Independent

Indy blogger Matt Hill engages in reckless smear about “forced sterilisation” in Israel


Matt Hill, a blogger for Liberal Conspiracy, published a piece at The Independent on April 16 titled At 65, modern Israel is falling short of Zionism’s most basic goal‘, which ‘defends’ Israel existence, and even lists a few of its achievements over 65 years of statehood, before the inevitable descent into delegitimization and demonization.

First, Hill praises Israel thusly:

The survivors of Russian pogroms, Nazi genocide and Arab expulsions went on to build a state that defeated its enemies time after time.Today Israel’s GDP per head is close to that of the UK, and it has more scientists and engineers as a proportion of its population than any other country.

But, he then begins lecturing the Jewish state with the following psychological analysis:

But as with people who experience early trauma, the instincts Israel developed in order to survive have often proved its undoing. Having had to fight for its life in its early days, it spawned a military which sees violence as the solution to every problem and has spread its tentacles into every corner of the state. Having arrived as landless immigrants scrabbling for every inch of earth, after 1967 Israelis built settlements…on territories belonging to other peoples. And like a victim of abuse who has learnt never to trust anyone, Israel has too often been incapable of reaching out a hand in peace to its neighbours 

It gets worse:

Israel’s story, in brief, might be described as overcoming a horrific infancy to grow rich and successful. But its triumphs have come at a cost. Once full of youthful idealism, today it is cynical, increasingly corrupt, and calloused by hubris. The land of socialist pioneers has become, besides America, the most unequal country in the world. A state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt, as the scandal of its forced sterilisation of Ethiopian women has shown.

The charge that Israel engaged in “forced sterilisation of Ethiopian women” is a gross mischaracterization of a story which has been circulating since December.

As CAMERA’s Israel director Tamar Sternthal argued at the Algemeiner, even the originally deeply flawed report in Haaretz’t didn’t argue that there was “forced sterilisation”.  They claimed that Israeli doctors allegedly coerced “some Ethiopian women in transit camps en route to Israel to receive ‘long-lasting contraceptive injections’ as a condition for immigrating”.

Sternthal:

The Ha’aretz stories were based on a Dec. 8, 2012 Israeli broadcast called “Vacuum,” with host Gal Gabai. Ignoring information to the contrary, and placing words in the mouths of her [35 Ethiopian] interviewees, Gabai relentlessly pushed her pre-determined and unsubstantiated thesis that the coerced injections of Depo-Provera, a contraception shot which lasts three months, led to a decrease in the birth rate among Ethiopian immigrants in the last decade.

Sternthal further noted that Gabai “ignored other factors aside from alleged coerced injections which contributed to a lower birth rate” such as “declining birth rates…associated with greater affluence and an improvement in the status of women”.

Additionally, added Sternthal, “Depo-Provera is the most popular birth control method in African countries, including Ethiopia [and] many women prefer the shot, a discreet means of birth control, which can be administered without the knowledge of disapproving husbands.”  As another CAMERA report demonstrated, while some Ethiopian women should likely have been given another contraception instead of Depo-Provera, there is no factual basis supporting the claim of a ‘systematic mechanism’.

Further, the Jan. 27 story in the Independent which Hill linked to about the birth control row – which didn’t once use the term “sterilisation” – mischaracterized the response to the controversy by Israel’s Health Ministry.  The Indy’s Alistair Dawber wrote the following:

Israel has admitted for the first time that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth-control injections, often without their knowledge or consent.

The government had previously denied the practice but the Israeli Health Ministry’s director-general has now ordered gynaecologists to stop administering the drugs.

As CAMERA demonstrated, the letter by the Israel Health Ministry Director General (Prof. Rami Gamzu), “did not address the circulating charges that Ethiopian women were systematically coerced into taking shots against their will”, but simply instructed all gynecologists “not to renew prescriptions “if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”

Also, claims made by the Israeli documentary which propelled the story that “women who immigrated from Ethiopia…say they were told [by doctors at the Joint Distribution Committee, ‘JDC’] that they would not be allowed into Israel unless they agreed to be injected with…Depo-Provera”, were flatly denied by Dr. Rick Hodes, JDC’s Medical Director in Ethiopia in an email to Elder of Zion:

Elder:

“So to be clear, you’re saying that you personally never told any woman that she would have to take Depo-Provera shots in order to immigrate to Israel? The women claim that JDC workers from Israel told them they had to do it. Is that claim to the best of your knowledge false?”

Dr. Hodes replied:

To the best of my knowledge, this claim is 100% false.

Neither myself nor my staff have ever told any women in our program that they should take Depo-Provera for any reason. 100% of Depo-Provera shots are purely voluntary, and may be discontinued (or changed to another method) at any time.

In fact, we don’t have JDC workers from Israel come and tell women these things.

As a Haaretz commentary on Jan. 30 by Allison Kaplan Sommer observed, a story of “insensitivity, cultural condescension and yes, perhaps a certain level of racism” was transformed by some in the media “into some kind of villainous genocidal plot of sterilization aimed at ethnic and racial cleansing.” 

