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MEMO Comment: We should feel sorry for Yiftah Curiel; he has an impossible job

Yiftah Curiel recently penned an article where he named Middle East Monitor as one of “two UK websites” upon which “Hamas relies”
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We should feel sorry for Yiftah Curiel. He is a spokesperson at the Israeli Embassy in London and has the unenviable task of trying to justify the repulsive policies and practices of his government. It’s an impossible job.

Over the decades since its creation in Palestine in 1948, successive Israeli governments have embarked on the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population and the colonisation of their land. This has entailed mass murder, forced marches, extrajudicial executions, land grabs, house demolitions and utter contempt for international laws and conventions that the rest of the world work hard to abide by. Mr Curiel’s task is to make all of this palatable to an international audience.

Aided and abetted by a largely compliant Western media, Curiel seems to have given up on trying to whitewash the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel and for which there is abundant evidence. Instead, he’s resorted to that old standby, shoot the messenger.

In his latest foray into the public domain, Curiel has penned an article for what is called “Britain’s Biggest Jewish Newspaper Online”, the Jewish News. Look carefully, though, and you will see that the website on which the article appears belongs to the Times of Israel, so don’t expect any objectivity.

Instead he turns his limited attention to MEMO and Middle East Eye as “two UK websites” upon which “Hamas relies”. Along the way he takes a pop at MEMO’s senior editor Ibrahim Hewitt, who he describes inaccurately as the “director” of the “British Muslim charity” Interpal. If you are reading this, Mr Curiel, you should know that Hewitt is the chair of trustees of Interpal, not its director, and nowhere in the charity’s trust deed are the words Muslim, Islam or religion mentioned.

Such inaccuracies may be relatively minor, but they reflect the slap-happy approach to the truth that the embassy spokesperson demonstrates. According to Curiel, MEMO’s Dr Daud Abdullah is “a senior researcher at the London-based Palestinian Return Centre”; in fact, he gave up that post almost a decade ago, but what’s a few years to a hasbara specialist? And Ramzy Baroud parted company with Middle East Eye months ago. Anyone for accuracy?

The embassy spokesperson might also care to consider the facts about the “Gaza festival” that he mentions. If he had done any research at all, he would know that Interpal issued a public statement when the Mail Online – one of his country’s cheerleaders – tried to smear the charity over this issue. That statement is worth quoting at length:

In Gaza, the Festival of Childhood and Education has been held annually for more than a decade. Major charities and institutions are among its other sponsors. It was under this umbrella that Interpal’s Gaza Field Office held its own activities in Gaza City for children and teachers. These activities included outdoor sports, a picnic, providing gifts and also celebrating the great work of dedicated teachers who have gone that extra mile for their pupils.

With regards to the video featured in the Mail Online article – with which Interpal had no connection whatsoever – we wish to reiterate that what took place on the stage is unacceptable…

The Charity Commission has told Interpal that it accepts that the play in question was “not authorised” by the organisers of the festival, and that Interpal’s funding of activities during the festival was ring-fenced for projects run by the charity’s own staff specifically for children already sponsored by British donors. There was no funding from Interpal for the offensive play.

Curiel really should try to engage with the facts next time and, while he’s at it, perhaps he could let his readers know that while it is accurate to say that Interpal is on the US list of “specially-designated global terrorist entities” that was done solely at the Israeli government’s request. Oh, and neither the Israelis nor the Americans have ever provided a shred of evidence for the designation, despite being requested by the British Charity Commission. Indeed, Wikileaks documents show explicitly that US officials asked their British counterparts to simply close the charity down, “absent a smoking gun”, from which we can deduce that there is no evidence.

As a spokesperson, we have to assume that Mr Curiel has some knowledge of how the media and new media actually operate. As such, he must know that once an article is in the public domain, anyone can share it on Twitter. Nevertheless, he takes some delight in denouncing MEMO and Middle East Eye for having their articles tweeted by “radical jihadi terror group” Hamas, which is a bit rich coming from someone working as a full-time apologist for Israel’s brutal military occupation of Palestine and deliberate targeting of civilians in the Gaza Strip during frequent military offensives. His country has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians over the years using the latest technology against a largely defenceless civilian population. Someone in his position should be very careful about trying to divert attention from Israel’s terrorists and the terrorism upon which the state was founded (I wonder if the names Irgun and Stern Gang mean anything to him?) by using the label to describe legitimate resistance to his country’s illegal and immoral occupation.

So feel some pity for Yiftah Curiel, the man with the most hateful job in London. He has to justify the unjustifiable and does so by demonising anyone and everyone who seeks to promote a more accurate narrative of what is happening in Palestine-Israel. That’s what Israeli hasbara – propaganda – is all about; the truth is incidental as lies and half-truths are peddled to the general public and politicians.

To paraphrase Curiel, “the next time you read an article on ‘Jewish News’ written by a spokesperson for the Embassy of Israel in London, don’t forget that you’re reading an article edited by someone whose employers don’t think twice about killing Palestinian men, women and, especially, children..” Then bin it for the bigoted, inaccurate smear that it undoubtedly will be.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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