The NYT’s false claims about ethnic cleansing in Jaffa


A recent article in the New York Times (NYT) travel section described Jaffa as “Tel Aviv’s Unexpected Luxury Hotspot” and included several photos that should make everyone want to visit. Unsurprisingly, it also drew the ire of anti-Israel activists, who claimed the piece ignored Palestinians. The NYT responded to the resulting fury by revising the article and appending a contrite “Editors’ Note” that was promptly mocked. As leading anti-Israel activist Yousef Munayyer put it: “Ooops, we forgot Palestinians exist!” 

According to the editor’s note, the revision also included mentioning “the expulsion of many [Jaffa] residents in 1948.” Indeed, the article now includes a sentence that claims: “In 1948, when the State of Israel was founded, most of Jaffa’s Arab residents were forcibly removed from their homes.” 

So I’m afraid another correction is necessary.

I wrote a post on Jaffa’s relevant history a few years ago in response to similarly false claims by veteran Israel-hater Ali Abunimah, who insisted that “Zionist gangs perpetrated the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian coastal city of Jaffa.” 

When I researched the post, I found an Al-Ahram Special from 1998 “commemorating 50 years of Arab dispossession since the creation of the State of Israel.” On pp.91-93 there is an eyewitness account covering the situation in Jaffa between late 1947 to May 1948 under the title “After the matriculation.” The author, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, is a former resident of Jaffa with impeccable anti-Zionist credentials – which is to say he would have described in detail all the horrors if there was any truth to the NYT claim that “most of Jaffa’s Arab residents were forcibly removed from their homes.”

However, recalling his last months in his hometown, Abu-Lughod wrote:

“No sooner had the UN General Assembly passed its partition resolution in November 1947, than Palestine was torn apart by a war waged between its two historically antagonistic communities — Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. […]  The first shots were exchanged between Jaffa and Tel Aviv on the eve of 30 November 1947 during a three-day general protest strike declared by the Arab Higher Committee. […] On the eve of the UN Partition Resolution, Jaffa’s Arab population numbered over 70,000. By and large they supported the traditional Palestinian leadership headed by Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti.”

Understandably, Abu-Lughod, who was by then a professor of political science, didn’t mention the fact that the man who headed the popular “traditional Palestinian leadership” in the second half of the 1940s had spent the first half of the decade in Berlin, where he lived in considerable comfort as a well-paid guest and committed ally of Nazi Germany. Indeed, a 1948 magazine article described Al-Husseini as “Hitler of the Holy Land.”

Abu-Lughod then goes on to note that most Arabs in Jaffa and elsewhere seemed confident that “as the country belonged to the Arabs, they were the ones who would defend their homeland with zeal and patriotism, which the Jews – being of many scattered countries and tongues, and moreover being divided into Ashkenazi and Sephardic – would inevitably lack. In short, there was a belief that the Jews were generally cowards.”

When this belief proved mistaken, people started to leave Jaffa. According to Abu-Lughod, at first mainly the rich left, but as more and more people began to flee the fighting, the “National Committee…decided to levy a tax on every family who insisted on leaving.” Abu-Lughod volunteered to help with collecting this “tax:”

“I worked in a branch of the committee based in the headquarters of the Muslim Youth Association near the port of Jaffa. Our job consisted mainly of harassing people to dissuade them from leaving, and when they insisted, we would begin bargaining over what they should pay, according to how much luggage they were carrying with them and how many members of the family there were. At first we set the taxes high. Then as the situation deteriorated, we reduced the rates, especially when our friends and relatives began to be among those leaving.

We continued collecting this tax until 23 April, when the combined force of the Haganah and the Irgun succeeded in defeating the Arab forces stationed in the Manshiya quarter adjacent to Southern Tel-Aviv. On that day, as we realised that an attack on the centre of Jaffa was imminent, I and my family decided that they had to be evacuated temporarily. We rented a van, into which we crammed all the women and young children and sent them to Nablus.”

Abu-Lughod himself stayed in Jaffa until May 3, when he left by ship together with two friends to make the short trip to Beirut. By July 1948, he was already back with his family in Nablus, from where he soon made his way to the US to study and to build a successful career at Northwestern University. He left there in 1992 to become vice-president of Bir Zeit University in Ramallah.

As Abu-Lughod’s account illustrates, the majority of Jaffa’s Arab residents fled the fighting over a period of several weeks or even months – by land or by sea – while Jaffa’s self-proclaimed defenders tried to exploit those who wanted to leave by demanding a “tax.”

An additional point that is very relevant in this context is the fact that in the decades before Israel’s establishment, lots of Arab migrant workers were recruited from all over the region to build major infrastructure projects; in addition, there were legal and illegal Arab migrants who came to take advantage of “the relative economic boom, stimulated by the annual Jewish immigration beginning in 1882.”

As the 1937 report by the British Peel Commission put it:

“The increase in the Arab population is most marked in urban areas, affected by Jewish development. A comparison of the census returns in 1922 and 1931 shows that […] the increase percent in Haifa was 86, in Jaffa 62, in Jerusalem 37, while in purely Arab towns such as Nablus and Hebron it was only 7, and at Gaza there was a decrease of 2 percent.”

That means that, due to “the substantial 1880-1947 Arab immigration […] the Arab population of Jaffa, Haifa and Ramla grew 17, 12 and 5 times respectively.”

So Jewish development brought a lot of Arabs to towns like Jaffa; indeed, as Robert F. Kennedy  put it in a dispatch for the Boston Post after visiting Mandate Palestine in March 1948: “The Jews point with pride to the fact that over 500,000 Arabs in the 12 years between 1932 and 1944, came into Palestine to take advantage of living conditions existing in no other Arab state.”

As a result, it’s reasonable to assume that many of the Arabs who fled Jaffa and other major towns during the fighting in 1947/48 simply returned to where they had originally come from. 

