Here’s how to write critically about Jewish Trump officials without evoking antisemitism

Cross posted by UK Media Watch

Last week, we posted about a Telegraph article focusing on newly appointed US-Middle East peace envoy Avi Berkowitz which, we argued, evoked an antisemitic trope.

Here are the relevant paragraphs from that Sept. 6th piece, written by Leila Molana-Allen (the Middle East correspondent for France 24 News).

The appointment [of Berkowitz] “demonstrates a lack of seriousness” in the administration’s approach to the peace plan and Mr Kushner’s complete dominance over the process, former Middle East advisor to the US defence department Jasmine El-Gamal told The Telegraph. “They are not even pretending otherwise by hiring a qualified person as an envoy.”

Others have raised concerns that Mr Berkowitz, like Mr Greenblatt before him and Mr Kushner, is a Zionist Jew, which may lead to a perception of bias in any peace negotiations with Palestinian officials.

This doesn’t need too much unpacking. The word “Zionist” before “Jew” is meaningless, as the overwhelming majority of diaspora Jews are Zionists, in the sense that they wish for Israel to continue existing. The journalist was legitimising unnamed critics who evidently believe there are too many Jews on Trump’s Middle East team, and that these officials, by virtue of their religious background, can’t be trusted to faithfully carry out their duties. This is a classic example of a news organisation – which, we should note, is normally very responsible on the issue of antisemitism – legtimising the dual loyalty charge, codified as antisemitic by the IHRA Working Definition.

Let’s turn now to another article, one published on Sept. 15th by Bel Trew at the Independent – a publication which, unlike the Telegraph, hasn’t always been so vigilant about preventing antisemitic narratives from being promoted.

Like the Telegraph piece, Trew’s article also raises the question of conflicts of interest against some Jewish members of Trump’s Mid-East team.

However, Trew raises the concerns in a completely different manner than Molana-Allen did at the Telegraph, noting not the religion of US Ambassador David Friedman and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (architect of the US peace plan), but, rather, their personal and financial ties to Israeli settlements, particularly the community of Beit El.

Trew highlights the fact that Friedman and Kushner’s family have given significant donations to Beit El. (She also adds that former US National Security Advisor John Bolton spoke at a fundraising event for the settlement.)

Trew makes her argument thusly:

And it is the unique relationship Trump’s cadres have with this settlement that is a keyhole to the overhaul in the US administration’s attitudes towards Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories as a whole.

To be clear, we’re extremely skeptical that Friedman and Kushner’s ties to Beit El provide a “keyhole” to the shift in US policies towards Israel, as Trew’s explanation leaves out other important factors likely impacting US policy. It also fails to consider that Friedman’s and Kushner’s important roles may merely be a reflection of the president’s desired Mid-East policy, rather than representing a force driving it.

However, at least Trew’s argument doesn’t rest on the implicit assumption that the religious background of Friedman and Kushner (and Berkowitz) alone renders them biased – a toxic and racist charge that should have no place in mainstream British publications.

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For 2nd time in 3 weeks, major UK media outlets ignore deadly Palestinian terror attack

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

Times of London

Since the Palestinian terror attack at the Barkan Industrial Park on Sunday that killed two Israelis, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, the mother of an infant, and Ziv Hajbi, a father of three, Times of London’s Jerusalem correspondent Anshel Pfeffer published two articles: both concerning fraud charges against Sara Netanyahu. 

Times of London articles by Anshel Pfeffer, Oct. 7th and Oct. 8th.

But, neither Pfeffer nor any of the paper’s other regional correspondents published anything on the deadly West Bank terror attack.

Barkan terror attack victims: Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hagbi

The Telegraph

The Telegraph’s Jerusalem correspondent, Raf Sanchez, published an article this morning on the row between Turkey and Saudi Arabia over the missing Saudi journalist, and another regional correspondent published an Israel related story – regarding Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with Vladimir Putin.  

However, as with Times of London, nothing has been published by any of the Telegraph’s reporters about the Barkan terror attack.

The Independent

The Independent published an article on the day of the attack about new Israeli restrictions on Gaza’s fishing zone, but nothing on the Palestinian terror attack, despite the fact that the Indy has a Middle East correspondent, Bel Trew, who covers Israel and the Palestinian territories quite extensively.

Independent, Oct. 9

In addition to ignoring Sunday’s deadly attack, by 23-year-old Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, a colleague of the victims at the Barkan plant, Times of London, The Telegraph and Independent have something else in common: they all similarly ignored the Palestinian terror attack on Sept. 16th at Gush Etzion Junction that killed Ari Fuld, a father of four from Efrat.

Other major outlets:

The Guardian published an AFP article on Sunday about the Barkan Industrial Park attack – though nothing on the murder of Ari Fuld.  In contrast, the Daily Mail – as with the BBC – eventually covered both terror attacks.

Beyond the question of journalistic priorities on the day of, and first few days following, the attack, it’s telling that all of the media outlets cited have, over the course of the past six months, more often than not, devoted coverage to Palestinian injuries and deaths related to the weekly violent border riots – many which included highly evocative photos from the scene.

Times of London

Independent

The Telegraph

The journalistic axiom ‘if it bleeds it leads’ isn’t entirely true when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where selective concern for the suffering of one side is the norm – indicative of a broader pattern of double standards which continues to compromise British media coverage of the region.

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