As Elder of Ziyon argued, though “some women may have misunderstood the use of the drug or the options they have for birth control”, there was never any plot by Israeli doctors to sterilize Ethiopian women. 

Whilst other publications have engaged in sloppy reporting over the Ethiopian birth control story, Hill’s charge at the Indy leads the pack by engaging in a reckless, hysterical smear that has absolutely no basis in fact.

(Update: Following our communication with The Independent, Hill’s reference to “forced sterilisation” was removed and the the original passage revised.)

99 replies »

  1. “Israel’s story, in brief, might be described as overcoming a horrific infancy to grow rich and successful”
    This is the problem for Mr. Hill and his “white privileged” identity slumming ilk. Israel is successful. It’s really the change of status he finds unacceptable, for what else has changed? The Arabs still want Israel to disappear, and wouldn’t hesitate to make that happen if the means were available to accomplish that goal.

  2. “But as with people who experience early trauma, the instincts Israel developed in order to survive have often proved its undoing. ”
    Again, blaming anti-Semitism on the actions of Jews rather than anti-Semites.

    “Having had to fight for its life in its early days, it spawned a military which sees violence as the solution to every problem and has spread its tentacles into every corner of the state.”
    Really? A military which sees violence as the solution to every problem? Spreading tentacles? What a load of thinly veiled anti-Semitic crap.

    • Didn’t hear them saying Tesco and has just retracted its US tentacle in any British media yesterday. Why use it with the IDF?

      • Why did Israeli authorities give Depo-Provera shots to Ethiopian women, but not to Ashkenazi women? Last time I checked, ultra-orthodox women had even more children than Ethiopian women.

        • How do you know that Depo-Provera isn’t given to Ashkenazi women?
          Quote your disinterested source and don’t forget that anything in al-Grauniad doesn’t count.

          • “How do you know that Depo-Provera isn’t given to Ashkenazi women?”
            SaraLeah,
            He doesn’t know and he doesn’t care. He’s just a troll trying to disrupt the thread.

            • 1. Why are you stealing other people’s nicks?
              2. Who says it wasn’t given to “ultra-orthodox Ashkenazi women”?
              3. I think it’s likely that most “ultra-orthodox Ashkenazi women” don’t use any contraception because they WANT many children.
              4. You seem to think that the decision to use a particular contraceptive is the prerogative of someone other than the woman concerned (the husband (“will Levick agree to have Ms Levick get Depo-Provera shots?”) or the government). How come you think women don’t have the right to decide these things for themselves?

        • “Why did Israeli authorities give Depo-Provera shots to Ethiopian women, but not to Ashkenazi women?”
          Why are you using my name to spread this rubbish? You are as low as they come.

          • He’s trying to extend his capabilities. “cba” has only three letters and “Jeff” has four (although the last two are the same, so maybe we should consider that “three and a half”). Mind you, he did backslide last night and post as me again.

            In another year or two he’ll be up to a really long name… or maybe even TWO names!

          • It’s worth nothing, Jeff, that the troll posting with your moniker is our erstwhile nuisance “Nat”, who, despite strongly worded asseverations that he would not return here, just couldn’t remain aloof from the opportunity to wreck threads.
            I hope Mr. Levick bans him, ASAP…

            • “Nat” and a bunch more nicks (and he also stole mine for a while).

              Jeff, consider yourself honored, you’re in good company! (With me, that is.)

            • Commentary101,
              I thought as much. The question is, why can’t “nat” engage in “respectful democratic debate?”

  3. ” but simply instructed all gynecologists “not to renew prescriptions “if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”

    Why would gynecologists be instructed in this way if there wasn’t evidence of inappropriate prescribing. If you listen to the evidence of the Ethiopian women and not just to their self-serving doctors, it is clear that some were misled as to the nature of the injections and the consequences for their immigration prospects of not agreeing to them. Add this to the other evidence of prejudice against ‘black’ Jews and it is obvious that the original Haaretz story had some truth in it.

    • “Why would gynecologists be instructed in this way if there wasn’t evidence of inappropriate prescribing. ”
      You’re speculating.

      • Of course he’s speculating. And what else would be his conclusions that if there is the slightest – even the most improbable – possibility what make the Jews the villains of anything then it must be true. Did you read his wise thoughts about the “evidence” of prejudice against “black” Jews? Maybe he thought about the last miss Israel?

    • Can you provide transcripts of what the Ethiopian women said? Unless you were there, how else would you know what they said? Outside of the propaganda sheets, where is the evidence of coercion? Did you even bother to read Adam’s point that their husbands are often against contraception and that this way is more secretive? Are you bored without having an angle to demonize Israel?

    • This is absolutely typical of the evil, anti-semitic tripe that comes from you, Sencar, and all the others who demonise everything Israel does.

      Guess what arsehole. “Healthcare professionals should ensure that informed consent is obtained from the woman whenever any method of LARC [Long Acting Reversible Contraception] is being used.” “The treatment, care and information provided should be culturally appropriate and in a form that is accessible to people who have additional needs, such as people … who do not speak or read English.” these are extracts from the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to practitioners in the UK.

