Steve Bell and the Guardian

I covered the topic of Steve Bell‘s horrible cartoon here. The storm created seems to have forced the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian to open up the topic for external comment, as you can see here.

The above the line essay tries to excuse the cartoon and the Guardian‘s approach, but does finish with a caution that Bell would be well advised to heed:

I don’t believe that Bell is an antisemite, nor do I think it was his intention to draw an antisemitic cartoon. However, using the image of a puppeteer when drawing a Jewish politician inevitably echoes past antisemitic usage of such imagery, no matter the intent.

The Holocaust and its causes are still within living memory. While journalists and cartoonists should be free to express an opinion that Netanyahu is opportunistic and manipulative, in my view they should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.

The below the line comments – also predictably – include the usual CiF material, with a generous portion of that very much in the anti-Israel camp. (I am being polite.)

What I found interesting was this part (with my added emphasis):

Bell himself is adamant that the cartoon, based on an agency picture of a Netanyahu press conference, is neither intentionally, nor unintentionally antisemitic. He said: “This is a crucial point – this is not about the Jews: it’s about Binyamin Netanyahu. It’s referring to a specific news image. [The puppets] are a side issue. Binyamin Netanyahu is manipulating the whole situation. He is one of the world’s most cynical politicians. An obvious point to make is that it’s always going to be an awkward one. It’s not antisemitic, it is focused on him as a politician, on his cynicism.

So Steve Bell rates Netanyahu as one of the world’s most cynical politicians. Hold that thought. Now examine it. Is it credible? Is it a reasonable belief? Is it fair? In the whole wide world of politics, Netanyahu is one of the most cynical? Hold that thought a bit longer.

Here is Norman Geras, writing about Jonathan Freedland and the Guardian (the added emphasis is mine):

I will just say a little by way of further commentary on the above issues before going on to enter my two major reservations. As regards the earlier points in that list of agreements, it is now clear, if it wasn’t already, that Israel has lost the propaganda battle (aka the effort to persuade people that there is a just Israeli cause), and there is nothing that can be done to reverse its defeat. This is not because there is no just Israeli cause. It is because for a wide swathe of left-liberal and ‘anti-imperialist’ opinion there is now no way Israel can conduct itself from which it will earn moral credit. It is irredeemably tainted in its origin. Conversely, and in the same quarter, there is nothing that Hamas or other representatives of the Palestinian people can do, no wrong or outrage they can commit, which will not be morally ‘cleaned up’ by the perception that these representatives are supposedly the pure vehicle of a struggle against injustice. Neither the codes of war nor the principles of international law nor the ordinary requirements of humanity count for a tittle or a jot against the volume of hatred that Israel incurs each time a new armed conflict breaks out. The double standards that underwrite all this and the stinking hypocrisy of it are one thing; but another is the rank failure of anyone to find the terms in which it can be rationally and convincingly explained. For want of such explanation, it is impossible to believe that anti-Semitism plays no part in it. Jonathan doesn’t say this but I for my part do. I would also want to point out, as he does not, that one of the main conduits for the types of anti-Israel cheerleading of which he is tired is the Guardian.

Steve Bell is following the path Geras (rightly) complains about. Israel – or Netanyahu for the purposes of the present discussion – is “irredeemably tainted”. That allows Bell to elevate Netanyahu to the ranks of the worst of the world’s politicians. This, despite the fact any reasonable and objective observer would be able to name at least half a dozen UK politicians who are streets ahead of Bibi when it comes to cynicism.

However, even if that “cynicism” allegation were true, does the cartoon look to you as if it is making a point about cynicism? The central motif is the puppetry. To pretend otherwise is indefensible. For Bell to say the puppets are “a side issue” is nonsense. It is undermined, for example, by one of the letters the Guardian published in its defence(!) saying it was “pointing to the ability of Binyamin Netanyahu to successfully manipulate British and US politicians.” That’s what you call an own goal, Steve.

Steve Bell and the Guardian. Made for one another. Proponents of bigotry and hate.


Red faced lawyers? (Updated)

The web addresss is the home of The Lawyer magazine.

At least, it used to be.

I’m in the right place…

Until today.

…at the wrong time.

No, that is not The Lawyer’s site. Looks like they forgot to renew their domain name. Oh dear.

Update: They are back.

We’re back!

That was close. I hope they did not have to pay over the odds for a transfer…



You want me to take notes?

