Cross posted from CAMERA’s blog Snapshots
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.
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.
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:
The Times of London article (behind a pay wall) included this opening passage:
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Homeland…it 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Economist curiously omits key reason for MK Zoabi’s Knesset suspension (cifwatch.com)
- Arab Knesset Members Participate in Anti-Israel Protests (algemeiner.com)
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.’
Claims regarding the putative ‘erosion of Israel’s democracy‘ have long been a favorite among the anti-Israel UK media elite, and the mere absence of any evidence attesting to this descent into political darkness hasn’t weakened their appetite for this narrative.
To boot, an Economist article titled ‘Us and Them‘, Aug. 2, included a few factually-challenged claims on alleged attacks on the civil rights of Israel’s minorities.
Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, has warned the country’s civil-rights groups that they could be branded as delegitimisers if they insist on promoting rights for Israel’s Arab minority and oppose the definition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews.
First, addressing the first part of the passage, the Knesset did not warn the country’s civil-rights groups that they could be branded as delegitimisers for merely “promoting rights for Israel’s Arab minority”. In fact it’s hard to know where precisely where the Economist even found such an absurd claim. Further, the second part of the passage, regarding the alleged consequences for ‘opposing the definition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews’, again is not accurate.
They may be alluding to a proposed change in the Basic Law that would formally recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jews’, but the rights of non-Jews would not be affected, and there’s certainly nothing in the proposal which would, as the Economist claims, brand civil rights groups as ‘delegitimizers for doing so.
The Economist then adds the following:
This week the Knesset banned an Arab member, Haneen Zoabi, for six months for “aggressive behaviour” in anti-war demonstrations.
However, this also is an inaccurate statement as it omits key information about the suspension.
MK Zoabi, according to multiple news reports (and the official press release from the Knesset regarding the suspension), 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 Jewish teens in the West Bank were not terrorists.
“They’re people who don’t see any way to change their reality and they are forced to use these means until Israel will wake up a little, until Israeli citizens and society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other,” Zoabi said in an interview on Radio Tel Aviv, adding that the kidnappers live under occupation.
Of course, two weeks after Zoabi’s statements, the teens – Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach – were found dead, having been murdered by the kidnappers she had earlier defended.
The Knesset statement on the suspension noted that Zoabi’s offense centered on these comments, which many believed represented incitement, as it showed support for terrorist organizations and encouraged “acts of terror against the state and its citizens”.
To recap: both examples cited by the Economist – presumably to demonstrate an erosion of civil rights in Israel for its non-Jewish minority – are erroneous or, at best, extremely misleading.
Finally, it’s interesting to note that a site called The Angry Arab News Service cited the Economist’s claim about the cause of Zoabi’s suspension under the heading: This Does Not Get Reported In The US Media.
Of course, it’s likely that such “news” hasn’t been reported in the US media because, as few Google clicks would have indicated, it’s not accurate.
Since Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel were abducted and murdered by Palestinian terrorists last month, we’ve prompted two corrections to false claims (at the Independent and the Guardian) that the three teens were ‘settlers’.
Here’s the original:
He [Netanyahu] used the abduction of three young Jewish settlers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters…
Recently, Indy editors once again agreed to correct the erroneous characterization of the three murdered boys, and the passage now reads:
He used the abduction of three Jewish teenagers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters
We commend Indy editors for correcting Shlaim’s false claim.
Let’s jump to their main argument:
The chain of causation, as with so much else in Israel, leads back to Ariel Sharon
The Guardian explains:
He conceived of withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 as above all a tactic which would allow him to postpone wider negotiations on the future of the West Bank and weaken the Palestine Liberation Organisation. He would garner some peace laurels while inducing the Americans to give commitments on what Israel could keep when and if West Bank negotiations began again. It was a skillful and even a brave piece of political maneuvering both domestically and internationally; but it was also a cynical and ultimately a counter-productive one.
Israeli divide and rule policies had already had the effect of strengthening the PLO’s more militant rivals. Before disengagement, Israeli security forces attempted to decapitate the extremist leadership. Hamas might even so have opted for co-existence, but it did not. It went on to win the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, and then the Hamas coup of 2007 set the stage for the periodic confrontations of which this month’s fighting is the latest, but not necessarily the last.
It will only be the last if it is grasped that the way Israel left Gaza institutionalised violent conflict rather than made it less likely. Those Israelis who portray the disengagement as an act of generosity for which they have received no credit misunderstand what happened. Unilateral disengagement in Gaza weakened Palestinian moderates, enabled successive Israeli governments to drag their feet in peace negotiations and is even now being used by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who opposed it at the time, to lay down Israeli security requirements for any future disengagement from the West Bank which would make a peace settlement almost impossible to achieve
So, Ariel Sharon, and not Palestinians, was the party responsible for electing, in 2006, an antisemitic extremist terror group which rejected Israel’s right to exist within any borders, to run their affairs.
And, evidently, Ariel Sharon, and not Hamas, was the party responsible for subsequently firing thousands of rockets at Israeli towns, abducting Israeli soldiers and engaging in other acts of terror.
Further, apparently it was Ariel Sharon’s fault that the leaders of Hamas diverted billions of dollars in aid money to construct a labyrinth of terror tunnels in the hopes of launching even more deadly cross border attacks on Israeli civilians.
Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was, you see, was apparently just a sinister, furtive plan by Ariel Sharon to further subjugate Palestinians and – in the Guardian’s words – “institutionalize” Palestinian violence.
We’ve often argued that the Guardian’s denial of Palestinian moral agency – the liberal racism of no expectations – informs much of their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and this editorial is, in many respects, exhibit A.
