Times of London falsely reports apartheid-style “bus ban on Palestinians”

Despite what Times of London claims in an Oct. 28th story by Gregg Carlstrom, there is no ‘apartheid-style’ proposal by Israeli officials to ‘ban Palestinians from riding Israeli buses’.
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According to Haaretz (and other media sites which covered the story), the new security edict being proposed by the Defense Ministry would require Palestinian laborers who enter Israel through the Eyal checkpoint (mostly those heading to work in Tel Aviv or central Israeli towns) to head home at night through the same IDF checkpoints from which they entered.  Previously, on the return trip back into the West Bank, Palestinian workers were free to choose alternative routes which would allow them to get closer to their homes and with less delay – including those bus lines passing straight through checkpoints and stopping at settlements.

Reportedly, the new proposed rules would only apply to the Eyal checkpoint and not initialy apply to those entering at other crossings.

Also, note this official statement from the Israeli Defense Department, which Carlstrom didn’t include in his report:

A security official told Haaretz that the criticism was out of context. “There is no ban on taking buses with Israelis,” the official said. “The only thing that will happen is that laborers who are citizens of the Palestinian Authority will need to return through the same crossing they left so there will be supervision of entry and departure like in any sovereign country that protects itself and takes care to admit foreign residents into its territory in orderly fashion, through arranged crossings.”

Indeed, Carlstrom – unlike other sites which covered the story, including Haaretz – didn’t included even one statement from an Israeli official contradicting his characterization of the proposed new rule, or explaining its rationale.

It would be quite fair to say that the new policy, if implemented, would have the effect of making it extremely less likely that Palestinians in the West Bank entering Israel via Eyal will use Israeli bus lines to return from work in Israel. However, to state, as the Times of London article did, that Palestinians will be “banned” from Israeli bus lines is false.  No such rule has been proposed.

Indeed, whilst commentators can reasonably take issue with the new proposed rules, and the injurious impact it may have on Palestinian laborers, based on what’s been reported thus far there is no reason to believe that even one Palestinian will be denied service on Israeli bus lines – the necessary condition to claim that there’s a “ban”.

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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The blood of Israelis and Palestinians will be on the hands of our politicians.

Posted by Richard Millett in London.

With the British Parliament due to take up six hours of precious debating time on Monday over whether to recognise a “state of Palestine” Vincent Fean’s article in The Guardian sums of the ignorance of those who will vote for such recognition.

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Why does the Guardian portray Hamas as a victim of Israeli aggression?

“Our narrative has gained the upper hand in the media” – Hamas deputy political leader Ismail Haniyeh

As Jews in the UK and across the world were welcoming in the new year on Wednesday evening, the Guardian Group published yet another official editorial reminding readers which party was to blame for the 50 day war between Israel and Hamas.

Whilst nobody familiar with the political leanings of the media group would be surprised that they judged the Jewish state guilty, their September 24th polemic (The Guardian view on the human, economic and political costs of the Gaza war) is noteworthy as a reminder that their top editors in London believe that even the most extreme elements within Palestinian society aren’t responsible for their actions.

The Guardian editorial parrots Hamas talking points in claiming that the movement was strengthened by the war; sows doubt over Hamas culpability for the murder of three Israeli teens, despite a claim of responsibility from one of their leaders as well as an admission by the cell’s ringleader that Hamasniks in Gaza funded the “operation”; falsely characterizes Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities as a “response” to Israeli aggression; and challenges “Israel’s reasons for going to war“, completely erasing the history of the conflict.

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Slow news days in Israel? Guardian plays ‘Catch the Jew”

Based on research collected while posing as a German investigative reporter during a tour through Palestinian areas, Israeli born playwright and writer Tuvia Tenenbom spent time with pro-Palestinian “activists” and NGO researchers in the West Bank and asked about the plight of the Palestinians. He turned the results into a book cheekily titled, ‘Catch the Jew, words meant to capture the surreal anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda continually fed by such activists to a compliant media.

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USA Today, not the Guardian, gets ‘1000 acres of land’ story right

Cross posted from CAMERA’s blog Snapshots

picNews media often refer erroneously to the West Bank as “Palestinian land” or “Palestinian territory” and Israeli acquisition or development there often get reported as “land grabs.”

