New Statesman

Donald Macintyre: a case study in how ‘enlightened’ British opinion can appear to empathise with Hamas


Written by Aron White

Donald Macintyre is a veteran journalist, with years of experience covering the Middle East, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has published extensively for the Guardian, Independent and New Statesman, and is also the author of a book “Gaza: Preparing for Dawn.”  His stature as a leading journalist makes his recent coverage of the Gaza protests – containing open falsehoods and distortions, and a fawning affection for Hamas – all the more shocking.

In an article in the New Statesman, Macintyre opens by stressing the peaceful nature of the protests, saying the deaths of Palestinians mark “a bloody climax to two months of unarmed protests,” but in a later paragraph, further clarifies what “unarmed” means, with a sentence that is quite astounding:

“…..Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, who emphasised the unarmed nature of the protests (except for stones, Molotov cocktails and flaming kites that had not at that time injured a single Israeli)….”

“An unarmed protest, except for stones, Molotov cocktails and flaming kites.” This sentence defies both logic and the dictionary; imagine any other context, conflict or conversation, where such a sentence would be considered intelligent.  The question of whether the weapons of choice have injured any Israelis or not is quite irrelevant to whether the protest was armed or unarmed. By the most elementary logic, any person will recognize that a protest that contains stones, Molotov cocktails and flaming kites is quite definitely not an unarmed (non-violent) protest.

Why does Macintyre write this? I would suggest it’s rooted in a deep flaw in his reporting of the conflict, whereby he is deeply beholden to a narrative, leading him to paper over uncomfortable truths. In his worldview, Israel is a colonialist project that in its very essence is anti-Palestinian. The heavily armed and dangerous Israelis continue to cause untold pain to the weak and suffering Palestinians. In this narrative, the Israelis are immutably guilty and violent, and the Palestinians are innocent victims, to whom no agency, responsibility or blame is ever to be attributed.

What if the facts are different – for example, many Palestinians are, in fact, armed and dangerous, and he knows it? Which wins: facts about the very real Palestinian threat, or the narrative of Palestinian innocence that he and his readers so desperately want?  For Macintyre, the narrative wins out:  The protesters may in fact have “stones, Molotov cocktails and flaming kite,” but the narrative requires something else, so they are “unarmed.”

This policy, allowing the narrative to define the story rather than the facts, is also found in other ways in the above mentioned New Statesman article. Throughout the article, the image of the Palestinians as meek and unthreatening is reinforced. Israel is guilty of “slaughter” and should use different methods of “crowd control” to deal with the “protesters and demonstrators”. All of this paints an image of peaceful protests, much like one would see in Central London, into which the Israelis step in to mow down the innocents.

Yet Macintyre himself, in other articles, also has another set of phrases to describe Palestinians in Gaza.

In an Independent article, covering a press conference given by Yahya Sinwar, Macintyre opens with the headline “Hamas Gaza leader hints at mass breach of Israel border fence, as he compares Palestinians to “starving tiger””. In the article he quotes Sinwar saying Gaza has become a “ticking time bomb,” and “no-one knows where the tiger is heading, or what it is going to do.” He closes his article with the ominous phrase, that Gaza leaves “the image of a tiger breaking out of its cage.” At the Observer, Gazans are described by Macintyre as “having nothing to lose”.

When painting a picture of Palestinian suffering, he drives his point home by painting a dark and ominous picture of just how threatening the situation is for Israel. When Israel defends itself against those threats, the Palestinians revert back to the innocent victims. Quite simply, put the two articles together, and the dissonance become clear. One does not use “crowd control” when one is dealing with a “crouching tiger bursting out its cage”, and a “ticking time bomb”.  The threat of a “mass breach of a border fence” is not conveyed in his use of the term “protesters.” When he wants to paint a picture of Palestinian suffering, they are armed and dangerous. When Israel responds to the threats, once again, his drama requires that the Palestinians are innocent, unarmed and unthreatening.

Underlying much of Macintyre’s writing, there is also empathy, even a fawning sympathy, for Hamas. 

He appears to see few flaw in them; for example, he discusses Israel’s “punitive” blockade of Gaza whilst totally ignoring Hamas’ responsibility in causing the blockade (Israel blockaded Gaza in 2007 when Hamas took over, prior to that there was no blockade). He seems almost praiseworthy of Hamas’ militant activities. Their call to have Gazans storm through the border fence is “ambitious,” In the past, he has described Gaza’s smuggling tunnels as a “testament to their hard work and ingenuity.”

His affection for Hamas is captured in his Independent piece, where he encourages readers to feel empathy for Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas:

“When Sinwar arranged his first-ever meeting with foreign journalists since taking his position last year, he could hardly have known that his organisation would two days beforehand be branded as one of four groups President Donald Trump denounced as being supported by Iran in justifying the end to US participation in the nuclear deal with Tehran.”

