures to minimize civilian casualties during attacks against legitimate military targets.

Mandatory, multi-sensor intelligence and surveillance systems to confirm the presence or absence of civilians precede attacks on every target from the air. Text messages, phone calls and radio messages in Arabic warn occupants to leave. Air-dropped leaflets include maps showing safe areas. When warnings go unheeded, aircraft drop non-lethal explosives to warn that an attack is imminent.

Only when pilots and air controllers are sure that civilians are clear of the target will authorization be given to attack. When pilots use laser-guided munitions they must have pre-designated safe areas to which to divert the missiles in flight should civilians suddenly appear.

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In the last few days IDF pilots have aborted many missions because civilians remained in the target area.

Ground forces have equivalent engagement procedures, although the nature of ground combat means that these are blunter and less sophisticated. Discussions with IDF infantrymen fresh from the fight on the Gaza border confirm, however, that avoiding civilian casualties is uppermost in their minds even when under fire themselves.

Meanwhile back in the safety of the studio, the interviewer’s visible fury at the IDF Spokesman has got the better of any professional objectivity: “You go on endlessly about all the warnings you give but the fact is you have killed one-and-a-half thousand people, the overwhelming majority of them civilians!”

But of course the colonel is not permitted to give a proper answer that might help viewers understand the reality of the situation.

With few exceptions, reporters, commentators and analysts unquestioningly accept the casualty statistics given by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled medical authorities, who ascribe all deaths to the IDF. Is anyone in Gaza dying of natural causes? Mass executions of “collaborators,” and civilians killed by malfunctioning Hamas rockets, are all attributed to IDF fire.

Are the “overwhelming majority” of the dead really civilians? It would seem so. We see a great deal of grotesque and heart-rending footage of dead and bleeding women and children but never so much as a glimpse of killed or wounded fighters. Nor do reporters question or comment on the complete absence of Gazan military casualties, an extraordinary phenomenon unique to this conflict. The reality of course is that Hamas make great efforts to segregate their military casualties to preserve the fiction that Israel is killing civilians only. There are also increasing indications that Hamas, through direct force or threat, are preventing journalists from filming their fighters, whether dead or alive.

We will not get to the truth until the battle is over. But we know now that Hamas have ordered their people to report all deaths as innocent civilians. We know too that Hamas has a track record of lying about casualties. After Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-09 fighting in Gaza, the IDF estimated that of 1,166 Palestinian deaths, 709 were fighters. Hamas – backed by several NGOs – claimed that only 49 of its fighters had been killed, the rest were innocent civilians. Much later they were forced to admit that the IDF had been right all along and between 600 and 700 of the casualties had in fact been fighters. But the short-memoried media are incapable of factoring this in before broadcasting their ill-founded and inflammatory assertions.

Analysis of casualty details released by Qatar-based Al Jazeera indicate that so far in the conflict most of those killed in Gaza have been young men of fighting age, not women, children or old people. According to one analyst, despite comprising around 50% of the population, the proportion of women among the dead is 21%.

Preliminary analysis by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel suggests that 71, or 46.7%, of the first 152 Palestinians killed were fighters and 81, or 53.3%, non-involved civilians.

None of this analysis is definitive. But it does cast doubt upon the accusations of indiscriminate attack against the population by the IDF and upon the UN estimates – widely trumpeted as fact by the media and the not-exactly unbiased United Nations – that between 70 and 80% of Palestinian casualties have been civilians.

Nevertheless, many innocent civilians have tragically been killed. How has this happened, given the IDF’s measures aimed at minimizing such deaths?

IDF commanders say they never intentionally fire at targets where uninvolved civilians are present, a policy that goes much further than the Geneva Conventions demand. This policy has been confirmed to me by foot soldiers on the ground and F16 pilots carrying out strikes into Gaza.

But mistakes happen. Surveillance and intelligence can never be foolproof. There have been reports of Hamas forcing civilians back in once buildings have been evacuated. There is sometimes unexpected fallout from attacks, for example when an adjacent building containing civilians collapses, often caused by secondary explosions resulting from Hamas’s own munitions.

