Category Archives: understanding

By the company he keeps

Cross-posted from CIFWatch, written by “IsraeliNurse”

If, according to the old saying, one can judge a man by the company he keeps, can one also judge a writer by the sources he chooses to use? If so, self-styled Israel ‘expert’ Ben White has scored several serious own-goals in his latest shabby attempt to demonise Israel.

White’s first source comes from no less than the ‘Electronic Intifada‘. Of course no sane person would expect to find credible, objective information on that site, but the caption under the picture on the linked page made me chuckle.

“A waterstation in front of an unrecognized village, 5 km from Bir Saba. Bedouin do not have access to this waterstation. (Photo: Ameer Makhoul)”

This of course implies that other people – presumably evil Zionists – do get water from it. Not so, I’m afraid; look at the valves on top of the water pipe. These clearly indicate that this is not a water station from which people obtain water; they are in fact air-release valves designed to eliminate air from, and therefore regulate pressure in, water pipelines.

Now you are doubtless wondering how a woman in the healthcare business like myself knows so much about air-release valves. Well it just so happens that these valves are made in one factory in Israel by a company called A.R.I. and by complete coincidence, I was a shareholder in that factory for 21 years, so I would recognise them from 100 meters. Nice try, Mr. White.

White’s next link is to a Y-net article about the closure of ‘Tipat Halav’ clinics in Bedouin villages. Although a statement in the article declares that “no-one would close a clinic located in a Jewish community”, it is quite clear from the same article that exactly that has happened too, so White’s implications that the “official reason” is somewhat suspect fall short. As explained in an equivalent article from the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli Ministry of Health is trying to solve the problem of a severe shortage of staff by training nurses from the Bedouin sector and is considering offering existing nurses incentives to relocate to the Negev.

As a former employee of ‘Clalit’ myself, I can vouch for the fact that there has been a shortage of nurses in Israel for at least 15 years that I know of. In the (predominantly Jewish) rural area in which I practiced government run ‘Mother and Baby’ clinics, or ‘Tipat Halav’ as they were formerly known, have closed down too and the services are now outsourced to the general clinics run by Clalit Health Services in a bid to combat staff shortages and increase efficiency.

White’s third, fourth, and sixth come from Adalah, his seventh from Ha’aretz – an article written by an Adalah employee – and his sixteenth source from an Adalah Urban and Regional Planner.

Adalah is an NGO operating in Israel with a very specific political agenda. In 2007, Adalah called for the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees whilst simultaneously proposing an end to Jewish immigration except under humanitarian circumstances. In other words, Adalah wishes to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

For his twelfth source, White uses a Human Rights Watch report, the link to which does not open, but no matter; seeing as the HRW report was largely compiled from material supplied by Adalah, the reader will get the general idea, particularly as by now we are all aware of HRW’s reliance upon some rather suspect NGOs for its information.

Of course those familiar with the shoddy work of Ben White in his infamous book will not be in the least surprised by this latest missive. In all fairness, what would we expect from a man who recommends the writings of a Holocaust denier such as Garaudy?

Ben White is on a mission to persuade the world that Israel should not exist, so it hardly comes as a shock that he would stoop to the lowest possible sources in order to ‘prove’ his point.

In his final paragraph, White claims to have exposed the “myth of Israel as the region’s only democracy”. Anyone who can persuade himself of that needs a serious reality check. And anyone who publishes such ridiculous propaganda, based on such obviously suspect sources, even more so

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A fully controlled threat to our freedoms?

When it comes to Jews and politics, Ben White claims to know a fair amount. White often frames his arguments with moral and theological concepts.

White gives talks in churches and theological colleges, and his writing is praised by vicars, archbishops and other prominent clergymen. His book on Israel has received positive reviews on the Ekklesia website, an evangelical blog, and his letter in the Independent on Israel’s 60th birthday has raised his profile significantly amongst Christians.

