Category Archives: JPost

Anticipating Islam’s conquest of Europe and America at Al-Aqsa

Any European who would oppose Muslim immigration by arguing that the current waves of desperate people hoping to find safety and prosperity north of the Alps will pave the way for a hostile attempt to conquer Europe for Islam would certainly be denounced as an “Islamophobe.” But what do you call it when a preacher at the Al-Aqsa mosque – which is usually described as Islam’s “third-holiest” place – passionately announces that “soon, we will trample them [Europe’s Christians and Jews] underfoot, Allah willing”?

Europe will fall to Islam

In an address delivered some two weeks ago at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Ayed argued according to a translation provided by MEMRI that in Europe, “all the hearts are infused with hatred toward Muslims.” According to the Sheikh,

“Europe has become old and decrepit, and needs human reinforcement. […] they have lost their fertility, so they look for fertility in their midst. We will give them fertility! We will breed children with them, because we shall conquer their countries – whether you like it or not, oh Germans, oh Americans, oh French, oh Italians, and all those like you. Take the refugees! We shall soon collect them in the name of the coming Caliphate. We will say to you: These are our sons. Send them, or we will send our armies to you.”

If this sounds “Islamophobic,” the politically correct thing is of course to simply ignore this story – and this is just what most of the mainstream media seem to have done. It almost goes without saying that this is not the first time that politically inconvenient stories from the Muslim world have been ignored. Frequently these are stories that would show deeply ingrained Muslim Jew-hatred; however, the arguably very belated revelations in a recent New York Times report about the shocking “tolerance” adopted by the US military regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children by its Afghan allies also provide a more general indication of how eagerly western institutions apply double standards that downplay or ignore profound evils in Muslim societies.

Personally, I would agree that the above cited remarks by the Al-Aqsa preacher are not necessarily newsworthy. After all, one can find fanatics who come up with deranged rants in every creed. But since Muslims claim the Al-Aqsa mosque as Islam’s “third holiest” site, one should assume that the Islamic Waqf – which was left in charge of the whole Temple Mount after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War 1967 – would ensure that crackpots don’t get a platform in this supposedly so important mosque.

Unfortunately, however, the hate-filled rant envisioning a Muslim conquest of Europe was by no means a unique incident. Over the past year, MEMRI has documented several similar “sermons,” and one can only speculate how many go undocumented and what is preached in local mosques all over the Muslim world.

On July 24, Sheik Ahmad Al-Dweik declared in an address at the Al-Aqsa mosque that the “Caliphate” promised by Allah “will be the number one country in the world.”

“It will fight the U.S. and will bring it down. [The Caliphate] will eliminate the West in its entirety. […] Allah promised that there would be an Islamic state, and that we would prepare for the West whatever strength and steeds of war we can, in order to strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Islam and of Allah, until we become those who command and Islam rules [the world].”

Similar remarks were made by two other persons speaking at the mosque in early July.

Islam will rule earth

In March, another preacher addressing worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque on two different occasions recalled Islam’s history of conquest and declared:

“today, the religion and ideology of Muhammad – including Islam’s men of Truth, the men of the Caliphate and of jihad – are laying siege to America, despite its nuclear arsenal. They are laying siege to Europe and to the fabricated democracy, the great lie.”

“America will be trampled by the hooves of the horses of the Caliph of the Muslims, Allah willing. This is the promise of Allah.”

In February, Palestinian political researcher Ahmad Al-Khatwani (Abu Hamza) urged his fellow Muslims at Al-Aqsa to treat “Islam in a political manner, on the basis of the Islamic creed in its political sense.” He explained:

“If the Muslims accept Islam as a political and ideological foundation and guide, they will be able to confront America and its war on the Muslims, and they will be able to vanquish it with ease. We pray that Allah will enable the Muslims to wage war on America and against its true terrorism. May He grant victory to the Muslims, and may they raid America on its own land and the land of heresy everywhere.”

In January, a cleric speaking at the Al-Aqsa mosque praised the terror attacks in Paris as “defense of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Last November, a Palestinian publicly prayed in the Al-Aqsa mosque:

“Oh Allah, annihilate America and its coalition. Oh Allah, enable us to cut off their heads. Oh Allah, help our brothers, the mujahideen in the land of Iraq and Syria.”

Annihilate America

These “sermons” seem to indicate – and encourage – support for the savagery of the Islamic State terror group.

In addition, there are plenty of examples showing incitement of Jew-hatred in the vilest and most primitive terms imaginable.

Jews are evil

The video clips show that most of these rants are not formal sermons with worshipers listening attentively. It seems more like a Muslim version of Speakers’ Corner, where anyone – any man, that is – who feels like delivering a hate-filled rant against the Jews and the West can do so at Islam’s “third holiest” site. Men and young boys mull around, some stop to listen; but in general, the reaction of the audience shows that no one regards it as unusual to come to a supposedly very sacred place of worship and hear non-Muslims demonized and Islam exalted as destined for the bloody subjugation of the non-Muslim world.

So it seems that Muslims are quite flexible when it comes to perceived violations of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa. As the recent violence has shown once again, the mere idea that non-Muslims might dare to even just think about a prayer while visiting the Temple Mount easily enrages Muslims, whereas they apparently don’t mind at all when self-styled “defenders” of Islam use the Al-Aqsa mosque to stockpile rocks, debris and incendiary devices to attack police and visitors. Likewise, nobody seems to have a problem with fanatics bellowing out hate-filled rants at Al-Aqsa on a fairly regular basis.

To be sure, there are a few individual Muslims who have sharply criticized Muslim conduct at Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount, notably the well-known writer Qanta Ahmed who has repeatedly published heart-felt calls for tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Last December, a Jordanian preacher even explicitly suggested that a part of the Temple Mount platform “where there are trees” should “be allocated for the prayer of the Israelites.”

But those lone voices are drowned out by overwhelming support for Muslim hypocrisy and supremacism. As I have argued previously, the Temple Mount has become a symbol of Muslim fanaticism, and those who most like to invoke the platitudes about Islam as a religion of peace are perhaps most cowed by the constantly repeated threats of Muslim violence. The well-practiced reflex of deferring to threats of Muslim rage was starkly illustrated when the UN Security Council (UNSC) published a warning about the recent violence avoiding any mention of the historic Jewish ties to the Temple Mount by referring to the compound only with the Arabic term “Haram al-Sharif,” and demanding that “Muslim worshipers at the Haram al-Sharif must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocation.”

As documented above, the reality ignored by the UNSC is that Muslim worshipers at the Haram al-Sharif are absolutely free to indulge in violence, threats and provocation.

While Israel may have little choice but to constantly try to appease the always simmering Muslim rage about as yet unfulfilled dreams of Islam’s global domination, Arab leaders and media try their best to pour fuel on the flames. Particularly noteworthy is perhaps that Al Jazeera chose to promote incitement even in English: there is little doubt that the news network knows (or could know) about the vile rants that are regularly delivered at Islam’s “third holiest” place; yet, it featured a contemptible “analysis” explaining “Why Israel wants a religious war over Al-Aqsa.”

This is quite plainly what psychologists call projection: since the days of the Palestinian leader who later became notorious as “Hitler’s mufti” – who is still considered a Palestinian hero – Arab and Muslim leaders, as well as activists like Ali Abunimah, have fabricated Jewish or “Zionist” threats to “Al-Aqsa” (increasingly understood not only as the mosque, but the entire Temple Mount compound) to incite often lethal violence.

It should not be overlooked that this incitement also serves as an important tool to prop up Muslim “solidarity.” The powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was established in 1969/70 after the guards employed by the Islamic Waqf failed to prevent a mentally ill Australian Christian tourist from entering the mosque to set a fire there. At the OIC website, there is no hint of the negligence of the Islamic Waqf guards; instead, the implication is that the “criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque” happened because Jerusalem is “occupied.” Palestinian media regularly repeat the libel that the Australian was a “Jewish terrorist;” most recently it was featured in TV programs and media commentaries marking the anniversary of the arson towards the end of August. Similarly, the previously cited Al Jazeera screed also implies that the 1969 arson happened because “Jews wanted to take the Noble Sanctuary.”