Errors can be made in interpretation of imagery, passage of information and inputting of target data. We don’t yet know what happened to the four boys tragically killed on a Gaza beach; it is not credible that they were identified as children and then deliberately killed.

Weapons guidance systems sometimes malfunction and bombs, bullets or missiles can land where they are not supposed to. Even the most hi-tech communications systems can fail at the critical moment.

Nowhere are these errors more frequent and catastrophic than in ground combat, where commanders and soldiers experience chaos, noise, smoke, fear, exhaustion, danger, shock, maiming, death and destruction that are beyond the comprehension of our interviewer in her air conditioned TV studio.

These mistakes and malfunctions happen in all fighting armies and in all conflicts. And in all conflicts, mistakes include the deaths of soldiers by friendly fire. Do those who condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians as deliberate acts by the IDF suggest that the friendly fire incidents in Gaza are also intentional?

The Israeli policy of not attacking targets where civilians are present is likely however to be deliberately waived in one specific situation. If troops are under lethal fire from an enemy position, the IDF are entitled to attack the target even with the certainty that civilians will be killed, subject to the usual rules of proportionality.

By definition Israeli soldiers’ lives are placed at greater risk by restrictive rules of engagement intended to minimize civilian casualties. But commanders in the field must balance their concern for civilians with the preservation of their own men’s lives and fighting effectiveness.

These realities aside, all Palestinian civilian casualties in this conflict result ultimately from Gaza terrorists’ aggression against Israel, and Hamas’s use of human shields – the most important plank of Hamas’s war-fighting policy.

Storing and firing weapons within densely populated areas, compelling civilians to stay put when warned to leave, luring Israeli forces to attack and kill their own people, the Palestinian body count is vital to Hamas’s propaganda war that aims to bring international pressure on Israel and incite anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic hatred around the world.

This sickening exploitation of their own people’s suffering, and media’s complicity in it, is nowhere more cynically demonstrated than in the operating theaters of the Gaza Strip. Without the slightest regard for life-saving hygiene, or for the care, privacy or dignity of the wounded, Palestinian officials enthusiastically hustle camera crews in to the emergency room as desperate surgeons battle for a bleeding and broken child’s life.

Colonel Richard Kemp spent most his 30-year career in the British Army commanding front-line troops in fighting terrorism and insurgency in hotspots including Iraq, the Balkans, South Asia and Northern Ireland. He was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003. From 2002 – 2006 he heading the international terrorism team at the Joint Intelligence Committee of the British Prime Minister’s Office.

Chloe Valdary: The Death of a Black Man

This essay was written by Chloe Valdary and originally posted at Truth Revolt. It’s republished here with Ms. Valdary’s permission.

valdaryTake a black man and accuse him of adultery. Even worse, accuse him of rape. Spread a rumor that because of his skin color, he is inclined to be aggressive toward white women. Portray him in the most degrading way possible. Depict him devoid of all humanity. Preach that he and “his kind” are predisposed to be brute unintelligent beasts, who should at best be controlled by the innately “angelic” white population, and at worst, exterminated.

Opt for the latter. Preach it in your schools; preach it in your homes. Begin a campaign and devote yourselves to the mass slaughter of this race. Dress yourself in sheets of white; defend your towns, your family and your friends from the stench of this race. Burn crosses to intimidate their communities into silence. But do not stop there. Go farther.

Pursue these males wherever you can. Age does not matter; they can be five or fifty. Accuse them all of the most heinous of crimes imaginable. Evidence is irrelevant. Take your knife and your rope and all the townspeople that you know. Form a mob, form several. Wake them up in the dead of night. Their women and children will be screaming, but ignore their cries.

Drag the black men out of their beds. They will protest, they will swear they never did anything wrong, but do not listen to them. They are, after all, animals who have been raping your women and ruining civilization. So seize them, pull them kicking and screaming to the nearest tree you can find. Your buddies will back you up; they will support you. They have come out in the thousands and have egged you on. There is no need to let them down. 