      Once again, you turn a perfectly normal, responsible memo of advice from a government into a stick to beat them with, evidence of “prejudice against black Jews”, or as Hall puts it “forced sterilisation”.

      Need I remind you of the shit-storm of abuse that arose when Israel responsibly discussed ways in which they could ensure that the absolutely necessary and legal blockade of Gaza did not cause humanitarian problems was twisted by you and your ilk into a campaign of starvation against Palestinians?

      Scum. That is all you are.

  4. Hi, Matt Hill here.

    I’m not sure what point this article is trying to make. You seem to accept that the women were coerced into receiving long-term contraceptive injections against their will by Israeli doctors working for an arm of the health ministry. I didn’t imply that this was “some kind of villainous genocidal plot of sterilization aimed at ethnic and racial cleansing.” I said that a “state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt”.

    I have written often of my support of Israel’s existence, and moreover that I support its existence as a Jewish state. I explicitly frame my criticisms of its recent direction in this context. To say this amounts to “deligitimisation” and “demonisation” is silly, unless of course you think all criticism of Israel is unacceptable.

    • “I have written often of my support of Israel’s existence”

      How very gracious of you. Have you ever put that same sentence together for any other country in the world? Just asking ya’ know.

      • Not that I can recall. But Israel is the only country I can think of whose right to exist is frequently questioned in the media.

        • “Having arrived as landless immigrants scrabbling for every inch of earth,…”
          A cliché painted by ignorance of history.
          Well, a lot of ignorants feel free to judge Israel by the virtue of self empowerment and neglected educatioon..

        • Thank you for proving the point we’re trying to make.

          Saying “I support your right to exist” is at the same time implicitly saying “There are those who DO’T support your right to exist.”

      • Matt Hill, have you any qualifications in psychology?

        I quote: “..But as with people who experience early trauma, the instincts Israel developed in order to survive have often proved its undoing. Having had to fight for its life in its early days, it spawned a military which sees violence as the solution to every problem and has spread its tentacles into every corner of the state. Having arrived as landless immigrants scrabbling for every inch of earth, after 1967 Israelis built settlements…on territories belonging to other peoples. And like a victim of abuse who has learnt never to trust anyone, Israel has too often been incapable of reaching out a hand in peace to its neighbours

        I am a qualified psychologist. I have also just returned from a stay in Israel, during which I talked to lots of people of all kinds, and, strangely enough, I found no indication of the specious psychological explanation you offer above.

        I noted your language – in particular the use of “tentacles” in reference to the IDF, a word so beloved of the Jew-hatred of Israel’s Arab neighbours and others who bleat about alleged Jewish power.

        I also noted your use of what I call “decorative hyperbole”, calculated to appeal to emotional thinkers, and the evidence of the paralysing groupthink that has apparently made it very difficult for you to think critically and for yourself and to be capable of seeing both sides of this very complex conflict.

        Most particularly, I noted your own unconscious splitting off and the projection of Arab Jew/Israel hatred onto Israelis. Can you tell me, for example, when the “hand in peace” was ever truly reached out to Israel from its Palestinian neighbours? Israel withdrew from Gaza – which should have given Palestinians the opportunity to begin to state build, rather than rocket their neighbour. Hamas makes no secret of its intention to wipe out Israel and BEHAVES its hatred quite openly and murderously when it can. The PA pretends to want peace while its BEHAVIOUR belies what it says. It continues to name squares and streets after suicide murderers and its children’s television teaches its children to want to follow in their footsteps thereby making sure that the hatred is transmitted down the generations.

        Are we to be delighted by your support for Israel’s existence, which is nonsensical given that you don’t appear to apprehend the complexity of the situation?

        They are mere words.

    • Matt – Have you actually viewed the original (Hebrew speaking) documentary upon which the first Ha’aretz article was based? Do you have any kind of professional gyne/obs training which renders you able to make qualified statements on the subject of Depo Provera? Do you have experience of the Israeli health care system?Do you have experience of working with Ethiopian – or any other – immigrants which enables you to understand their specific social codes?

      If any of the above were the case, then you would know that no women were ‘coerced’ into anything and that a significant proportion of doctors in Israel do not work for the Ministry of Health. You would also know that Depo Provera is a contraceptive – not a method of sterilisation – and that to classify it as such is misrepresentation. You would also be aware that procuring a contraceptive in Israel involves the active participation of the patient, who has to make an appointment to see a gynecologist, take the prescription for the contraceptive drug/device to the pharmacy and then, where necessary, make another appointment to have the contraceptive administered.The opportunities for ‘opt out’ are therefore readily available.

      I’m afraid that it is all too obvious that what you have done is to lazily take a second hand sensationalist story from the English language version of Ha’aretz and add your own embellishments. You obviously have little experience of the Ethiopian community in Israel – and little respect for their intelligence.

      Those of us familiar with your writings will not be very surprised.

