Vice News Compares Murdering Jews to Skateboarding Accidents

Vice News labels itself an “international news channel” specializing in “uncomfortable truths.” It features purported experts on “global youth culture”—a demographic group it seems to covet. Yet, a Vice News article by Sam Kriss entitled “Is Israel Trying to Spark another Intifada” specializes not in uncomfortable truths but omissions, distortions, and age-old antisemitic tropes. Beginning with its title, it dispenses with any pretense of real reporting or substantive commentary. 

Kriss—in a theme he repeatedly returns to—falsely implies that Israel is sparking violence against itself. This not only echoes age-old antisemitic claims that Jews are behind anti-Jewish violence (claims also made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decades ago in his Soviet-sponsored dissertation alleging Jewish responsibility for the Holocaust), it also infantilizes Palestinian Arabs by insinuating that their actions are in fact only reactions to Israeli moves; that they have no independent agency. For example, neither Abbas nor any other Palestinian leader is so much as mentioned in Kriss’ apologia for terrorism.

Instead, Kriss focuses initially on downplaying anti-Jewish violence. “In the history of the occupation,” he writes, “14 Israelis have been killed by stone throwers. By comparison, roughly twice that many Americans are killed each year by skateboarding injuries.”

Such a frivolous non sequitur not only illustrates a lack of moral grounding, but also demonstrates journalistic unseriousness; Kriss fails to provide a source for his rock-throwing statistic. Similarly, he fails to note that Israel’s population is a little over eight million compared to the United States population of 318 million. In other words, a better comparison would be 14 Israelis murdered with rocks are proportionately equivalent to nearly 550 Americans stoned to death. Kriss’ comparison of raw figures instead of ratios and use of the accidental skateboarding deaths in the United States versus stoning murders in Israel categories constitutes a double-barreled denigration of anti-Jewish violence.

Here’s how Kriss mocks the death of individuals like 64-year old grandfather Alexander Levlovich, killed by Arab teenagers who threw cinder blocks through the windshield of his car as he drove home from a family Rosh Hashanah dinner on September 14. According to Vice’s “expert” the perpetrators were merely “bringing objects into aerial motion.”

From being morally offensive and intellectually juvenile, Kriss moved to historical falsehoods. He claimed “the second intifada was sparked in 2000, when then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon made a provocative visit to Temple Mount flanked by hundreds of cops in riot gear.” As CAMERA has previously noted, the second intifada was planned well in advance of Sharon’s visit to the holiest site in Judaism. Imad Faluji, the PA’s then-minister of post and communications told Arab newspaper Al-Ayam in a Dec. 6, 2002 interview:

Blaming the Israelis
“The Palestinian Authority began preparing the present intifada and bracing for it since the return from Camp David [peace talks] at the request of President Yasser Arafat, who envisaged the intifada as a complementary measure to the Palestinian steadfastness in the negotiations, and not as a protest over Sharon’s visit to al-Haram al-Sharif (Arafat’s War, Efraim Karsh, p. 193).”

Kriss, blaming Jewish victims for the Arab violence they are subjected to, writes “if Israel was serious about peace then a fairly important first step would be to abstain from [expletive] with the Temple Mount.” Of course, that’s exactly what Israel has done—make no changes to the Temple Mount status quo, contrary to Palestinian incitement like that of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his August 1 speech (see below).

Kriss entirely omits mention of U.S. and Israeli offers for Palestinian statehood in exchange for peace with Israel in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba, 2008 after the Annapolis conference as well as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposed framework to restart negotiations in 2014. Each of these efforts was rejected by Palestinian Arab leaders—and in every instance Palestinian Arab leaders failed to so much as provide a counteroffer.

Occupying the southwestern portion of Temple Mount, al-Aqsa mosque has been described, especially by news media after Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, as Islam’s third holiest site. After the war, in which Israel defeated large-scale threats from Egypt and Syria and attacks by Jordan, then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan allowed the Jordanian-appointed waqf (Muslim religious authority), to retain religious authority over the holy sites while Israel reserved the right to police control.

This decision was made despite the fact that Jordan had attacked Israel in 1967 and 1948, in the latter war seizing the eastern portion of Jerusalem, including the Old City and Temple Mount. Jordanian forces destroyed dozens of synagogues and Jewish schools and raped and murdered or expelled Jewish residents from east Jerusalem. Dayan acted in part to demonstrate Israeli goodwill and to offset the “al-Aqsa libel” whereby Arab-Islamic leaders falsely claimed Jews held designs against al-Aqsa mosque—an incitement invoked periodically since the 1920’s and that often led to murderous attacks.

