Guardian incites the antisemitic mob

The first known Blood Libel occurred in 1144 when a 12-year-old boy, William, was found murdered in Norwich. Though there was no evidence linking Jews to this, the monk Thomas of Monmouth visited Norwich four years later and accused Jews of the town of having tortured and killed the boy.  Soon, accusations of ritual murders of children were spread across the country. Additional cases were recorded in England and throughout Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Prioress’s Tale” (in The Canterbury Tales), written in the late 14th century, also invokes the blood libel motif, describing Jews as aroused by satanic urges to murder Christian children.

Though variations of this libel would reoccur in subsequent centuries, through the Nazi era, and even following the regime’s downfall, resulting in pogroms (anti-Jewish riots), and the slaughter of scores of innocent Jewish men, women and children, such lethal hatred didn’t end with the birth of the Jewish state in 1948.

Modern variations of the blood libel – accusations that Israel as the collective Jew intentionally murders non-Jewish, Palestinian children, for religious rituals, to steal their organs, or due to Jews’ putative villainous nature – have been relatively common in the Palestinian and Arab world.

Though such grotesque and toxic expressions of Jew hatred don’t typically filter into the Western media landscape, in November 2009, the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet published an article implying that the IDF kills Palestinians to provide the Israeli medical establishment with organs. The article was heavily criticised in the Swedish media, and it was widely condemned as antisemitic.  As CAMERA’s director Andrea Levin wrote in her take-down of the lies peddled in the article, the Aftonbladet piece quickly “metastasized in Middle East media into lurid variations on the old blood libel of Jews plundering organs and drinking the blood of non-Jews”.

The following month, the Guardian was forced to apologise for and amend a headline of a piece attempting to legitimise the Aftonbladet story, which initially had the headline “Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs”.

Dec. 24, 2009 (Haaretz)

The most recent example of a Western outlet promoting a form of the blood libel is a Nov. 2023 article at EuroNews, which published an article “Israel ‘stealing organs’ from bodies in Gaza, alleges human rights group”.  The accusation was naturally devoid of any evidence, relying on a statement by an outfit called Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.  Despite their name, however, the group’s mission is the polar opposite of human rights.  EMHRM has been promoting antisemitic narratives and terror propaganda in the media since October 7th, which isn’t surprising given the substantive evidence of their ties to Hamas.

It’s therefore not surprising that an article on April 2 by the Guardian’s Chris McGreal – who effectively covers the ‘American Jewish power’ beat for the outlet – which we’ll show, relied partly on that same Hamas-aligned group to support a more sanitised version of that toxic calumny.

McGreal, who published an article in 2005 (which was cross posted at an antisemitic conspiracy site) similarly alleging that IDF snipers intentionally targeted Palestinian kids, begins by uncritically citing figures provided by the proscribed Gaza terror organisation – that evidently ‘apolitical’ group of health professionals whose work he explicitly defended in a previous column.

He cites Hamas’s numbers to assert that “children account for more than one in three of the more than 32,000 people killed in Israel’s months-long assault on Gaza”, a figure that has been undermined by two recent analyses by experienced statisticians.

This is a major deception, as it’s used to support his thesis of an alleged ‘Israeli war on children’.

McGreal then writes of a few doctors who gave the Guardian accounts of working in Gaza hospitals this year who believe that some of the child victims they’ve treated, many of whom with bullet wounds, were “directly targeted by Israeli troops“.  The journalist doesn’t elaborate on how they made this determination.

Readers are then told that, “a mid-February, a group of UN experts accused the Israeli military of targeting Palestinian civilians who are evidently not combatants, including children, as they sought shelter.”

However, the UN ‘report’ in question, which, without evidence, accused Israeli soldiers of raping Palestinian women, was an unserious piece of propaganda, and is not a report in any sense of that word. It’s a one-page 448 word statement with literally no sources. Further, among the ‘experts’ cited in their ‘report’, as our colleague noted, is one Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur notorious for her statement effectively justifying the Oct. 7 massacre, as well other manifestations of unhinged hatred of Israel and antisemitic rhetoric.

