* The Guardian readers’ editor: “Guardian reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant about the language they use when writing about Jews or Israel.”
* The Guardian readers’ editor: Guardian reporters should have avoided “references to Israel/US ‘global domination’ and the term ‘slavish’ to describe the U.S. relationship with Israel; and, in an article on a lost tribe of Mallorcan Jews, what I regarded as a gratuitous reference to ‘the island’s wealthier families’”.
* Tom Gross: The examples cited by The Guardian readers’ editor are just the tip of the iceberg concerning the way The Guardian and other British and European newspapers’ coverage of Israel is all too often tinged with anti-Semitism.
[UPDATE: There is also now a follow-up article on this subject, here: The Guardian acknowledges a degree of anti-Semitism.]
* Daniel Pipes: “The Arab upheavals of 2011 have inspired wildly inconsistent Western responses. How, for example, can one justify abiding the suppression of dissidents in Bahrain while celebrating dissidents in Egypt? Or protect Libyan rebels from government attacks but not their Syrian counterparts? Or oppose Islamists taking over in Yemen but not in Tunisia? Such ad hockery reflects something deeper than incompetence: the difficulty of devising a constructive policy toward a region where, other than in a few outliers (Cyprus, Israel, and Iran), populations are predominantly hostile to the West.”
* “A year ago, Western policymakers could survey the region and note with satisfaction that they enjoyed reasonable working relations with all the governments of Arabic-speaking countries, excepting Syria. The picture was not pretty but functional: Cold War dangers had been thwarted, Islamist ones mostly held off.”
* “Summing up the West’s policy dilemma vis-à-vis the Middle East:
• Democracy pleases us but brings hostile elements to power.
• Tyranny betrays our principles but leaves pliable rulers in power.”
* Efraim Karsh: “Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja has done it again. “No apartheid state is justified or sustainable,” he told a panel discussion about Israel in Helsinki last week… As the longest-serving foreign minister in Finland’s history (2000-2007, 2011-present) one would have expected Tuomioja to show greater familiarity with the facts. For one thing, all Israeli prime ministers over the past two decades – from Rabin and Peres to Sharon and Netanyahu – have unequivocally endorsed the two-state solution, whereas all Palestinian leaders have rejected this solution, refusing to allow a single Jew to live in a prospective Palestinian state.”
* “Following the completion of the Hebron redeployment in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza have not lived under Israeli occupation; rather, they have been under the jurisdiction of the PA. But a person like Tuomioja wouldn’t be bothered with such facts. Time and again, he has allowed his anti-Israel animosity to get the better of him. In an infamous 2001 interview, he compared Israel’s policy to Palestinians… to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry.”
* Israel’s offshore gas reserves poised to rise substantially in the near future.
* Unreported, rockets from Gaza continue to be fired into Israel almost daily (the most recent being yesterday evening while Israelis were eating dinner).
1. Yet again, The Economist’s coverage of Israel is shameful
2. “On averting accusations of anti-Semitism” (By Chris Elliott, Guardian, Nov. 6, 2011)
3. “Friendless in the Middle East” (By Daniel Pipes, National Review, Nov. 8, 2011)
4. “Iran now top threat to U.S. says military official” (Reuters, Nov. 4, 2011)
5. “Finnish delusions” (By Efraim Karsh, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 7, 2011)
6. “Israel’s offshore gas reserves poised to rise” (Oil and Gas Journal, Nov. 2011)
7. “China to expand English language TV service” (Financial Times, Nov. 8, 2011)
YET AGAIN, THE ECONOMIST’S COVERAGE OF ISRAEL IS SHAMEFUL
I attach six articles on a variety of topics. (Three of the writers, Chris Elliott of The Guardian, Daniel Pipes, and Professor Efraim Karsh of King’s College London, are subscribers to this list.)
