Economist’s Nicolas Pelham Deceives About Christians in Israel

Cross posted by CAMERA’s Israel Director, Tamar Sternthal

Charging “Israel’s multiple self-professed lobbyists” for having “donned the mantle of Christian saviors,” The Economist‘s Nicolas Pelham cites Proverbs to excoriate: “Deceive not with thy lips.” Writing yesterday in Haaretz (“Christians in Israel and Palestine“), it is Pelham himself who repeatedly deceives.

Population Decline or Growth?

First, he completely misleads about Israel’s Christian population, claiming it has declined, when in fact it has increased by 268 percent since 1949. He writes:

What [Israel's lobbyists] do not say is that Israel’s population of native Christians has fallen by roughly the same proportion. From 8 percent in 1947 (in all of mandatory Palestine), it numbered 4 percent in 1948, and is now less than 2 percent. The reasons for the decline are largely the same. Jewish, as Muslim, birth-rates are much higher. [Note: The last sentence appears only online. It is not in the print edition.]

What Pelham does not say is that according to The Statistical Abstract of Israel, there were approximately 34,000 Christians living in Israel in 1949. This figure was not broken down by ethnicity, but the vast majority of these people were Arab Christians. And at the end of 2011, there were approximately, 125,000 Arab Christians living in Israel. By citing relative figures instead of absolute figures, Pelham deceives readers into believing Israel’s Christian population “has fallen,” when the opposite is true.

Deceive not with thy lips.

St. George’s Harmony of Violence?

Painting a dubious picture of mutual respect and harmony among Muslim and Christian Palestinians, Pelham deceives:

On St. George’s Day, Muslims join Christians to commemorate his martyrdom at his shrine in Al-Khader, near Bethlehem.

Hardly the picture of coexistence, last week’s celebration of the feast of St. George at St. George’s Orthodox Church ended in a violent clash, as was documented on a YouTube video that went viral:

According to Lela Gilbert, author of Saturday People, Sunday People, Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner:

A Bethlehem Greek Orthodox Church (St. George’s Church – Khadar – near Beit Jala) was attacked by Muslims during its annual St. George’s Day services on May 6. … Some local Muslims either tried to park a car too close the church and/or tried to enter the church during a service honoring St. George – the initial instigation isn’t clear. But when the intruders were asked to leave, one of them stabbed a Christian man who was outside the church serving as a guard. He was hospitalized. Several then started throwing stones at the church. 7 or 8 Christians were injured and some physical damage was done – broken windows etc. The police didn’t show up for an hour.

“Despite the contradictory reports, it seems pretty obvious that whatever police presence there was at St. George’s on its feast day, it was insufficient to prevent an outbreak of violence, which resulted in several injuries including one broken nose,” observed Dexter Van Zile, CAMERA’s Christian Media Analyst. “In sum, stones were thrown at Christianity’s living stones near the city of Christ’s birth.”

“No matter how you look at it, the episode represents a failure on the part of the Palestinian Authority, one that local journalists and Christian leaders are – for understandable reasons – reluctant to highlight,” Van Zile added.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Islamist Bullying in Gaza A Thing of the Past?

Pelham depicts a false rosy picture for Gaza’s Christians, falsely suggesting that intimidation was limited to “the early days of Hamas rule in Gaza.” He writes:

In the early days of Hamas rule in Gaza, militants firebombed a church and attacked its worshippers uncannily close to a police station. But the Islamists have since clamped down on their own; their prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, pointedly attended church to honor a local Christian politician.