Another one of the ‘experts’ is Reem Alsalem, a Jordanian Palestinian who not only failed to condemn Hamas’s (proven) use of sexual violence, but actively assisted Albanese in trying to cast doubt on the story by claiming governments have not “appl[ied] the usual standards of discernment and credibility evaluation.”

Here’s the sole sentence in that UN report – cited by McGreal – which relates to his accusation that IDF soldiers intentionally target children:

Palestinian women and girls have reportedly been arbitrarily executed in Gaza, often together with family members, including their children, according to information received. 

We don’t know what “information” they “received” because, as we noted, there are NO footnotes, or sources of any kind included.

McGreal then writes that “eyewitness accounts and video recordings appear to back up claims that Israeli soldiers have fired on civilians, including children, outside of combat with Hamas or other armed groups”, and cites a Haaretz article. However, the March 31 article in question includes nothing about the IDF targeting children. In fact, in one paragraph from the piece, an incident is recounted in which an IDF commander called off a strike on suspected terrorist in a combat zone when “children on bicycles” were spotted.

McGreal, in a subsequent paragraph, writes “Israeli and foreign human rights groups have documented a long history of snipers firing on unarmed Palestinians, including children, in Gaza and the West Bank”, yet fails to provide a source to any reports documenting the IDF intentionally firing on innocent children.

Then, after citing a IDF denial of the charges that their soldiers intentionally fire on children, or any non-combatants, he cites “doctors who say otherwise”:

Dr Vanita Gupta, an intensive care doctor at a New York City hospital, volunteered at Gaza’s European hospital in January. One morning, three badly wounded children arrived in quick succession. Their families told Gupta that the children had been together in the street when they came under fire and that there had been no other shooting in the area. She said no wounded adults were brought in to the hospital at the same time and from the same place.

“One child, I could see there was a shot to the head…“There was another little girl about the same age. I saw a bullet entry wound on her head. Gupta said that a third young child also had a shot to the head and was sent for a CT scan.

Family members told Gupta that the Israeli army had withdrawn from the area about four kilometres from the hospital.

“They said people started returning to their homes because the army was gone. But the snipers stayed on. The families said they opened fire at the children,” she said.

Interestingly, Dr Vanita Gupta was the author of a LA Times op-ed which our colleague Tamar Sternthal addressed.  Sternthal, noting the lack of any evidence or details to corroborate the doctor’s claims, reached out to the IDF about the LA Times claim that snipers shot three children in the head, and a spokesperson emphatically denied the accusation.

McGreal then recounts another alleged incident, writing that “Doctors who worked at the Nasser hospital in southern Gaza said what appeared to be targeted Israeli fire killed…14-year-old Ruwa Qdeih. Doctors say she was shot dead outside the hospital in Khan Younis as she went to collect water.”  Tellingly, McGreal linked to a video report at the Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera, evidently because the accusation wasn’t reported at any Western media outlets. In fact, our research was only able to find it reported at Wafa and Electronic Intifada – with the latter acknowledging that OCHA said the person killed was a woman, not a child.

Next, McGreal provides another putative example, writing that “In Gaza City, three-year-old Emad Abu al-Qura was shot outside his home as he went to buy fruit with his cousin, Hadeel, a 20-year-old medical student, who was also killed. The family said they were targeted by an Israeli sniper.”

The family may have indeed said that, but all McGreal links to is a YouTube video published by the Middle East Eye (MEE), a rabidly anti-Israel publication believed to be Qatari-owned, and which has been accused of publishing articles harbouring random rumours and fabricated stories targeting Doah’s enemies. It also peddles antisemitism, and was co-founded, and currently led, by David Hearst, a former Guardian foreign leader writer who evidently felt that his outlet was too soft on Israel.

While we were unable to find any evidence to back up or refute this specific claim, we weren’t able to find any reports at Western, mainstream outlet corroborating the accusation.  Again, you have to ask why McGreal had to resort to such unserious publications to advance his accusation – which brings us back to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

McGreal writes the following, citing the Hamas-aligned outfit.

