Guardian article suggests Yasser Arafat abandoned terrorism after 1990

A nearly 5000 word hagiographic profile of Yasser Arafat by  and  in the Guardian characteristically obfuscated the decades-long record of planning and carrying out terror attacks against innocent Israelis by the late Palestinian leader and groups under his control.

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Here’s the key passage in the Guardian’s ‘long-read’ (Yasser Arafat: Why he still matters, Nov. 13) concerning the man known to some as the “father of modern terrorism.”

Without armed struggle the Palestinian awakening heralded by Fatah was unlikely to have occurred, yet Arafat and his colleagues knew both the value and limits of force. They were aware of the need to modulate or discard force entirely when necessary. Their political programme developed accordingly, from an emphasis on armed action as the sole means of struggle in 1968 to its eventual disappearance from the PLO’s political programme altogether after 1990.

However, the fact is that, though in 1988 he claimed to accept Israel’s right to exist and in 1993 shook hands with Yitzchak Rabin (inaugurating the Oslo Accords), Arafat continued to encourage and provide financial support to “groups directly under his command, such as the Tanzim and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade”.

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CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction to anti-Bibi smear by Chris McGreal

On Aug. 1st we fisked the claim in the following Tweet (on July 22) by Guardian reporter Chris McGreal

McGreal actually doubled-down on the Tweet’s suggestion – that the Israeli conflict against Hamas is, in fact, a racist war designed simply to murder Arabs – in his July 31st Guardian article titled ‘American media’s new pro-Israel bias: the same party line at the wrong time.

His column began thusly:

Here are a few questions you won’t hear asked of the parade of Israeli officials crossing US television screens during the current crisis in Gaza:

  • What would you do if a foreign country was occupying your land?
  • What does it mean that Israeli cabinet ministers deny Palestine’s right to exist?
  • What should we make of a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who as opposition leader in the 1990s was found addressing rallies under a banner reading “Death to Arabs”?

However, after a modest amount of research – evidently more than McGreal put into his own column – we were able to establish that the banner in question, at a right-wing rally in Jerusalem in 1994, did not read ‘Death to Arabs’ but, rather, death to the father of modern terror – Yasser Arafat.

After contacting Guardian editors, they acknowledged McGreal’s error, revised the passage in question and added the following addendum to the article:

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We commend Guardian editors for their positive response to our complaint. 

 

Chris McGreal: The worst Guardian journalist

This blog has consistently demonstrated the journalistic malice of Guardian reporter Chris McGreal - a reporter so hostile to Israel that he all but accused IDF soldiers of deliberately murdering innocent Palestinian children. He’s also achieved the rare distinction of being singled out by the CST (the British charity tasked with protecting British’s Jewish community) in their 2011 report on antisemitic discourse.

So, while the tone of the following Tweet (on July 22) by McGreal didn’t surprise us, the wild nature of his claim inspired us to take a brief look at the issue he addressed.

Interestingly, the claim in the tweet – that the Israeli Prime Minister once led a rally under the banner “death to Arabs”, and the broader argument that this wish to kill Arabs motivated his decision to attack Hamas in early July, was repeated in a July 31st Guardian op-ed by McGreal titled American media’s new pro-Israel bias: the same party line at the wrong time‘.

His op-ed begins thusly:

Here are a few questions you won’t hear asked of the parade of Israeli officials crossing US television screens during the current crisis in Gaza:

  • What would you do if a foreign country was occupying your land?
  • What does it mean that Israeli cabinet ministers deny Palestine’s right to exist?
  • What should we make of a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who as opposition leader in the 1990s was found addressing rallies under a banner reading “Death to Arabs”?

McGreal’s proposed questions were meant to serve as a contrast to what he believed to be softball questions ask by US reporters of Israeli officials during the current war.

Leaving aside McGreal’s specious claim that the US media isn’t critical enough of Israel, the reason why reporters haven’t asked Israeli officials about the rally in July 1994 where Bibi allegedly spoke under a banner reading “Death to Arabs” is is because the banner in question didn’t actually say that.

First, while you can watch the full video (which McGreal embedded in this Tweet) here to see for yourself, here’s a snapshot of the frame which captures the banner under which Bibi (then the opposition leader) addressed the crowd.

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The banner, at this anti-Yasser Arafat rally, reads, in Hebrew, “Death to the master murderer“, referring of course to Arafat, and the English to the right (though admittedly unclear) reads, based on multiple media reports at the time, “Death to Arafat“. It didn’t read, as McGreal claims, “Death to Arabs”, but “Death to Arafat” – the Palestinian leader dubbed the father of modern terror due to his role in scores of deadly Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. (Indeed, Arafat’s war on Israeli mean, women and children continued in the 90s and early 2000s’, even after the Oslo Agreement) 

Here’s a passage from the Chicago Tribune on July 4, 1994:

The visit of the man of blood, Arafat, to the State of Israel, paraded and protected by hundreds of Israeli policemen and soldiers, is the height of the absurd and degrading show that we have witnessed in this past year,” said keynote speaker Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Likud Party. He spoke from a podium decked with a banner that read “Death to Arafat.”