The U.S. State Department’s International Freedom Report for 2012 (the most recent report available) paints a more sober picture of the status of Gaza’s Christians. “The de facto Hamas authorities in Gaza continued to restrict religious freedom in both law and practice, and the negative trend for respect of this right was reflected in such abuses as arresting or detaining Muslims in Gaza who did not abide by Hamas’ strict interpretation of Islam . . . ” The report noted:

Hamas largely tolerated the small Christian presence in Gaza and did not force Christians to abide by Islamic law. However, Hamas’ religious ideology negatively affected Christians, according to church leaders. For example, local religious leaders received warnings ahead of Christian holidays against any public display of Christianity. Christians raised concerns that Hamas failed to defend their rights as a religious minority. Local officials sometimes advised converts to leave their communities to prevent harassment against them. Hamas officials on July 19 publicly denied allegations from the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza that Hamas-affiliated officials coerced Ramez Ayman and Hiba Abu Dawoud and her three children to convert to Islam. Christians staged a protest at Gaza’s main church in late July.

What Pelham does not say is that as recently as July 2012, Palestinian Christians living in the Gaza Strip were reportedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. “According to the Greek Orthodox Church in the Gaza Strip, at least five Christians have been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam in recent weeks,” Khaled Abu Toameh reported in Gatestone Institute (“Who Will Save the Christians in the Gaza Strip”?). He added:

The church blamed an unidentified terror group of being behind the forced conversions and called on the international community to intervene to save the Christians.

Church leaders also accused a prominent Hamas man of being behind the kidnapping and forced conversion of a Christian woman, Huda Abu Daoud, and her three daughters. Shortly after she disappeared, the woman sent a message to her husband’s mobile phone informing him that she and her daughters had converted to Islam.

In a rare public protest, leaders and members of the 2,000-strong Christian community in the Gaza Strip staged a sit-in strike in the Gaza Strip this week to condemn the abductions and forced conversions in particular, and persecution at the hands of radical Muslims in general.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Christmas Tree Ban in the Knesset?

The Jerusalem-based journalist and writer on Arab affairs erred when he wrote:

haaretz knesset bans christmas trees

The online article helpfully provides a link to a Dec. 26, 2013 AP story which appeared at the time in Haaretz. The AP article does not support Mr. Pelham’s claim that the Knesset bans Christmas trees “from its premises.” In fact, it states:

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein says he refused to display a Christmas tree in the parliament because of the “painful memories” it evoked among Jews.

Edelstein told Israel Radio Thursday such a public display of a Christian symbol could be construed as offensive.  Earlier this week, Edelstein rejected the request of a Christian-Arab lawmaker. He said the parliamentarian could display a tree in his office and party’s conference room. (Emphasis added.)

Thus, while a Christmas tree was not permitted in public space in the Knesset, it was permitted in private offices and party conference rooms. In other words, Christmas trees are not banned from the Knesset “premises.”

What Pelham does not say is that it is prohibited to publicly display Christmas trees in all of Gaza City and the rest of the Strip, while Christmas trees are distributed for free in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel. In fact, the free Christmas trees are available twice a year in Israel, once for western Christians and then a few days later for Greek Orthodox Christians.

The Guardian reported in 2011 (“Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas“):

There hasn’t been a Christmas tree in Gaza City’s main square since Hamas pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007 and Christmas is no longer a public holiday. . . .

[Peter Qubrsi, a Catholic from Gaza] describes being stopped in the street by a Hamas official who told him to remove the cross. “I told him it’s not his business and that I wouldn’t,” Peter said. After being threatened with arrest he was eventually let go, but the incident scared him.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Haaretz editors changed the online text to the following accurate wording:

knesset christmas tree corrected

Editors also appended a vague note at the bottom of the article which fails to make clear what was amended and why:

knesset christmas tree appended

Haaretz has not yet corrected in print.

Why Did Azmi Bishara Leave?

In another deception, Nicolas Pelham asserts:

The country’s most prominent Christian politician, Azmi Bishara, was hounded out of Israel amid cries of treachery after he dared to suggest that Israel should be a state for all its citizens.

