Guardian editor’s note to Live Gaza Blog: Palestinian ‘Refugees’ yesterday, today & forever

The Guardian  Gaza Live Blog of June 8th included an editor’s note explaining the rationale for the blog and providing answers to likely reader questions. I’ll fisk a couple of their explanations, but I find that their opening photo itself requires a brief commentary.

It would be so easy for the casual observer to by-pass this passage in the wink of an eye. Wonderful imagery: in bucolic Palestine, a woman is seen proudly baking pita at a bakery in the time-honored manner.

In the Guardian, Palestinian women in Gaza are inevitably portrayed as such: innocent, simple, traditional, respectful.

Here’s an alternative photo from the same “Refugee Camp” the Guardian would never consider.

This photo, taken on January 14th, 2010, shows Palestinian women taking a class in Islam at the same Rafah “Refugee Camp” in Gaza. The class happens to be run by a Gaza movement which follows Salafi Islam (an extreme sect even by Islamist standards), which is gaining ground in the Middle East. 

But of course such a photo might cause readers to reflect upon the Guardian’s desired narrative.

The larger point however, and the reason I placed the caption’s description of the Gaza town in quotation marks, relates to the fact that these Palestinian women – residents of an independent, Palestinian-controlled polity, free of Jews or any hint of Israeli presence – are still – in the eyes of UNRWA, the Guardian and much of the mainstream media – refugees!

The Rafah camp, established in 1949, was, per UNRWA, “originally home to 41,000 refugees who had fled from the hostilities of the 1948 war, [but] now home to more than 104,000 refugees”. 

Indeed, according to UNRWA’s own statistics (scroll down to chart on this page) approximately 90% of the camp’s population was born after the 1948 war. So the percentage of Palestinians living in Rafah who actually were alive during the 1948 war is roughly 10% and dwindling. 

At some point in the not too distant future Rafah will be completely void of anyone who was alive during the war.

Yet – by the convoluted logic which informs the surreal refugee swindle – their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, ad infinitum will continue to be characterized, by moral inference, as victims of Israeli oppression. 

It was just one throw away line in a caption to introduce only one story about Gaza in the Guardian, but it speaks volumes about the acquiescence by Guardian reporters and editors to even the most specious Palestinian claims.   

44 replies »

  1. That ‘Live Gaza Blog” was an embarrassing fiasco for the Racist Guardian it made them look like the sanctimonious Jerks that they are.

    Some of the responses BTL were brilliant,the right questions were asked of this dirty rag.

    Sherwood should have interviewed the Gaza persecuted gay men and women,the family members of the Fatah members that were thrown off high rise buildings,or shot in the middle of the street Hamas street theater style.Or the Fatah members bodies that were dragged behind cars.

    Sherwood has no shame,but then having no principles no morals or decent standards is a prerequisite for working in the Guardian……

    • Sherwood is a distinguished journalist who testifies about our time, including Gaza’s unique situation and its 1,6 million human beings who have been kept under blockade by the Governement of Israel for the past five years. Welcome to Europe, where we have freedom of the press and human rights!

      • Human rights? Not as far as French/Romanian/EU gypsies, Irish travelers, are concerned.
        Where’s the “Western Sahara” live-blog? Are they not Human beings too?
        No mention of the 1.0 mil + Israelis victimized by Hamas. Don’t they deserve “Human Rights”?
        You also forgot mention that Gaza shares a border with Egypt. So Israel cannt really control the egress from and ingress into the Strip.
        I’m sure that was merely an honest “mistake” on your part ;-). Have fun in your drummed-up fantasy land, replete with human rights for all, courtesy of the G.’s artistic reporting.

      • 80% of Gaza’s population are refugees who were chased from their homes when Israel was created. Why should they renounce their right to go home?

        • There’s no “such right”, to begin with.
          If there were, I am sure you wouldn’t be rushing to return the Germans to the Sudenten, Silesia, Danzig, Stettin, &c, where they numbered(in total) over 3.5 Million, in 1945(much more than your pet Pals.) and were driven out without so much as an early notice, by a coordinated plan led by Stalin, Churchill, and concurred by Roosevelt & Truman.
          I guess some peoples’ “rights” are more sacred than others’.
          (Also, Check out the Hungarians in Transylavania, Greek Cypriots in N. Cyprus, and so forth… No one’s mewling about their “RoR”, I wonder why… ;-)).

          Hmm, “chased from their homes”… Any proof there, my mercurial fellow? No one, to date, has been able to demonstrate that a systematic, centrally orchestrated removal of the Pals. by the Israelis, had taken place. No, not even Illan Pappe. As to their depopulation, remind me, who was it that invaded Israel after it declared independence, on May 14th 1948? Or did Israel attack itself? :-O

          • “who was it that invaded Israel after it declared independence, on May 14th 1948?”

            Not the people that left their homes in what is now Israel.

            • So Nassar’s “Voice of Thunder”,thumping the population to leave, so that they “would return as victors” didn’t exist? I see.
              Nor I suppose the decree by Al-Houssaini, as chairman of the Pal. Exec. council, for the same purpose?
              At any rate, the arguement stands: Israel, did not have a master plan for the removal of the Pals., pure and simple.

