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Don’t allow them to get away with it. Get writing !

BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Glasgow
G2 3WT

Dear Sir or Madam: Re: Complaint re BBC’s Coverage of Attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla 31.5.10.We, the undersigned, wish to submit a complaint in respect of the BBC’s coverage of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and its murder of at least 9 activists on 31st May 2010. The BBC’s coverage of Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmora [MM] was even worse than its coverage of Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2008/9 and your news coverage was little more than an extension of Israel’s PR offensive . .
For example, in its first response to the murders on the MM, and repeated throughout the day, the BBC’s correspondent on BBC News 24 stated that: ‘Well clearly when you’ve got as many as 600 people on board these ships at night in the high seas, it is a very very difficult situation and you can imagine a rather chaotic situation. Of course the Israeli military is very well experienced at dealing with crowd control. But certainly you’ve got live fire being fired as well as teargas canisters which is what is being reported was fired then that is a very dangerous situation in a crowded space.’
If we deconstruct this apologia, there are certain obvious assumptions being made, as well as equally obvious questions unasked:
a. If boarding a ship at night in international waters, not merely the ‘high seas’, is such a ‘very very difficult situation’ then it begs the question as to why Israel chose to attack the ship at night. But since the BBC anchorman assumed that Israel had a right to do whatever it wanted to enforce its illegal siege, then attacking the ship and the activists on the MM at night would ensure that they are bewildered. It would also prevent what was happening from being witnessed by the outside world.
b. It is true that the Israeli military is ‘very well experienced with crowd control.’ That though is part of the problem. On the same day as the murders on the MM, a Jewish student from the United States, Emily Henochowicz lost an eye at a protest in Jerusalem. To be more precise, she didn’t ‘lose’ her eye. It was destroyed by a tear gas cannister fired directly at her. http://jta.org/news/article/2010/06/03/2739415/us-jewish-student-loses-eye-at-roadblock-protest But as you say, the Israeli army is ‘very well experienced’ when it comes to handling peaceful protest.
Our main points of concern with your coverage are:
1. The MM was fired upon before being boarded and there is strong evidence that two people had already been killed by shots fired directly from the helicopter before the descent of navy personnel. This would suggest that there was a plan to provoke a confrontation under as it cannot seriously be expected that people would do nothing to resist the boarders after shots had already been fired killing people. This evidence, e.g. from the world famous Swedish novelist Henning Mankell, has of course been ignored by the BBC, as have the reports of activists being beaten up and assaulted after having been detained. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/02/gaza-flotilla-raid-gunfire-ship-blood Of course if you start from the assumption that the Israeli military can do no wrong, then this is quite logical.
2. The BBC repeatedly showed throughout coverage of the affair a video of masked and armed Israeli navy personnel being attacked by activists on the MM, with one of them being thrown to a lower deck. At no time did the BBC give any indication of the provenance of this video still less give it any context. The BBC not only used an Israeli PR film, without mentioning its source, but it failed to inform viewers that alternative footage from the human rights activists aboard the ships was not available because Israel had taken especial care to confiscate all phones and cameras. The fact that the BBC did not think this evidence was relevant speaks volumes as to the BBC’s complicity in justifying the attack on the flotilla.
Any news organisation with an ounce of principle or integrity would have refused to use a tainted Israeli film unless film from those who were attacked was used.
3. The BBC has also failed to comment on the fact that mobile phones, cameras and other possessions of the activists on board the flotilla has not been returned to its owners and the State of Israel has effectively engaged in larceny and theft. This is in addition to the theft of individual personal items of those detained by navy personnel.
4. The BBC repeatedly referred, in its hostile questioning of returning activists, to the fact that they had ‘provoked’ the attack on them. One wonders whether a householder would also be accused of ‘provoking’ a violent burglar? It is no longer fashionable to label as ‘provocative’ women who are raped, so why then is it acceptable to describe human rights and aid workers who are murdered or wounded as ‘provocative’ for having sought to breach an illegal blockade?
5. The BBC continues to use the launching of ‘rockets’ from Gaza into Israel as an excuse for every human rights abuse by Israel. In the BBC’s eyes these ‘rockets’ provide Israel with permanent immunity from criticism. The original reason for a blockade was the election of Hamas but we wouldn’t expect consistency from the BBC, still less any memory of the past. However, if you are going to make repeated reference to Israel’s pretext for attempted genocide, it is strange that you keep silent about the fact that in the past 7 years, such ‘rockets’ have killed 20 Israelis compared to the death of some 7,000 inhabitants of Gaza from Israel’s target munitions. Even the murder by Israel of 5 Gazans last week has not been mentioned by the BBC.