It is thus hardly surprising that the OIC currently plans once again “to hold an emergency meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States to discuss the Israeli violations in the occupied city of Al-Quds and ways to stop the Israeli aggressions on Al-Aqsa Mosque.” In addition, the OIC secretary general recently sent a letter to the heads of major international organizations voicing “his strong condemnation of the Israeli attacks on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque” and warning “that burning parts of the mosque, attacking worshipers inside it by occupation forces, and arresting those stationed in its courtyards are crimes, aimed at freedom of worship.”

In the same letter, the OIC insists without the slightest sign of embarrassment that Jews and Christians should be denied freedom of worship on the Temple Mount.

This shameless hypocrisy is perhaps inevitable as long as freedom of worship for Muslims at Al-Aqsa includes the freedom to indulge in vile fantasies of Islam’s coming conquest of the non-Muslim world.

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

The vicious campaign against Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ever since Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s latest book “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” came out at the end of March, the writer who should be celebrated as a “hero for our time” has been maligned in numerous articles. It was arguably no surprise that Israel-haters like Max Blumenthal would try to denigrate Hirsi Ali, but it was pathetic to see that supposedly serious media professionals like Al Jazeera presenter Mehdi Hasan promoted Blumenthal’s smear campaign on Twitter.

MHassan vs AyaanHAThe latest attack against Hirsi Ali describes her as “dangerous” and sets out to explain why “we must reject her hateful worldview.” The sub-header hints already at the major reason: endorsing Hirsi Ali “insults and mocks a billion Muslims” – and as we know from many incidents, that can indeed be very “dangerous”… But of course, nobody knows that better than Ayaan Hirsi Ali herself.

What is particularly noteworthy about this attack against Hirsi Ali is that it is authored by a very successful self-described “Muslim” woman whose own life-story and life-style is quite unthinkable in any Muslim country. Indeed, in an interview Rula Jebreal gave to an Italian blog in 2009, she described herself as “married to Western values ​​of freedom and democracy, secularism and tolerance.”

RulaJebreal vs AyaanHA

Jebreal claims now that it is her “own, very different experience of Islam” that “compels” her “to challenge Hirsi Ali’s work.” She accuses Hirsi Ali of conflating Wahhabism with Islam and asserts that her own experience shows the “inherent pluralism” and “diversity” within Islam:

“As a Muslim woman married to a Jew and the mother of a Catholic daughter, I have lived in Jerusalem, Cairo, Rome and New York, and I am a regular visitor to other Muslim countries. What I have seen, particularly after the 9/11 attacks, was a broad rejection, not only of the extremism of Al-Qaeda but also of the authoritarian violence of Western-backed secular dictators — who, by stripping Muslims of their constitutional rights, jailing and torturing them, accomplished only the mass radicalization of young Muslims.

My father, a guard at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, believed, like most of the world’s one billion Muslims, that Sharia is not fixed and monolithic, but always in flux, its core principles — such as preserving life, faith, intelligence, family and property — remaining sacrosanct, but requiring translation into more flexible rules to match our lives in a changing world.

He believed that context and interpretation matter when reading the Quran and the Hadiths, and that interpretations had changed along with centuries of social change. Context mattered since the early days of Islam. We always, for more than a millennium, understood text in context. We have 1,400 years of inherent pluralism within Islam to testify to that diversity within our religion.”

Apparently, Jebreal has never asked herself in how many Muslim countries she could live with her Jewish husband (Arthur Altschul Jr.) and her Catholic daughter if both wanted to freely and safely practice their religion. She has also apparently never wondered if her personal experiences and her impressions from her “regular” visits to Muslim countries provide a sound basis for general conclusions about Muslims views.

So according to her, “after the 9/11 attacks, [there] was a broad rejection … of the extremism of Al-Qaeda.” That fairly vague statement could perhaps pass as not entirely untrue, but the regular surveys by the respected Pew Research Center show a much more problematic reality than Jebreal would like to acknowledge: for years after 9/11, there was actually considerable admiration for bin Laden, particularly among Palestinians and in Jordan as well as in supposedly “moderate” Indonesia; likewise, Nigerian Muslims also were ardent bin Laden fans.

1 Pal confidence in binLaden

Pew surveys tracking Muslim support for “suicide bombing and other acts of violence that target civilians” also show that actually many millions of Muslims remain willing to endorse such acts “in defense of Islam.”

Moreover, all Pew surveys show that, among Muslim populations, Palestinians hold very extreme views on many issues. This is not only true when it comes to support for terrorism, but also when it comes to Sharia punishments. Jebreal, who often highlights her Palestinian identity, has a daughter who was born out-of-wedlock, and more than one-third of her fellow-Palestinians would have considered it justified if her family had killed her for this “stain” on their “honor.”

In most Muslim-majority countries, there is massive popular support for having Sharia as the country’s official law; and contrary to the benign views Jebreal attributes to her father, clear majorities of Sharia supporters in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, want to see criminals mutilated and those who leave Islam executed. In addition, huge majorities of Muslims condemn homosexuality and sex outside of marriage as immoral, and among many Muslim populations, clear majorities want to see adultery punished by stoning.

Similarly, Jebreal claims that “most of the world’s one billion Muslims [believe] that Sharia is not fixed and monolithic, but always in flux.” As a matter of documented fact, however, overwhelming majorities of Muslims believe Sharia is “the revealed word of God,” and particularly observant Muslims who pray several times a day tend to insist that there can be only a single interpretation of Sharia.

Jebreal may have her own, personal “experience of Islam,” but it is clearly not representative of well-documented mainstream Muslim views, which are – certainly in the context of the 21st century – often reactionary, fundamentalist and extremist. But since Jebreal states that it is her own “experience of Islam” that “compels” her “to challenge Hirsi Ali’s work,” her apparent ignorance of prevalent Muslim attitudes and views reduces this purported “challenge” to just another pathetic attempt to malign Hirsi Ali and discredit her entirely justified arguments about the urgency of a reformation of Islam.

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First published at my JPost blog in May.

The Tamimi masterclass on media manipulation

In a recent post that focused on Bassem and Nariman Tamimi’s cynical exploitation of their children as props for their efforts to provoke clashes with the IDF in order to ignite a “Third Intifada,” I noted that the Tamimis can usually rely on completely uncritical and indeed outright sympathetic media coverage of their activism. The most striking example of the cozy relationship that the Tamimis have cultivated with the media is perhaps the fawning tribute featured as a New York Times Magazine cover in March 2013, which was authored by American writer Ben Ehrenreich after he had been a house guest of the Tamimis for three weeks.

It is thus hardly surprising that by now, the Tamimis apparently feel free to tell the media any story that suits their purpose. Their complete disregard for facts and the ease with which they fabricate a story to bolster their image as righteous defenders of a noble cause was on full display in the wake of the widely covered recent attempt of an IDF soldier to arrest Bassem Tamimi’s 12-year-old son Mohammad (also known as Abu Yazan) for stone-throwing. As the viral video-clip showed, the fully armed soldier was beaten and bitten by a group consisting mostly of women and girls – prominently including Bassem Tamimi’s daughter Ahed – and the soldier ultimately released the boy from his hold and retreated.

Most parents watching this clip would probably shudder to imagine their own children in the place of Mohammad Tamimi. But according to a CNN report, Bassem Tamimi remained calm enough to film the attempt to arrest his son from a safe distance, explaining to CNN that he and his family “routinely” film “all of the protests to keep a record of the conflict there and collect what he says is evidence of Israeli abuses.”

One element that undeniably added to the emotional impact of the clip was the fact that Mohammad Tamimi had a plaster cast on his left arm. The various explanations offered by Bassem and Nariman Tamimi about how their son sustained the injury that required the cast reveal their mendacious modus operandi and their reliance on uncritical and sympathetic media coverage.

