Very CiF, Very Guardian

Over at CiF today, we see a usual one-sided account entitled Fifteen Minutes of Hate by Meron Rapoport which recounts a walkabout with intent in east Jerusalem. Firstly, Rapoport sets the scene for his story. One can almost feel the breeze in east Jerusalem. So far, so good.

Until he states his aim: not, as one might think, to tour the streets of east Jerusalem to interview all sorts of people to give us a wide perspective of what might be going on there – no, Meron Rapoport has a bias and he quickly makes it clear. It is well known that if one wants to find something one usually finds it, viz,

“…. We’re making a film on the blatant institutional discrimination against the residents of this Palestinian east-Jerusalem neighbourhood; authorities favour the Jewish settlers who are not hiding their desire to Judaise the neighbourhood, to void it of its Palestinian character…”

And of course the language is commensurate with the bias – the “vicious” anti-Arab sentiments, the aim to “Judaise the area”, as if Meron Rapoport is talking of a different people than his own. That last phrase alone speaks volumes.

He tells us that orthodox Jewish girls approach him and his crew (strange this, since orthodox Jewish women and, occasionally men, are usually camera-shy) and, wonder of wonders, they tell him exactly what he wants to hear for the thrust of his story – that “Jerusalem belongs to us Jews” etc, etc, indeed everything you would expect to keep a readership of CiF Israel/Jew haters happy and well-fed. (Note, however, that he doesn’t record the conversation verbatim, nor does he tell us how many groups of young girls approached him, if indeed they approached him at all. No, we are meant to take his word for what occurred. Very CiF, very Guardian).

He does, however, tell us of their meeting with another couple of girls, (again he says they approached him) later on. This time these are non-orthodox, and (quelle surprise) he says that they tell them they want the Arabs dead. Again there is no way of proving that they actually said this and used those words – again there is no verbatim transcript (although he was quick enough to tell us verbatim of his encounter with the security guard); no, all we have is his word, but it’s strange, isn’t it, that he’s found two groups of young women each of which has told him exactly what he wants to hear? Is anyone else smelling the rat of the sort of one-sided report so beloved of CiF?

And further down the road we have representatives of a third Jewish group, this time ultra-Orthodox, approaching this crew but, yes, you guessed it, have the same outlook.

Strange that he has not interviewed the same number of Arabs.

By this time our chums appear to be getting disheartened, or so Rapoport would have us believe when he inserts a literary device to tug at the heartstrings: he wistfully declares to his poor, disillusioned buddies that one day perhaps they will run into someone who says something kind about human beings. However, look at this author’s bio on CiF and it’s plain from the final sentence of his article what he thinks will happen and the chances are he will blame Israel for that. It’s also evident that he’s forgotten that kindness and humanity is a two-way street.

Of course the crew would almost certainly have met such people had they looked beyond the remit of their story or had set out with open minds rather than with their eyes wide shut. I have worked with journalists and TV cameramen. I know that sometimes they need to “seed” the set to get the message across, but ethical journalists are careful to limit that to choosing a particularly apposite location, or putting out books and flowers and so on indoors. For an ethical journalist it would not be so deliberate as to give a biased picture.

And note the last paragraph of this lovely story.

“Silwan. Remember that name. Its violence will soon overshadow that of Hebron.”

Does this author remember his history about the riots of Hebron in 1929 when Jews were massacred by Arabs? Is he forecasting the same in Silwan, and, from his narrow, biased outlook, will he blame Israeli Jews for their own demise if it does, rather than the perpetrators of such an episode?

I would not be in the least surprised if he did and was offered column inches on CiF for so doing. As I said above, all this is very CiF, very Guardian.