      • Hader Sela,

        Again, nothing in the press has contradicted the original story, which is that Ethiopian women were given these injections under heavy pressure and in many cases without understanding the ramifications of the treatment. One of the articles the original post here quotes in *support* of its argument says:

        “The stories women told painted a picture of being coaxed and strongly convinced that they should subject themselves to a Depo-Provera birth control shot every three months, without being offered other methods of family planning. They also recounted being told in educational workshops that Israelis had “small families” and that having many children in Israel would “make their life difficult.” Some said they were led to believe they would not be permitted to emigrate if they did not submit to the shots, others said that their objections to receiving them were ignored. Some women said they weren’t aware the shots were birth control – they thought they were vaccinations, and others said their complaints about disturbing side effects were ignored.

        “It is the latest chapter in the history of clumsy stumbles the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government have made in their enterprise to move communities to Israel. There is no large group of immigrants to Israel, particularly from Asia and Africa, who don’t have legitimate complaints of treatment of bureaucratic indifference and institutional inflexibility, laced with a heavy dose of cultural superiority and both hidden and outright racism.

        “Yes, indeed, the television story and the research on which it was based, found evidence that Ethiopian Jewish women, both while in transit in Addis Ababa preparing to emigrate, and after they arrived in absorption centers in Israel, were strongly encouraged to use Depo-Provera as a form of birth control. In Israel and other Western countries, this birth-control method tends to be restricted to those who are not mentally competent or responsible enough to take a daily birth-control pill. These Ethiopian women were clearly not encouraged strongly enough to consider other means of family planning, both when they began the injections in Ethiopia, and certainly later after they immigrated to Israel, their family planning practices should have been reassessed, not automatically continued. And certainly there was not enough careful examination of each individual medical case, causing suffering among those women with medical conditions exacerbated by the Depo-Provera.”

        Nobody is disputing these facts, except officials working on behalf of the JDC.

        • Um, citations? Also, stating that nothing in the press contradicts your claims shows that you have been too lazy to read Adam’s article or simply and flatly denying is easier and more convenient.

        • Matt,
          There is no large group of immigrants to Britain, particularly from Asia and Africa, who don’t have legitimate complaints of treatment of bureaucratic indifference and institutional inflexibility, laced with a heavy dose of cultural superiority and both hidden and outright racism.

      • Hadar, he has as little professional experience in gyne/obs as he has in psychology. He majored in emotional thinking at journlism school.

    • . I said that a “state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt”.
      Even taking into account that it has been published by the most mainstream anti-Semitic rag in our times this sentence can win the first prize in the anti-Israeli narrative. A state who use hundreds of millions of its money and tens of millions of work hours of its employees in order to bring this immigrants to Israel – treats them with contempt.
      The statements you provide from Israeli officials denying that Ethiopian women received these shots against their will or knowledge don’t seem plausible
      Don’t seem plausible!? Any evidence? Or if something doesn’t seem plausible means that it could be published as facts? Only in the Guardian…
      Naturally anything what Gal Gabai who is very well known in Israel as a “documentary” filmmaker who edits out from her films everything contradicting her political message must be correct.

      • At the risk of boring people, peterthehungarian, I repeat that Matt Hill is probably incapable of the sort of critical thought which would incline him towards reading around to find all points of FACT rather than opinion. He is a victim of Guardian groupthink and let’s face it emotional reasoning is the Guardian’s strong point. After all, why bother with facts and the truth when you can save time by presenting half-baked psychological opinions as facts?

        I won’t even begin to address how far this approach departs from journalistic ethics.

    • I have written often of my support of Israel’s existence

      Thank you. And I support the existence of Britain.

      • I think Europe has no right to exist, as it caused hundreds of millions of deaths all over the world during its existence.

    • First, where does Adam accept that claim of coercion? Also, you are using a literary tactic, that of persuasion writing. First, you support your opponent’s argument, then you try to argue against it for the purpose of influencing others.

    • Have you thought about the underpinning of your statement that you have written often about your support for the existence of Israel, Matt Hill, or why on earth you should have to do so? Does it not strike you as at least sinister that you should have to do so, when no other state/country on earth has, to my knowledge, merited your support in this way?

      Somehow I think not.

    • It’s indeed disturbing to see that Mr Levick does not seem to object to Israeli doctors giving long-term contraceptive injections to Ethiopian women against their will.

      • Mr Levick does not seem to object to Israeli doctors giving long-term contraceptive injections to Ethiopian women against their will.

        The nick-stealing troll makes up lies. There was never any hint that it was against their will.

      • It’s indeed disturbing to see that “nat” is not beyond using the names of regular posters here (posing as Jeff and cba) to spread malicious falsehoods.

  5. Just to add to the above: I think there are two main points – one about the facts of the case and one about language.

    The statements you provide from Israeli officials denying that Ethiopian women received these shots against their will or knowledge don’t seem plausible. Even the articles you quote in support of your point seem to accept the basic facts of the case.

    The second point is about language. The drug in question as I understand it leaves a woman unable to conceive for at least three or four months, and makes pregnancy unlikely for up to ten months. I think most people would understand this as meaning that they are temporarily sterile. We are accustomed to using the word ‘sterilisation’ for procedures that are not necessarily permanent.

