Omid has been among the most frequently sought speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing in The New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, PBS, NPR, NBC, CNN and other international media. He leads an educational tour every summer to Turkey, to study the rich multiple religious traditions there. The trip is open to everyone, from every country.
One of his most recent blog postings caught our eye (hat tip to Tundra). Uploaded on April 9, it was published right in the middle of the week that separates the day on which Israel remembers (a week ago) the tragedy of the Holocaust Memorial Day and day we recall the fallen of Israel’s defensive wars against the Arab armies and against the forces of terror (today).
It’s entitled “Israeli atrocities at Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, 65 years ago… and today“. As a polemicist for a radical Arab position, he writes there more or less what we have learned to expect from those affected by that mindset:
What is the point of calling for memory, including the memory of massacres at Deir Yassin? It is not to respond in hatred and venom, and not to respond in kind. But to make sure that for those of us who dare to speak of a just and peaceful tomorrow, to always know and remember that justice is not the same as amnesia.
Then to make absolutely sure his readers suffer from no loss of historical memory, he publishes a photograph of a Nazi concentration camp called Lager Nordhausen, part of the Buchenwald concentration camp complex. You can see it on the main Wikipedia page devoted to the Holocaust. He places it in a prominent position on his blog page, and right next to it he launches into a vitriolic tirade about how the Zionists carried out a massacre of
250 men, women, children and the elderly, and stuffed many of the bodies down wells… There were also reports of rapes and mutilations… Their tactics have not changed.
It’s clear that the photo is there to magnify the impact of his words, and to serve as a historical record of what he describes. But it’s worse because he not only transposes the imagery of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews into his self-authored polemic about the conflict between the Arabs and Israel; he then invites his readers to understand the implications for today when he says “Their tactics have not changed.”
So who was involved in this massacre? Virtually the totality of the future leadership of the Israeli state.
To be clear: our focus on the photo and the selected quotes among many other quotes does not mean we agree with any other aspect of Safi’s account of what happened at Deir Yassin. That lethal narrative, elaborated and amplified for cold-blooded purposes, been used to fuel Arab hatred of Israel for two generations; the numbers and details just keep growing and getting more elaborate with time. Without entering into the Deir Yassin debate, Wikipedia describes a much smaller death toll (for what that’s worth) and points out that the town’s dead included armed men who carried out attacks on civilian traffic traveling the nearby road to Jerusalem.
It’s also worth noting that the day-after-day massacres taking place daily in Syria (for instance) produce single-day harvests of blood that are truly sickening. For instance (one of many), the Arab-on-Arab slaughter reported just three days ago [“Between 125 and 149 believed killed in Syria on Thursday“] which resulted in carnage greatly exceeding what is claimed in rational sources to have happened in Deir Yassin.Frimet and Arnold Roth
Most ordinary Americans are sympathetic to Israel. This is actually surprising, when you consider what the media pushes at them, day after day. For example, this morning my local Fresno Bee newspaper contained part of an article from the NY Times headlined “Palestinians Erupt in anger at Israel,” which began like this:
JERUSALEM — Days before Secretary of State John Kerry’s return to the region, anger and defiance continued to flare across the West Bank on Thursday as Palestinians buried two teenagers killed by Israeli soldiers during protests triggered by the death of a prisoner with cancer while in Israeli custody. …
Clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths hurling stones and firebombs erupted there and in other West Bank locations for the third straight day, as Palestinian leaders accused Israel of escalating tensions in order to thwart Washington’s efforts.
“It seems that Israel wants to spark chaos in the Palestinian territories,” President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority told leaders of his Fatah faction at a meeting in Ramallah. “Israel on every occasion is using lethal force against peaceful young protesters, and peaceful demonstrations are being suppressed with the power of weapons. This is not acceptable at all.”
Although firebombs are mentioned, the Times article does not mention that the two “youths” (aged 17 and 18) who were killed were shot while throwing them at soldiers until the 17th paragraph. The excerpt in the Fresno Bee only included the first 8, so local readers did not get the benefit of even this:
The Israeli military said that the youths were hurling firebombs at an army post late Wednesday, and that soldiers responded with live fire; it is investigating the episode.
Here is another account of the incident, from Arutz Sheva, a right-wing Israeli source:
IDF soldiers opened fire on Wednesday night at two terrorists who approached an IDF position near the community of Einav in northern Samaria.