I have not included an article on Israeli Bedouin from the current edition of The Economist magazine. That the article was filled with incredibly sloppy reporting mixed with anti-Israel invective (leading one Economist reader to post a comment accusing Israel of planning a “final solution”) was bad enough, but why did The Economist caption it Palestine in the heading? Is the Negev now part of Palestine?
-- Tom Gross
“I DON’T BELIEVE THEIR APPEARANCE IN THE GUARDIAN WAS THE RESULT OF DELIBERATE ACTS OF ANTISEMITISM: THEY WERE INADVERTENT”
The readers’ editor on… averting accusations of anti-Semitism
Guardian reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant about the language they use when writing about Jews or Israel
By Chris Elliott
November 6, 2011
The Guardian has always had a strong commitment to reporting on the Middle East. That means a lot of news reporting, as well as comment and analysis, on the Israel-Palestine situation. It is one of the world’s most contested conflicts, in which thousands of people have died or have been displaced. As a newspaper the Guardian has been critical of all sides, but it is seen as being especially critical of the Israeli government and its actions. And that has led to complaints that the Guardian, in print or online, is carrying material that either lapses into language resonant of anti-Semitism or is, by its nature, anti-Semitic.
It also leads to the much more rare allegation of Islamophobia. In this column I intend to address the former rather than the latter, because recently there has been a preponderance of such complaints.
This is not a fresh concern. It is a particularly sensitive issue for a core of the Guardian’s Jewish readers because CP Scott held strong Zionist sympathies, as did WP Crozier, who came after him as editor. In the Guardian’s archives is a letter of thanks from the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, thanking Scott for his help in securing the Balfour declaration, the 1917 statement by the British government approving the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine.
A shift in attitudes came after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, as Daphna Baram outlines in her book Disenchantment: The Guardian and Israel, published in 2004. So, it’s not new. But there has been an increase in complaints of anti-Semitism within the last few months.
As the web has widened the debate, so it has also enabled more opportunities for articles and comments to be questioned. Individuals and organisations monitoring the Guardian’s coverage examine the language in articles – and the comments posted underneath them online – as closely as the facts.
For anti-Semitism can be subtle as well as obvious. Three times in the last nine months I have upheld complaints against language within articles that I agreed could be read as anti-Semitic. The words were replaced and the articles footnoted to reflect the fact. These included references to Israel/US “global domination” and the term “slavish” to describe the US relationship with Israel; and, in an article on a lost tribe of Mallorcan Jews, what I regarded as a gratuitous reference to “the island’s wealthier families”.
Two weeks ago a columnist used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been anti-Semites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.
One reader wrote of the column: “The despicable anti-Semitic tone of this rant is beyond reason or decency.”
An important feature of the Guardian online is that the comment threads are post-moderated: a team of moderators check almost half a million comments a month posted on the site for language that breaches the community guidelines across a whole range of issues – not just anti-Semitism. They are experienced in spotting the kind of language long associated with anti-Semitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control, or being clannish and secretive, or the role of Jews in finance and the media.
Newspapers have to be aware that some examples involve coded references. They need to ask themselves, for example, if the word Zionist is being used as a synonym for Jew.
I have been careful to say that these examples may be read as anti-Semitic because I don’t believe their appearance in the Guardian was the result of deliberate acts of anti-Semitism: they were inadvertent. But that does not lessen the injury to some readers or to our reputation. The Guardian should not be oppressed by criticism – some of the language used by our critics is abusive and intimidatory – or retreat into self-censorship. But reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant to ensure our voice in the debate is not diminished because our reputation has been tarnished.
AMERICA’S DILEMMA IN THE REGION: SHOULD IT PROMOTE DEMOCRACY OR STABILITY?
Friendless in the Middle East
Our dilemma in the region: Do we promote democracy or stability?
By Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
November 8, 2011
The Arab upheavals of 2011 have inspired wildly inconsistent Western responses. How, for example, can one justify abiding the suppression of dissidents in Bahrain while celebrating dissidents in Egypt? Or protect Libyan rebels from government attacks but not their Syrian counterparts? Or oppose Islamists taking over in Yemen but not in Tunisia?