Christians supportive of Ben White’s attitude towards Israel and Jews would do well to consider the following:

In May, Ben White responded to a news story about the arrest of antisemites plotting to blow up a synagogue, publishing a blog post entitled ‘A fully controlled threat to our freedoms.’ I critiqued this post here, questioning which of ‘our freedoms’ White thought were threatened by the arrest of antisemites (answers on a postcard).

Now a sentence of 70 months in prison has been given to the last remaining plotter involved in this case.

Arutz Sheva reports:

70 Months in Jail for Plot to Attack US Synagogues, El Al

(IsraelNN.com) A United States federal judge in southern California handed down a 70-month prison term on Monday to Hammad Riaz Samana, the fourth Muslim member of an anti-Jewish terrorist cell to be sentenced. Other members of the cell are serving up to 20 years in jail.

Samana and his co-conspirators planned to attack synagogues, the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, El Al Airlines and military bases. They planned to attack on the dates of Jewish holidays in order to maximize casualties.

The Jami’yyat Ul-Islam Is-Shaheeh terrorist cell was headed by Kevin James and included Samana, Levar Haley Washington and Gregory Patterson. They carried out 11 armed robberies on gas stations and used the cash to buy weapons before being arrested four years ago. Investigators in Washington’s apartment found bulletproof vests, knives, Jihad literature and lists of potential targets.

Washington is serving 22 years in jail, while James was sentenced to 16 years and Patterson was sentenced to 12.5 years. Judge Cormac Carney acknowledged that the 70-month jail sentence was lighter than the terms handed to other members of the cell and explained that he took into account the terrorist’s mental condition.

Samana, a native of Pakistan and a U.S. national, had conducted computer research to hit targets and was the getaway driver in at least one of the robberies. He was recruited at a mosque in Los Angeles.

So I’ve said it once before but it bears repeating. How are Ben White’s freedoms threatened by this? If White can understand why some people might be vicious to Jews, can’t he understand why some people might arrest those plotting violent crimes against Jews? Can this be justified logically, theologically, or otherwise?

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Why now?

PetraMB comments:

But why is this happening now?” — asks Ben White about the Islamization of Gaza…

Ben, it’s not happening only “now”, and it’s most definitely not happening for the (unsurprising) reasons you come up with — it’s happening because this is part of Hamas’s ideology.
Here’s a Spiegel report from more than a year ago:

One of them, and perhaps the most influential, is Marwan Abu Ras, known as “Hamas’ mufti.” The organization’s political leaders prefer not to be mentioned in the same breath with Abu Ras and describe him as “peculiar.” But Gaza’s top administrator, Ismail Haniya, and Mahmoud Zahar, one of the founders of Hamas, like to discuss religious matters with Abu Ras, who studied in Medina. … “We will take the best aspects of the Iranian and the Saudi Arabian system,” says Abu Ras … The Islamists’ influence is becoming more and more visible. Most men now wear full beards and many women are fully veiled. New minarets are being built throughout Gaza, alcohol is no longer available, and Hamas has restricted mixed dancing at weddings and extended religious study in schools. There have been arson attacks against Christian organizations and Internet cafés …

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,570463-2,00.html

So, Ben, the more appropriate question might be: why are you noticing only now?

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Ben White misunderstands Hamas

Daniel Blanche has thankfully distanced himself from Hamas. Now his friend Ben White has attempted to follow suit.

The cartoonish White has a new article on Comment Is Free. Shockingly for Ben White, the article is critical of Hamas (What’s going on incidentally? Has Ben White also fallen under the shadowy spell of the Zionist Lobby, which controls the media?).

White writes:

This context includes a young woman accosted by Hamas police on the beach, who then roughed up her male companions. It has also meant the harassment of shopkeepers displaying mannequins and lingerie packets. The background is a “virtue campaign” organised by the religious affairs ministry, which, in the words of the Hamas deputy religious affairs minister, is intended to “keep [people] away from sin”.