    • You suck. And you probably use other types of drugs, those that permanently impaired your sense of decency.

      • Hello Matt. It’s a very emotive word and, although, yes, people are now used to the idea that it is sometimes a process which may be reversed, there is an unpleasant tradition of forced sterilisation, for eugenic purposes, in many countries, where sterilisation most certainly was not intended to be reversible. Whatever the precise story was in this case (I’m aware of it but haven’t looked into it in detail) this is not being claimed in this instance, yet I’m sure many readers, reading about it for the first time in your post, would assume this was something more like the forced sterilisation of Roma in parts of Europe, say.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/22/AR2011032202551.html

        I was also rather startled by your use of the word ‘tentacles’ which is so very common in antisemitic discourse.

        https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/tentacles-jewish-millionaires-der-sturmer-the-protocols/

        Although it could be countered that you aren’t using the word within the context of an antisemitic trope about control, but just to describe the IDF – why use it at all?

        • Sarah,

          re. ‘tentacles’. Why use it at all? Because it’s a useful metaphor that in this case evoked the IDF as a monster spreading its arms into the far reaches of the Israeli government bureaucracy. Nobody serious who has read my writing can think I am an anti-semite, and nobody could draw an anti-semitic implication from its use here.

          • “..Nobody serious who has read my writing can think I am an anti-semite, and nobody could draw an anti-semitic implication from its use here…”

            See my post to you above. I am very serious, Matt Hill. I am too used to seeing “tentacles” employed by Jew-haters who are trying to convince the ignorant and stupid that Jews have too much power in the higher echelons of society. It is a sensitive word and you yourself have admitted that you employed it about the IDF in that very way. You seem to have no idea of the effects of what you write on others.

            So at best you are extremely insensitive and thoughtless, and at worst an antisemite.

            Myself, since you publish in the Guardian which is hardly the bastion of open-minded intelligent enquiry, my money would be on both. Your own word(s) condemned you.

          • I think it’s important to separate the two points out. I think it’s entirely understandable that people drew an antisemitic implication from your use of the word. I was really quite taken aback by it, although obviously if you weren’t aware of the resonances then it doesn’t reflect on *you*.

          • “re. ‘tentacles’. Why use it at all? Because it’s a useful metaphor that” has been used effectively by anti-Semites for a hundred years. Get educated.
            “nobody could draw an anti-semitic implication from its use here.”
            And lose the arrogance.

        • No-one has mentioned this phrase:
          it spawned a military which sees violence as the solution to every problem

          Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the IDF knows that’s about as far from the truth as possible.

          • It uses violance to help people in Port Au Prince, Turkey or After the Boxi ng day Tsunami, doesn’t it Matt. You shame yourself.

            • And Israeli soldiers are trained to almost superhuman levels of self-control. See, for example, that video of the soldier being baited by “Shirley Temper.”

            • Ah, you did indeed… together with the “tentacles” (is Hill really that ignorant of Nazi and other anti-Jewish imagery?)

    • “The statements you provide from Israeli officials denying that Ethiopian women received these shots against their will or knowledge don’t seem plausible. Even the articles you quote in support of your point seem to accept the basic facts of the case.”
      Seem, seem, … where is your factual response?

      Your baseless speculations do not improve your standing as sober and fair commentator, but advance the suspicion of your bias (or hate of?) against Israel as your lazy use ( or conscious misuse?) of terms imply.

    • Matt, first:

      1. You said: “state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt”.

      This is a lazy, and misleading generalization when describing a state, relative to its size, which is the largest immigrant absorbing nation in the world.

      http://focus-migration.hwwi.de/Israel.5246.0.html?L=1

      2. You said: “unless you think all criticism of Israel is unacceptable”

      A non-sequitur which is meaningless. Nobody either in Israel or the diaspora thinks that.

      3. You specifically used the term “forced sterilisation”,of Ethiopian women which most people read as “the process of permanently ending someone’s ability to reproduce without his or her consent.”

      This did not happen, nor has anyone even claimed this happened. As I wrote, there is a question about whether some Ethiopian women were fully informed about the 3 month injection of depo-provera – which is completely different than the charge you leveled.

      Thanks for replying but the fact remains that you used inaccurate and inflammatory language, and we strongly suggest you consider revising the words “forced sterilisation” to something more consistent with the facts of the case.

      Adam

      • Yes, although I can understand why Matt should think it is unfair that he is described as demonising or delegitimising Israel (when one compares him with many who do so continuously and unambiguously and indeed seem to have no other interest in life) I agree that it is quite possible to accept robust criticism of Israel as perfectly legitimate while sharing the concerns raised about this post.

        Though, incidentally, I feel I should point out that Matt has written for Harry’s Place as much as for Liberal Conspiracy I think!

      • Hi Adam,

        If you can suggest a more appropriate phrase, I will consider contacting the Independent and see if they think a clarification is necessary.

