A guest post by AKUS
In the face of the deaths of hundreds by drowning as they try to reach Europe from war-torn Africa, relentlessly anti-Israeli Australian as-a-Jew blogger Anthony Loewenstein focuses on the story of a migrant flown back to Africa from Israel.
The European solution to the problem is to destroy the boats the migrants use to make their dangerous way to Europe, thus stranding them in Libya or Morocco and leaving them to their fate.
Israel found itself awash with some 60,000 migrants emerging out of Egypt’s Sinai Desert and making their illegal home in Israel. It is seeking a humane way to remove them from the country. Note that Eritrean migrants had to travel hundreds or thousands of miles though Sudan and Egypt to reach Israel. Under international law (so diligently cited when used to condemn Israel) these were the countries that actually had to offer them refuge as the first countries they came to. Yet there is no mention of their responsibility for this problem in Loewenstein’s article. As usual at the Guardian, it is all about Israel’s purported misdeeds.
(To put this into perspective, with an Israeli population of 8 million, 60,000 migrants in Israel would represent about 3,750,000 migrants among the 500 million Europeans in the EU. The response of the EU’s 10-point plan to deal with the flow of migrants was to offer asylum to 5,000 “persons qualifying for protection” and “Establish a new return programme for rapid return of irregular migrants coordinated by Frontex from frontline Member States”).
Israel is blamed by Loewenstein for actually taking them in temporarily and now seeking to return them to their own continent, rather than providing them with permanent refuge and citizenship in Israel. Europe’s 10 point plan is essentially the same concept, yet Loewenstein does not spend any time dissecting that far greater problem.
Loewenstein uses the story of one migrant, Robel Tesfahannes, to report negatively on Israel’s effort to deal with this problem as humanely as possible. Israel flew Tesfahannes to Kigali at its expense, and gave him $3,500 to help him get started on a new life (“Instead his journey from Israel to the world’s newest nation was a tortuous one. Given $3,500 (£2,200) in cash on departure by Israeli officials, he was flown to Rwanda earlier this year with 10 other Eritreans.”)
Rather than pointing out how Israel is trying to deal as humanely as possible with this issue, the Guardian seizes on this story to once again open the comments section to those wishing to condemn Israel for actually trying to find a solution to the problem other than letting migrants drown or preventing them from ever leaving the shores of Africa in the first place by destroying their means of escape.
In case Loewenstein’s story of the dangers faced by returned migrants like Robel Tesfahannes, whose story he chose to showcase, does not sufficiently inflame the passions of the usual crowd of Israel bashers that flock to CiF, the Guardian illustrated the story with this photograph at the head of the article:
Now, this is a shocking, but curious picture to use. Yes, this boat is undoubtedly full of Africans. They are clearly desperate to get somewhere. But aren’t we told that Israel is flying them back to Africa, not sending them back on boats? Furthermore, isn’t Rwanda a land-locked country in the middle of Africa, bordered by Congo, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania? Didn’t Tesfahannes travel by air with 10 other Eritreans – not a boatload of men, women and children? How did Eritrean and Sudanese migrants find themselves on a boat in the middle of Africa, apparently put there by Israel?
Well, as usual a few seconds spent with a search engine (something seemingly beyond the skills of the Guardian’s editorial staff) reveals that this is actually a photograph of migrants hoping to disembark in Salerno after being rescued by the Italian naval ship “Chimera”, according to the caption in the Irish Times, which used the same exact image:
The same picture was used by New Zealand’s Otago Daily Times:
Reuters has a sting of pictures from this event – easily found through Corbis – along with even more disturbing images showing the aftermath of the disembarking:
So why does the Guardian use that image of migrants crowded onto a boat to illustrate an article that, far from discussing the plight of those escaping drowning in the Mediterranean, is a long indictment of Israel for actually (a) taking in, albeit unwillingly, tens of thousands of migrants and (b) trying, at its own expense, to return them to their own or other friendly countries?
There are only two possible answers.
One is that a picture of a migrant embarking on a jet plane to Africa or receiving a gift of $3,500 to get a fresh start would actually show its readers which country attempts to find a humane solution to a problem it never created.
The other is to embed in its gullible readership – and many of the comments below the line show that in large part it succeeded – the idea that Israel is sending migrants back to Africa on boats: a conclusion that a casual glance at the image would surely create.
The Guardian has no shame in its media war on Israel but this is yet another disgusting use of a photograph from another problem area to impugn Israel. The image should be removed from the article immediately.