Here’s a passage from the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 4, 1994.

Scores of police collected at the fringes of the Israel rally, while Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and knit yarmulkes and women in head coverings shouted anti-government slogans. They carried placards caricaturing Rabin – even setting at least one afire – and draped banners, like that screamingDeath to Arafat.

Here’s a passage from The Santa Cruz Sentinel on July 4th, 1994, referring to the Hebrew section of the banner:

He spoke from a second-floor balcony draped with a banner reading: “Death to the Master Murderer”.

Here’s a passage from the Seattle Times on July 4, 1994, again referring to the Hebrew section of the banner.

He spoke from a second-floor balcony draped with a banner reading,Death to the master murderer.” Usually leaders of the mainstream opposition party distance themselves from such belligerent slogans.

Finally, it’s of course true that the rally in question included some truly hateful chants and placards, and Netanyahu’s decision 20 years ago to speak at the rally should be criticized.  However, that’s not the point.  McGreal erroneously claimed in his Tweet (and Guardian op-ed) that Bibi spoke above a banner which read “Death to Arabs“, to which he added in his Tweet: “Now he’s making it come true“.  

McGreal was imputing homicidal racist motivations to Netanyahu’s decision to launch a war against Hamas – a smear of the Israeli Prime Minister which was based on a total lie.

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

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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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Another Guardian journalist falsely claims that Palestinians have abandoned terror

Last month, we posted about a remarkably misleading claim by Harriet Sherwood in an article about recent investigations into the death of Yasser Arafat: 

Arafat was a man who divided the world: revered by Palestinians and their supporters, reviled by Israel and its allies. Nine years after his death, a portrait of him still hangs in most Palestinian homes. Nonetheless, the Palestinian people have inevitably moved on. Acts of violence, espoused by Arafat, are rare in the West Bank, and rocket fire from Gaza has dropped; instead, the Palestinian leadership has invested its hopes in diplomacy and negotiations.

We noted that her broad suggestion that Palestinians have largely abandoned Arafat’s ‘strategy’ of terrorism represented an egregious distortion based on empirical data detailing the quantity of terror attacks since his death.  Further, we argued, though such attacks have decreased overall in comparison to the height of the 2nd Intifada, this reduction can largely attributed to the construction of Israel’s security fence and more effective counter-terror measures – not an evolution in Palestinian attitudes towards terror.

In response to Sherwood’s specific claim that “acts of violence…are rare in the West Bank“, we cited a report by BBC Watch’s Hadar Sela which noted the following: 

“Statistics provided by the ISA [Israel Security Agency] for the months July to November 2013 shows that the number of terror attacks taking place in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Jerusalem since the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO on July 29th has more than doubled“. 

Terror incidents since July, 2013.

Now, five weeks after Sherwood’s report, Guardian columnist Michael Cohen has made a similarly false claim about Palestinian terror. His Jan. 19th op-ed about current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians included the following:

But with the head of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas as supportive of a two-state solution as any Palestinian leader ever; with Hamas in a historically weak position and with Palestinians having largely turned their back on violence as a political tool the Palestinian leadership have stuck along with Kerry’s diplomacy even they are almost certain to get something less than a good deal.

In addition to statistics provided above which clearly contradict claims by Sherwood and Cohen that Palestinians have abandoned terror, report on Arab public opinion by Pew Global in September demonstrated that “support for suicide bombing and other violence aimed at civilian targets [is] widespread in the Palestinian territories“.  A full 62% of Palestinian Muslims believe that such attacks “are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies”.

pal terrorism supportSuch obfuscations by Guardian journalists about the prevalence of Palestinian terrorism (and the overwhelming popular support for such political violence) are extremely injurious to their readers.  

Without taking into account the impact of such terror – particularly Israeli fears that, even in the event a final status agreement is reached, they’ll continue to be terrorized by sniper fire, bombings and rocket attacks – it’s impossible to honestly assess the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and consider the real factors impeding a just resolution. 

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Harriet Sherwood audaciously suggests that Palestinians have abandoned terror

One of the many articles published in early November by the Guardian about the Swiss report on the death of Yasser Arafat concluding that the late Palestinian leader was likely poisoned – a theory contradicted by a subsequent  French report - was penned by Harriet Sherwood, and titled Arafat polonium find likely to be another hurdle for peace talks.  

Sherwood’s story strangely argued that the Swiss findings were “likely to worsen the already corrosive atmosphere of the faltering peace negotiations and fuel popular demands that the Palestinian leadership walk out”, and, we noticed after reviewing the article again, this even more curious conclusion about Palestinians.

