Weekend long read

1) Those who read the BBC Middle East editor’s online article titled “Is a new Arab Spring unfolding in the Middle East?” this week may have noticed that the sole reference to Iran in Jeremy Bowen’s 705 word analysis was presented as follows:

“But reports also say that men dressed in black, some masked, have been opening fire [on demonstrators in Iraq]. One theory is that they are from pro-Iranian militias.”

The JCPA’s Iran desk documents how “Iraqis Take to the Streets to Oppose Iran’s Involvement in their Country”.

“Iranian media also refrained from reporting the burning of Iranian flags at the Iranian consulate in Karbala. Hundreds of protesters surrounded the consulate building with the cries of “Iran, Get Out, Get Out from Iraq … Baghdad Will Remain Free.” They burned Iranian flags and caused heavy damage to the consulate building. The protesters also trampled on the pictures of Al-Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani (a grave insult in the Arab world). The Iranian consulate building in the port city of Basra was also set ablaze despite attempts by Shi’ite militias to protect it. With cries of “Stop the Persian Occupation of Arab Iraq,” the protestors set ablaze the building.”

2) Also at the JCPA, Dr Jacques Neriah looks at the protests in Lebanon.

“Observers of the Lebanese political scene have been struck by one significant development. Protests are directed for the first time since the Arab spring in 2011 against Hizbullah and its Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and against Hizbullah’s ally, the Shiite Amal Movement led by Nabih Berri. Protesters attacked the offices and houses of deputies affiliated to these two political factions, burned posters bearing the pictures of Berri and Nasrallah, and expressed their anger over what the demonstrators perceived as Hizbullah and Amal corruption. Specifically, they claim that the organizations are plundering the coffers of the Lebanese state and skimming the budgets allocated to their ministries, at the expense of the Lebanese people.”

3) Yoram Schweitzer of the INSS analyses the significance of “The Elimination of al-Baghdadi from the Arena”.

“The death of caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is an important intelligence, operational, and moral achievement for the United States, as well as for its partners in the ongoing international campaign against global terrorist threats. However, the practical significance of this event is less than its symbolic significance. Indeed, the main challenge facing ISIS is far greater than the elimination of its leader, as the organization has struggled in recent months to survive physically and to maintain its position as the dominant organization on the global Salafi-jihadi stage. Thus the elimination of al-Baghdadi from the scene – as important and dramatic as it may seem – is far from heralding the downfall of ISIS or any significant reduction in the dangers posed by the organization, due to the capability attributed to it to recover and to launch terrorist attacks and guerilla warfare in the Levant and beyond.”

4) Jonny Gould sits down with David Collier (alternative links here).

“In this detailed interview profiling his work and background, we get behind the computer screen to reveal more about the man and his mission.

He says his undercover work online has uncovered extraordinary levels of Jew hate at the highest levels of British politics and explains the antizionism he’s encountered as nothing more than antisemitism.

David’s most recent projects have been to lodge a complaint against the publisher, Pearson over a textbook about the Middle East, which he says has been lifted in large part from Wikipedia – and a report into Amnesty, which he believes over obsesses about Israel.

He doesn’t mince his words over the EHRC investigation into the Labour Party either, which he worries will not tell it like it is: that there is a growing alliance between the hard-left and Islamists.”

Weekend long read

1) At the BESA Center, Professor Efraim Karsh addresses ‘Distorting Ben-Gurion’.

“By ignoring millions of declassified documents from the period of the British Mandate (1920-48) and Israel’s early days that show the claim of premeditated dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs to be completely unfounded, “revisionist” journalist Tom Segev’s rewrites David Ben-Gurion’s personal story, and, by extension, the story of Israel’s creation, in an image of his own making in which aggressors are transformed into hapless victims and vice versa.”

2) At the same site, Dr Alex Joffe looks at ‘BDS, Antisemitism and Class.

“Contemporary antisemitism has the ability to graft itself onto a variety of causes and movements. But the social and information environment in the US and Europe is strongly conditioned by virtue-signaling among elites and increasingly among portions of the middle class. Antisemitism, in part through BDS-fueled antipathy toward Israel, is becoming a signal of middle class respectability. At the same time, though left-wing Western elites remain strongly anti-national, the working classes and other parts of the middle class are becoming renationalized. These and other class conflicts will shape antisemitism in the next decades.”

3) Michael Walzer discusses ‘Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism’ at the Fathom Journal.

