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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Times’

The Guardian’s Continuing Obsession with Mordechai Vanunu

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

In 1985 Mordechai Vanunu left his job as a technician at Israel’s nuclear installation in Dimona.  Before leaving, however, he stole several rolls of film about the facility, which he then used to help the U.K. Sunday Times write a story that purported to expose Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

Vanunu was convicted of treason and espionage in 1988 and was released after serving 18 years in prison.  After his release, he exclaimed that he was proud of what he did.

Vanunu is still subject to travel restrictions (and other limitations) as he continues to be considered a serious danger to Israeli security owing to the fact that he holds state secrets that have not yet been published and which he reportedly said he would reveal.  Israeli courts have upheld the legitimacy of the state’s concerns, ruling that Vanunu has not changed his ways and has “repeatedly violated their injunctions” by maintaining ties and contact with the media and other parties.

Naturally, Vanunu is something of a cause celeb at the Guardian, which has published no less than 75 separate pieces (reports and commentary) on the convicted Israeli felon, including an official editorial lauding him, entitled “In Praise of…Mordechai Vanunu.”

The latest Guardian entry is a boilerplate pro-Vanunu letter-to-the-editor entitled “Mordechai Vanunu’s Suffering,” April 19, and is signed by the usual cast of U.K. anti-Zionists, including several Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) “Patrons”: Tony Benn (PSC Patron), Ben Birnberg (War on Want), Julie Christie (PSC Patron), Jeremy Corbyn MP (PSC Patron), Kate Hudson (Stop the War Coalition), Bruce Kent (PSC Patron), and Roger Lloyd-Pack (who played Trigger in BBC’s “Only Fools and Horses”).

In a 2004 interview with Amy Goodman, published at the extremist site CounterPunch, Vanunu accused the Israeli government not only of unjustly imprisoning one man, but of “betraying all of humanity and the world.”

Is there really any mystery as to why Vanunu is so admired by the Guardian?

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Report: Obama to Link Iran, Peace Process

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

U.S. President Barak Obama intends on offering Israel more U.S. pressure on Iran in exchange for greater Israeli overtures to the Palestinians, the British publication, The Sunday Times, reported today.

Early in his first term Obama tried to similarly link Israeli peace efforts and U.S. action on Iran’s nuclear program.  In testimony to Congress in April 2009, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that, “For Israel to get the kind of support its looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and peace efforts. They go hand in hand.”

Clinton’s statement was part of an intense push by the Obama administration, which began shortly after Obama’s inauguration, to force newly elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to endorse Palestinian statehood and make concessions to the Palestinians.  In June 2009, Netanyahu endorsed the two-state solution for the first time in a major policy address at Bar Ilan University.

Obama reportedly intends to visit Israel as well as Jordan this coming March. It would be his first visit to Israel since he was first elected President.

Typically, such a presidential visit would be used to push for progress on a major issue, such as reaching a peace agreement, though almost all reports about the trip predicted that Obama would not be using the visit for such a purpose.

The Obligation to Avoid Anti-Semitic Behavior

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

The Gerald Scarfe Sunday Times cartoon controversy has followed a familiar pattern, with some arguing that the depiction of the bloody trowel wielding Israeli Prime Minister torturing innocent souls – published on Holocaust Memorial Day – evoked the classic antisemitic blood libel, while others (including Guardian contributors and cartoonists) dissented, claiming that Scarfe had no racist intent and was merely critiquing the policies of a head of state who happened to be a Jew.

In response to some who have noted, in Scarfe’s defense, that he had previously depicted Syria’s Assad using a similar blood motif, Stephen Pollard of The JC aptly noted: “But there’s never been an anti-Alawite blood libel, and the context matters. The blood libel is central to the history of antisemitism.”

Though Scarfe may have indeed possessed no antisemitic intent whatsoever, Pollard is stressing that the effect of the cartoon simply can’t be ignored, and that historical context matters.

When we talk about antisemitism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ on this blog we’re not claiming to possess some sort of political mentalism – a piercing moral intuition which grants us access to the souls of their journalists and contributors.  Similarly, we’re not suggesting that we can ever tell with any degree of certainty that, when we argue that criticism of Israel crosses the line to antisemitism, the writer who’s the focus of our ire is necessarily haunted by dark Judeophobic thoughts.

Rather, many of us who talk seriously about antisemitism are skilled at identifying common tropes, narratives and graphic depictions of Jews which are based on prejudices, stereotypes and mythology and which have historically been employed by those who have engaged in cognitive or physical war against Jews.