        Matt

        • Matt – thank you for engaging with this criticism. You deserve the credit for that. But please see my post above. The Israeli government issued a warning to its medical practitioners to ensure that all recipients of this contraceptive were fully aware of what was happening. That is responsible and absolutely praiseworthy. It is exactly comparable to the NICE guidelines to UK practitioners I quote above.

          I simply cannot understand how this is twisted into evidence of a “scandal of forced sterilisation of Ethiopian women.”

          You want alternative wording? At worst, it is evidence of “a failure of some practitioners dealing with people with no common language to fully ensure all patients were making properly informed decisions about their treatment.”

          At best, it is evidence of “a government carefully monitoring the treatment provided by medical practitioners to ensure that the highest standards are maintained for all patients – especially those who need additional support due to language difficulties.”

          Whatever it is, it is almost exactly the opposite of evidence of a state “which treats immigrants with contempt.”

        • “claims of prescribing contraceptives without fully informing the recipients of the implications”

          Not as snappy as “forced sterilization” of course, but a little more accurate.

  6. The statements you provide from Israeli officials denying that Ethiopian women received these shots against their will or knowledge don’t seem plausible. Even the articles you quote in support of your point seem to accept the basic facts of the case.

    One has to wonder about you Matt. Very few Ethiopian women have contended that they were ill informed and those that did were speaking Amharit which may give you some indication as to the education of these women. As a new immigrant to Israel many years ago, after 5 months, I would have been able to express myself in Hebrew quite well on a subject like this.

    If you had written, ‘as the scandal of its forced temporary sterilisation of Ethiopian women has shown.’ I would not have suspected you of using polemics to project Israel negatively.

    Also. One of the tactics of the hate Israel crowd is never to demand any changes from the countries surrounding Israel. (Muslim Arab countries). Your statement It is that of Levi Eshkol, Israel’s third prime minister, who stood before his war-hungry generals in 1967 and asked: “Must we live forever by the sword?”

    You should know that Israel seeks peace. True peace. Not a temporary something or other that will leave Israel is a much weaker military situation. Our neighbors seek a situation where eventually, Israel will be destroyed. They don’t talk to their people about peace. Our leaders, well most of them at least, talk about peace and one dream of most Israelis is that we don’t have to sent our children off to war.

    Our neighbors glorify war and see it as the final solution to the problem of (Jewish) Israel. Their strategy is to wear Israel down to a situation where it can be destroyed. One part of that strategy is to use the ‘useful idiots’ on the radical left. That doesn’t include all the left by far. Try not to be part of it.

    • NobblyStick, any Palestinian in Gaza who talks openly about peace with Israel is at least arrested, and his ultimate fate may be as we have seen – to be killed and his body desecrated publicly by being dragged through the streets by motorbike or otherwise, so no, Palestinians DARE NOT mention that they want peace, much less teach their children to hope for peace. Instead they consign their children to the tender mercies of the Hamas to be taught to hate and want to die:

      http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=8094

      Likewise, although the PA may be slightly less openly dangerous than Hamas, I doubt that many West Bank Palestinians dare to speak of peace with their neighbour openly. Their children too are exposed to hate-filled messages such as:

      http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=8804

  7. Matt Hill declares that he believes that the only country in the world that has ever deliberately brought in people en masse from Africa to be citizens like any other would have an official policy of ‘sterilisation’ (no matter how dishonestly he chooses to define the word).

    I wonder what influences he has been exposed to that he chooses to see Israel in that light to the extent that he is prepared to expose his bigotry and expect others to agree with him.

  8. Hi all,

    As a result of this discussion I emailed the Independent to ask for the article to be amended.

    It now reads:

    ‘A state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt, as is shown by the scandal of Israeli doctors pressuring Ethiopian women into taking long-term contraceptive drugs.’

    A note at the bottom of the article reads:

    ‘Update: This article was amended on 18/04/13 to remove the claim that Israeli doctors had forced sterilisation on Ethiopian women.’

    In the same spirit, I look forward to several posters here retracting the vile accusation I’m an anti-semite.

    • Pshaw! What kind of bs revision is that? How have you removed the specious accusation that there was coercion? “Pressuring Ethiopian women into taking long-term contraceptive drugs” sounds like coercion to me.

      Furthermore, you can take your sanctimony and stick it! “Treating immigrants with contempt” indeed. Maybe you should try to talking to Simon Deng if your agenda can withstand it.

    • By the way Mattyboy, complaining about vile accusations is so hypocritical that it could be written into a comedy show.

    • In the same spirit, I look forward to several posters here retracting the vile accusation I’m an anti-semite.
      Laughable Matt.
      You acknowledeged that you spread malevolent lies about Israel in a paper whose habit is the delegimitization and demonization of this country and added a correction what none of the readers of your shit will ever see but will remember the original article – and then you expect an apology?
      BTW In my humble opinion you are not an anti-Semite in the usual meaning of the word, you are just a lazy superficial ignorant who publish anything what could bring your acceptance into the warm and stale world of tha Guardian’s left. That your disgusting libels are part of the demonization and the delegimitization of Israel? So what…
      Anyway you can shove up your correction you know perfectly well where to.