Such ad hockery reflects something deeper than incompetence: the difficulty of devising a constructive policy toward a region where, other than in a few outliers (Cyprus, Israel, and Iran), populations are predominantly hostile to the West. Friends are few, powerless, and with dim prospects of taking control. Democracy therefore translates into hostile relations with unfriendly governments.
Both the first wave of elections in 2005 and the second wave, just begun in Tunisia, confirm that, given a free choice, a majority of Middle Easterners vote for Islamists. Dynamic, culturally authentic, and ostensibly democratic, Islamists advance a body of uniquely vibrant political ideas and constitute the only Muslim political movement of consequence.
But Islamism is the third totalitarian ideology (following fascism and Communism). Preposterously, it proposes a medieval code to deal with the challenges of modern life. Retrograde and aggressive, it denigrates non-Muslims, oppresses women, and justifies force to spread Muslim rule. Middle Eastern democracy threatens not just the West’s security but also its civilization.
That explains why Western leaders (with the brief exception of George W. Bush) shy away from promoting democracy in the Muslim Middle East.
In contrast, the region’s unelected presidents, kings, and emirs pose a lesser threat to the West. With Moammar Qaddafi long ago chastened by American power and Saddam Hussein removed by American-led forces, the egomaniacs were gone by 2003 and surviving strongmen largely accepted the status quo. They asked for little more than to be allowed quietly to repress their populations and noisily to enjoy their privileges.
A year ago, Western policymakers could survey the region and note with satisfaction that they enjoyed reasonable working relations with all the governments of Arabic-speaking countries, excepting Syria. The picture was not pretty but functional: Cold War dangers had been thwarted, Islamist ones mostly held off.
Greedy and cruel tyrants, however, present two problems to the West. By focusing on personal priorities to the detriment of national interests, they lay the groundwork for further problems, from terrorism to separatism to revolution, and by repressing their subjects, they offend the sensibilities of Westerners. How can those who promote freedom, individualism, and the rule of law condone oppression?
In the Middle East, full tyranny has dominated since about 1970, when rulers learned how to insulate themselves against the prior generation’s coups d’état. Hafez al-Assad, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Hosni Mubarak, and the Algerian regime demonstrated with rare flamboyance the nature of full-blown stasis.
Then, last December, a butterfly flapped its wings in the small Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid (population: 40,000), when a policewoman slapped a fruit vendor. The response toppled three tyrants in eleven months, with two more in serious jeopardy.
Summing up the West’s policy dilemma vis-à-vis the Middle East:
• Democracy pleases us but brings hostile elements to power.
• Tyranny betrays our principles but leaves pliable rulers in power.
As interest conflicts with principle, consistency goes out the window. Policy wavers between Scylla and Charybdis. Western chanceries focus on sui generis concerns: security interests (the U.S. Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain), commercial interests (oil in Saudi Arabia), geography (Libya is ideal for Europe-based air sorties), the neighbors (the Turkish role in Syria), or staving off disaster (a prospect in Yemen). Little wonder policy is a mess.
Policy guidelines are needed; here follows my suggested triad:
Aim to improve the behavior of tyrants whose lack of ideology or ambition makes them pliable. They will take the easiest road, so join together to pressure them to open up.
Always oppose Islamists, whether al-Qaeda types as in Yemen or the suave and “moderate” ones in Tunisia. They represent the enemy. When tempted otherwise, ask yourself whether cooperation with “moderate” Nazis in the 1930s would have been a good idea.
Help the liberal, secular, and modern elements – those who in the first place stirred up the upheavals of 2011. Assist them eventually to come to power, so that they can salvage the politically sick Middle East from its predicament and move it in a democratic and free direction.