Before documenting the fabrications of Bassem and Nariman Tamimi in detail, it is noteworthy that their son’s previously injured arm not only added to the impact of the viral clip that showed an ostensibly frightened boy with one arm in a cast, but that it also greatly intensified the sense of victory felt afterwards by the family and their supporters. As the saying goes: one picture is worth a thousand words – and this widely shared picture with which the Tamimis celebrated their “victory” transforms the frightened and injured boy who was exhibited to the world as the victim of a brutal assault by a heavily armed soldier into a little superman who needs just one arm to toss the hapless soldier into the air.

Tamimi kids shatter IDF myth

As far as the Tamimis are concerned, it truly is child’s play to “shatter the myth of the Zionist army.” Needless to say, if the “Zionist army” was as brutal and trigger-happy as the Tamimis usually claim, their “heroic” son would have had two broken arms in the best-case scenario.

But how did Mohammad Tamimi, aka Abu Yazan, break his left arm? One journalist who apparently addressed this question to Bassem Tamimi reported:

“According to his father, the child in the video, Mohammed Tamimi, broke his wrist while fleeing an Israeli tank in his village, which was why he was wearing a cast.”

Apparently, the journalist did not notice that it would be rather unusual if the IDF drove a “tank” through the village and children would have to ‘flee’ this tank. It seems that the journalist did not question the claim and no evidence is offered to support it.

But the question of how Mohammad Tamimi injured his left arm also came up in an interview with Nariman Tamimi, the boy’s mother. She offered not only a completely different story [as highlighted below], but also used what will be shown to be a fabrication to justify the participation of her children in the regularly instigated confrontations with soldiers:

NTamimi story on broken arm

Again, no further evidence of the alleged attack on the Tamimi’s home is provided.

So did Mohammad Tamimi break his arm while fleeing an Israeli tank, as his father claims, or did he break his arm while sitting peacefully at home, getting hurt by tear gas canisters shot into the Tamimi house by the IDF, as his mother claims?

The answer suggested by checking the relevant Facebook (FB) posts of Bassem and Nariman Tamimi is: none of the above.

Nariman Tamimi’s story appears to be a complete fabrication, invented at the spur of the moment to justify why she would not only allow, but actually encourage even her youngest child to participate in regular protests that are designed to provoke clashes with IDF soldiers.

On August 25, at 7.40 PM (all times given are Israel time), Nariman Tamimi announced in a post on her FB page that her son Abu Yazan had broken his arm; a fairly literal translation of her post would read: “Abu Yazan is wounded, [his] hand is broken, a thousand wishes of get well, oh great one!”

About an hour later, at 8.46 PM, Nariman Tamimi posted a follow-up, including a photo, via mobile upload on her FB page.

NTamimi 2nd FBpost on broken arm

Curiously, the photo Nariman Tamimi chose to upload was several years old; it can e.g. be found in a post from November 2012 at the blog of the French branch of the notorious International Solidarity Movement. (The post also includes a video clip showing a small group of children – including Ahed Tamimi and her brother Mohammad – screaming at bemused soldiers and trying their very best to provoke them.)

2012 pic of boy and jeep

Why she chose to upload this old picture is anyone’s guess, but the text she added is fairly clear; again, staying as close as possible to the original, the translation would be:

“When you are wounded, your hand is broken, you put it in your shirt and put the edge of the shirt in your mouth and keep hitting the occupation with your pure stone – then you are my son, Abu Yazan, may Allah return you to me healthy, oh mother.”

The message Nariman Tamimi has for her son here is clear: never mind that you broke your arm while throwing stones at an army jeep, pull yourself together and keep throwing stones. This is a truly chilling glimpse of the ruthless pressure the Tamimis exert on their children.

Both of Nariman Tamimi’s posts elicited many responses, with people expressing concern and wishing a speedy recovery. In response to a question of what exactly happened, posted by FB user Sheerin Al Araj at 8.56 PM, Nariman Tamimi explained a little more than half an hour later, at 9.35 PM: “He fell while he was throwing stones at the jeep, and he broke his hand.”

NTamimi admits son threw stones

Just two minutes later, at 9.37 PM, Nariman Tamimi explained in another post:

“Allah be blessed, he fell when he hit a jeep; his hand broke, there was a possibility that it would be operated on, but Allah be blessed, the fracture returned to its place, it was put in a plaster cast, and he is going home.”

NTamimi 937 post

Shortly afterwards, another exchange indicates that even some admirers of the Tamimis began to feel they are overdoing it. At 9.46 PM, Sheerin Al Araj writes: “May Allah protect you, what is [it] going to be with you, stop, enough.” Nariman Tamimi’s rather chilling response two minutes later is: “Either victory or martyrdom; and everything is going to be OK.”

NTamimi Victory or martyrdom

At 10.24 PM, Bassem Tamimi shared his version of the incident on FB, uploading an image of his son with the cast, adding comments English and Arabic. The Arabic text says: “May Allah cure you Muhammad/Abu Yazan. In a confrontation with the forces of the occupation, tear gas canisters surrounded him, he fell and broke his hand. May you be healthy, oh hero!” Tamimi added in English: “today the IOF attacked the village of Nabi Saleh. during the clashes my son Mohammad was injured and broke his arm. free Palestine.”

Nariman Tamimi shared this post on her own timeline at 11.13 PM.

NTamimi share Bs version broken arm

Bassem Tamimi’s version was of course vague enough to allow both of them to fill in details and dramatize as needed when they were asked a few days later how their son had broken his arm. Bassem Tamimi chose to come up with the frightening scenario of a tank ploughing through the village, forcing his son to flee in panic; whereas his wife felt the need to invent the very different scenario of an IDF attack on the house, because she wanted to justify her insistence that it was best for her children to be sent out to confront soldiers.

Both obviously counted on the credulity of the reporters and didn’t expect to be asked for any evidence. Their son had a cast on his arm – who would doubt that in some way or other, a vicious act of the brutal “IOF” was to blame? How often have the Tamimis played the same game without being caught lying?

But worse than their lies and their shameless manipulation of the media – which, after all, love to be fed the kind of stories the Tamimis are eager to provide – is their ruthless exploitation of their children. It emerged in the comments responding to Nariman Tamimi’s post that this was already the second time that her son Mohammad had broken his arm, presumably under similar circumstances. But when a concerned friend suggested it was “enough” and time to stop, Nariman Tamimi defiantly responded “Either victory or martyrdom.” It is a terrible thought, but given the way the Tamimis have exploited their children so far, one has to wonder if they might ultimately consider the “martyrdom” of one of them a “victory.”

And make no mistake: the “victory” for which the Tamimis are fighting is not the peaceful co-existence of the Jewish State of Israel and an Arab-Muslim Palestinian state. In various interviews published on sites that oppose Israel’s existence as a Jewish state – such as the “hate-siteMondoweiss and The Electronic Intifada (from where an interview conducted by the notorious Max Blumenthal was even cross-posted on the website of the Al-Qassam Brigades), Bassem Tamimi has indicated that he is a determined proponent of the so-called “one-state-solution” that would absorb the world’s only Jewish state into yet another Arab-Muslim majority state.

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This is a slightly edited version, including additional screenshots, of the piece recently published on my JPost blog.

Update: A recent YNet report illustrates that the Tamimis are not the only ones to freely fabricate stories: “A Palestinian source reported on Saturday that an Israeli had shot a six-year-old Palestinian boy;” however, an investigation by the IDF found that “the boy was wounded while playing with a gun owned by his brother, a Palestinian police officer.” The IDF suspected that “the family invented the story of an Israeli attacker to protect their older son and additionally to get a paycheck from the Palestinian Authority as victims of terror at the hands of Jewish settlers.”

The not so progressive Palestinian cause

It seems that most people who support “pro-Palestinian” activism on campus would regard themselves as politically progressive. But there is arguably a lot about the “Palestinian cause” that is not at all progressive. The first problem is that most “pro-Palestinian” activism could be more appropriately described as anti-Israel activism that all too often denounces the world’s only Jewish state in terms that echo the Nazi slogan “The Jews are our misfortune.” Moreover, progressives who champion the “Palestinian cause” are apparently either indifferent to or ignorant of the well-documented reactionary and extremist views that are mainstream among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian public opinion has long been regularly monitored by institutes like the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) and the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC). The surveys conducted by these institutes often include topical issues relevant mainly for domestic Palestinian politics, but many polls offer fascinating glimpses of Palestinian attitudes that are ignored in the media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though they go a long way to explain the intractability of the conflict.

