Guardian columnists’ continued dehumanisation of Israelis

What a newspaper does not report can be just as revealing as what it does.

Back in May 2010 CiF rushed to report the arrest of two Arab Israelis suspected of espionage, allowing Ben White to make wild claims that “Israel seeks to silence dissent” and “repressive practices long used in the West Bank and Gaza are now being used to limit civil liberties within Israel”.

White claimed that:

“Several examples now point to an uncomfortable reality for the self-proclaimed “only democracy in the Middle East”: practices that have long been routine in the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza are being used in Israel to suppress dissent and limit civil liberties.” (my emphasis)

He attempted to paint a terrifying picture of Soviet-style assaults on the civil liberties of Israel’s Arab citizens:

“So why is this happening now? First, it is the latest manifestation of a deteriorating atmosphere in Israel, with political dissent and human rights groups under attack…..

….Second, there is also a specific focus on Israel’s Palestinian minority…..

…..Hussein Abu Hussein, the lawyer for both Makhoul and Said, stressed the role of someone like Makhoul in being a prominent advocate internationally for “the need for accountability” – in other words, “the state has enough reasons to stop this voice”. Mohammad Zeidan, of the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), says that the arrests are “clearly political”. He believes that for some in Israel, the work being done by NGOs and Arab parties on the international level is “crossing a red line” – “they want to remind us that this is not a democracy”. “

Ten days after White’s article, CiF published a piece by Yousef Munayyer in which he too took up the theme of Israel’s supposed ‘intimidation’ of Ameer Makhoul.

“In recent years, the Israeli repression of Palestinian nonviolent dissent has increased significantly and Israel is showing signs of transforming into a fully-fledged police state. Even Israeli citizens, both Palestinian such as Ameer Makhoul and Jewish, have faced intimidation in one form or another for being critical of Israel’s policies.”

On June 1st CiF printed an article by Daphna Baram in which she managed to link Ameer Makhoul’s arrest to the previous day’s events aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Ameer Makhoul and Dr Omar Saeed (human right activists and Israeli citizens) were arrested in the middle of the night at their homes some two weeks ago, and were unlawfully prevented from conferring with their lawyers for 12 days. Now they are facing trial on extremely controversial spying allegations. In this atmosphere, no wonder the government now starts killing European human rights activists and protesters in an act of terrorist piracy.”

In November 2010 Seumas Milne wrote that

“leading civil rights campaigner Ameer Makhoul faces up to 10 years in jail after being convicted of the improbable charge of spying for Hezbollah.” (my emphasis)

Earlier this week Ameer Makhoul was sentenced by a court in Haifa to nine years of imprisonment for spying for Hizbollah both in war-time and afterwards.  So far, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood has failed to report upon the subject whatsoever and CiF readers remain ignorant of the details of the case.  Whilst for people such as Milne, spying for Hizbollah is probably at worst the moral equivalent of stealing a few paper clips from the office, the fact is that Ameer Makhoul has been tried and found guilty of an extremely serious crime in a court of law in a democratic country with a fiercely independent judicial system.

If that calculated omission of information were not enough, CiF published an emotional polemic written by Makhoul’s wife on Jan. 31st in which she repeats the Guardian-style claims of persecution against him, painting him as an innocent victim of Israeli oppression.

Janan Abdu knows as well as I do that any Israeli civilian is free to make a complaint regarding his or her treatment by the security forces at any stage of proceedings and that such a complaint must be investigated. She also knows that if a defendant makes any claims of mistreatment during his or her trial, that too is investigated – regardless of whether a formal complaint has been made or not.

But of course neither Abdu nor the Guardian have any interest in informing readers of the truth, the details of the case nor the gravity of Makhoul’s crime.  The Guardian’s decision to print Abdu’s unproven accusations without presenting the other side of the story indicates that it is more interested in defaming Israel than reporting the news. Janan Abdu’s decision to write this article for a foreign newspaper – rather than addressing any complaints she may have to the authorities who can actually do anything about them – show that she is interested solely in whipping up hatred against the country her husband has betrayed.

In the summer of 2006 over one million Israeli citizens in the North of Israel, myself and my family included, spent weeks in air raid shelters under a barrage of lethal Hizbollah rockets. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes. Children were still being treated for post traumatic stress disorder well over a year after the war ended.  43 Israeli civilians – Arabs and Jews – were killed along with 76 soldiers and hundreds were injured.

These are just a few of the people who lost their lives that summer:

As the Hizbullah rockets fell on Wadi Nisnas the evening of August 6, 2006, Mohammed (Don) Saloum was hit by a spray of shrapnel across his entire body. A lifeguard by vocation, he ignored his wounds and ran into the nearby burning house to save his mother and sister. The fire caused a gas tank to explode as Saloum entered the house, burning him severely and amputating his leg. Three other people were killed in the rocket barrage and dozens more were wounded.

After spending over a year fighting for his life in a Haifa hospital,  Salum succumbed to his wounds on August 29, 2007.

We now know that Janan Abdu’s husband, Ameer Makhoul, was assisting Hizbollah throughout the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. These are not the actions of a ‘human rights activist’ – they are the actions of someone who has no respect whatsoever for human life.  The Guardian’s repeated attempts to transform Makhoul into a persecuted hero are beyond belief and the whitewashing of his crime simply obscene

They do serve, however, to remind us just how far the process of dehumanizing Israelis has progressed at the Guardian.

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