(Editor’s note: The strap line for the Guardian editorial, “The roots of the violence go back to the Israeli withdrawal in 2005″, was cropped out of the graphic above to allow readers to see how they reached their conclusion further in the text.)
As we noted earlier in the week, the Independent doesn’t have a correspondent in the region, but has a stable of Israel ‘critics’ ready on a moment’s notice to launch polemical assaults on the Jewish State. Last week, they published one op-ed (by Mira Bar-Hillel) which evoked Nazi Germany in vilifying Israeli military actions in Gaza, and another one (by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown) which all but accused Israel of engaging in a plan to exterminate the Palestinians.
This week, Mira Bar-Hillel (a British Jew who has admitted to being antisemitic) returns in a July 17th op-ed erroneously suggesting that the Israeli media has demanded the IDF bomb Gaza “back to the Stone Age” (see here), and accusing the country of believing that “Palestinians aren’t quite human”. (She also falsely claimed that no Israelis were killed during previous Gaza war in 2012.)
It [the war] also allows them to break up the unity between Hamas and Fatah. But most importantly it allows them to continue the strangulation and the genocide of the Palestinian people of Gaza in front of an international audience.
Of all the hateful, perverse smears against Israel leveled by the hard-left against Israel, the genocide charge is by far the most ludicrous, and the most pernicious.
As we’ve argued previously, debating the “question” of whether Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians seems at first glance to be as productive as ‘arguing’ whether or not Jews are trying to take over the world. However, unlike the latter charge, which, no matter how bigoted and irrational, is not really quantifiable, the former malicious smear – reflecting the “Israel as the new Nazis“ narrative – can be easily refuted by a few population statistics.
- The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1949 to more than 2.5 million today.
- In Gaza, the population increased from 82,000 in 1949 to 1.7 million today.
Additionally, to add further context:
- The number of Arabs killed (since 1920) in Arab-Israeli wars is far less than the number of Arabs killed by Arabs in Syria alone since 2011.
As a point of reference, the Jewish population of Gaza and Palestinian controlled West Bank is practically zero (save a few pro-Palestinian “journalists” who reside there), while the Jewish population in the entire Arab Middle East has decreased from over 850,000 in 1949 to less than 5,000 today. (Yet, relatedly, despite the almost complete disappearance of Jewish inhabitants in territories they control, some Palestinian and Arab leaders often incite their citizens to engage in the mass murder of Jews in Israel, and even in the diaspora.)
The broad charge that Jews are ethnically cleansing Arabs (Palestinians or otherwise) in the Middle East, based on the numbers, represents the opposite of the truth. The only group which has actually been ethnically cleansed in the Middle East since the end of World War 2 has been Jews. (Though, it should be noted that Christians are also in danger of extinction.)
The Independent – which risibly claims to be guided by “enlightened” values and once even strongly denied that it demonizes Israel – should be ashamed of itself for peddling such lies.
During the last war in Gaza two years ago, Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne defended the Palestinian ‘right’ of armed resistance, while arguing that Israel, as the ‘occupying power’, had no such right to defend itself against Hamas (It’s Palestinians who have the right to defend themselves, Nov. 20, 2012).
“So Gazans are an occupied people and have the right to resist, including by armed force (though not to target civilians), while Israel is an occupying power that has an obligation to withdraw – not a right to defend territories it controls or is colonising by dint of military power.
Now, here is the relevant passage from Milne’s latest op-ed, published today (Gaza: this shameful injustice will only end if the cost of it rises, July 16th) at the Guardian:
So the Palestinians of Gaza are an occupied people, like those in the West Bank, who have the right to resist, by force if they choose – though not deliberately to target civilians. But Israel does not have a right of self-defence over territories it illegally occupies – it has an obligation to withdraw.
The only difference between the passages in the two op-eds relates to Milne’s expanded right of resistance. Note that in 2012 it was only Gazans who had the right to engage in acts of terrorism, while in 2014 both Gazans and West Bank Palestinians enjoy the inalienable ‘right’ to kill Israelis.
However, Milne is consistent in both op-eds with regard to one thing: Israel has no right to defend itself from Hamas terror.
While Milne’s justification for the intentional killing of Israelis is not surprising given his history of praising anti-imperialist “resistance movements” across the globe, the mere fact that his latest polemic is consistent with his broader political orientation certainly doesn’t make it any less morally repulsive.
We recently commented on a political cartoon in the Guardian highlighting the perceived asymmetrical nature of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and another cartoon decrying what was perceived to be the greater value placed on Israeli lives over that of Palestinians. We also posted about a cartoon in the Independent which suggested that Israeli reaction to Hamas rocket attacks was not only ‘disproportional‘ but arguably inconsistent with Jewish values.
However, a cartoon by Martyn Turner at the Irish Times goes a step further, imputing to Israel a blind malevolence in slaughtering helpless Palestinians.
Though the evocation of the ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ meme is the most obvious element of the narrative, even more telling is the more focused depiction of the Israeli soldier’s deranged war lust (note the soldier’s face) in contrast with the helpless Palestinians (fish and other small creatures). The latter can be seen in the drop of water spit by the fish, representing it seems the benign, harmless nature of Hamas attacks.
Israel, according Turner, isn’t merely the aggressor in the war (note the ceasefire agreement in the soldier’s hand which he presumably has ignored), but is represented as bloodthirsty, vengeful, and merciless.
Within the far-left ideological territory claimed by Turner (as well as other Irish Times contributors), Israel is often presented using the familiar motif of a mindless, destructive Goliath, while the extreme racism of the Palestinian Islamist movement ruling Gaza – one which openly aspires to murder Jews - is whitewashed, and its ‘fighters’ robbed of any semblance of moral agency.