By CiFWatch editorial team.
In her review of books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on September 13th for the Irish Times Lara Marlowe made an egregious error.
Harriet Sherwood published a report today, Nov. 6, on the acquittal of Avigdor Lieberman, titled ‘Avigdor Lieberman to return to Israeli cabinet after corruption acquittal‘. Whilst there is nothing especially problematic in Sherwood’s report about Lieberman, who was cleared on charges of fraud in a unanimous ruling by three judges after a lengthy trial, we noted a related ‘recommended’ article on the right side bar:
The 2009 article, by the paper’s former Jerusalem correspondent, Rory McCarthy, is a profile of the Yisrael Beiteinu party leader (and former foreign minister), titled ‘The rise of Israel’s foreign minister‘, which includes the following claim:
In typically blunt terms Lieberman has called for the trial and execution of Arab fellow MPs.
However, upon researching the claim it became clear that McCarthy omitted a few words in Lieberman’s quote, which go back to comments attributed to him in May, 2006. Here’s a translation of a Hebrew media report on what he said on the floor of the Israeli Knesset:
Lieberman called the execution of Arab Israeli MKs who met with the Hamas…
Whilst Lieberman’s comments were still, quite obviously, extremely inflammatory (and were condemned at the time by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as an act of “incitement”), Guardian readers who come across McCarthy’s report could likely believe (falsely) that Lieberman was calling for death sentences to be carried out arbitrarily against Arab members of the Israeli Knesset.
It’s quite notable that other news sites (even ones not typically friendly to Israel) got the 2006 Lieberman quote right, including even Electronic Intifada (EI). An EI post shortly after Lieberman’s comments were published included the following:
A few days previously, on 5 May, Lieberman expressed the hope that Arab legislators who met with the Hamas leadership be put on trial and executed
Interestingly, even McCarthy’s colleagues have accurately reported his comments.
Lieberman has described Tibi and other Israeli Arabs who have met Hamas officials as traitors. They should be executed, he said…
Here’s Peter Beaumont – foreign editor of The Observer, sister publication of the Guardian - in 2012:
At various times he has called for the expulsion of Israel’s Arab population, [and] the “execution” of Arab MPs who met with leaders of Hamas,
A ‘lie of omission’ is still a lie.
If exit polls (as reported by Times of Israel and other media outlets) turn out to be accurate, the Guardian mantra – parroted by nearly every commentator and reporter who’s been providing ‘analysis’ on the Israeli elections – warning of a hard and dangerous shift to the right will prove to have been entirely inaccurate.
In the final days before the vote, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood seemed certain that the elections would bring “a more hawkish and pro-settler government“, and Guardian Middle East Editor Ian Black warned that “Netanyahu [was] poised to…head a more right-wing and uncompromising government than Israel has ever seen before“.
Rachel Shabi predicted that Israel would elect “the most right-wing government in its history“, while Jonathan Freedland expressed gloom that diaspora Jews would have to watch “the centre of gravity…shift so far rightward [in Israel] that Netanyahu and even Lieberman will look moderate by comparison.”
However, based on preliminary reports, not only does it appear that there has been absolutely no rightward shift, but the makeup of the next Knesset may be slightly more left than the current one.
While in 2009 the right-wing bloc bested the center-left bloc by 65-55, the tallies released tonight after polls closed in Israel at 10 PM showed that the new Knesset will have a narrower (61-59) right-bloc advantage.
According various exit polls, the top three parties will be Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu with 31 Knesset seats, the centrist Yesh Atid with 19, and the leftist Labor Party with between 16-18. The rightist party, Jewish Home, headed by Naftali Bennett, came in fourth and will have 13 or 14, while Shas, the ultra-orthodox party, came in fifth with 12.
Some Israeli commentators are already predicting that Binyamin Netanyahu will attempt to form a centrist or even a right-center-left coalition.
Though the final results aren’t expected to be announced until the early hours of Wednesday, a few things are certain:
The Guardian invested heavily in promoting their desired political narrative of a Jewish state lurching dangerously towards the right.
They got it completely wrong.
They will learn absolutely nothing from their egregious miscalculation.