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The Dangerous Lies of Guardian Columnist Owen Jones About Israel-Hamas War

The bodies of people, some of them elderly, lie on a street after they were killed during a mass-infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 7, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

The harrowing 47-minute film titled Bearing Witness features footage of the October 7 massacre that was taken from body cameras worn by Hamas terrorists, CCTV from street and home security systems, car dash cameras, and even the mobile phones of victims.

Described as “disturbing,” “traumatizing,” and “evidence of genocide,” the film shows the uncensored horror of the October 7 massacre in southern Israel by Hamas: men and women being shot, stabbed, and blown up; bodies of dead babies still lying in their cribs where they were executed; naked and brutalized corpses of women after they were gang-raped; charred remains of humans burnt beyond all recognition.

It’s the stuff of nightmares, and also incontrovertible proof of the unspeakable savagery perpetrated by Hamas on innocent and unarmed civilians.

But for British left-wing activist and Guardian columnist Owen Jones, the 47 minutes apparently wasn’t enough proof.

Shortly after attending a press screening of the film in the UK, Jones uploaded a 25-minute video of himself discussing the film called, “I Watched The Hamas Massacre Film. Here Are My Thoughts” to his personal YouTube channel.

As stomach-churning as it is self-indulgent, the video shows Jones repeatedly attempting to cast doubt on certain aspects of the massacre, including the rape of women by Hamas terrorists and whether children were intentionally killed during the slaughter.

Guardian journalist Owen Jones has been criticised for questioning Hamas’ war crimes.

Watch Plank Of The Week – tonight at 7pm on TalkTV.@iromg | @BareReality | @russellquirk | @OwenJones84

— TalkTV (@TalkTV) December 1, 2023

While Jones has been censured over his abhorrent remarks — some of which he has since claimed were taken out of context — the fact remains that The Guardian’s most high-profile columnist has been a big driver of misinformation and disinformation throughout the Israel-Hamas war.

Just last week, for example, Jones appeared on ITV’s popular show Good Morning Britain to talk about the temporary ceasefire and hostage release negotiations.

At one point during the discussion, Jones falsely claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had visited northern Gaza on November 29 and placed a rock that marked the first step toward the rebuilding of Israeli settlements inside the Strip.

The truth was that Netanyahu had been in southern Israel that day visiting communities that were devastated on October 7, and the rock that he laid down was, in fact, the foundation stone for a new community inside Israel to be named “Ofir,” after Ofir Libstein, the head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, who was killed while defending his community against Hamas terrorists.

More lies from @OwenJones84 who falsely claimed on @ITV‘s @GMB that Israeli PM Netanyahu was in northern Gaza “laying a rock” for a new settlement & talking about rebuilding Gaza settlements.

Actually, Netanyahu was in the south of Israel, not northern Gaza, laying the…

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) December 3, 2023

After HonestReporting called out Jones’s blatant lies on social media, he issued an apology in which he claimed his mistake was the result of a mistranslated tweet, while still doubling down on the pernicious and untrue charge that Israel is seeking to ethically cleanse the Gaza Strip.

Just want to correct an error I made on @GMB on Thursday.

On my way to the studios, I read this tweet which was widely circulated and understood as Benjamin Netanyahu committing to building new settlements on the Gaza Strip.

In fact it was a Google Translate error which…

— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) December 3, 2023

Although Jones acknowledged the “life or death” consequences of spreading false information during a war, such words appear hollow considering the sheer number of times Jones has been guilty of doing so.

When the IDF uncovered evidence of a Hamas command center located within the Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, the army found security camera footage that showed Israeli hostages had been taken there after being abducted from Israel on October 7.

Posting clips showing terrorists armed with guns and knives dragging a person inside, Jones ludicrously claimed the footage offered proof that “injured hostages were taken there for medical treatment” by their captors.

Jones has hundreds of thousands of followers and subscribers across his social media platforms.

When he tells a lie, it is disseminated far and wide with untold repercussions.