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23 replies »

  1. The Guardian won’t budge or change one bit. They made a calculated decision to demonize the Jewish state. This is war and they’re the enemy. In war you kill the enemy before the enemy kills you. There is no real praxis in trying to engage this bunch in some of sort of civilized debate. It’s a zero-sum game. The hard copy is no longer a viable business model. So we have to go after their online revenues. Those who place ads with the Guardian should be made aware that are working with Jew-haters. We play hardball from now on. Start with Google and work your way to others.

  2. Medusa, this article encapsulates perfectly the lack of any standard of ethics in CiF’s reporting of the Israel-Palestine issue. This is an excellent example of schlock journalism. It could be a Mills and Boon novel. It’s so formulaic and as for the “plot”, well you could base it on a joke along the lines of, “There was an Englishman, and Irishman and a Scot…”

    Chilling, though, was the final paragraph (and I am afraid that I was so shocked by the sense of threat in it that I doubted you had the sense of it properly, so I went to the site and checked it, and found you to be right). I remember reading an Azzam Tamimi apology for an article on CiF years ago which talked of peace but ended in a similar threat about what would happen if Hamas didn’t get peace on its terms.

    I also noted that it had been translated from the Hebrew by someone called Dimmi Reider of whom I have never heard, and found myself wondering how much had been lost (or gained) in the translation.

    This Dimmi Reider, is he an anti-Zionist too? Can anyone tell me?

  3. Naturally this kind of more than 15 minutes of hate the jews on CIF brings out the “antiZionists” like this:

    …..The group of Jew priests involved in sell of organs, the secondary treatment of its own muslim population. The segregation of muslim population to suppress any revolution from within, most importanly considering a Jew Priests view that if a palestinian human being/lesser humans organ could be used to save a Jew, then the organ must be used…………

    31 Aug 09, 7:57pm (about 1 hour ago)

    Clearly CIF became a sweet home for neo-Nazis.

  4. CiFWatch is fast becoming indispensable. I can now rely on your readers to keep me informed of the worst example of bias on the Guardian and never have to read CiF at all. Conversely, the Guardian regulars will from now on keep having to check what they say for fear of being named and shamed.

    On a different tangent, I wouldn’t mind at all if you introduced a section where we could report some positive things about Israel and Jews generally. For instance, a small democratic country that can convict a former Prime Minister for corruption, or a former President for sexual harassment/rape has finally become just like any other free-market democracy.

    On the other hand, this is a small democratic country, constantly besieged by hostile neighbours, independent for only 61 years but during this short time, has achieved miracles in science, technology, medicine and the arts.

  5. I have just been over to Rapoport’s blog and LeftWingOrthodoxJew is suggesting that people there ignore this site (he thinks CiFWatch is paranoid and retelling the story to make it acceptable to them – shades of pot and kettle there I think) and minimising of antisemitism proceeds apace. He obviously hasn’t practised what he preaches.

    hakunamatata, I also looked for the post you quoted above. It’s disappeared without trace. It’s nothing new, unfortunately that CiF attracts extremists or just plain nutjobs as well as its share of charity cases. Good posters there – like phyllisstein and MITNAGED in their time as well as many others – are quickly disposed of on some flimsy pretext because they can outargue anyone that “Georgina’s” cronies might put up.

    Certain people who can barely string a sentence together, however, somehow endure there. Ho hum.

    Medusa, I believe your point about ethical journalism to be well made, particularly where you argue, as I take you to mean, that reporters should report issues without bias. However, let’s face any talk of ethical journalism is like casting pearls before the proverbial swine for most of the CiF stable, with a few notable exceptions like Petra Marqardt-Bigman who always manages to remember she’s a lady regardless of the depths to which some of her detractors there may sink.

    I teach science and if Rapoport’s article was presented to me as a report of an experiment he had planned or done I would fail him without hesitation on methodology.

  6. Fairplay

    Thanks for the words of support and we appreciate you coming over and sharing with us your thoughts.

  7. There wasn’t enough space to print the whole of Rapoport’s article. Here are some missing bits discovered in a paper-recycling plant:

    “I ran away from an Israeli man who approached me to say that there should be co-existence between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem, so I didn’t hear what he was saying.”

