Monthly Archives: June 2017

Jewish Voice For Peace Defends Anti-Semitism

June 29, 2017

Jewish Voice For Peace, an organization which supports the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement (BDS),  has defended the removal of three Jewish women from the Chicago Dyke March, for wearing a Jewish LGBT flag. The flag, which is seen at many Pride events around the world, was described by one of the women removed as “a symbol of Jewish identity”.

Jewish pride flag, seen here at Tel Aviv Pride Parade (Becky Brothman)

JVP defended the decision to remove the Jewish women, claiming that by attending the march with a flag sporting the Star of David, was showing support for Zionism, “which was one of the ideologies that march organizers had disavowed”, and the appearance of it “triggered” attendees.

Firstly, to claim that a flag displaying the Star of David means you are supporting the actions of the Israeli government, and therefore warrants a participant to be kicked out the parade is ludicrous. The Star of David has been used as a symbol to represent the Jewish community for over 800 years, long before the State of Israel, and more recently, was used as a way of identifying Jews during the Holocaust, again, before the State of Israel. To use the presence of the Star of David as an excuse to kick out Jewish women, is simply anti-Semitic.

Secondly, when the three Jewish women arrived at the march, they were questioned by organizers about their support for Israel. This marks a continuation of a worrying trend where Jews are singled out and questioned on their support for Israel, first highlighted when American-Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu was told to issue a statement regarding his support for the plight of Palestinians in order to be allowed to perform at a music festival in Spain. This is anti-Semitism. Imagine if openly visible Muslims were questioned about their views on ISIS when attending the Parade? There would be outrage…

Dyke March in Chicago (Chicagoist)

JVP therefore has jumped to defend an incident of blatant anti-Semitism, showing exactly the type of organization they are. Though we shouldn’t be surprised, JVP this year invited Rasmea Odeh as their guest of honor at their National Membership Meeting.  Odeh is a convicted terrorist who murdered two Israeli college students in 1969 by planting a bomb in a supermarket in Jerusalem.

Jewish Voice For Peace claims to be an organization which is “dedicated to justice” and is in “opposition to all forms of bigotry, including antisemitism”. If that were the case, JVP would not be defending blatant anti-Semitism.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Israeli Solar Energy Powering Africa

Over the past few months, Israel’s ties with Africa have strengthened. “Israel is returning to Africa, and Africa is returning to Israel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January. This month saw an incredible announcement in connection to this – Energiya Global, an Israeli company, will invest $1 billion in solar energy in Africa in the next four years.

Energiya Global were involved in the building of this massive solar field in Rwanda

The announcement was made at a meeting of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) that took place this month in Liberia. The meeting was also noteworthy because it was addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, marking the first time ever that ECOWAS has been addressed by a Prime Minister of a non-ECOWAS member.

Energiya Global are involved in major projects in Rwanda and Burundi, and this new agreement will bring even more solar energy to even more people. Yosef Abramowitz, the CEO of Energiya Global is becoming somewhat of a celebrity, having met with Bono at one of the Rwandan solar fields, and even having run for President of the State of Israel. Israeli technology and innovation are combining with its desire to change the world, resulting in the improvement to the lives of millions and millions of people.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

Everything that’s Wrong with Haaretz in One Story

June 28, 2017

Many people around the world read Ha’aretz, the left-leaning Israeli newspaper, to remain informed about Israel. But often Ha’aretz goes well beyond what is acceptable criticism of Israel, crossing red lines in its coverage of Israel’s actions. Some of the stories in the paper contain an unholy trinity of lies, exaggerations and spinning a narrative, which combine to blacken Israel’s image. A recent article gave a perfect example of this phenomenon, and the end of this article will show that it is not an isolated incident.

On June 4th 2017, Haaretz’s Gideon Levy wrote an article entitled “Die, Suffer, You Kahba (whore)”. The article is about what happened when Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian girl, who approached their checkpoint with a knife.

Levy opens with an emotive paragraph – “A horrific incident took place in the occupied territories last Thursday…..Watching the video clip that documented the event turns one’s stomach. Its revolting and infuriating, yet no media outlet in Israel paid any attention to it, reflecting the depth of apathy to which we have sunk.”

He then describes what happened: after the girl had been shot, a group of soldiers stood around her, letting her die – “no-one even thought of offering her medical aid,” he wrote. To make things worse, the soldiers “competed with each other to see who could curse with more vile language.” Levy concludes his story with some damning sentences: “These are your soldiers Israel, this is their language, these are their values and standards… fifty years of occupation have brought us to this.”

