Weekend long read

1) Anyone who missed Howard Jacobson’s recent op-ed on antisemitism in the UK can find it here.

“The incantatory repetition of the charge that Jews cry antisemitism only in order to subvert criticism of Israel or discredit Corbyn is more than fatuous and lazy, and it is more than painful to those many Jews who own an old allegiance to the Labour party and who are not strangers to criticising Israel. It is the deepest imaginable insult. I cannot speak for all Jews, but a profound depression has taken hold of those I know. For myself, I feel I am back in that lightless swamp of medieval ignorance where the Jew who is the author of all humanity’s ills lies, cheats, cringes and dissembles. And this time there is no horse to punch.”

2) Ynet has a report on the subject of Hizballah activities in Colombia.

“The Spanish language news website Infobae reported that Hezbollah’s presence and activities were confirmed by the Colombian police in a three year investigation carried out jointly with the US Drug Enforcement Agency. 

The investigation allowed for the identification of commercial entities and platforms of which Hezbollah made use to cover-up its activities including drug dealing, selling and exporting stolen vehicles and money laundering; alongside the recruitment of locals for future terror related activities.”

3) Writing at Politico, Jonathan Schanzer discusses “How Putin’s Folly Could Lead to a Middle East War“.

“It was all very predictable, the moment that Putin began to partner with Iran and its lethal proxy, Hezbollah. They shared intelligence, patrolled together and fought together against the Sunni jihadists and other rebels who were warring against the Assad regime.

Iran’s motivations for this unlikely marriage were crystal clear: The regime viewed Syria as a crucial territory to maintain a land bridge from their borders to the Mediterranean. For Iran, Syria was key to regional domination. It was also key to maintaining military supply routes to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Russia, by contrast, had more global ambitions. For one, Putin was putting a finger in the eye of the Obama administration. The message was that Russia could dominate territory once seen as under American influence. Putin also sought to convey to the rest of the Arab world that Russia was a strong and reliable ally for the region, and that Russia was willing to provide advanced weaponry at the right price—and without American-style red tape and oversight.”

4) At the Weekly Standard, Thomas Joscelyn takes a look at “Assad’s Horror, and Those Who Enable It“.

“There is no real question that Assad has continued to use chemical weapons even after he agreed to give them up. As the State Department was quick to note yesterday, the U.S. has concluded that he was responsible for the April 4, 2017, Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun—the same incident which prompted the Trump administration’s bombing. And both the U.S. government and the UN have found that Assad’s goons used other chemical weapons, namely crude chlorine bombs, more than once. While some of these bombs struck areas held by jihadi rebels, they have also indiscriminately killed civilians.

Assad’s principal international backer, Vladimir Putin, hasn’t stopped him from using of them. Nor has Iran, which is deeply embedded in Syria alongside Assad’s forces. In fact, the Assad-Putin-Khamenei axis has a legion of online apologists who argue that the high-profile chemical weapons assaults aren’t really the work of the Syrian “president” at all. This noxious advocacy on behalf of mass murderers is readily available on social media.

It gets even worse, as another rogue state has reportedly facilitated Assad’s acquisition of chemical weapons: North Korea. This facilitation is especially worrisome in light of the two nations’ previous cooperation on a nuclear reactor that was destroyed by the Israelis in 2007.”

 

 

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BBC News website invents a new Jewish holiday

A report on this story that was published in the ‘politics’ section of the BBC News website’s UK page on the morning of April 3rd initially told readers that:

“Photographs on the Guido Fawkes website appear to show Mr Corbyn meeting members of Jewdas to mark the Jewish festival of Seder.” [emphasis added]

The article was subsequently twice updated – with the same inaccuracy recycled in a different paragraph.

The Jewish festival is of course called Pessah or Passover. The Seder is the festive meal marking the beginning of that festival.

Yes – this is the same BBC that has appointed itself to the position of internet fact checker.

