Guardian Executive Editor Jonathan Freedland published an op-ed (Israel’s hawks can’t dodge blame for this day of violence) on the recent far-right violence in Israel, including the horrendous murder of a Palestinian baby on Friday and a stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade – both at the hands of Jewish extremists.
Freedland places partial blame on Israel’s “rightwing” politicians who, he suggests, have – by word and deed – created an environment whereby such violence is more likely to erupt. He takes specific aim at Israel’s prime minister, in the following passages, noting Netanyahu’s comments during the recent Israeli elections:
Netanyahu himself is not much better. You don’t have to recall his own disavowal of Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution on the eve of March’s election, or his racist warning that Arab citizens of Israel were heading to the polls “in droves”. Look only at his actions in recent days. Stung by the protests at Bet El, he announced construction of another 300 units in Bet El and 504 in East Jerusalem. In other words, he did not punish the settlers for their lawless behaviour: he rewarded it.
He then cites another alleged example, from the mid-90s.
The prime example of turning on the tap – only to be appalled by the flood – is Netanyahu himself. Twenty years ago he stirred up crowds livid at then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s apparent concessions to the Palestinians. They waved placards depicting Rabin as a Palestinian terrorist, even as an SS officer – but Netanyahu said nothing. They carried a mocked-up coffin of Rabin and still Netanyahu said nothing. But when a far rightist assassinated Rabin, Netanyahu was of course among the first to be shocked, shocked, by such wickedness.
However, Freedland’s claim that the rally in question (in 1994) included a “mocked-up coffin of Rabin” is flat-out wrong and represents a recycling the far-left myth that Bibi was somehow responsible for the former prime minister’s death. In fact, as blogger Elder of Ziyon demonstrated in response to a CNN program in 2013 which advanced this allegation, one side of the coffin actually said “Rabin is burying us” (”רבין קובר אותנו”), while the other side said “Rabin is bringing about the death of Zionism” (“רבין ממית [ה]ציונות”).
The coffin symbolised – for the right-wing protesters at the demo responsible for the mock coffin – the death of Zionism, not the death of Rabin.
Jonathan Freedland got it wrong.
- UK Media Watch prompts correction to anti-Bibi smear (ukmediawatch.org)