There are a few points here.

The assertion itself is profoundly odd.  Iran is a major backer of Hamas, (a major Hamas delegation visited Tehran just a few months ago), so it is hard to imagine Sinwar was the least bit surprised by this open fact being asserted. But more egregious is the sympathy; the head of a terrorist organisation calls a press conference, but then something happens he could never have predicted – and we are supposed to feel sorry for Sinwar.  The attempt to make his readers empathise with the struggles of running a murderous, jihadist group is the evidence of a moral compass that has lost its bearings.

Macintyre is ripping up what it means to be a journalist.

Instead of reporting facts, he openly lets the narrative run over them.  He appears to possess admiration and evoke sympathy for a terrorist organisation, whilst accusing the opposing army of slaughter. That he believes what he believes is upsetting – that his writing is considered enlightened, intelligent, and worthy of print is egregious.

Macintyre should be held accountable for his toxic mix of unbalanced distortions and seeming terrorist sympathy . He has a lot to answer for – but until that point, other writers should cover this complex issue, giving the British public the the professional journalism it deserves.

(Mr. McIntyre responds to the post in this comment)

(Editor’s Note: A sentence in this post was amended on June 7th to more accurately reflect Mr. McIntyre’s views on Gaza’s tunnels.)

Aron White has a BSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of London (Lead College: LSE), and is a graduate of the Jewish Statesmanship Center in Jerusalem. His writings have been published at the Jerusalem Post, JNS, The Daily Caller and the Algemeiner.

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140 replies »

  1. The Tragedy of Donald McIntyre is that he’s an asshole who bought into 3000 years of anti-Semitic bullshit and lies. I’m going to make it a musical.

  2. No doubt, seeing the effectiveness of Hamas’s stones, Molotov cocktails and flaming kites, Israel will cancel the annual US Taxpayers’ gift of modern advanced weaponry to them and ask for the enormous yearly sum of over $3,500,000,000 to be spent on the same items that the Palestinians had used to threaten the very existence of their vulnerable peaceful state.

    • Excellent suggestion. I’m sure Israel will do exactly that — as soon as:
      – USA & UK give up their missiles, warplanes, warships, combat helicopters and tanks and downgrade to the weaponry favoured by ISIS, Al-Qaeda & Taliban;
      – France similarly downgrades to the level of armament used by Mali ‘militants’.

      So may I suggest you start working on USA, UK and France — the sooner the better.

      • But White seemed more impressed by the Palestinian weaponry than by Israel’s meagre sniper rifles, niritis

        • I don’t read that at all in his text. All he is saying is that these were NOT “unarmed protests”. There is no such thing as “primitively-armed protests”. Indeed there is no such thing as “unarmed protest” — protests are by definition unarmed. There are “protests” and there is “combat”. And in combat, if you give up your advantage, you do not become a nicer person. You become a dead fool.

          • I’m not sure if you’re new here, but you should know that Farmer is not interested in sincere, intelligent debate. He’s an anti-Semitic troll who looks for angles to demonize Israel.

      • Also certain that Israel will get rid of its nuclear arsenal(sshh .. it’s a secret) as Iran has ceased the development of its own.

      • Israel will do just that as soon as all the Arab countries, Iran and Turkey dismantle their military capabilities completely.

    • No doubt, seeing the effectiveness of Hamas’s stones, Molotov cocktails and flaming kites,

      Farmer. I wonder what you would say if Israel prepared hundreds of kites with Molotov Cocktails on the tail and when the wind direction was from the east, released them into Gaza with their tails burning???

      • He’d say that Israelis are monsters, of course. Jews can do no right, Arabs can do no wrong. Just another “anti-racist”.

    • “Stones, Molotov cocktails and flaming kites.” Silly me, Farmer had decreed that the protesters were “peaceful” and “unarmed.” Of course, their targets are Jews, so it doesn’t matter. Of course, Israel shouldn’t be allowed to defend itself or support the American economy. That simply doesn’t meet Farmer’s criteria for world order.

    • I don’t read that at all in his text. All he is saying is that these were NOT “unarmed protests”. There is no such thing as “primitively-armed protests”. Indeed there is no such thing as “unarmed protest” — protests are by definition unarmed. There are “protests” and there is “combat”. And in combat, if you give up your advantage, you do not become a nicer person. You become a dead fool.

  3. I seem to recall the reported existence of a Palestinian press guidance manual, detailing how journalists are to frame stories and, in some instances, what phrases to repeat. Maybe articles such as McIntyre’s should be compared to that guidance to see how strictly he adheres to it. Perhaps with a box where items covered are ticked. That would expose the tendentious nature of the reporting.