Take your knife and stab at the black man’s body. Do not stop. He must be eradicated. Douse him in kerosene and tie the rope around his neck. Pay no attention to his gasping for breath; there is no need to let his humanity get in the way of the duty that you must perform. String him up. Tie him to the post. Tie the other end of the rope to the post. Can’t you hear the crowds chant? Can’t you hear them scream? They’re screaming for you. Set his flesh ablaze. Burn him to a crisp. Burn him till the life is snuffed out of him.

Now, take a picture. Memorialize your work for all eternity. Stand next to the rotting corpse and sing a song of victory. They will publish this image in the newspapers. Cut it out and hang it on your refrigerator door. Make copies out of it and give it to your neighbors. Turn it into postcards; send it all over the country. All of America must know that where the nigger resides, white men and women must rise up and take her nation back.

Ah yes, you, you will be the one who would have started it all. You will become prominent in all the great elite circles. You will be the one to be called upon to dine with great statesman and will be welcomed into high society. They will beg you to be friends with them and ask you of your methods on how to wipe out those greedy murderous insolent baboon blacks. Lead them! They want to become just like you; you are the savior who can inspire them! Professors in universities will study your methods for their research. You will rally their cause. 

They will build statues in your name. They will produce films in your honor. Your lynchings will make for glorious scenes in cinema that will tell the grand story of the birth of a nation. They will even commission operas to depict this epic of the White Race. Notable composers will complete the score. They will include the epithets you once hurled at the bleating baboons in their librettos. You will be the talk of the town. All will rise to see this grand opera wherever it is shown in America. You will be an icon.

But be warned: There will be those who protest. There always are. They will accuse you of evil. They will say you are not as good as you purport to be. They will say you hide behind the veneer of the white sheets you dress in but deep down you are the contemptible one. You are the one worthy of humanity’s scorn, not the black man.

Ignore them. This is for the sake of civilization. This is for the sake of elitism. This is for the sake of culture. This is for the sake of art. You are neither a murderer nor a vandal. You are a freedom fighter, and you must save your people from the black race’s powerful influence.  For this, the rope must be tightened. The subordinate primate must be massacred. His race must be eliminated, burnt to ashes, never again to rise.

For this the show must go on.

The above should stir and infuriate you. But this is no hypothetical — not the events I describe, nor the positive portrayal of racist murderers on a notable stage. The esteemed New York Metropolitan Opera plans to present a production entitled, The Death of Klinghoffer, which pays tribute not to the victim of a vicious lynching, but rather to those who lynched him. Not only should this spark outrage within you, it should move you to action. Call the Met and tell them that this sort of propping up of  21st century Klansmen and celebration of the massacre of Jews is unacceptable:

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General manager Peter Gelb at pgelb@metopera.org |Tickets and Customer Care: 212-362-6000 | Administrative Offices: 212-799-3100. | Associate Press Director Sam Neuman at SNeuman@metopera.org or call 212-870-7457. 

Focus below the line: Guardian readers ‘reflect’ on Israel and the Jews (June 18)

This post is part of a series which will re-focus on the problem of biased moderation at the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’ (CiF) – particularly, reader comments which are off-topic, ad hominem or antisemitic, and yet not deleted by their team of professional moderators.

All of the following reader comments have been posted under ‘CiF’ op-eds which have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

It starts here with a commenter with the moniker ‘StephenStafford‘:

09 June, 6:43pm

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09 June, 6:49pm

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09 June, 5:36pm

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09 June, 2:44pm

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The thread continues with a commenter named Morgenrot.

 10 June, 6:18pm

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11 June, 8:56pm

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11 June, 7:04pm

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11 June, 3:06am

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Again, none of these comments have been deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the relevant paragraph:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Following CiF Watch post, the Guardian quietly removes image of Camp Hamas

On June 3rd we posted about a photo used by Guardian editors to illustrate a report by Peter Beaumont (‘Israel condemns US for backing Palestinian unity government‘) about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request that Washington not rush to immediately recognize the new Palestinian “technocratic government” backed by the terror group Hamas.

