‘The Guardian View’ on the Gaza protests: one of their worst editorials on Israel ever

The Guardian once again has demonised Israel, smearing the state as one defined primarily by racism and violence – an ugly caricature which has little resemblance to reality. The notion that Jerusalem should take security advice from the Corbyn-sympathising London intelligentsia is as risible as their suggestion that its citizens should take seriously the moralizing tales of Israeli darkness by the Hollywood left.

The distortions, falsehoods and smears in an official Guardian editorial published on April 22 are numerous, and in fact begin in the headline:

Contrary to the headline’s claim, the protests were never about Israel’s partial blockade, but about the supposed ‘right of return’ – that is, the non-existent right of millions of Palestinian descendants of refugees from ’48 to “return” to Israel – thus the name of the event: “The Great Return March”.

The editorial opens:

This weekend the United Nations Middle East peace envoy asked: “How does the killing of a child in #Gaza today help #peace? It doesn’t! It fuels anger and breeds more killing.” Nickolay Mladenov was right to be outraged. He tweeted after a Palestinian teenager was shot in the head apparently by Israeli army snipers while peacefully protesting near a border fence. The Israeli government at first dismissed calls for an investigation, only to concede to one after the international community called on the military to “stop killing children”

First, the lethal narrative that Israel intentionally murders children is an ugly smear, one used by Palestinian propagandists and other who seek to demonise Israel, one which obfuscates Hamas’s cynical and illegal use of children as combatants.  Further, the Guardian’s characterisation of the protest in question as “peaceful” is a flat-out lie. Whilst the circumstances of the Palestinian teen’s death are not yet clear, there’s no doubt that the 10,000 strong Palestinian protest that he participated in included the use of Molotov cocktails and other forms of violence – as well as attempts to damage the fence which protects southern Israeli communities from Hamas terrorists. 

The editorial continues:

The soldiers’ use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators is an affront; but it is in line with the brutal attitudes towards Palestinians that have become normalised by Israeli politicians. The snatching of life from a few dozen people and the maiming of 1,700 more over the past four weeks are an indication of what Israel thinks is a fair price to pay to keep Gaza in check. 

The first sentence is a non-sequitur.  Whether or not the protesters were “armed” (as in, with firearms) is not the point. The question is whether other democracies faced with a similar threat on their border by a proscribed terrorist group would act differently.  Would the US Border Control, for instance, not use lethal force if thousands of Mexicans aligned with a violent terror group attempted to cross the border into US territory?  Would the US government ever even consider leaving US border cities vulnerable to an attack?  For some perspective that the media has failed to provide, the last Gaza protest was less than one kilometer away from an Israeli kibbutz.

The editorial’s contemptuous dismissal of Israeli concerns continues:

This awful pummeling of a besieged population is not solely, as the Israeli military claim, to protect a border fence. It is to cow people into submission. 

Does it really even need to be stated that Hamas’s sole motivation for taking over the march was to score propaganda points they’d derive by serving up images to the media of Palestinian suffering?  But, of course, the failure to treat Palestinian leaders as moral actors, accompanied by a callous disregard for Israel’s regional security threats whilst imputing to the state malevolent (often racist) motives, is a hallmark of Guardian coverage.   

The editorial continues:

These protests were envisaged as a grassroots nonviolent campaign to remind the world that Palestinians whose families were driven into exile during the establishment of Israel consider their right to return inviolable. The idea spun out of a viral Facebook post by Ahmad Abu Artema, a 33-year-old journalist, who wondered what would happen if thousands of people in Gaza, the majority of whom are refugees and their descendants, attempted to cross the frontier peacefully to reach their ancestral homes. These may be idealistic thoughts, but they are not ignoble ones. Who would not prefer Mr Artema’s suggestion that Palestinians and Israelis could live side by side as equal citizens to the violent passions and hatred that pass between these two peoples today? In preferring to dream rather than accepting today’s nightmare, Mr Artema shares a belief with Israel’s president in a better future.