IRAN NOW TOP THREAT TO U.S. SAYS MILITARY OFFICIAL
Iran now top threat to U.S. says military official
By Phil Stewart in Washington, Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; editing by Mohammad Zargham
November 4, 2011
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran is the biggest threat to the United States and its allies in the Middle East, surpassing al Qaeda, which is down but not out, a senior military official said on Friday.
“The biggest threat to the United States and to our interests and to our friends, I might add, has come into focus and it’s Iran,” said the official, addressing a forum in Washington.
Next week, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, is expected to release a report that includes evidence of Iranian nuclear research which makes little sense if not weapons related, Western diplomats said.
However, the official said he did not believe Iran wanted to provoke a conflict and added he did not know if the Islamic state had decided to build a nuclear weapon.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and that it is enriching uranium to power reactors for electricity generation.
“I don’t know that the Iranians have made the decision to make a nuclear weapon,” the official said.
Reporters were allowed to cover the event on condition that the senior military official not be identified.
“Al Qaeda is not out, but it’s down,” the official said. He added that al Qaeda had also been largely marginalized by Arab Spring uprisings that have shown change is possible without resorting to the group’s “medieval practices.”
The United States, the European Union and others have imposed numerous rounds of economic sanctions on Tehran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday said he agreed on the need to keep “unprecedented pressure” on Iran. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday stricter sanctions were the key to reining in Iran’s nuclear program.
But it is far from clear whether China and Russia, members of the U.N. Security Council, would agree to significantly tighten trade and financial sanctions on Tehran.
At the Pentagon, spokesman George Little said the United States remained focused on leveraging diplomatic and economic pressure against Iran.
“We remain very concerned about their intentions with respect to their nuclear program,” Little told reporters.
“But in terms of the instruments of national power that we’re currently employing, the focus is on diplomatic and economic,” Little said.
Last month the United States accused Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, an allegation Tehran denied.
There has been a surge of speculation in Israeli media this week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to secure Cabinet consensus for an attack on Iranian nuclear installations.
Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and launched a similar sortie against Syria in 2007, precedents lending weight to its veiled threats to take similar action on Iran if foreign pressure fails to curb its nuclear program.
Iran has warned that it will respond to any attacks by hitting Israel and U.S. interests in the Gulf. Analysts say Tehran could retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway where about 40 percent of all traded oil passes.
“ISRAEL HAS NO RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE”
By Efraim Karsh
The Jerusalem Post
November 7, 2011
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has done it again. No sooner did this 1960s radical ease himself back into the foreign minister’s seat after four years in the opposition than he unveiled again his anti- Israel prejudice.
“No apartheid state is justified or sustainable,” he told a panel discussion in Helsinki last week. “If you are occupying areas inhabited by... Palestinians who do not have the same rights as the Israelis in Israel, that is apartheid.... I think that the majority in Israel has also realized this, but they have been unable to provide a leadership that [can] move forward on the two-state solution, on the Palestinian problem.”
As the longest-serving foreign minister in Finland’s history (2000-2007, 2011-present) one would have expected Tuomioja to show greater familiarity with the facts. For one thing, all Israeli prime ministers over the past two decades – from Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres to Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu – have unequivocally endorsed the two-state solution, whereas all Palestinian leaders have rejected this solution, refusing to allow a single Jew to live in a prospective Palestinian state. For another, Israel’s “occupation” of the populated areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ended in the mid-1990s.
The declaration of principles signed on the White House lawn in 1993 by the PLO and the Israeli government provided for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a transitional period, during which Israel and the Palestinians would negotiate a permanent peace settlement. By May 1994, Israel had completed its withdrawal from Gaza (apart from a small stretch of territory containing settlements in the south of the Strip, which was vacated in 2005) and the Jericho area of the West Bank. On July 1, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat made his triumphant entry into Gaza.