“Anti-Zionism is a flourishing politics today on many university campuses and on parts of the left, and the standard response from many Jewish organisations and from most of the Jews I know is to call it the newest version of anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionism is a subject in itself; it comes in many varieties, and which ones are anti-Semitic — that’s the question I want to address here. I take ‘Zionism’ to mean a belief in the rightful existence of a Jewish state, nothing more. Anti-Zionism denies the rightfulness. My concern here is with left-wing anti-Zionism in the United States and Europe.”

4) David Collier has been examining a Middle East history textbook used in British schools.

“From the opening sentences, when the book called Jewish people 3300 years ago ‘settlers’ until the final chapters – it is almost impossible for the untrained eye to pick apart fantasy from fiction.

The book spends three pages explaining the Oslo Peace process – and then asks the students to explain the failure of the process – but never once mentioned the exploding buses in Israel’s streets – and only mentioned a single terror attack during this period. How can a student possibly explain the failure of Oslo if you don’t mention the 100s of Israelis slain in Israeli streets?

The book doesn’t avoid violence. Whilst the book drums Jewish violence into the heads of students – through repetitive use of keywords such as ‘Irgun’, Lehi’, ‘the King David Hotel’ and ‘Deir Yassin’ – The Mufti of Jerusalem – a man responsible for much of the violence in the 1920-1939 Mandate – is not mentioned anywhere in the book.” 

The Guardian – anti-Israel bias, more obsessive and vindictive than you think

Written by David Collier

Over recent months I have been dealing a lot with issues of bias, chiefly because of the soon-to-be-published report into Amnesty International. The report itself is done. It is 227 pages long and has 650 references. The report touches on the bias of dozens of Amnesty staff, many of whom hold Director, Deputy Director or other management positions at the NGO. The report contains a lot more, but there will be no more spoilers from me. It is out of my hands now and being assessed by some NGO experts before it is published. This gave me some free time, so I thought I would relax and have some fun.

Most arguments of media bias occur over the language inside an article or headline. Even the way a sentence is structured can change its entire meaning. But this level of bias is also very hard to prove. Days of arguing can eventually be put down to an editorial mistake or oversight. I always prefer looking at the big picture, where signs of an institutional bias tend to both far more visible and much harder to dismiss.

Take the Guardian newspaper. A media outlet well known for having anti-Israel obsessions. Just recently I wrote a piece about how the paper likes to bait British Jews. What if we look at the paper from a wider angle?

Guardian Bias

A simple test. The website has a search function. All things being equal, the number of returns that nations receive should ‘rank’ them in order of relevance and importance. False positives should equal out. And it seems to work. Germany has 338k, France 225k, Russia 245k and the USA 302k. China gets 286k and New Zealand 90k. The UK is an important global power situated in Europe and with deep connections to the Commonwealth. These results appear to include every reference to those nations, so we can assume New Zealand’s 90k has a fair few rugby and cricket references included.

How about Israel? Not in the commonwealth, nor in Europe. Israel receives 101k. What can we compare Israel with? Geographically, Syria for a start. A nation that has seen 500k deaths – 94k. Saudi, the Arabian Kingdom that controls so much of the world’s oil? 63k. What about Lebanon – 21k. For a regional power, how about Pakistan, a nation in the commonwealth that also plays cricket. 79k. What is most interesting about Pakistan is that unlike Israel, it really is a brutal oppressor of human rights. Yet only 79k hits, including of course ‘x’ amount of cricket scores.

A few more. Bangladesh 26k. Turkey? Erdogan’s Turkey only gets 81k, and that probably includes Christmas recipes along with all those holiday recommendations in Antalya. How about Cyprus, an invaded and occupied Island? 18K. Lesser nations in Europe? Sweden 59k, Romania 22k and Poland 41k. I looked at the eight bloodiest conflicts of the 21st century. Syria (94k) I already mentioned. There is also Congo (21k), Darfur (6k) Afghanistan (79k), Yemen (20k) and Ukraine (45k). Only Iraq, a war that actually involved the UK for years, scores more highly than Israel. Fun stuff huh?

It gets really silly. ‘Palestinian’ gets 60k results. 300% more than Lebanon. Kurds only get 17k. Perhaps if even more of the Kurds had been killed through Genocide, they may have made 20k, but it does seem as if the Kurds have to make Israel their enemy for the Guardian to really take any notice. ‘Palestine’ gets a whopping 50k, which is 10x the number of references to Kurdistan. In fact, ‘Palestine’ gets more mentions than the illegal occupation of Cyprus and the bloody conflicts of Lebanon combined. Think about it. On what planet can ‘Palestinian’ return as many results as the Saudi Arabian Kingdom that controls so much of the world’s oil? Perhaps it is a good thing that Palestinians don’t play much cricket.