Reviewing BBC R4’s ‘World at One’ background on the Labour Party story

On March 26th BBC Radio 4 news and current affairs programmes understandably devoted a considerable amount of airtime to the topic of the letter put out the previous evening by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the JLC criticising the leader of the British Labour Party and calling for a protest outside Parliament.

One of those programmes – ‘World at One’ – seemed to attempt to present listeners with a more comprehensive view of the background to the story than others, but did that portrayal really give audiences the full view?

Presenter Martha Kearney opened the item (from 07:21 here) as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original]

Kearney: “At half past five this afternoon Jewish community leaders are gathering at Westminster in a protest against Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of siding with antisemites again and again. They say it’s their first protest against a mainstream political party since the Second World War. The Labour leader has responded by saying ‘we recognise that antisemitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country’. He added ‘I’m sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused’. These accusations have been levelled at Jeremy Corbyn for years.”

Kearney then presented her first example and – in contrast to her colleagues at the BBC News website – was able to give an accurate portrayal of the mural concerned.

Kearney: “In 2012 he offered his backing to a street artist whose mural, featuring antisemitic stereotypes, was due to be removed after complaints. Jeremy Corbyn replied ‘Why? You’re in good company’. He compared the mural to Rockefeller destroying one made by Diego Rivera because it included Lenin. But last week Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement saying ‘I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on’.”

Kearney then cited her next example of “accusations…levelled at Jeremy Corbyn”.

Kearney: “In 2009 Jeremy Corbyn welcomed members of Hamas and Hizballah to the UK and referred to them as friends. He later refused to apologise for this in an interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 news.”

Listeners then heard some of the less angry parts of that 2015 interview, including the claim from Corbyn that Hamas and Hizballah are “part of a peace process” and:

“I’ve also had discussions with people from the Right in Israeli politics who have the same view, possibly, that the State of Israel should extend from the river to the sea as it is claimed people from the Palestinian side do.” [emphasis added]

On the topic of his describing members of the two designated terrorist organisations as ‘friends’, listeners heard Corbyn say:

“I’m saying that people I talk to…I use it in a collective way, saying our friends were prepared to talk. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hizballah and what they do? No.”

Martha Kearney did not however inform listeners that in the original March 2009 speech in which he repeatedly called Hamas and Hizballah ‘friends’, Corbyn also spoke about Hamas – an organisation committed to the destruction of Israel under its overtly antisemitic founding charter – as follows:

“The idea that an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake…”

Neither were ‘World at One’ listeners told that – despite the ‘explanation’ they heard for his use of the term ‘friends’ and the claim that it does not mean that he agrees with Hamas and Hizballah – Corbyn clearly expressed his opposition to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their own state: a stance categorised as antisemitism under the IHRA working definition.

“We are opposed to Zionism and what Israel is doing towards the Palestinian people. […] Our argument – and I refuse to be dragged into this stuff that somehow or other because we’re pro-Palestinian we’re anti-Semitic: it’s nonsense. What we’re in favour of is a Palestine where everybody can live. They can’t live if you’ve got Zionism dominating it all.”

Martha Kearney’s next example referred to a story the BBC failed to report accurately at the time.

Kearney: “In 2016 Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, apologised for writing a series of antisemitic posts on Facebook, including arguing for Israel’s population to be transported out of the Middle East. Then, while defending Naz Shah, the former London mayor Ken Livingstone claimed that Hitler had been a Zionist. He was suspended but not expelled from the Labour Party and spoke to the ‘World at One’.”

Listeners then heard parts of Kearney’s 2016 interview with Livingstone, including his insinuation that “people” were “smearing and lying about” him and the claim that “if you’re a bigot, you’re not going to join the Labour Party”.

After parts of the letter written by the Board of Deputies and the JLC had been read out, Kearney went on:

Kearney: “During the 2015 Labour leadership contest Jeremy Corbyn took calls from listeners on the ‘World at One’. One of them was Lee Barnett from Richmond.”