Here we have your classic anti-Israel article – an emotionally presented story of horrific Israeli brutality, framed at the beginning and end with terms showing how the story is just symbolic of a broader pattern of evil that runs through Israeli society at large.

The one problem is, it’s total nonsense. As CAMERA researchers showed, the actual story is a far cry from what Levy describes. In a video obtained by CAMERA, one clearly sees that the IDF soldiers indeed do call for medical help for the girl – in the opening seconds of the video, one soldier shouts “Call the medical team!” and another responds, “I called, they are on their way.”

So far from watching her die, they are indeed doing exactly what they should do, to call for help to ensure life is not unnecessarily lost. The “competition of insults” is also a complete fiction – there are seven soldiers who are in the video, none of whom shout any insults at her. One person, and one person only, who is not in the shot, can be heard shouting insults at her – and there is no way of knowing if they are a soldier or not.

So what actually happened is the following: A terrorist attempted to stab IDF soldiers, who then shoot her. The soldiers call for medical help, and an individual bystander/soldier shouts insults at the injured terrorist. Yet Gideon Levy, contorts it into something else entirely. He lies, by saying the soldiers don’t call for medical help, exaggerates, by saying a competition of insults took place, and then spins a narrative, by using emotive language (“stomach-churning,” “horrific”) and saying this story was symbolic of a broader picture story of Israeli evil (“These are your soldiers, Israel.”) Levy has demonized Israel, giving readers a picture that these soldiers specifically, and Israel in general, are unspeakably awful, when it is simply baseless and untrue.

This unholy trinity of lies, exaggeration and spinning a narrative is not a one off. Another example – Haaretz’s Rogel Alpher recently wrote a sensationalist article titled “Boycott the Maccabiah”, in which he says that “The Maccabiah Games is a racist event that makes the 1936 Olympic Games look liberal,” because only Jewish athletes are allowed to compete. One wonders whether Alpher would make such a ridiculous statement about the Islamic Solidarity Games; seemingly, its only the Jews who are not allowed to express their national and religious identity, because it makes them Nazis.

But Alpher’s claim isn’t even true – Israeli Arabs take part in the Maccabiah Games as well. When this was pointed out by Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Israeli media department, Haaretz then undertook a most absurd editorial maneuver, adding in a sentence into the article which totally destroyed the article’s thesis, without changing anything else. The absurdity is clear from this actual quote from the article:

Only Jews take part in the Maccabiah. Not the best athletes from around the world, but only Jewish athletes. Some Israeli Arab athletes have taken part in the Maccabiah Games over the years, but that doesn’t change the event’s nature as the “Jewish Olympics.” 

Unperturbed by the fact it isn’t true, the corrected article still says that the Jews are like the Nazis of 1936, concluding that “in the Maccabiah the participants come from many states, but all belong to a single, supreme race.” Never let some facts harm a good, unbalanced demonization of Israel.

Once again lies (“Only Jews participate”), exaggeration (“The Maccabiah is a victory for Aryan Race theory”) and spinning a narrative (“The fact that Israel never stopped holding the Maccabiah prove that racism and ultra-nationalism was always part of the state.”) are what has made a cultural event on the Jewish calendar into something that is pure evil.

The sensationalism in their reporting is endless: In reporting about the recent decision by Netanyahu to renege on the Kotel compromise deal, Haaretz ran the headline: “Netanyahu to American Jews; Drop Dead” Imagine every time a head of state made a decision that harmed an interest group it was reported like that. Last July, Gideon Levy wrote that Israel is “Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for evil’s sake.” And of course, there was the infamous cartoon in 2014, were Haaretz printed this, to show what they thought Netanyahu was doing for Israel’s foreign relations with America.

I will conclude with one final example of Haaretz’s exaggerated sensationalism for the purpose of this article, though there are links to more examples below. A frequent theme that Haaretz spouts is the erosion of Israeli democracy. In January of this year, Presspectiva counted no fewer than 22 times that the newspaper referred to this “erosion” in the month of January. Then, at the end of the January, the British magazine the Economist published their Democracy Index for 2016 – and lo and behold, Israeli democracy strengthened in 2016, and was at basically the same level as France and the USA. Haaretz see worrying evidence of Israeli flaws at every turn, even though the facts say otherwise.