As the two terrorists approached the soldiers, they hurled a firebomb at them. The soldiers returned fire, killing one terrorist and wounding the other.
Personally, I prefer the second version. But even the first is better than the description of the “peaceful young protesters” presented by Mahmoud Abbas, which is all that Fresno Bee readers saw.
Now, a few words about the death of the prisoner, Maysara Abu Hamdiya, in Israeli custody. The Arabs claim that he died because Israel withheld medical care, and even provided a photograph of the poor man handcuffed to a hospital bed. Of course the photograph actually was taken last year of an insurgent in a Syrian hospital, but as you know, truth is all relative anyway.
Abu Hamidya had throat cancer. A prison service spokesperson said that
[He] had been treated since his diagnosis in February and that prison authorities applied to a parole board for his early release after he was found to be terminally ill. He died before the process could be completed…
Did he get good enough medical care? Who knows, but Arabs die in Palestinian Authority custody all the time and there are no riots or media coverage.
So why was Maysara Abu Hamidiya imprisoned in the first place?
In 2002, this retired general in the P.A. “security” forces was arrested for dispatching a suicide bomber to the Café Caffit in the Emek Refaim neighborhood of Jerusalem. The bomber was incompetent and walked in with disconnected wires dangling from his bomb. A waiter saw him and pushed him outside; his bomb did not go off. In 2004 there was another unsuccessful attempt at the same location.
Abu Hamidiya worked for both Fatah and Hamas, and was heavily involved in providing weapons, financing of terrorism and bombmaking, in addition to his role in the failed attack.Vic Rosenthal
See, this is a really good example of what is wrong with the world – or, at very least, what is wrong with the UK’s Express site (see image below).
Israel and Gaza attack each other? Excuse me? They fired rockets at us yesterday; they fired rockets at us today. They fired five rockets at us when Obama was here; and mortars have been flying too. And yes, early this morning, the IDF “struck targets in the Gaza Strip.”
But, I have several problems with this:
- Gaza clearly “attacked” us first – and so putting Israel first isn’t very honest.
- Attack each other implies there is no clear aggressor (note THEY fire at our CITIES, we fire at their military targets and rocket launchers).
Greenslade, as with journalists at numerous other news outlets over the past week, noted in his new report that on March 6 the U.N. issued an advance version of its report on the war which concluded that Misharawi was likely killed by an errant Palestinian missile, not by the IDF. (This information in the report was first discovered by Elder of Ziyon, who also was one of the few bloggers who critically examined initial reports in the MSM blaming Israel for Misharawi’s death.)
Additionally, the Guardian published an A.P. report on March 12, ‘U.N. report suggests Palestinian rocket killed baby in Gaza,’ which went into detail about the new information which contradicted the “widely believed story behind an image that became a symbol of what Palestinians said was Israeli aggression.”
Thus far, the Guardian still hasn’t corrected a Nov. 15 report by Paul Owen and Tom McCarthy, ‘Gaza Twitter war intensifies over pictures of infant casualties‘, which included the heartbreaking photo of Misharawi as well as the following text:
Pictures emerged of BBC cameraman Jihad Misharawi’s 11-month-old son Omar, who was killed on Wednesday during an Israeli attack [emphasis added]. Misharawi’s sister-in-law also died in the strike on Gaza City, and his brother was seriously injured.
Though the damage done by the now iconic image of Misharawi ‘clutching his slain child wrapped in a shroud‘ can not be ameliorated by even the clearest retractions, it’s important nonetheless that the media be held accountable to report new information which comes to light contradicting their previous version of events.
Whilst you can of course find out how the BBC covered the news at CifWatch’s sister site, BBC Watch, here’s a quick round-up of how others in the British media performed:
The Telegraph. On Nov. 15, the Telegraph published ‘Baby son of BBC worker killed in Gaza strike‘ which included the photo of Misharawi, and this passage:
Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic, lost his 11-month-old baby Omar. Mr Misharawi’s brother was also seriously injured when his house was struck in the Israeli operation and his sister-in-law was killed.
Additionally, a Nov. 15 Telegraph Live Blog post on the Gaza war included this passage:
Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic, lost his 11-month-old baby Omar. His brother was also seriously injured when his house was struck in the Israeli operation and his sister-in-law was killed.