In fact, Haaretz itself reported at the time a very different account of Bishara’s departure to Jordan shortly before he was charged with passing information to Hezbollah:

azmi bishara hezbollah

Haaretz added:

A senior Shin Bet official told reporters earlier in the day that Bishara had had prolonged contact with Hezbollah members who were involved in gathering information on Israel.

Bishara allegedly provided “information, suggestions and recommendations,” including censored material, to his contacts in Lebanon during the war.

The Shin Bet official said that Bishara was fully aware of the sensitivity of the information. According to the Shin Bet, he was given “missions” from Hezbollah, which he then carried out.

Bishara allegedly advised Hezbollah on the ramifications of firing missiles further south than Haifa. At the time, Hezbollah was debating whether to strike at targets deeper inside Israel. A few days later, missiles struck south of Haifa for the first time.

The former lawmaker is also suspected of helping Hezbollah with assessments regarding a possible Israeli assassination attempt on Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, as well as offering advice on waging psychological warfare against the Israelis.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Many of the pieces in The Economist are unsigned, so it’s hard to know whether or not Pelham is responsible for the now infamous (and since corrected) reference to Kochav Yair as a “fanatical settlement.” (It is neither.)

….

(See our follow-up post on this story, here)

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Telegraph posts 3 stories on settlers’ Kerry spoof, but ignores PA incitement

If you go to the Israel page of The Telegraph, you’ll find three separate stories (and over 1100 words of text) devoted to one short satire produced by the Yesha Council (umbrella organization of councils of ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria) that is critical of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

telegraph

Two of the stories were filed by Robert Tait (the paper’s Israel correspondent) within three hours of each other. One characterized the poke at Kerry as “a deliberately disrespectful spoof depicting America’s top diplomat”, while the other editorialized that the clip “undermin[es] a plea from the White House for Israeli politicians to desist from personal attacks on the US secretary of state”, ignoring the fact that the the Yesha Council is a settler’s advocacy group, not a political party.

Here’s the video:

While one can reasonably find the video objectionable, it’s curious that Tait would frame one short (and relatively benign) YouTube clip as somehow injurious to peace efforts while, like most of this fellow British journalists, failing to devote serious coverage to genuine incitement to violence by high level Palestinian politicians.  

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, the Telegraph failed to even note a disturbing clip of PA President Abbas applauding a PA Minister of Religious Affairs after he called for jihad in Jerusalem. 

Videos such as these, attesting to dangerous incitement to violence by Palestinian officials and explicit antisemitism in the state-controlled PA media, are ubiquitous and easily accessible for journalists genuinely concerned with actions on either side which undermine the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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No reports of Jewish riots after grossly antisemitic show begins airing on Arab TV

The streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and every other city throughout Israel – and in communities outside of Israel with large Jewish communities – were calm over Shabbat despite the decision by several Arab TV satellite channels to begin airing an antisemitic mini-series during Ramadan called “Khaybar.”  The program reportedly demonizes Jews, who are depicted as immutably “treacherous” and the “enemies of Islam” who “can’t be trusted”.

The series – produced by a Qatari media company and currently being aired in Dubai, Egypt, Algeria, Qatar and UAE – is described by the screenwriter and the film’s actors as simply demonstrating that “The Jews are the Jews…and still act according to their nature and corrupt any society in which they live.”

Though a prominent pro-Israel blogger, Elder of Ziyon, initiated a passionate campaign to draw attention to the series, the act of racist incitement has been ignored by major human rights organizations – characteristic of the silence by such self-described “humanitarian” groups in the face of poisonous anti-Jewish animus which is commonplace throughout Arab and Muslim countries.

Additionally, whilst the Guardian published over 100 reports and commentaries after the Muhammad cartoons controversy in 2005, and a similarly large volume of stories on the row last year over a brief trailer for an anti-Islamic film posted on YouTube called ‘Innocence of Muslims’, there has been nothing published at the Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ about Khaybar.