Perhaps the BBC might clarify whether it is official policy that the death of a Palestinian is not considered as newsworthy as that of an Israeli Jew since you rarely cover Israeli bombing raids or rocket attacks?
6. The BBC has failed to raise or emphasise, in its numerous interviews with Mark Regev, Israel’s PR spokesman, that Israel’s attack on the flotilla was an act of piracy and in complete defiance of international law.
7. The BBC has failed to raise with Israeli spokespersons why, if Israel’s justification for the murder of at least 9 activists was self-defence, why they object to an independent international inquiry. It would seem an obvious question to ask but BBC News doesn’t seem to have got round to considering why Israel objects and whether that might relate to the series of excuses that Israel has given for the latest carnage.
8. There is increasing proof that Israel is resorting to crude forgeries in the videos of the attack. For example it has admitted it cannot substantiate a voice, purportedly from the MM, telling the Israelis to ‘go back to Auschwitz’. Or maybe the BBC might consider the spoof racist video put out by Israeli civil servants? http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/06/israel-youtube-gaza-flotilla Or is forgery by the Israeli government’s PR chiefs not worthy of mention?
9. Hurriyet, the main Turkish daily, has printed photographs from recovered memory cards showing that, even as activists on the MM were under attack, they were medically treating injured Israeli attackers. Surely this is relevant when Israel insists its forces were subject to a ‘lynch mob’. Why is this also considered irrelevant or is it a case that it contradicts the message that Israel and the BBC wanted to get across?
10. At least 3 of those who died on the MM could have been saved, but were allowed to bleed to death by Israel. This is a war crime, as is an attack on unarmed civilians. Yet this has not been covered by the BBC. Again the BBC’s aggressive interviewers, who behave like poodles when questioning Mark Regev, don’t feel the need to raise such matters when confronted with Israeli spokesman.
11. About 7 years ago, the government of Ariel Sharon threatened to cut off relations with the BBC unless the latter changed its coverage. Reporters like Orla Guerin and Jeremy Bowen were moved or silenced. The BBC, instead of defending its reporters and its coverage, caved in after the BBC were barred from Ariel Sharon’s press conference in London. (BBC Says Sorry to Israel, 12.3.05. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2005/mar/12/israel.broadcasting BBC appoints Middle East tsar, 11.11.03. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/nov/11/bbc.television.
We saw the fruits of the BBC’s capitulation when the BBC refused to broadcast a Disaster Emergency Committee Appeal for the people of Gaza in January 2009, since the whole thrust of the BBC’s coverage had been in support of the immiseration of the people of the Gaza.
The BBC has continually covered the siege of Gaza from the viewpoint of Israel rather than its inhabitants. ‘Terrorism’ and Hamas rather than freedom and democracy for Gazans have been the staple of BBC coverage. Not once has the BBC given any context, e.g. the election of 2006 where Hamas received the most support or the attempted coup by Egypt, the USA and Palestinian Authority or indeed Israel’s role in the creation of Hamas. Nor does the BBC refer to the fact that Gaza has been occupied for 43 years. The BBC have preferred the cartoon caricature version of Hamas, as supplied by Israel’s propaganda outlets, rather than looking at the repeated indications that Hamas would accept a genuine two-state solution. Hamas sets out conditions for peace. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/feb/08/israel1
The BBC regularly accepts, without contradiction, Israel’s claim to be the ‘only democracy in the Middle East.’ It is strange then that it has failed to cover the attacks on Haneen Zoabi, a secular Arab woman and Knesset member who has been subject to intimidation and violence by fellow MKs and whose parliamentary immunity has been removed by the Knesset for having been a passenger on the MM and therefore a ‘terrorist supporter’. The BBC is content to repeat clich’s about Israel and democracy but it consistently fails to inquire into the substance of this assertion, such as the growing attacks on Israel’s Arab minority. It is therefore no surprise that the racist demonstration, complete with cries of ‘Death to the Arabs’ outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv on 1st June, was not covered by the BBC.
If Iran or North Korea had attacked a ship flying another country’s flag in international waters, the BBC would not have been so willing to buy into their lies and deceit. One suspects that BBC reporters would have had something to say if the above countries had refused an international inquiry, because they preferred to conduct their own investigation.
The BBC’s coverage of the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla is a classic example of what is known as double standards. We look forward to your assurances that your ‘understandings’ with the Israeli government will be both published and dispensed with as you are not, at the moment, providing neutral or balanced coverage of the situation in Israel/Palestine. It is time that you stopped being an echo chamber for Israel’s propaganda.
Yours faithfully,