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A bit less righteous: The moral fall of Yad Vashem medal winner Henk Zanoli

In August, multiple British media outlets (including The Economist, Independent and The Telegraph) covered the story of a Yad Vashem Righteous Gentile, Henk Zanoli, 91, who returned his award after the IDF – during Operation Protective Edge – bombed the house of his relative (Ismail Ziadah, who married Henk Zanoli’s father’s great niece) who lived in Gaza, killing six.

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Guardian champions their favorite Israeli causes: Disloyalty and Insubordination

Former AP correspondent Matti Friedman, in his essay at Tablet on media coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, explained that reporters “working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel”, whose “every action and flaw is analyzed, criticized and aggressively reported”, while, alternately, “Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate”.

The Guardian coverage of Israel and the greater region perfectly reflects this principle.

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Times of London falsely claims Israel ‘formally annexed’ land in the West Bank

The Times of London, on Sept. 2, published an article by Gregg Carlstrom about a recent decision by Israeli authorities to declare 988 acres in the Gush Etzion region of Judea and Samaria (close to where three Israeli teens were kidnapped and murdered in June) ‘state land’ (Israel makes biggest land grab in 30 years after teens murdered). 

Here’s a map of the area in question:

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Map created by Ha’aretz

The Times of London article (behind a pay wall) included this opening passage:

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However, it is completely inaccurate to say that Israel “formally annexed” the land in question, as such formal annexation would require legislation and approval in the Knesset, a formal process that only occurred in two cases - east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  

The term “annexation” implies sovereignty, and any area that was “formally annexed” would mean the application of Israeli law to that territory. This is not the case when Israel merely declares an area to be “state land”, which does not imply sovereignty.

Even Peace Now (the group referred to in the Times of London article) doesn’t claim that the land in question was “formally annexed”, only that it was “declared state land”.

Additionally, none of the other UK papers reporting on the story that we reviewed (including the Guardian, Telegraph, Financial Times, Daily Mail and Independent) included the word “annexed” in their accounts.

After contacting editors at Times of London, they slightly revised the sentence in question, deleting the word “formally”.

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However, the change is completely insufficient, as the passage’s inclusion of the word “annexation” is extremely misleading.

Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell can’t “spot the difference” between Russia and Israel

Within the growing body of work in the field of Comically Erroneous Political Comparisons, Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell just distinguished himself as a rising star. Here’s a Sept. 1st cartoon by Bell, an artist who clearly doesn’t want his creative expression to be fenced in by stubborn political and geographic realities.

Steve Bell 02.09.2014

We’ll take a wild stab, and work under the assumption that Bell’s cartoon is inspired by the recent row concerning Israel’s announcement that it’s taking control of 1000 acres of land near Gvaot in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.

Now, here’s a size comparison between Israel and Russia.  This of course doesn’t include Greater Russia – the boundaries of the country after they took over, by military force, the Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Crimea and sections of eastern Ukraine. See if you can “spot the difference” between Israel and Russia, or even just spot Israel.

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Indeed, Russia’s newly “acquired” territory of Crimea, at just over 10,000 square miles, is, by itself, larger than Israel.

Moreover, while Russia continues to expand its borders, Israel has continued to voluntarily relinquish land for peace (the Sinai, Gaza, Southern Lebanon and much of the West Bank) since their defensive war in 1967.

Shrinking Israel

Bell’s blurring of such obvious and intuitive differences between the recent territorial histories of Israel and Russia is par for the course at the Guardian, where such artful obfuscations over Israel’s clear moral advantages represent one of their signature ideological ticks.

Bizarre claim in the Guardian: ‘Red roofs are mandatory in Israeli settlements’

What can ‘forensic architecture’ reveal about the conflict in Gaza?‘, Guardian, Sept 1, focuses on the Haifa-born, London educated architect Eyal Weizman, evidently famous in some circles as the “chief proponent of “forensic architecture”, which analyzes the “impacts of urban warfare” for clues about the crimes perpetrated there.

When he looks out across the landscape of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, as he does in the film The Architecture of Violence, to be aired on Al Jazeera today, [Eyal Weizman] sees a battlefield. “The weapons and ammunitions are very simple elements: they are trees, they are terraces, they are houses. They are barriers.”

In the kitchen of his east London home…he says the most obvious and contentious aspect of what he calls the “architecture of occupation” is the system of Israeli settlements. Perched on West Bank hilltops, they are strategically positioned, according to Weizman, so that they look out over the Palestinian valleys and towns below, in order “to dominate”.

