Tag Archives: Joseph Dana

BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen retweets anti-Israel activist Joseph Dana.

This article by me first appeared on the recently launched BBCWatch website.

The BBC has had many notorious anti-Israel episodes over the years – too many to mention them all – but here are a few to jog the memory.

BBC journalist Barbara Plett said she “started to cry” as Yasser Arafat left the West Bank in 2004 to go to France for treatment not long before he died. BBC governors ruled her comments “breached the requirements of due impartiality”.

In 2006 Orla Guerin reported, while standing in front of damaged buildings in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, that the town had been “wiped out” by the Israeli air force. Meanwhile, Alex Thompson, of Channel 4 News, correctly reported “the suburbs pretty much untouched by the Israeli attack and invasion”.

More recently the Itamar massacre was hardly mentioned on the BBC despite its many TV and radio news programmes. The BBC eventually apologised and blamed its oversight on a “very busy news period”. Five Israelis being stabbed to death in their family home by two Palestinian terrorists, including a baby girl in her bed, was not deemed newsworthy enough by the BBC.

Another even more recent example was Will Gompertz’s review of Habima’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at The Globe in May which appeared in the Entertainment & Arts section of the BBC website. In the review, which was headlined “The Merchant of Venice: A protest within a play”, Gompertz proceeded to review the disruptions by anti-Israel activists instead of the actual play itself.

Gompertz even described one of the anti-Israel activists as “a handsome grey-haired woman” and, instead of condemning the disruptions out of hand, he merely mused “about the rights or wrongs of staging a protest in a theatre where the majority of the people have paid to see a show”.

Such partiality continues to this day in the guise of Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East Editor. On October 5th 2012 Bowen retweeted to his 21,333 Twitter followers, which he has courtesy of his position at the BBC, a tweet by Joseph Dana who was “curious that Israeli forces can fire tear gas and use stun grenades next to the Al Aqsa mosque and the story doesn’t make international waves”.

The Al Aqsa Mosque is on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; one of the potentially most explosive square kilometres on earth, should something go decidedly wrong there. Tear gas and stun grenades would be used only in extreme circumstances. One can imagine the sensitivity with which a respectable journalist should be reporting any story to do with a place considered so holy by both Jews and Muslims.

Any responsible journalist would check out such a story, especially considering its prospect for “international waves”, before reporting it either on twitter, TV or radio. Not Bowen, though, who apparently decided that the story as it stood sounded too good to resist reporting.

Had Bowen bothered to have a brief browse he would have found articles giving him the all-important context.

Ynet reported that several hundred Arab worshippers stoned the Israeli police before the police “used crowd-control measures to disperse the crowd.” Israel Hayom reported how “police came under a barrage of rocks”. The Times of Israel reported how “hundreds of Arabs threw stones at security guards”.

In addition to the stone-throwing, The Jerusalem Post reported that “an Arab man tried to stab a police officer” and that “rioters on the Mount threw rocks in the direction of the Western Wall Plaza, but police officers were able to stop them before any rocks reached Jewish worshippers below”.

Joseph Dana, who lives in Ramallah and is a prolific anti-Israel activist, is hardly an objective and reliable source for reporting on Israeli matters. Appearing in November 2011 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to give a talk, Dana answered – when asked by an audience member whether Zionism was “the work of the devil” – that he, Dana, had managed to free himself from a “Zionist indoctrination programme”. It really is ludicrous for Bowen to quote Dana as a serious source on Israel.

The recent Leveson Enquiry on media ethics addressed the media’s reporting of individuals but, sadly, did not get round to addressing how the media reports on countries.

Individuals have a right to sue for defamation; a country has not, but the knock on effect for Jews around the world of biased reporting against Israel can be deadly as we saw in Toulouse where a Rabbi, two of his children and another child were shot dead outside a Jewish school when Mohamed Merah seemed driven to revenge by one-sided reporting of Israel’s defensive operations in Gaza.

Britain likes to think it has a good record on multiculturalism. However there is a vicious anti-Israel culture in this country supported by more than a few politicians, university academics, charities and certain media organisations such as The Guardian and The Independent. Therefore, when British Jews go to synagogue to pray, the sad fact is they have do so surrounded by the strictest security.

This is not something for Britain to be proud of. And it is also a culture contributed to by many journalists at the BBC; Jeremy Bowen being the prime example.

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War on Want at Russell Tribunal: “More direct action coming.”