Their decision to use a photo of Palestinian children frolicking at a Hamas summer camp was deceptive for two reasons.  First, the photo they used was only one in a series published by Getty Images in 2013 which were most notable for shots depicting the kids engaged in jihadist paramilitary training.  Second, the image – conveying the putatively benign nature of the Hamas government – could be seen as an editorial decision to make light of Israeli concerns about the consequences of the US legitimization of the Islamist extremist group.

Interestingly, a few hours after our post, the Guardian decided to remove the original photo, and instead opted for this:

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Though it’s unclear if our post prompted the Guardian revision, and no explanation was provided, we’re glad they at least implicitly acknowledged the highly tendentious nature of the original photo. 

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UPDATE: The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor responded to our post with the following Tweet:

However, our subsequent exchange with Elliott (which you can see here) suggests that his intent was to make it clear that Guardian editors recognized the error and changed the photo of their own accord.  We thank them for the clarification. 

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Guardian op-ed suggests that Jerusalem ‘drives’ Barack Obama’s foreign policy

The argument that Israeli leaders or pro-Israel groups in Washington drive US policy in the Mid-East represents something akin to conventional wisdom at the Guardian, and a recent op-ed in the paper by Carne Ross, about Barack Obama’s May 28th foreign policy speech, contributes to the media group’s impressive body of work in perpetuating this reactionary narrative.

Ross – a British diplomat turned political analyst, Occupy Wall Street fan and apparent Noam Chomsky enthusiast - writes the following in the section of his op-ed dealing with the Mid-East:

The Obama administration can hardly be blamed for the descent of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and much of Northern Africa into fratricidal and sectarian violence. But you can challenge it for supporting the Al-Sisi regime in Egypt, the repressive behavior of which tragically mimics that of Mubarak, who was the perfect recruiting sergeant for al-Qaida. As Egypt drifts into a persistent low-level civil war, and thousands of Muslim Brothers are imprisoned with barely the pretense of judicial process, the soil is being fertilized for yet another generation of anti-Western terrorists.

There’s a legitimate suspicion that US foreign policy on this front is not being driven by America’s own needs. Even Obama said as much

Then, to buttress his claim, Ross quotes a small excerpt from Obama’s May 28th speech:

In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism.

However, as you can see, Obama is certainly not acknowledging, as Ross suggests, that his administration’s foreign policy “is NOT being driven by America’s own needs”. The president is merely saying that his administration’s policy is driven by US security interests in the region – the desire to maintain peace between historic adversaries and the effort to fight violent extremism.

Next, Ross contextualizes – and grossly distorts – the Obama excerpt further:

Indeed, Israel prefers “stability” in Egypt – just as it resists military intervention in Syria or significant game-changing arms supplies, like MANPADs, to the pro-democracy Syrian opposition.

First, Israel has not resisted US military intervention in Syria, and indeed openly supported possible US strikes against Syrian defense capabilities (in response to Assad’s chemical weapons attack against civilians) last year.  

Additionally, Israeli and US opposition to MANPADs (sophisticated shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles – or SAMs) is not, as Ross suggests, driven by fear that such “game changing weapons” will get in the hands of “the pro-democracy Syrian opposition”, but is driven by concerns that these SAMs will eventually get in hands of non-democratic extremists like Hezbollah or jihadists groups.

Moreover, even if there is a significant degree of overlap between Israeli and US interests in the Mid-East, policy agreements between two countries are of course not evidence of causation.

Indeed, perhaps someone should remind Ross of the painfully obvious fact that Barack Obama is the President of the United States, and that it is Obama and his advisers – not political leaders in Jerusalem – who determine US foreign policy, based on what they determine to be, rightly or wrongly, “America’s own needs”.