Arafat was a man who divided the world: revered by Palestinians and their supporters, reviled by Israel and its allies. Nine years after his death, a portrait of him still hangs in most Palestinian homes. Nonetheless, the Palestinian people have inevitably moved on. Acts of violence, espoused by Arafat, are rare in the West Bank, and rocket fire from Gaza has dropped; instead, the Palestinian leadership has invested its hopes in diplomacy and negotiations.

The broad suggestion that Palestinians have largely abandoned Arafat’s ‘strategy’ of terrorism represents an almost staggering distortion based on empirical data on the quantity of terror attacks since his death.  (In 2005 alone, 2,990 Palestinian terror attacks were recorded.)  Further, though such attacks have decreased overall in comparison to the height of the 2nd Intifada, this reduction is largely attributed to the construction of Israel’s security fence and more effective counter-terror measures, not changing Palestinian attitudes towards terror.

Additionally, Sherwood’s claim that “acts of violence…are rare in the West Bank” is also simply not true.  As BBC Watch’s Hadar Sela recently reported, “statistics provided by the ISA [Israel Security Agency] for the months July to November 2013 shows that the number of terror attacks taking place in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Jerusalem since the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO on July 29th has more than doubled”. 

Terror incidents since July, 2013.

Sherwood’s additional claim that “rocket fire from Gaza has dropped” is also extremely misleading.  As the graph below on rocket attacks from Gaza demonstrates, rocket attacks from Gaza increased dramatically since Arafat’s death in 2004 (and Hamas’s control of the Strip in 2006).   While rocket attacks did decrease following the Gaza war (Cast Lead) in 2008-09, they increased again each year after the conflict until Israel launched an eight-day war in November 2012 (Pillar of Defense).

graphBeyond the statistical evidence contradicting Sherwood’s specific claims, it’s hard to understand how anyone covering the region as long as she has could possibly come to the conclusion that Palestinians have in any way abandoned terrorism.  In addition to the Palestinians’ glorification of terrorists, a comprehensive report on Arab public opinion by Pew Global in September demonstrated that “support for suicide bombing and other violence aimed at civilian targets is most widespread in the Palestinian territories“.  A staggering 62% of Palestinian Muslims, per this poll, believe that such attacks “are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies”.

pal terrorism supportThough we’ve, on occasion, noted reports by Sherwood which suggest a modest amount of improvement in her coverage of the region, the amount of disinformation conveyed in those two sentences we cited (on Palestinian attitudes towards terror) again reminds us that her pro-Palestinian sympathies will trump a sincere commitment to accuracy almost every time.

‘Arafat is still dead': Guardian ‘mentions’ French report that he was NOT poisoned

“Our top story tonight: Generallissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.” – Saturday Night Live (Season 1, Episode 7)

Yasser Arafat has been dead for nine years, but attempts to resuscitate old libels suggesting that he was murdered by Israel will likely continue to periodically grace the pages of the Guardian – at least as long as someone, somewhere, claims to have new, previously unrevealed evidence.  

On November 6, the Guardian devoted five separate articles (hereherehere, here and here) encompassing over 3200 words to a ‘stunning’ new report by Swiss scientists on their autopsy of Arafat’s remains.  (Details of the Swiss report were originally obtained by the Guardian’s ideological ‘sister-site’ Al-Jazeera.)

Whilst the story, alleging that the late Palestinian leader was likely poisoned by radioactive polonium, was the lead story on the Guardian’s home page for several hours the day the story broke, the paper all but ignored analyses published elsewhere which were highly critical of the Swiss conclusions.

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The Independent, Nov. 8

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Nature (International Weekly Journal of Science), Nov. 7

Yesterday, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood reported on the results of a new French report which seems to completely contradict the Swiss findings.

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The French report found that Arafat’s death in 2004 was caused by the effects of “old age following a generalised infection”, and ruled out the possibility that he was poisoned.  In contrast to the paper’s saturation coverage of the Swiss findings, Sherwood’s latest story on the new report was not featured on the Guardian’s home page, and was consigned to page 19 in the print edition of the paper.

Of course, the conclusions of the French team are not at all surprising in the context of many facts previously revealed about the case, including the following:

  • After Arafat’s death, in November of 2004, the Palestinian Authority refused to release medical records which would have shed light into the cause of death.
  • Despite immediate accusations after Arafat’s death that Israel likely was to blame, neither the Palestinian Authority nor Arafat’s widow Suha allowed an autopsy to be performed on the body.
  • A New York Times report in 2005 (based on an examination of Arafat’s medical records the paper had obtained) concluded that he died of “a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection,” and that Arafat did not suffer the extensive kidney and liver damage they would expect to see if he was exposed to a lethal toxic substance – findings, they noted, which “argued strongly against poisoning”.