On September 28, 1995, despite Arafat’s abysmal failure to clamp down on terrorist activities in the territories now under his control, the two parties signed an interim agreement, and by the end of the year Israeli forces had been withdrawn from the West Bank’s populated areas, with the exception of Hebron (where redeployment was completed in early 1997). On January 20, 1996, elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council were held, and shortly afterward, both the Israeli civil administration and the military government were dissolved.
The geographical scope of these withdrawals was relatively limited; the surrendered land amounted to some 30 percent of the West Bank’s overall territory. But its impact on the Palestinian population was nothing short of revolutionary. In one fell swoop, Israel relinquished control over virtually all of the West Bank’s 1.4 million residents. Since that time, nearly 60% of them – in the Jericho area and in the seven main cities of Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron – have lived entirely under Palestinian jurisdiction. Another 40% live in towns, villages, refugee camps and hamlets where the Palestinian Authority exercises civil authority but where, in line with the Oslo accords, Israel has maintained “overriding responsibility for security.”
In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the Hebron redeployment in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have not lived under Israeli occupation; rather, they have been under the jurisdiction of the Arafat-led PA.
But a person like Tuomioja wouldn’t be bothered with such facts as far as the Jewish state is concerned. Time and again, he has allowed his anti-Israel animosity to get the better of him. In an infamous 2001 interview, he compared Israel’s attempts to protect its citizens from the savage terror war launched by Arafat’s PA in September 2000 to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry: “It is quite shocking that some implement the same kind of policy toward the Palestinians which they themselves were victims of in the 1930s.”
Ignoring criticism of this comparison, which subsequently became an integral component of the EU’s working definition of anti-Semitism, he told the same Finnish magazine four years later that he “could have avoided many unnecessary reactions with a different wording, but the matter itself has not changed in any way.”
Nor, for that matter, does Tuomioja seem to believe that the Jewish state has any right to self-defense. In 2003, he used the apartheid metaphor to denounce the erection of the security fence, which has done more than any other single factor to slash the tidal wave of Palestinian terrorism, though Finland has long had a similar fence along its border with the Soviet Union/Russia. When Israel responded to years of Gaza rocket attacks on its towns and villages by unleashing Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, Tuomioja, now chairman of the Parliament Grand Committee, condemned this supposed disproportionate use of force. When IDF commandos killed eight Islamist militants in violent clashes on board a Turkish ship trying to break the naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza in June 2009, he demanded that “trade and other ties with Israel should be linked to Israel’s regard for international law and commitment to the peace process.”
One could have dismissed Tuomioja’s musings as a desperate ploy by an aging politician to regain his luster after the highly successful term of his predecessor – the charismatic Alexander Stubb, 22 years his junior – had Finland not been aggressively campaigning for the rotating Security Council seat for the 2013-2014 term. Next time Abbas touts his Jew-free revanchist state to the council, he is likely to find an eager collaborator.
ISRAEL’S OFFSHORE GAS RESERVES POISED TO RISE SUBSTANTIALLY IN THE NEAR FUTURE
Israel’s offshore gas reserves poised to rise
Oil and Gas Journal
Israel’s reserves of natural gas, now under development in the country’s Mediterranean offshore, are poised to rise substantially in the near future, according to a senior government official.
“Israel’s potential gas discoveries stand at 1,000 billion cu m,” said Israel Natural Gas Authority Director-General Yehosua Stern, adding that Israel’s proven gas reserves amount to 300 bcm, most of it in the offshore Tamar field.
However, Stern told delegates at a conference on energy and the environment that the reserves figure is expected to rise by a further 453 bcm after production tests are completed at Leviathan field.
Stern also told conference delegates that he expects an additional 550 bcm of gas to be discovered in Israeli economic waters, which eventually will bring the country’s total reserves to 1,300 bcm.
“In 2014-15 there will be an additional entry from Tamar to Israel in the Ashkelon region,” said Stern, who also noted that “an additional supplier will come into the Israeli gas market around 2016-17.”
Stern’s remarks coincided with reports that Dolphin 1 partners Noble Energy Inc., Delek Group Ltd., and Ratio Oil Exploration LP found “clear signs” of gas at the Dolphin 1 exploratory well in the Hanna license.