Then, the kicker:

Each of the uniformly suburban-looking houses – all with mandatory red roofs so that on flyovers the Israeli army know[s] not to target them – is “itself like an optical instrument,” he tells me.

As bizarre as this claim is, amazingly it has been advanced previously.  Just a few months ago, the Chairman of Norwegian People’s Aid, Finn Erik, said pretty much the same thing at a lecture in Norway.  But, as popular blogger Elder of Ziyon demonstrated, there are multiple reasons why this claim doesn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny.  

  • Most Palestinians in Judea and Samaria live in areas A and B under control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA has full responsibility for zoning and import of building materials, including the type of roof tiles that can be used. There are no Palestinian regulations that prohibit the use of red roof tiles.
  • Israel has no laws or regulations that prohibit the use of red roof tiles in Area C which is under Israeli control. This means that both Arabs and Jews who build in this area can use red roof tiles in their houses, if they want to. 
  • The Israeli air force uses precision weapons that can hit its target with great accuracy both day and night, and is completely independent of the color of the house or on the roof tiles.
  • Most Palestinian houses do not have red roof tiles is that they do not tile their roofs at all. The traditional Arab architecture in the area includes a solarium that can be used for different purposes.
  • A number of houses built in recent years in Arab settlements in Israel, Judea and Samaria, have red tiles.
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Photo from Elder of Ziyon

Additionally, Elder noted that Israeli aircraft does not bomb houses in Judea and Samaria. And, indeed, as far as we can tell there hasn’t been an air strike anywhere in the West Bank, for any reason, since the height of the 2nd Intifada.

Finally, an article by architecture critic Ran Shechori  published provides a bit of history on red-tiled roofs in Israel:

Since there were no local skilled builders at the beginning of the 19th century the English had even been forced to import stonecutters from Malta no antagonism was felt towards the foreign styles that sprouted on the local landscape. Consciously or not, that century witnessed the belated victory of the Crusaders, with the creation of a Christian presence in the Holy Land, which took over the educational and welfare system and began the Europeanization of this part of the world.

The local population began to copy the European styles of building. Wealthy Arab families who had left the Old City began building villas and mansions in the European style, albeit heavily decorated with traditional Moslem embellishments. The cities that were then growing adopted European terraced housing and the sloping red-tiled roofs.

The Jews, who had lived till then in homes rented from Arabs, also began to establish their own independent neighbourhoods. Mishkenot Shaananim (lit. “tranquil dwellings”) was the first such area in Jerusalem. It was built with the help of the British philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, in 1860, as a series of long buildings topped by sloping, red-tiled roofs

Red-tiled roofs, which came to symbolize the Jewish presence and represented the idealized “home”;

Just as in the beginning, the Israeli still sees the red roof as a status symbol.

As Matti Friedman explained in his masterful essay at Tablet Magazine, one of the iron-clad rules of media coverage of the region requires that “every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported”, to which he should have added: even those ‘flaws‘ which are merely a figment of the increasingly wild anti-Zionist imagination.  

Dishonourable Brits: Why the Guardian can’t distinguish between Semites & anti-Semites

If a radical right-wing U.S. group possessed an ideology which was homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic, and continually attempted to murder a historically oppressed minority to clean the region of their ‘pernicious influence’ – due to their fundamentalist interpretation of a religious text – anti-racist commentators at the Guardian would stand proudly on the side of the besieged minority and rightfully demonize the racist extremist group.

Transplant this scenario to the Mid-East (and replace the white sheets with black face masks and green headbands) however, and such moral clarity – which distinguishes between a racist extremist group and the minorities they’re targeting – often gets blurred.

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In a review of BBC2’s The Honourable Woman, the Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent Julian Borger (Can The Honourable Woman teach us anything about the Gaza conflict?, Aug. 20) presents another example of media group’s profound moral confusion when interpreting conflicts between Israel and Islamist extremists.

Borger characterizes the show as “a tale of intrigue, betrayal and silk blouses set against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, and then adds: “Whether we will have learned anything about Gaza or the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is another matter”.