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Guardian claim that Martin Indyk favors Israel contradicted by Ynet interview

An official Guardian editorial on January 1, 2014, titled ‘Israel-Palestinian talks: perpetual motion‘, which predictably blamed Israel for the lack of progress in talks between the two parties up until that time, included this brief comment on US special envoy to the negotiations, Martin Indyk:

Mr Kerry has made a new start but he has made it with advisers like Martin Indyk, who lean toward the Israeli view

This throwaway line about Indyk – who previously served several diplomatic roles under Bill Clinton – struck us as a bizarre allegation given Indyk’s political sympathies and past statements. These include his enthusiastic support for New Israel Fund – an NGO which funds groups engaging in BDS and other delegitimization campaigns – and comments he reportedly made that ‘Israeli intransigence’ was contributing to US military casualties in Afghanistan.  In 2004, Indyk also publicly urged the Israeli government to cede the Golan Heights to Syria in order to achieve ‘peace’.

More recently, Indyk has been identified as the anonymous source in a report by Yedioth Aharonoth columnist Nahum Barnea last week in which an unnamed American official slammed Israel for allegedly sabotaging peace talks.

Here are a few of the comments by the official believed to be Indyk:

Settlements are to blame

“There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort’s failure, but people in Israel shouldn’t ignore the bitter truth – the primary sabotage came from the settlements. The Palestinians don’t believe that Israel really intends to let them found a state when, at the same time, it is building settlements on the territory meant for that state. We’re talking about the announcement of 14,000 housing units, no less. Only now, after talks blew up, did we learn that this is also about expropriating land on a large-scale. That does not reconcile with the agreement.

‘We need another intifada’

“At the end of a war there is a sense of urgency,” they said. And then one of them added bitterly: “I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.

Stubborn Jews

The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation. You’re supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel’s status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state.”

So, according to Indyk: the settlements (and Jewish stubbornness) were the primary reasons the negotiations failed, and only a new violent intifada would create the circumstances by which talks could succeed.    

Tell us: Does this sound like the musings of an American diplomat “who leans toward the Israeli view”, as the Guardian claimed?

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Despite Economist claim, ‘fanatical settlement’ of Kochav Ya’ir is neither fanatical nor a settlement (UPDATE)

(See UPDATE on this post below)

While the UK media (much like its US counterpart) often employ euphemisms – and often wild rhetorical somersaults – to avoid passing ‘value judgments’ on Palestinian terror groups, there are typically no such restraints in news stories and commentaries about Israeli ‘settlers’.  

Though only a tiny fraction of Israelis who live in cities across the green line (in Jerusalem and the West Bank) have engaged in violence or advocate its use, words like ‘radical’, ‘extremist’ and ‘fanatical’ are often used by journalists to place this Jewish population on the ‘wrong side’ of their moral divide. 

A good illustration of this knee-jerk impulse to demonize ‘settlers’ – by journalist who often seem to possess little real knowledge about such communities – can be found in a May 3rd article in The Economist titled ‘Making of a martyr‘ – a review of a book about the killing, by British officers, of Avraham (Ya’ir) Stern, leader of the pre-state underground Zionist group known as Lehi (Lohamei Herut Yisrael – Fighters for the Freedom of Israel).

After a few paragraphs which focus on the book itself, the article then pivots to a broader critique of what the anonymous Economist writer believes to be Stern’s legacy:

Stern still commands a striking hold over many of Israel’s ruling right-wingers, including the successors of the mandate-era Jewish underground who continue to perpetrate attacks on Palestinian civilians. Many still choose his nom de guerre, Yair, for their sons, including Israel’s current prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

The author’s rhetorical slight of hand is almost comical.  Though Ya’ir is a common Hebrew name, are we supposed to intuit from the sentence that the current Israeli Prime Minister chose his son’s name based on the life and politics of Ya’ir Stern?

However, the author’s polemical inventions become even more pronounced in the following sentence:

One of the most fanatical settlements, Kochav Yair, is named after him

Though the community was indeed named after Ya’ir Stern, a quick check on Google Maps would have demonstrated to the Economist journalist that Kochav Ya’ir is NOT a settlement:

Additionally, the claim that Kochav Ya’ir is “fanatical” does not hold up to scrutiny.  

First, contrary to the stereotype of such fanatical ‘settlers’ [sic] as religious fundamentalists, Kochav Ya’ir is an overwhelmingly secular community.  