Though I’m now an Israeli, an apt analogy on the moral necessity of understanding and being sensitive about the racist context of seemingly benign ideas can be derived from my experience growing up in America.

Those who grew up in the U.S. and inherited not the guilt but the moral legacy of slavery and segregation intuitively understand that we owe African-Americans an earnest commitment to strenuously avoid employing the linguistic, cultural and political currency of racism’s tyrannical reign.  Though race relations have matured immeasurably by any standard, and codified bigotry all but eliminated, there are, nonetheless, unwritten prohibitions against language which, even though often unintended, hearkens back to the past, evoking the haunting memory of the nation’s past sins.

In America, comedians don’t do black-face routines, in which white performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person.  A mainstream newspaper wouldn’t publish a cartoon depicting an African-American as lazy and shiftless, nor would any publication present a black public figure (in any context) as  a boot licking  ’Uncle Tom‘.  And, someone using the N-word (in public or private) would be rightfully socially ostracized or at least stigmatized as crude racist.

Such political taboos in America have developed organically over time in response to a quite particular historical chapter, and are recognized by most as something akin to an unwritten social contract on the issue of race.  White Americans can not ever fully understand black pain, the learned cognitive responses from their collective consciousness, but it is reasonable of them to expect that we not recklessly tread, even if without malice, on their sacred shared memory.

Further, whites who honor this implied covenant – and avoid evoking such narratives and imagery – by and large don’t bemoan the so-called “restrictions” placed on their artistic or intellectual expression, or complain that African-Americans are stifling their free speech.  Rather, such unwritten rules, social mores and ethical norms about race are typically understood to represent something akin to a moral restitution for a previous generation’s crimes.  While in the U.S., the First Amendment affords legal protection to those who would engage in anti-black hate speech, it is largely understood that responsible citizenship often requires self-restraint – the greatness of a people measured by what they are permitted to do, but decide not to in order to preserve national harmony, what’s known in Judaism as Shalom bayit.  

When Jews talk seriously about antisemitism they are asking those who don’t wish to be so morally implicated to avoid needlessly poisoning the political environment which Jews inhabit.

They are appealing to the better angels of their neighbors’ nature by asking them not to carelessly conjure calumnies such as the “danger” to the world of Jewish power or conspiracies , Jews’ “disloyalty” to the countries where they live, that Jews share collective guilt for the sins of a few, that they’ve come to morally resemble their Nazi persecutors, or that Jews intentionally spill the blood of innocents.

In short, we are asking that decent people avoid employing canards which represented the major themes in Europe’s historic persecution of Jews, and which, tragically, still have currency on the extreme left, the extreme right, and, especially, in much of the Arab and Muslim world today.

The Scarfe/Sunday Times row is about more than the cartoon itself, and it is certainly not about the “right” to offend. It’s about sober but passionate pleas by a minuscule minority that decent people not afflict the historically afflicted, and to recognize their moral obligations to not provide aid and comfort to anti-Jewish racists.

We are asking genuine anti-racists to resist becoming, even if unintentionally, intellectual partners or political fellow travelers with those who trade in the lethal narratives and toxic calumnies associated with the resilient Judeophobic hatred which has caused us immeasurable pain, horrid suffering and indescribable calamities through the ages.

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The Sunday Times Cartoon and the Midrash

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

One aspect of that Scarfe cartoon from Sunday, which has so far, I think, escaped comment.

As my good friend, Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, had written, the Passover festival has a special focus, a

…frequent emphasis on children, especially at the Passover seder…the Bible and the Midrash emphasize that the Egyptians singled out the Jewish children for persecution. Pharaoh instructs the midwives to kill all male children.

The Midrash says that Pharaoh, a leper, bathed in the blood of Jewish children, had the Jewish children burned in Egyptian furnaces, and, if the Hebrew slaves failed to produce their quota of bricks, Jewish children were plastered into the walls to fill the gaps.

The Egyptian strategy was to disrupt Jewish family life and prevent the birth of Jewish children. And, even when Pharaoh (Exodus 10:10) finally agreed to allow the Israelites to worship for three days, he would not allow the children to accompany the adults.

That Jews could be portrayed as placing Arabs, adults and children, into a wall being built when that wall is intended to bring Jews security from Arab terrorism, especially suicide-bombers who destroy themselves in their hatred, is to be so upside-down and backwards a reality that it boggles the minds of all humanists, of which the caricaturist is not.  Nor his editor.

