BDS and the surreal debate at ‘Comment is Free’ regarding Israel’s very right to exist

March 21st saw the publication on ‘Comment is Free’ of a video interview with Omar Barghouti – a leading light in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

The video is attributed to Christian Bennet and Mustafa Khalili (yes, apparently it took two of them to make this) – both video producers employed by the Guardian.  Khalili, according to his Twitter account, seems to be a BDS advocate.


He is also the man who, after Operation Cast Lead, sent out an e-mail to bloggers offering them Guardian-made films (which he was apparently involved in making) of alleged Israeli war crimes for use on their blogs. Yes, folks – that’s the ‘fair and balanced’ Guardian in action again.

Dear Friends

I am writing to you from Guardian Films the documentary arm of the Guardian Newspaper to bring to your attention a series of films we have produced on alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive against Gaza earlier this year.

The films focus on three separate cases of alleged war crimes;
(1) The use of Palestinian children as human shields.
(2) The systematic targeting of medics and hospitals by the Israeli Army.
(3) The use of state of the art precision weapons such as UAV aircraft to fire on groups of unarmed civilians.

Three documentaries produced by Guardian Films and Clancy Chassay made during a month-long investigation add weight to calls this week for a full inquiry into the events surrounding Operation Cast Lead, which was aimed at Hamas, but which left over 1400 Palestinians dead – around 300 known to be children.

[photos and link omitted] ….

We are requesting from you all where possible to please embed a link to our ‘Gaza War Crimes’ page on your blog and web sites.

Look forward to hearing from you soon
With Kindest Regards

Mustafa Khalili

Previously a photo-journalist, Khalili collaborated with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Muslim Brotherhood-linked, Hizbollah supporting, Iran groupie, faux human rights outfit known as the Islamic Human Rights Commission at an event in late 2010 to mark “10 years since the the Al-Aqsa / Second Intifada against the zionist (sic)-apartheid state”.

So now that we have established Khalili’s motives in promoting Barghouti in the so-called British mainstream media, let’s take a look at the video itself.

Barghouti claims that the aim of BDS is to ‘end the occupation’, and dismantle the ‘wall’ and ‘settlements’, as well as to put an end to ‘racial discrimination inside Israel’ itself.

Of course he fails to mention that the ‘occupation’ was well on its way to being ended and settlements dismantled when, according to the Oslo agreements of the early 1990s, Israel pulled out of substantial areas of Judea and Samaria and that further stages in that agreement were only halted by the decision of the Palestinian leadership to embark upon the second Intifada in 2000. Naturally too, he neglects to point out the connection between the construction of the anti-terrorist fence and the indiscriminate murder of well over a thousand Israeli civilians during the Intifada years.

As for any racial discrimination inside Israel itself; that is certainly not enshrined within nor supported by Israeli law and any discrimination which does occur –whilst always to be condemned – is no different to that in dozens of other developed Western countries against which Barghouti and company are not organizing a campaign of BDS. That, of course, puts paid to Barghouti’s later claim that his organization is ‘not singling out Israel’.

Barghouti goes on to state that another aim of the BDS campaign is to secure the ‘right of return’ to Israel for Palestinian refugees.

As we are well aware, this is politically correct code for the annihilation of Israel as a Jewish state: the denial of the rights of the Jewish people to self-determination. The EUMC Working Definition defines this as anti-Semitic.

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Despite this fact, Barghouti goes to great pains to stress that the BDS movement is not anti-Semitic and defines such accusations as ‘false’.

Barghouti claims that the BDS movement seeks to bring the ‘human rights under international law of the Palestinian people to the fore’. Unfortunately, the human rights of the Palestinian people are abused to a great extent by both the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas – a subject upon which Barghouti is interestingly silent.

In Gaza, journalists are harassed and beaten by Hamas. Women have seen a serious deterioration in their rights, Christians and homosexuals are persecuted and political opponents of the regime tortured and killed. In Fatah-controlled areas, the situation on some fronts may be a little better, but there is no freedom of the press or freedom of assembly, political opponents are imprisoned and tortured there too and gays and Christians suffer persecution.  Were Barghouti really concerned with the human rights of the Palestinian people, he would surely begin his campaign at home in Ramallah.

Continuing his context-free propaganda fest, Barghouti mentions 1,500 ‘predominantly civilian’ casualties during Operation Cast Lead, which is of course a grossly inaccurate statement. He bemoans the destruction of mosques in Gaza, but fails to mention that weapons were being stored in those places of worship. He claims that he is ‘not calling for any special treatment of Israel’, but the very nature of his organization does precisely that. He even appears to be infected by some sort of delusions of grandeur when he states that ‘no Israeli government is amenable to reform’. It is, of course, the sole prerogative of the Israeli people to make changes within the Israeli government – not that of the international community, ‘civil society’ or any opportunist activist who is not a citizen of that country.

In addition to being an ideologically-driven liar, Barghouti is of course also a massive hypocrite of the worst kind. As is well-known, he enjoys the privilege of being a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University where his rather lengthy studies are financed in part by the tax payers of the very nation he campaigns to eliminate.

It was obvious even before the ‘Palestine Papers’ affair that the Guardian has long since ceased to merely report the news; it now favours a more active role in creating the news – and the side upon which it has come down is not that of a negotiated two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but the side supported by Omar Barghouti and his associates in organizations such as PACBI and Al Shabaka. That side is one which is dedicated to scuppering any meaningful negotiation and compromise which would lead to a peaceful resolution to the problems. It is also one which denounces the Palestinian Authority as ‘traitors’ to ‘the cause’ because they negotiate with Israel.

The aim of such organizations is the elimination of Israel as the world’s one and only Jewish state, and the Guardian’s collaboration with such organizations is no less dangerous or offensive than its frequent promotion of Hamas.

The promotion of this video interview with Barghouti is propaganda of the most despicable kind. It has nothing to do with ‘freedom of expression’ or ‘the right of the public to know’, but belongs firmly in the category of ‘the right to spread and promote lies’.

One would expect that from dyed in the wool agitators such as Omar Barghouti and Mustafa Khalili. One has even come to expect it from various Guardian editors and reporters. It would be very interesting, however, to know if members of the board and the trustees of the Guardian Media Group are equally at ease with this bizarre, off the wall editorial line which hardly compliments the Guardian’s self-declared aim to be the ‘world’s leading liberal voice’.

For rather than maintaining its position as a member of the respected mainstream media, the Guardian is looking ever increasingly similar to those niche rags touted by members of the oddball Socialist Workers’ Party on London’s street corners.

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