Border then writes:

So the ruthless and omnipotent assassin, a regular plot device of political thrillers, is in this case a Palestinian militant. Just like the show’s American inspiration, Homelandit revives the spectre of the Arab bogeyman as the evil genius among us, ghosting across borders on false passports. 

This is understandably vexing for Palestinians. After all, it is Mossad that has won itself the reputation in recent years for sending assassins to kill abroad on forged identity papers. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have largely fought their battles on home turf with much blunter methods.

Likewise, the agony of liberal British Jews looking on in horror at the bloodletting in Israel and the Palestinian territories is true to life. What feels like a sentimental anachronism is the central premise in the plot: that they can do anything to change it. It is hard to imagine in these dark times that it would be so easy for a well-meaning Jewish philanthropist to breeze through the West Bank and for her saccharine, slightly condescending speeches to be received so admiringly by Palestinian students. Hard to imagine, too, that Nessa Stein would have such an easy time of it in Netanyahu’s Israel. These days, there would be rightwing mobs outside her doveish events, chanting: “Death to the Arabs.”

Leaving aside Borger’s risible suggestion that Palestinian jihadist groups have shown more restraint than Israel when carrying out attacks on their enemies, the Guardian editor’s review is notable in which political actor in the Middle East is identified as the racist (Jewish mobs chanting “death to Arabs”) and which one is the unfairly stereotyped minority (the “Arab bogeyman”).

It’s important to read such passages in the context of the Guardian overall coverage of both the current war between Hamas and Israel, and the broader Israeli-Islamist Conflict.

Though Guardian correspondents sometimes note that Hamas is ‘considered’ a terrorist group by much of the West, their reporters, editors and commentators almost never explain to their readers that Hamas is an antisemitic extremist group - a reactionary racist, violent, fundamentalist movement at odds with the liberal, enlightenment values they claim to champion.

Whilst the Guardian never tires in highlighting racism (real or imagined) expressed by the most unrepresentative fringe elements in Israeli society, they almost uniformly avoid mentioning that the group currently ruling Gaza literally calls for the extermination of Jews.  It simply isn’t possible for UK news consumers to clearly understand the battles being waged in Israel and Gaza while ignorant of this fundamental fact about Hamas’s eliminationist antisemitism.

Reports about ceasefire negotiations between the two parties in Cairo which merely emphasize that Hamas demands a loosening of the Israeli blockade, while ignoring that their end goal continues to be the annihilation of the only Jewish state, are akin to media reports during WWII noting Germany’s territorial aspirations without any context regarding Hitler’s belief in Aryan racial supremacy and his wish to exterminate Jews and other ‘undesirables’.

On the other hand, it is heartening to see the support – among many Guardian contributors – for the West’s efforts to rein in an apocalyptic and genocidal Middle-East based, Sunni extremist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood with a global expansionist worldview, which targets civilians, ruthlessly murders its enemies, possesses a pathological hatred for Jews and advocates Sharia Law over universal human rights.

However, whilst we’re of course referring to ISIS (Islamic State), we also just accurately described the fundamental ideological orientation of Hamas.

So, what accounts for such a profound moral inconsistency? Why are Palestinian jihadists not like the other jihadists?   

Though antisemitism is one factor which partly explains this phenomenon (among some Guardian contributors and journalists), the more widespread political dynamics at play are moral relativism, an egregiously skewed understanding of anti-imperialism, a glorification of ‘Palestinian resistance’ and an obsession with Jews and Israel  - in short, the signature ideological ticks of the Guardian Left.

There is, however, one more factor. 

We are often asked if we believe the Guardian to be institutionally antisemitic.  While their obsessive and almost entirely negative coverage of the Jewish State fans the flame of antisemitism, this writer, for one, does not believe the media group is compromised institutionally by anti-Jewish racism.

It may be more accurate to observe in the Guardian worldview a capacity to forcefully condemn antisemitism in the abstract, but an inability to summon such righteous indignation when doing so would require parting company with other ‘historically oppressed’ groups, and indeed challenge their very ideological identity.

In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community. 

CiF Watch prompts revision to Economist claim about MK Zoabi’s suspension

Earlier in the month we posted about a curious omission in an Economist article titled ‘Us and Them‘, Aug. 2.  

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Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi

To buttress their broader theme on the putative ‘erosion of Israel’s democracy’, the characteristically anonymous article made the following claim about Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi:

This week the Knesset banned an Arab member, Haneen Zoabi, for six months for “aggressive behaviour” in anti-war demonstrations.