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UPDATED It’s On: Israel Demands Times Apologize for Blood Libel

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Israel is demanding an apology from London’s The Sunday Times for publishing a cartoon showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall cemented with Palestinian blood.

Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador in London told The Times of Israel that “We generally think that a red line has been crossed and the obligation on the newspaper is to correct that.”

Jon Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, stated: “The cartoon is shockingly reminiscent of the blood libel imagery more usually found in parts of the virulently anti-Semitic Arab press. Its use is all the more disgusting on Holocaust Memorial Day, given the similar tropes leveled against Jews by the Nazis.”

The cartoon by Gerald Scarfe was published Sunday, which also happened to be International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It shows Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu building a wall with the blood and bodies of Palestinian women and children who are screaming in pain.

The Sunday Times has so far denied that the cartoon was anti-Semitic. In a statement, the News International title described Scarfe’s imagery as “typically robust,” and added: “It is aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people. It appeared yesterday because Mr. Netanyahu won the Israeli election last week.

“The Sunday Times condemns anti-Semitism, as is clear in the excellent article in yesterday’s magazine which exposes the Holocaust-denying tours of concentration camps organized by David Irving.”

Martin Ivens, the newspaper’s incoming editor in chief, said: “The last thing I or anyone connected with the Sunday Times would countenance would be insulting the memory of the Shoah or invoking the blood libel. The paper has long written strongly in defense of Israel and its security concerns, as have I as a columnist. We are, however, reminded of the sensitivities in this area by the reaction to the cartoon and I will of course bear them very carefully in mind in future.”

Middle East envoy Tony Blair, a former British prime minister, met with Netanyahu on Monday and said he deplored the caricature, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

Rupert Murdoch whose News Corp. company owns the British newspaper, said via Twitter that the newspaper owes “a major apology for the grotesque, offensive cartoon,” The Jerusalem Post said.

British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks condemned the cartoon, saying “Whatever the intention, the danger of such images is that they reinforce a great slander of our time: that Jews, victims of the Holocaust, are now perpetrators of a similar crime against the Palestinians. Not only is this manifestly untrue, it is also inflammatory and deeply dangerous.”

 

UPDATE: According to a BBC Report, on Tuesday, January 29, the acting editor of the Sunday Times apologized for the grotesque cartoon published in his paper.  Martin Ivens told a group of British Jewish leadership and community members who met with him to express their outrage over the cartoon, “On behalf of the paper I’d like to apologize unreservedly for the offense we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake.”

Ivens went on to say “You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people – or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday.”

In addition, Ivens castigated the cartoonist, who was not present at the meeting.  He said, “Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend – by his own admission – he crossed a line.”

Scarfe put up his own response on his website, apologizing abjectly for the timing of the publication of his cartoon, and insisting that he was harpooning Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, but not the Jewish people.

His message stated that he was “stupidly completely unaware that it would be printed on Holocaust Day, and I apologise for the very unfortunate timing.”

The British Jewish communal leadership accepted the apologies and suggested it was time to “move on.”

 

How One British Paper Commemorated Int’l Holocaust Memorial Day

Monday, January 28th, 2013

In my 2010 report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs about antisemitic cartoons, I noted that political cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes than a lengthy essay.  They express ideas which are easy to understand, and thus represent an efficient way to transmit hate and prejudices, including antisemitism.

While the largest output of antisemitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world, some “respectable” European papers have published graphic depictions of Jews evoking classic Judeophobic stereotypes.

Some of the core motifs of antisemitic cartoons are Jews as absolute evil; imagery equating Israel with Nazi Germany; Jewish conspiracies; Zionists controlling the world; and variations of the blood libel.

While mainstream Western papers avoid explicitly promoting the blood libel, variations of this theme – suggesting in cartoon and in prose that bloodthirsty Israeli Jews intentionally kill innocently Palestinians (often children) – have been published at popular sites.  For instance, one of the most popular news sites in the Anglo world, The Huffington Post, posted a cartoon in 2012 by notorious antisemitic cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, which clearly conveyed the idea that the Israeli Prime Minister was murdering Palestinian babies to gain votes in the upcoming election, suggesting that baby killing was supported by the Israeli public.