As we’ve demonstrated in previous posts, Abu Artema, contrary to Guardian claims, was never motivated by the desire to make “peace” with Israel.  Rather, he envisions a ‘Greater Palestine’, where Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state.  Further, as an additional post at our blog made clear, Abu Artema’s vision of ‘No Israel’ is not even remotely similar to the vision of Israel’s president – one which, quite naturally, includes Israel’s continued existence.

The editorial continues:

Mr Artema’s ideas have been, unlikely as it sounds, adopted – Israel would say hijacked – by Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza. The jury is still out as to how long Hamas’s patronage will allow the protests to remain peaceful.

It’s simply a lie to claim that the protests were ever “peaceful”, as they’ve include the use of hundreds of Molotov cocktails, kite bombs, the planting of IEDs and – in at least two cases – shots fired at Israeli forces.

The editorial continues:

Unfortunately Israel’s hardline government sees gains where others see losses. Its scandal-plagued prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has already got Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite its being under international jurisdiction and to cut US funding to the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees.

In claiming that Jerusalem is under “international jurisdiction”, the Guardian is referring to the non-binding resolution passed by the General Assembly on November 29th, 1947, which called for the Holy City to be set up as a corpus separatum under a special international regime’.  However, the Palestinians didn’t accept the UN resolution, and the city has never in fact been under such an “international regime”.  In fact, the special international regime was supposed to be for just an interval of 10 years, after which the city’s status was to be determined in a referendum.  However, during that period, Jordan essentially nullified the corpus separatum proposal by illegally occupying eastern parts of Jerusalem. 

Moreover, there was a time in Israel’s history when 16 states had their ambassadors in Jerusalem, and no one said – per the non-binding UN resolution – that they were in violation of international law. 

Finally, it should be noted that the EU treats east Jerusalem as “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” suggesting that the city is actually not currently considered “international”, by the ‘international community’, at all.  

The editorial continues:

The subjugation of Palestinians erodes Israel’s standing internationally and damages its democracy at home. Its politics are polluted by anti-Arab bigotry. As Israel grows richer, Palestinian destitution becomes more troubling. Its dilemma grows more acute as the number of Palestinians in the Holy Land approaches that of Jews. Israel cannot hold on to all of the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, keep its Jewish identity and remain a democracy.

This is absurd for a couple of reasons. First, the Israeli government is not considering holding “on to all of the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean”, as the Guardian suggests.  So, the total number of Palestinians living in this area is of no consequence.  Even the most right-wing Israeli politicians only speak of one day annexing Area C of the West Bank (the major Jewish population centers), not Area A, and certainly not Gaza.

The editorial continues:

It is in Israel’s interest to accept that Palestinians need a state as much as Israelis do. Otherwise, the choices are a single entity in which Jews could eventually be a minority; a form of apartheid; or perpetual occupation. Hollywood stars like Natalie Portman have understood the dangerous turn Israel is taking. It would be a good idea if the nation’s leaders did too.

The implicit charge in this final paragraph, that Israelis don’t want a peaceful two-state solution, is contradicted by nearly every poll conducted since Oslo. 

Most Israelis may be skeptical that, under the current conditions, withdrawing from territory in the West Bank – absent stringent security guarantees – would actually bring about peace.  However, that’s another issue entirely, one that doesn’t speak to Israeli support for the idea of two states, and their broader desire for a peaceful solution that involves territorial concessions.  Further, the Guardian naturally ignores the question of whether Palestinians truly want peace, consistent with decades of coverage which ignores acts by the PA – such as incitement and a culture which glorifies violence – inimical to a peace and co-existence.

The Guardian once again has demonised Israel, smearing the state as one defined primarily by racism and violence – an ugly caricature which has little resemblance to reality.  Moreover, the notion that Jerusalem should take security advice from the Corbyn-sympathising London intelligentsia is as risible as their suggestion that its citizens should take seriously the moralizing tales of Israeli darkness by the Hollywood left. 

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