Dr. Susan Blackwell, National Executive Committee member, University and College Union,
Bruce Levy
Tony Greenstein  Brighton & Hove UNISON, Secretary Brighton & Hove Unemployed Workers Centre
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, NUT
Ruth Clark
Ann Hallam, Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Mike Cushman, London School of Economics,
Terry Gallogly, York PSC t
Professor David Pegg,
Simon Natas, partner, Irvine Thanvi Natas solicitors,
Dennis O’Malley,
Dr Rumy Hasan, Senior Lecturer, University of Sussex,

Update:

The BBC have ignored all this

http://aliabunimah.posterous.com/ ,

this http://bit.ly/bhgc8k , the Turkish autopsies, and much else.

http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2010/06/06/kidnapped-israel-forsaken-britain

That are many witnesses that the Israelis were shooting with live ammo before the resistance started – in self defense. They have used Israeli spokesmen in a ratio of five to one in comments. They did not cover the big demo in London, nor the activists return to Heathrow

Israel is the Burglar who has killed people in the house they were burgling so they cannot be allowed to investigate their own crime Mr Obama

See the document here: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and International Law http://www.lphr.org.uk/FlotilliaIL_QA/LPHR_FlotilliaIL_QA.pdf

Ukrainian kids, new victims of Israeli ‘organ theft’

An international Israeli conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs is gathering momentum as another shocking story divulges Tel Aviv’s plot to import Ukrainian children and harvest their organs.

The story brings to light the fact that Israel has brought some 25,000 Ukrainian children into the occupied entity over the past two years in order to harvest their organs. It cites a Ukrainian man’s fruitless search for 15 children who had been adopted in Israel. The children had clearly been taken by Israeli medical centers, where they were used for ‘spare parts’.

The account was unveiled five days ago by a Ukrainian philosophy professor and author, Vyacheslav Gudin, at a pseudo-academic conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Gudin told an estimated 300 attendees of the Kiev conference that it was essential that all Ukrainians be made aware of the genocide Israel was perpetrating.

The conference also featured two professors who presented a book blaming “the Zionists” for the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s, as well as the country’s current condition.

Meanwhile, Ukrainians demonstrated outside the Israeli Embassy in Kiev on Tuesday to protest a letter signed by 26 Knesset members (MKs) condemning what they described as anti-Semitic remarks by presidential candidate Sergey Ratushnyak. Protesters chanted ‘Ukraine isn’t the Gaza Strip,’ suggesting that they consider the effort by the Israeli MKs as an intervention in their country.

A story, published in the Arabic-language Algerian daily al-Khabar in September, reported that Interpol, the international police organization, has revealed the existence of ‘a Jewish gang’ that was ‘involved in the abduction of children from Algeria and trafficking of their organs.’