However, as we noted at the time, this is an inaccurate statement as it omits key information about the suspension.

MK Zoabi was suspended for six months from the Knesset (while still maintaining her voting rights in the Israeli legislative body) for two reasons – one of which the Economist completely omitted. 

While Zoabi’s suspension was in part due to an incident with a police officer at a protest rally (as they noted), the main reason was related to her assertion, in mid June, that the kidnappers of three Israeli teens (Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah, and Gilad Shaar) were NOT terrorists – a comment she evidently didn’t amend, even after the boys’ bullet ridden bodies were discovered partially buried near Hebron on June 30.

Shimon Peres

We complained to Economist editors, and, in addition to slightly revising the text to note that Zoabi’s behavior at the protest was only one of the reasons for her suspension, they added the following addendum.

corexThough the text still doesn’t include the main reason for Zoabi’s suspension, editors’ acknowledgement that the original language was misleading is of course welcomed. 

Did Hamas and Sky News cynically exploit a paralyzed Palestinian girl?

Cross posted from Barry’s Shaw’s blog, The View from Israel

The foreign media in Gaza have been accused of biased reporting, often bordering on the cynical and, sometimes, even cowardly.

Faced with the fear of what might happen to them, many abandoned any presence of journalistic ethics and simply regurgitated whatever Hamas gave them, or whatever they saw from their restricted vision, often ignoring, of course, the rocket fire coming from outside their hotel windows .

However, what’s infinitely worse is a media outlet like Sky News which, from the safe distance of their London studio, still puts out emotional Hamas propaganda while taking gratuitous swipes at Israel.

This occurred on August 10the when they repeatedly broadcast a segment on a seven-year old Palestinian girl who reportedly had been paralyzed in an Israeli air strike.

The girl is heard saying “We were sitting at home when we heard a noise. So we went down the stairs.”  What noise was this? Could it have been the “Knock on the roof” pre-strike warning that this house had been cited as a terror target by the IDF intelligence? What’s this girl’s family name? Is it among the names of leading Hamas terrorists? This was partially confirmed by the girl known as Mata when she said “Me and my mother were injured, and we knew if we stayed like this we would die. But my mother stayed at home and she died.” Did her mother knowingly act as a human shield (or sacrifice) for Hamas?  We don’t know. The reporter didn’t ask or investigate this.

The report stressed that there are only three hospitals worldwide capable of treating anyone in her condition, a claim which seemed quite dubious, as there are numerous Israeli hospitals of international reputation that regularly treat Palestinians with such injuries.

The Sky News report suggested that Matya was being prevented from leaving Gaza by Israel. 

But, this is simply not true! 

COGAT top representative, Guy Inbar, told me that a request from Gaza had been made and accepted by COGAT on the same day, July 26, and that final details had been requested by COGAT to prepare her exit.

Nothing more was heard from the other side.

It certainly appears that Hamas has cynically played a propaganda game for weeks over this little girl. They invited members of the press into Shifa Hospital to hear her story, rather than expedite her release for treatment.

There is an excellent fully staffed field hospital set up by the IDF on the Gaza border ready to received patients from Gaza. Only problem is that Hamas physically threatens and prevents people from getting to this facility. This also was not mentioned by Sky.

The IDF Spokesman, Peter Lerner, tweeted Sky News offering to give them information but he apparently failed to get a response. Neither did I when I emailed Sky News a list of questions on this incident and their coverage.

It is still far from certain that a Sky reporter ever met or spoke to the girl. Were they there at the Gaza hospital, did they question, did they ask for Israeli response, or did they simply put out the story as presented to them by Hamas?

My sources in the IDF and with COGAT were never contacted by Sky News concerning this incident.

COGAT was, however, later contacted by Palestinian health officials and they are coordinating with them (and also with the World Health Organization) to have the girl removed from Gaza as soon as a new request is received together with all the relevant documents and information.  She will be removed first to Jerusalem and then on to a hospital where she can receive the best of care.

Moreover, COGAT has facilitated every request received by people needing to leave Gaza for serious medical cases, one hundred and fifty in number, throughout this current Gaza conflict.

As for Sky News, I have yet to receive a response to my numerous complaints. 

 

Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College.  He is also the author of ‘ISRAEL RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE.’