July 30, 2009
July 30, 2009
July 30, 2009
July 30, 2009
July 30, 2009
A newspaper catering for Britain’s Afro-Caribbean community was yesterday slated as “dishonest” for running a front page article last week featuring made-up quotes that portrayed Israel as discriminatory and abusive.
The Voice piece, My Hell In An Israeli Prison, gave an account of filmmaker Ishmahil Blagrove’s experience on a Free Gaza boat mission earlier this month with 20 other campaigners.
The group was detained by Israeli authorities, and Blagrove was arrested and held at Ramla Prison for seven days.
The feature goes on to describe a harrowing trial of threats, mistreatment and abuse, which Blagrove insists was fabricated by the paper. The article claimed the Londoner “shared a seven foot by seven foot cell with 14 others” and was “constantly being barked at and threatened with physical abuse”.
The piece also said the 40-year-old told them: “If you disobey, prisoners are stripped naked and put inside a hole with no lights or heating. We were seen as sub-human.”
Speaking to the Jewish News yesterday, the Notting Hill resident stated: “I said nothing of the sort.”
Claiming he was “very, very disturbed” by the misquotations, Blagrove commented: “What concerned me more than anything else was that these things were in quotation marks. It’s dishonest.”
He added: “There’s a bit about prisoners being stripped and threatened, and parts about the smell of urine and faeces and not being given enough food, which I never said.
“We were never once threatened with abuse. In fact we engaged in conversation with the guards and had debates about different issues. We got on reasonably well.”
The article also implied a racist mentality towards arrests in Israel, quoting him as saying “I witnessed 500 Africans scooped from the streets of Tel Aviv thrown into prison”.
Blagrove told the Jewish News: “How would I know this? It would be absolutely ludicrous for me to suggest this.”
The filmmaker pointed out a claim that toys and medicine the Free Gaza group were bringing to the West Bank were destroyed by officials was inaccurate, saying instead that the Israeli army promised to deliver the items after a security check.
He also said the majority of confiscated equipment has been returned to himself and his fellow demonstrators, contrary to what The Voice reported.
Blagrove said his commitment to honest reporting – a standard he said he prides himself on with his own documentary company Rice N Peas – led to his setting the record straight.
“It’s our reputation that’s at stake,” he said. “I want people to be able to make up their own minds based on accurate reporting, which is why I felt compelled to speak out.”
He added: “I want to make clear it’s not about throwing stones at Israel. This is not an attack on Jewish people or Israeli people. The intention is to bring a lasting peace between two states.”
Blagrove immediately contacted the editor of the paper, Steve Pope, to make clear his dissatisfaction with the erroneous reporting. In response, the paper printed a statement from the documentary maker on its letters page, and while he said he was glad to see it run, Blagrove added: “The letter should have been given more prominence. It was buried.”
Speaking to the Jewish News, Pope said The Voice had received a number of phone calls and letters from readers upset with the piece, and will be printing some of these complaints in next week’s issue.
He added: “The situation is very regrettable. I was very concerned that this came about. It was a case of misunderstandings, but mistakes were made.
“What concerns me is some people seem to think The Voice has some anti-Israel agenda, which is ridiculous.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor criticised the story’s inaccuracies, saying: “The Voice should be a responsible, articulate voice for black Britons. Instead, on this occasion it has chosen to be the voice of slander, disinformation and lies.
“There is much to unite black Britons and the Jewish people. This article, however, is less in the spirit of being blood brothers, and more in the spirit of a blood libel.”
Joy Wolfe, co-president of the Zionist Federation, said the story was “so full of blatant misinformation that even a child would be able to spot them”, adding: “Running a story like this without checking the validity and giving it such huge front page headlines demonstrates the very worst in journalistic standards.
“The fact that Ishmahil Blagrove issued no less than 10 major corrections… and complained about being misquoted should make the journalist concerned and the editor Steven Pope hang their heads in shame.”
She added: “Also, it is known that the British Consul had access to those who were in prison and had no issues with the way they were treated, and did not intervene.”
July 30, 2009
All’s quiet on the sisterhood front this week. Too quiet, considering how many horrifying stories about women made the headlines.
There were the alleged honour killings of the three teenaged Shafia girls from Montreal, along with one of their father’s two wives. The father, the mother and the girls’ brother are charged with murder. Then there was the eight-year-old girl in Phoenix whose Liberian refugee family disowned her after she was raped. They claim she had dishonoured the family…
…Naomi Klein is busy tooting her own horn… I did a search for “honour killing” on her site and came up with “Your search yielded no results.”
It’s possible that my good old namesake, Naomi, is unclear on the concept of oppression. Klein, who is Jewish, is calling for boycotts of Israel in support of the Palestinian cause whose leaders have declared they want to kill Jewish people. Maybe if she supported the Palestinian people via protesting their oppression by their terrorist Hamas leaders, she’d have a worthy cause…
It is not Muslim-bashing to acknowledge that a crime has allegedly happened in a Muslim family. It is not Sikh-bashing to say that some of the alleged honour killings in Canada in the past few years happened in Sikh families. Shall we just ignore the United Nations Population Fund’s estimate that 5,000 women a year die in honour killings, to avoid casting aspersions on any culture? Shall we pretend it’s not happening in Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco and Pakistan, to name just a few countries?
It is so politically incorrect to say that someone who belongs to another culture is doing something wrong, that one must remain silent for fear of muddying the ideals of multiculturalism. Ironically, there seems to be no problem with denouncing Christian culture for decorating trees at Christmas time, or displaying crosses on Remembrance Day, but when members of another culture engage in actual evildoing, we’re supposed to pretend it all just falls under the rubric of domestic violence. Since domestic violence occurs in all cultures, honour killings can be conveniently lumped into that category and we can keep pretending it’s not particular to certain cultures…