According to the story, bands of Moroccans and Algerians had been roaming the streets of Algerian cities in an attempt to hunt around for young children. They then trafficked the kids across the border into the neighboring Morocco.

The children were then sold to Israelis and American Jews in Oujda, the capital of eastern Morocco, for the purpose of organ harvest in Israel and the United States.

The story is based on statements made by Mustafa Khayatti, head of the Algerian National Committee for the Development of Health Research. Khayatti maintains that the abduction of children in Algeria is linked to arrests made in New York and New Jersey at the end of July, in which several Jewish men were among the 44 arrested in connection to an investigation into illegal organ trafficking and political corruption.

The story comes in line with the article published last month in Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest circulation daily, suggesting that the Israeli army kidnapped and killed young Palestinians to harvest their organs. It shed light on the case of Bilal Ahmed Ghanem, a 19-year-old Palestinian man, who was shot dead in 1992 by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Imatin.

Bostrom, who witnessed the man’s killing, said Ghanem’s body was abducted following the shooting and was returned at midnight, during an imposed curfew, several days later by the Israeli military with a cut from the stomach to the neck that had been stitched up.

Bostrom argued that an autopsy would be required if the cause of death was not apparent, while in this case it was clear that Bilal was shot dead.

After that incident, at least 20 Palestinian families told Bostrom that they suspected that the Israeli military had taken the organs of their sons after they had been killed and then taken away by Israeli forces before being dropped back in the area.

And this is not the first time. In July this year there another organ scam by people with contacts in Israel was uncovered in New Jersey, USA. Read the following article from Bloomberg.com :

New Jersey Mayors, Five Rabbis Arrested in Corruption Probe

By David Voreacos

The rabbis are Saul Kassin, 87, chief rabbi of Sharee Zion, a synagogue in Brooklyn, New York; Eliahu Ben Haim, 58, the principal rabbi of Congregation Ohel Yaacob in Deal, New Jersey; Edmond Nahum, 56, of Deal Synagogue in Deal; Mordchai Fish, 56, of Congregation Sheves Achim in Brooklyn; and Lavel Schwartz, 57, Fish’s brother.

The rabbis were charged with laundering money that often was sent to Israel. They are members of the Syrian Jewish or Hasidic Jewish communities, Marra said at the news conference. Authorities issued a warrant for Schwartz’s arrest. The other four rabbis were arrested yesterday and appeared in court.

“This case uncovered a web of corruption that spanned the state,” Dun said. “All of the individuals were connected through their illicit activities with the undercover witness.”

Kassin is accused of laundering more than $200,000 through Dwek from June 2007 through December 2008 by accepting “dirty checks” from him and exchanging them for “clean” checks, according to prosecutors.

‘Asserts His Innocence’

“The rabbi asserts his innocence,” said Kassin attorney Robert Stahl after U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk imposed a $200,000 bail bond. “It’s a shame that he’s caught up in some misunderstanding. Despite his difficult circumstances, he remains confident that the system of justice will prevail.”

Falk imposed a $1.5 million bail bond and electronic monitoring on Ben Haim. His attorney, Michael O’Donnell, declined comment. Falk set a $700,000 bail bond on Nahum.

“He had no involvement in any scheme as alleged and certainly looks forward to the opportunity to clear his name,” Nahum attorney Justin Walder said. “There’s no profit, no involvement in any international scheme.”

Nahum was implicated by “a person who obviously has his own problems and tried to limit his exposure” to criminal charges, Walder said.

Fish, Schwartz and two other defendants used a charitable, tax-exempt organization called BCG, which was associated with Fish’s synagogue, to launder money by using money transfers, according to the FBI.

‘Vindication’

“We are confident that the transfers referred to in the complaint will be explained to a jury in a manner that will result in Mr. Fish’s vindication,” saidMichael Bachner, his attorney. He said Dwek “used his closeness and the sterling reputation of his family to manipulate individuals who believed that he would never be involved in illegal conduct.”

Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum, 58, of Brooklyn, was accused of conspiring with others to acquire and trade human organs for use in transplantation. Rosenbaum, who was “purportedly” involved in real estate, was approached by a cooperating witness and an undercover FBI agent about buying a human kidney from a human organ broker, according to the complaint.

Rosenbaum said it would cost $150,000, with half payable up front, according to the complaint. Rosenbaum said some of the money would go to the donor and some to doctors in Israel, according to the complaint.

‘Illegal to Sell’

“One of the reasons it’s so expensive is because you have to shmear (meaning pay various individuals for their assistance) all the time,” according to the complaint. “It’s illegal to buy. It’s illegal to sell.”

Attorneys for Rosenbaum and the other suspects either couldn’t be identified or couldn’t be reached for comment.

Prosecutors charged the men in a series of criminal complaints detailing the allegations. Ben Haim was accused of laundering $1.5 million through the undercover witness, who said he “was engaged in illegal businesses and schemes including bank fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods and concealing assets and monies in connection with bankruptcy proceedings,” according to an FBI criminal complaint.

Before his 2006 arrest, Dwek deposited two $25 million checks from another account of his, which had a zero balance, prosecutors alleged. Dwek then wired $22.8 million out of PNC, falsely assuring bank officials that he would forward funds to cover the overdraft, according to prosecutors.

$10 Million Bond

Dwek posted a $10 million bond, secured by $3 million in equity in the homes of his mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Dwek was never indicted, instead receiving 17 extensions from a judge to continue the period in which his case had to be presented to a federal grand jury.

Michael Himmel and Christopher Porrino, lawyers for Dwek, didn’t return calls or e-mails requesting comment.

More than 300 agents of the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service arrested the suspects and executed search warrants this morning, according to Dun.

Agents arrested 37 suspects yesterday, two surrendered, and three, including Smith, are expected to surrender tomorrow. Authorities issued arrest warrants for two other suspects.

Agents also searched the house of Joseph Doria, a former Democratic assemblyman and the commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs. He hasn’t been charged. They also searched the offices of the president of St. Peter’s College, a school in Jersey City, as well as a synagogue in Deal, Dun said.

“Any corruption is unacceptable — anywhere, anytime, by anybody,” New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat seeking re-election against Republican Christopher Christie, the former U.S. attorney in New Jersey, said in a statement.

‘Cannot Be Tolerated’

“The scale of corruption we’re seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated,” Corzine said.

Doria resigned yesterday at Corzine’s request, the governor’s spokesman said.

The arrests yesterday emerged from an investigation that spans a decade and has led to two earlier roundups.

“New Jersey’s corruption problem is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the country,” FBI supervising agent Ed Kahrer said. “Corruption is a cancer that is destroying the core values of this state and this great nation.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David Voreacos in Newark, New Jersey, at dvoreacos@bloomberg.net.

So why do they do it? One reason is obviously money but there are other explanations such as Professor Israel Shahak’s  in his bookJewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years”:

“ACCORDING TO THE JEWISH religion, the murder of a Jew is a capital offense and one of the three most heinous sins (the other two being idolatry and adultery). Jewish religious courts and secular authorities are commanded to punish, even beyond the limits of the ordinary administration of justice, anyone guilty of murdering a Jew. A Jew who indirectly causes the death of another Jew is, however, only guilty of what talmudic law calls a sin against the ‘laws of Heaven’, to be punished by God rather than by man.

“When the victim is a Gentile, the position is quite different. A Jew who murders a Gentile is guilty only of a sin against the laws of Heaven, not punishable by a court. To cause indirectly the death of a Gentile is no sin at all.

“Thus, one of the two most important commentators on the Shulhan Arukh explains that when it comes to a Gentile, ‘one must not lift one’s hand to harm him, but one may harm him indirectly, for instance by removing a ladder after he had fallen into a crevice .., there is no prohibition here, because it was not done directly: He points out, however, that an act leading indirectly to a Gentile’s death is forbidden if it may cause the spread of hostility towards Jews.