          • Refugee Law states that a refugee has the right to return to his home once the war has ended.

            This applies not only to Palestinian refugees, but to all refugees in the world.

            • The term right of return refers to a principle of international law, codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art.13) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving any person and his/her descendants the right to return to, and re-enter, his or her country of origin.

        • And more than 95% of the Israelis are refugees or descendants of refugees who were chased from their homes in Europe, the ME and North-Africa.
          BTW I can’t see your laments regarding the population of Diego-Garcia, the East Prussian Germans of Mazuria, the Hungarians of Szigetkoz etc. I have a feeling that you are so concentrated on the sins of the Jews that you never ever heard of these refugees.

      • Testifies?! The an Islamic court should condemn her to loosing her tongue for giving false testimony…

        Europe… freedom of the press… contradiction in terms.

    • Why does Levick show us photos of smiling Israelis, rather than photos of ultra-orthodox Jewish women wearing burqas in the city of the Beit Shemesh, as those published in the Israeli press six months ago?

      Why criticize the Guardian for showing Palestinian women who don’t hide their face in Gaza, but avoid publishing photos of Jewish women hiding their face in Israel?

      In both territories, women hiding their faces are a tiny minority.

      That’s all the difference between Sherwood and Levick: Sherwood is a journalist who reports from Gaza. Levick does not.

  2. I don’t get the point. The photo shows women making pita bread peacefully…ahhhhh, sweet, but wait, actually they are sinister evil people because….because….. they pray…they’re actually religious people, so they must be evil…. Sorry, is that really the point here ? That being practicing muslim is enough to dismiss any notion that the women pictures are peaceful, kind family women ? Salafi Islam is Wahabism; that is ultra orthodox Islam – a literal and backward looking interpretation of the Q’ran – the equivalent to “extreme” Judaism practiced by Jews in, say, in Beit Shemesh. However, taking a Qu’ran or Torah class from either of those groups doesn’t make you a bad person, particulaly if it’s all you can get.

    • This isn’t a “journal of the world’s wackiest faithes”-meaning, a liberal, “progressive” newspaper shouldn’t be condoning such ideologies.
      See this blog(further back) about the Guardian’s full broadside on the “Beit Shemesh gangs”, and then mention to me any such indictment against Salafism ever done on the G.; You’d be hard-pressed to find one, trust me.
      Plus, why are residents of Rafah, still classed as “Refugees”?
      Any decent person, one supporting a two-state sol. would acknowledge that they are no longer bereft or unmoored people; they’re home.
      It’s feeding that kind of antagonism that’s the problem.

      • The Guardian will condone any ideology that is anti ‘white’ or anti Western. It is ‘who they are’.

        • Sadly, you’re right there… But under ideal conditions, one would hope that an “enlightened” publication could tell right from wrong.

      • “Any decent person, one supporting a two-state sol. would acknowledge that they are no longer bereft or unmoored people; they’re home.”

        There’s something paradoxical, to say the least, for Zionists, who continued to lay claim to territory from which they say they were driven thousands of years ago, to expect Palestinian refugees to accept their new ‘home’ after a single generation.

        • “New home”… I thought it was their home all along? Or was it not?
          If you are bent on “supporting” the Pals., the best assistance you could offer them, is to abandon any romanticized and fatuous fantasies of driving the Jews into the sea. They ARE home.
          Plus, what’s this “they say they were driven out of”? Are you actually going to deny to Jews resided in the Roman province of Iudaea prior to their exile, in 73 and 135 AD accordingly?
          Now that’s something TRULY paradoxical.

          • “Jews resided in the Roman province of Iudaea”

            Yes they did but the question is whether most diaspora Jews were descended from these. There is a well-supported theory that most diaspora Jews are descended from converts.

            • “There is a well-supported theory that most diaspora Jews are descended from converts.”

              sencar, ‘well-supported’ by whom exactly?

              • Gerald the theory mentioned by sencar is really well supported by every Jew-hater pseudoscholars and neo-Nazis without the slightest considerations of genetics, anthropology, history etc.
                sencar has an interesting habit – every theory what can be used to delegitimize the Jews and their country – for him/her is pure gold from Allah’s mouth and naturally well supported.

            • Let us, just for the sake of argument, pretend “that most diaspora Jews are descended from converts.”

              So what? Does that mean that they don’t have any connection to the land of Israel?

              If you believe that, then do you likewise believe that the majority of Muslims worldwide–who most assuredly ARE descended from converts (or are converts themselves)–do not have any connection to Mecca?

          • ” the best assistance you could offer them, is to abandon any romanticized and fatuous fantasies of driving the Jews into the sea. ”

            That is exactly what Arafat did. Perversly, he was the best leader they had…but that’s a relative statement of course 🙂 Bear in mind that the palestinians are terrorised by their own people internally. If you don’t do what your local Hamas rep. says, expect to come off badly. As I keep saying, a lack of viable alternative leadership is all that keeps the nutters in control.

