“140,000 people” sign Guardian complaint letter over anti-Hamas advert

The Stop the War Coalition has said that 140,000 people have signed a letter of complaint to The Guardian newspaper over an advert it carried today accusing Palestinian resistance fighters of “sacrificing children.”

The advert is a statement, written jointly by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel prize-winning author who is associated with the fanatical Israeli settler movement, and Shmuley Boteach, an outspoken American-born Orthodox rabbi. It calls on President Obama and other political leaders across the world “to condemn Hamas’s use of children as human shields”, which amounts to “child sacrifice”.

The complaint letter to The Guardian was signed by John Rees and Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition, Sarah Colborne of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Kate Hudson of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, David Hearst of Middle East Eye, writer and broadcaster Tariq Ali, and Barnaby Raine of the Jewish Bloc on demonstrations for Gaza.

It states:

“We write to condemn the Guardian’s decision to print a wildly inaccurate and inflammatory advert from supporters of the state of Israel branding Palestinians opposing Israel in Gaza as ‘child killers’.

“This is especially sickening when Israel’s latest bombardment of Gaza has killed close to 400 Palestinian children. Amnesty International has condemned the deliberate targeting of schools and hospitals by Israel as a war crime.

“Among the advert’s very many inaccuracies is the claim that those forces opposing Israel do not have the support of Palestinians when the current Israeli offensive is against a united Hamas-Fatah government which commands the support of the majority of Palestinians.

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“Sadly the decision to print this advert, rejected by The Times newspaper, is another sign of the increasingly pro-Israeli bias of the Guardian’s editorial policy, including the gross underestimate of the size of last Saturday’s Gaza protest demonstration.

“You are repeatedly running the slur that those who campaign in support of Palestine are anti-Semitic when the very many Jews in the movement and the movement as a whole have repeatedly made it absolutely clear that this is not the case.

We call on the editor to redress the balance in future coverage.”

Controversial advert

Today’s Guardian advert states: “In my own lifetime, I have seen Jewish children thrown into the fire. And now I have seen Muslim children used as human shields, in both cases, by worshippers of death cults… What we are suffering through today is not a battle of Jew versus Arab or Israeli versus Palestinian. Rather, it is a battle between those who celebrate life and those who champion death. It is a battle of civilization versus barbarism…

“Is any of this discernible in the dark future offered by Hamas to Arab children, to be suicide bombers or human shields for rockets? Palestinian parents want a hopeful future for their children, just like Israeli parents do. And both should be joining together in peace.

The controversial advert
The controversial advert

“But before sleepless mothers in both Gaza City and Tel Aviv can rest, before diplomats can begin in earnest the crucial business of rebuilding dialogue… the Hamas death cult must be confronted for what it is. Moderate men and women of faith, whether that faith is in God or man, must shift their criticism from the Israeli soldiers – whose terrible choice is to fire and risk harming human shields, or hold their fire and risk the death of their loved ones – to the terrorists who have taken away all choice from the Palestinian children of Gaza.

“I call upon the Palestinian people to find true Muslims to represent them, Muslims who would never voluntarily place a child in danger. I call upon President Obama and the leaders of the world to condemn Hamas’ use of children as human shields. And I enjoin the American public to stand firmly with the people of Israel who are in yet another struggle for survival, and with the suffering people of Gaza who reject terror and embrace peace.”

Meanwhile, the publisher of the Guardian has defended its decision to run the newspaper advertisement.

A spokesperson for Guardian News & Media, which owns the Guardian, said: “The decision to run any display advertisement in the Guardian is made on a case-by-case basis and there was a full discussion about accepting the advert in question.

“However, the acceptance of advertising from any organisation does not equate to support or endorsement for the views expressed in that advert. The Guardian is fully committed to reporting from the Middle East and our coverage will continue to be independent and robust.”

The Guardian says it had received 140 complaints about the ad at the time of publication.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Monday it had received seven complaints about the advert, understood to relate to issues of accuracy, harm and offence. An ASA spokesman said it was considering the complaints but no investigation has been launched.

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