Like the Spanish dictator mocked in the SNL skit, Yasser Arafat – known as the father of modern terror‘ – is “still dead”.  However, as long as someone has an anti-Zionist axe to grind, and can find sympathetic editors at compliant pro-Palestinian news sites, we can likely expect sensational stories legitimizing ‘new theories’ surrounding the cause of his ‘untimely’ death for many years to come.

What about the Grand Mufti’s desire to ‘liquidate the Jews’ doesn’t Robert Fisk understand?

Fisking “Middle East expert” Robert Fisk can be especially challenging, as he often pivots seamlessly between mere distortions and outright fabrications within the same essay.  His latest op-ed at The Independent, The real poison is to be found in Arafat’s legacy, Nov. 18, represents a great example of his talent for such multi-faceted misrepresentations.

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Though he dismisses recent accusations that Arafat was poisoned, Fisk, in attempting to explain the legacy of the late Palestinian leader, whitewashes his decades-long involvement in lethal terrorist attacks against Israelis, and risibly claims that his biggest character flaw was that he was in fact ‘too trusting’ of Israeli leaders.

Fisk writes:

He made so many concessions to Israel – because he was growing old and wanted to go to “Palestine” before he died – that his political descendants are still paying for them. Arafat had never seen a Jewish colony on occupied land when he accepted the Oslo agreement. He trusted the Americans. He trusted the Israelis. He trusted anyone who appeared to say the right things. And it must have been exhausting to start his career as a super-“terrorist” in Beirut and then be greeted on the White House lawn as a super- “statesman” and then re-created by Israel as a super-“terrorist” again.

However, the most egregious lie by omission appears later in the essay when he addresses comments Arafat reportedly made about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, per a conversation he had with Edward Said:

Edward Said told me that Arafat said to him in 1985 that “if there’s one thing I don’t want to be, it’s to be like Haj Amin. He was always right, and he got nothing and died in exile.”

Hunted by the British, Haj Amin, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, went to Berlin during the Second World War in the hope that Hitler would help the Palestinians.

His claim that the pro-Nazi Haj Amin was merely attempting to “help the Palestinians” represents an extraordinary obfuscation.  

As a CAMERA report (based on documentation in a book by Jennie Lebel titled ‘The Mufti of Jerusalem: Haj-Amin el-Husseini and National-Socialism‘) makes clear, Haj Amin’s desire to ‘help the Palestinians’ was superseded by a greater passion – to annihilate the Jews.

Haj Amin El-Husseini, who was appointed Mufti of Jerusalem in 1921 aided by sympathetic British officials, advocated violent opposition to Jewish settlement in the Mandate for Palestine and incited the Arabs against the growing Jewish presence. Lebel describes the violence of 1929, where Haj Amin spread the story that the Jews planned to destroy the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque. Using falsified photos of the mosque on fire and disseminating propaganda that borrowed from the anti-Jewish forgery, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the mufti instigated a widespread pogrom against Jews in Palestine. On Aug. 23, Arabs streamed into Jerusalem and attacked Jews. Six days later, a second wave of attacks resulted in 64 dead in Hebron

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The Mufti injected a religiously based anti-Jewish component into the emerging Palestinian national consciousness….Presaging modern boycott proposals against Jewish settlement, Haj Amin called on all Muslims to boycott Jewish goods and organized an Arab strike on April 10, 1936.

He saw in the Nazis and Italian fascists natural allies who would do what the British were unwilling to do — purge the region of Jews and help him establish a unified Arab state throughout the Middle East…Believing that the Axis might prevail in the war, the mufti secured a commitment from both Italy and Germany to the formation of a region-wide Arab state. He also asked for permission to solve the Jewish problem by the “same method that will be applied for the solution of the Jewish problem in the Axis states.” 

On Nov. 28, 1941, he met for the first time with Adolf Hitler, relaying to the German leader the Arab conviction that Germany would win the war and that this would benefit the Arab cause. 
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, meets Hitler for the first time. Berlin, Germany, November 28, 1941.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, meets Hitler in Berlin

While Hitler shared the mufti’s belief that the present war would determine the fate of the Arabs, his priority was the struggle against what he saw as Jewish-controlled Britain and the Soviet Union. Lebel reveals Hitler’s promise that when the German army reached the southern borders of the Caucasus, he would announce to the Arab world their time of liberation had come. The Germans would annihilate all Jews who lived in Arab areas.
… 

[Haj Amin’s] conspiratorial view of Jewish ambitions are reflected in the widespread dissemination of such publications as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in the Arab and Muslim world. The view of the Jews as contaminators of society and malevolent conspirators resonate today in the founding Charter of Hamas.