Moreover, in the last national elections in 2013 a majority of Kochav Ya’ir residents (according to official results) voted for centre and left-wing political parties.  In fact, while Likud-Israel Beiteinu was the party which attracted the greatest percentage of votes overall in the country, the top vote-getters in Kochav Ya’ir were centrist Yesh Atid and the left-wing Labor Party (at 24 and 21 percent respectively).  

So, Kochav Ya’ir is clearly not a “settlement”, nor does it appear to be at all “fanatical”.

The Economist got it wrong. 

UPDATE, May 11: Following our communication with Economist editors, the article was amended and an addendum added acknowledging that Kochav Ya’ir is neither fanatical nor a settlement.

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Harriet Sherwood wants Israeli Jews to feel the ‘pain’ of exclusion

A few hours before the Israeli government was set to approve a new deal with the Palestinians to extend peace talks till 2015 – which involved the release of the final batch of pre-Oslo prisoners,  hundreds of additional prisoners and a partial curb in construction beyond the green line – the Palestinians signed letters seeking acceptance to 15 UN treaties and conventions, reneging on their agreement of July 2013 to refrain from making unilateral moves. 

The last-minute breakdown throws the possibility that talks will proceed past the April 29 deadline into serious doubt, and was followed by additional Palestinian demands. These include Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, the release of 1,200 more prisoners (including Marwan Barghouti), a complete cessation of settlement construction, the imposition of PA sovereignty over Area C, a halt to Israeli anti-terror operations in PA-controlled territories, and a lifting the arms blockade on Gaza.

Anyone who’s been closely following negotiations would understand that Palestinians were counting down the days until the April 29 deadline when they would be free to execute what Jerusalem Post correspondent Herb Kenion refers to as their Plan B – waging diplomatic warfare against Israel to isolate it, delegitimize it, and eventually force it through international pressure to give in to their maximalist demands.

Such a plan of political warfare is largely inspired by what’s known as the Durban Strategy, a declaration adopted in the 2001 NGO Forum of the UN’s Durban conference. The Durban campaign – itself the political successor to the Arab boycott launched in 1945, three years before Israeli statehood – featured numerous expressions of antisemitism, focused on labeling Israel an ‘apartheid state’ guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘genocide’, and ‘war crimes’”, and adopted a resolution calling for the “complete and total isolation of Israel…the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, [and] the full cessation of all links between all states and Israel.”  

What’s known today as the modern BDS movement – which singles out the Jewish state, alone among the family of nations, for a coordinated campaign of boycotts, sanctions, divestment and social exclusion – was essentially born on that day.

Though the Guardian’s coverage of the region has consistently legitimized, amplified and provided succor the BDS movement, an op-ed published at ‘Comment is Fee’ (A boycott can jolt Israelis from their somnolence on Palestine, April 4) explicitly endorsing BDS was noteworthy in that it wasn’t written by an anti-Zionist activist, but rather by one of their ‘serious journalists’ – their outgoing Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood.

To those of us familiar with Sherwood’s brand of activist journalism, it is not at all surprising that she has expressed her support for BDS, nor that – despite glaring evidence attesting to Palestinian refusal to budge on vital topics such as the long-term final agreement issues of refugees, mutual recognition, or even the demand that a final peace agreement include an end to all Palestinian claims against Israel – would be ignored.

What largely stands out in her polemical attack is the contempt she seems to possess for average Israelis.  While she has eloquently expressed her affection for Palestinians, Israeli Jews – even after all this time in the country – clearly seem to stand beyond the limits of her imaginative sympathy. 