The trouble with “white Jews”

Okay, I’ll admit that I’m late to the party, but I’ve only recently discovered that in the US, it has become really fashionable to designate Jews as “white” and to castigate them for enjoying “white privilege” or even accuse them of “upholding white supremacy.” While I got immediately furious for reasons I’ll explain, it seems that if you are an American Jew who wants to be counted as broadly sympathetic to progressive causes, you better uncritically embrace your “whiteness” and ruefully ponder the attending privilege and the ways in which you might contribute to white supremacy.

Obviously enough, this discourse developed in the very specific context of American debates about race and inequality, and it reflects supposedly progressive ideas about intersectionality and identity politics according to which being “white” is something deeply shameful akin to the worst sins condemned by religions. As Andrew Sullivan recently put it in an interesting column on “America’s New Religions,” “the young adherents of the Great Awokening exhibit the zeal of the Great Awakening.”

So questioning woke dogma and rituals will inevitably incur the wrath of the faithful – which hasn’t deterred me from voicing my objections to the in my view rather pernicious designation of Jews as “white.” Obviously enough, “white” isn’t just meant to describe the tone of one’s skin, but it is also meant to identify an individual as part of a racist and exploitative system that keeps all POC (people of color) down.

It is of course true that in 21st century America, most Jews live relatively comfortable lives and face little discrimination, which is reflected in a Pew survey from 2013 that describes American Jews as “a comparatively well-educated, high-income group.” But it wasn’t all that long ago that American Jews were not “white” enough to dare speaking out forcefully for taking in those “white” European Jews trying to flee very white murderous Nazis intent on achieving their “final solution” to the “Jewish problem.” Yet at very same time that American Jews felt too powerless to campaign to help desperate European Jews, polls showed “that many Americans believed that Jews were too powerful in the United States.”

The idea that Jews are too powerful, and therefore a threat that has to be fought, is of course an old antisemitic canard – and it is precisely because fantasies about Jewish power have cost so many Jewish lives over the centuries that it is preposterous to suddenly designate Jews as “white,” thus magically transforming them into accomplices and beneficiaries of power structures that, until quite recently, cast Jews as despised and dangerous outsiders. Designating Jews as “white” also seems to suggest that as soon as there is a generation of Jews lucky enough not to share the experience of endless discrimination and persecution of previous generations, Jews are expected to feel guilty and share the blame for whatever discrimination and racism other groups continue to suffer. At the same time, the vigorous Jewish support for the Civil Rights movement and liberal/progressive politics can apparently be ignored.

Another obvious problem with designating Jews as “white” is the fact that those really obsessed with “whiteness” violently disagree – as sadly demonstrated again just some two months ago, when a white supremacist killed 11 people and wounded several others at a Pittsburgh synagogue. That’s why the African-American activist and researcher Eric Ward was right to argue that “the truth is that Jews are not ‘whites’ in the United States. If they were, they would not receive death threats, their houses of worship would not be targeted, their burial sites would not be desecrated.”

Ward also pointed out that the left’s insistence on designating Jews as “white” leads to a downgrading of antisemitism as a comparatively minor form of racism that after all targets a supposedly privileged group. Yet, Ward concluded that Jews have only “temporary access” to “white privilege,” and he as well as others have noted that it is often conditional on concealing their Jewishness.

One good example of how happy Jew-haters are to seize on this debate was provided by an incident at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in March 2017, when fliers were distributed on campus announcing in big bold letters: “Ending White Privilege Starts With Ending Jewish Privilege.” white jewish privilege

The validity of the claim that Jews enjoy “white privilege” is also undermined by the fact that according to FBI data on hate crimes, Jews have been for decades the most frequently targeted group per capita; e.g. in 2017, “Jews accounted for 60% of hate crimes motivated by religion of target, despite being just 2% of population.” Figures for 2018 indicate that nothing has changed for the better.

So whenever I get involved in one of those endless Twitter debates about the question if American Jews are really “white” or just “white passing” and how much “white privilege” they enjoy and whether they can be both upholding “white supremacy” and be targeted by it, I think to myself that Eric Ward was definitely right when he expressed impatience with “contemporary movement versions of identity politics … that are navel gazing and focused on picking the lint from our own bellybuttons.” It seems to me that the current obsession with intersectionality and identity politics results all too often in a toxic divisiveness that contributes nothing to building a better society.

Yet another problematic aspect of the counter-productive debate about the “whiteness” of American Jews is that it gets inevitably applied to Israeli Jews. So it’s a fairly good bet to expect people who like to hold forth about “white” American Jews to move effortlessly to denouncing Israel as an evil colonial enterprise led by Nazis who insist on “Jewish supremacy.” The staunchly left-wing Israeli historian and writer Gershom Gorenberg captured it very well when he commented on Twitter: “When it’s good to be white, we’re not. When … it’s bad to be white, we are. When it’s good to be European, we’re Levantines. When Europeans are colonialists, we’re colonialists. When they hate immigration, we brought immigrants. When they hate capitalists, we’re capitalists.”

Arab-Muslim fantasies about Israeli cowardice

I recently scrolled through the tweets of the popular Palestinian caricaturist Mohammed Saba`aneh, who makes his living by producing images that depict Israel and its military as brutal and bloodthirsty monsters.

Pal caricaturist Sabaaneh2Pal caricaturist Sabaaneh3Pal caricaturist Sabaaneh4

But given that Saba`aneh earns his money with images designed to show what monstrously cruel enemy the Palestinian face, I was astonished to see that he re-tweeted an obviously fake clip trying to ridicule Israeli soldiers as pathetic cowards, easily scared by a youngster with a giant Palestinian flag.

Pal caricaturist Sabaaneh1

The clip is obviously a particularly shoddy Pallywood production; its creators didn’t even try to dress up the actors posing as Israeli soldiers in anything resembling IDF uniforms and gear.

 

Yet this shoddy fabrication got more than 20.000 views; the original tweet garnered almost a thousand retweets and some 2000 “Likes”, and the responses included lots of “hahahah” and related emoji.