Take for example the coverage of last summer’s war: while the media resolutely focused on the suffering and devastation in Gaza, Palestinians overwhelmingly felt victorious and credited Hamas for this supposed “victory.” In the immediate aftermath of the war, a whopping 79% of Palestinian saw Hamas as the winner, and even though none of Hamas’ demands were met, 59% believed that the war’s “achievements” justified “the human and material losses sustained by the Gaza Strip.” At the same time, 80% supported “the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel” – supposedly as a means to end “the siege and blockade,” i.e. the restrictions imposed only because of the launching of rockets and terror attacks from Gaza. Perhaps most shockingly, a clear majority of 57% endorsed “launching rockets from populated areas in the Gaza Strip,” thereby accepting that Gaza residents would be endangered in Israeli strikes against the rocket launchers.

To be sure, these numbers soon changed to reflect somewhat diminished enthusiasm, and the survey results showed interesting differences between Gaza and the West Bank. Nevertheless, Hamas, which had used Gaza’s civilian neighborhoods to launch its rockets and had spent enormous resources to build a sophisticated tunnel network that made war all but inevitable, would have handily won Palestinian elections in the aftermath of a war that brought so much death and destruction to Gaza. Indeed, when Hamas won student council elections in the West Bank this spring, many argued that this result reflected broader political trends, and a Hamas official promptly concluded that this was a victory won by “the Al-Qassam Brigades’ rockets.”

Far from criticizing this militaristic and nationalistic fervor, leading anti-Israel activists like Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal tend to echo and justify it. Abunimah has even gone so far as to object to criticism of summary public executions of accused collaborators by Hamas during the war. Similarly, the fascist genocidal Hamas charter that envisages a society dedicated to “jihad” and the religiously sanctioned killing of all Jews is usually politely ignored by activists.

Indeed, by now it is widely considered as distasteful and ‘right-wing’ to take note of the well-documented daily incitement in Palestinian media and public life. A related New York Times article openly acknowledged a few years ago that the paper of record preferred to ignore this subject. However, the deplorable results of this incitement are reflected in surveys of Muslim opinion conducted by the respected Pew Research Center.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Pew monitored Muslim public opinion about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden for a decade, and the survey results document that throughout this decade, Palestinians remained bin Laden’s most ardent admirers.

1 Pal confidence in binLaden

These results are arguably all the more shocking in view of the fact that survey participants were asked if they had “confidence” in bin Laden “to do the right thing in world affairs.” In 2003, bin Laden actually inspired more “confidence” in Palestinians than their iconic strongman Yassir Arafat.

2 binLaden vs Arafat

As Palestinian enthusiasm for the al-Qaeda leader indicates, support for terrorism among Palestinians is widespread even if the target is not Israel. Among the Muslim populations surveyed by Pew, Palestinians have long been the strongest supporters of suicide bombings targeting civilians “in order to defend Islam from its enemies.”

3 Pal support suicide bombing

While the latest Pew results show a fairly dramatic decline in Palestinian support for suicide bombings against civilians between 2013 and 2014, al-Qaeda still received the highest “favorable” rating among Palestinians, though Pew noted that “[Palestinian] support is down nine percentage points since 2013.”

4 Pal fav on alQaeda 2014

So by now, “only” one out of every four Palestinians has a “favorable” view of al-Qaeda.

It is noteworthy that the last two charts illustrate a marked difference between the views of Israel’s Muslims and the Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank, even though Palestinians usually insist that all Israeli Arabs are Palestinians.

Given the proclivity for extremism in the Palestinian territories, it is hardly surprising that most Palestinians insist that “the rights and needs of the Palestinian people cannot be taken care of as long as the state of Israel exists.” However, this is of course a view that is widely shared in the Muslim Middle East.

Since the “rights and needs of the Palestinian people” are usually understood to include a state of their own, it is remarkable how rarely it is debated what kind of state Palestinians envisage. Perhaps the first noteworthy point of the Palestinian draft constitution is that it arguably undermines Palestinian claims of a distinct identity: Article 2 defines Palestine as “part of the Arab homeland” and identifies the “Palestinian people” as “part of the Arab and Islamic nations.” Article 7 stipulates that the “principles of the Islamic shari’a are a main source for legislation,” while the “followers of the monotheistic religions” are merely granted the right to “have their personal status and religious affairs organized according to their shari’as and religious denominations within the framework of [positive] law, while preserving the unity and independence of the Palestinian people.”

The overwhelming majority of Palestinians are Muslims; according to current estimates, Christians comprise only 1-2% of the Arab population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. As documented in a Pew survey from 2013 that included almost 40 000 Muslims in 39 countries, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were often among the Muslim populations with the most extremist views about the role of Islam in society: 89% of Palestinians want Sharia law; 66% endorse the death penalty for Muslims who convert to another religion; 76% support mutilation as a punishment for theft, and a shocking 84% want adulterers stoned to death.

“Justice” may be one of the central slogans of the supposedly progressive BDS movement, but in view of the medieval sharia “justice” Palestinians want, it is apparently a demand focused strictly on Israel. “Equality” is another goal BDS professes to pursue, but again, there is probably a highly selective interpretation, because Palestinians are definitely not keen on equality for women, let alone for gays. Like the vast majority of Muslim populations everywhere, 89% of Palestinian Muslims regard homosexuality as morally wrong; only 1% is prepared to see it as morally acceptable. When it comes to so-called “honor killings”, less than half (about 45%) of Palestinian Muslims reject these murders as never justified. And like in most Muslim societies, the vast majority of Palestinians – 87% – insists that a wife must always obey her husband. Only 33% of Palestinian Muslims believe a wife should have the right to divorce her husband, and only 43% think that sons and daughters should have equal inheritance rights. Finally, the other main BDS slogan – freedom – also seems to be a demand that isn’t necessarily meant to apply to the state Palestinians supposedly want:  when asked if they prefer democracy or a strong leader, just 55% of Palestinian Muslims chose democracy, while 40 % preferred a strong leader;  when asked how much political influence religious leaders should have, 29% wanted religious leaders to have a lot of political influence, and another 43% wanted religious leaders to have at least some political influence.

In view of this strong support for political influence by religious leaders – and in view of the BDS goal to see Israel replaced by a Palestinian Muslim majority state – it is arguably important to be aware of the kind of political influence exerted by Palestinian religious leaders in recent years. Unfortunately, Palestinian religious leaders have a long record of denying the historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem; this includes of course the denial of the existence of the Temple.  In a recently published Reuters report, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem insisted that the Temple Mount in its entirety should be considered as the Al Aqsa (mosque) compound and that “Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa [i.e. anywhere on the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest place] is not so much an insult as it is an aggression.” The same Grand Mufti can be seen in this video clip from 2012, where he is announced as a speaker whose words “are necessary because [of] our war with the descendants of apes and pigs” (i.e. Jews); the Grand Mufti obliges by reciting the notorious Islamic sanctioning of the killing of all Jews that is also cited in the Hamas charter.

6 Jerusalem Mufti kill Jews

Another very recent incident involved Sheikh Khaled al-Mughrabi, a religious teacher who used one of his regular classes at the Al Aqsa mosque to teach his students every antisemitic calumny he could possibly think of, including the blood libel – which he presented as a justification for the Holocaust – as well as claims like “Jews worship Satan, plotted the 9/11 attacks, and control the Freemasons who sacrifice their wives and children in secret ceremonies.” After the Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a protest letter to Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Sheikh doubled down and defended his antisemitic tirade in his next class. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, he also echoed the among anti-Israel activists popular complaint that their “criticism” of Israel and Zionism is unfairly condemned as antisemitism: “If you give advice to a Jew, he immediately says: ‘You’re inciting to racism, you’re an Antisemite.’ Immediately. It has become a cliché for them, a permanent sentence,[…] which they stick on every person who gives them advice.”

