Jonathan Hoffman
Jonathan Hoffman

Incorrect parallels and evidence-free assertions

A mural depicting Iyad Al Hallaq on the wall in the city of Bethlehem. (Wikipedia: Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/161316741@N04/50025343731/ Author	Seka Hamed) Via Jewish News
A mural depicting Iyad Al Hallaq on the wall in the city of Bethlehem. (Wikipedia: Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/161316741@N04/50025343731/ Author Seka Hamed) Via Jewish News

Eyad Hallaq is a resident of East Jerusalem who was accidentally killed by a policeman on 30 May 2020.  He failed to heed an order to stop and the policeman mistook the mobile phone he was carrying for a weapon. The policeman is on trial for negligent manslaughter.

Hallaq died five days after George Floyd.

Vivian Wineman is a former co-chair of the New Israel Fund, which supports organisations such as AdalahBreaking the Silence and +972 Magazine.

Shortly after the two deaths Wineman wrote a blog saying there were ‘obvious parallels’ between the two deaths and castigating the UK’s Jewish press and Israeli media for focusing disproportionately on the Floyd death. He accused the Jewish Chronicle of ‘anti-Palestinian racism’ and lamented that the UK Jewish community doesn’t care about the deaths of Palestinians.

Wineman’s suggestion of ‘obvious parallels’ is simply wrong. Jerusalem is a city where members of a minority carry out frequent terrorist attacks on the majority. See for example here, here and here. Whereas Minnesota is not such a city.  The police in Minnesota are not called upon 24/7 to defend its citizens from terror. In Jerusalem they are.

That fact also explains why the UK’s Jewish press and Israeli media gave the Floyd death more coverage than the Hallaq death. In addition the media reported the numerous ramifications for the Jewish community of the Floyd death: for example the Florida Holocaust museum that housed an exhibition exploring the reaction to the killing; Rebecca Long-Bailey’s endorsement of a Maxine Peake article; the antisemitism of Black Lives Matter; the Board of Deputies enquiry into minorities in the Jewish community.

When it comes to assertion without evidence, Wineman seems to be a serial offender.  He provides zero evidence for the allegation that the Jewish Chronicle is guilty of ‘anti-Palestinian racism’ and practically zero evidence for the suggestion that Jews don’t care about Palestinian deaths  (in my critique I asked if he had commissioned a poll of the UK’s 263,346 Jews …..).

His evidence amounts to one exchange with the head of a Jewish charity. His ‘evidence’ for the failure of the Jewish press to cover Palestinian deaths is the lack of coverage of nine al-Sawarka family members killed in an Israel raid on Gaza on 14 November 2019 (Wineman erroneously dates it as December). But that does NOT mean that the Jewish press doesn’t care about Palestinian deaths. Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas terror in Gaza. Even though it achieves a record low 1:1 ratio of civilian to combatant deaths, some civilians inevitably die.

Civilian who die in conflict are simply not newsworthy. It’s not just the Jewish Press which doesn’t publicise civilian deaths: in Afghanistan there were 1,659 civilians killed and 3,254 wounded in the first six months of the year: How many were reported in the UK press?

The charging of a policeman in June with the offence of negligent manslaughter motivated VW to write a second blog, this time here in Jewish News. 13 months between the two blogs but the evidence-free assertion continues.

Wineman: ‘Eyad’s family  …. had a visit from the police who, having killed their son, then searched their home and allegedly assaulted some of them.’

“Allegedly assaulted” …. Who alleges? Where’s the evidence?

Commenting on the time taken to charge Hallaq’s killer, he writes:

‘Part of the delay, I understand, has been caused by people, who actually felt that Israeli police should not be charged for killing Palestinians’

Look what he’s saying: That public prosecutors in Israel are influenced by bigots. Where is his evidence for that despicable allegation? He provides none.

“I have heard in response that this was just one unfortunate killing and we should not make a fuss about it. But this was not just one incident. In the last week alone before this article was written, four Palestinian civilians were killed by the Israeli police. One was twelve years old and another seventeen. Another was twenty and was attending the funeral of the twelve year old when he was shot.”

Note his use of the word ‘civilians’, implying that Israel kills innocent Palestinian teenagers. Let’s look at the cases, shall we?

17 year old Mohammed Munir al-Tamimi threw stones in a manner that fatally threatened one of the soldiers’.

12 year old Mohammed al-Alami was in a vehicle that refused to stop when IDF soldiers chased the vehicle, suspecting it to be one they were searching for in a separate case. A tragedy but when you have to fight terrorists, that’s what can happen.

20 year old Shawkat Awad was shot at the funeral of al-Alami. Violence broke out at the funeral and Palestinians threw rocks at IDF soldiers. Reports do not state whether Awad was throwing rocks but the IDF does not fire live rounds for no reason.

Finally, look at Wineman’s ending: It’s virtue signalling in spades:

“Part of the problem lies with openly racist religious Zionist leaders who say that an Arab life, is not worth a Jewish life. Just  recently a racist Rabbi has been convicted of hate speech fined and given a suspended sentence. The prosecution have argued that he should have been given a custodial. But part of the problem lies with the rest of us who, while not going along with this racism, do not call it out.”

“Part of the problem …”

What “problem”? In the charged atmosphere of Palestinian terrorism Hallaq was asked by a border police officer to stop at a checkpoint and identify himself, but he did not respond. This prompted the officer to chase after the man and he was shortly joined by his commander and another officer, who believed he was carrying a firearm.  The officer has now been charged. The only problem here was Palestinian terrorism – but I guess that’s not what Wineman meant.

Same goes for al-Tamimi, al-Alami and Awad. As I said, when you have to fight terrorists, tragic unintended consequences can happen.

‘Openly racist religious Zionist leaders who say that an Arab life, is not worth a Jewish life.’

More evidence-free assertions. Who are these ‘Zionist leaders’? No one in the current or previous Israeli government. Who is he talking about? And even if such ‘Zionist leaders’ exist, where is the evidence that they influence public prosecutors?

Just recently a racist rabbi has been convicted of hate speech fined and given a suspended sentence.”

Yes – the first rabbi to be indicted since 2008.  Funny that Wineman forgot to mention that. Maybe he can give us the evidence that Rabbi Yosef Elitzur has influenced public prosecutors.

But part of the problem lies with the rest of us who, while not going along with this racism, do not call it out.”

Yawn. What ‘racism’? And where is the evidence that ‘the rest of us’ (which of course does not include the supremely virtuous Wineman) do not call out racism – where it exists?

Some Israel bashers are so anxious to signal their antiracist virtue that they even have to fabricate the racism.

About the Author
Jonathan Hoffman is a blogger who has written for United With Israel, CiFWatch (now UK Media Watch), Harrys Place and Z-Word.
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