The Economist Democracy Index (graph created by Guy Bechor)

In his book The Prime Ministers, Yehuda Avner writes of his realization that discussions about Israel are often disproportionately emotional, and got people very worked up.

For a paper whose slogan is “For Thinking People,” Haaretz is a very emotive newspaper. It is a paper where latent fury at Israel is always bubbling, just waiting for the incident, or non-incident as it may be, to unleash it. Until Haaretz’s coverage calms down, and treats Israel as any country should be treated – fairly, critically, in a measured and balanced way – Ha’aretz will be part of the problem, not part of any solution.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

CAMERA has documented many cases of inaccuracy in Haaretz’s reporting over the years. Here is a full list of CAMERA reports on Haaretz articles.

U.S. Abstention on UN Security Council Resolution 2334 on Israel’s Settlement Activities Distances Peace

June 27, 2017

‘UN Security Council Resolution 2334 reflects the modern rise of Palestinian lawfare: using law “to achieve…warfighting objective[s]” against Israel, according to a confidant of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Having failed over the last half century to shift the balance of power through negotiations and armed resistance, the PA has turned to new battlefronts – including the Security Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC) – where it deploys international law to advance its territorial claims and further Israel’s political isolation.’

Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power (The Media Line)

‘Prior to 2334, the U.S. had consistently opposed PA lawfare. Its abstention on 2334 constitutes an unwelcome reversal, likely to entrench PA maximalism and thwart America’s stated aim of “mov[ing] the parties closer to an agreement.” By abstaining on 2334, the U.S. countenanced Palestinian irredentism. The result was to render peace an ever-distant dream.’ (Harvard Law Review)

Contributed by Joshua Halpern, originally published in Harvard Law Review

Linda Sarsour’s Jewish Problem

June 26, 2017

Over the Spring, Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian activist and representative of the progressive left, was invited to speak at UMass Amherst by several faculty departments and student organizations. Her lecture  focused  on what the United States must do to better protect and support the minorities of this nation.

Much of her talk was rooted in history, where she lectured on Japanese internment camps and the harm they did to both the Japanese and the United States as a whole during World War II. She used that focal point in history to talk about her ethnic experience in America. Sarsour argued that President Trump has Islamophobic tendencies, using his attempt to exclude people from seven middle-eastern countries, and cited the various consequences minorities will continue to face if all faiths are not treated equally.  

Sarsour mainly focused on the work the progressive left has done and needs to continue in order to keep up this level of resistance. However, following her talk, she took a question from a  student who identified herself as a progressive Zionist regarding how Jews and pro Israel students can feel unwelcome when championing other causes they feel passionate about such as Black Lives Matter (BLM). This concern is due to the fact that BLM’s platform officially endorses boycotting only one country, Israel.  Sarsour argued that “if you want to work on pro-Israel stuff please do it. But you can’t come to Black Lives Matter and say you have to recognize the state of Israel”. Actually, it’s the other way around. Pro-Israel students never believed that the struggle for black lives mirrors the events of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is therefore fair criticism for pro-Israel students to ask why Israel is belittled and not recognized considering that BLM has gone out of its way to incorporate the conflict as part of their platform.  

Furthermore, If BLM were to take a different position on the the Arab-Israeli conflict, would Sarsour, who has continuously spoken up against Israel, continue her support for the organization? In addition to the position of BLM, what if Human Rights Watch or other social justice organizations began focusing on Palestinian incitement against Jews in the region, would Sarsour stand by her beliefs of fighting injustice or would she distance herself? Sarsour loves to talk about the money raised for a Jewish cemetery in Saint Louis, but ignores the safety of Jews in Israel in the face of Palestinian incitement and terrorism. Sarsour, fails to understand why pro-Israel students are insisting on the acknowledgment of such a simple truth.   

Pro-Israel students like myself would be the first to acknowledge the stark differences between BLM and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The organizations behave in different ways and forward different causes. It is therefore incredibly bizarre that the two organizations have merged together, fighting under one banner of human rights. Black Lives Matter is an organization that is upfront about forwarding and promoting the positive development of black lives. Where is the intersectional overlap with SJP? Knowing this, how does SJP further the values of BLM? The forced connection between the two causes pushed by anti-Israel activists emerged following the death of Michael Brown where SJP protesters were found holding signs and waving flags that said, From Ferguson to Palestine.” SJP’s decision to coalition with BLM seems more about teaming up against Israel and less about social justice.  

