While the Guardian’s recent exercise in journalistic malfeasance and delirious narcissism drew attention for its clear determination to destroy both the peace process and the credibility of the Palestinians’ non-Hamas leadership, almost lost was another important revelation.
The Guardian’s editors subscribe to one of the most dangerous anti-Jewish theories about Israel.
London-based Just Journalism saw a disturbing pattern in the paper’s coverage of the Palestine Papers:
“This approach is most explicit in the lead editorial, ‘Pleading for a fig leaf’, which portrays the Palestinian negotiators as ‘weak’ and ‘craven’, and as having to ‘flog the family silver’ in order to even gain the ‘bondage’ of a ‘puppet state’. The editorial lists the concessions which were allegedly offered, including the issue of sovereignty over The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif:
[Quoting the Guardian’s editorial:] ‘Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in the Muslim world? That, too, is up for grabs. Mr Erekat said he was prepared to consider “creative ways” to solve the problem of Haram al-Sharif or the Temple Mount.’
Therefore, according to The Guardian, any suggestion that the Israelis and Palestinians might agree to somehow share the hotly contested site constitutes a surrendering of ‘the third holiest site in the Muslim world’. This is despite the widespread recognition that The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is held to be the most sacred site in Judaism, a fact that is omitted from the editorial.”
Just Journalism catches this happening repeatedly in articles by Middle East editor Ian Black and associate editor Seamus Milne. For example, in another Palestine Papers story about Jerusalem, the authors write this:
“For Muslims across the world, the area is the most important in the conflict and Yasser Arafat’s refusal to compromise over its sovereignty triggered the final breakdown at Camp David.”
“Most controversially, [the Palestinian negotiators] also proposed a joint committee to take over the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City — the neuralgic issue that helped sink the Camp David talks in 2000 after Yasser Arafat refused to concede sovereignty around the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.”
Just Journalism concludes:
“While The Guardian repeatedly describes the issue of The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif as an exceptionally sensitive one, it only ever highlights its significance for Muslims, while completely ignoring the paramount importance of the area in Judaism. This bolsters its editorial line that any compromise on total Arab control of the site would be a painful concession by the Palestinians, rather than an attempt to satisfy the legitimate claims of both sides of the conflict.”
The supposed lack of Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s holy sites is a denial of Jewish history on the whole. For that reason, its propagation is ugly and ignorant. But it is worse than that. It has a history of inciting pogroms, riots, and murder–a history of which Ian Black and Seamus Milne are surely aware.
Yehuda Avner, in his new book The Prime Ministers, retells the chilling fallout from the decision to put up a mechitzah (separation between the men’s and women’s sections) at the Western Wall in 1928. Arabs brandishing swords, daggers, and clubs ran through the streets of Jerusalem yelling “Jihad! Jihad!” and “Save our holy places from the Jews!” and “Death to the Jewish dogs!”
They chased a Jewish chasid, murdering him as he yelled “Shema Yisrael.” Avner continues:
“Hundreds more were killed in the months that followed, culminating in the 1929 pogrom in Hebron, which snuffed out an entire ancient Jewish community–and all because of that flimsy screen at the wall.”
The riots continued until the British gave in and banned Jews from so much as blowing the shofar at the Wall–and brutally beat young Jewish men who dared defy the order on Yom Kippur. Avner writes:
“Members of the Jewish community sat up and gasped. What are we, a myth? Do you claim that there never was a holy Temple on the Temple Mount? Our sacred texts are legends? Is it all a fairytale?”
In 2007, when Israeli authorities went to replace a temporary bridge at the Temple Mount to make it safer for Muslims to pray there, Arabs rioted, egged on by Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, a zealot who called for a new intifada. Of course Ariel Sharon’s famous visit to Judaism’s holiest site was given as the excuse for the intifada in 2000.
At an interfaith event in 2008, everyone’s favorite “moderate,” Salam Fayyad, told the audience that Jerusalem was a very important holy place for… Muslims and Christians. Arafat made this type of rejectionism a pillar of his bargaining strategy. Under Arafat, Palestinian negotiators nonsensically alternated between claiming the Temple existed only in the fevered imaginations of the Jews and that if it did exist, it was located in Nablus (Shechem)–but that in any case it never existed anyway.
This type of maddening intellectual gibberish cannot simply be shrugged off as so much constituent-pleasing hogwash. As history shows, it is quite clearly understood by Palestinian Arabs as incitement to murder Jews. And it is inexcusable that the editors of the Guardian are promoting it.