In a radio broadcast from Germany on Nov. 16, 1943…Haj Amin laid out his vision of the conflict with the Jews:

“The Jews bring the world poverty, trouble and disaster … they destroy morality in all countries… they falsify the words of the prophet, they are the bearers of anarchy and bring suffering to the world. They are like moths who eat away all the good in the countries. They prepared the war machine for Roosevelt and brought disaster to the world. They are monsters and the basis for all evil in the world ….” 

As Nazi official Wilhelm Melchers testified after the war:

The mufti was an accomplished foe of the Jews and did not conceal that he would love to see all of them liquidated.

It’s clear that Haj Amin’s relationship with Hitler was no mere ‘alliance of convenience’, but was based on shared eliminationist antisemitic fantasies.  As Jeffrey Herf wrote in his 2009 book, ‘Nazi Propaganda for the Arab world‘, the Mufti “played a central role in the cultural fusion of European with Islamic traditions of Jew-hatred [and] was one of the few who had mastered the ideological themes and nuances of fascism and Nazism, as well as the anti-Jewish elements within the Koran and its subsequent commentaries.”

Robert Fisk’s innocuous description of Haj Amin as ‘pro-Palestinian’ is as morally perverse as characterizing Adolf Hitler as merely  ‘pro-Aryan’.

Facts about Yasser Arafat’s death and life the Guardian won’t report

The Guardian devoted five separate articles (here, here, here, here and here) on Nov. 6 to a recently released report by Swiss scientists on their autopsy of Yasser Arafat’s remains which was originally obtained by Al-Jazeera.

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Though, in fairness, the Guardian’s reporting on the Swiss findings (which reportedly showed unexpectedly high levels of radioactive polonium-210) was relatively restrained – mostly noting that the substance found on Arafat only indicate that he could have been poisoned, the stories do significantly downplay or ignore evidence indicating that poison likely was not the cause of death.

Here are a few facts:

  • After Arafat’s death, in November of 2004, the Palestinian Authority refused to release medical records which would have shed light into the cause of death.
  • Even more curious (especially in the context of the immediate accusations of murder directed towards Israel), neither the Palestinian Authority, nor Arafat’s widow Suha, allowed an autopsy to be performed on his body.
  • report in 2005 by The New York Times (based on an examination of Arafat’s medical records which the paper had obtained) concluded that he died of “a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection,” and that Arafat did not suffer the extensive kidney and liver damage they would expect if he was exposed to a lethal toxic substance – findings, they noted, which “argued strongly against poisoning”.
  • Arafat’s remains have been examined by two additional forensic teams other than the Swiss team (French and Russian), but those results have not yet been made public.
  • The original ‘exclusive’ Al Jazeera report on the Swiss findings noted that, in the event Arafat was poisoned, his Palestinian rivals at the time of his death would have to be considered main suspects – a possibility not even mentioned in the more than 3200 words the Guardian devoted to the story. 
  • Al Jazeera reported that though the evidence suggests poisoning, “no evidence has emerged that implicates [Israel]“, while the Guardian framed the findings as merely ‘not definitively proving that Israel murdered the Palestinian leader’.

Whilst we may never know with certainty the exact cause of Arafat’s death, we do know quite a bit about the lives he extinguished during his long reign of terror, a resume which includes launching and directing a four-year campaign of violence directed at innocent civilians known as the Second Intifada, and his leadership role in dozens of deadly attacks against Israelis which date back to the 1960′s.

As we Tweeted last year after questions emerged about the possible poisoning of Arafat, we humbly wish those concerned with whether there was foul play in his death would show as much concern for the surviving families and loved ones of those he murdered. 

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Photo of Israeli terror victims (Algamor)

The Guardian again promotes myth that Ariel Sharon started 2nd Intifada

One of the more common false narratives regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict advanced by the Guardian is that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism) in 2001 “sparked” the 2nd Intifada – a lie repeated so often that casual observers could be forgiven for believing it.

Here’s a photo and caption from a 2006 Guardian story titled ‘Ariel Sharon: A life in pictures.

There’s also permanent content on the Guardian’s Israel page titled ‘The Arab-Israel Conflict‘, which consists of 22 photos illustrating the history of the conflict. Here’s the photo meant to illustrate the 2nd Intifada.

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Here’s the caption:

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Most recently, David Shariatmadari, deputy editor on the Guardian comment desk, wrote a review (Guardian, Sept. 7) of a book titled ‘What do you buy the children of the terrorist who tried to kill your wife?’, by David Harris Gershon, which began thusly:

Jerusalem is a city electric with tension. There are frequent sparks, as the circuits that cross the city make contact, separate currents suddenly, dangerously flowing into one another. At their least serious, they ignite a monkish fight in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. At their worst, they can set the region alight, as when Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in 2000.

No matter how many times responsibility for the Palestinian violence which began in 2000 is assigned to Ariel Sharon, implicitly or explicitly, evidence abounds that the five-year war was orchestrated at the highest levels of Palestinian leadership.