Good Morning Britain regularly tops one million viewers, which means up to a million people heard Owen Jones assert, with absolutely no push-back from the hosts, that Israel was building Jewish settlements inside the Gaza Strip.

How many of those people heard about his perfunctory apology and retraction issued three days later? Probably nowhere close to the one million people who heard the lie.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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Texas University Plans to Close Qatar Campus Amid Scrutiny of Hamas Ties

A Qatar 2022 logo is seen in front of the skyline of the West Bay in Doha. Photo: REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo

On Thursday, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents voted 7-1 to end its contract with the Qatar Foundation, which will result in the college’s Qatar campus shutting down over the next four years.

Texas A&M said it decided to reassess its relationship with Qatar after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, in which the terrorist group murdered 1,200 Israelis and took more than 240 more hostage. It cites regional instability as one of the reasons for its decision. The Qatari government also has extensive ties with Hamas’ political and military leadership.

The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is funded by the Qatari government and is the institution that funds Texas A&M’s Qatar campus.

The Chair of the university’s Board of Regents said it “has decided that the core mission of Texas A&M should be advanced primarily within Texas and the United States.” He continued, explaining that “By the middle of the 21st century, the university will not necessarily need a campus infrastructure 8,000 miles away to support education and research collaborations.”

The decision also comes amid heightened scrutiny of Qatar’s role in American higher education — as it spent almost $5 billion on American universities between 2001 and 2021 — as well as its role in funding terrorist groups such as Hamas. 

In an article for The Free Press in October, Eli Lake outlined what he saw as the significant influence Qatar is having on American higher education. He lists the universities that have gotten significant donations from Qatar, such as Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, and Northwestern. He also notes that Qatar’s influence goes beyond money, affecting policies and programs within specific academic departments as well. For example, the Qatar campus of Northwestern, which is home to the U.S.’s best journalism program, had an agreement with the terrorist-sympathetic Al-Jazeera that it would help train its students.

The significant attention paid to these relationships is likely driven by the steep increase in anti-Israel and pro-terrorist sentiment in the U.S., particularly on college campuses. 

A 2023 report from the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy also concluded that concealed donations from foreign governments to U.S. educational institutions are associated with an increase in antisemitic incidents on campus and the erosion of liberal norms. 

However, the Qatar Foundation believes the decision was made for political reasons. In a statement, it wrote: “It is deeply disappointing that a globally respected academic institution like Texas A&M University has fallen victim to such a campaign and allowed politics to infiltrate its decision-making processes. At no point did the Board attempt to seek out the truth from Qatar Foundation before making this misguided decision.”

There have been no indications thus far that other universities that receive a significant amount of Qatari funding, or operate campuses in Qatar, are reconsidering their relationship.

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Antisemitic Vandals Strike Hillel Building at University of Leeds in UK

Antisemitic message graffitied on Hillel House of University of Leeds. Photo: Union of Jewish Students/X

The Hillel House of University of Leeds was vandalized on Thursday night, raising further concerns about a hateful campus climate and rising antisemitism across the United Kingdom, particularly since Hamas’ October 7 attacks.

The vandals, according to pictures shared online, graffitied “FREE PALESTINE” on the building and additional scribble on two window panes.

“We are heartbroken and angry that after an uplifting and inspiring Challah Bake, our JSoc Hillel House was defaced with antisemitic graffiti,” Leeds JSoc, which uses the building for club meetings, said in a statement also signed by the Union of Jewish Students, an advocacy group. “It is shocking and outrageous that those who hate us would stoop to this level.”

The groups noted that a University of Leeds professor may be responsible for leading anti-Zionist to the building, alleging that he shared its address “for the sole purpose of intimidating Jewish students on campus.”

“We are working with CST and the police to ensure that those who committed this crime get the consequences they deserve,” the group added.

Anti-Zionists extremists struck elsewhere on Thursday, storming University of Birmingham with socialists and other far-left groups while holding signs that said, “Zionists off our campus” and “75 years of illegal occupation!” Many concealed their faces, covering them with keffiyeh.