Listeners heard a recording of Mr Barnett speaking about antisemitism and Holocaust denial “posted by those who say they’re your supporters” followed by Corbyn responding that he had spent his life as a campaigner against racism and mentioning his mother’s presence at Cable Street in the 1930s – but without substantially addressing the caller’s points. That 2015 recording continued with Martha Kearney saying to Corbyn:

Kearney: “But there have been questions raised about the kind of people that you associate with: story in the papers today about the fact that you invited Diane [sic] Abu Jahjah to the Commons as a special guest. Now this is a man who’s talked about ‘hoax gas chambers’.”

Corbyn: “Sorry, who?”

Kearney: “You’ve not met him?”

Corbyn: “No. Well I’ve…I saw the name this morning and I asked somebody who is he.”

Kearney: “Right so this was somebody who…so you definitely didn’t invite this man to the Commons as a special guest?”

Corbyn: “Well my views are that the Holocaust was the most disgraceful and vile process of the history of the twentieth century, if not the wider world. And that has to be understood by successive generations and has to be understood by all our children in schools. That surely is important. The idea…”

Kearney: “So just to be absolutely clear on this: there’s an accusation which I think you’re denying. I’m giving you the opportunity to deny it.”

Corbyn: “The idea that…the idea…”

Kearney: “You didn’t invite this man?”

Corbyn: “I’m sorry; can I answer please? The idea that I’m some kind of racist or antisemitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive. I’ve spent my life opposing racism. Until my dying day I will be opposed to racism in any form.”

Kearney closed that section of the item there, moving on to another related topic.  Remarkably though, despite having aired Corbyn’s recorded response denying knowing who Dyab Abou Jahjah was, Kearney did not bother to inform listeners that – as the BBC itself reported in August 2015 – Corbyn subsequently claimed that he “must have forgotten meeting him in 2009”.

Dyab Abou Jahjah (whose organisation had published a Holocaust denying cartoon three years earlier) was in fact at the same March 2009 ‘Stop the War Coalition’ meeting at which Corbyn called Hamas and Hizballah ‘friends’. Abou Jahjah was subsequently banned from visiting the UK by the British government: a decision he blamed on “the lobbying of the Zionists” while claiming that “MP Corbyn is filing a complaint against this disgrace”.

Although this programme clearly did attempt to provide the BBC’s domestic audiences with more background to the story than other Radio 4 programmes aired on the same day, it is notable that while listeners did hear rather a lot of Jeremy Corbyn’s fairly standard evasive responses to the long-standing criticism against him, parts of the story that are highly relevant to full audience understanding of it – such as the fact that he did meet Dyab Abou Jahjah and his self-professed opposition to Jewish self-determination – were airbrushed from the portrayal.

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BBC News ‘explanation’ of antisemitism promotes the Livingstone Formulation

On March 27th an article titled “Jeremy Corbyn told to act on ‘stain’ of anti-Semitism in party” was published in the ‘politics’ section of the UK page on the BBC News website.

Relating to the previous day’s protest organised by two British Jewish community bodies, the article includes an insert ostensibly intended to help readers understand the story.

Titled “What is anti-Semitism?”, the insert commences by giving a definition attributed to the Oxford English Dictionary.

“Anti-Semitism is “hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people” (OED)”

BBC audiences are then told that:

“Campaigners for Palestinian rights – a popular left-wing cause – say they are against Zionism rather than anti-Semitic”

The insert goes on to give an explanation of Zionism which, notably, does not include the term self-determination.

“Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East, roughly corresponding to the historical land of Israel, and thus support for the modern state of Israel. Anti-Zionism opposes that.”

Obviously an insert purporting to explain antisemitism to BBC audiences should have clarified that according to the IHRA working definition (adopted by the UK government, among others), opposition to the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the Jewish state is defined as one possible manifestation of antisemitism.