Other young victims include 14-year-old Nahedh Barbakh, who was hit by sniper fire alongside his 20-year-old brother, Ramez, as they followed Israeli military orders to evacuate an area west of Khan Younis in late January, according to the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

Unsurprisingly, the EMHRM statement reads like an English-language Hamas press release, cites only the claims of an anonymous eyewitness, and appears to have only been picked up by Al Jazeera, Iranian PressTV and – you guessed it – Middle East Eye: the Iran-Qatar-Guardian axis of propaganda at work.

Another example by McGreal is, evidently, another Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor ‘exclusive’. He writes “the Red Crescent Society said that 13-year-old Amir Odeh was killed by an Israeli drone at its headquarters in the Al-Amal hospital in Khan Younis. The family told Euro-Med Monitor he was shot through a window as he played with his cousins on the eighth floor of building where they had sought shelter from the fighting.”  Note that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, cited by the Guardian, is merely text, without any supporting evidence.

The piece continues with more unevidenced claims,  as McGreal writes of “Thaer Ahmad”, who “spent three weeks at the Nasser hospital in January as a volunteer with the medical charity MedGlobal”, and who “said he treated five children he believes were shot by snipers because the placing of the bullets suggested they were not hit randomly but targeted.”  Again, even Ahmad doesn’t allege to have evidence that they were killed, yet alone intentionally, by Israeli soldiers.

McGreal then cites the comments of Dr Irfan Galaria, a US surgeon who volunteered at the European Hospital. Galaria, we’re told, “said that a 14-year-old boy arrived at the hospital who had been shot once through the back. When surgeons operated they found a bullet in the boy’s stomach.” However, though Galaria suspected the IDF, even she also acknowledged that “it [was] difficult to establish whether the child was targeted.

The mere quantity of McGreal’s alleged examples doesn’t mitigate the fatal flaws – particularly an almost complete absence of actual evidence, or any specific details surrounding the killings in question.

Typical is when, further along in the nearly 4,000 word article, he writes of “doctors” being “shocked at the number of child victims, and that they believed the shootings were part of a broader pattern of targeting Palestinian civilians, including elderly people.”  They may of course “believe” that. But, as any reporter knows, the expressed “belief” of a doctor – particularly one living under Hamas rule, and thus fearing the consequences of expressing different “beliefs” – is not the same as evidence.

Finally, it’s worth noting that, while McGreal spends a lot of space trying to find Israel guilty of targeting those under eighteen, much of the piece levels a broader accusation that the army intentionally shoots unarmed non-combatants of all ages.  This is an important fact because Guardian editors – almost certainly with McGreal’s consent – decided to go with the most inflammatory headline possible, one which depicts Israeli soldiers as monsters who – like anti-Jewish libels of the past – delight in the murder of innocent children.

Further, they made this editorial decision despite the paucity of evidence to buttress the broad allegation, and knowing full well the tsunami of antisemitism in Britain since Oct. 7, much of which is incited by the propagation of such crude caricatures of Israeli villainy.

We’re sometimes asked if the Guardian is antisemitic.  The question is understandable, but misses the point.

The libel peddled by McGreal, evoking the continuity of ancient antisemitic motifs concerning Jewish bloodlust, should be seen as one piece in a pattern of content at the outlet about Israel and Jews that can more accurately be characterised as creating a permission structure for anti-Semitism.  Their malign obsession with the Jewish state not only, at times, crosses over to antisemitism. It also – by imagining a state that is cruel, oppressive, racist, illegitimate and, as Robert S. Wistrich termed it, represents “an organic obstacle to peace and progress” – affirms the darkest and most delusional beliefs of genuine Jew haters.

Defenders of the Guardian might comment to our criticism by citing editorials in which they’ve also condemned Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack.  However, the incendiary, dishonest, ideologically-driven anti-Israel content published at their site day after day is far more consequential than the occasional moral throat clearing.  When the history of his period is written, it will be noted that following the worst antisemitic attack since the Holocaust, and worst antisemitic outbreak in the UK living memory, the Guardian not only doubled-down on their hatred, but provided succor to the pogromists.

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