SJP at Vassar College sold this T Shirt justifying the actions of terrorist, Leila Khalid

Furthermore, after beginning the question and answer portion of the lecture, Sarsour insinuated that Jews have a history of not supporting causes that do not directly affect their own people. She accused Jews of making their personal activism about them. When a student asked about the possible intersectional overlap between Zionism and progressive movements, Sarsour said, “sometimes we have to show up in a space that is not about us…(after referencing her fundraising efforts for the desecrated Jewish cemetery in Saint Louis) are the people who are buried in that cemetery, are they Zionist, are they pro-Israel, I just want to get the politics, right?” Sarsour was absolving herself from preconditions, saying she helps those regardless of their political ideology. She continues, “when I show up at a space for black lives, I don’t stop people and say, ‘before we organize on the sanctity of black lives I just want to know where you lie on Palestine..because in that moment it’s not about me.” Sarsour was referring to the false notion that the Jews need to be at the center of the cause for whom people are fighting.  

Such a statement is not only ahistorical but also incredibly bizarre.There is a long history of individuals lashing out at Jews, arguing that it is not only about them. Perhaps it is fair to say that Sarsour has followed suit in similar fashion.

What Sarsour is perhaps most effective at, is forwarding the traditional anti-Israel narrative and creating discourse that aligns more with ideology and less with reality. Moreover, the subject of Sarsour’s speech could have been given at any point during this semester, yet she came right after “colonial apartheid week” at UMass. Sarsour noticeably decided to not express her support for Sharia Law in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated as second class citizens and banned from driving, and where the punishment for homosexuality is death. She also could have spoken about her condemnation of human rights activist and female genital mutilation victim, Ayyan Hirsi Ali. Instead, she poked fun at the ideals of Zionism.

Following the event, some went up and thanked her personally while others talked amongst their friends. But whether it be intersectional overlap or a selective application of facts that are ahistorical, both Sarsour and SJP provided plans for exclusion under the large umbrella of human rights and justice for all.

Contributed by Isaac Simon, CAMERA Fellow at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and board member of CAMERA-supported group UMass Student Alliance for Israel.

Jewish Students Blocked on Twitter By Professor for Calling Out Her BDS Support

June 25, 2017

Last week, two Jewish students at the University of Western Ontario were blocked on Twitter for challenging a Huron professor expressing their support for BDS on Twitter. Huron professor Wendy Russell retweeted a post by the handle @BDSmovement calling Gaza an ‘open air prison’.

Huron Professor Wendy Russell endorses the BDS Movement

Jewish students then challenged her effective endorsement of BDS, expressing their concerns that BDS is at its core anti-Semitic. Rather than debate or discuss the issue at hand, the professor blocked the two Jewish students in less than two hours, without responding to the concerns raised.

Jewish students challenge the professor on her endorsement

Professor Russell reacts by blocking the Jewish students

CAMERA on Campus Statement:

It is painful for Jewish students who support Israel to see college professors endorsing the BDS campaign. Rather than engaging with the Jewish students who expressed concern over Dr. Russell’s decision to side with the hateful campaign, Dr. Russell chose to block these concerned Jewish students on Twitter, therefore shutting down any dialogue.

Universities are supposed to be a place where ideas are debated and challenged, yet shutting down debate and dialogue has been a repeated tactic of the BDS Movement and its supporters on campus.

We call on UWO to take action to ensure that the concerns raised by these students are taken seriously.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Daniel Kosky, with files from UWO student Ryan Greenspoon.

In Honor of Ramadan, some Statistics on Muslims in Israel

June 22, 2017

This month is the holiest month of the Muslim Calendar, Ramadan. In honor of this month, here are some statistics on the Muslim population of Israel. These statistics largely come from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

1. In the year 2015, there were 1.48 million Muslims living in Israel, 18% of the population of Israel. The fertility rate of Muslims in Israel (3.3) is higher than that of Saudi Arabia (3), Turkey (2.1) or Lebanon (1.5).

2. In the academic year 2014/15, 5,300 Muslim students received university degrees from Israeli universities.

3. In Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, there are 120 Members of Parliament. Currently, 15 of them are Muslim.

4. There are certain industries where Muslims are disproportionately represented, such as the medical field. Statistics are available for Israeli Arabs in general rather than Muslims specifically (so include Christians, Bahai etc.), but 38% of those working in pharmaceuticals in Israel are Arab. Incredibly, in the Superpharm chain, one of the major chain of chemists in Israel, 62% of pharmacists are Arab.