A similar motif of infanticide appeared in a 2003 cartoon by Dave Brown in the progressive British daily The Independent. The cartoon shows Sharon eating the head of a Palestinian baby and saying, “What’s wrong? Have you never seen a politician kissing a baby? It won Britain’s 2003 Political Cartoon of the Year Award.

The following cartoon was published at The Sunday Times (the largest-selling ‘serious’ British national Sunday newspaper) today, Jan. 27, International Holocaust Memorial Day.

content_photo-2 In case you didn’t notice, the text reads ‘Will Cementing Peace Continue?’, an apparent allusion to Israeli construction across the green line.

However, the Sunday Times cartoonist decided to depict such building as not only injurious to peace, but (as the bloody, mangled bodies being buried over with cement, laid by the bloody trowel of a sinister Israeli Prime Minister) as a sadistic act of violence against innocents in order to gain votes in the Israeli election.

In light of the Sunday Times’ decision to publish a cartoon on International Holocaust Memorial Day depicting a blood-lusting Jewish leader, as well as recent comments by British MP David Ward suggesting that, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Jews should learn to stop “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians,” as well as other routine debasements of Holocaust memory, here’s a simple, if counter-intuitive request to those who believe that the Holocaust means anything at all:

Spare us your Holocaust pieties, your monuments, your memorials, museums and days of remembrance, and consider that, instead of honoring Jews murdered over 65 years ago, you may want to begin, instead, to honor Jews who are still among us.

There are many ways to show reverence for a tiny minority which has somehow survived despite the best efforts, past and present, of practitioners of homicidal antisemitism. However, the especially morally righteous among you may wish to gain a basic understanding of the precise manner in which Jews have been caricatured, vilified, demonized and dehumanized prior to pogroms, massacres and genocides, studiously avoid advancing narratives or creating graphic depictions which evoke such antisemitic imagery, and righteously condemn those who do so.

You cannot undo the horrors inflicted upon six million souls, but you can live your life with a steely determination to never again allow lethal, racist narratives about living Jews to go unchallenged, and to assiduously fight efforts to reintroduce such toxic calumnies into the “respectable” public discourse.

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Jew-Hatred in Egypt and Britain

Monday, January 28th, 2013

There’s lots of excitement in the Jew-hatred department lately. First, of course, is the not so stunning revelation that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi thinks that Jews are “bloodsuckers, warmongers, the descendents of apes and pigs” and that Muslims should “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.

Morsi iced the cake in a recent meeting with several members of the U.S. Senate:

“He was attempting to explain himself … then he said, ‘Well, I think we all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don’t view me favorably,’” [Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del] said.

The Cable asked Coons if Morsy specifically named the Jews as the forces that control the American media. Coons said all the senators believed the implication was obvious.

“He did not say [the Jews], but I watched as the other senators physically recoiled, as did I,” he said. “I thought it was impossible to draw any other conclusion.”

“The meeting then took a very sharply negative turn for some time. It really threatened to cause the entire meeting to come apart so that we could not continue,” Coons said.

Multiple senators impressed upon Morsy that if he was saying the criticisms of his comments were due to the Jews in the media, that statement was potentially even more offensive than his original comments from 2010.

“[Morsi] did not say the Jewish community was making a big deal of this, but he said something [to the effect] that the only conclusion you could read was that he was implying it,” Coons said. “The conversation got so heated that eventually Senator McCain said to the group, ‘OK, we’ve pressed him as hard as we can while being in the boundaries of diplomacy,’” Coons said. “We then went on to discuss a whole range of other topics.”

Although it took the NY Times several weeks after the story broke to notice it, there is nothing surprising about this attitude, as a Muslim Brother, as Andrew McCarthy explains:

Contrary to the fairy tale weaved by apologists for Islamists on both sides of America’s political aisle, Jew hatred is not a pathogen insidiously injected into Islam by the Nazis (with whom Middle Eastern Muslims enthusiastically aligned). Nor did the ummah come by it through exposure to other strains of anti-Semitism that blight the history of Christendom. Jew hatred is ingrained in Islamic doctrine. Consequently, despite the efforts of enlightened Muslim reformers, Jew hatred is — and will remain — a pillar of Islamist ideology.

You may recall hearing this little ditty from the Hamas charter — often echoed by ministers of the Palestinian Authority and in the preachments of Brotherhood jurist Yusuf al-Qaradawi, on whose every word millions hang weekly on al-Jazeera (or is it al-Gore?):

The Day of Resurrection will not arrive until the Muslims make war against the Jews and kill them, and until a Jew hiding behind a rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: “Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!”