For example, in 1929, Palestinian Arab leaders, headed by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a future collaborator of Adolf Hitler’s, made this charge to encourage attacks on Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods and nearby Jewish communities. One hundred and thirty three Jewish men, women and children died in the resulting violence and another 339 wounded (The ‘Al-Aksa is in Danger’ Libel: The History of a Lie, Nadav Shragai).

Abbas’ incitement
Similarly, on Aug. 1, 2015, PA President Abbas said Jews planned “to get rid of al-Aqsa and establish their so-called ‘Temple.’” On September 16, he exhorted, “The al-Aqsa is ours…and they [Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet…We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem (“Incitement over Temple Mount Leads to Palestinian Violence, Again,” Sept. 16 2015).” 
Failing to mention Abbas’ incitement, Kriss similarly omits that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Israel has no plans to change the status quo at al-Aqsa. But Abbas has refused to condemn the violence that followed his anti-Jewish exhortations.
Five days before this Vice News article was published, Abbas falsely claimed that Israel “execut
ed” a 13-year old boy, Ahmed Manasra. As he spoke, Manasra was being treated in an Israeli hospital for injuries suffered from being hit by a car—after he and his cousin stabbed and nearly killed a 13-year old Jewish boy on a bicycle. From his hospital bed, Manasra admitted he knifed the boy due to rumors of Jewish designs on the al-Aqsa mosque, rumors of the sort voiced by Abbas and later insinuated by Kriss.
Kriss spends considerable space alleging, without evidence, that a war-mongering Israel provokes Palestinian violence.

He says that in June 2014 three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. But he refuses to humanize them by mentioning their names (Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaer). Kriss also hides the fact that Hamas, the U.S.-listed terror group ruling the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for the kidnap-killings. Instead, he absurdly writes that Israel’s operation to rescue the teenagers and defer future terrorist attacks was “a calculated attempt to provoke Hamas into violence.”

So Kriss’ “analysis” amounts to implying that Hamas’ kidnapping and murdering of three Israeli teenagers, which the terror group originally praised, then denied, only to admit later really was a secret Jewish plot to instigate war.

Writing from a Middle East mirage
The reason? Hamas and Fatah, he claims, were about to make peace with Israel and “recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a precondition for talks.” Kriss writes, “In the weird and chasmic [Sic.] world of Israeli politics, that might mean it’s time for another war.” Curiously, Kriss appears to be the only person to discern the budding Hamas-Fatah peace offensive.

The notion that Jews or by extension the Jewish state desires war is another age-old antisemitic trope. Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Yasser Arafat and others, now including one Sam Kriss, have peddled it as it suited them.

In fact, Hamas—whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and genocide of the Jews—has consistently denied that it would ever recognize Israel. It did so the summer of 2014 before initiating war with Israel. Upon being asked if a putative reconciliation with Fatah meant peace with Israel, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal replied, “Our path is resistance and the rifle, and our choice is jihad.”
How did so many lies, distortions, and omissions make it into this single Kriss article? Its 25-year-old author runs a blog where he offers his “thoughts” on entertainers Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and other trendy topics not usually related to Middle East conflicts, for which his expertise is apparently non-existent.

Other clues present themselves. After the first debate among Republican presidential candidates, in which they professed support for Israel, pundit Ann Coulter infamously remarked, “[expletive] the Jews” and question whether there were enough Jewish voters to matter to the GOP. Kriss approvingly tweeted “#IStandWithAnn its not racist to want to know exactly how many jews there are.”

In one blog the author imagines that Zionism is in fact antisemitism. Adam Levick, managing editor of CAMERA-affiliate UK Media Watch, asked Kriss via Twitter if he still believed that the desire for a Jewish state is equivalent to Jew hatred. Unprofessionally, and evasively, Kriss responded, “my man, you are excusing holocaust revisionism, sort yourself out u goyishe kop.”
Using a Yiddish insult, and in a juvenile manner, to imply non-Jewish stupidity seems consistent with his previous, rather thin writing history. Together they may help explain Kriss’ omissions, distortions and fabrications for Vice.

Kriss’ work by itself does not rise to notice. Of some concern, however, is the decision by Vice, an organization that claims to offer actual news coverage about important truths, to publish such dreck. That’s another Yiddish expression. It means, at best, what’s left in the dumpster after scavengers depart. Vice would do well to keep it in mind when upgrading submissions standards to prevent future debacles like Kriss’ “Is Israel Trying to Spark Another Intifada?”

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