Only bigots would deny that al-Mughrabi’s rant was antisemitic, but all he really did was talking about Jews in the same way anti-Israel activists talk about the Jewish state: just as al-Mughrabi associated Jews with every evil he could think of, anti-Israel activists consistently associate Israel with every evil they can think of. As far as anti-Israel activists are concerned, there’s very little you cannot say as long as you substitute “Zionists” for Jews. Inevitably, the goal of demonizing the world’s only Jewish state as an evil that must be opposed and eliminated requires a simplistic black-and-white narrative that features the Palestinians only as victims who deserve uncritical support in their heroic struggle against the evil forces of Zionism.


First published on my JPost blog.

The UN and HRW’s list of shame

Last week, I wrote at my JPost blog about efforts at the UN to blacklist the IDF – together with savage terror groups like the Islamic State – as an entity that regularly harms children. The post is reproduced below, but since Human Rights Watch (HRW) is now so energetically pushing for Israel’s inclusion in this “list of shame,” I felt it is worthwhile to add this update as a reminder of the organization’s shameful bias against Israel.

HRW’s persistent negative focus on Israel is well documented, and I have written about the organization’s double standards and the animosity against Israel that is openly displayed by HRW executive director Ken Roth. As I have noted in my previous posts, HRW always stands ready to condemn Israel as soon as the Israeli army moves to defend the country’s citizens against the attacks of terror groups. HRW would perhaps claim that its latest effort is even-handed, since it apparently also recommended the inclusion of Hamas in the UN’s blacklist. But this of course means that HRW sees no difference between Israel and Hamas when it comes to harming children.

Yet, HRW’s own examples of how Hamas has harmed children explain why Palestinian children are sometimes inadvertently harmed by the IDF. According to HRW, “Palestinian armed groups” are guilty of

  • “The repeated launching of rockets from densely populated areas in Gaza, placing children and other civilians living there at risk of retaliatory attacks; and
  • The use of at least three empty schools in Gaza to store weapons, two of which may have been used for launching rockets or mortars.”

One should not overlook that HRW describes Israeli attacks on rocket launching sites as “retaliatory attacks” – which is of course just another not so subtle attempt to delegitimize Israel’s right to defend its citizens.

Among the Palestinian violations that HRW prefers not to mention is the longstanding training and recruitment of child soldiers. And of course HRW also prefers to ignore the fact that Palestinians have repeatedly celebrated terror attacks that killed Israeli teens.

It is also revealing to see who gets blamed by HRW for strikes that result in civilian deaths when Israel is not involved. Here is one telling example from a recent media report on the war in Yemen [my emphasis]:

“On March 31, Human Rights Watch said a diary factory in the western port city of Hodeida came under attack by Saudi airstrikes, killing 31 workers. The rights group blamed Houthis forces for putting civilians at risk, saying that the factory is about 100 metres from a military airbase controlled by Houthis.”

Finally, it should be noted that two international law experts have recently stated that after examining Israel’s targeting methods and its application of the law of armed conflict (LOAC),

“we concluded that IDF positions on targeting law largely track those of the United States military. Moreover, even when they differ, the Israeli approach remains within the ambit of generally acceptable State practice. […] While there are certainly Israeli legal positions that may be contentious, we found that their approach to targeting is consistent with the law and, in many cases, worthy of emulation.”

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How low can the UN sink?

The United Nations (UN) has a long and sordid record of singling out the world’s only Jewish state for hypocritical censure and condemnation.  Most recently, Israel was the only country to be condemned as “a violator of health rights;” unsurprisingly, the supporting “evidence” included antisemitic claims by the Syrian regime, which accused Israel of “continu[ing]  to experiment on Syrian and Arab prisoners with medicines and drugs and to inject them with pathogenic viruses.” That is of course the same regime that mercilessly bombs and kills its own population, while Israel has so far treated some 1600 injured Syrians.

But the UN’s next move against Israel is already being planned: according to a Y-Net report, the “UN secretary-general’s envoy for Children and Armed Conflict recommended this week to include the IDF on a blacklist of countries and organizations accused of regularly causing harm to children. The blacklist includes terror organizations like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and Taliban, as well as African countries such as the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and others.”

As the report notes, the UN is “facing heavy pressure from the Palestinians, their supporters and human rights organizations to include the Israeli army on the list.” However, few people know that this kind of “pressure” is in part generated by the UN itself, which sustains “a whole network of anti-Israel institutions ” that were built up in the wake of the infamous “Zionism is Racism”-resolution of 1975. Even though the resolution was repealed in 1991, this “network of extremely well-funded UN structures and offices” continues to exist to this day.

Needless to say, those who love the Nazi-slogan “Die Juden sind unser Unglück” in its 21st-century version “The Jewish State is our misfortune” are excited about the prospect to have the IDF equated with terror organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) – and as was only to be expected, Max Blumenthal tweeted the Y-Net report adding the hashtag JSIL, which he popularized to associate Israel with the terror group Islamic State (once known as ISIL, i.e. Islamic State in the Levant) as “Jewish State in the Levant” (JSIL).

MB on UN blacklisting IDF

If the UN will once again please Jew-haters everywhere with yet another bigoted condemnation that puts the IDF on the same level as savage terror groups like IS remains to be seen. But in the unlikely case that the UN actually cares about the welfare of Palestinian children, Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, could highlight the longstanding abuse of Palestinian children as child-soldiers – indeed, campaigning against this kind of child abuse is supposedly an important part of her work. While all Palestinian factions have used children to fight, nowadays mostly Hamas and other Gaza terror groups openly boast of providing military training to children; one of the most recent examples is a “graduation ceremony” in a Gaza kindergarten.

Gaza kindergarten terror show

In addition, the UN might note the fact that Hamas employed children to dig its extensive tunnel network – which they hoped to use to kill Israelis, including children – and that at least 160 children died working on the tunnels.

And perhaps the UN’s Special Representative Leila Zerrougui could take note of regular TV programs that indoctrinate kids to hate and “shoot the Jews” – ‘all of them’? Perhaps it would also be appropriate to address the very high percentage of forced underage marriages in Gaza? Or the heartbreaking mistreatment of children with disabilities that seems quite common in Palestinian society?

But perhaps the UN will somehow find it more appealing to demonize the IDF that has to fight an enemy that openly celebrates the killing of Israeli children – for Hamas, they are just “prey” to be killed and hidden ‘under the rock.’

Delegitimizing Israel at Southampton University [updated]

Update: When this post was first published on my JPost blog in February (and cross-posted at Harry’s Place), the conference that is criticized here was scheduled to take place two months later, in mid-April. However, it soon became apparent that there was a lot of opposition, and Southampton University eventually decided to cancel the event “due to concerns that the safety of staff, students and visitors could not be guaranteed.” Legal challenges by the conference organizers against the cancellation were rejected in court. A summary and commentary on the controversy can be found here.

* * *

In an article on “Europe’s New Anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks argued a few years ago that it was important to realize that throughout history, assaults on Jewish life always needed “justification by the highest source of authority in the culture at any given age.” For our own time, this means according to Sacks that “any assault on Jewish life – on Jews or Judaism or the Jewish state – must be cast in the language of human rights,” which is reflected in “the by-now routine accusation that Israel has committed the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Against the backdrop of deadly terrorist attacks on Jews in several European capitals in recent months, some of Europe’s political leaders – most notably French Prime Minister Manuel Valls – have passionately denounced antisemitism and pledged to fight it. Yet, the problem identified by Rabbi Sacks remains, and in the wake of the most recent attacks in Copenhagen, a Wall Street Journal editorial rightly noted that “[e]lite hostility to Israel amplifies street-level anti-Semitism.”

Unfortunately it seems that such elite hostility to Israel will be showcased at a conference scheduled for April at the University of Southampton. The official announcement describes the conference as “a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine.” The conference is supposedly “unique because it concerns the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel;” however, as students of antisemitism will know, there is nothing “unique” about singling out the world’s only Jewish state for delegitimization.

