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Middle East Monitor plumbs new depths

This is a guest post by John Bevan.

Regular HP readers will need little reminder of the toxic nature of the Middle East Monitor site (“MEMO”), whose strapline is “Creating New Perspectives” and which claims to provide “carefully reasoned commentaries rooted in factual evidence”. In 2011, MEMO came to the defence of Palestinian hate preacher Raed Salah. More recently, it has helped to fund the conspiracy theorist David Miller. The Community Security Trust has more than once accused MEMO of promoting antisemitic canards (here and here; the original offending posts have been removed from MEMO’s site). Petra Marquardt Bigman has noted MEMO’s “open sympathies for Hamas.” MEMO’s director is Daud Abdullah; its senior editor is Ibrahim Hewitt; its researchers and writers include Ben White and Yvonne Ridley; its “honorary advisers” include Tariq Ramadan, Jenny Tonge and Lord Nazir Ahmed. In recent months, MEMO has given a platform to Asa Winstanley, to claim - in the face of all the evidence – that the Labour Party’s antisemitism crisis was “fabricated”; and to Ben White, to whitewash and justify the violent intimidation of Jewish students. You get the idea.

Even by MEMO’s standards, however, a recent, anonymous post on the scandal of missing Yemenite babies in Israel has plumbed new depths. The entire post (which also appears on the Palestine Chronicle website) is reproduced below (emphasis added):

400,000 Yemeni babies missing in Israel

Israel last week made public a database of 400,000 Jewish Yemeni children that have disappeared since the 1950s, the Times of Israel reported.

When mass migration from different parts of the world into Israel began in the 1950s, there were many cases of babies being kidnapped from hospitals and refugee camps. This was especially common amongst Yemeni Jews. Babies were usually put up for adoption either inside Israel or abroad.

The Israeli authorities usually refused to investigate further and dismissed the cases. It was very common that the Israeli authorities would claim the kidnapped babies died in the hospital and close the case.

Bodies were not shown to the parents and locations of burials were not given. Many suspected that this was part of a conspiracy to ensure the Ashkenazi branch of Judaism, which is mostly followed by Jews of a European heritage, remains the most dominant in Israel.

“For close to 60 years, people did not know the fate of their children, in a few minutes any person can access the pages containing all the information that the government of Israel has,” Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said.

The article refers to a Times of Israel piece which supposedly claims that 400,000 Yemeni babies have gone missing in Israel since the 1950s. Tellingly, it would seem, MEMO does not link to the Times of Israel piece, which can be accessed here. As the most cursory skim shows, the Times of Israel post says something very different to what MEMO claims it says. Rather than referring to 400,000 missing babies, it refers to 400,000 recently declassified documents concerning the babies of over 1,000 mostly Yemenite Jewish families. If we assume that perhaps 2,000 babies altogether went missing, MEMO’s claim is a mere 398,000 out. There were only about 50,000 refugees from Yemen to Israel in total! That MEMO goes on to refer to Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s”President”, merely confirms that it is not a serious news outlet.

Of course, even one missing baby would have been a scandal; and Israel should have properly investigated the matter decades ago. This does not excuse MEMO’s woeful misreporting. As of the date of blogging (8 January), MEMO’s post has been shared 808 times; it has been posted on MEMO’s Facebook page and tweeted to MEMO’s 55,000+ followers. The “error” has been brought to MEMO’s attention on more than one occasion, yet remains uncorrected. The implications are obvious: far from being an outlet which provides “carefully reasoned commentaries rooted in factual evidence“, MEMO treats facts and evidence with the most outrageous disdain. No serious observer should view MEMO as anything other than a purveyor of the crudest anti-Israel propaganda.

PS in the unlikely event that MEMO now correct or remove the piece, screenshots of the original are available below:

Update: MEMO have now corrected the piece.