“A Gentile murderer who happens to be under Jewish jurisdiction must be executed whether the victim was Jewish or not. However, if the victim was Gentile and the murderer converts to Judaism, he is not punished.

For more on this visit http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/jewhis1.htm#Jewish History, Jewish Religion:

Why they hate us (II): How many Muslims has the U.S. killed in the past 30 years?

Tom Friedman had an especially fatuous column in Sunday’s New York Times, which is saying something given his well-established capacity for smug self-assurance. According to Friedman, the big challenge we face in the Arab and Islamic world is “the Narrative” — his patronizing term for Muslim views about America’s supposedly negative role in the region. If Muslims weren’t so irrational, he thinks, they would recognize that “U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny.” He concedes that we made a few mistakes here and there (such as at Abu Ghraib), but the real problem is all those anti-American fairy tales that Muslims tell each other to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

I heard a different take on this subject at a recent conference on U.S. relations with the Islamic world. In addition to hearing a diverse set of views from different Islamic countries, one of the other participants (a prominent English journalist) put it quite simply. “If the United States wants to improve its image in the Islamic world,” he said, “it should stop killing Muslims.”

Now I don’t think the issue is quite that simple, but the comment got me thinking: How many Muslims has the United States killed in the past thirty years, and how many Americans have been killed by Muslims? Coming up with a precise answer to this question is probably impossible, but it is also not necessary, because the rough numbers are so clearly lopsided.

Here’s my back-of-the-envelope analysis, based on estimates deliberately chosen to favor the United States. Specifically, I have taken the low estimates of Muslim fatalities, along with much more reliable figures for U.S. deaths.

To repeat: I have deliberately selected “low-end” estimates for Muslim fatalities, so these figures present the “best case” for the United States. Even so, the United States has killed nearly 30 Muslims for every American lost. The real ratio is probably much higher, and a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities (based mostly on higher estimates of “excess deaths” in Iraq due to the sanctions regime and the post-2003 occupation) is well over one million, equivalent to over 100 Muslim fatalities for every American lost.

Figures like these should be used with caution, of course, and several obvious caveats apply. To begin with, the United States is not solely responsible for some of those fatalities, most notably in the case of the “excess deaths” attributable to the U.N. sanctions regime against Iraq. Saddam Hussein clearly deserves much of the blame for these “excess deaths,” insofar as he could have complied with Security Council resolutions and gotten the sanctions lifted or used the “oil for food” problem properly. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the United States (and the other SC members) knew that keeping the sanctions in place would cause tens of thousands of innocent people to die and we went ahead anyway.

Similarly, the United States is not solely to blame for the sectarian violence that engulfed Iraq after the 2003 invasion. U.S. forces killed many Iraqis, to be sure, but plenty of Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, and foreign infiltrators were pulling triggers and planting bombs too. Yet it is still the case that the United States invaded a country that had not attacked us, dismantled its regime, and took hardly any precautions to prevent the (predictable) outbreak of violence. Having uncapped the volcano, we are hardly blameless, and that goes for pundits like Friedman who enthusiastically endorsed the original invasion.

Third, the fact that people died as a result of certain U.S. actions does not by itself mean that those policy decisions were wrong. I’m a realist, and I accept the unfortunate fact that international politics is a rough business and sometimes innocent people die as a result of actions that may in fact be justifiable. For example, I don’t think it was wrong to expel Iraq from Kuwait in 1991 or to topple the Taliban in 2001. Nor do I think it was wrong to try to catch Bin Laden — even though people died in the attempt — and I would support similar efforts to capture him today even if it placed more people at risk. In other words, a full assessment of U.S. policy would have to weigh these regrettable costs against the alleged benefits to the United States itself or the international community as a whole.

