Guardian’s focus on Israeli refugee centre ignores both context and other centres worldwide

This is a cross-post from CiFWatch.

Guardian Mideast bias

Last week the Guardian slaked its anti-Israel obsession with an article written by Phoebe Greenwood focusing on a proposed detention center for refugees and illegal infiltrators into Israel.

The tone of the article is immediately apparent with the title “Huge detention centre to be Israel’s latest weapon in migration battle“. The use of the contentious word “weapon”, the lack of the word “illegal” in referring to the migrants reflect the automatic unconscious bias of the Guardian against even the most innocuous actions of Israel.

Addressing the article itself (all highlights are mine), it begins innocuously enough although with biased innuendo underlining the highlighted words:

A vast detention complex is rising from the sandy grounds of Ktzi’ot prison in the Negev desert, close to Israel’s border with Egypt, which will become the world’s largest holding facility for asylum seekers and migrants.

When it is completed, at an initial cost of £58m to the Israeli government, it will be capable of holding up to 11,000 people.

Greenwood then immediately takes on a sneering tone towards Israels’ very real concerns about illegal immigration, implicitly accusing PM Binyamin Netanyahu and his coalition of paranoia:

Despite unprecedented protests at rising costs of living, and increased threats to national security in a volatile, post-Arab spring Middle East, immigration is of such paramount importance to Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition that it has skimmed a minimum of 2% from every ministry’s budget to fund the construction and start-up costs of the building.

Despite Greenwood returning to factual reporting for a couple of paragraphs, quoting Israeli government spokesmen and officials about the numbers and implications of illegal immigration, she returns to her disdainful attitude towards Israel’s legislation:

In January, the Knesset passed a controversial bill categorising anyone attempting to enter the country through its southern border as an “infiltrator” who can be detained for three years – longer if they are from a “hostile state” such as Sudan.

“If we find any bona fide refugees, some will be able to stay and others will be sent to a third country that accepts refugees,” said Regev.

Greenwood goes on to compare the numbers of refugees allowed in to the UK with the numbers allowed in by Israel. This is equivalent to comparing apples to oranges. Britain does not have any hostile nations on its borders, let alone the 4 or 5 bordering Israel, not counting the assorted terrorist organizations, all of whom have an interest in flooding Israel with refugees, both to hamper it economically and socially, and in order to smuggle in terrorists amongst the refugees.

She then brings an emotional description of a teenage refugee from Sudan:

Mubarak, 18, arrived in 2009. He fled Darfur in western Sudan when the Janjaweed militia destroyed his village. The militiamen pursued families as they fled to nearby villages, looking for children to fight with them. His parents told him to run for his life.

He was 15 when he arrived in Israel and was held at a detention camp for women and children for 22 days, with up to 30 children in one small tent. He says the days in detention were the longest of his life.

“I didn’t know what would happen to me. No one said when I was going to be let out. That was the worst thing, not knowing. When you aren’t able to move, to go anywhere, you have too much time to think,” he said. “It’s not a good place to be. To think people would be staying there for three years, they would all be driven crazy. We are refugees. We aren’t supposed to be in jail.”

But Mubarak is not recognised as a refugee in Israel. Immigrants from Sudan and Eritrea are currently offered “group protection”, which means they cannot be sent back to their home countries – but nor are they afforded any rights or state support.

Yes, Mubarak’s story is indeed very sad, but this all ignores the unfortunately very real risk that refugees from countries hostile to Israel may include terrorists in disguise. Phoebe Greenwood does not see fit to include any reaction from Israel’s defence and security echelon who could give some much needed background and context to Israel’s fears. For example in this Ynet article from last year:

The IDF officers told Netanyahu that al-Qaedaand its offshoots may attempt to send Sudanese refugees across the Egyptian border and into Israel with the aim of setting up terror cells in the Jewish state.

A senior military official told the PM that the terror group may attempt to recruit people in Sudan and train them. Al-Qaeda will then have the recruits infiltrate Israel, set up terror cells and recruit other refugees to carry out attacks in Israel, according to the army official.

Netanyahu was told that the past four years have seen 20 attempts by terrorists to infiltrate Israel through the breached Egyptian border.

Returning to the Guardian’s article, Greenwood allows Israel’s authorities to defend the quality of the centre but cannot resist the hectoring derision from human rights group and of course, good old Amnesty with its in-built bias against Israel:

Following pressure from human rights groups, the space allocated per person has been increased from 2.5 square metres to 4.9, including bathrooms. According to EU standards, the “desirable” size is 7 square metres. A high-ranking official involved with overseeing construction of the centre says: “It will be very comfortable. But at the end of the day, we are dealing with people who have entered Israel illegally. I am not making them a hotel – although it’s not too far from one.”

Amnesty Israel’s position is that however much the conditions are improved, the prolonged detention of refugees is still illegal. “Detention should never be used as a deterrent. Asylum seekers should not be treated as criminals,” it argues.

The article finishes up with a complaint from Israel’s civil rights organization:

Oded Feller, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, is among the activists opposed to the construction of the Ktzi’ot complex. Detention centres, he argues, are places where asylum applications are processed and people should be held only for a matter of months.

“It doesn’t matter if they have places to learn and play, they will be held there,” said Feller. “It will be a prison for people from Africa. The Israeli government is building a refugee camp, not a detention centre.”

I can’t see that there is much difference and I don’t understand what Feller’s complaint is. Does he really want Israel flooded with hundreds of thousands of foreign migrants with all the economic, social and security problems that will accompany them?