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Finally, the insert presents readers with a dose of the Livingstone Formulation:

“But some say “Zionist” can be used as a coded attack on Jews, while others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism to avoid criticism”

As regular readers will be aware, this is far from the first time that the BBC has promoted the notion that “the Israeli government and its supporters” deliberately and dishonestly raise the issue of antisemitism in order to delegitimise criticism of Israel.

Neither is this the first time that the BBC has tried – and failed – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism to its audiences. Indeed, this insert was obviously for the most part recycled from the opening paragraphs of a ‘backgrounder‘ first published in April 2016.

In other words, in nearly two years of BBC coverage of the issue of antisemitism within the UK Labour party, audiences have not once been informed of the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism which have already answered the question of whether anti-Zionism – i.e. the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination – is an expression of antisemitism.

Moreover, it is obvious that even the high profile of the latest related story covered in this article did not prompt the BBC to come up with an accurate definition of its core issue.

Given the fact that the BBC still does not work according to an accepted definition of antisemitism and in light of its own record on that issue and its repeated failure to inform audiences what anti-Zionist groups such as the PSC and the BDS campaign really stand for despite frequently showcasing their agendas, that is perhaps hardly surprising.

But this insert does demonstrate once again is that the BBC is currently incapable of properly serving its funding public’s interests on this topic.

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BBC News not sure whether Corbyn controversy mural antisemitic or not

On the evening of March 25th the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the JLC put out an unprecedented letter criticising the leader of the British Labour Party and calling for a protest outside Parliament the following day.

The BBC News website reported that story on its UK page on March 26th in an article titled “Jewish groups attack Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism“.

“”Enough is enough,” Jewish groups have said in a letter accusing Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism. […]

The letter – drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council – said there has been a “repeated institutional failure” to properly address anti-Semitism.

It accuses Mr Corbyn of being unable to “seriously contemplate anti-Semitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities”.

The organisations refer to Mr Corbyn’s apparently supportive message to the creator of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural in 2012 and his attendance at “pro-Hezbollah rallies”.” [emphasis added]

That last paragraph includes a link to a BBC report from March 23rd headlined “Jeremy Corbyn regrets comments about ‘anti-Semitic’ mural” in which readers are also told that the mural was “allegedly anti-Semitic”.

“Jeremy Corbyn has expressed “sincere regret” at failing to look more closely at an allegedly anti-Semitic mural in London before questioning its removal.”

Readers are also offered another item of related reading dating from the previous day titled “Tom Watson apologises over ‘anti-Semitic’ mural row“.

“Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson says Jeremy Corbyn was right to express regret for sending an apparently supportive message to the creator of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural.”

Clearly the question of whether or not that 2012 mural included antisemitic imagery is crucial to audience understanding of this story. Obviously too, the BBC is very reluctant to provide an answer to that question.

In addition to the repeated use of the word ‘allegedly’ and punctuation implying that the question is open to interpretation, all three of those BBC reports state that the artist “has denied being anti-Semitic”. At the same time opposite views of the topic from both Watson and Corbyn are quoted.

“He [Corbyn] added: “I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic.”

 “My reaction is that is a horrible anti-Semitic mural that was rightly taken down,” he [Watson] said.”

The Jewish Chronicle’s Stephen Pollard notes that:

“The work, Freedom for Humanity, was painted near Brick Lane in London’s East End by “graffiti artist” Kalen Ockerman, who goes by the name of Mear One.

Its intent was obvious. It showed businessmen and bankers sitting counting their money. Not only did they look like obvious caricatures of Jews – in a style reminiscent of Nazi propaganda in the 1930s – the artist himself confirmed they were intended as such, writing: “Some of the older white Jewish folk in the local community had an issue with me portraying their beloved #Rothschild or #Warburg etc as the demons they are.”

Anyone with even a basic knowledge of politics, history and the world would see that the work was caricaturing Jews. And, to be blunt, anyone denying that is indulging in sophistry of the most pathetically unconvincing kind.

