Adam Levick

Adam Levick serves as Managing Editor of CiF Watch. Before joining CiF Watch, Adam Levick, was a researcher at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem based research institution that combats attempts by non-governmental organizations to delegitimize the State of Israel.

The Big Lies of Tony Kushner

2011 May 12

If the debate within the mainstream media over Tony Kushner’s honorary degree at CUNY was informed by facts, and even the most rudimentary journalistic research, his ongoing obfuscation regarding his well-documented history of animosity towards the very existence of Israel would have been exposed and the Guardian’s current cause celebre would be shamed accordingly. read more…

The Guardian’s Seumas Milne: Cowardly in Qatar

2011 May 6

This was written by a regular CiF Watch contributor who writes under the name, Israelinurse.

For several years now, the Guardian’s Associate Editor Seumas Milne has been attending the annual ‘Al Jazeera Forum’ in Doha, Qatar.

This year the event was held between March 12th -14th at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha and according to the advance publicity, its aim was to “explore the significance of the revolutions and unrest sweeping the Arab world and examine their impact on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”.

Milne spoke at a plenary session entitled “Leaks: the future of journalism” along with several other interesting figures. Two other Guardian employees were also among the 500 conference attendees flown out to Doha by Al Jazeera for this all expenses paid event. Matt Wells and Francesca Panetta produced a subsequently published podcast on the subject, including some blandly sycophantic coverage of the Al Jazeera TV station.

Al Jazeera produced video interviews with some of the conference participants, including Seumas Milne who was in clear self-congratulatory mode as he talked about the Guardian-Al Jazeera joint project which became known as the ‘Palestine Papers’.

Milne describes his newspaper as one engaged in “pushing boundaries” due to the fact that, like Al Jazeera, it is not a “profit maximizing” organization and therefore enjoys “freedoms that other media organisations don’t have”. However, like Al Jazeera itself, the Guardian is extremely selective on the subject of where exactly it chooses to push boundaries and exercise its “freedoms” and for both these organisations, the subject of human rights in Qatar is a self-censored no-go area.

Ironically, even as Egyptian, Tunisian and other bloggers and social media revolutionaries were being feted at the Qatar government-funded Al Jazeera Forum, a Qatari blogger was being held incommunicado by that same government, prompting Amnesty International to launch an appeal to its members to act for his release.  Whilst the gentleman concerned does not, according to his blog, seem to be my idea of a human rights activist, his incarceration is symptomatic of the lack of media and internet freedom prevalent in Qatar.

Al Jazeera has been frequently criticized by some in the Qatari press for not addressing domestic issues liable to embarrass its patrons. An editorial in the’ Peninsula’ stated that:

“Al Jazeera is hailed as an epitome of free media in the Arab world and beyond but critics say its so-called freedom and boldness would actually be put to test when the channel begins covering local issues. Al Jazeera has, of late, been at the receiving end on Qatari social networking sites for focusing attention on the outside world and ignoring issues in the country of its birth. Its coverage of events in neighbouring Bahrain and Oman has also left many viewers wondering if it is really objective in its treatment of developments in those countries .Praised the world over for its boldness, the channel lacks the guts to cover sensitive issues in Qatar, for instance, say critics. Al Jazeera is also accused of practicing double standards. A website which sometime ago talked of some appointment in the channel’s administration had to be closed down and its owners were taken to court. So the local Arabic and English-language newspapers score over Al Jazeera in that they sometimes show the guts and can cover issues like corruption. Al Jazeera is thus not a good example at all while discussing media freedom in the Qatari context, say critics.”

International organisations monitoring press freedom have also criticized the archaic Qatari laws which make criticism of religion, the army and the royal family punishable offences and the fact that many of the journalists working in Qatar are foreigners who, by law, cannot hold citizenship and are therefore very vulnerable to state pressure.  As pointed out by ‘Reporters without Borders’, Qatari journalists are also at a distinct disadvantage due to the fact that all trade unions are illegal in that country. A new press law was promised by the end of 2010, but so far has failed to come into effect.