However, one response was somewhat incongruous – because if the Israelis are such cowards, how do they manage to be so powerful that it’s up to them to “allow” Trump “to be President for the TV” if he meets a list of “Zionist” demands???

Pakistani patriot antisemitism

It turns out that Zaid Zaman Hamid who posted the fake clip is apparently a rather popular Pakistani political commentator whose verified Twitter account has more than 180.000 followers – and rather unsurprisingly, he’s fond of conspiracy theories, including blaming Israel’s Mossad along with the CIA and India’s foreign intelligence agency for destabilizing Pakistan.

So again, this self-declared Pakistani “National Security Analyst” seems to believe that the Israelis are pathetic cowards but still manage to project their power far beyond Israel’s borders…

That’s what makes antisemtism so unique: its practitioners manage to believe both that Jews are despicably weak and cowardly, and at the same time so powerful that they can control anything they want all over the world — needless to say, always to the detriment of the world. 

  

Hating Jews and Israel: When David Duke agrees with Marc Lamont Hill, Linda Sarsour and Louis Farrakhan

It’s often said that Israel is a divisive issue – but Israel-haters from the far-right and the far-left actually find a lot of common ground when it comes to the world’s only Jewish state.

So David Duke – described by the ADL as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite” – has decreed that “no decent person can disagree” with Marc Lamont Hill’s views on Israel. Hill is a far-left anti-Israel activist who thinks the Jewish state too evil to exist and wants it eliminated in favor of a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

ML Hill D Duke

And while Duke doesn’t think too much of Women’s March leader and prominent activist Linda Sarsour, he does think she’s absolutely right to believe Israel exerts undue influence on US politicians…

D Duke Sarsour

Last but not least, über-progressives Marc Lamont Hill and Linda Sarsour are both admirers of veteran Jew-hater and all-round bigot Louis Farrakhan. David Duke isn’t a big Farrakhan fan, but just like he appreciates Linda Sarsour for expressing disgust with Israel’s supposed influence on American politicians, he appreciates Farrakhan’s very similar sentiments.

D Duke Farrakhan

The left likes to pretend antisemitism is an exclusively right-wing phenomenon. But every time the left makes statements about the world’s only Jewish state that appeal to the likes of David Duke, it proves that contemporary left-wing antisemitism masquerades as “anti-Zionism” while faithfully reflecting “the tropes, images and ideas of classical antisemitism. In short, that which the demonological Jew once was, demonological Israel now is: uniquely malevolent, full of blood lust, all-controlling, the hidden hand, tricksy, always acting in bad faith, the obstacle to a better, purer, more spiritual world, uniquely deserving of punishment, and so on.”

Or, to put it differently: Jew-haters on the far-right still subscribe to the Nazi-slogan “the Jews are our misfortune” – which the far-left will readily condemn while chanting “the Jewish state is our misfortune.”

Update:

For people who argue that to point to David Duke’s endorsements for left-wing positions is just a spurious attempt to establish guilt by association, let’s hear it from Marc Lamont Hill: “The fact that David Duke is thanking Trump for his South Africa tweet says everything.”

So presumably, the fact that David Duke agrees with Marc Lamont Hill says everything… 

ML Hill D Duke 2

Why Jamal Khashoggi’s Islamism matters

Would Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul be any less horrific if it were more widely acknowledged that he was indeed an Islamist? It seems that’s how a lot of people feel – and if you disagree, you risk being denounced as a fanatic right-wing supporter of Trump and a cynical apologist for the cruel and oppressive Saudis regime.

I’m not a Trump supporter, and I would find it very hard to think of anything good to say about the Saudi royals. But I also can’t quite see the political wisdom of reducing Khashoggi to the last year of his life and pretending that he was just some sort of liberal Saudi dissident who was writing op-eds for the Washington Post. What I do see instead is that these efforts to whitewash Khashoggi’s political views inevitably benefit the Islamists with whom he spent the last days of his life.

It’s true that – as a CNN article put it – “Jamal Khashoggi was a journalist, not a jihadist,” but it’s also true that Khashoggi collaborated to his last day with people who advocate jihad and that he was quite open about his support for the Hamas jihad against Israel.

When the news about Khashoggi’s disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul first broke, I noticed that many of the reports featured a photo showing Khashoggi in front of a banner advertising the Middle East Monitor (MEMO). From my work on anti-Israel activism and anti-Semitism, I knew what MEMO is, and I started to wonder why a Washington Post columnist would associate himself  with a disreputable Islamist organization like MEMO.

Khashoggi tweets MEMO                  

As it turned out, Khashoggi spent his last weekend in London, visiting his old Islamist comrade Azzam Tamimi and attending a conference organized by MEMO. While this fact has been noted in some media reports, there has been a marked reluctance to acknowledge the fact that MEMO is a British news site notorious for its “pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance.” As British antisemitism researchers have pointed out, MEMO frequently promotes “conspiracy theories” about Jewish or Zionist machinations as well as “other classical antisemitic canards and tropes.”

So the main benefit of getting your news from MEMO is that you quickly realize that whenever something bad happens in the Middle East, it’s the fault of the evil and illegitimate Jewish state – indeed, at MEMO, even Khashoggi’s disappearance can somehow be connected to Israel.

As Khashoggi certainly knew, MEMO is part of an extensive network of groups and organizations that was patiently built up based on an initiative first conceived in 2003 by two former al-Qaeda members in Saudi Arabia. In 2009, one of the groups affiliated with the network attracted critical attention with its so-called “Istanbul Declaration” which reflects an event with the Orwellian title “Global Anti-Aggression Campaign” where reportedly “speaker after speaker called for jihad against Israel in support of Hamas.”

MEMO director Daud Abdullah was one of the signatories of the “Istanbul Declaration.”

Abdullah is reportedly also “a leader of the Brotherhood-linked British Muslim Initiative.” A decade ago, he faced sharp criticism for insisting that the Muslim Council of Britain should boycott Holocaust Memorial Day.