The conference has been initiated and organized by University of Southampton professor Oren Ben Dor, and his views on the conference’s subject are no secret: the intensity of his animus against Israel is nicely illustrated in a fundraising letter for the conference, where the Nahariya-born (former) Israeli claims to have grown up “in Palestine.”

Ben Dor SouthamptonU1

Ben Dor’s fundraising letter notes explicitly that the “conference is fully hosted, and supported by the University of Southampton. The university enables us to use its hospitality services, event organisation, marketing network and financial administration for the organisation, delivery, recording of the conference. It is a remarkable achievement in itself that such a conference will be help [sic] in UK academia.”

Indeed, it is remarkable that, almost seven decades after Israel’s establishment, the University of Southampton is holding a three-day conference devoted to searching for ways to use international law to deny the world’s only Jewish state the right to exist. But arguably, Professor Ben Dor’s record of “academic” activism against Israel is hardly less remarkable: it seems that roughly half of the publications listed on his official university page are either reviews of the writings of anti-Israel propagandists (e.g. Ali Abunimah, Jonathan Cook), or contributions to various “One State” conferences and other supposedly “pro-Palestinian” events focused on the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. On his official page outlining his research, Ben Dor emphasizes that his academic work “relates” to his “political activity regarding Palestine, the gist of which is a call for justice and peace in Palestine (in that order).” Ben Dor’s writings leave little doubt that as far as he is concerned, “justice” requires the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state; indeed, Ben Dor has even asserted that it was time to “legitimate” the “voice” of Hamas, because “understanding this voice as an ethical cry to the world to not allow Israel the right to persist in its racist self-definition is a much better way of articulating the moral message.”

This brazen attempt to not only ignore but even whitewash the genocidal antisemitism and fascism of the Hamas Charter is unfortunately not the only indication that Ben Dor has no hesitation to embrace open anti-Jewish bigotry. The “numerous articles in Counterpunch” that he highlights on his official university page also include a passionate protest against what Ben Dor calls “the constant attempts to silence Gilad Atzmon.” According to Ben Dor,

“It would be an understatement to say that debating Gilad’s voice is supremely important. No thinking person could fail to be stimulated by the deep connections Gilad makes.”

In case you haven’t heard of Gilad Atzmon, you could find out more about him on the neo-Nazi Internet forum Stormfront, where members broadly agree with Ben Dor’s view that his “voice is supremely important” – indeed, Atzmon’s writings are regarded as so important there that they are often shared and posted on the site.

Ben Dor Atzmon Stormfront

Alternatively, you could have Ben Dor’s view about the importance of Atzmon’s voice confirmed by former Klan leader and avowed white supremacist David Duke, who has praised him as “perhaps the bravest and clearest thinking person of Jewish descent in the world.”

Ben Dor Atzmon DDuke

The admiration is mutual – this is what Atzmon said in an interview last year:

“The left is devastated by David Duke for instance. He was in the KKK when he was young. But here is something quite amazing: I read him and I was shocked to find out that this guy knows more about Jewish identity than I do! How could a supposedly ‘racist’ Gentile who probably never entered a synagogue knows [sic] more than I do about Judaism? The reason is in fact very simple: he is a proud white man.”

One could fill pages upon pages to document Atzmon’s well-deserved popularity among Jew-haters, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. So Ben Dor was wrong to complain that Atzmon is being silenced: he gets plenty of publicity at all the sites frequented by bigots looking for their daily dose of stories about Jewish cunning and evil. And Ben Dor himself has repeatedly done his part to promote Atzmon and his odious views, including even hosting him at Southampton University. Why not also invite Duke if the “supremely important” Atzmon recommends him so enthusiastically as an expert on “Jewish identity”?

To what extent Ben Dor actually agrees with Atzmon’s “gutter anti-Semitism” is hard to ascertain given that he likes to write in a style that reflects his fascination with the now utterly disgraced German philosopher Martin Heidegger; but there can be little doubt that Ben Dor shares Atzmon’s conviction that Israel is an absolute evil that cannot be allowed to exist. While Atzmon has expressed the view that even Nazi Germany was less evil than Israel, Ben Dor has repeatedly described Israel as utterly immoral and has denounced the Jewish state as “a terrorist state like no other” and demanded that “the herrenvolk (master race) nature of its democracy” must be openly debated.

Ben Dor certainly knows that it is generally regarded as antisemitic to equate Israel with Nazi Germany and to argue that the world’s only Jewish state is too evil to exist. Yet, it seems that this is what Ben Dor is arguing in his political writings, and given his own emphasis on the connection between his academic work and his “political activity regarding Palestine,” the planned publication of the proceedings of his conference at the University of Southampton may turn out to be of interest not only for anti-Israel activists in and out of the Ivory Tower, but also for researchers studying 21st-century antisemitism and the ‘elite hostility to Israel’ that provides ostensibly new justifications for the oldest hatred.

* * *

Update 2: The CST’s Mark Gardner argues in a related post that Ben Dor’s views put him “firmly in the same ball park as Atzmon.” Gardner also quotes from a video-taped speech where Ben Dor asserts “that there is something so Jewish in that which has provoked the Holocaust” – which, as I already suggested above, seems to echo the preposterous notion of Jewish “self-destruction” developed by Heidegger in his “Black Notebooks.”

The Palestine Project’s flood libel

When something bad happens, antisemites have always known whom to blame. So it was little wonder that, when Gaza was flooded after heavy rainfalls last month, the Palestinians would blame Israel and “the Jews” for maliciously opening entirely imaginary dams – and it was hardly surprising that some major media outlets didn’t hesitate to publish this story without even a minimum of fact-checking. While some of the worst offenders ultimately withdrew the story and AFP even dedicated a separate report to “dispelling the myth about Israeli ‘dams’,” professional anti-Israel propagandists were only too happy to spread what quickly became known as the “flood libel.”

Veteran anti-Israel activists Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal both tweeted a link to a post featured on a website run by “The Palestine Project,” which rejected Israeli statements that there are no dams that could be opened to flood Gaza as a “myth.”

AA MB link Holocaust denier 911 trutherSince both Abunimah and Blumenthal like to claim that they can be trusted to provide accurate and factual information, one should expect that they noticed that the post they linked to was prominently identified as a previously published post from another blog, and that they checked out the provided link to the original.

This link leads to a much longer piece entitled “No Dams in the Negev? Anatomy of a Hasbara Swarm” published in January 2014 on a blog by a certain Richard Edmondson who proudly displays his 9/11 conspiracy theories in a banner at the blog’s side bar.

MB links to Holocaust denier 911 trutherA quick look at the blog’s “About” page reveals that Edmondson has the reputation of being a Holocaust denier, and just a few additional seconds of searching illustrate how he got this reputation: even though he claims not to be a Holocaust denier, he undermined his case by cross-posting an unabashedly antisemitic article from Iran’s Press TV on the “Holocaust of Lies: US Mainstream Media.” Unsurprisingly, Edmondson considers the Iranian regime’s antisemitic propaganda outlet “a model of responsible journalism.”

A few additional minutes of browsing through the blog’s offerings reveal a cesspool of anti-Jewish bigotry, including a post suggesting that the deadly attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris in January was a “false flag” operation designed to motivate French Jews to immigrate to Israel; there is also warm praise for a fellow Jew-hater who often cross-posts Edmondson’s vile output under the label “Jewish Matters,” and a quick Google search shows Edmondson featured as a “columnist” on Veterans Today, another website where antisemitic conspiracy theories are popular.

The promotion of Edmondson’s post by “The Palestine Project” and prominent activists like Abunimah and Blumenthal is just another example illustrating an argument I have often made: “pro-Palestinian” antisemitism is not a bug, but a feature, because when your agenda is demonizing the world’s only Jewish state as too evil to be allowed to exist, you will inevitably end up using exactly the same methods and themes as those who have demonized Jews throughout the centuries.

* * *

First published at my JPost blog on 03/10/2015.