[…]

But why is this happening now? One answer is that these developments in Gaza are a consequence of the state of siege that the tiny territory has been under – a society that has been fenced-in, starved, and seen its very fabric torn apart by unemployment and wanton military destruction. In the words of a Gaza human rights worker, isolation bred “extremism and dark ideas”.

So why does White blame Hamas’ brutality on Israel?

Well, remember back in 2008, when White declared:

Human rights abuses by Palestinian security forces should be exposed, even if they provide Israel with a public relations coup.

Now White has found a way to blame Israel and draw attention to human rights abuses by Palestinian leaders. Great!

Having argued that Hezbollah is not a jihadist group (this didn’t stop the expert from reviewing a book on jihad for the Fulcrum website), White now argues Hamas is persecuting women because Hamas represents ‘the colonised’.

Yet Hamas, as a chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood, sees Palestine as the first step to the global Islamic caliphate. Hamas is also deeply anti-woman. Hamas do not want to oppress women because they represent an oppressed people but because their extremist ideology is by nature oppressive. Hamas hates women. And Jews.

Update: More at Honest Reporting.

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Dr Harry Hagopian recommends Ben White book at Ekklesia

According to his website, Dr Harry Hagopian ‘is a qualified lawyer who holds a Doctorate in Public International Law and an LL.M in Alternative Dispute (Conflict) Resolution. He is also the Middle East Consultant for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in England & Wales, as well as Ecumenical, Legal and Political Consultant to the Armenian Apostolic Church.’

Harry works closely with the Vatican, Lambeth Palace, Majlis El-Hassan and the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies in Jordan, Minority Rights Group International in England, as well as with think tanks, universities and institutes across Europe and North America.’

Dr Hagopian is well-respected and listened to by many influential people. It is therefore disconcerting that Dr Hagopian should choose to write in an article on Israeli-Palestine at Ekklesia in which he cites Ben White’s new book:

The British journalist Ben White writes in his new book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, that the problems of occupation and violence are deeply rooted in the essence of Zionism and Israeli policies of colonisation in Palestine.

But why of all books has Hagopian chosen to recommend Ben White’s book to understand ‘the essence of Zionism’?

In order to introduce readers to ‘the essence of Zionism’, one of the sources Ben White draws on and recommends is Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy.

White’s Israeli Apartheid Guide contains false quotes, poor historiography and what appears to many as an endorsement of racist theology.

White’s sensitivity towards Jews (and in one instance towards Palestinians) has been repeatedly called into question, not least due to his writing: ‘I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are‘, and his claim that the arrest of antisemites plotting to blow up a synagogue was a ‘threat to our freedoms‘.

In his Ekklesia article, Dr Hagopian invokes the memory of Dr Martin Luther King Jr:

. If Martin Luther King, Jr, were able to stand up and deliver another sermon at the Riverside Drive Church today, he would surely call it Beyond Occupation!

If using the name of Dr Martin Luther King is designed to conjure up images of the civil rights struggle and the need to combat racism, then it is important to remember that Dr King would be equally concerned about anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish racism as he would about anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism.

With this in mind, one wonders why Christians who invoke King’s memory would in the next breath recommend a writer who espouses such appalling untruths about Israel and ascribes the very worst motives to the Jewish desire for a homeland.

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“The problem with the Jews is that they have a state that behaves badly?”

Shuggy takes on Ben White, the Anglican commentator who does not consider himself to be an antisemite, yet understands why some are, due partly to the behaviour of the state of Israel.

Shuggy writes:

Instead I’d say this: the answer to Ben White’s question is of course it’s possible to ‘understand’ anti-Semitism – intellectually rather than empathetically – but it helps if you aren’t a complete ignoramus. Here I’m thinking those of us who are rather concerned about this issue should rely less on the techniques of literary criticism and semantics. Because there is evidence, both historical and contemporary, that can be brought to bear here.

How do we know that contemporary anti-Semitism cannot be reduced to the behaviour of the state of Israel? One reason is simply because it predated it – the themes, the narrative, the material – by some time. Even White feels obliged to acknowledge this…

Read on.

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