Further, in contrast to the eruption of riots and violence over the Muhammad cartoons, which led to death threats against the cartoonists and riots in cities across the world resulting in over 200 people dead, and the reaction to the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which led to hundreds of injuries and over 50 deaths, there have been no reports of Jewish riots in reaction to the hideously antisemitic Khaybar broadcast.

While the narrow issue of the Guardian’s decision not to inform readers about an antisemitic TV series which will potentially be seen by tens of millions of Arab viewers  is important – representing one example of their wider failure to report even the most extreme examples of antisemitic incitement within the larger Arab world – there is another important angle to this story worth exploring.

My observation regarding the dearth of anything resembling violence by Jews over the racist Arab series was not meant to be at all cheeky, but rather was an attempt to illustrate the absurdity of the ubiquitous refrain from Guardian Left commentators that the Israel lobby ‘intimidates’ elected representatives, exercises undue influence over the media and stifles debate over issues of concern to the Jewish community.  

Whilst organized Jewry, and pro-Israel commentators, certainly use the power of the pen, lobby their representatives and use every other legitimate democratic means available to advocate for Israel and campaign against antisemitism, newspaper cartoonists who run afoul of ‘the lobby’ do not receive death threats from AIPAC; commentators who engage in antisemitic tropes don’t have to go in hiding for fear of retribution by philo-Semitic bloggers; and ‘spontaneous’ acts of mass Jewish violence do not erupt on the streets of Paris, London, New York, or Jerusalem when the religious sensibilities of Jews are offended.

Though it is of course true that the overwhelming majority of Muslims don’t resort to violence in response to cartoons, films or commentaries deemed offensive to Islam, the small minority who do engage in such anti-social and destructive behavior clearly create a chilling effect on Western journalists and opinion leaders – anti-democratic bullying and intimidation which simply has no parallel within the Zionist community.

Benghazi to Boston: Glenn Greenwald’s hypocrisy in condemning ‘rush to judgement’ over marathon attack

In response to the bomb attack at the Boston Marathon on Monday which killed three people and injured more than 175, Glenn Greenwald did what he does best: vilifying America and warning about racist-inspired assumptions regarding the religious identity of terrorist perpetrators.  

In his CiF commentary, ‘The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions’, April 16, Greenwald lectures Americans outraged by the assault that they are in no position to make judgements in light of the “horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade

Greenwald is of course largely referring to the US military’s drone campaign against Islamist terrorists - in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere - who plot attacks against innocent American civilians.  (The use of such unmanned aerial assaults against enemy combatants is supported by most Americans, but has become something of a negative obsession for Greenwald and other Guardian commentators.)

Additionally, Greenwald spends a large percentage of his column condemning those on Twitter and elsewhere in the traditional and social media for their alleged ‘rush to judgment’ over the suspected perpetrator(s) of the Boston attack:

The rush, one might say the eagerness, to conclude that the attackers were Muslim was palpable and unseemly, even without any real evidence. The New York Post quickly claimed that the prime suspect was a Saudi national (while also inaccurately reporting that 12 people had been confirmed dead). The Post’s insinuation of responsibility was also suggested on CNN by Former Bush Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend (“We know that there is one Saudi national who was wounded in the leg who is being spoken to”). Former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman went on CNN to grossly speculate that Muslim groups were behind the attack. 

Wild, unverified accusations with “zero evidence” singling out a minority group for responsibility over a deadly act of violence?  That sounds familiar.

Indeed, the day after the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Greenwald, in a post titled The tragic consulate killings in Lybia and America’s hierarchy of human life‘, wrote the following:

Protesters attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday night and killed four Americans, including the US ambassador, Chris Stevens. The attacks were triggered by rage over an amateurish and deeply hateful film about Islam that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as, among other things, a child molester advocate, a bloodthirsty goon, a bumbling idiot, and a promiscuous, philandering leech. A 13-minute trailer was uploaded to YouTube and then quickly circulated in the Muslim world, sparking widespread anger (the US embassy in Cairo was also attacked).