Indeed, the then Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfar Rahman, himself ordered council officials to “do everything possible” to remove the mural, agreeing that “the images of the bankers perpetuate anti-Semitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial institutions.”

To repeat: this was not a controversial view. The artist himself held it, publicly.”

This is of course far from the first time that the BBC has refrained from unambiguously informing its audiences that content at the centre of a controversy is antisemitic.

However, with concerns about antisemitism within the second largest party in the UK parliament now prompting the mainstream British Jewish community to take such an action for the first time in decades, it is obviously essential that Britain’s national broadcaster be capable of providing its audiences with a clear and accurate view of the story.

And that necessarily includes being able to unambiguously describe antisemitism as such – without the equivocal punctuation and qualifying terminology all too frequently seen in BBC content.   

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Weekend long read

1) At the JCPA Yoni Ben Menachem discusses a topic ardently avoided by the BBC: “Corruption in the Palestinian Authority“.

“At the moment, the hot topic of conversation in the Palestinian Authority is the most recent appointment made by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. At the beginning of this week, he extended the tenure of his friend Rafiq al-Natsheh as head of the Palestinian Authority’s anti-corruption department for the second time, contrary to Palestinian law. Even the department’s internal constitution does not allow its serving head to remain in his position once his term has ended.”

2) Raz Zimmt of the INSS analyses the protests in Iran.

“Some two months after the wave of protest that swept through Iran, the Iranian authorities are endeavoring to bring the situation back to normal, though local protest events are still ongoing. The protests, which reflected the Iranian public’s demand for change, once again highlighted the conflicting opinions in the Iranian leadership concerning the desired response to the civilian plight.”

3) Writing at the Jerusalem Post, Joshua Block unpacks a concept about the Middle East that is frequently promoted in BBC coverage.  

“Of all the policy myths that have kept us from recognizing the true nature of conflict in the blood-soaked region, one stands out for its fatality and perpetuation: the idea that if only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were solved, all the other deep-rooted quandaries facing the Middle East would magically disappear.

The “Arab Spring” revolt that swept across the region should have destroyed the “linkage” dogma once and for all – what happened in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia had nothing to do with Israel – and yet the myth that the Arab world resolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lives on.”

4) Yad VaShem is offering a free online course on the history of antisemitism.

“In this course, 50 leading scholars from all over the world will explore questions and issues relating to antisemitism including: What is antisemitism? How has it changed throughout history? Why can it be found among so many diverse cultures, and even among opposing ideologies? What happened to antisemitism after the Holocaust? How is antisemitism expressed today, and what are the main spheres in which it can be found?
We will examine different periods and societies, exploring the development of antisemitism as well as its changing nature over time, place and culture.”

Hamas agitprop requires BBC journalists to brush up on UN resolution

Reports have emerged concerning an upcoming six-week long stunt organised by factions in the Gaza Strip that is primarily aimed at the international media.

Gaza border area

“In the coming weeks, Hamas plans to set up tent encampments along the Gazan border with Israel, where thousands of the strip’s denizens will be housed, with the intention to march hundreds of Palestinians every day—including the elderly, women and children—to the border fence in “return marches.” 

At the same time, Hamas also intends to hold mass fishing boat protests near the maritime border with Israel. These actions will gradually grow in intensity and culminate just before Israel’s 70th Independence Day.”

The ITIC has more details on the agitprop scheduled to commence on March 30th – ‘Land Day’ – which this year is also Passover Eve.

“According to the march organizers, the objective is to send a message to the world about the Palestinians’ “right of return.” […]

Originally the proposed date for the march was May 15 (Nakba Day). However, calls have recently been heard to hold the main event on Land Day, March 30, the day Israelis Arabs have demonstrated their adherence to their lands since 1976. The organizers of the march said it would not be a single event but rather a series of activities which would continue over time. Issam Adwan, head of Hamas’ department of refugee affairs, said the organizing committee had agreed to hold the march on Land Day (March 30, 2018). He said all the national and Islamic organizations, including Fatah, had agreed. He said the march would be only a part of the comprehensive initiative of “the great return march”. […]

The organizers said they intended to recruit about a hundred thousand participants, most of them from the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. The “great return march” coordinating committee appealed to Gazans to take an active role. The committee also reported it was continuing its efforts to establish national committees in other countries that would organize their own marches, simultaneous to the one in the Gaza Strip.