It would be hard to overstate how much MEMO has benefitted from the free advertisement provided by prestigious media outlets that cited its association with Khashoggi without divulging its political agenda.  

MEMO cleverly seized the opportunity to further enhance its completely undeserved legitimation by organizing a memorial event for Khashoggi at the end of October. MEMO director Daud Abdullah opened the event which was live-streamed by the Washington Post. Senior Human Rights Watch official Sarah Leah Whitson also saw fit to legitimize MEMO by attending this event and promoting it energetically to her almost 50,000 followers on Twitter.

SLW at MEMO

SLW RTs MEMO Khashoggi

Those who are now so eager to legitimize MEMO in the wake of Khashoggi’s assassination are particularly disingenuous when they deny that he was a lifelong Islamist who cheered Hamas and whitewashed the record of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood clearic Yussuf Qaradawi.

It is after all thanks to MEMO’s reporting about Khashoggi and the translation of some of his columns to English that it is now so easy to document some of Khashoggi’s rather unsavory views.

One of the noteworthy examples is a MEMO report from last February – i.e. when Khashoggi was already writing for the Washington Post. According to the report, Khashoggi told his audience during a speech in Istanbul that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s “talk about moderate Islam” should be dismissed as worthless as long as the Saudi royals remained hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi asserted that it was Muslim Brotherhood clerics like Yusuf Qaradawi who “introduced the term moderate Islam” and he insisted that “Bin Salman is confused about the proper choice for moderation […] The Muslim Brotherhood are moderates, but he does not want to admit that.”

Let’s contrast Khashoggi’s praise of the notorious Qaradawi as a paragon of “moderate Islam” with what the Washington Post reported on Qaradawi just a few months before the paper hired Khashoggi.

Citing a US counterterrorism expert, the paper described Qaradawi as “one of the most public figureheads of the radical wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Other US officials characterized the Muslim cleric as “a man whose beatific smile and folksy speaking style belie a history of defending suicide bombings in Israel and condoning violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.” The report also highlights the fact that Qaradawi sometimes used his popular sermons and his TV show to express support for Hamas and that he “has suggested that the murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany was ‘divine punishment’ for historical transgressions. He has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, including the killing of civilians.”

Qaradawi’s precise comment on the Holocaust during an Al Jazeera program in January 2009 is worth quoting:

“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

It is hardly less alarming that Qaradawi also believes in a divinely ordained end-of-times battle between “all Muslims and all Jews.”

The fact that Qaradawi’s well-documented fanaticism didn’t bother Khashoggi is most likely due to his own intense hostility to Israel, which is clearly reflected in some of his Al Hayat columns published by MEMO in English translation.

In an article from July 2014 entitled “Palestine, the occupation and the resistance for beginners”, Khashoggi asserted that Israel’s “existence is outside the context of history and logic […] it came into being by force, it will live by force and it will die by force.”

While Khashoggi is now widely portrayed as a sophisticated Middle East analyst who shared important liberal values, he meant it quite literally when he claimed that Israel exists “outside the context of history and logic.”

Khashoggi’s shocking denial of Jewish history is evident from a Twitter exchange [archived] that took place in October 2015 [emphasis added; the tweets were first highlighted by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre].

Khashoggi first posted a tweet asserting that the “Grave of Al-Nabi Yusuf [Joseph’s Tomb] which was attacked by demonstrators yesterday is a Jewish fabrication. It is a grave built in the Turkish period, and the Jews turned it into a school of extremism and claimed that it is [the grave] of Joseph.”

He then followed up explaining:

The Jews have no history in Palestine. Because of this, they invented the Wailing Wall, which is a Mameluke structure. After 67 they noticed Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus and they decided that it is [the grave] of Joseph, and they took it over.”

Another Twitter user (@JawadAlhashimy) objected: “The Jews without history in Palestine!!! It seems professor that your honor’s knowledge of history is like my knowledge of the Korean language!! Greetings.”

Khashoggi responded: “Go and dig with them Jawad Al-Hashimi, maybe you will find a grave or remains that they can ask blessings from. [The Jews] dug all over [Palestine] and they didn’t find anything, maybe you have [more] experience.”

Jawad Alhashimy replied: “For your knowledge professor, we Muslims took from the Jews even the name ‘Al-Quds’. [The Jews] called Jerusalem ‘Beit Hamikdash’ and we stole it and called it Bayt Al-Maqdis.”

In response, Khashoggi wrote: “@JawadAlhashimy shame [on you]… The Muslims didn’t steal anything from the Jews. I consider you to be a Muslim who is proud of your identity, do not provoke me anymore.”

Jawad Alhashimy insisted again: “Yes, they [the Muslims] did. They stole its Hebrew name ‘Beit Hamiqdash’ which means ‘Holy House’ and they gave this name to Iliya [Arabic version of the Roman Aelia Capitolina] in the days of the conflict between the Omayyads and Ibn Al-Zubayr.”

Khashoggi’s denial of Jewish history clearly reflects his commitment to rather extremist Islamist ideology, which he also betrayed with his evident hope that Israel “will die by force.”

It is thus hardly surprising that Khashoggi was also an ardent admirer of the terror group Hamas.  In an article written in July 2014, Khashoggi begins with what reads like a bitter lament that the Arabs have never waged “a jihad” against Israel. Implicitly rejecting negotiations with Israel, Khashoggi asserts that the divinely ordained “price” for freedom was “blood and death.” He then heaps praise on Hamas for accomplishing the “miracle” of procuring rockets and explosives; he expresses great admiration for the “distinguished combat performance” shown by Hamas and the building of “the huge network of tunnels that extends for miles under Gaza and the borders with Israel and Egypt” which – as Khashoggi notes with undisguised delight – “were used brilliantly to inflict unprecedented losses on the enemy.”

But the perhaps most chilling sentence comes when Khashoggi concludes: “All of this proves that the movement [i.e. Hamas] wasted no time while ruling in Gaza.”