Rafeef Ziadeh, Asa Winstanley, John Hilary, Joseph Dana, Frank Barat at Amnesty.

Rafeef Ziadeh, Asa Winstanley, John Hilary, Joseph Dana, Frank Barat at Amnesty.

War on Want’s John Hilary spoke of more direct action against firms complicit in Israel’s “breaches of international law”. He was on a panel at Amnesty International on thursday night for the launch of a book about last year’s London session of the Russell Tribunal.

In response to a question from Eva Jaciewicz, a member of the Polish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and who last year daubed “Free Gaza and Palestine” at the Warsaw Ghetto, about the possibility of occupying the workplaces of companies doing business with Israel Hilary endorsed the targeting of security company G4S, especially in light of its security role in next year’s London Olympics.

Here’s a short audio of the discussion. Frank Barat speaks first followed by Rafeef Ziadeh and Hilary:

Audio: Barat, Ziadeh, Hilary at Amnesty on G4S.

Hilary also spoke about anti-Israel activists going into shoe shops and trying on Caterpillar boots and then staging anti-Israel protests. Staff were unable to ask them to leave while they were wearing the boots.

Here’s the relevant clip which includes a short discussion on whether Hamas was invited to the Russell Tribunal:

Frank Barat, who coordinated the London RTOP, had initially started off the evening telling us how clearly international law is on the side of the Palestinians and how little Israel can do about this.

He said the word “Apartheid” scared Israel and its supporters, especially when people like Desmond Tutu are saying what is happening on the West Bank is far worse than what happened in apartheid South Africa.

This, Barat thought, was a good way to attack RTOP’s detractors and he reiterated RTOP’s call for:

1. Israel to dismantle its system of Apartheid.
2. All states to consider putting pressure on Israel to do this including severing diplomatic relations.
3. The prosecutor of the ICC to accept jurisdiction over Palestine.
4. Global civil society to replicate the spirit of solidarity that contributed to the end of apartheid South Africa and to support BDS.

There were only 43 people in the audience at Amnesty; not a good sign of global solidarity.

Asa Winstanley, who edited the book briefly ran us through its content and Rafeef Ziadeh, a Canadian Palestinian “refugee” now living in the UK, called the “Nakba” an “ongoing process” and reiterated the BDS movement’s call for Israel to:

1. End the occupation of all Arab lands.
2. Create equality for Palestinians everywhere, including in Israel.
3. Allow Palestinian “refugees” to return to their homes in Israel.

She said she couldn’t believe that Israel could consider someone like her to be such a threat.

Joseph Dana, an American Jewish blogger with +972 Magazine and living in Ramallah, referred to the Palestinians in Bil’in, where he covers the weekly protests, as offering “Ghandian-like unarmed resistance” and he encouraged the use of Twitter and Facebook to combat the Jerusalem Post, Associated Press and Thomas Friedman, who is calling for the Palestinians to adopt non-violent resistance while, according to Dana, he is ignoring just that.

Dana predicted that there will be a “new unarmed Intifada” and he holds every Israeli responsible for Israel’s “transgressions” and spoke of the non-violent protests in Bil’in as being what “drives Israelis insane”. He said:

“Artists don’t come to Israel anymore. Israeli society wants to be considered a normal western country…The boycott pinpoints that issue of normality and says ‘no, you are not a normal society. You have to be held accountable for the transgressions that you are committing on a regular basis. Even if you are not directly committing them you are part of the society that’s doing that.'”

If that’s true then Dana, who lives in Ramallah, is indirectly accountable for the massacre of five members of the Fogel family by a Palestinian, including three month old Hadas who was decapitated while she slept.

Here’s the relevant clip:

+972 Magazine’s Joseph Dana wows the Palestine Society at SOAS.

Kill Jews and you're a political prisoner according to "human rights" group Addameer.

Kill Jews and you're a political prisoner according to "human rights" group Addameer.

Last night SOAS’ Palestine Society unveiled Joseph Dana, an anti-Israel blogger for +972 Magazine, and Gemma Houldey, of Jerusalem based “human rights” organisation Addameer, for an event called Palestine: Resistance and Occupation.

Larry Derfner also writes for +972 Magazine. Derfner justified the recent Eilat terror attacks when he wrote on his blog:

“Whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile the ideology was, they were justified to attack.”

Joseph Dana made aliyah in 2005, after having completed a degree in America in Jewish history, with a view to exploring his cultural and Jewish secular identity. He describes himself as an American Israeli Jew who was brought up in America in a Zionist indocrination programme but who was able to free himself.