Hamas, a terror organisation in a tiny regional spat in the Middle East gets 14k returns, which is more than Boko Haram (4k) and Al Qaeda (7k) combined. Guardian editors sure seem to have funny priorities.

An Israel obsession? Never mind. I am sure this is all just an editorial error.

A closer look at bias

One thing that was discovered during the Amnesty project was the big difference qualitative bias can make. A newspaper can write the same number of articles about two subjects, but the different approach the paper takes carries the real bias. An example. Take Israel and Saudi. Israel is a democracy; Saudi Arabia is not. Both nations are in conflict. Saudi’s conflict in Yemen is brutal. There are reported to have been 100k deaths since 2015. That is in the same ballpark as the total death toll of all the wars, on all sides, that Israel has ever been involved in.

Jerusalem is a diverse city, but Mecca isn’t. Mecca is a ‘Muslim only zone’ – if you are not Muslim, you are not allowed inside. So Saudi Arabia has real Apartheid too. Israel scores highly on women’s rights, gay rights, freedom of the press, access to legal systems and all the other variables relevant to free and liberal societies. Saudi does not. In fact, if you are critical of the Kingdom, it is advisable never to visit their embassy.

The Guardian tags articles and creates ‘country pages’ for them. This allows for a far more serious and accurate assessment. Israel’s pages have 17k results, Saudi Arabia has 4k. The ‘Palestinian territories’ pages gets 10k, as much as India (10k) and more than Pakistan (7k). It seems the actual obsession is worse than the simple keyword search originally indicated. The poor Kurds only get 1k. Some ‘national liberation movements’ appear to be 10x more important than others.

From Quantitative to Qualitative Bias

How about Pakistan? Israel’s recent monthly returns have been August – 37 articles, July -19 (it would be interesting to know who was on holiday), June – 31, May – 45 and April – 59 articles. Pakistan was the subject of 27 articles in August, 16 in July, 14 in June, 13 in May and 12 in April. Even a potential bloody conflict over Kashmir in August couldn’t knock Israel out of its top spot. Total score: Israel 191: Pakistan 82.

Articles were then categorised. An article that was critical was counted as ‘negative’. A simple statement of fact was ‘neutral’. An article written attacking a second party was also ‘neutral’. A good news story was categorised as ‘positive’.

During August, not a single explicitly negative article was written about Pakistan. As was expected, the main focus was Kashmir. Almost all the articles were ‘negative’ about India. Three articles required closer attention. One was about China and the Uighurs, with Pakistan’s involvement incidental. Another simple stated as a matter-of-fact that Pakistan had vowed to protect Kashmiris. The third about Pakistan’s intent to expel the Indian high commissioner.

In July there were articles that uncritically talk about Pakistan cracking down on ‘militants’. They have a story about Pakistan building a wall along a disputed international border to stop terrorist infiltrations. The journalist runs with the human angle of families that have been split by the wall. But there is nothing critical in the article of the policy. No call for the ICC to investigate it. No use of the word Apartheid. The wall is actually splitting ethnic Pashtun’s who now need a visa to visit family members who live in neighbouring villages. Kudos that the Guardian mentioned it at all, but it is more an indication in the different way Israel’s story is handled than anything else.

Most of the articles were about Donald Trump or regular non-relevant news stories.

Obsessive Israel bashing

The picture with Israel was somewhat different and the language changes dramatically. Just a few examples from Israel’s August pages:

  • UN calls for maximum restraint after Israeli strike in Lebanon
  • Israel government accused of abandoning soldiers with PTSD
  • Trump and Netanyahu are playing a bigoted game of chicken
  • Israel, Apartheid and antisemitism
  • Freedom of expression on Palestine is being supressed
  • Israeli police clash with Muslim worshippers
  • Israel bars entry to US politicians

Or just from Israel’s lowest scoring month, July:

  • Israeli crews demolish Palestinian homes
  • Isralei fires threaten Christian holy site
  • Israeli spraying of herbicide harms Palestinian crops
  • Israeli Minister talks about gay conversion
  • Syria accuses Israel of heinous aggression
  • Israeli teenagers held on allegations of rape

All this means that the true level of obsessive bias is not immediately clear when you count the number of articles (191:82), in fact it is understated. Many of the references to other nations are neutral, positive or contextualised. The level of hate is certainly not as evident if you focus on the language used in a single article. Only when you draw comparisons in the way different nations are treated do you realise how unacceptable the situation with the Guardian’s treatment of Israel has become.