The successful demonization of Israel

The recent release of a new study by the London-based think tank Chatham House brought Israel-haters some widely cheered news, because the study includes the finding [pdf; p.12] that 35 percent of the British public feel “especially unfavorable” towards Israel. Writing at his Electronic Intifada blog, Ali Abunimah noted with great satisfaction that the Chatham House study showed that “Israel ranks as one of the world’s most unfavorably viewed countries among the UK public” and he concluded triumphantly that “these numbers indicate […] that the vast sums Israel has spent on propaganda or hasbara have made no dent in its unpopularity, while its continued occupation and repeated massacres in Gaza continue to affect public perceptions.” Linking to a post from 2013, Abunimah also pointed out that “results from the Chatham House survey confirm trends seen in other polls across the world, showing that Israel is consisently [sic] among the world’s most negatively viewed countries.”

While Abunimah’s last point is correct, both his blog post and a tweet that was popular among Israel-haters were wrong in asserting that only North Korea was seen more unfavorable than Israel.

Celebrating Israel demonizationApparently, Israel-haters all work from the same cherry-picked talking points and can’t be bothered to check them – because if they had checked the relevant table in the study, they would have realized that Russia was entitled to their “gold medal” as the country that was seen as “especially unfavorable” by a majority (56%) of the British public. But it would have been really awkward for Abunimah to crow about Russia’s propaganda efforts not paying off, since some of his best friends – like Max Blumenthal, for example, or Electronic Intifada contributor Rania Khalek – are popular guests on Putin’s well-financed mouthpiece RT. The channel has also featured various Holocaust deniers, conspiracy theorists, and neo-Nazis, and it reportedly provides a nice source of income for British politician George Galloway, who has been honored for his devotion to the Palestinian “cause” by Hamas leader Haniyeh and who supplements his salary as Member of Parliament with appearances on RT as well as Iranian and Lebanese TV.

While there is no reason to downplay the truly dedicated efforts of Abunimah and his ilk to do their part in order to ensure that the world’s only Jewish state is among the world’s least favorably viewed countries, the negative image of Israel that is once again reflected in the Chatham House study has long been promoted by a wide array of opinion shapers. As the Simon Wiesenthal Center put it in reaction to a 2003 poll that showed a majority of Europeans viewing Israel as the foremost threat to world peace, this result indicated “that Europeans have bought into the vilification and demonization campaign directed against the State of Israel and her supporters by European leaders and media.” However, other polls show that this is not only a European problem. World-wide polls conducted by the BBC for 2012 and 2013 ranked Israel as a country seen to have a mainly negative influence along with North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.

This is actually somewhat unfair to North Korea, Pakistan and Iran – at least if you form your world view on the basis of reports by Human Rights Watch (HRW). A recent post by blogger Elder of Ziyon provides a stark illustration of the pervasive demonization of Israel in a chart that tracks how often countries are mentioned in the new HRW 2015 “World Report.” According to this chart, only Syria – a country where in recent years not only hundreds of thousands have been killed, wounded or displaced, but where also more than 10 000 people have been systematically tortured to death – is mentioned more often than Israel.

EoZ HRW biasAnyone who needs some additional illustration of HRW’s preposterous bias should note that when the organization’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson recently learned that the US Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. was exhibiting some of the gruesome evidence of systematic torture in Syrian jails, she immediately demanded that the museum “should also show pics of death and destruction in #Gaza.”

In an exchange with Jeffrey Goldberg, Whitson later protested that she had neither intended to equate the recent war between Hamas and Israel with the Holocaust nor to suggest that Israel was guilty of genocide in Gaza; instead, she claimed she had just “urged showing of images of #Gaza destruction.”

Of course, one can hardly argue that images of the destruction in Gaza from the last war have been ignored by the media. Indeed, one recent example that would perhaps have pleased Whitson was a Sky News program on Holocaust Memorial Day that featured images of this destruction while the interviewer questioned the UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis about possible connections between Israel’s actions and the rise of antisemitism in Europe. Contrary to countless misleading media reports, Sky News did not apologize for suggesting a connection between Israel’s actions and rising antisemitism and merely acknowledged “that the particular circumstances of the use of the pictures from Gaza was unfortunate.”

Opinion shapers in the media and in NGOs like HRW have obviously a large part in the public’s long-documented negative view of the world’s only Jewish state. As Matti Friedman put it so well in a recent presentation:

“How have the doings in a country that constitutes 0.01 per cent of the world’s surface become the focus of angst, loathing, and condemnation more than any other? We must ask how Israelis and Palestinians have become the stylised symbol of conflict, of strong and weak, the parallel bars upon which the intellectual Olympians of the West perform their tricks.”

Friedman has previously explored the problematic media coverage of Israel in several superb articles; in this presentation, he argues that “the minute state inhabited by a persecuted minority in the Middle East is in fact [seen as] a symbol of the ills of the West – colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism.”

“The West today is preoccupied with a feeling of guilt about the use of power. That’s why the Jews, in their state, are now held up in the press and elsewhere as the prime example of the abuse of power. That’s why for so many the global villain, as portrayed in newspapers and on TV, is none other than the Jewish soldier, or the Jewish settler. This is not because the Jewish settler or soldier is responsible for more harm than anyone else on earth – no sane person would make that claim. It is rather because these are the heirs to the Jewish banker or Jewish commissar of the past. It is because when moral failure raises its head in the Western imagination, the head tends to wear a skullcap.”

Millions nodded along when the Nazis asserted that “the Jews are our misfortune.” Millions nowadays nod along when the media and NGOs suggest that the Jewish state is the world’s misfortune.

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First published on my JPost blog 02/12/2015; also published on the Polish blog Listy z naszego sadu.

Anti-Israel activists react to Charlie Hebdo massacre

When you have studied the output of anti-Israel activists for as long as I have, you know not only that anti-Zionism is usually just a flimsy façade for antisemitism, but also that the hypocrisy and bigotry that sustains the intense hatred for the world’s only Jewish state inevitably shapes a broader ideology. Even on issues that have nothing to do with Israel, it is therefore often easy to predict how anti-Israel activists will react. In the immediate aftermath of the massacre at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, I was thus not surprised to see that anti-Israel activists did not join the outpouring of solidarity that swept social media.

Just a few hours after two Islamist terrorists had killed 12 people, veteran Israel-hater Ali Abunimah fumed on Twitter: “US ‘responded’ to 9/11 by invading Iraq. Which country do Internet idiots think France should invade to ‘in response’ to Paris attack?” He then immediately added: “Of course France assisted in many invasions already. Perhaps it can afford one or two more?” In order to leave no doubt that he indeed wanted to blame France’s policies for the terrorist attacks, he clarified his stance a few hours later.

AA on CharlieHebdo

Obviously angered by the solidarity expressed under the trending hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, Abunimah also made it absolutely clear that he preferred maligning the victims of the terror attack by implying that the magazine should be compared to the neo-Nazi site Stormfront.

AA CharlieHebdo Stormfront

The often vulgar and always deliberately provocative material published in Charlie Hebdo might seem an easy target for accusations of racism – at least if one overlooks the fact that the magazine is firmly grounded in the centuries-old tradition of radical French anticlericalism and that it has also featured plenty of caricatures offensive to Christian and Jewish (and Israeli) sensibilities. But this is of course something that people eager to accuse Charlie Hebdo of “racism” against Muslims were resolved to ignore.

Moreover, while the horrific attack in Paris initially had nothing whatsoever to do with Israel or Jews, anyone even vaguely familiar with Islamic extremism would have no illusions about the central role of Jew-hatred in this pernicious ideology. By the time an accomplice of the Charlie Hebdo attackers proceeded to prove this point by targeting a kosher supermarket in Paris, anti-Israel activists were keeping themselves busy spreading the argument – helpfully elaborated in a Guardian illustration and an Intercept post by Glenn Greenwald – that anyone who supported Charlie Hebdo caricatures that offended Muslims also had to endorse Nazi-style antisemitic caricatures for the sake of free speech.

Much to the delight of his fans, Greenwald gleefully suggested on Twitter that he had unmasked the anti-Muslim bigotry of Charlie Hebdo supporters: “The professed love for cartoons which malign religions & their adherents sure dissipates fast when applied to some groups rather than others.”