  3. The big difference between Salafi/Wahhabi/Deobandi Islam on the one hand and ultra-Orthodox Judaism on the other is in the punishment of transgressors. Those who transgress Judaism are admonished verbally and, in extreme cases, shunned. Transgressors of Islam can expect harsh beatings, and often death. Furthermore, Islam, like Christianity, is a universalist and conversionist religion, which means that such punishments are meted out to all within the Islamists’ reach, Muslim or not.

    • Actually Ric. I have to disagree. Judaism has not had a ‘state’ for 2,000 years where it could possibly impress its dos and donts on a captive community. We have seen some regression with a member of Shaas party telling us that homosexuals should be killed. It will be a short journey for repeat adulterers to be killed and women will be banned from ‘mixing with ‘men’. If Shaas and some other extreme Jewish parties were ever to have their way.

      However, in Israel, the vast majority of Jewish citizens are true Jewish Moderates who have no problem of being called/termed a ‘Bad Jew’ or a ‘Heretic Jew’ when confronted with a ranting extremist Jew. Liberal and pluralistic values are what are practised in Israel today even if some extremist Jewish communities do condone abomination amongst themselves as has been shown in the case of some extreme cultish behaviour of some Hassidic Jews.

      A Muslim, even a liberal Muslim, lives in horror of being called out with ‘Are you a good Muslim’? At least, in Muslim countries.

    • I find eXtreme practice of any religion abhorrent, but that wasn’t the point here. The blog was showing a picture of bread making and then the ‘truth’ that proves the bread makers are evil because they are Muslims…..

      • They’re not “Muslims”. They are Salafis/Wahabis. And there’s a major distinction therein. The Qu’ran, as far as I gather, doesn’t even mandate wearing the Niqab, which is something these clerical, fanatical honchos have been ordering.
        What the blog was trying to show, I think, is that the characters kneading the bread, are not all that innocent. Extremism(in the form of Whabaism/Salafism) is inconsistent with the left-wing creed the G. should espouse. Nevermind the anti-Semitism that lurks there, the anti-Western orientation they hold should be in and of itself anathema to the G. and its readers. But, having chosen to showcase the “merry bakers”(Khader Adnan comes to mind), they wilfully ignored a tyrannical ideology that’s utterly repugnant to the West and all sensible people in general. The fact is, Gaza is being overtaken by religious hard-liners, but that’s something the Guardian will never report.

        • They’re not “Muslims”. They are Salafis/Wahabis

          No, all we know if that those women are muslims. It is alleged that the Q’Ran study class is run by Salafis. The writer then goes on to an obscene extrapolation, by way of xenophibia: Attendee -> Salafi -> Extremist -> Evil person.

          If a Jew wants to study Torah in Jerusalem, there are various options but some of the best known programmes or those in the nicest surroundings are those run by certain organisations; by attending their Torah class, are you checking into the politics or fanaticism of some other of their staff or members, or endorsing their politics?

          As for the Niqab, the Torah doesn’t sanction heavy coats in the heat of summer, nor covering one’s hair…so clearly different denominations of religions have different customs. It should be someone’s right to cover their hair… and even their face, but if they choose to do that, it should be my right to ignore them without being accused of racism/discrimination as I live in a culture where the face is a major form of communication.

    • And the Torah madates death by stoning for a Jew who does not keep the Sabbath. That doesn’t mean most (or any?) Jews actually believe in it, and most muslims abhor the extreme interpretation or execution of their religion. Still, whilst we might condemn (say) countries for chopping off body parts or gouging, in the west ‘we’ still torture people to death on the electric chair, and that’s not even because God told us to, it’s because Texans think it’s a good idea…. Oh, and Ireland gave the world Jedward. 🙂

      • Please give only one example in the history of the last thousand years of the stoning to death an adulterer by Jews Musaf

        In the Muslim countries and societies meanwhile…

        • Why would I know of any examples if I stated that few or no Jews actually practice it? Presumably you actually agree with me, and therefore agree that just because someone gives you a Torah class doesn’t mean you care for their politics, or that you can assume anything about their fanatic tendancies ? If you pray at your Western wall, do you check the CV of the bloke praying next to you?

  4. Nah. Most stories are written the day before, ie: Friday. Which proves the Muslims, in spite of the high illiteracy rate in Muslim led countries, control the media. 😉

  5. Since the women live in Gaza, which no-one disputes as Palestinian territory, why are they termed “refugees”. It makes zero sense, except in terms of propaganda. They are living on their home turf.

    • I think as time has gone on (60 years…) the notion of them being refugees is a historical one because, by virtue of natural mortality, most of the original refugees will have died by now (particularly considering the lower average mortality age in the palestinian population). Refugees can really only have referred to those displaced from Israel (either forcibly removed or fleeing) and prevented from returning. If someone was born in Gaza they are not a refugee, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they shouldn’t be allowed to move to Israel if that’s where their parents were from and only left because of force or circumstances…. much as you might demand a right to move to Germany if your parents came from there and fled 60 years ago (but it’s boring, terrible food and has bad weather, so I wouldn’t recommend it)

    • They are refugees because they and their families were chased from their homes and from their land in 1948, when Israel was created. 80% of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees, who often come from Jaffa.

      • “They are refugees because they and their families were chased from their homes”

        You just made up that definition!