Yet if you really want to know “why they hate us,” the numbers presented above cannot be ignored. Even if we view these figures with skepticism and discount the numbers a lot, the fact remains that the United States has killed a very large number of Arab or Muslim individuals over the past three decades. Even though we had just cause and the right intentions in some cases (as in the first Gulf War), our actions were indefensible (maybe even criminal) in others.

It is also striking to observe that virtually all of the Muslim deaths were the direct or indirect consequence of official U.S. government policy. By contrast, most of the Americans killed by Muslims were the victims of non-state terrorist groups such as al Qaeda or the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Americans should also bear in mind that the figures reported above omit the Arabs and Muslims killed by Israel in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. Given our generous and unconditional support for Israel’s policy towards the Arab world in general and the Palestinians in particular, Muslims rightly hold us partly responsible for those victims too.

Contrary to what Friedman thinks, our real problem isn’t a fictitious Muslim “narrative” about America’s role in the region; it is mostly the actual things we have been doing in recent years. To say that in no way justifies anti-American terrorism or absolves other societies of responsibility for their own mistakes or misdeeds. But the self-righteousness on display in Friedman’s op-ed isn’t just simplistic; it is actively harmful. Why? Because whitewashing our own misconduct makes it harder for Americans to figure out why their country is so unpopular and makes us less likely to consider different (and more effective) approaches.

Some degree of anti-Americanism may reflect ideology, distorted history, or a foreign government’s attempt to shift blame onto others (a practice that all governments indulge in), but a lot of it is the inevitable result of policies that the American people have supported in the past. When you kill tens of thousands of people in other countries — and sometimes for no good reason — you shouldn’t be surprised when people in those countries are enraged by this behavior and interested in revenge. After all, how did we react after September 11?

MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty Images

Also I recommend reading Why they hate us (1)

Hi, Everyone this is my new blog. Here you will find the things I wanted to but could not say on Twitter because of the 140 letters limit.  So for today’s post, lets start with something I heard on the BBC Today programme yesterday (1.12.09). The BBC reporter Bethany Bell (in picture above), did a piece on the willful destruction of Palestinian olive trees in the West Bank. This is old news it has been going on for years, thousands of Palestinian farmers have lost their livelihood due to Israeli stellar vandalism. Just when I began to think that the BBC had finally got it’s together and was paying highly overdue attention to the daily plight of the Palestinians as opposed to being ambivalent to it, suddenly the report took a turn for the worst case of implausible reporting I have ever heard. An Israeli settle (who are usually armed to the teeth and protected by the IDF with tanks) claiming that Palestinians have destroyed his crops with a tractor. If this happened I would bet my bottom dollar that that tractor and it’s Palestinian driver would have been bombed to smithereens before he had a chance to step out of the tractor. I think Ms Bell is spending too much time in Israel. She seems to have lost the basics of journalistic impartiality required of BBC reporter.  Reporting a story that is so fanciful does her credibility no favour and it brings that BBC in to further disrepute.  If fact, it lends support to those who claim that the BBC is growing increasingly biased towards Israel.

The truth about the spiteful destruction of olives groves in Palestine was published in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago and I have reproduced it below. Perhaps this report is what Ms Bell and the BBC were attempting to undermine with their faciful story:

Jewish settlers wreck fruit of centuries of toil to force out Palestinian villagers

Abdula Yusuf is too afraid to climb the rocky terraces beyond his village and see the damage for himself. “They’ll kill me,” he said, waving a hand at the container homes on the top of a neighbouring hill. “If they can do that thing to trees as old as the Roman times, they will not hesitate to do it to me.”The annual olive harvest in the occupied territories has once again been rocked by Jewish settlers and their now routine assaults on Palestinian pickers to plunder their crop. This year, the settlers have gone to new lengths which have brought unusual denunciations from the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and even criticism from the settlers’ own leaders.

Armed Israelis are systematically wrecking trees that have stood for hundreds of years and frequently provide the only livelihood for Palestinian families.