All too obviously, Khashoggi felt that Hamas should be applauded for turning Gaza into a heavily armed terrorist enclave instead of taking advantage of Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 to develop the territory into a model for a Palestinian state. But praising this as a miraculous accomplishment of Hamas makes sense only for someone who fervently hopes that one day, Israel “will die by force.”

As vile as some of Khashoggi’s views may have been, they obviously don’t justify his assassination. Yet, his undisguised hatred for Israel should not be whitewashed by portraying him as a quasi-liberal writer who just wanted a few freedoms for the Middle East. Khashoggi also wanted a Middle East where Islamist forces like the terror group Hamas would vanquish the hated Jewish state. Precisely because Khashoggi’s many Islamist friends are fully aware of this fact that is so inconvenient for his western friends, the efforts to downplay what Khashoggi’s Islamism entailed could all too easily be construed as tacit approval.

*

Translation from Arabic courtesy of Ibn Boutros.

A slightly different version of this post was first published at my Times of Israel blog.

The endless hate for Israel at Human Rights Watch

I have documented the blatant bias against Israel that is openly displayed by Human Rights Watch (HRW) officials in several recent articles (see e.g. here and here).

However, it’s usually not possible to cite all the material that may be relevant in articles – they’re after all categorized as op-eds and can’t be endlessly long, even if you have tons of outrageous stuff.

Since I use Twitter a lot to check on the issues I work on, I’ve also tried to collect some of the material there (see e.g. here).

But the more I look at the conduct of HRW officials, the harder it becomes to avoid the conclusion that their unending and completely shameless display of hypocrisy, if not outright bigotry on Israel, is worth documenting more systematically.  

So here are just two of the recent examples.

A few days ago, Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the HRW Middle East and North Africa Division, retweeted a cartoon by the notorious Carlos Latuff, who is a prolific producer of antisemitic images – one of which won him an award at an Iranian-sponsored “International Holocaust Cartoon Competition” in 2006.

The Latuff cartoon Whitson liked so much associates Israel prime minister Netanyahu with the assassination of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It is widely assumed that the assassination was ordered by the Saudi crown prince, and there is an energetic campaign initiated by the Washington Post (which hired Khashoggi a year ago) demanding a drastic downgrading of all dealings with the Saudis.

In my view, this campaign is in many ways hypocritical – whoever needed the assassination of Khashoggi to discover how dreadful the Saudi regime is shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Moreover, I think it’s very problematic that Khashoggi’s Islamist views are now not only whitewashed, but also mainstreamed.

But needless to say, Whitson enthusiastically supports this campaign; and equally needless to say, whoever can be tarred as a supporter of the Saudis is unspeakably evil. Neither Netanyahu nor other Israeli government officials have made statements regarding Khashoggi’s assassination and its political implications, but that doesn’t prevent types like Latuff and top HRW official Sarah Leah Whitson from trying to spread the idea that the world’s only Jewish state must surely be on the side of the evil ones.

SLW RTs Latuff Netanyahu Khashoggi MbS

Another very similar effort comes from veteran Israel-hater Glenn Greenwald in the wake of the recent Brazilian election won by Jair Bolsonaro, who is widely regarded as a right-wing populist and has been described as a Brazilian Trump.

As is customary, most political leaders will congratulate the winner of a democratic presidential election – here is e.g. a report on French President Emmanuel Macron’s congratulation.

But of course, the congratulation of Israel’s prime minister provides yet another irresistible opportunity to depict the Jewish state as an evil entity – both for Greenwald and Sarah Leah Whitson.

As Greenwald put it: “Like most fanatical far-right leaders, Bolsonaro loves Israel & craves closeness to it. With the western liberal world recognizing Israel for what it is and abandoning support, Israelis see an alliance with far-right nationalists as their key strategy.”

SLW RTs Greenwald Bolsonaro

 

Nariman Tamimi declares her solidarity with a murderous terrorist: “We are all Ahlam Tamimi”

B’Tselem, i.e. The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, recently wrote about the proceedings against Ahed and Nariman Tamimi, claiming that they are unfairly prosecuted because “the Tamimi family has long since become a symbol of unarmed Palestinian resistance to the occupation.” Powerful human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have made similar claims, implying that “Palestinian resistance” deserves support. This stance requires these organizations to cynically ignore or whitewash the Tamimis’ longstanding and openly acknowledged support for terrorism.

I have documented in great detail that for years, the Tamimis have glorified and incited terrorism, and that they hold family members who have committed terror attacks in high esteem. This is particularly true for Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind and facilitator of the 2001 Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem that killed fifteen people including seven children and a pregnant woman, and left some 130 people injured; one young mother remained in a permanent vegetative state. Ahlam Tamimi has repeatedly boasted of the carnage she planned and helped perpetrate.

Given the current efforts to whitewash the Tamimis’ glorification of terror and their openly acknowledged association with, and admiration for, murderous terrorists, it is time to demonstrate that nothing has changed. It is particularly noteworthy that in the past year, Nariman Tamimi continued to advertise her admiration for Ahlam Tamimi. Below is a screenshot of some of Nariman  Tamimi’s Facebook photos posted in 2017. The five images marked with yellow circles show Ahlam Tamimi, the Sbarro massacre  mastermind and facilitator.

Nariman WeAreAllAhlam 2017

Since Nariman Tamimi can expect that most of her Facebook friends will know Ahlam Tamimi and share her appreciation of the murderous terrorist, some of the images were posted without comment (see e.g. this example archived here; the archived copy displays the link to the original post on top).

But one image, posted on March 16, 2017, shows a poster with Sbarro massacre mastermind and facilitator Ahlam Tamimi flashing a victory sign; the text calls for solidarity with her and reads in translation:

“Out of loyalty for the sacrifices of Ahlam, and emphasizing her right to wage resistance against the plundering occupier, and in rejection of the US demand to hand her over #All of us are_Ahlam_Tamimi. Take part in our campaign of solidarity with the liberated prisoner #All of us are_Ahlam_Tamimi. Today, Thursday at 7 pm – Be with us.”