      • you can shove up your correction you know perfectly well where

        I respectfully disagree.

        IMO, the correction is laudable. Just insufficient.

        • I agree with cba. Well done to Matt and the Indy for correcting this – the worst example of baseless demonisation in this article. Credit where credit’s due, and I should make it clear that my tirade earlier in this thread was aimed mostly at sencar, although the point still stands.

          I do not expect further clarifications, but as others have pointed out at length on this thread, there are other mis-representations (to use a polite term) in this article which it is perfectly reasonable to critique – such as the characterisation of Israel as a state that “treats immigrants with contempt”, or the “violent” approach of the IDF, or the refusal by Israel to seek peace with its neighbours – all of which are demonstrably untrue and weird inversions of reality.

          Matt – when you publish such untruths, you cannot expect not to have your motives questioned!

    • À sloppy introduction into the Jewish migration, omitting the resident Jews, a false interpretation of the foundation of Israel, the IDF monstering …. what makes you so confident of being able to write about and to judge Israel, besides the obvious self empowerment?
      Your socialist paradise of kubbuznik never existed, it wasn`t a paradise, poor, but intelligent people existed, hard working and fighting for their life, partially with communist goals and forms which proved not lasting `cause of limiting liberty and individualism, that is. And which nearly went bust, economically.
      Measuring the current state with your dreamworld is your ill conceived notion of a measure stick, but has nothing in common with reality, neither past nor present.

    • Very strange correction but never the less I, even though never stated you were an anti Semite, retract this claim.
      Instead I label you a “somewhat lazy journalist who’s poor choice of heavily negative charged words to describe a country and a people makes informed readers wonder about his opinions”.

      Better?

    • as much a war of narratives as of tanks and missiles. Did the Palestinian refugees of 1948 leave their homes voluntarily or at Israeli gunpoint? When Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War, was it acting in aggression or self-defence? Do the remains of the First Jewish Temple lie beneath the Golden Dome in the heart of Jerusalem?

      “a war of narratives“?

      Let’s take your “narratives” one at a time.

      Did the Palestinian refugees of 1948 leave their homes voluntarily or at Israeli gunpoint?

      Both (although I’d amend “voluntarily” to “at the urging of their leaders”). The only point of dispute (or “narrative,” if you prefer) is the how much of each was happening. Naturally, I tend to the belief that most was the former and very little the latter. YMMV.

      When Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War, was it acting in aggression or self-defence?

      Even if, unlike me, you’re not old enough to remember 1967 and the horrifying weeks in May when Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran and Nasser told the UN Peacekeeping forces in the Sinai to leave so he could drive the Jews into the sea, a little elementary research would have enabled you to find a treasure trove of cartoons from May 1967 that very clearly illustrated the goals of the Arabs. That’s not “competing narratives,” that’s verifiable facts.

      Do the remains of the First Jewish Temple lie beneath the Golden Dome in the heart of Jerusalem?

      Seriously?! Seriously??? So where the hell do you think the Temple was? Why would Herod build the Second Temple (expanding the Temple Mount to do so) on the site if that WASN’T where the first one was?

      Or perhaps you agree with the “Palestinian narrative” that there never was a Temple in Jerusalem (archaeological evidence be damned)?

      • He is ignorant of how Islam behaved/behaves when it conquers. It raises to the ground and obliterates all trace of the holy sites of the vanquished and builds mosques on top of the ruins (remember the ill-fated attempt to build a mosque at Ground Zero, which failed because the egregious Imam Rauf skipped with the spondulics and the outrage of the people of New York?)

      • More about the 67 war against Jordan
        Here the historical sequence of events on June 5, 1967, is critical, for Israel only entered the West Bank after repeated Jordanian artillery fire and ground movements across the previous armistice lines. Jordanian attacks began at 10:00 a.m.; an Israeli warning to Jordan was passed through the UN at 11:00 a.m.; Jordanian attacks nonetheless persisted, so that Israeli military action only began at 12:45 p.m. Additionally, Iraqi forces had crossed Jordanian territory and were poised to enter the West Bank. Under such circumstances, the temporary armistice boundaries of 1949 lost all validity the moment Jordanian forces revoked the armistice and attacked. Israel thus took control of the West Bank as a result of a defensive war.

    • Oh, boy, ever heard of the ongoing civil war in 1947 and the Arab invasion 0f 1948? Ever read the UN resolution 181? Ever read the mandate of the League of Nations?
      “Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country;”
      Ever heard of the ethnic cleansing of Hebron? Ever heard of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam?

      And your implicit self portraying as not following the logicof one of the sides, your cover is blown by this ending
      “During the Second Intifada, Israelis saw suicide bombings as proof the Palestinians were more interested in bloodshed than peace; for Palestinians, the attacks showed their increasing desperation under an unyielding occupation. Once the bombings stopped, pro-Palestinians said the newfound quiet showed their side’s readiness to crack down on violence and seek peace; pro-Israelis said it proved the occupation was working. ”
      What stopped the blood shed was the fencing, not your completely absurd claims of who said what, especially as no well-known pro-Israeli would say anything like you invented here.

