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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Miftah apologizes for blood libel - but only in English!

Miftah, the somewhat obscure Palestinian Arab NGO founded by media darling Hanan Ashrawi, issued a belated apology for publishing an article that declared that Jews drink Christian blood on Passover.

From JTA/Times of Israel:
A Palestinian nonprofit organization has removed an article from its website that accused Jews of using “the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.”

The Miftah organization, founded by Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi and funded by European and Western governments, reportedly apologized for publishing the article, after first refusing to apologize and condemning the Jewish bloggers [sic] who publicized the article.

The apology was first reported by Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon.

The apology expressed the organization’s “sincerest regret.”

“It has become clear to us after investigating this incident that the article was accidentally and incorrectly published by a junior staff member. The said staffer has been reprimanded and all our staff has been informed as to the disgusting and repulsive phenomena of blood libel or accusation, including its use against Jews. Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, as founder, has nothing to do with the day to day management at Miftah and was no way involved in this incident,” the apology issued Monday said.

The original article in Arabic by Nawaf Al Zaru was first exposed by the Elder of Ziyon blog. It criticized President Obama for his tribute to Passover, by holding a seder in the White House.

“Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between ‘Passover’ and ‘Christian blood’..?! Or ‘Passover’ and ‘Jewish blood rituals?!’” read the article posted March 27. “Much of the chatter and gossip about historical Jewish blood rituals in Europe are real and not fake as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.”

Miftah on March 30 defended the publishing of the article in a statement on its website, calling it a “smear campaign.”
While the belated apology is welcome, it is obviously not sincere.

The apology says "We are whole-heartedly committed to fighting racism, hatemongering, discrimination and persecution of any kind wherever it should exist, and especially in our own society."

Yet the original offensive article was written and published in Arabic. Two days later Miftah's Arabic website shows no indication of regret, apology or condemnation of the classic blood libel against Jews that it published. Readers of the Arabic website have only been exposed to the original blood libel article and to Miftah's justification for it but they have not been informed by NGO that claims to "fight hatemongering" that there was anything wrong about the original article.

(In fact, their attack against me and original justification for the blood libel article as part of "its mandate for open dialogue" remains on its website as well. Was that also written by a "junior staff member"?)

As we saw back in the days of Yasir Arafat, saying one thing in English and another in Arabic is a classic way to appease the West while keeping the status quo to the intended audience.

Indeed, Miftah has previously happily published the modern equivalents of the blood libel, parroting false claims that Israeli Jews targeted and stole organs from Palestinian Arabs, Ukrainians and Haitians. And Miftah itself ridiculed the idea that such accusations are in any way anti-semitic.

In other words, this apology rings hollow. But it was necessary, not because Miftah cares about doing the right thing, but because it was clearly under pressure from its donors to do something so as not to embarrass them. In fact, even UNESCO denounced the blood libel published in Miftah:
The U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has partnered with Miftah on various projects, rebuked the group Tuesday.

“UNESCO condemns all forms of hate literature, including anti-Semitic articles such as the one Miftah published and later apologized for,” UNESCO spokesman Roni Ameland told the Free Beacon over email.

“UNESCO does not fund Miftah nor does it have any formal relations with it,” Ameland said. “UNESCO did support several gender-focused workshops and activities organized by Miftah in the past but its collaboration with the organization ended in 2011.”

UNESCO did not fund Miftah directly, Ameland said. “It just paid for specific contracts concerning specific projects.”
Miftah's about-face was not a result of an epiphany where it realized how offensive the article was. It was simply a belated attempt at firefighting.

That may be enough for its donors, anxious to fund seemingly liberal Palestinian Arab NGOs and unwilling to have the controversy reflect on them. And in one sense the insincere apology is still a victory because Miftah will be more careful about publishing anti-semitism in the future.

But don't be fooled into thinking that Miftah is sorry. If it was, it would apologize and educate the audience that the original article was addressed to - the Arabic speakers who still believe, based purely on what they have read in Miftah, that the medieval blood libel is true.