The op-ed – illustrated with photo of privileged Israelis “soaking up the sun on a Tel Aviv beach”, oblivious to “the daily grind experienced by more than 4 million Palestinians” – begins by citing a few recent BDS victories before contending that BDS, in protest of its “47-year occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza”, is gathering steam.  Sherwood repeats a quote by Israel’s prime minister which attacked Europe and its “dark history” and demanded that “the boycotters must be exposed for what they are… classical antisemites in modern garb”, to which the Guardian journalist responds:

“This is a serious charge, and one that causes deep discomfort to many who want to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government over its policies towards the Palestinians, but who also vigorously oppose antisemitism in any form. Opposing the occupation does not equate to antisemitism or a rejection of Jews’ right to, and need for, a homeland. The repeated accusation of antisemitism does not make it true, however frequently it is leveled by those who defend Israel unconditionally.”

Of course, Sherwood – who has never, in nearly four years of covering the region, addressed the issue of the extreme (and quite real) expressions of Judeophobia within Palestinian society – fails to explain why precisely the “accusations of antisemitism” against boycott advocates who often defend Palestinians unconditionally, are unfair.  And, though she draws a distinction between BDS advocates who merely support boycotting ‘settlement’ goods and those who call for a complete boycott of the state, she doesn’t acknowledge that those who support the latter approach largely reject the right of the state to exist within any borders.

Finally, Sherwood writes about the increasing frustration felt “by Israel’s intransigence…and the failure of the international community to back up critical words with meaningful actions”, before concluding that “only when Israeli citizens and institutions feel the consequences of their government’s policies will they force change from within”.  She argues that Israelis are “shielded from the [daily grind] of occupation”, before reaching the conclusion that “economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium” will surely force Israelis “to take notice”.

First, like so many journalists covering the conflict, Sherwood seems to take as a given the benign nature of Palestinian intentions despite so much evidence to the contrary, and doesn’t acknowledge that Israelis overwhelmingly support two-states for two peoples while refusing to ignore the failure of previous ‘land for peace’ guarantees and, therefore, remaining skeptical that the creation of a Palestinian state will actually bring peace.

More pertinent to the theme in Sherwood’s op-ed, Israelis – and most Jews around the world – indeed view current calls to exclude Israeli Jews from the international community in the context of the dark history of such measures.  Such Jews naturally question the motivation of sophisticated (putatively progressive) Europeans who see the unimaginable violence and brutality meted out to Arabs by other Arabs in the Middle East – which includes the systemic violation of the rights of women, gays and political dissidents, and (in some cases) industrial-scale killing and torture – and yet believe that the only country whose citizens deserve to be boycotted just so happens to be the only one with a Jewish majority.

The duplicity of pro-Palestinian activists is represented not merely by the manner in which they gain support from the liberal-left despite the decidedly illiberal nature of the Palestinian national movement, nor the way they promote an understanding of the dispute which conflates cause (the more than 70 year Arab war against the Jewish state) with effect (the territorial dispute which only came about as the result of that war).  No; their supreme deceit relates to how they manage to convince so many within the opinion elite that – unlike every other time in history – this time those campaigning for the exclusion of Jewish professionals, academics and artists are morally justified; that this time a small community of Jews can truly represent an organic obstacle to peace and progress; that this time it truly is malevolent Jewish behavior that brings about measures singling out Jews for opprobrium and sanction.

However, though many Zionists are secular, most thankfully are imbued with a rich and edifying tradition which explains that ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; and there is nothing new under the sun’.  Try as they may, no degree of sophistry employed by boycott proponents can possibly convince us to accept the supremacy of the au courant morality over the ethics of our fathers, to not see this latest political attack through the lens of Jewish history, nor to avoid reaching the conclusion that – as in every generation – resistance to their assault will be fierce and, in time, succeed.

‘This too shall pass’. 

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The stateless people in the Middle East you’ve never heard of

The following was written by Ben Cohen and first appeared at JNS.org.

Here’s the setting: a Middle Eastern state filled with skyscrapers and luxury hotels, and blessed with a booming business environment and the close friendship of the United States. Here’s the problem: a substantial segment of its population lives with the constant threat of deportation hanging over it.

Its members cannot obtain birth or marriage certificates, or identity cards, or driving licenses. They are banned from access to public health and education services. Their second-class status means they have no access to the law courts in order to pursue their well-documented claims of discrimination. And on those rare occasions that they summon the will to protest publicly—as they did in 2011, when demonstrators held signs bearing slogans like “I Have a Dream”—the security forces respond with extraordinary brutality, using such weapons as water cannons, concussion grenades, and tear gas with reckless abandon.