“Jewish students are feeling less and less safe at university because of these vile antisemitic acts,” National Jewish Assembly (NJA), a Jewish civil rights nonprofit, said in a statement about the incidents. “It’s time we say enough. Jewish students deserve and must feel safe on campus.”

Thursday’s incidents followed a set-back for the academic Jewish community. Earlier this week, it was announced that a UK government agency which arbitrates disputes over employment law ruled that University of Bristol lacked standing to fire sociologist David Miller, an extreme anti-Zionist who was accused of harassing Jewish students and promoting antisemitic tropes, and said his “anti-Zionist beliefs qualified as a philosophical belief and as a protected characteristic.”

Pervasive antisemitism and anti-Zionism at UK universities is forcing members of the Jewish academic community to conceal their identities on campus, according to a June 2023 report issued by the Parliamentary Task Force on Antisemitism in Higher Education, a committee of lawmakers and established by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022 in response to complaints of anti-Jewish racism and discrimination.

“We were told it was commonplace for Jewish students to choose not to wear certain clothing or jewelry around campus because it would make them visibly identifiable as Jewish,” the Task Force wrote in the report, titled Understanding Jewish Experience in Higher Education, noting that academic staff “also raised important comparable concerns about negativity surrounding their Jewish identity.”

The Task Force recommended that all universities adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which, it said, has not, contrary to the claims of its many opponents, diminished free speech and academic freedom.

Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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US House Committee Threatens Harvard University With Subpoena for Antisemitism Documents

Illustrative Harvard University students displaying a pro-Palestinian sign at their May 2022 graduation ceremony. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Harvard University on Wednesday was given a “final warning” to fully cooperate with the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s investigation of antisemitism on its campus.

In January, Chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) gave the school, which spent the fall semester under fire for allegedly ignoring rampant antisemitic harassment and intimidation, two weeks to deliver documents relevant to the committee’s investigation. Harvard never did, and now Rep. Foxx is threatening to subpoena the material she requested.

“The committee has sought to obtain information regarding Harvard’s response to the numerous incidents of antisemitism on its campus and steps taken to protect Jewish students, faculty and staff,” Foxx wrote in a letter to Harvard University interim president Alan Garber and Harvard Corporation senior fellow Penny Pritzker.

“Harvard’s responses have been grossly insufficient,” she continued. “If Harvard continues to fail to comply with the committee’s requests in a timely manner, the committee will proceed with compulsory process.”

Foxx has requested a trove of documents, including “all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents” and “related communications” going back to 2021 that were sent to Harvard’s offices of the president, general counsel, dean of students, police department, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, among others. She also requested documentation on Harvard Kennedy School professor Marshall Ganz, who, the school determined during an investigation, “denigrated” several students for being “Israeli Jews.” Originally, Foxx gave Harvard a deadline of Jan. 23 by which to comply.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is also investigating other top universities, including the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to determine whether administrators at those schools ignored antisemitic discrimination. The probes were announced after the committee grilled the presidents of Harvard, Penn, and MIT about their plans to respond to rising anti-Jewish hate in their communities. During the hearing, Gay of Harvard and Elizabeth Magill of Penn — both of whom have since resigned from their positions — as well as Sally Kornbluth of MIT largely evaded lawmakers’ questions, infamously equivocating on whether calling for the genocide of Jews contravenes school rules.

For Harvard, America’s oldest institution of higher education and arguably its most prestigious, the presence of radical anti-Zionists on  campus has been a persistent issue. At the start of this academic year, a student and anti-Israel activist interrupted a convocation ceremony held by the school, shouting at Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana, “Here’s the real truth — Harvard supports, upholds, and invests in Israeli apartheid, and the oppression of Palestinians!”

However, the broader public largely did not take notice until Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in Israel. As scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite that the Israeli military withdrew from the territory in 2005.

For her part, Gay waited several days to condemn the Hamas atrocities, and when she did, her statement said nothing about antisemitism. When she resigned at the beginning of the new year, she accused her critics of racism.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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