Further, Greenwald repeated completely unverified (and ultimately false) claims that the film-maker (Sam Bacile) was “an Israeli real estate developer living in California” and that he had made the film with “the help of 100 Jewish donors.”

Greenwald’s wild speculation about the cause of the attack, and the putative Israeli and Jewish connection (also parroted by the Guardian’s Julian Borger and Caroline Davies), however, was completely unfounded.

  • On Sept. 12, reports already began to appear contradicting claims that Bacile was an Israeli Jew.  And, a day later it was confirmed that he was an Egyptian Christian. 
  • The Guardian was forced to correct Greenwald’s false claim about the Jewish identity of the film-maker

Reports regarding the importance of an obscure, low-budget anti-Muslim film represented merely a ruse, designed to divert the attention of those in the media already ideologically inclined to blame Jews, Israel and the West for deadly Islamist terror attacks. 

Greenwald’s ‘shock’ over the ‘racist’ rush to judgement of those who disseminated unconfirmed reports that the terrorist attack in Boston was committed by al-Qaeda (or other Islamist terror groups) again demonstrates the Guardian contributor’s stunning moral hypocrisy.

What the Guardian didn’t tell you about Palestinian youths arrested in Hebron

On March 20, the Guardian’s ongoing Middle East Live blog included a dispatch titled ‘Children Arrested“.

Here is the complete forty-eight word post – which included a B’Tselem video:

The Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, has uploaded new footage of appearing to show Israeli soldiers arresting Palestinian children, some as young as eight, in Hebron.

It demanded an emergency intervention by the authorities to secure the release of some of the children it claims are still detained.

Here is the B’Tselem video they showed:

Further, if you open the video in YouTube, and look at B’Tselem’s description, here’s what you’ll read:

B’Tselem this morning urgently contacted the Army’s Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria, demanding his emergency intervention regarding the detention of numerous children, including some as young as 8 to 10 years old, by the Israeli military this morning in Hebron. Preliminary information received this morning indicates that Soldiers detained or arrested over twenty minors on their way to school. About ten of them were released. The video was filmed by an international activist.

The Guardian reader – as well as those who came across the story on B’Tselem’s YouTube Channel, and at other news sites which reported the story - would be forgiven for believing that Israeli security forces arbitrarily arrested innocent Palestinian children on their way to school.

However, here’s the rest of the story – the full picture which the Guardian will likely never report:

Per IDF Spokesperson Barak Raz:

On the morning of March 20, 2013, following near daily rock throwing at civilians passing by and security forces positioned in the area, the perpetrators of the rock throwing were apprehended and detained during such an incident. 27 were detained, of whom 7 were transferred to the police and 20 were released.

Contrary to reports and footage of children being “arrested on their way to school,” THIS is the complete picture of what really happened and what, in fact, led to that arrest .

As we said that morning, this arrest was carried out in real-time during an incident of rock throwing, and following similar incidents that had occurred almost daily.

Unfortunately, we experienced technical difficulties that morning with retrieving the footage, but we did make it very clear that footage made available from that incident only showed the arrest, and not what had led to it. The fact that we had such footage was also made very clear that morning, despite the claims that were made.

Here’s the video Barak posted:

For those still under the illusion that rock throwing is not a serious matter, recall that  just yesterday, March 30, a 4-year-old boy was wounded when the car he was traveling in was pelted by rocks on Route 60 near Efrat.

On March 14, an Israeli woman and her daughters, ages 3, 4 and 5, were injured after a car accident in the West Bank caused by rocks thrown by Palestinians. The 3-year-old – whose injuries were the most critical – was not breathing when medics arrived at the scene, and had to be resuscitated with a mouth-to-mouth procedure.  The Five Palestinian suspects arrested by Israeli security forces, and who all confessed to the attack, were 16 and 17-year-old youths from Kfar Haras.