The Jerusalem Post reported that preliminary results found 550 bcf of gas in the Hanna license, and that the gas-bearing strata are in the Tamar sands at a depth of 4,440 m in 1,560 m of water 110 km west of Haifa.
Noble Energy owns 39.66% of Hanna, Delek Group units Avner Oil & Gas LP and Delek Drilling LP each own 22.67%, and Ratio owns 15%.
Stern’s remarks follow statements by other government officials who said Israel and neighboring Cyprus stand ready to cooperate on a joint project to tap potentially huge offshore gas deposits.
“We can cooperate in generating this newfound energy, and use it for the benefit of the entire region,” said Israel’s President Shimon Peres, who added that the two countries have “substantial economic cooperation potential” with the discovery of gas in the Mediterranean.
Houston’s Noble Energy Co., which discovered the gas offshore Israel, is also exploring offshore Cyprus and is confident that the Leviathan field extends into Cypriot waters– a discovery that is changing how the region is viewed.
“What we’re seeing now is a redrawing of the strategic terrain in the eastern Mediterranean,” said James Ker-Lindsay, a specialist in Turkey and Cyprus at the London School of Economics.
Focus on the region’s hydrocarbons picked up in 2010 when the US Geological Survey said that the Levant basin, which covers waters off Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Cyprus, contains 122 tcf of gas and as much as 4 billion bbl of oil.
CHINA TO EXPAND ENGLISH LANGUAGE TV SERVICE FROM WASHINGTON
China to expand English language TV service
By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles and Kathrin Hille in Beijing
November 8, 2011
China’s state-owned broadcaster has launched an aggressive international push to extend the country’s influence, opening a new headquarters in Washington that will broadcast English-language programming from the heart of the US capital.
China Central Television, which produces the ruling Communist party’s news shows and other propaganda programmes, is constructing a studio in Washington which will serve as its US broadcasting centre. It aims to begin broadcasting from the site by the middle of 2012 and produce up to six hours of original programming a day, according to people familiar with the plans.
CCTV has also built a studio facility in Nairobi, from where it will broadcast its English-language channel in Africa, and plans to open a broadcasting centre in Europe, according to several people briefed on the plans.
“They have a very ambitious plan to increase distribution of their English language channel,” said one person familiar with the broadcaster’s expansion strategy. “But they don’t want to go public with their plans until they’re ready.” CCTV did not respond to questions about the global expansion.
The push comes as the ruling Communist party counters what it sees as the negative image of China spread by Western media.
“The big four Western news agencies dominate about 80 per cent of the news flow, and if China wants to strengthen its soft power it must speak through its own media,” said Dong Tiance, a journalism professor at Jinan University. “The strengthening of international broadcasting allows the world to understand us more thoroughly and increases our influence.”
CCTV has leased 36,000 sq ft at 1099 New York Avenue – three city blocks from Bloomberg’s offices in the city – and is hiring local staff to work at the facility.
The company is working to increase distribution of its English language channel in the US and has been searching for a high-profile figure to be the face of the channel, much in the same way that Al Jazeera, the Arab-centric news channel, used Sir David Frost, when it launched in 2006. CCTV is following the model established by Al Jazeera and is expanding globally, part of Beijing’s untiring efforts to build ‘soft power’ more in line with its growing political and economic weight in the world.
Its English channel is currently available in a limited number of US homes via cable and satellite providers, such as Dish Network, in areas where there are concentrated Chinese populations. However, the company is keen to increase the size of its US audience.
Taking CCTV global could prove to be a big challenge for the broadcaster. It has been revamping its staid news programming, which tend to parrot party propaganda slogans and have become a laughing stock among many younger viewers accustomed to internet media and entertainment.
“Our past practice of strongly emphasising our achievements maybe didn’t yield ideal results,” Prof Dong said.