Daily Mail. On Nov. 15, the Daily Mail published a sensationalist piece by David Williams, titled ‘What did my son do to die like this?’Anguish of BBC journalist as he cradles the body of his baby son who died in Israeli rocket attack on Gaza‘, which included multiple photos of Misharawi with his baby and the following passages:
“Tiny Omar…died after an Israeli airstrike on Hamas militants in Gaza.
Masharawi had arrived at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital after Omar suffered severe burns in an airstrike that sent shrapnel tearing into his home killing a woman and leaving his brother and uncle critically injured.
Spectator. David Blackburn published a piece titled ‘Israel’s public relations problem‘ which included the image of Misharawi with his baby, as well as the following passage:
The front page of today’s Washington Post shows a picture of the BBC’s Jihad Masharawi holding his dead 11-month-old son, an innocent victim of Israeli action against Hamas’ paramilitary targets following months of indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians in southern Israel*
Corrections: The piece has now been updated, per the asterisk, and includes the following at the bottom:
*Since this article was published, a United Nations investigation has found that the incident described by the Washington Post was caused by the shortfall of a rocket fired by Palestinian militants at targets in Israel.
The Sun. On Nov. 15 The Sun published ‘The Innocents: Beeb journalist’s son dead, another hurt..babies hit as Gaza war looms,’ by Nick Parker, which included a photo of Misharawi and his baby, and this passage:
Omar was one of at least 15 Palestinians killed in air strikes as Israel retaliated over the Hamas missiles.
Corrections: None.Adam Levick
The last time we gathered here the topic of discussion was the hypocrisy of the late Ed Koch on racial matters, particularly in his constant berating of Rudy Giuliani for treating the city’s race hustlers with the skepticism they deserved – an approach actually pioneered by Koch himself during his own mayoralty.
But Giuliani never did get much love from the city’s permanent political establishment and its prestige media, as evidenced most recently by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, who in the wake of Koch’s passing called Koch, Fiorella La Guardia and Michael Bloomberg the city’s “three greatest mayors.”
La Guardia certainly belongs in the top three, and a strong case can be made for Koch, but Bloomberg? The only reason Bloomberg was elected mayor in the first place was the endorsement he received from Giuliani shortly after 9/11, when Giuliani had seized the nation’s imagination with his courageous leadership and Bloomberg was essentially running in political drag, having donned Republican vestments after a lifetime of dressing in liberal Democratic garb.
That’s not to say Bloomberg has been a bad mayor, just that listing him at the top of the heap with La Guardia and Koch ignores the unprecedented challenges Giuliani faced on assuming office and the way he went about transforming the city.
Put it this way: imagine that Michael Bloomberg rather than Rudy Giuliani had succeeded David Dinkins in January 1994. Would political reporter Andrew Kirtzman have been able to describe Bloomberg’s tenure the way he wrote of Giuliani in Emperor of the City, his gripping account of the Giuliani years:
“This is the story of a defiant man whose strength, resolve, and vision helped bring a city back from a state of bedlam. It’s an account of how a person with no experience in municipal government outsmarted its political leaders, union chiefs, and media lords and ended up changing the face of New York…. It’s about a leader whose accomplishments rank among the most dramatic in urban history.”
Giuliani succeeded the inept David Dinkins at a time most observers had given up on New York as a governable city. Bloomberg, on the other hand, succeeded Giuliani at a time when, to quote Kirtzman, “crime had plunged so low that that the FBI was calling New York the safest large city in America. Unemployment was down, and 400,000 fewer people were on the welfare rolls.”
Getting back to The New York Times, though it endorsed Giuliani for reelection in 1997 (he faced an uninspiring Democratic challenger and even Manhattan liberals found it hard not to give him his due), over the years the mouthpiece of New York liberalism generally treated him with varying degrees of skepticism, condescension and moral outrage.
Even as he left office in January 2002 on a note of unprecedented triumph and popularity, the tone of the paper’s editorials and most of its news coverage was startlingly jaundiced (a notable exception was an analysis piece by reporter Sam Roberts who mused that Giuliani would go down in history as a greater mayor than even La Guardia).