Nariman Tamimi repeated the slogan in her own writing: “#All of us are_Ahlam_Tamimi”

Nariman WeAreAllAhlam poster 2017

Another image posted by Nariman Tamimi on March 15, 2017, shows Ahlam Tamimi with her husband Nizar Tamimi, who is Bassem Tamimi’s nephew and one of the terrorists involved in the killing and burning of Haim Mizrahi in 1993; at the time, this terror attack was seen as an attempt to derail the Oslo peace process.

Nariman Tamimi posted this photo with the chilling comment “#Ahlam_will triumph” – which is likely a reference to the publication of an FBI notice that included Ahlam Tamimi among the agency’s “Most Wanted” terrorists.

Nariman Ahlam will triumph

Ahlam Tamimi FBI Most Wanted

This is presumably the first time that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem are enthusiastically campaigning for someone who has declared publicly for years that a murderous terrorist who is now on the FBI’s Most Wanted list should be viewed as an admirable hero who deserves full solidarity.

Yet, when these so-called human rights organizations insist that the Tamimis are a symbol of Palestinian “resistance,” they are entirely right. And no matter how much Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem may try to mislead, Nariman Tamimi – along with other members of the clan – has demonstrated over and over again that supporting this “resistance” is supporting terrorism.

Translations from Arabic courtesy of Ibn Boutros.

So you want to free Ahed Tamimi? Her parents want her in jail

In a post entitled “The Tamimi masterclass on media manipulation,” I documented some two years ago in considerable detail that Bassem and Nariman Tamimi (i.e. the parents of Ahed Tamimi) feel completely free to tell credulous reporters invented stories that depict them and their children as innocent victims of Israeli brutality. The specific incident I investigated also showed that – even when it comes to her own children – Nariman Tamimi’s grim philosophy is “Either victory or martyrdom.”

A recent example shows Bassem Tamimi displaying a similarly cold-hearted fanaticism – but only for Arab audiences. Thanks to an admirer of the Tamimis, we can watch clips with English subtitles (h/t @kweansmom) from an interview that Bassem Tamimi recently gave to the Lebanese media network Al Mayadeen. According to Wikipedia, the network’s “editorial policy emphasizes that Palestine and resistance movements wherever they are found are its point of reference” and “that the Palestinian cause is the channel’s centerpiece;” there have also been claims that “the channel is a propaganda platform for Iran and Hezbollah.”

The Al Mayadeen interviewer is obviously eager to let Ahed’s father Bassem Tamimi tell their audience what an awesome “resistance” icon he has brought up. In the first clip, Ahed’s proud dad explains that after publishing the video of Ahed punching, kicking and slapping two Israeli soldiers, the family anticipated her arrest. Bassem Tamimi doesn’t mention the fact that it was Ahed’s mother who posted the video on her Facebook page – thus apparently trying to ensure her daughter’s arrest – and he doesn’t mention the fact that the video also includes a segment where Ahed, prompted by her loving mom to give a “message to the world,” is calling for stabbings and suicide bombings.

As Bassem Tamimi explains to Al Mayadeen, even though the family anticipated Ahed’s arrest, it would have been wrong “to break (stop) a possible exemplar (of resistance) because “our people need to see a specific moment even if there is a price to pay.”

After outlining his views on futile Israeli attempts to intimidate Palestinians, Bassem Tamimi is asked by his interviewer what sentence he expects for Ahed. He calmly responds that he expects his daughter to be sentenced to a year and a half in prison, and he vows to reject any possible “agreement”: “We will not break her challenge so that she pleads guilty in front of this judge. This will be offered to us for the sake of extortion, [but] we will reject it [and] she will completely reject it.” Bassem Tamimi also claims that Ahed “said to her siblings ‘you are not allowed to have an agreement’” and supposedly, Ahed said the same to him in previous instances when he was arrested.

Emphasizing again that Ahed “rejects making an agreement,” Bassem Tamimi declares: “so we have two choices: completely rejecting the legitimacy of the [Israeli] court, or asking to put the court on trial by way of a global opinion (pressure).”

Of course, this is not really an either-or choice: the strategy Bassem Tamimi outlines obviously involves rejecting any compromise with the Israeli authorities AND mobilizing public opinion against Israel. This has been the Tamimis’ strategy for years, and according to this interview, the Tamimis intend to follow it through also now – even if it means a considerable prison sentence for their teenage daughter. The global publicity that activists and sycophantic media outlets provide to the Tamimis makes it very worthwhile for them to have Ahed locked up for a year or two.

A fourth clip from the interview is summarized by the translator as follows: “Ahed’s father tells @AlMayadeenNews of how his little resistor is driving the Zionist establishment insane, discovering there [their] spying devices and leaving them baffled.”

Yet, the clip starts with Bassem Tamimi presenting a dire picture of the hardships and dangers his daughter is facing in Israeli detention – a “child” taken to “a jail cell” and facing endless interrogations; “the main court brings people to yell, threaten with rape & all these things” – but it seems Ahed’s loving dad doesn’t worry too much about his daughter being supposedly “threaten[ed] with rape & all these things,” because he quickly changes the topic to announce proudly that Ahed discovered “spying devices.”

Bassem Tamimi also declares: “I was extremely happy when she told me ‘a police officer started yelling out of frustration, that’s when I knew I won, and he was defeated.’” Then Bassem Tamimi returns to the story about the “spying devices”, which his daughter supposedly discovered when her mother Nariman and her cousin were brought to her cell. Ahed gestured to them not to talk until she found the “spying device” and started “talking to (toying with) them [i.e. presumably the Israeli ‘spies’], mocking them.”  And Bassem Tamimi proudly concludes: “I saw that she was like a stone, all this pressure on a child hasn’t affected her one bit.”

So this is the version for Arab audiences – you can watch the strikingly different version for English-speaking western audiences here: a sad Bassem Tamimi who worries terribly about his daughter and wants her to be just a normal teenager…

It is of course almost unbelievable that parents could be so fanatic that they reject any plea bargain and prefer to see their teenage daughter in jail. But the fact that Nariman Tamimi, Ahed’s mother, livestreamed the incident and its aftermath on her Facebook page – including Ahed’s call for stabbings and suicide bombings – indicates that the Tamimis were indeed hell-bent on getting Ahed arrested.