One would think that both as a journalist and a life-time socialist, as well as a person claiming that investigative reporting performs a public service, Seumas Milne and his Guardian colleagues would have been keen to take on the subject of the dire situation in which Qatari journalists and bloggers operate. Apparently not.

Neither has the Guardian paid very much attention to the subject of human rights in general in Qatar, despite some of its staff paying fairly frequent visits there. The 2010 Amnesty International report on Qatar makes for grim reading and exposes  institutionalized discrimination and violence against women, prison sentences for ‘insulting Islam’, continued illegality of homosexuality, severe abuses of the rights of migrants and continued use of cruel punishment such as stoning, flogging and the death penalty. In 2010 Qatar rejected a series of recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council to correct some of these human rights abuses.

And yet, when one takes a look at the ‘Qatar’ page in the Middle East section of ‘Comment is Free’, one finds that a grand total of sixteen articles on Qatar-related subjects have appeared there since August 2006, of which only one – not written by a Guardian journalist – can be classified as critical.

Now of course all this raises an awful lot of chicken and egg-type questions. One wonders why Guardian journalists are so keen to take part in a conference celebrating revolution against dictators and what they perceive as a ‘Arab Spring’ of democracy in the Arab world which is generously and exclusively funded by an equally non-democratic hereditary dictatorship which controls every aspect of life in a country rated ‘not free’ by Freedom House.

One ponders as to why their ‘brave new journalism’ does not extend to investigative reporting on the subject of the many human rights abuses taking place right outside the front door of the luxury hotel in which they were wined and dined by the regime perpetrating those abuses.

One also asks how these ‘liberal progressives’ manage to reconcile their ever-increasing collaboration with a government-owned and funded TV station which provides a regular slot for one of the most offensive racist and homophobic hate preachers on the circuit – Yusuf al  Qaradawi – and if they privately raised any eyebrows at the fact that the ‘Qatar Foundation’ – funded by the same government – supplies student scholarships in his name.

One may even wonder if the Guardian management has any qualms about accepting luxury all expenses paid trips for some of its staff from a dictatorship which also funds terrorist organizations which murder innocent civilians in another part of the world, for whilst there may be no legal grounds for refusing such favours, there certainly should be moral ones.

The fact that yet again the intrepid investigative reporter Seumas Milne finds himself suddenly struck by a distinct lack of curiosity whilst in Qatar actually shows that contrary to his claims in the above video, he and his newspaper are far from being graced with “freedoms that other media organisations do not have”.

Not only are they in hock to a hereditary dictatorship of the type they repeatedly claim to abhor and oppose on grounds of principle, but they are also puppets to their own political ideology which obliges them to sell out any remaining vestige of integrity for the sake of ‘the cause’ and makes “pushing boundaries” no more than an empty mantra when coming from their mouths.

The death of Osama Bin Laden, and the battle not yet won

2011 May 3

I was working in the same cafe on Rehov Azza I am now when news of the March terrorist attack in Jerusalem – the powerful bomb which exploded next to two crowded buses at the Binyanei Ha’uma building in central Jerusalem killing Mary Jean Gardner and wounding 50 others – reached me, shortly followed by the calls, text messages, and emails from friends and family making sure I was okay. read more…

Daniel Levy’s Hamas-o-Mania! (The Jewish far-left jumps way, way over the shark)

2011 April 28

Daniel Levy is living proof that those who accuse some on the (Guardian-style) left of being humorless aren’t completely off base, as I can think of no other explanation for how such a seemingly rational man can not see that he’s become a living, breathing parody of the Jewish pro-Palestinian, Israel-loathing left. read more…

Communism, presumed dead in 1991, resurfaces at The Guardian

2011 April 19

Back in college (during the Cold War, while the Soviet Empire was still alive and, barely, kicking), at Temple University – the reddest of red of the far left radical chic campuses in the US – we used to joke that beyond the Iron Curtain the only place where communism still had any credibility was on Western universities.