    “I approached two Israeli girls bartering with an Arab trader over coffee, but they ran away because they thought I was a dirty old man.”

    “Four Israeli youths tried to approach me but I ran away and hid in a lavatory so I wasn’t able to hear them saying that the Palestinians had the right to choose Jerusalem as their capital.”

    “90% of a sample of 10 Israelis I spoke to said that Jerusalem was the indivisible capital of Israel and the Arabs should have no national rights there. I disregarded the opinions of 90 other Israelis because of a strange intermittent deafness which stopped me hearing clearly what they were saying.”

    “An Arab man approached me to say that the Jews had not seized his property because of a judgment in an Israeli court, but I didn’t believe a word of this nor any of the court records which show hundreds of judgments against seizure of land and for compensation, because that’s just Israeli propaganda isn’t it?”

    There were more pages of similar stuff, but a gust of wind scattered them to the four corners before anyone got a chance to read them. Poor Rapoport; he could have been a writer, you know, but the impartiality exams were too rigirous.

  8. It appears that the Left Wing Orthodox Jew has decided that anything that most of us stand for is to be rejected. He was praised by the latest incarnation of leonwells and responded in pleasant fashion. He has also championed Berchmans telling him to keep up the good work. I wonder what, if anything, he means by that.

  9. Mita, I shudder to think. Perhaps Berch has been hiding his light under a bushel (and it must’ve been a huge one) all these years and is about to burst on the scene like Superman, propelled by “Georgina”, with the promise of as much Johnny Walker as he can drink, to do his best to wrong all the rights this blog is engaged in promoting.

    Or perhaps LWOJ is giving Berch the social strokes he needs to stay upright.

    juliantheprostate, good post! Wish I could write like that!

  10. I don’t really have much of a problem with one sided accounts like this one because in truth it does reflect the opinions of some people, many people in fact.
    The problem is that it is just one side of opinion, and Israel is a pluralistic country with opinions that cross the entire spectrum.
    My issue with these people is that they constantly drum home one theme, and they do it with such gusto that they manage to succeed in getting Left and Right wingers and everybody in between upset.
    They manage to do what nobody in Israel is able to do, and that is cobble together a coalition of people who normally would argue with each other (us) and get us on the same side of things.

    I mean, picking a name just for the hell of it AKUS and I are on very different opinion of things in Israel, we don’t see Yesha the same way at all, we should be arguing with each other like cats and dogs and then have a brew together……yet we are on the same side of this.

    That in itself should make the people there sit up and take notice, but it won’t.
    Sorry AKUS whoever you are, I could have chosen another person, but I’m sure you all get the drift.

  11. CiFCritic, thanks. You may not have read it there, but on the CiF thread some are arguing that Rapoport’s article is not meant to be ethical as you and I might understand it.

    For myself, I would argue that there’s a huge difference between even a nodding acquaintance with the truth and the deliberate distortion of it in order to score hits to threads and to toe the CiF party line. Rapoport’s article adds to the sum total of hatred rather than tries to build bridges (as 1peter has pointed out above) as well as being instrumental in further bedding in the Big Lie that I have written about elsewhere – that Israel alone is blameworthy and evil.

    juliantheprostate’s post is hilarious but its message should not be lost. That post underlines the fact that Rapoport is guilty of looking at only part of the picture. That is not honest.

  12. Hi y’all

    I think I have just been banned by cif as i cannot access my account. Not that I give a hoot really although its ironic that serial trolls, liars and Israel-bashers such as Moeran, Interested1, Berchmanns, Papalagi, David119, Arkasha et al get to post their nonsense and drivel continuously even when it has absolutely nothing to do with the article or when there is no substance to back their ludicrous crud yet I get banned for slagging off Papalagi personally – so he/she can slander and stereotype an entire nation and continue to post his/her detritus whereas I criticise her/him and get banned. Good old principles of fair play and open honest debate from the guardian – as long as you hate israel with a passion and know nothing about real life – fairly typical english hypocrisy then.