The organizers, led by Abu Artima, continue to emphasize the march will be non-violent and there is no intention to confront IDF forces. Interviewed by Hamas’ Palinfo website, he called “the great return march” a “popular strategic tool” to use peaceful measures to realize the “right of return.” He said the march would be different from the [routine] clashes at the border security fence. That was because the participants would not throw stones, but rather hold a rally that the whole world and media outlets would watch.”[emphasis added]

Obviously such an event could not take place without Hamas’ approval.

“The organizers got a green light from Hamas and the PIJ for the march. “The great return march” Facebook page posted a statement from Issam Adwan, head of Hamas’ department of refugee affairs, who emphasized the necessity and importance of the event. He said it was part of the “resistance” and that it was no less important than the “armed struggle.” He also said that the Land Day march would be only the opening move of a comprehensive global operation. […]

Talal Abu Zarifa, senior figure in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said the Palestinian organizations had agreed on activities that would be consistent with the objectives of “the great return march.” […] He added that the organizations had agreed to continue mass recruitment, to make Israel responsible [for what happens] and realize the “right of return”.”

Apparently the organisers of that agitprop intended to employ antisemitic Nazi analogy.

“According to information on the Facebook page of “the great march of the return,” in preparation for the event the organizers need clothing like the striped suits worn by the inmates of the Nazi concentration camps. Anyone who could provide such suits, or sew them, was asked to contact the march’s coordinating committee. The organizers are apparently going to present a display comparing the Palestinians to the victims of the Nazis.”

Photo credit: ITIC

The project’s logo includes a reference to UN GA resolution 194 of December 1948.

“The new logo shows the UN logo and the number 194, which relates to UN General Assembly Resolution 194 […], a map of “Palestine” in the colors of the Palestinian flag, with no reference to the existence of the State of Israel; a hand holding a key, the symbol of the so-called right of the Palestinian refugees to return to the places they lived in 70 years ago.”

Any BBC journalist intending to cover this propaganda campaign should of course be aware of the fact that Resolution 194 is non-binding, that it does not specifically relate to Palestinian refugees (despite long-standing BBC claims to that effect) and – contrary to often heard assertions – neither does it grant any unconditional ‘right of return’. Rather, it recommends that refugees be allowed to return to their homeland if they wish to “live at peace with their neighbours”. Also worth remembering is the fact that the Arab states voted against that UN GA resolution.

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BACKGROUNDER: The Palestinian Claim to a “Right of Return”  (CAMERA)

 

 

BBC reporter revealed to be member of secret anti-Israel Facebook group

The indefatigable David Collier has published a long two-part report about a secret Facebook Group called ‘Palestine Live’ that includes among its membership Holocaust deniers, antisemites and conspiracy theorists. 

Part one of the report can be found here and part two here.

The group was founded in 2013 by a London-based anti-Israel activist called Elleanne Green.

“The group is listed as ‘secret’. This means you cannot find it by using the Facebook search function and need to be invited or added by someone inside the group who has permissions to add new members. It changed from ‘Closed’ to ‘Secret’ in early November 2014.

Elleanne Green is an admin of the group, and the most prolific contributor. She is well-linked with other activists across the globe. Possessing an impressive networking skillset, Elleanne Green turned Palestine Live into one of the largest, and well-connected of the anti-Israel groups. Palestine Live contains high-placed representatives, from almost every anti-Israel activist organisation.

