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Media Analyses





Financial Times Columnist Labels Israel a Rogue State


The Financial Times of London is the British equivalent of the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal, focused primarily on business and financial news. Readers might expect that such a media outlet would present the Arab-Israeli conflict in a dispassionate manner. But this is hardly the case. The newspaper's editorials are relentless in their lopsided criticism of Israel,  portraying Israel as a rogue state and urging the United States to withdraw its support from the Jewish state. This striking bias was quantified in a report by British media watchdog group Just Journalism.
 
In an eight day period from Nov. 18 through Nov. 26, three separate editorials called on the Obama administration to end its policy of defending Israel from UN resolutions condemning the Jewish state. Op-Eds during the four month period of November 2009 through February 2010 repeatedly urged the U.S. to pressure Israel into accepting severe Arab demands that it retreat to the 1949 armistice lines, which would leave Israel's main population center within a vulnerable 8-10 mile wide strip of land and forfeit any claim to a unified Jerusalem. The Financial Times' displeasure at Israel's refusal to consent to such demands is expressed in vindictive and accusatory opinion pieces.

A Dec. 15, 2009 piece by former European Union Commissioner Chris Patten expressed support for EU President Carl Bildt's pro-Palestinian policy — with the caveat that it did not go far enough. Patten wrote that "seemingly on instructions from Israel's foreign ministry Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania fought to dilute the original text." Evidently, there was no possibility, in Patten's view, that these nations simply held a view of events and issues related to Israel less negative than his. Rather they must be receiving "instructions." Nor was any proof  provided for his insinuating a nefarious Jewish influence on European governments.

For Patten, the antagonism towards Israel is personal. As the official responsible for handing over billions of Euros to the notoriously corrupt Palestinian Authority, the lack of positive results clearly upsets him. Rather than admit this failure is due to endemic corruption among Palestinian officials, Patten instead shifts blame onto Israel, claiming: "The money I spent in Palestine.... has drained away into the blood-soaked sand." He further alleges the EU has become the "paymaster for [Israeli] intransigence and disproportionate force."

In fact, it is not Israel but the Palestinian leadership that is intransigent, refusing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even as it continues to receive an enormous EU subsidy. As for the money draining away, it was none other than External Affairs Commissioner Patten who blocked an investigation on the misuse of EU funds by the Palestinian Authority, stymying any attempt to trace whether funds ended up in terrorist hands.

Patten's discussion of the status of Jerusalem is similarly unbalanced. He dismisses Israel's annexation of Jerusalem, while decreeing the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem a capital of the future Palestinian state. In contrast, acceptance of  Israel's sovereignty over the western neighborhoods of Jerusalem is ambiguously framed, despite continuous Jewish control since 1948. The New Republic observed that the Financial Times cannot even get itself to identify that the Israeli government is located in Jerusalem, opting instead to incorrectly call it the"government in Tel Aviv."

Following a recognized pattern of employing Jewish defamers of Israel to buttress and justify anti-Israel bias, the Financial Times solicited columns from two Jewish writers notorious for their extreme anti-Israel rhetoric. On Dec. 8, an Op-Ed by self-proclaimed anti-Zionist Tony Judt urged American Jews to cut off their charitable support to Israel. Judt devoted much of his column to a specious book by French History professor Shlomo Sand contending that there is no such thing as a Jewish nation and that Jews have no historical ties to Israel.

On Feb. 24, 2010, another Jewish critic of Israel, the Arab-funded Henry Siegman, presented his familiar spiel about Israel allegedly becoming an apartheid state in need of harsh punitive measures.

Discussion about the role of Palestinians in thwarting peace finds no place in the pages of the Financial Times. For example, there is nothing about the pervasive official and societal anti-Jewish incitement by Palestinians, or about the problem presented by Palestinian teachers, writers and leaders who educate their youth to value "martyrs" and "martyrdom" — issues critical to the understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, columns assault the legitimacy of the Jewish state and express resentment of Israel's resolute action against those who threaten it.

On Feb. 26, just two days after Siegman labelled Israel a racist state, an incensed James MacKintosh described the assassination of Hamas weapons trafficker, Mahmoud Mabouh, allegedly by Israel. MacKintosh wrote:

If "Israel is at war with the Palestinians or at least the militant groups, in which case fair enough to kill them - but they should not be labeled as terrorists, if it is a war, or treated as terrorists by other states; or it isn't a war, in which case extra-judicial killing is just another word for state sponsored murder, reducing Israel to the level of the terrorists."

Untangling Mr. MacKintosh's Catch-22 logic, a terrorist ceases to be a terrorist when pursued or killed by Israel. If Israel pursues a terrorist in the context of a war, the terrorist becomes a legitimate combatant. But if Israel pursues a terrorist outside the context of a war, the terrorist becomes a victim of Israel's state-sponsored "murder." One can only wonder how this logic might be applied to the British and American campaign against Osama Bin Laden and his al-Quaida compatriots.

International Affairs Editor David Gardner epitomizes the Financial Times' resentment of Israel in an editorial piece on Feb. 26, 2010 where he found fault with Israel for defending itself against terrorists. Reflecting upon the assassination of a Hamas operative in Dubai allegedly by the Mossad,  Gardner blamed the Mossad for the rise of Hezbollah and criticized Israel for killing Munich Olympics massacre mastermind Hassan Salameh - who had become a conduit for British intelligence.
 
Describing the failed attempt to assassinate Hamas leader, Khaled Mishal in Jordan an affront to Jordanian King Hussein, Gardner quotes expatriate Israeli revisionist historian Avi Shlaim that it was as if the Israelis "had spit in his [Hussein's] face." Gardner was unconcerned that by extending his protection to the Hamas leader, King Hussein was, in effect, spitting in the face of Israeli victims of terrorism.
 
Gardner accuses Israel of  behaving like a rogue state. This sentiment resonates with longstanding British foreign policy traceable back to before the rebirth of the modern Jewish state, when the British navy thwarted attempts by underground Jewish organizations to bring "illegal" Jewish refugees fleeing Europe to Palestine. The Financial Times editorials reflect an entrenched resentment towards Israel that recalls the events surrounding Israel's founding with feelings of anger and humiliation. The circumstances have changed substantially over the years, but the Financial Times' editorials offer proof of the durability of this harsh sentiment.
 

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