Last but not least, here’s a revealing Al Mayadeen clip about how Ahed Tamimi is presented to her fans in the Arab world – and you don’t have to know Arabic, because the pictures glorifying Ahed speak for themselves, showing clearly that her Arab fans know very well that the Tamimis are not fighting Israeli settlements or the occupation of the West Bank, but Israel’s existence as a Jewish state in any borders.

Ahed vs Israel octopus

I was intrigued by one image in particular: it seemed to be cut at the bottom corners, which were also obstructed by the line of text displayed in the Al Mayadeen clip. So I took a screenshot and did a reverse image search – which was worth it: the full image shows Ahed wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh and a shirt adorned with a map that presents Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as one country; two rats wearing caps with a Star of David viciously chew at her flowing hair.

The image was apparently very popular on Facebook and Twitter; interestingly – and depressingly – it was also retweeted by Samya Ayish, who describes herself as a Palestinian “Journalist/ Producer in @CNNArabic.” Perhaps Ayish didn’t notice the antisemitic imagery of the two rats with the Star of David, but she surely didn’t have a problem reading the Arabic text of the tweet which praised Ahed for wearing (or representing) “the amulet of Palestine … all of Palestine.” So it seems that at least at CNN Arabic, they know what the Tamimis stand for.

Ahed w rats Star of David

* * *

A previous version of this post was published at EoZ.

Al Jazeera needs help to see the difference between Malala and Ahed Tamimi (updated)

Al Jazeera – or at least Al Jazeera contributor Shenila Khoja-Moolji – is desperately clueless, stumped by the question: “Why is the West praising Malala, but ignoring Ahed?” So let’s help them out a bit.

Malala Yousafzai gained prominence as a teen blogger for BBC Urdu, where she described her life under the harsh rule of the fundamentalist Islamist Taliban. The Taliban eventually decided to target Malala. On October 9, 2012, “[a] masked gunman boards Malala’s school bus and asks for her by name. He shoots Malala in the head, neck and shoulder.”

As far as Ahed Tamimi is concerned, masked gunmen are great. In September, Ahed Tamimi posted a picture of gunmen masked with Palestinian keffiyeh scarves on her Facebook page and repeated the message written on the image in Arabic: “Tell the fighters all over the world that they are my friends.”

Ahed loves terrorists

So the masked gunman who shot Malala was someone Ahed would consider a friend.

Sadly, Ahed was brought up to consider masked gunmen as her “friends.”

Her father Bassem Tamimi has shared a propaganda video for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, and his wife, i.e. Ahed’s mother Nariman, “liked” this video glorifying Hezbollah.

Bassem Nariman Tamimi like Hezbollah

Ahed’s father also “likes” the Hamas-affiliated jihadist Al-Qassam Brigades: as I documented some two years ago, Bassem Tamimi responded with a “Like” when someone praised a photo Ahed had posted on her Facebook page, showing her throwing rocks, with the short comment “Good ahed” accompanied by an image glorifying the Al-Qassam Brigades.

BTamimi likes AlQassam3

Then there’s the sad fact that Ahed has several relatives who are convicted terrorist murderers – and who are greatly admired by her family for the ruthless murders they perpetrated.

Here’s little Ahed back in 2012 when her uncle Nizar Tamimi – the murderer of Chaim Mizrahi – married her aunt Ahlam Tamimi – the proud mastermind and facilitator of the 2001 Sbarro massacre that claimed the lives of fifteen people, including seven children and a pregnant woman; some 130 people suffered injuries; one young mother was left in a permanent vegetative state.

Ahed at Ahlam Nizar Tamimi wedding1

Ahed’s mother Nariman Tamimi has surely taught her daughter that ruthless terrorist murderers like her aunt Ahlam are admirable rebels.

NTamimi rebels not terrorists

When Malala was shot by the Taliban gunman in October 2012, she was 15. She survived. Here you can read the story of Malka Chana Roth, a 15 year-old girl who didn’t survive the terrorist bombing Ahed’s aunt Ahlam Tamimi remains so proud of.

3 ATamimi laughs

This is how the Facebook page of Ahed’s aunt Ahlam looked before it was made private – it is adorned with images of the suicide bomber who carried out the terrorist bombing of the Sbarro restaurant exactly as Ahlam Tamimi had planned. Needless to say, Ahed and her parents and many other Tamimi family members are Facebook friends with their murderous terrorist relative.

Sbarro bomber FB page2

Ahed FB friend Ahlam

 

Ahed’s mother Nariman Tamimi has presumably also taught her daughter that the murder of teen girls brings honor to the cause the Tamimis are devoted to. In June 2016, Nariman Tamimi shared a Facebook post from another Tamimi family member to honor the teenaged Palestinian terrorist who had just killed the 13-year-old sleeping Hallel Yaffa Ariel after breaking into her home. As far as the Tamimis are concerned, the murder of Hallel Yaffa helped “to return to the homeland its awe/reverence.”

NTamimi cheers 13yo murder3

If Malala was an Israeli Jewish girl and the gunman who shot her was Palestinian, Ahed’s family would have cheered and considered him a hero who brought honor to their cause.

* * *

It wouldn’t have been hard for the author of this Al Jazeera op-ed to find out what the Tamimis stand for – a few minutes of Googling could have gone a long way… That Shenila Khoja-Moolji either didn’t bother to inform herself about the Tamimis before writing about them, or decided to ignore their terrorist associations and sympathies, is noteworthy. Her Al Jazeera profile describes her as “a scholar of gender, Islam, and youth studies. She is the author of ‘Forging the Ideal Educated Girl’ forthcoming in June 2018.” On her Twitter account, she links to her page at the University of Pennsylvania.