5. Muslims in Israel have freedom of worship and practice. Last Friday, 250,000 Muslims visited the Al Aqsa Mosque for Ramadan prayers. 150,000 of them were from Gaza or the West Bank.

We sincerely apologize to anyone who finds that these statistics don’t fit their narrative of Israel.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

 

 

It Is Time to Take Terror and Anti-Semitism Off Our Streets

After three major terror attacks in the UK in within four months, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that “Enough is enough” when it comes to terrorism, and pledged to not “allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed.” Yet less than a month after May’s fiery speech, despite pleas from Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a UK charity dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, a 3,000-people strong petition to the Mayor of London, and concerns raised by CST, a charity which protects UK Jews from anti-Semitism, the government allowed the Al-Quds Day March to go ahead.

Al-Quds Day is an Iranian inspired day of protest against Israel. Events are held in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and Syria but also in the west in places such as New York, Berlin and London. Every year, the events face accusations of tolerating anti-Semitic chanting, placards and support for terrorism, and this year was no different.

Placards showing support for terrorism at London Al-Quds Day march (CAA)

Hezbollah flags draped the backs of the marchers, as organizers handed them out, and placards with the words ‘We are Hezbollah’ were risen high in the air. Various anti-Semitic tropes and statements were shouted over the loud-speaker, including blaming Zionists for the fire in Grenfell Tower and ISIS. The event exemplified how anti-Zionism regularly morphs into anti-Semitism, with one event organizer shouting over the loud-speaker, “We are fed up of the Zionists, we are fed up of your rabbis, we are fed up of your synagogues.” This is racial hatred.

Hezbollah flag waved high in the air at London Al-Quds Day March (CAA)

In 2017, we should not allow incitement to racial hatred, illegal under British law, to go unpunished. Hundreds of police did nothing as Al-Quds Day marchers deliberately provoked hatred of a racial group, distributed racist material to the public, made inflammatory public speeches and incited inflammatory rumors about an ethnic group. All the above are illegal under British law and are offenses which justify arrest. Why, when racial hatred occurs against Jews, do police do so little?

Man fixes Hezbollah flag on boy (CAA)

Yet it wasn’t just racial hatred laws which were broken by parade goers. By publicly displaying the flag of Hezbollah, a recognized terrorist organization in the UK, Section 13 of the UK’s Terrorism Act was breached, as the law states ‘A person in a public place commits an offence if he wears an item of clothing, or wears, carries or displays an article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation’. Why, when a terrorist organization seeks the genocide of the Jewish people, do the authorities do so little to act and enforce the law? The justification seemingly used by the police for not making arrests, is that Hezbollah’s ‘political wing’, is not proscribed as a terror organization by the UK, creating somewhat of a loophole.

Man wearing anti-Semitic clothing equating Zionism and Nazism, violating UK definition of anti-Semitism (CAA)

Theresa May and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan have both spoken passionately about their anger on the state of terrorism in the UK.  Yet actions speak louder than words, and their failure to intervene and get the Al-Quds Day march in London banned is a punch in the face to the fight against terrorism, extremism and anti-Semitism.

As David Cameron, then UK Prime Minister said, “If you say ‘Violence in London isn’t justified, but suicide bombs in Israel are a different matter,’ you too are part of the problem.” He was right, and if Theresa May was genuine in her words that “Enough is enough” when it comes to terrorism, then the Al-Quds Day March in 2018 must not be allowed to go ahead.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

President Trump’s Son-In-Law Jared Kushner Arrives in Israel

June 21, 2017

Jared Kushner, the husband of President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and a chief adviser to the president has arrived in Israel this week as speculation grows towards the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump has already sent his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt to the region ahead of Kushner. In the last week Greenblatt has met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi as well as Palestinian officials including former Palestinian negotiator Saed Erekat. Since arriving on Monday, Greenblatt has visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem twice, in what he called ‘much needed prayer’, perhaps signifying the difficulty of the challenge ahead.

Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt meets with PM Netanyahu this week in Jerusalem. (GPO)

Greenblatt will join Kushner in meetings with both Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the meetings, it is reported Kushner will lay out the Trump Administration’s policy on borders, security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.

The meetings are supposedly occurring as a build-up to the restarting of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, with reports suggesting the resumption of talks could be announced within the next 3 months in a joint meeting between Trump, Netanyahu and Abbas at the White House.