An editorial that appeared the Sunday before Giuliani’s departure was particularly churlish, claiming that “Even his staunchest supporters know that much of his success was due in part to good timing. His greatest achievements – the drop in crime, the reduction in welfare cases, the economic boom – were mirrored in other cities that had milder-mannered chief executives.”
Nonsense, responded historian Fred Siegel. “No other city has made comparable gains…. In the closing years of the Dinkins administration, tourists stayed away in droves, while businesses and residents were racing for the exits in what seemed like an evacuation. Had Mr. Dinkins been reelected, the flight from fear would have become a flood.”
As to the assertion that crime had dropped everywhere and Giuliani merely happened to have been in the right place at the right time, it just wasn’t true.
“None of these critics,” Siegel pointed out, “supplies specifics – with good reason. Crime didn’t fall everywhere, as anyone from Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit or a host of other big cities could have explained.”Jason Maoz
A report in today’s New York Times provides a clue as to why the United Nations does the things it does – the delegates are apparently inebriated, a lot of the time.
According to the Times’ report, U.N. offices are reminiscent of an episode of Mad Men, a show in which many of the main characters have alcohol abuse problems and no serious conversation can be had without a glass of whisky.
And as the U.S. often seems to be the designated driver in international politics, perhaps it is appropriate that the it was an American diplomat, Joseph M. Torsella, who proposed that “negotiation rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone.”
Of course, this is not the explanation for the sheer madness of many countries’ behavior at the U.N. and on the world stage and their obsession with Israel. But if only it were.Daniel Tauber
As we speak, anti-Israel activists across the globe are gearing up for or hosting Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) events on various college campuses, with the goal of delegitimizing the State of Israel. As an anti-Israel student group at American University announced, “The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.” While anti-Israel student groups like the Students for Justice in Palestine frequently make such statements, it is critical to remember that such assertions are nothing more than slander designed to harm Israel.
Many of the young anti-Israel activists who claim that Israel is an apartheid state don’t understand what the definition of apartheid truly is. According to Merriam Webster’s English dictionary, apartheid is “racial segregation: specifically, a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa.”
According to a report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on the subject, among the policies that were implemented in apartheid South Africa were legal prohibitions on sexual relations between different races; forced physical separations between races, in restaurants, neighborhoods, swimming pools, public transport, etc.; restricting members of the black community to unskilled labor in urban areas; forbidding blacks from voting; educational restrictions for blacks, etc.
Benjamin Pogrund is a former deputy editor of the South African Rand Daily who reported on apartheid for 26 years and was an anti-apartheid activist himself. After his newspaper was shut down because its owners were under pressure by the apartheid government, he made Aliyah to Israel. Pogrund, as someone who is familiar with both South African apartheid and Israel, claimed that these conditions listed above do not exist in Israel. He asserted in the Guardian that “Arabs have the vote, which in itself makes them fundamentally different from South Africa’s black population under apartheid. And even the current rightwing government says that it wants to overcome Arab disadvantage and promises action to upgrade education and housing and increase job opportunities.”
Upon witnessing how both Arabs and Jews worked and were treated in Israeli hospitals, in another instance, Pogrund claimed, “What I saw in the Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital was inconceivable in South Africa where I spent most of my life, growing up then and working as a journalist who specialized in apartheid.” Yet the existence of Arab voting rights, government initiatives to decrease the gap between Jews and Arabs, and coexistence in hospitals are not the only aspects of Israeli society that prove that Israel is not an apartheid state. Incitement to racism is a criminal offense in Israel, as is discrimination based on race or religion, implying that the Israeli legal system fundamentally rejects apartheid ideology.
In fact, Israel is a liberal democracy, where the Arab minority actively participates in the political process. Arabs like Major General Hussain Fares, Major General Yosef Mishlav, and Lieutenant Colonel Amos Yarkoni have served prominently in the IDF, while Arabs such as Ali Yahya, Walid Mansour, and Reda Mansour served as Israeli Ambassadors. Salim Joubran sits on the Israeli Supreme Court, while Nawwaf Massalha and Raleb Majadele were members of the Israeli Cabinet. Arabs have also served as university professors, heads of hospital departments, management level positions in various businesses, and in senior level positions in the Israeli Police. Indeed, Israeli Arabs have reached positions that blacks in apartheid South Africa could only dream of. Thus, Israel is the polar opposite of being an apartheid state.
Visit United with Israel.Rachel Avraham