A thorough report at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs by Jonathan Halevi included the following:

Extensive testimony at the time and in retrospect demonstrates the Palestinian Authority’s role in initiating and managing the Second Intifada as an extensive terror onslaught, designed to impose a unilateral, unconditional withdrawal upon Israel, and improve conditions in anticipation of the battle for realizing Palestinian demands for the return of the refugees.

The final decision to initiate the Second Intifada was made by Yasser Arafat immediately upon the conclusion of the second Camp David summit, which ended on July 25, 2000. Directives were disseminated to the national security forces, instructing them to prepare for the immediate option of initiating a violent campaign against Israel. 

Additional evidence that Ariel Sharon didn’t start the 2nd Intifada includes comments by Suha Arafat (and Palestinian leaders), in 2011, acknowledging that Yasser Arafat planned the terror onslaught, as well as the following interview with Suha in late 2012 on Dubai TV:

The Palestinian campaign of suicide bombings and other deadly assaults at Israeli cafes, bus stops, markets (and other crowded public areas where families and children typically gather) claimed over 1000 lives, and injured and maimed thousands more – an orgy of violence for which Palestinian terrorists and their leaders are solely to blame. 

11 years ago: How the Guardian reported 2002 Netanya Passover Massacre

The attack

On March 27, 2002, a Hamas terrorist named Abdel-Basset Odeh broke into a Passover Seder at the dining hall of the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel, and set off powerful explosives in a suitcase he was carrying, murdering 30 of the 250 people (mostly elderly Jews) in the crowded room.  One hundred and fifty more people were injured in what would become known as the bloodiest attack of the 2nd Intifada.

Several of the victims were Holocaust survivors.

passover

Photos of those killed in the Passover bombing

Guardian report:

One of the most remarkable elements of the Guardian’s initial report on the Passover Eve suicide bombing is how relatively little space was devoted to the actual attack and to the victims.

The opening sentence of the March 28, 2002 report on the bombing, by Suzanne Goldenberg (in Beirut) and Graham Usher (in Jerusalem), is telling.  Note that the immediate focus is on the diplomatic ramifications, not on the Israeli dead and injured.

“A Palestinian suicide bomber walked into a hotel lobby crowded with Israelis gathered for the ritual Passover meal last night, dealing a crushing blow to efforts at the Arab summit to open a new chapter with the Jewish state.”

Goldenberg continues:

“Police said 16 people were killed and more than 140 wounded after the bomber detonated a large bag of explosives in a dining room of the Park hotel in the seaside town of Netanya. It was one of the deadliest attacks in 18 months of fighting.”

Actually, 22 civilians were killed instantly in the blast and another 8 died of their wounds over the next few days. 

Goldenberg:

“The explosion tore through the hotel, blowing out walls and windows and overturning tables and chairs. “Suddenly it was hell,” said one of the guests, Nechama Donenhirsch, 52. “There was the smell of smoke and dust in my mouth and a ringing in my ears.”

Televised scenes showed screaming women, wailing ambulances, cloaked bodies and shop awnings buckled by heat. Israeli police reported that several of the wounded were in “life-threatening condition”.”

The murderer’s bag was packed with 20 lbs of explosives, as well as ball bearings and metal pellets to maximize the carnage from the blast. 

Metal pellets and metal pieces added to the explosives to increase casualties

Metal pellets and metal pieces added to the explosives to increase casualties

Goldenberg continues – again expressing concern for the diplomatic fallout, and the potential for Israeli ‘revenge’.

“The Islamic militant group Hamas told an Arab satellite television station that it was responsible for the attack. The bombing threatened to derail the latest US truce mission, which survived two suicide attacks last week. George Bush denounced the bomb attack as “callous, cold-blooded killing”.

The Palestinian Authority said it “strongly condemned” the bombing and Palestinian security sources said Yasser Arafat had ordered the arrest of four key militants in the West Bank.

Many in Israel saw yesterday’s attack as an event which could goad the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, into launching a crushing military offensive on the West Bank and Gaza. An Israeli government spokesman talked of a “Passover massacre”, vowing “far-reaching responses against Palestinian Authority facilities”. “

Again, Goldenberg:

“The bomb went off at about 7.20pm, as dozens of guests settled down for the Passover Seder in the dining hall.

Netanya has been targeted several times by Palestinians during the 18-month intifada, due to its proximity to the West Bank border. On March 2 Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis, including a baby, in the same area as last night’s attack.

The town had been put on maximum alert after warnings of attacks during the Passover holiday. But it is impossible to prevent suicide attacks, said Netanya’s mayor, Miriam Feyerberg. “This is a city that can be infiltrated from many different directions.” Ms Feyerberg, who witnessed the carnage, said: “I saw little children, bodies. And I want to say something to the Arab leaders in Beirut. This is not resistance. This is murder.” “

And, then the Guardian story strangely changed focus.