On January 16, “an Israeli child was injured when Palestinians heaved a rock through the windshield of the car he was riding in”.

Rocks result 2

Child injured in rock attack

In December, 2012, Palestinians threw rocks at a car on Route 505. One of the rocks − which was a full 12 centimeters wide and 19 centimeters long − “shattered the windshield and struck a 12-year-old girl, breaking her skull.”

One of the most serious recent attacks occurred in Sept. of 2011 when Palestinians rock throwers caused a crash which killed Asher Hillel Palmer, 25, and his one-year-old son Yonatan near Kiryat Arba.  

wreckage 2

The wreckage of the car Asher Palmer and his son were traveling in when they were killed in 2011.

The story about the murder of Jonathan and Asher was all but buried by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood, who, in a report which focused mainly on another incident, referred to the victims not by their names, but as “a settler and his infant son.”

Israeli security officials have noted an increase in recent months of such attacks against Israeli civilian targets and vehicles.  In 2013 there has already been 1,195 incidents of rock throwing. 

Four out of the six Israelis murdered by Arab rock throwers since 2000 were children. 

Sounds Israeli, Sounds Anglit: Ben Draiman

Last week we launched a new series of Friday posts featuring video selections (from a CiF Watch reader’s YouTube Channel) of Israeli artists performing in English.  I happen to know the following American-Israeli singer-songwriter personally, and had the opportunity to see him perform this song in Jerusalem last year.

Here’s Ben Draiman, performing ‘Soon Enough’.

What the Guardian won’t report: Arabs bully religious Jews in Jerusalem

When I first saw the clip, posted on Facebook by a friend shortly after Shabbat, my stomach churned with a discomfort nurtured by a very particular history.

1A small group of religiously observant, traditionally dressed, peyote wearing Jews are seen outside in some city centre, hurriedly attempting to get to their destination, as they are confronted by a group of hooded youths.

 One of the pursued men falls as he slips on a step while attempting to escape the mob.

The shaky hand-held camcorder follows the Jews as they are pelted with snowballs, pushed and shoved. The sound of mocking laughter is heard.

As the Jews continue onto the sidewalk, attempting to distance themselves from the original gang, others emerge to confront them.

There are menacing shouts from the crowd. More snowballs are thrown at the moving targets as they attempt in vain to avoid the confrontation.

A traditional hat is quickly snatched from one of the pursued men.

One spectator is seen excitedly photographing the moment, clearly enjoying a first-hand view of the frightened Jew.

More laughter.

Soon, backpack wearing children now take their turn. Additional keffiyeh-wearing youths seize the moment.

Without any context, I had on some level initially believed that the one minute and fifteen second YouTube video was filmed on the streets of a European city and not, as I later learned, near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The attack took place on Shabbat. The victims were possibly on their way back from praying at the Kotel (Western Wall).

A quick glance at the Israel page of the Guardian confirms that such ugly images of antisemitic bullying by Arabs, in the capital of the Jewish state, do not pique the journalistic curiosity of the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent.

Another Guardian video asks “who controls the internet?” The answer again: Israel

Jon Ronson has now posted three investigative videos at the Guardian, as part of a series titled who’s controlling the internet?”. 

When you consider the question of “who’s controlling the internet?”, what would normally come to mind, it would seem, are totalitarian nations like North Korea, China, Iran, and Syria  - states who routinely block web sites critical of their regime.

Yet, two of his first three exposes have focused on, yes, Israel.

Ronson focuses on what’s known as Astroturfing - a form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a “grassroots” movement. 

The first Ronson video primarily focused on one hoax video by an Israeli calling himself Marc Pax claiming he was denied permission to join the Free Gaza flotilla because the participation of a gay activist would not “serve the interests” of the flotilla movement.

Pax was soon identified as Omer Gershon, an Israeli actor involved in marketing.

An intern working in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem had posted the clip on Twitter, and government websites put up links to the clip.

