HonestReporting isn’t very popular with Independent columnist Johann Hari who prefers to attack us rather than address his one-sided opinion pieces. At the risk of being accused again by Hari of attempting to shut down his freedom of speech, we take a look at his latest efforts to smear Israel in an article full of shortcomings:
- Hari is adept at employing inappropriate or inaccurate imagery and almost immediately mentions the “military’s blockade of Gaza – reducing it to rubble just a short drive from hi-tech Tel Aviv“. In reality, with or without the current ceasefire, Israel has certainly not been reducing Gaza to “rubble”. Israel also has no apologies to make for building a state that includes “hi-tech” Tel Aviv and other highly developed cities in stark contrast to Palestinian mismanagement of their own resources.
- With no context and the implication that Israel acts aggressively out of sheer malice, Hari refers to “how desensitised Israel has become to the violence committed in its name” and how “the potential indictment for war crimes of Livni’s main rival, Shaul Mofaz, was barely an issue.” There is a simple reason why this was barely an issue – this apparent “story” as reported by The Independent itself, refers to one letter from an Israeli professor urging the Attorney General to investigate Mofaz based on allegations published by journalists in a book. Hari (and The Independent at the time) have simply embellished a non-story.
- Employing guilt by association, Hari smears Livni as a supporter of terrorism: “In theory, the winner Livni should be in a strong position to understand nationalist “terrorists” who have planted bombs on buses and in cafes – because she was raised by them.” This, despite the fact that Livni is intimately involved in current peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and is a leading proponent of a two-state solution. Can Hari not see the absurdity of his smear at the same time as a generation of Palestinian children have been and are actively being brought up on an education of hatred and violence towards Israel?
- In seeking to smear Tzipi Livni, Hari also leaves himself open to the charge that he does not believe that Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians is terrorism. Hari places the word “terrorism” in quotation marks, thus not making it entirely clear whether or not planting bombs on buses and in cafes is terrorism, whoever carries out such an act. He does, however, refer to “Arab civilians who were trying to prevent the creation of the state of Israel“. In Israel’s War of Independence, those Arabs who “were trying to prevent” Israel’s creation were engaged in acts of violence and terror against Israeli civilians and were certainly not the benign “Arab civilians” that Hari seeks to portray.
- After referring to Livni’s family as “terrorists”, Hari reveals a hidden admiration for Palestinian violence. While implying that Livni’s upbringing was marred by “tales of blowing up marketplaces, cafes and hotels,” Hari suddenly reverses gears and defends these same types of actions – when carried out by the Palestinians against Israel. “How would Livni’s parents have responded to mass punishment – blockades, checkpoints, bullets? Would they shrug and surrender?” he asks, apparently defending blowing up civilians in suicide bombings and firing rockets indiscriminately at civilian residential areas. For Hari, there is no limit to his finger pointing at Israel. He blames Israel both for being terrorist and for fighting terrorism.
- A theme running through many of Hari’s opinion pieces is the placing of blame solely on Israel’s shoulders. Palestinians bear no responsibility for their situation in Hari’s eyes. Hari refers to blockades, checkpoints and bullets as “mass punishment”, while omitting any mention of Palestinian terrorism and the need for Israeli measures to defend her civilians. Likewise, according to Hari, the Oslo process was “rigged in Israel’s favour”, despite the fact that Oslo was a bilateral process that the Palestinians were also responsible for.
- Hari’s limited understanding of the conflict is apparent when he claims that “Stripped of a state, they [Palestinian nationalists] are fighting for one – and every Israeli attack makes them more radical and enraged.” Putting aside the fact that Palestinians were never stripped of a state (a sovereign Palestinian state has never existed and the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected those opportunities to create one such as the Arab rejection of the 1947 UN Partition Plan), how can Hari ignore the priorities of the radical Islamist Hamas, which aims at the destruction of Israel ahead of any aspirations to Palestinian statehood?
Yet again, Johann Hari has written an op-ed full of holes and open to criticism. Hari has previously demonstrated that he is rather sensitive to such criticism. Despite Hari’s protestations, it is your right to use the information above and send your considered comments to The Independent – firstname.lastname@example.org