All this is depressing enough, but what really saddens me is that many people reading this will quickly conclude that I am talking about the Palestinians. After all, doesn’t what I’ve outlined here sound suspiciously like the “apartheid” system which Israel’s enemies insist has been imposed upon both Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank?  Isn’t this further evidence of the righteousness of the campaign to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel?

The truth is that the Palestinians do not have to endure this kind of raw discrimination. The situation I’m describing is located in Kuwait, and the people in question are known as Bedoon jinsiya (also spelled “Bidoon” or “Bidun”)—around 120,000 human beings who live without nationality and with none of the rights that flow from citizenship.

Like the other Arab governments, the Kuwaitis are a harsh, unsentimental bunch. Ironically, the Palestinians know this only too well: in 1991, after a U.S.-led coalition liberated oil-rich Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, the entire Palestinian population there was accused of having collaborated with Saddam Hussein. The fact that some did and that many others did not didn’t matter. Over a six-month period, around 200,000 Palestinians were booted out of the emirate in a campaign of violence and terror. PLO leader Yasser Arafat, in a rare moment of candor, asserted that Kuwait’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was “worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories.”

The Bedoon have faced a similar but more gradual onslaught, albeit without the extensive media coverage which the Palestinians receive. Human rights organizations aren’t in the habit of paying attention to them: a recent article in the Arab newspaper Al Akhbar cited a Human Rights Watch report on the Bedoon from 2011, adding that such documentation is “rare.” As a result, not only do most of us not know who the Bedoon are, but it’s probably also safe to say that the vast majority of westerners have never even heard of them.

Ethnically Arab, the Bedoon are drawn from three main sources. Firstly, those who failed to apply for nationality or lacked the right documentation when Kuwait attained independence in 1961. Secondly, those who were recruited to work in the Kuwaiti security forces during the 1960s, many of whom arrived in the emirate with their families. Thirdly, the children of Kuwaiti mothers and stateless or foreign fathers.

As Human Rights Watch noted, “regional political instability” during the 1980s led to the removal of the meager benefits—which did not include the right to vote—that the Bedoon had enjoyed thus far. They became “illegal residents” and were thus completely excluded from the social services accessed by Kuwaiti citizens. Those who slander Israel’s Law of Return as racist should know that Kuwait operates one of the most restrictive nationality

Sheikh_Sabah_IV

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah. When Bedoon leader Abdullah Atallah declared that the emir was to “blame” for the plight of his people, he was promptly arrested for the “insult” and now faces a five-year prison sentence. Credit: The White House.

laws in the region, amended many times since it was first passed in order to make the requirements for citizenship more stringent. It has now gotten to the point where Kuwaiti women cannot pass on their nationality to their children, even when those children are not eligible for their father’s nationality.

Kuwait’s official position is that there is no problem of statelessness in the emirate. Half-hearted attempts by the government to address the situation of the Bedoon have come to nothing, and over the last month, many Bedoon have begun protesting again. When one Bedoon leader, Abdullah Atallah, bravely declared that Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah was to “blame” for the plight of his people, he was promptly arrested for this “insult,” and now faces a five-year prison sentence. Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti authorities have threatened that further protests will result in the deportation of those involved.

It’s high time that Kuwait be held accountable for enforcing a system that looks like, well, apartheid. But no one is doing so. I haven’t seen, for example, students at the elite Dartmouth College protesting against their university’s “American University of Kuwait” program. I’m not aware of any campuses hosting “Kuwaiti Apartheid Week” events.

There’s a whole Division of Palestinian Rights at the U.N., but that organization is silent on the Bedoon of Kuwait.

We can whine about the double standards. Or we can press our own Jewish leaders to raise cases like the Bedoon with their government interlocutors, in the name of both universal human rights and protecting Israel’s democratic reputation. It is time to go on the offensive.

(Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for JNS.org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.)

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