However, the links were removed after the hoax was revealed, with apologies from Israeli officials.

That Ronson decided to lead his investigative series with one hoax perpetrated by one Israeli is in itself quite telling. 

But, it’s even more curious that Ronson decided that this single video, out of billions posted on YouTube every year of questionable veracity, deserved scrutiny.

Ronson darkly warned, in the first video:

“there’s a whole sub-culture of young Israelis making YouTube videos about the Gaza Flotilla…Omer Gershon is one of many.”

The subtext of Ronson’s video is almost comical.

Out of the millions of antisemitic and anti-Zionist YouTube videos on the web, Ronson seems especially concerned that some citizens of the democratic state of Israel produce videos attempting to refute anti-Zionist and antisemitic discourse. 

Ronson seems intent on linking the hoax to the Israeli government, or the Israeli “hasbara” community, and thus interviewed producers of the Israeli satire site Latma, columnist, and Latma creator, Caroline Glick, as well as an official at the Israeli government’s office of Public Diplomacy.

Ronson shows clips of a Latma spoof called “Guns, Guns, Guns“, and, evidently appalled at the suggesting that Hamas imports rockets to fire at Israelis, asks Glick, incredulously, “Guns are Gaza’s hobby?”  

Glick then replies, “well, no, killing Jews is”.  

Nonplussed by Glick’s reply, Ronson then quickly changes the subject by asking Glick about the Gershon hoax.  

Glick points out that, yes, it was a hoax, but, of course, the premise of the hoax, that Gaza culture is extremely homophobic, is undeniable. 

Ronson then visits an Israeli official who may substantiate his theory that, as Ronson warns ominously, the Gershon video “may be the work of a new Israeli government department called the ministry for public diplomacy.”

Among the sins of this “Hasbara” effort by the Israeli government, Ronson explains, is the distribution of (gasp!) pamphlets to Israelis on how best to respond to typical accusations of Israeli villainy.

You have to listen to video, and listen to Ronson’s voice, to understand how comical the narrative truly is. 

Evidently, the fact that Israel has a department of public diplomacy is, for Ronson, not only something unusual, but dark and sinister.  

Finally, Ronson interviews Shay Attias, of the Israeli Ministry for Public Diplomacy, to inquire about the Astroturfing allegation. 

We’re then shown Attias explaining to Ronson what “hasbara” initiatives his department is “scheming”. 

Among the propaganda maliciously peddled by the Israeli is Ministry of Public Diplomacy, we learn from Ronson, is the fact that Israel invented the cherry tomato.  

Yes, such Israeli agricultural propaganda is simply chilling. 

Ronson then asks Attias the million dollar question: whether Attias’s office was involved with the Gershon hoax?

Attias definitively denies that the Israeli government had anything to do with the video, but, Ronson, clearly unconvinced, leaves us with a closing clip of “to be continued”.

Of course, the broader question of how, precisely, Israeli public diplomacy is connected to the question of “who’s controlling the internet” is left unstated. 

To provide some perspective, in 2010 alone there were 14 billion videos viewed on YouTube. 

Totalitarian states like China has blocked YouTube.  Morocco shut down access to the site in 2008. Thailand blocked YouTube between 2006 and 2007 due to offensive videos relating to King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  Turkey blocked access to YouTube between 2008 and 2010 after controversy over videos deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. On December 3, 2006, Iran temporarily blocked access to YouTube, along with several other sites, after declaring them as violating social and moral codes of conduct. 

Yet, Ronson’s Guardian series is obsessed with one hoax video posted by one citizen of a free and open society, and views it in the context of the question of who’s controlling the media.  

Evidently, for Ronson, there’s not nearly enough anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda on the internet, and the urgent question which Guardian liberals must know is who is behind the insidious dissemination of information attempting to refute the volley of defamations against the Jewish people. 