22 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and 19 years after the Soviet Union collapsed due both to its internal contradictions as well as the courage, iron will and moral fortitude of those in the West who refused to bow to its expansionist totalitarian ideology, Communism is apparently alive and well, and is still able to get past the ideological gate keepers of the Guardian Left.

The Guardian has commissioned Peter Thompson (a UK Academic, naturally) to a 3-part series on the tragically misunderstood movement in, interestingly, the CiF Belief section:

As someone who remembers the bountiful pseudo intellectual Marxist apologias from the late 80s, Thompson’s tropes strike a familiar chord, especially his entertaining lament that: read more…

What I wanted to tell the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood about Itamar

2011 April 13

The press tour of Itamar I participated in, in the aftermath of the murder of five members of the Fogel family, included, among the couple dozen of European journalists, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent,  Harriet Sherwood.


The Guardian's Harriet Sherwood

Like my understanding of the community itself, a mere couple hours spent in the company of Sherwood didn’t provide me with a complete picture of the journalist, but listening to the questions she posed to our hosts – Itamar’s mayor, Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith, and his wife, and community spokesperson, Leah – at least provided a glimpse into what informs her view from Jerusalem.

Sherwood’s prose has always lacked the anger – and ideologically driven animosity towards Israel – which seems to animate Rachel Shabi, and she doesn’t seem to possess the puerile artistic naiveté of Mya Guarnieri, and indeed her disposition and conduct while in Itamar seemed to conform with this assessment.

Though it would be easy to make more of Sherwood’s gaffe – she asked the Rebbetzin if she considered herself a “Messianic Jew” – than it warrants, it seemed an apt illustration of her unfamiliarity not just with Judaism, but with the political, moral, and historical terrain of the nation she’s covering.

Her pejorative depictions of Israeli “settlers”, which went so far as to suggest a moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorists and residents of Itamar (as illustrated by Medusa), as with her broader bias against Israel (as documented by Israelinurse), suggests a reporter in tuned with conventional thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the UK, rather than someone with a keen interest in the region or a desire to challenge her readers’ biases.

As Guardian Assistant Editor Michael White acknowledged in a frank and revealing comment on his blog:

“The Guardian has] always sensed liberal, middle class ill-ease in going after stories about immigration…about welfare fraud or the less attractive tribal habits of the working class, which is more easily ignored altogether….Christians, especially popes, governments of Israel..are more straightforward targets….[The Guardian is] striving much of the time to tell you what you’d rather know rather than challenge your prejudices and make you cross.”

Of course, none of this is to suggest that Sherwood’s habitual bias against Israel is any less injurious to the state’s moral legitimacy than if she was motivated by the malice of Shabi (or other CiF contributors, such as Ben WhiteKhaled Diab, or Omar Barghouti), merely that what struck me most about Sherwood while with her in Itamar was her evident lack of even the hint of gravitas.

The ugly Israeli caricature which Sherwood’s pen consistently conjures – the “dark, mythical Israel”, as Jonathan Spyer so aptly coined it – is in tuned with the attitudes of polite, liberal society in the UK.

Sherwood no doubt fancies herself refined, sophisticated, and, as she no doubt views the I-P Conflict through the prism of Palestinian victimhood, informed by liberal instinct to side with the underdog.

Yet, in her selective empathy, she fails spectacularly at understanding Jewish concerns – our hopes, fears, and national aspirations.

There was so much I wished I had told Sherwood about the brutal murders of Udi, Ruth, Yoav, Elad, and Hadas.

Yes, I wanted her to understand their humanity, the real life story which bears little or no resemblance to the tales she is told, and dutifully retells, about “extremists”, “hardliners”, and “zealots”, but I wanted to tell her so much more.