    I was thinking that even if i wanted to criticise Israel on cif, it is not a safe place to do so with the swarms of bigoted troglodytes eager to disseminate disinformation to the blinkered legions of israel-haters. This situation does feel quite like a war (not that I have any idea what that feels like) and I salute Akus, properbostonian, jubilation1, mclefty, monnie and the many others I cannot remember for their valiant attempts to keep the jewhating scumbags at bay.

  13. Hi 1Peter – arguing is a way of life for Jews and so I take no offense! But this article is actually very typical of the sort of drivel that Freedman writes (I take a little pride in having criticized Freedman enough that we seem to have had a decline in the number of anonymous felafel vendors and taxi-drivers like these mysterious orthodox girls he could always “rely on” for a nasty comment).

    Non-attribution, singling out precisely the worst examples they can find or invent to make their point, veiled threats of worse to come are features of CIF articles about israel. But I think there were a number of reasons for this article, if I may be permitted to expand on a recent comment I made on CIF (ahem):


    I was wondering why the Guardian copied a blog from an unknown Hebrew website when it struck me:

    a) Its a holiday in the UK today, and even the usual gang prefer to take a break rather than spending their time spinning another 5000 words of anti-Israeli invective for CIF

    b) Noone reads the Israeli blog, which is dedicating to weeping over all the ills afflicting Israel:

    Ha’oketz – a personal critical site about economic and social inequality, human rights, limited democracy, media controlled by money and power,, etc, etc, (sounds like just the place for Freedman when he’s not beating the drum for naked short-selling, though of course they’d have to translate his stuff into Hebrew. Seumas Milne would be welcome as well).

    So Dimi Reider, in a desperate attempt to increase his pal’s readership, sent a translation to the one place there is a current need (can one imagine a day on CIF without an article condemning Israel for something?)

    c) Meron seems to have been let go by Ha’aretz (see his bio). When even the home of Gideon Levy and Amira Hess can’t tolerate his views, that leaves only one other place to go.

    Here (Well, actually “there” – CIF )

    In English.

    Where no Israelis will read it at all!!

    And it will have no other effect than to reinforce the convictions of the already convinced what a terrible place Israel is.


    But, 1peter – what is going on in Silwan, from the Israel TV documentary I watched about a year ago, is pretty awful.

    One the other hand – and there always is another hand – as someone – starofdavid, I think – pointed out, these teary-eyed bloggers somehow overlooked seeing all the Arab inhabitants of Silwan. Curious. They are there, after all, for those who can see them.

  14. Juliantheprostrate – There were more pages of similar stuff, but a gust of wind scattered them to the four corners before anyone got a chance to read them. Poor Rapoport; he could have been a writer, you know, but the impartiality exams were too rigirous.

    Great comment. My sides are splitting.

  15. You might invest in a corset. It could then help you contain your disgust at CiF – if you wanted to, that is.

  16. I responded to this post and yet again had it deleted. Meron Rapoport wrote an almost text book piece of writing for the prejudiced – words that guarantee a response from those whose minds are already made up – armed – security – guard – hated – settler – religious.

    You just push those buttons and you get the desired effect. Lazy, sloppy journalism, pandering to a lazy, sloppy, bigoted audience.

  17. Absolutely, cityca. These people are just talking to themselves or each other; they don’t want others butting in. They love the sound of their own voices – they aren’t really COMMUNICATING at all.

    Which makes me often ask why you spend so much energy on this issue. The prejudiced will remain prejudiced – on both sides, I may add. The discerning and knowledgeable will judge for themselves. But the uncommitted observer ignorant of the facts may be deceived by the cachet of what passes for quality press into believing what they read in the papers and their offshoots. That is why prejudice needs unmasking, and so my question is answered.