Update: YouTube account of Palestinian Media Watch appears to have been reinstated

It appears as if Palestinian Media Watch is back up on YouTube. Thanks to everyone who contacted YouTube to complain.

Here is an op-ed in today’s JPost by Andre Oboler about the PMW’s recent suspension - published before it was reinstated:

Justice Louis Brandeis of the US Supreme Court once said “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

This is often used to justify “more speech” as the only solution to “hate speech.”

In November, as parliamentarians and experts from over 40 countries gathered in Canada for the second meeting of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Combatting Anti-Semitism, there was a growing concern at rising anti-Semitism, and an increased acceptance that more than sunlight was needed in response.

At the gathering, I presented as part of an experts panel on hate speech online. One point I raised was the problem of YouTube videos that do not by themselves constitute hate, but which attract hateful comments.

An example I gave was a YouTube clip of Sacha Baron Cohen’s song “Throw the Jew Down the Well.”

The most popular comment on the video the morning I presented, as voted by YouTube viewers, read: “Lets [sic] genocide them by burning them! But this time, lets [sic] actually do it.”

Should Sacha Baron Cohen or YouTube take this clip down if this is what it inspires? Should the comments be closed to viewers? The answer is unclear, but allowing this to continue is not a good thing and seeing how popular it is leaves me feeling very uncomfortable.

THERE IS also a clear problem with hate groups, such as “theytnazism” on YouTube.

See rest of the essay, here.

Update on suspension of Palestinian Media Watch’s YouTube account

As an update on our last post regarding YouTube’s suspension of Palestinian Media Watch’s account, please visit the site, IsraeliGirl, which has useful YouTube contact information which you can use to send an informed complaint requesting that they immediately reinstate PMW’s videos.

You can also visit other friendly blogs covering the story:

Elder of Ziyon, Melanie Phillips, Israel Matzav, IsraellyCool, Live Journal, Solomonia, Israpundit, and My Right Word.

Update 1

Andre Oboler has an excellent article in the Jerusalem Post on the subject.

Action Alert: YouTube closes Palestinian Media Watch account

This is from Itmar Marcus at Palestinian Media Watch:

“For years there have been PA backers trying to get YouTube to close down the PMW video account by complaining that we are involved in hate speech. Now they succeeded. They complained to the administrators about a farewell video of a suicide terrorist from a few years ago who boasted he would drink the blood of Jews. You Tube sent us notice that this video is “violation of terms” by promoting hate speech and closed our entire account. Most of the hundreds of videos on our website are not running.”

The appalling moral inversion at play here is astonishing.  PMW had its You Tube account suspended for uploading videos exposing anti-Semitic discourse within institutions the Palestinian Authority controls.  It is simply breathtaking that the administrators at YouTube apparently don’t know the difference between propagating hate speech, and exposing it!

We’re asking you to write YouTube today to demand that PMW be reinstated.

YouTube silences Latma, removes We Con the World

This is a cross post by Caroline Glick from Carolineglick.com

As Israel went offline for the Jewish sabbath, YouTube removed most versions of Latma’s hit parody song We Con the World. If you try to access the song on YouTube you receive the notification:

This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Warner/ Chappell Music, Inc. .

Copyright experts we advised with before posting the song told us in no uncertain terms that we were within our rights to use the song because we did so in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine. The Fair Use Doctrine, copied and pasted below from the US Copyright Office stipulates that it is legal and permissible to use copyrighted material under the fair use doctrine for purposes of parody.

Copyright attorneys also warned us that given our clearly lawful use of the song We are the World, if anyone wished to silence our voices, they wouldn’t target us. Instead they would target YouTube. It is YouTube’s standard practice to remove any material that they receive even the flimsiest threat for because the company wishes to avoid all litigation.

At the same time, this is not YouTube’s first move to silence Israeli voices. During Operation Cast Lead, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit established a YouTube channel and began posting combat footage on its channel to bypass the anti-Israel media and go directly to news consumers.

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