Horrendous, obsessive, anti-Israel bias

The Guardian are obsessed with Israel, that much was already clear. But the Guardian’s reporting on Israel also contains a vindictive hostility. An endless stream of negative articles, all carefully worded to present Israel as the most vile, oppressive, Muslim hating, Christian hating, gay hating, Palestinian hating, murderous nation on earth. An ‘Apartheid state full of brutal bigots’. Compare that to the sensitive, contextualised reporting on Pakistan, one of the most oppressive nations on the planet, and you are left in a place without any rational or acceptable explanation.

Weekend long read

As regular readers are aware, members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign sometimes appear in BBC content (most recently on BBC One just a couple of weeks ago) and in 2014 the PSC was the foreign NGO that received the most promotion in BBC Israel-related content – in part because of the BBC’s generous but selective coverage of anti-Israel demonstrations organised by the PSC that summer.

David Collier recently published a long report documenting antisemitism promoted by Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists. As Collier notes in his summary:Weekend Read

“When I refer to antisemitism within this study, I avoided all references to the conflict. We all know the trick is to deflect accusations of antisemitism with a false cry about criticism of Israeli policy. I set out to avoid this. I was only interested in those pushing conspiracy theory, holocaust denial or classic antisemitic tropes. The argument that antisemitism is about legitimate criticism of Israel simply has no weight against this research. The bar for antisemitism that was used is unnaturally high.  As an example, if the worst I found was an activist suggesting Israel should be destroyed, is committing genocide and Zionists are all Nazis, that activist would not have made the grade for this research. Let that fact sink in.

The ‘antisemitism’ referred to here is ONLY ‘hard core’ antisemitism. Examples include: USA controlled by Zionists; Jews responsible for 9/11; the Paris Bataclan massacre was a ‘false flag’ to increase support for Israel; Ashkenazi Jews are fake; Zionist Jews support ISIS; Jewish Zionists stir up fake antisemitism; many varieties of Holocaust Denial; Israel harvests organs from the dead; Israel harvests organs from the living; Mossad wanted to assassinate Obama; the BBC is ‘the Zionist Broadcasting Corporation’,  ‘Zionist tentacles’ controlling Parliament; Mossad did 7/7/2005 in London; Kristallnacht instigated by Communist and Freemason Jews to promote War against Germany; Babylonian Talmud advocates sex with child age three; Goyim bloodshed ritual by the Talmudic worshipers [sic] of Moloch, the children holocaust bloodthirsty monster…..”

The full report on a British organisation frequently quoted, promoted and mainstreamed by the BBC can be read here.

Related Articles:

BBC Breakfast’s Jenny Hill enables PSC antisemitism washing

BBC’s ‘Today’ programme ‘should know better’ than to engage in covert promotion of the PSC’s agenda

 

BBC Trending promotes terror supporting Gaza propagandist

On January 13th BBC Trending produced an article titled “Gaza medics back striking English junior doctors” which appeared on the BBC News website – including in the Middle East page’s ‘features’ section.Trending jr doctors

“When junior doctors in England went on strike, photographs of support spread on social media from celebrities, members of the public, their pets – and doctors from Gaza. […]

….images of three young men in white coats in a Middle Eastern hospital stood out.

They were posted on Twitter by Dr Mohammed Ziara, who told BBC Trending he was a recently graduated doctor from Gaza, who had completed his studies six months ago. […]

The 24-year-old says he now works for the Palestinian Ministry of Health as an internship junior doctor in Shifa Hospital, the main hospital in Gaza.”

Shifa Hospital is of course not just “the main hospital in Gaza”; like other medical institutions in the Gaza Strip it is exploited by Hamas for non-medical purposes which include acting as a hide-out for Hamas’ top brass during conflicts.  As has been documented here on numerous occasions in the past, medical staff at Shifa and other Gaza hospitals are not always as objective as may be presumed.

So who exactly is the “recently graduated doctor from Gaza” that BBC Trending found fit to promote? David Collier took a closer look at his social media activities.

“In fact, you cannot put this man’s name into Google without realising there is a little more to it than meets the eye. And then you ask yourself, ‘don’t BBC reporters do this as part of  basic guidelines’? Isn’t it obvious?

So you begin to look at other Tweets, almost all in English, and almost all clearly propaganda. And his name then appears quite frequently in news reports throughout 2015 on RT, Jewish News, in blogs, and other various outlets.”

Read the rest of that very revealing post here