To make his point, Greenwald reproduced several antisemitic cartoons – some of them from Arab/Muslim media – which he acknowledged as “blasphemous and otherwise offensive.”

He contrasted these examples with what he described as “some not-remotely-blasphemous-or-bigoted yet very pointed and relevant cartoons by the brilliantly provocative Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff.”

As Greenwald surely knows, much of Latuff’s Israel-related work has been criticized as antisemitic, and Latuff himself actually doesn’t mind mingling with Jew-haters: in 2006, Iran’s Holocaust-denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the pretext of the Danish Mohammed cartoon controversy to sponsor a “Holocaust Cartoon Contest” in which Latuff took part, sharing the second prize with a French entry depicting “The myth of the gas chambers.”

While Greenwald claimed he was focusing on “cartoons which malign religions & their adherents,” he tellingly included a Latuff cartoon from 2006 that was apparently drawn in support of Ahmadinejad’s “Holocaust Cartoon Contest.”

GG Latuff Holocaust cartoon

 It is beyond the scope of this post to explain why supposedly intelligent 21st-century progressives would argue that, if it is acceptable to caricature people who are regarded by believers as historic religious leaders, it must be equally acceptable to caricature the industrialized mass-murder of a long-persecuted minority in 20th century Europe.

But in the unlikely case that Greenwald would like us to somehow ponder Muslim religious leaders and the Holocaust in a context relevant to the atrocities in Paris, one could cite the enormously influential Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi who has described Hitler as a tool of divine punishment for the Jews and expressed the hope that “Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.” In this context, one could also point out that when Qaradawi implored his god to “take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people” and “count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one,” he did so based on the apparently widely shared Muslim belief in a divinely ordained battle “between the collective body of Muslims and the collective body of Jews i.e. all Muslims and all Jews.”

It is this kind of beliefs – which, as far as I know, have not been explicitly repudiated by any influential Muslim cleric – that continue to allow radicalized Muslims to feel that they act piously when they commit atrocities like those in Paris. While there are liberal Muslims who have highlighted the urgent need for Muslim self-criticism and reforms, it seems that, as far as anti-Israel activists and their supporters in the media are concerned, these problems must be kept out of the spotlight. So when an Islamist terrorist targets a kosher supermarket in Paris, it’s just another great opportunity to make the case that a 7th century businessman and warlord who founded a religion cannot be mocked in cartoons as long as the almost successful 20th-century attempt to wipe out Europe’s Jews cannot be ridiculed. No doubt Jew-haters everywhere would agree with this approach.

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.


Harry’s Place has an excellent post on the Guardian illustration I mentioned above: “A response to Joe Sacco;” David Bernstein takes on Greenwald’s numerous “logical fallacies;” and a number of posts try to explain some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that have been attacked by the (willfully?) clueless as “racist” or “Islamophobic”, e.g. “dear US followers;” there is now even a new site devoted to “Understanding Charlie Hebdo cartoons.”

And, by way of an additional update, here’s one of my previous posts with some background on Glenn Greenwald’s obsession with Israel.

David Sheen knows what it takes to demonize Israel [updated]

A few days ago, the media monitor CAMERA exposed one of the lies that budding anti-Israel activist David Sheen is spreading in order to make a living by demonizing Israel. As I have noted in a previous post, Sheen apparently hopes to appeal to the same audiences that enthusiastically embraced Max Blumenthal’s odious screed “Goliath,” which equated Israel with Nazi Germany and earned Blumenthal devoted fans wherever there are Jew-haters.

But even if one focuses relentlessly on Israel’s failings, it’s of course no easy job to pretend that the modern, pluralistic and democratic Jewish state is like Nazi Germany. While Sheen does his best to provide his audiences on social media and at activist gatherings on US campuses with the Israel-bashing they expect from him, he is also unwittingly demonstrating that it takes lots of lies to demonize Israel as a uniquely monstrous evil.

CAMERA caught Sheen when he claimed on Twitter that “Just as Nazis compared Jews to vermin to incite racism against them, Netanyahu compares non-Jewish Africans to ebola.” But even when his lie was exposed, Sheen continued to insist that Netanyahu “compared” African migrants to Ebola, because Netanyahu mentioned Israel’s “general efforts to defend our borders from illegal infiltrators and terror” in remarks addressing measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

DSheen Ebola

On Twitter, Sheen has often been challenged when he posted other lies and inaccuracies by Nurit Baytch, who has also published a detailed analysis of some of the fabrications Sheen has been presenting to activist gatherings in the US. Most recently, Nurit noted Sheen’s pathetic attempt to use a real estate advertisement that refers to Tel Aviv’s historic “White City” as yet another proof of Israel’s ingrained racism.

DSheen White City

Of course, Sheen’s utterly ridiculous claim was eagerly retweeted by almost 200 of his followers – which apparently encouraged him to dig deeper and insinuate that calling white buildings white is somehow racist. Surely he will soon start a campaign to rename the White House…

DSheen White City2

No less bizarre is Sheen’s apparent obsession with what he refers to as Israel’s “rape culture.” In recent days, I noticed two tweets where Sheen alludes to this supposed “rape culture” and provides links that are obviously meant to indicate there is a validation for his smears – but in both cases, the material he links to has nothing whatsoever to do with rape: one link leads to a report criticizing Ultra-Orthodox Jews for vandalizing ‘bat mitzvah’ ads in Jerusalem, while the other link, rather amusingly, leads to a report on the diametrically opposed world of fashion and “racy” advertisement.

DSheen rape1DSheen rape2

But whether it’s about Ultra-Orthodox men insisting on an anachronistic “modesty” or young women repudiating any notions of “modesty” and confidently showing off their bodies, David Sheen can only fantasize about a “rape culture.”

Sheen’s bizarre tweet on the fashion article (which was retweeted by Max Blumenthal) is arguably particularly offensive, as reflected in this response:

DSheen rape3

I couldn’t find any other recent tweet that explains Sheen’s “rape culture” claims. While Sheen seems to accuse Israel in general of a “rampant rape culture” in one tweet, the other seems to suggest that this “rape culture” has something to do with the “army’s crimes” – presumably meaning that IDF soldiers rape Palestinians. Unfortunately for Sheen, he is going against the stream here: as deranged as it may sound, anti-Israel activists really prefer to point to the rarity of rapes by IDF soldiers as yet another proof that Israel is racist… As an award-winning Israeli research paper put it so preposterously: “In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences.”

While this illustrates nicely that truly anything can be used to bash Israel, Sheen usually focuses on the supposedly particularly dire plight of African migrants and refugees in Israel. Neither he nor his fans seem to be bothered by the fact that migrants and refugees face harsh experiences in countries around the world. If Sheen’s audiences in the US don’t follow the news (other than Electronic Intifada-style news from Israel), it would take only a quick search on Google to find plenty of harrowing reports on US detention centers and the merciless American “deportation machine” that even deports children – but of course, it is so much more thrilling to get worked up about problems in Israel, because when the world’s only Jewish state shows the same failings as the rest of the world, the Jew-hater happily concludes that Israel is too evil to be allowed to exist.

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.


Together with his admired mentor Max Blumenthal, Sheen is currently in Berlin, where he and Blumenthal have faced some opposition to their efforts to demonize Israel (see here.) This evening, both Sheen and Blumenthal have boasted on Twitter about their shockingly thuggish attempts to harass and intimidate their critics. Blumenthal posted or re-tweeted several tweets by their fans that link to a clip featuring Sheen aggressively pursuing the leader of Germany’s Left (party) into the men’s room, screaming hysterically that his life will be in danger because Gysi called him an antisemite. Sheen posted this clip on YouTube with the title “Gysi, I’m asking you for an apology.”

DS pursues Gysi2

But of course, Gysi has nothing to apologize, since he just called Sheen what he is – and Sheen proved once again what he is with his hysteric lies about having his reputation ruined and his life endangered because of Gysi’s entirely justified rejection of Sheen’s relentless demonization of Israel.