Before meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, Jared Kushner along with American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visited the family of murdered Israeli policewoman Hadas Malka in Givat Ezer near Ashdod. Kushner told the family that President Donald Trump wanted him to express condolences on behalf of the United States.

Jared Kushner and US Ambassador Friedman with family of Hadas Malka. (Ynet)

Jared Kushner praying at the Western Wall on his last visit to Israel in May. (Reuters)

Many see Kushner’s visit to Israel as a sign from President Trump that he is taking the Israeli-Palestinian issue seriously, and that it is a top priority for the new president. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been quoted saying ‘I think that they had a very successful visit when the president was over there, and they’re going to continue to build on that.’

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

Israel’s ‘Apartheid’ Wall and Ireland’s ‘Peace’ Wall: More Anti-Zionist Hypocrisy

The recent UK election ended with a surprising result — the Conservatives lost their majority, and they now have to negotiate a coalition government with the DUP, a small party from Northern Ireland. This situation is refocusing attention on the challenges of Northern Ireland, which have not been seen in international headlines for 20 years.

The security barrier between Israel and the PA-controlled territories. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Northern Ireland’s story is important, partially because it helps clarify the double standards that exist when it comes to Israel and international opinion. In many cases, actions taken by Northern Ireland are considered “peaceful,” whereas those same actions — when taken by Israel — are considered “racist” or “apartheid.”

Approximately 100 years ago, most of Ireland split off from the UK, and became an independent country called the Republic of Ireland; but Northern Ireland, the top section of the new country, did not split off.

Beginning in the late 1960s, there was a strong and often violent campaign fought in Northern Ireland to separate from the UK, and become part of the independent Republic of Ireland. This campaign was led by the Catholic IRA and Sinn Fein, who fought against pro-UK Protestant groups and the British Army.

The tactics of the IRA were infamous — they included bombings and terror attacks — and lasted for thirty years, from 1969 to 1998. This period was known as “the Troubles,” and it claimed the lives of 3,500 people — 1,800 of them civilians. In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement was signed, in which the Sinn Fein and the IRA promised to stop their violence, and to join the other parties in working to heal the old divides; they would continue advocating for Northern Ireland to leave the UK, but through the political process, not violence.

There are many links between the conflict in Northern Ireland and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In both cases, the two sides were generally split on religious lines. Furthermore, the IRA was launching its terror attacks at the same time that the Palestine Liberation Organization — led by Yasser Arafat — was launching its bombings and hijackings in Israel. The two groups also had strong links, with the IRA and PLO training together in Syria, exchanging bomb-making techniques, and even launching a joint attack in Brussels in 1979.

But what is most significant about the Northern Ireland conflict, is that it helps show the double standard that exists in media coverage about Israel.

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and within it, there are both Protestant and Catholic communities. All around the city, there close to 50 “peace walls” — physical walls that keep Protestants and Catholics apart.

These walls were set up as a security measure to stop violence between the two communities; they stretch as tall as 30 feet high, and many have barbed wire on top. Some of the walls have gates to allow people to pass through; they are open during the day, and closed at night. In fact, there have been countless peace walls built since the Good Friday agreement, and peace walls now exist all over the country. There are currently 109 peace walls in Northern Ireland. Each year, tensions flare near some of the walls. This video captures the ongoing tensions between the two sides, and explains how the walls help keep the peace.

Israel, of course, also built a wall in order to stop violence and terrorism. The Second Intifada claimed the lives of more than 1,100 Israelis, through suicide bombings in cafes, buses, cinemas and other locations all over the country. In 2003, Israel began constructing a barrier to stop these barbaric terror attacks against civilians. Since the building of the wall, there has been a 90% reduction in the number of terrorist attacks in Israel.

Yet Israel’s wall is labeled not as a security wall or a “peace” wall — but an “apartheid wall.” Why is that? And why are the walls keeping Catholics and Protestants apart in Northern Ireland still called “peace walls”?

All around the world, many countries are building walls to protect their citizens. Saudi Arabia is building a 600-mile wall to keep ISIS out. India is building massive walls on its borders with Bangladesh and Pakistan. One can agree with these decisions, or disagree with them. But in the end, there is only one country that is attacked for building a wall to stop terrorism and to protect innocent civilians: Israel.

And when people criticize only Israel for trying to keep its people safe — and hold the Jewish state to a double standard — they are guilty of antisemitism.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern. Originally published at UK Media Watch and then republished at the Algemeiner, and translated into Polish and republished by Listy z naszego sadu.