Almost all of Goldenberg’s next 663 words (out of a 1072 word report) pertains not to the savage murder of dozens of innocent Israeli civilians but to Arab regional politics and infighting.  The final sentence of the story, in bold (emphasis added), is simply surreal in the context of the Jewish suffering which had just occurred.

“The bombing offered a cruel contrast to attempts by Saudi Arabia to contain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by conjuring up the prospect of a broad Arab peace.

Minutes after Crown Prince Abdullah outlined for the first time his ideas for a land-for-peace deal with Israel in Beirut yesterday, the summit was thrown into chaos with the Lebanese hosts blocking Mr Arafat from addressing Arab leaders via satellite link.

The Palestinian delegation marched out. It was eventually persuaded to remain in Beirut overnight, but the outburst exposed the internal rivalries among the 22 Arab League states.

While the crown prince appealed to the Israeli public to put their trust in peace, Syria’s Bashar Assad called on Arab leaders to support the Palestinian uprising, and condemned the Jewish state as a “living example” of terrorism.

An Arab newspaper said last night it had received an email it believed to be from Osama bin Laden, denouncing the Saudi peace initiative and praising Palestinian suicide attacks. Associated Press said the language of the email, sent to al-Quds a-Arabi, a London-based daily, resembled that used in previous statements by Bin Laden.

The two-day meeting opened in Beirut with two key moderate leaders distancing themselves from the proceedings after Israel barred Mr Arafat from leaving his headquarters in Ramallah. Jordan’s King Abdullah withdrew early yesterday, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak stayed home.

Palestinian officials said Mr Arafat waited in a Ramallah television studio for hours yesterday listening to a succession of speeches before giving up on his fellow Arab leaders and delivering his speech to al-Jazeera television.

“He was kept waiting from 11am to 2.30pm,” said Majdi Khaldi, an adviser to Mr Arafat and a member of the delegation. “We cannot accept that.”

After the Palestinian leader was put on hold for a speech by Mr Assad, “we understood the message: that the summit chairman will not allow Mr Arafat to make his speech – even if he wants to”.

At first the Lebanese organisers said they pulled the plug on Mr Arafat because they feared a live broadcast could be hijacked by Mr Sharon. Later, they blamed technical reasons and egos.

“Our Palestinian friends wanted their chairman to speak first, and when they saw the list was long, they lost patience,” said Ghassan Salameh, Lebanese summit spokesman.

The explanations suggest that more radical states such as Syria and Lebanon were working behind the scenes to deflect attention from Prince Abdullah’s peace proposal.

In his speech on al-Jazeera, Mr Arafat endorsed the Saudi initiative. However, Mr Assad and Lebanon’s President Emile Lahoud were deeply unsettled by the gesture towards their sworn enemy.

Some of those reservations were acknowledged by Prince Abdullah yesterday, who toughened the original conditions of his proposal and down graded its reward for Israel.

The changes are a reversion to traditional Arab positions: a full Israeli withdrawal from lands occupied since the 1967 war, a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees – which was absent from the original proposal.

In an unusual appeal to Israelis, Prince Abdullah said that if their government accepted the plan: “We will not hesitate to accept the right of the Israeli people to live in security with the people of the region.”

Hopes that other states would rally behind the Saudi initiative to produce a collective Arab vision for peace were undercut by Syrian and Lebanese addresses.

“The real danger resides in our collective submission to ‘pressures’ to put an end to the resistance and intifada in return for halting aggression, totally discarding the occupation,” said Mr Lahoud. He called for the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes.

In a rambling discourse on terrorism and the aftermath of September 11, Mr Assad called on Arab states to support the uprising and to sever – or suspend ties – with Israel until peace was achieved.

It’s time to save the Palestinian people from the new holocaust they are living in,” he said.” [emphasis added]

Aftermath:

Shortly after the attack, at Al-Baset Odeh’s home in the West Bank town of Tulkarm, “the suicide bomber’s father, brother, uncle and other relatives sat at a wake, and received congratulations from friends and neighbors“. ”Everyone’s proud of him,” his older brother, Issam Odeh, reportedly said.

The following week, in early April, the Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg was one of the journalists who covered Israel’s military response to the Passover Massacre, Operation Defensive Shield.  Her report on the especially hard fighting in the West Bank town of Jenin, which involved house to house fighting in a neighborhood known to be a terrorist enclave, advanced the lie that an Israeli atrocity against innocent Palestinians had taken place. Her dramatic report on April 16, which used terms like “massacre” and “summary executions”, and accepted the most risible Palestinian claims at face value, were proven wildly inaccurate by a subsequent UN investigation.  Goldenberg never apologized, nor was a retraction ever published.  

Less than a year later, the Palestinian Authority named a football tournament after Shahid Abd Al-Baset Odeh.