There are two other admins to the group. Tony Gratrex (added by Elleanne Green on 15 November 2013) and Carol Foster (added by Elleanne Green on 10 August 2015). Gratrex was at one time, an organiser of the Reading Branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Foster was co-chair of the Greater London Branch of the ‘Labour Representation Committee’ and was at the PSC 2016 AGM selling pamphlets such as ‘In defence of Trotskyism’ for ‘Socialist Fight’.

The aim of the group:

‘Created not so much for long and detailed discussion of words used and semantics but to gather together a group of good friends all of whom wholeheartedly support the people of Palestine in their struggle’

Among the members of that group are several people who have appeared on BBC programmes such as Avner Gvaryahu of ‘Breaking the Silence’, Rebecca Vilkommerson of JVP, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Tony Greenstein, Haim Bresheeth and Glyn Secker.

Additional members of the group featured in other BBC content include Deborah Fink, David Ward, Jenny Tonge and Richard Falk.

However the name of one member of that secret Facebook group where antisemitic material, Holocaust denial and anti-Israel propaganda is regularly posted may come as a surprise (see Pt 2, p. 175).

The item promoted by Green appears to be Knell’s April 23rd 2016 report from Gush Etzion.

Whether or not Yolande Knell’s editors know about her membership in a secret group of anti-Israel activists where discussions are rife with anti-Israel conspiracy theory, gross antisemitism and Holocaust denial is unclear. What is however once again very obvious is that Knell’s position as an ‘impartial’ BBC correspondent reporting from the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau is severely compromised. 

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BBC News amplifies church leaders’ Nazi analogy yet again

The re-opening of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem after a three-day closure was the topic of a report that appeared on the BBC News website on February 28th under the headline “Jerusalem: Christianity’s ‘holiest site’ Holy Sepulchre reopens after protest“.

“The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has reopened, three days after Christian leaders closed it in protest at plans to tax Church properties in the city. […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday there would be negotiations to try to resolve the dispute, prompting the mayor [of Jerusalem] to suspend changes.”

The report goes on to mislead readers by stating that:

“Church officials also objected to a bill the Israeli government was considering, which they feared would let the state claim Church-owned land.” [emphasis added]

The bill concerned does nothing of the sort. As the Times of Israel explains, it relates to land already sold by the Church and hence no longer “Church-owned” – as inaccurately claimed by the BBC.

“After the church was shuttered, lawmakers on Sunday postponed for a week a Knesset committee debate on a bill that would allow Israel to confiscate land sold by the churches to private developers in cases where homes had been built on the lands.

The advancement of the legislation, initiated by Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria and backed by the Justice Ministry, is fiercely opposed by church leaders, who have decried what they see as attempts by Israel to limit their ability to buy and sell their only real assets — real estate.

Azaria says her bill seeks to protect hundreds of Israelis, largely in Jerusalem, whose homes are located on land that, until recently, was owned and leased to them by the churches, principally the Greek Orthodox Church — in most cases under 99-year contracts signed in the 1950s between the church and the state, via the Jewish National Fund.

The contracts state that when the leases run out, any buildings on them will revert back to the church. Residents expected that the leases would be extended. But in recent years, in order to erase massive debts, the Greek Orthodox Church has sold vast swaths of real estate to private investors, and nobody knows whether they will renew the leases, and if so, under what conditions.”

As readers may be aware, an issue similar to the one MK Azaria’s bill is intended to tackle currently affects many UK home-owners.

However, as was the case in a previous BBC report on this story, we see later on in the article that the BBC is aware that the statement alleging that the Israeli state would be able to “claim Church-owned land” is inaccurate – once again raising the question of why the corporation elected to knowingly amplify that inaccuracy.

“Supporters of the bill say it is meant to protect Israelis living on former Church land sold to private developers from the risk that these companies will not extend their leases.

Christian leaders say the proposed law would make it harder to sell Church land, a key source of funds.”

Equally remarkable is the fact that the anonymous writer of this BBC report elected to re-amplify a Nazi analogy previously promoted by church leaders even though it did not appear in the statement they put out after Israel announced that a committee would be set up to resolve the issues.