On Thursday night, Susan and I went to a whisky tasting event in Tel Aviv. It was held in the cellars of a local wine and spirits retailer (Derech Hayayin) where they have a pleasantly equipped events room, filled to the brim with booze. Their selection of whisky is the best I have seen in Israel, though the prices are mouth wateringly high. Continue reading


Apology of the week

How do you rate this – which comes from the UK’s Daily Mail – as an apology:

Our serialisation of a biography of Mick Jagger in July erroneously described model and Brazilian TV presenter Luciana Gimenez Morad as a soft-porn actress. It also said that she had received a lump sum payment from the star after their son was born.

In fact, while she does receive monthly child support, she neither requested nor received a lump sum. We apologise to Ms Gimenez Morad.

Ahem. I think the soft-porn actress may have been better off without the apology.

[A tip of the hat to Tabloid Watch.]


About those journalists…

This poster (from a series of seven by the Elder of Ziyon, showing Hamas’ war crimes) should be mandatory viewing for all armchair commentators:

Journalist? Civilian? Or plain clothes, plain old, terrorist?

The IDF blog entry (of 20 November 2012) gives complete context (with my added emphasis):

When terrorists disguise themselves as civilians, it can only end badly for civilians. Today, a senior Hamas operative was targeted while driving a press vehicle, effectively disguising himself as a reporter. By doing so, he risked the lives of all journalists in the Gaza Strip.

Over the past several days, the IDF has carefully pinpointed and targeted sites used by terror groups in the Gaza Strip, most notably the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Terrorists complicate the task by systematically using civilian facilities and locations as a cover for their operations.

The “human shield” method, as it is commonly known, has forced the IDF to target seemingly non-military targets, resulting in some of the civilian casualties. It has also endangered all residents of the Gaza Strip who, without their consent, were unwittingly dragged into the conflict.

One such example came in today, when a senior Hamas operative was targeted while driving a press vehicle. Muhammed Shamalah, commander of Hamas forces in the southern Strip and head of the Hamas militant training programs, was targeted by an Israeli air strike while driving a car clearly labelled “TV”, indicating it to be a press vehicle, abusing the protection afforded to journalists.


[Thank you, Elder of Ziyon]


A laugh to start my day

Coffee and croissant

Yummy! Yes, I like my croissants well done.

Most mornings, about 8 am, I wander over to the onsite cafe as it opens up, and order a large Americano coffee to take back to my cube, and enjoy. Although I know I shouldn’t, every second day (approximately!) I also have one of their superb almond covered croissants. The coffee and croissant are a combined sugar and caffeine kick that make the morning fly past.

One day this week, on enquiring if there were any of my favorite pastries, the young barista said they only had small almond croissants. However – and at this point he became animated and energized – what he did have was this new type of chocolate croissant. It was a new recipe, with especially light pastry, and sugar free chocolate, and was low in fat and calories. It was very tasty and available for a short time at a  special low price. He recommended it. Would I like to have one?

I declined, saying: “No thanks, I don’t like chocolate croissants.” He took the polite refusal in his stride and completed my order of large Americano and a small (boooo) almond covered croissant.

As he handed over the goodies, he confessed: “I don’t like chocolate croissants either.”  (This, despite his very recent avid promotion of them!) I burst out laughing. Maybe you had to be there to experience the humor of the situation, but it was terrific to start the day with a coffee, a croissant, and a laugh.

My your day be a good, peaceful, and happy one, with at least one laugh.


A free pass at the BBC

A free pass for Hamas, that is.

Under the BBC‘s headline Gaza crisis: Israel-Hamas ceasefire agreement holds, the text runs:

A ceasefire between Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement that runs the Gaza Strip appeared to be holding on Thursday.

Israel radio said some rockets had been fired from Gaza, but there was no sign of an Israeli response.

Hello? Is anybody there at the BBC? “Israel radio said some rockets had been fired from Gaza.” Said? Either they were or they weren’t – it’s not a matter of opinion. It’s not a matter that is in contention. After – I’ll say that again – after the ceasefire started, Hamas fired 20 rockets into Israel. Now, to me, that’s not much of a cease fire, and the BBC’s weasel words (once again) let Hamas off the hook.

Meantime, I can do no better than quote the legendary Elder of Ziyon:

It appears that this is the world’s definition of a cease fire – only Israel can break one.

Israeli restraint is to be admired. But, I fear the wise words of the cynic: no good deed goes unpunished.