An article in the Guardian by their Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes (“Gaza militants fire rockets after clashes flare in Jerusalem”, April 24) misled readers beginning in the very first sentence:
Militants in Gaza have fired at least 35 rockets into Israel in one of the most intense flare-ups in months, seemingly triggered by days of tensions in Jerusalem in which far-right Jewish groups and the Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians.
Holmes is suggesting that “tensions” in Jerusalem have been characterised by “far-right Jewish groups” and police clashing with Palestinians for days.
This extremely misleading.
First, the “tensions” erupted on April 13th, the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with nightly Palestinian violence in east Jerusalem amidst anger over police security restrictions around the walls of the Old City, including a ban on gatherings. During that time, there was also a number of Palestinian assaults on orthodox Jews that were filmed and uploaded onto TikTok.
The racist Israeli group Lehava didn’t protest until April 22, in response to the Palestinian violence.
Then, Guardian readers are told the following:
Hours of sustained rocket launches early on Saturday – and Israel’s retaliatory strikes on the strip using fighter jets and attack helicopters – broke a months-long lull along the frontier with the coastal enclave.
There was not a “months-long lull” along the Israeli-Gaza border. Two rockets were fired from the strip on April 16th and 17th.
The article continues:
Violence in Jerusalem spiked on Thursday night as hundreds of far-right Jewish Israelis marched down city streets chanting “death to Arabs” and confronted Palestinians.
This is another example – one we’ve highlighted previously – of news outlets assigning extreme ideological orientations only to Jewish Israelis, and rarely if ever to Arab Israelis or Palestinians. In fact, the Police’s Jerusalem District chief, Doron Turgeman, told Army Radio that dozens of Palestinians were arrested last night for “racist inspired” attacks on Jews or Jewish property. In other words, it would be more accurate to say that far-right Jewish Israelis and far-right Palestinian rioters clashed – with police, who were assaulted by Palestinians the rioting them with rocks, trying to keep both groups apart.
Later, Holmes writes the following:
One video shared on social media showed what appeared to be several Jewish boys throwing stones at an Arab house as children screamed. Another filmed a group of Palestinian youths kicking a person on the ground as a voice off-camera shouts “break the settler”, a reference to Israelis who have taken land in the Palestinian territories.
That “person” kicked on the ground was a kippa-wearing Jew who fled his car after it was pelted with rocks by Palestinian youths. Further, Holmes fails to note that the 46 year old man, Yahya Jardi, is from the city of Beit Shemesh, and thus is in fact not a “settler” who took “land in the Palestinian territories”.
Here’s a video of the attack posted on Twitter.
ערבים בועטים ביהודי שרוע כל הקרקע בשער שכם pic.twitter.com/zmAaAnUXdm
— גלעד כהן | Gilad Cohen (@GiladCohenJR) April 22, 2021
A few paragraphs down, Holmes attempts to provide some context:
The unique sensitivity of the [Temple Mount] complex has been a focal point of previous violent episodes. A period of intense Israeli-Palestinian violence, known as the second intifada, began in 2000 when Israeli politician Ariel Sharon made a provocative visit to the site
The suggestion by Holmes that the second intifada was incited by Ariel Sharon’s visit to Judaism’s holiest site is one of the most often-repeated media lies about the history of conflict. Sharon’s visit was merely a convenient pretext, as it is well known that that the intifada had in fact been planned in advance by Palestinian leaders.
Even if you can argue that his visit that day (which was approved by Palestinian security chief Jibril Rajoub in advance) ‘triggered’ rioting, it’s also true that Palestinian leaders cynically exploited the incident to promote more violence. Official Palestinian Authority media outlets – ultimately controlled by Yasser Arafat – exhorted Palestinians to engage in violence to ‘defend al-Aqsa’, a conspiracy theory that has been used to incite attacks on Jews for nearly 100 years.
Holmes then adds the following:
In 2017 the installation of security cameras and metal detectors there led to days of clashes and fatal incidents.
The Israeli decision to install security cameras in 2017 was of course prompted by a terror attack at the site by three Arab-Israelis, who opened fire on Israeli border police officers stationed at the Mount, killing two.
Holmes’ report on the recent Jerusalem riots elides the role played by far-right Palestinians, and continues in the long Guardian tradition of denying Palestinians agency by downplaying or ignoring the role played by their racism and extremism in inciting violence and perpetuating the conflict.