Besides the egregious tone of this article, we have to wonder once again at the Guardian’s microscopic focus on every action and decision by Israel’s authorities. Does the Guardian bring as much outrage and faux-concern for the well-being of refugees who are trying to enter Britain for example?

How many articles have there been on Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre? A simple search of the Guardian shows no opinion pieces and only a couple of news items since 2010! In fact there are several refugee and migrant detention and removal centres throughout Britain, but none of these provoke the same outrage as does one single such centre in Israel.

Let’s also examine other refugee centers around the world and how the Guardian reports on them.  The Guardian itself published an article this month on “Asylum seekers around the world – where did they come from and where are they going?”. Interestingly, Israel is not mentioned in the entire article. Obviously it is not such a huge refugee detaining center as one would imagine from Greenwood’s article.

A search of the “refugees” tag in the Guardian reveals that there is very little negative reporting of any refugee detainment center anywhere in the world besides Israel.

I eagerly await an outraged and emotional articles from the Guardian on the United States Immigrant Detention Centers, the various European immigrant detention centers in Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Ukraine (besides the UK), not to mention Australia.

The implication in Phoebe Greenwood’s article that Israel’s detention centre is somehow inhumane and racist portrays once again the bias that is inherent in Guardian reporting on Israel.  When one considers the fact that there is hardly a country without an illegal immigrant detention centre, plus the numbers of migrants relative to population size and the regional and geopolitical facts on the ground in Israel, one can only but shake one’s head in dismay once again at the Guardian’s obsessive focus on Israel.

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9 Responses to Guardian’s focus on Israeli refugee centre ignores both context and other centres worldwide

  1. Thorough analysis of the article. Keep it up.

  2. reality says:

    has anyone mentioned that they are also fleeing from Egypt? why do they need to flee Egypt? Because there they are killed or tortured & then killed, so Israel is worse? so stay in Egypt we don’t need you here! & if England is SO worried about the refugees why haven’t they stepped up to the plate & offered them refuge , housing ,jobs & social security? Why is it our problem? Where are all the democratic arab states-oh I forgot its too dangerous for them to go there as they aren’t wanted there eithe. Let all these humanitarian critics of Israel put their money where their mouth is & start solving the sudan& darfur refugee problem-perhaps unrwa could help(fat chance!!)

    • anneinpt says:

      Shh. You mustn’t mention all these facts. They might confuse the do-gooders.

    • R. Thompson, aka Aridog says:

      A puzzling fact about Phoebe Greenwood is that almost no photos of her exist in the public domain, save a blurry one from her own website, nor does she appear in Wikipedia. Routine browsing of search engines reveals no direct citations for her either, but many flower shops and cites to other “phoebes.” I acknowledge I did not red all of the pages of each browse or search, but she’s absent in the first 2 or 3 universally.

      For such a mouthy writer and pundit she certainly seems rather preoccupied with her private identity.

      It’s odd … that’s all.

      • anneinpt says:

        Interestingly she is the Israel correspondent for the Daily Telegraph too. Interesting because the Telegraph is known as the Torygraph, i.e . a “right-wing” (relatively) newspaper as opposed to the extreme-left Guardian. How does she manage that? I’ll partially answer that for you by saying that the Telegraph’s Israel reporting has gone dramatically downhill with the advent of Greenwood. Same biases, same dishonesty.

        • R. Thompson, aka Aridog says:

          No evidence, but I think “Phoebe” is a nom de plume, perhaps for one or more pundits who wish to be controversial without the accountability. Very hard for me to imagine a real person could avoid almost all search engine/browser coverage. Good Lawd, even non-descript sportswriters are covered.

          Same general topic: We in the USA have our own lunatics within the government of Chairman Obama, a new “agency” has been created with a mouthy political advisor and pundit named Samantha Power (of the US should invade Israel to force a 2 state solution fame), an immigrant liberal, who is the wife of Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs….think about that “title” and its implications for an unelected official. I’ve agreed with some of Sinstein’s opinions, but hardly all of them …. I’ve never agreed with any of Power’s positions, they are spurious, superficial, ignorant, and dangerous for us and others (all y’all).

          Of course, both Power and her husband are Yale and/or Harvard alumni … which is apparently our source for all political figures here these days. Power has been on the faculty of Harvard, and both are close advisors of President Obama, with Power calling Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 campaign. She made an apology of sorts, not here, but in London. Obama ostensibly accepted her resignation from his staff … for about 4 months, before re-hiring her, and keeping her along for the ride now on the taxpayer dime. Samantha Power is one of those indispensable advisors that makes me think Obama is really a vacant Manchurian Candidate at times … without his mentor props, there is no there there.

          Sorry to burn up so much space, but I just wanted all y’all to know how the US government has your back these days.

    • R. Thompson, aka Aridog says:

      Post Script: my curiosity about just who Mz Greenwood really is was peaked by her poignant “Mubarak” story, related without a shred of documentation or relevant detail. Does “Mubarak” really exist, I wondered, so I decided to see if “Phoebe” really existed, fully expecting for the usual boiler plate. Whoops. Nothing.

      I think disinformation has reached its multi-layered zenith perhaps when everything, virtually everything, in mainstream renditions just may be made up. Even the pundits themselves may be made up. It’s starting to feel like Lewis Carroll’s “Alice through the looking glass” to this old timer … the “Jabberwocks” are everywhere.

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