A poster in which the Hamas movement in Tulkarm announces the death as a martyr of Muhammad Abd al-Basset Oudeh.

A poster in which the Hamas movement in Tulkarm announced the martyrdom of Abd al-Basset Oudeh.

Among the Palestinians released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal in 2011 was Hamas terrorist Nasser Yataima, who was sentenced to 29 life sentences for having planned the 2002 Passover Massacre.

Arafat’s terror war from 2000 to 2005 claimed 1064 Israeli lives.  Over seven thousand more were injured. The overwhelming majority of the Israeli victims were civilians.

“Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal”: Guardian Mid-East editor misleads on roots of ’82 Lebanon War

A February, 2012 piece by the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, which attempted to draw an analogy between Israel’s 1982 war against the PLO in Lebanon and current tensions with Iran, suggested that both scenarios demonstrate the Israeli propensity to cynically use a phony “pretext” to start a dangerous war.

Black wrote the following in the final paragraphs of his story:

“…In June 1982 an assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador to London by the renegade Palestinian faction led by the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal provided the pretext for war against Yasser Arafat’s PLO in Lebanon, despite a ceasefire that had held for nearly a year. Ariel Sharon, then defence minister, was pressing to attack and persuaded the prime minister, Menachem Begin, to go ahead

“Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal,” Begin reportedly replied as his security chiefs explained the crucial detail and significance of the London attack. Full scale invasion, thousands of dead and years of war and occupation were the result.” [emphasis added]

Black, evidently delighted by the chance to cite the alleged use, by an Israeli leader, of the Yiddish-inspired verbal tradition (using “sh” or “shm” to dismiss something with mockery) in order to, himself, dismiss Israel’s motivation for entering the war, evoked the the same alleged quote – which, interestingly, has alternately been attributed to Israel’s then army chief, Rafael Eitan – in his piece on Friday, ‘January 4, ‘Arabs are losing faith in America: Lessons from Lebanon 1982‘.

Black, in an effort to buttress his narrative that the ’82 war was the beginning of the Arabs’ disenchantment with an America unwilling, evidently, to check Israel’s reckless aggression with a stern and mighty hand, writes the following:

“The war began in a sense in London, where, on June 3, a Palestinian gunman shot the Israeli ambassador, Shlomo Argov. It was clear from the start that the hit team was not from the PLO but from the dissident Iraqi-backed outfit run by Abu Nidal, Yasser Arafat‘s sworn enemy. Israel‘s prime minister, Menachem Begin, egged on by his defence minister, Ariel Sharon, went to war against the PLO in Lebanon anyway. “Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal,” another Israeli minister said.” [emphasis added]

Black’s breezy dismissal of Israel’s decision to enter the Lebanon Civil War (which, by 1982, had already been raging for seven years) is historically unserious.

No, the war didn’t, “in a sense”, start in London.

The roots of the Lebanon war lay in the bloody expulsion of the PLO from Jordan, their relocation to Lebanon in 1971 and subsequent attacks against the Jewish state by the Palestinian terrorist group.

In March 1978, PLO terrorists infiltrated Israel, hijacked a bus and ended up murdering 34 Israeli civilians on board.  In response, Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon and overran terrorist bases, pushing the PLO away from the southern border.  The IDF shortly withdrew and allowed UN forces to enter, but UN troops were unable to prevent PLO terrorists from re-infiltrating the region and acquiring new, and more dangerous arms. 

A series of PLO attacks and Israeli reprisals ended briefly due to a U.S. brokered ceasefire agreement in July 1981, but the PLO repeatedly violated the cease-fire over the ensuing 11 months(Between July 1981 and June 1982 26 Israelis were killed and 264 injured.)

Meanwhile, over 15,000 PLO fighters were encamped in locations throughout Lebanon, armed with an extensive cache of weaponry – which included mortars, Katyusha rockets, an antiaircraft network and even surface-to-air missiles.

Israel was unable to stem the growth of the PLO militia, and the frequency of the attacks had forced thousands of Israeli residents in the Galilee to flee their homes and take refuge in shelters.

So, while the final provocation occurred in June 1982 when a Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal attempted to assassinate Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Black’s suggestion that Israel may have cynically exploited the assassination as a pretext break a peaceful “truce”, in order to launch an unnecessary war, is patently untrue.

The casus belli for Operation Peace for the Galilee was self-evident, building for years, and needed no “pretext”.

What country on earth would permit a terrorist group (with an increasingly deadly arsenal of weaponry) on its border to launch frequent terror attacks against its citizens without a robust military response?

Today, as in 1982, the Jewish state can not afford to shy away from confronting clear and present dangers it faces, and, more importantly, need not morally justify – to Ian Black and others who evidently fancy themselves sophisticated political sages – a robust defense of its national interests and its citizens’ lives.