  4. Michael Farmer: A Case Study in Nazi Behavior Especially in Regards to Their 3 Inch Dicks.

    Another musical, although most will consider it a Loony Tune.

    Be-be-be-be…. That’s all folks!

  5. OFF Topic.
    A critique of Natalie Portman the artist and political lady. I thought this goes along well with her recent Genesis Prize hoopla

    • Natalie Portman did a great job explaining herself. She has every right in the world to avoid Bibi who is not helping Jews or Israel in any real way right now.

      • I’m done with natalie portman.

        Let her move to Gaza and tell everyone she hates Netanyahu, especially on the days when Gaza is crazed and thirsty for Jewish blood.

        • I’m sure your family has been done with you for a very long time, Crazy Eddie. When do you move out of the basement? After you pull your pants up so you don’t trip on them?

      • I disagree. I don’t think that’s an objective assessment of Netanyahu. How can you say that?
        Natalie Portman is entitled to her political opinions even if they are shallow opinions for grand standing. I don’t think she helped Jews or Israel by not showing up for the Genesis Prize ceremony.
        And you keep harping on this “party before country” b.s., but this is what she did by boycotting the ceremony.

        • That’s okay, Jeff. For one thing, you and I don’t agree on anything. So no surprise there.

          That’s right… I do harp on Party Over Country. How is Natalie Portman or I defending a Party Over Country approach by rebuking BIbi’s stances? There’s no Party in that. We are indivduals. When you and that bloated louse complain about Obama being a Muslim, there’s no reality. But that’s a Party line and you run with it.

          Party Over Country. It means no compromises. It means power over people. You should look the phrase up and reapply it.

          But I don’t really expect that out of you. Like Leah, nothing pisses you off more than a Jew who supports Israel’s right to exist but from a different political perspective. You really just don’t believe us, no matter what we say, because (repeat after me) Party Over Country, Including When That Country Is Israel.

          • “Like Leah, nothing pisses you off more than a Jew who supports Israel’s right to exist but from a different political perspective” – more demented projection from the demented creep. You are the one who goes all spittle flecked when a Zionist dares to praise Trump for having Israel’s back, instead of the ghastly bigot Obama who stuck the knife in as he flounced off the stage.

          • “That’s okay, Jeff. For one thing, you and I don’t agree on anything. So no surprise there.”

            We probably agree on many things and disagree on other things.

            I never complained about Obama being a Muslim. Are you on drugs?

            I’ll cut to the chase. Your current “Party over Country” siren song is misapplied. It’s a slogan.

            The only thing that pisses me off is someone who is so cock sure of himself and sanctimonious about it that he can’t participate in give and take dialogue, and instead immediately runs for the security of the ad hominem attack and stereotyping those who disagree. But I have learned to shrug it off because the world is full of such people that it is practically a necessity for keeping one’s equilibrium.

            Whatever you or anyone else thinks about Bibi’s “stances,” an objective observer would acknowledge that he has in many ways done things that have benefitted Israel. That doesn’t necessarily entail agreeing with him on every political issue.

            Do you understand that?

            • Jeff, – Alphabet Soup is nothing BUT sanctimonious hot air, hysterical fabrications, hatred, bigotry, ad hominems, ignorance and stupidity.

          • “How is Natalie Portman or I defending a Party Over Country approach by rebuking BIbi’s stances? There’s no Party in that. ”

            There is pretty much nothing else but Party in that.
            When you don’t show up at a nonpartisan event because you disagree with the political stances of one of the other attendees, that is hyper-partisanship.

  6. Pickled Liver Leah loves Israel. She just hates Liberal Jews and Hollywood Jews and Jews who don’t agree with her. Other than that, Leah is a proud Zionist. Which, as we all know, is a secular (i.e. liberal) philosophy.

    Fun!

    • More stupid ignorant drivel from the loon Alphabet Soup. There are plenty of religious Zionists.
      As for hate, it drips from Alphabet Soup by the gallon when anyone disagrees with his far-left anti-liberal screeching.

        • So much ignorance and stupidity from Alphabet Soup, the misogynistic bigot.
          So much ignorance about the rise of Zionism.
          “secular (i.e. liberal) philosophy” is one of the stupidest assertions I have ever seen on the Internet. Communists are ‘liberal’, sad little man? Nazis are ‘liberal’? The racist Democratic party is ‘liberal’?

          • Feckless Leah with her pickled liver, and her 5 pals, should do some research on Theodore Herzl.

            Misogynist because I call you a Hag? I guess you’re an Anti-Semite because you hate me. And I’m a Jew, Leah.