    • Matt – that’s an interesting article, and on the whole I agree with it. For point of clarification, I do disagree with some of your questions of “narrative” (see cba’s reply above) but that sort of proves your point.

      For my part, I am quite willing to recognise that there is fault and right on both sides, and there are far too many (including some regulars on this blog) who see things in black and white.

      Some compromise and softening on both sides is essential if they are ever to live together in peace, but you fall into some traps that betray where YOU stand on the matter. Your reliance on the 1967 ceasefire lines as the borders of a future Palestinian state, for example (their legal status has only ever been a basis for negotiation). Or your question about the location of the 1st Temple.

      This, combined with the other points already discussed about your view of Israel as published in the Indy, reveal that you are (perhaps unwittingly) not quite as impartial as you may think you are.

      • Agreed, labernal, re “narratives”
        A narrative is an interpretation of events, and not necessarily an objective account of what took place.

        Matt Hill makes the all too common, lazy mistake of conflating narratives with truth, rather than examining all narratives about a given situation and comparing them to find the points where they coincide.

        That is sloppy, lazy, even dangerous journalism.

        • “That is sloppy, lazy, even dangerous journalism.”

          Which perfectly describes 99,9% of today’s journalism.

          • Yes indeed. Chris Elliot , readers editor of al-Grauniad once wrote that facts are tricky things, apparently unaware of what that did to the reputation of al-Grauniad as a believable purveyor of news

  9. See your reference above to IDF’s “tentacles” and your apparent ignorance of how that term is used by antisemites to refer to alleged Jewish power which undermines the world. Your specious analogy shows what passes for your “thinking” is that the IDF controls the government and the country in a similar way. You aren’t even aware that this is offensive and not only because it is untrue.

    So, no, my verdict is, “Could do better. And much, much more”

  10. “.. Either way we must do away with our caricatures of this conflict, and attempt to see the messy reality for what it is. Because in this game of cowboys and Indians, the casualties are real….”

    Blimey, Matt Hill, what statesmanlike language from someone who seems incapable of practising what he preaches, at least from what you have written on this page.

    Give us some evidence, do, that YOU, yourself, are capable of seeing the “messy reality for what it is.” Go on, be a sport.

  11. More of the blown cover of Hill

    “On university campuses and in the media, the conflict’s racial dimension gives the discussion a particularly nasty edge. It’s true that a few loathsome anti-Semites hide their hate under the “pro-Palestinian” banner. But that doesn’t excuse the way Israel’s apologists so readily resort to smearing their opponents as anti-Jewish – a charge that anybody who publicly criticises Israel soon gets used to. Not that the Left is any stranger to such tactics, with anyone who defends the Jewish character of Israel accused of supporting racial supremacism. While one side trumpets that Zionism equals racism, the other insists that anti-Zionism is racism. ”

    Firstly you maintain that there are a few, downplaying the structual antisemitism of your so called Pro-Palestinians shown in so many examples, cases, tvs, and as you demonstrate it so perfectly, routinely ignored. Well, why?
    Secondly, anybody publicly critises Israel? Why do you criticise the state at whole? Please explain, do you criticise China, Great Britain as state? Or do you single out Israel, as the Jew under the nations?
    Thirdly, no excuse is needed when your coming out in defence of antisemitism by downplaying it is obvious and when you accuse Jews (well, you disguise it as Israel`s apologists which is just another proof of your bias) being apologists, resort to smearing when they call a duck a duck, antisemitism antisemitism.
    It doesn`t look well, your apology.

  12. The equalling of Pro-Israels and Pro-Palestinians is on shaky grounds as the Arab states and the Palestinians were beaten in wars, between these wars they resort to terrorism, but not to negotiations leading to an end. No Palestinian leader ever declared that they have lost, they all, PLO, PLFP, Hmas, Djihad nurture the notions of future victory and a never beaten nation, with the strategic and financial background or oil and gas dollars, Arab states and Muslim councils.
    That`s why Camp David, Oslo etc.never bear fruits. As long the Palestinians are living in the concept of having every right to claim terror will prevail, as mean of propaganda and self asserting identity.
    But the reality is, they lost and are loosing the war.
    Sensitive and responsible leaders would sit down and negotiate, but as long as in the west journos are writing such crap like equalling they will use them as tools and fools.
    Referring to Oz is a nice try for cover but only shows the absence of the possibility equally to refer to a Palestinian author.

    • To clarify the point and the false equilibrium Hill constructs for the narrative of his own sake, he doesn`t find a Palestinian testimony of the civil society, of a peace movement, to equate Oz, so he has to resort to Oz as the voice speaking for all,, and therefore his narrative is easily deconstructed.
      The invention of two equalling narratives helps to avoid the painful search for truth and then to take sides openly.
      There is no weighing which one has more power, political, financial, in the media, the set up is a frozen, mythical moment, two fighting narratives.
      But even the history, the beginning and the development of the Palestinian narrative remains in the dark, must remain in the dark, as it is much younger than the Israelian one, and has a murky past.