“Branding the bill “abhorrent”, Christian leaders released a joint statement saying it reminded them “of laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during a dark period in Europe”.”

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism – adopted by the British government in 2016 – states that one manifestation of antisemitism is “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.

The fact that those “Christian leaders” chose to make such an unfounded and abhorrent analogy is of course deeply worrying. The fact that the BBC chose to uncritically amplify that statement twice in the space of three days is of no less concern.

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BBC again amplifies church leaders’ PR hyperbole

IHRA adopts working definition of antisemitism: when will the BBC?

Weekend long read

1) With the CST having released its annual report on anti-Semitic incidents in the UK this week, a paper by Dave Rich on ‘Antisemitism in the radical Left and the British Labour party’ provides essential background.

“Since early 2016, antisemitism has become a national political issue in Britain for the first time in decades. This hasn’t come about because of a surge in support for the far right, or jihadist terrorism against Jews. It has happened, strangely, because of a crisis in Britain’s Labour Party, a party of the left that defines itself as anti-racist and has enjoyed Jewish support for most of its history. Before exploring how and why this has happened, it should first be acknowledged just how unusual this is. This paper will go through some of the examples of antisemitism in the Labour Party; look at why it has happened, and why it is happening now; and try to explain why the party’s attempts to address the problem have failed so far.”

2) Michael Knights and Matthew Levitt discuss ‘The Evolution of Shi`a Insurgency in Bahrain’.

“The Bahraini government has often sought to undermine the domestic Shi`a political opposition by painting it as an Iranian project. Even if this is almost certainly an exaggeration, there is mounting evidence of external support to Bahrain’s militant opposition since 2011. The story is familiar to the one that played out previously in Lebanon and Iraq. This article will show, in a step-by-step manner, that the IRGC has latched onto more hardline elements of the Shi`a opposition, brought some of them to training bases outside Bahrain, and then reinserted them into Bahrain as cell leaders. “

3) At the Gatestone Institute, CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile discusses the incitement preached from Temple Mount.

“Jordan’s tentative, half-hearted role in the war against jihad is also highlighted by its failure to stop or even curb the hateful rhetoric that is broadcast at the Temple Mount, or Al Haram Al Sharif in Jerusalem —presently under the Custodianship of the Hashemite Kingdom. The kingdom, which appoints and accredits the speakers in the Al Aqsa Mosque and which employees more than 200 guards to maintain order, has failed to stop the site from being used as a tool to promote genocidal hostility toward the Jewish people, not just in Israel, but throughout the world.”

4) David Collier discusses a recent edition of the BBC’s ‘The Big Questions’ in which the topic for debate was “whether the left has a problem with anti-Semitism”.

“At the front of the denial as always, sat the anti-Zionist Jew. This cannot be by chance. Within the anti-Zionist movement they are as non-representative as they are amongst the Jews. You don’t scoop up a handful of anti-Zionists and always get a Jew. Their deliberate inclusion entirely distorts the discussion and stops any serious investigation into the antisemitism problem. The BBC chose to do this. […]

Somewhere around 93% of Jews are most certainly not ‘anti-Zionist’. The vast majority of Jews hold Israel as part of their own Jewish identity. This from research carried out two years ago into the question of the Jewish relationship with Israel. That leaves roughly 7% without that attachment.

That 7% is also split between religious anti-Zionist, secular anti-Zionist, and of course, Jews that no longer really identify as Jews. As you enter the area of Jews who have lost both religious and national identity, you are likely to find more total indifference. In other words, the number of Jews who maintain their secular Jewish identity and politically identify as anti-Zionist is almost certainly statistically insignificant.

So why, does a statistically insignificant demographic, have revolving door, first-class access, into media outlets such as the BBC and the Guardian? Why is it that every time someone who represents mainstream Jewish thought discusses antisemitism, another Jew from the 2 or 3% is called on to oppose him?”