After completing a degree in Israel, also in Jewish history, he found that the “predominant nationalist rhetoric in Israel was at odds with the secular Judaism” he was trying to explore, specifically the idea of “life on the periphery, marginality and dispossesion”.

Instead, he said, he opened up to the Palestinian narrative and started to visit the West Bank and “observed the protests around the wall and settler violence”. To deal with the “emotional discharge” he started his blog.

He now lives and works in Ramallah reporting and tweeting full time on the protests.

Of course there is no “predominant nationalist rhetoric” in Ramallah where they name streets after suicide bombers, where children are taught in school to hate Israel and where two Israeli soldiers were lynched, but Dana obviously feels more comfortable there than in Israel for some mystifying reason.

He showed us a youtube clip of Israeli soldiers violently dispersing a demonstration. Dana said that in his experience he had never seen a rock thrown first by a Palestinian but it was always the IDF who started the violence.

During the Q&A nearly every question was about the possibility of a Third Intifada. Students never tire of seeing violence and destruction. Dana responded that a Third Intifada would be “unproductive” and plumped for boycotts and demonstrations instead.

But Dana seems to have been badly inconvenienced by the new boycott law in Israel where organisations and individuals can now be sued for boycotting settlements, a law which was voted through 47-36 in the Knesset.

It’s a law that Dana seems to have a bit of trouble understanding.

He explained to his starry-eyed audience that if he called for a boycott of settlements then he could be sued. He said that a settler did not have to prove any economic loss, only that Dana intended to damage the settler financially.

What the law actually says is that a settler would have to prove that “economic, cultural or academic damage” could be reasonably expected from such a move.

This is an important distinction as there probably would have had to have been some sort of preparatory action taken by Dana towards a boycott. Dana’s intention alone wouldn’t suffice.

The highly dramatic Dana was concerned that even mentioning boycotting Israel could get him or his +972 Magazine sued. Here’s Dana attempting to explain the law. He excitedly refers to my camera which, he thinks, could get him sued if I put this clip on youtube. The law has yet to be tested but maybe now will be:

Moreover, as I understand it, the law applies to the whole of Israel so, for example, an Israeli calling for a boycott of an Arab business, whether in Israel or the West Bank, can also be sued. And I’m not sure that these laws are so different from those in other countries where you can sued in similar circumstances.

In the Q&A Dana was asked whether Zionism is “the work of the devil”. It’s a racist question seeing as Zionism refers to Jewish self-determination in their ancient homeland. Instead of ignoring such a question, which any self-respecting commentator would have done, Dana responds:

I asked Dana what it is like for women, gays and political dissenters living in Ramallah and what he thought about neither Jews or Palestinian refugees being allowed to live in any future Palestinian state.

Instead of addressing these points he conveniently picked up on my commment about the Hamas Charter calling for the killing of Jews, which I thought might be an example of why Palestinian prisoners are treated differently from Israeli ones. The latter had been the subject of the previous talk by Gemma Houldey.

Dana thought that some of the comments by Hamas were horrific but that they were just as horrific as comments by Israelis. As an example he quoted accusations that Palestinian schoolchildren do not have maps of Israel in their schoolbooks, but said that Israeli children do not have maps of Palestine in their schoolbooks either.

He also quoted an unnamed Israeli MK who wanted to move all Palestinians to an island off the coast of Gaza. Apparently, this story appeared in Maariv.

His summary of the situation was:

“Almost everything we can accuse Hamas of we can find the equal and sometimes worse situation inside of Israel.”

Before such nonsense we heard more nonsense from Gemma Houldey, of Addameer, who described, without giving any evidence, how Israelis deprive Palestinian prisoners of proper medication, sexually harass Palestinian women during interrogation and target Palestinian children for arrest because they are easy targets. Here she is in her own words:

And as you can see from her slide (see top) Addameer classes every Palestinian prisoner as “political”, whatever they did.

Such a “political prisoner” would presumably include Amna Mouna, included in the recent prisoner exchange, who formed an online relationship with 16 year old Ofir Rahum before luring him into a deadly ambush near Ramallah when his body split into two parts having had so many bullets pumped into him.

And now all Addameer is concerned about is that some of these released prisoners will be exiled.

As ever the unquestioning students at SOAS lapped it all up.

Extra clip:

Here is Dana introducing himself before showing us the youtube clip I have linked to above:

Audio: Joseph Dana at SOAS during Q&A.