The Guardian’s sister paper, the Observer, ran an article on May 8th with the ostensible aim of telling readers about a new film project based on the early life of Nelson Mandela by the maker of ‘The Promise’ – Peter Kosminsky. A below the line commentator summed up Vanessa Thorpe’s article very succinctly:
9 May 2011 7:35PM
This article reminds me of an editorial I read in 1972 from the Egyptian weeklyAkhbar El Yom (literally “A Great Day”) in which the editors discussed the Sahel droughts of 1968-72. After a brief discussion of the effects of the droughts and the lack of any preparedness by the governments, the rest of the editorial was almost entirely a diatribe against… Israel. (Nothing to do with the draught, but the editors, who were fixated with Israel, could never discuss any subject without verbally attacking the Jewish state.)
This article, for heaven’s sake, is meant to be about the young Nelson Mandela. How much of the article’s text actually deals with Mandela and how much with Israel bashing? Is Israel attacked in the Guardian’s weather forecast too?
Indeed, a substantial proportion of Thorpe’s piece was dedicated to promoting Kosminsky’s views on Israel in the form of two main themes: Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ and the old ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ cliché, which should be as anachronistic as a Che Guevara t-shirt by now.
Kosminsky is quoted as saying:
“I would describe it as apartheid. I was not seeking to reflect this view in The Promise, but if you ask me personally, then I do. What is happening in Israel is very akin to the concept of separate development. It reminds me of the Bantustan policy of the South African government.”
Kosminsky fails to enlighten the reader as to which particular area he considers to be subject to ‘separate development’. If he refers to regions in which, according to the latest statistics, 1, 587, 000 Arab Israelis live, then it is quite obvious that the definition of apartheid as “an official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal and economic discrimination against non- whites” does not apply.
As Dr. Mohammed Wattad – a senior lecturer at the Zefat School of Law – has said:
“Is there discrimination in Israel? Yes-there is discrimination against women, elderly, Arabs, Russian Jews, Christians,… But the same goes for Canada. Is it good-No? But it means we have to deal with the problem from within…. The existence of discrimination in a state does not mean it is an apartheid state…There is a big difference between apartheid and discrimination,”
“In an apartheid regime, there is no possibility of judicial review, because the judges are appointed by the regime and all serve one ideology. This is not the case in Israel… There is a very strong, independent Supreme Court in Israel. In an apartheid regime [unlike in Israel] there is no place to go to argue against the government,”
If, however, Kosminsky is referring to Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, he fails to acknowledge the fact that 100% of the latter and some 40% of the former (including all the main population centres) are under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Area C – the remaining portion of Judea and Samaria which is under Israeli control according to the stipulations of the Oslo Accords which were signed by the PA and with an estimated population of some 150,000 Palestinians – was set to be gradually transferred to the Palestinian control as well under those accords and subject to continued negotiations.
Of course Kosminsky ignores the fact that progress on that front was brought to an abrupt halt by the Palestinian leadership’s decision to embark on the violent route of the second Intifada instead of continued negotiations and the fact that the PA was offered an additional 58% of the disputed territory under the Olmert plan in 2008: an offer which did not even merit a reply from Mahmoud Abbas, but which would have resulted in an independent Palestinian state with as much territorial continuity as is possible.
Significantly, those such as Kosminsky who claim to be outraged by social injustice in Israel inevitably remain remarkably silent on the subject of discrimination within the Palestinian Authority itself. No TV scripts are written, no banners raised or campaigns organized for the benefit of the residents of PA administered refugee camps such as Balata. As Abraham H. Miller, writing for Pajamas Media, noted:
“The PA does not permit the children of Balata to go to local schools. It does not permit the people of Balata to build outside the one square kilometer. The people of Balata are prevented from voting in local elections, and the PA provides none of the funds for the necessary infrastructure of the camp — including sewers and roads.”
Can Kosminsky really be so arrogant and ignorant as to ignore these facts? Can he also be so insensitive as to ignore the injustice which his lazy use of the franchised apartheid analogy does to those South Africans who really did suffer under an apartheid regime? Maybe not, but it is more than obvious that like so many others, his cries of ‘apartheid’ are not based on factual evidence, but on political strategy. As Professor Bernard Harrison wrote in his 2006 book entitled “The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism”:
“One of the main claims, if not the main claim, advanced by some sections of the Left in defense both of suicide bombers and of the further claim that “Israel ought not to exist”, is that Israel is an “apartheid state”, a state founded, to some unspecified extent, on “racism”. The use of the term apartheid in this context serves much the same purpose in the polemics of certain sections of the European and American Left as the equation of the Star of David with the swastika, namely, to convey the impression that Israel no more “deserves” to exist as a state than the Third Reich or apartheid-era South Africa did. As it is usually stated, the accompanying implication is that no other country comes close to deserving, on these grounds, the hostility of all right-minded people.”
Many of those who award themselves the accolade of being ‘right-minded’ also subscribe to the second claim put forward by Kosminsky in Vanessa Thorpe’s article; the concept that there really is no such thing as a terrorist – they are all just statesmen-in-waiting. Such fashionable and eminently politically correct non-judgementalism will of course be only too familiar to Guardian readers who by now are used to seeing suicide bombers and perpetrators of missile attacks against civilians in Israel referred to in tepid terms such as ‘militants’ or ‘members of the resistance’.
An eminent example of this form of Guardian-speak is an article written by Brian Whitaker in the pre-9/11 and 7/7 days of a decade ago in which he concluded that:
“Issuing such a list (of named terrorist groups) does at least highlight the anomalies and inconsistencies behind anti-terrorism laws. It also points towards a simpler – and perhaps more honest – definition: terrorism is violence committed by those we disapprove of.”
However, in the case of the Guardian and a not insignificant number of other members of the mainstream media, the opposite is equally true: those whose cause they do approve of are granted an automatic moral upgrade to the status of ‘militants’ or ‘freedom fighters’. And nowhere is this hypocrisy better displayed than in the Guardian’s own writings on the subject of the 7/7 suicide bombings in London.
Anyone who read the recent Guardian coverage of the 7/7 inquests could not fail to notice that the words ‘terror’, ‘terrorists’ and ‘terrorist attacks’ were employed with uncommon (for the Guardian) alacrity. Examples can be seen here, here and here. Going back in the archives to the Guardian’s coverage of the bombings themselves shows that within hours of the events, the Guardian staff had no qualms about stating that they were the work of terrorists.
“Four blasts tore through London’s transport system during the morning rush hour in a choreographed series of terrorist attacks.”
(Published at 16:45 on 7/7/2005)
“London: past terror attacks
Donald MacLeod looks at how London has coped with past terrorist attacks”
(Published at 16:40 on 7/7/2005)
“The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, says: “London has been the target of a cowardly terrorist attack.”
(Published at 13:23 on 7/7/2005)
What it boils down to is this: when Islamist extremists attack public transport on the Guardian’s home turf that is – rightly – defined as terrorism. When Islamist extremists attack public transport – or even a school bus – in Israel, the word ‘terrorism’ is suddenly absent from the Guardian lexicon.
Is the editor at Farringdon Road capable of finding the necessary guts to address the subject of his paper’s blatant embrace of double standards once and for all, or will he and his staff continue to hide behind articles such as this one by Vanessa Thorpe which express the obvious rank hypocrisy of Guardian policy?