I wanted to tell her that such brutal acts of violence, the continuing physical threats from state and no-state actors, and the more amorphous moral threats posed by campaigns of delegitimization (efforts to characterize us as a nation beyond the pale) – the dramas that are dutifully reported by Sherwood and her colleagues at the Guardian – are seen by most Israelis through the much wider lens: thousands of years of Jewish history.

The moral sobriety which Israelis possess is informed by a connection with generations of Jews who came before us: from our Biblical traditions – our patriarchs, matriarchs, prophets and kings, heroes and villains.

We’re inspired by the wisdom of Esther, the courage of Judah Maccabee, the defiance in the face of overwhelming  Roman power at Masada, and the unimaginable resolve of our ancestors who resisted the cross during the Crusades.

We recall with indescribable anguish the two thousand years of expulsions, pogroms, and massacres: the masses who met their end in the gas chambers of Bergen-Belsen, the humanity thrown in an open fire in Matthausen and Sobibor, the living thousands who dug and were buried in mass grave at Babi Yar – the helplessness of statelessness.

But, I also wish I could have told her, far from wallowing in our past, we mostly remember to understand. We remember to understand the imperative of Jewish sovereignty, and to know that we’ll forever be in the debt of those brave few who fought and sacrificed so much so that we could miraculously arise from the ashes to be born anew in Israel – our old-new land – and to continue the struggle so that we’re never again subject to the goodwill, the whims and wishes, of those not informed by our history, those not invested in our collective destiny.

I wanted to tell her that the Fogels aren’t “settlers”.

We are the Fogels, and the Fogels are us.

Harriet Sherwood could have heard these words and completely understood the story.

But she’ll never really understand our story.


Non-Israeli Privilege

2011 February 16

Jennifer Peto

A University of Toronto student named Jennifer Peto recently achieved fame by submitting a thesis called:

The victimhood of the powerful: White Jews, Zionism, and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education

Of course, while only in academia could one maintain respectability by making the morally obscene argument that those who support Holocaust Education are guilty of racism, Peto’s broader narrative, that Jews have become a “privileged” class, (in some form or another) may be more widely accepted than you might originally think.  Indeed, her thesis came to mind recently, during the course of an argument I had at a bar in Jerusalem with an Israeli academic.

read more…

‘Feared, loathed, and isolated.’ An open letter to Peter Kosminsky

2011 February 7

Mr. Kosminsky,

My initial skepticism over the objectivity of your multi-part drama to be aired on British TV which, as you say, strives to “come to an understanding of the most dangerous and intractable war of our age…the conflict between Arab and Jew in the Middle East”, called The Promise, seems warranted now that I’ve read your introduction to the film printed in the Guardian on January 28th.

You claim that, among the lessons you’ve learned from researching modern Israel, is that 60 years after the Holocaust:

“Israel is isolated, loathed and feared in equal measure by its neighbours, finding little sympathy outside America for its uncompromising view of how to defend its borders and secure its future.”

You then ask:

“How did Israel squander the compassion [derived from the horrors of the Holocaust] of the world within a lifetime?”

To this question, I’ll briefly ask an admittedly rhetorical one:

read more…

Are Guardian editors guilty of criminal conspiracy?

2011 January 18

Cross-Posted from CiF Watch

The Guardian’s deep involvement with WikiLeaks, and its founder Julian Assange, has shown the paper and its editors in all their hubris, possessing, at the very least, a palpable indifference to U.S. and British national security and the potential ramifications of revealing classified state secrets.

The leaks have even included secret documents containing a list of key U.S. installations around the world which, if targeted by terrorists, could have a potentially “debilitating impact on security, national economic security, [or] national public health.“  As such, there are even calls by some in the U.S. Congress to list WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization.

The following CiF Watch video reveals the Guardian’s role in not just participating in Assange’s plot but, rather, orchestrating what could reasonably be characterized as a conspiracy to release classified information – acts which have been characterized by U.S. officials as nothing less than criminal.

Cross-Posted from CiF Watch

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