Given Khoja-Moolji’s expertise – or at least interest – in “youth studies,” it is striking that she apparently sees no problem in the fact that Ahed has been sent out by her parents to try to provoke confrontations with Israeli soldiers since she was a little girl. An Avaaz petition for Ahed Tamimi – which at the time of this writing has more than 230,000 signatures – states: “Ahed’s been on the frontline defending Palestine since she was 7 years old.”

That is a good reminder of the long and sordid Palestinian tradition to abuse children as child soldiers. Perhaps Shenila Khoja-Moolji knows nothing about Palestinian child soldiers, but it would have been arguably very good if she had tried to find out a bit about it before praising Ahed Tamimi for her “substantial history of standing up against injustices.”

As I’ve shown, Ahed considers masked gunmen as her “friends,” and there’s another revealing indication of who might be her “friends” and indeed role models. A Twitter account set up recently to promote the Avaaz petition posted a tweet declaring: “Israel is dreading that Ahed is the next Leila Khaled, they will try to break her in anyway or shape. But what they forgot is to see the fierce and fearless & determine look through her blue eyes. #FreeAhedTamimi #FreeGeorgesAbdallah.”

It isn’t all that important if this Twitter account can be considered an “official” account sanctioned by the Tamimi family, because the images attached to the tweet are really worth a thousand words.

Ahed Leila Khaled Georges Abdallah

Ahed for terrorist G Abdallah

Ahed for terrorist G Abdallah2

So let’s recall who Leila Khaled and Georges Abdallah are.

Leila Khaled, with whom Ahed posed for a photo, is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP is notorious for having “pioneered such terror tactics as airline hijackings” and the group perpetrated “hundreds of terrorist attacks.” As Wikipedia puts it without a trace of irony, Leila Khaled “is credited as the first woman to hijack an airplane.”

If Ahed Tamimi wants to be “the next Leila Khaled,” we can only wonder and worry what pioneering acts of terror she will once be “credited” with.

Georges Abdallah, for whom Ahed campaigned alongside her father Bassem Tamimi, is “a Lebanese militant” who “was arrested in 1984 and sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for the 1982 murder of Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Ray, who was an assistant US military attaché and murder of Israeli diplomat Yaakov Bar-Simantov outside his home in Paris on 3 April 1982, as well as involvement in the attempted assassination of former American consul in Strasbourg Robert O. Homme.”

I wonder when Malala (and her father) attended an event alongside a terrorist in order to campaign for another terrorist? Perhaps Shenila Khoja-Moolji will tell us in her next Al Jazeera column.

* * *

Translations from Arabic courtesy of Ibn Boutrous. A previous shorter version of this post was first published at EoZ

Linda Sarsour’s white knights: Max Blumenthal, David Duke &Richard Spencer

It’s terrible. Every morning Linda Sarsour wakes up – and because she has apparently set Google alerts for her name, she wakes up to “a new headline, a new google alert.”  She finds it “exhausting,” “so damn exhausting.” Maybe cancel the Google alerts? Or maybe grow up and accept that newspapers have op-eds and that not every op-ed writer falls for your hypocrisy and bigotry???

complains abt criticism

But here’s the good news, dear Linda Sarsour: in the past few days, three sort of well-known guys came to your defense. Among those heroes was your fellow-Israel-hater – and award-winning antisemite – Max Blumenthal, who happily joined so many of your wonderful fans in denigrating the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, who had the temerity to doubt your absolutely FABULOUS credentials as an antisemitism expert. After all, the expertise you get from learning by doing is unbeatable, isn’t it…

And of course you love it when your fans stand up for you and tell Greenblatt that compared to you, he and his organization are just utterly clueless about antisemitism. I mean, the ADL has been fighting antisemitism, racism and bigotry for a century, but really, that means absolutely nothing, nothing at all if they can’t see that there’s no antisemitism expert as brilliant as you are, right?

MB defends Sarsour

Indeed, we should all remember that you never really liked the ADL. For example, you had a big problem with the ADL’s campaign against Hamas back in the summer of 2014; indeed, you condemned the ADL for “inciting hate here in the US” with this campaign. Absolutely right – why oh why should anyone hate a murderous Islamist terror organization like Hamas???

Attacks ADL anti-Hamas campaign 2014

And naturally, dear Linda Sarsour, you were appalled [archived] when the ADL’s Abraham Foxman condemned the kidnapping and murder of three teenaged Israeli students by Hamas terrorists: “The ADL should be the PDL (Pro Defamation League) – defaming Palestinians. Shame. Shame.” Again – absolutely right, of course!!! (Never mind some two decades worth of opinion surveys that document Palestinian support for terror…)

ADL defames Palestinians

Well, dear Linda Sarsour, there’s no doubt that Hamas fan Max Blumenthal fully agrees with you on all these issues.

But let’s have a quick look at the other two heroes who came to your defense. Admittedly, David Duke was a bit lukewarm, comparing you to a broken clock that is right twice a day…

David Duke defends Sarsour

But hey, I think David Duke and you could find a lot of common ground when it comes to the ADL – he would surely LOVE your witticism about the “Pro Defamation League” given that the ADL has described him as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite”…

And let’s not forget that alt-rightist Richard Spencer also came to your defense – indeed, given your complaints about how exhausting you find it to get criticism, you’ll surely appreciate his thoughts about why you are so terribly unfairly criticized.

Richard Spencer defends Sarsour

Mea culpa, mea culpa is all I can say here: I’m afraid I was the first one to highlight this tweet of yours, along with a whole lot of similar ones…

But in any case, there can be little doubt that also Richard Spencer would just LOVE your “Pro Defamation League” quip – can you imagine that the evil ADL has accused him of trying “to mainstream racism and anti-Semitism”???

So you see, the ADL isn’t just defaming Palestinians – they’re also defaming the likes of David Duke and Richard Spencer, and of course, worst of all, they’re defaming you, dear Linda Sarsour!!! But isn’t it a consolation that you are in such great company???

* * *

A previous version of this post was published on EoZ.