Again, these are not sentiments dreamt up by “violent extremists” waging a modern, purely political “resistance” against oppressive “Zionists.” The prophet’s admonition that Muslims will be spared the hellfire by killing Jews is repeated in numerous authoritative hadiths (see, e.g., Sahih MuslimBook 41, No. 6985; Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, No. 791).

Hadiths, it is worth emphasizing, are the recorded actions and instructions of Mohammed, who is taken by Muslims to be the “perfect example” they are to emulate. And in case you suppose, after years of listening to Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, that the prophet must ultimately have come around on the Jews, you might want to rethink that one. Another hadith, relating Mohammed’s dying words, recounts his final plea: “May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians.” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, No. 427.)

This incident is interesting as a litmus test for our officials and politicians: will they continue to pretend that Brotherhood and Morsi are ‘moderate’ and worthy of our support and ignore the evidence that they are a bunch of racist, atavistic, megalomaniacs, and Jew- and Christian-haters? So far, the Obama Administration hasn’t done so well, rewarding Morsi with a gift of completely unneeded (except to attack Israel) F-16s and Abrams tanks.

Well, after all, Morsi is Egyptian (even if he does have a Ph.D from USC). What do you expect, that he should have the same enlightened consciousness as a Westerner? Like, for example, British MP David Ward, who compared Israeli “atrocities [inflicted] on the Palestinians” with the Holocaust (never mind that there were no such “atrocities”).

And, for another example, cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, whose cartoon was published on Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain:

sunday times cartoon

Hmmm, nothing anti-Jewish here, just “criticism of Israel,” right? In case you really don’t get it, note the exaggeratedly ‘Jewish’ physiognomy of the caricature of Netanyahu, as well as his posture and expression, his claw-like fingers, the implication of murderous malice. And then add the bloody ‘mortar’, and you see that this is a classic expression of Jew hatred.

As politics, it doesn’t make sense. Jonathan S. Tobin writes,

In the face of slanders such as this cartoon about Netanyahu, the facts are almost beside the point. The cartoon will be defended as fair comment about Israel’s security fence that the Palestinians and their foreign cheerleaders depict as a war crime. That this strictly defensive measure was made necessary by the Palestinians’ campaign of suicide bombings that cost the lives of a thousand Jews in the last decade goes unmentioned.

The willingness of Israel-bashers to appropriate the Holocaust to promote a new generation of anti-Semitic imagery is rooted in a worldview in which the actions of the Palestinians, or their consistent refusal to make peace are irrelevant. If even a fence to keep out suicide bombers can be seen as criminal then it is obvious that no terrorist outrage or act of hateful incitement (such as the Egyptian president’s belief that Israelis are the “descendants of apes and pigs”) is worthy of censure so long as Israelis are standing up for themselves and refusing to be slaughtered as the Jews of Europe were 70 years ago.

In order for it to be considered a defensible point of view about the Middle East, you’d have to believe the artist and the editors who condoned its publication know nothing of why Israel built a security fence or that the terrorist campaign that it was built to stop was preceded by repeated Israeli offers of a Palestinian state that were refused and answered with war.

As Tobin says, where Israel, Jews or ‘Zionists’ are concerned, the facts are beside the point.

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Israel’s US Ambassador: We’ll Act to Stop Chemical Weapons Reaching Hezbollah (Video)

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Israel’s ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said on Sunday night that Israel has been monitoring the situation in Syria for a long time and is worried about the possibility of Syrian chemical weapons coming to Hezbollah’s possession.

“If these weapons fall into the wrong hands, it will be a game changer for us,” Oren stated in an interview with Fox News.

Oren told the interviewer, Chris Wallas:”You can imagine the Hezbollah, with its thousands of missiles, having chemical weapons? It could kill thousands of people.”

The Sunday Times has reported that Israeli special forces are operating in Syria as spotters to track the regime’s stocks of chemical and biological weapons. The cross-border operation is part of a secret war to trail Syria’s non-conventional armaments and sabotage their development.

“For years we’ve known the exact location of Syria’s chemical and biological munitions,” an Israeli source told the Sunday Times, referring to Israel’s spy satellites and drones. “But in the past week we’ve got signs that munitions have been moved to new locations.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israels-us-ambassador-well-act-to-stop-chemical-weapons-reaching-hezbollah-video/2012/12/10/

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