            Yes, Communists are liberal. The question is, are the people you claim to be Communists actually Communists? Maduro in Venezuela claims to be for the people, but he’s clearly not. That does not change the definition of Socialism which is a word that pre-dates Maduro.

            But you see all Socialism is all the failures that claim to Socialist when they clearly are not. So that makes you not only Feckless, but Naive and a Joke. The “fact” that you’re a woman, and I think you’re a sad sack of liquid shit, doesn’t really make me a misogynist. It just means that I think you are a worthless cowardly hag.

            Back to the meaning of the word, Zionism is a liberal movement of Jewish nationalism. Meaning, it’s not a power grab but rather a multicultural ethnic project.

            And you, Leah, with your Good Jews and Bad Jews, are no different than any other Anti-Semite that slinks from under the rocks.

            Party over country, even when the country Israel. That’s your reality. Now go fantasize about Sean Hannity doing tequila shots.

            • The screeching Alphabet Soup lies and lies and lies. I never called anyone ‘Good Jews’ or ‘Bad Jews’, you utter freak.
              And for calling me an antisemite, I say that you are utter utter scum.

  7. “Israel is guilty of “slaughter” and should use different methods of “crowd control” to deal with the “protesters and demonstrators”.”

    Again, Donald Macintyre is pretty much admitting that these were not peaceful demonstrations. Why would Israel need crowd control for peaceful demonstrators on the other side of a border at all.

  8. As my attempts to email you on the “contactus” address have just bounced back I will post this as a comment.

    There is little point in taking issue which most of Aron White’s abusive and defamatory “report” on my New Statesman piece I’m happy to leave it to readers to judge from the Statesman article itself whether it reflects “fawning sympathy” with Hamas and all the other ludicrous things it accuses me of. I merely note how flagrantly you yourselves violate the code of practice you claim to be holding the rest of the media to.

    But I would strongly advise you or him to remove the claim that

    ‘In the past, he has described their terror tunnels burrowing into Israel for launching attacks as “testament to their hard work and ingenuity.”’

    You have already had to change a headline and add the following to an earlier report.

    ‘On Jan. 28th, we amended the headline, replacing the word “Hamas” with “Gaza”, after Mr. Macintyre clarified to us that he was referring to “the commercial smuggling tunnels which flourished under the Gaza border largely between 2008 and 2015”. However, the point is a narrow one, as the tunnels in question were encouraged and taxed by Hamas, used for both consumer goods and military materials, and generally seen as part of the “resistance”’.

    I have recorded your earlier “correction” in full though in fact the second sentence is entirely wrong. It is not a narrow point at all. The implication in both pieces–indeed it is wholly explicit in Aron White’s remarks — is that I was referring to tunnels going into Israeli territory for military purposes. I was not, as you well know; nor was i referring to tunnels into Egypt for the import of weapons.

    Don Macintyre

    .

    • If you had directly alluded to Hamas’ “hard work and ingenuity” in your book, then it is too late for you to backtrack. If that causes you embarrassment, then deal with it.

      You also obviously try to side-step the issue on terror tunnels. However you purport to define the tunnels’ purpose, the fact remains that Hamas uses money intended for public benefit to build them.

    • I had not read your article previously but I am very aware of what is happening at the Gaza border and wonder how you come to the conclusion that “Moreover, Israel’s figures are a tacit admission that over half of those killed were not militants of any kind.”
      when Hamas representatives have admitted proudly that most indeed are terrorists (a term I prefer since it is so much more honest).

      Your article makes me want to ask you whether the heads of the Hamas organisation lie when they describe their vicious ambitions for doing for Israel what you described with such pathos when it happened to the Palestinians, clearing us out, except of course Hamas has no intention of declaring, as the Israeli Declaration of Independence declares for the Arabs, that we would be welcome to remain as equal citizens.

      • “Hamas Political Bureau Member: 50 of the Martyrs Killed in Gaza were from Hamas, 12 Regular People”

    • I wonder what you think of the arson by your gentle protesting returners of thousands of acres of food, just before harvesting, of the death of trees, birds and indigenous animals who had quietly returned to their native haunts during the decades of Israeli care?

    • Donald, WHY would you write for a British magazine that published anti-Semitic covers?

      Do you have ZERO standards when it comes to defaming Jews and fanning Anti-Semitism?

      • Hmm. The picture of the cover of the New Statesman of January 14, 2002 issue did not post.

        Anyone can Google Images “new statesman kosher conspiracy” to see the cover for themselves.

        It’s a picture of a Star of David standing on top of a prone Union Jack.

        If that didn’t dissuade you from dealing with the New Statesman, then you must share their views.

    • Of zero interest to anyone who knows what a vile shithole the NS is. People who write for it have no moral leg to stand on.