Rights groups estimate that more than 1,000 trees have been damaged or destroyed in recent weeks, some planted in the Roman era. Among the victims are Mr Yusuf and his neighbours in Sawiya village, south of Nablus. “We used to think they just wanted our olives, but it’s about land,” he said. “They want to expand their settlement: by cutting the trees, they can say the land is neglected and no one is taking care of it. And it’s their excuse for getting their hands on it.”

The assault on Mr Yusuf’s trees came from an outpost of the Jewish settlement of Eli. “It was the first day of picking and we worked for three or four hours,” said Mr Yusuf, the head of Sawiya’s council. “I myself had picked five sacks when the settlers came down the hill with knives and guns. They slashed open our sacks and emptied the olives on to the ground. They put guns against our heads and made us stand there while they did it.

“The settlers have built a road near the bottom of the hill. They told us that we are not allowed to cross the road any more and that all the land the other side, all our olive trees up the hill, are now theirs.”

The people of Sawiya met that night. The village had already lost large chunks of land snatched to build the settlements, and people were reluctant to surrender more. But they knew from bitter experience that, if there was violence, it would not matter who was responsible; it would be the Palestinians who would be punished with curfews or worse.

They sought protection in numbers, and returned next day with a larger group of pickers from surrounding villages. The settlers stayed away, but came down that night. Over two hillsides, they sawed and hacked trees, tearing off branches and slicing through trunks with power saws. Some larger branches were tossed to the ground still bristling with fruits. The higher the hill rose toward the settlement, the greater the destruction – mostly of the fertile branches which will take a decade to grow back and start producing again.

“Next morning we stopped an Israeli police patrol,” Mr Yusuf said. “The jeep went up to the settlement and told them not to do it again. Next night they were back, and the police didn’t do anything.”

The people of Sawiya estimate that 250 trees, the livelihood for 10 extended families, were badly damaged or destroyed. But, as it is too dangerous to climb near the settlement, they cannot count precisely.

Settlers at Eli declined to be interviewed, but other Jewish communities in the area have justified driving Palestinians from their land by saying they threaten security. The settlers’ fears are often real. Eli and nearby Yitzhar have been attacked over the past three years, and families have been murdered in attacks on other small settlements close by.

But, as Yitzhar’s spokesman, Yossi Peli, readily admits, the settlers’ intent goes beyond security. “The trees grow back and ultimately we hope to harvest them in the place of the unwanted inhabitants of the area,” he said. Yitzhar and its outposts have been responsible for some of the worst destruction of recent weeks, with attacks on the groves of the village of Einabus, five miles north of Sawiya.

Men from Yitzhar, a religiously militant settlement with a history of violence against Palestinians, have terrorised olive pickers from their land with guns and clubs, and destroyed hundreds of trees. In one incident, the settlers beat a 70-year-old man, stripped him, and forced him to walk back to his village naked.

The destruction of trees has drawn fire from Mr Sharon and the settlers’ council. But the Yesha council qualified its criticism by saying that, while wrecking trees is wrong, it is acceptable for settlers to loot the olive crop – because Jews are entitled to harvest the produce of non-Jews in what the council defines as the “Land of Israel”, which includes the West Bank.

One leftwing Israeli member of parliament, Ephraim Sneh, visited the scene, and blamed the government. “Who did this? The residents of Hilltop 725,” he said. “That is a settlement outpost the government of Israel undertook to remove, but didn’t; now the army is forced to guard it. We’re talking about a group who live at the state’s expense, with the state’s protection, and do things no Jew can accept.”

Other Israeli critics warn that lawless attacks on Palestinians and their property will backfire. “The conclusion is that the fight against terror should not only be aimed at the Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” said a respected military analyst, Ze’ev Schiff. “Just as the Tanzim [armed wing of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah] gangs must be fought, so should the gangs of olive-tree cutters. They are dangerous because they and their kind will never allow any calm with the Palestinians – and that makes them another terrorist infrastructure.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/nov/14/israel

Here are some videos that the BBC and Ms Bell should watch:

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