Can We Hear the Recording Please?

In his zeal to defend Israel, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Cliff May cites a colleague’s contentions that the activists taking part in the “Freedom Flotilla” were obviously Islamic radicals bent on massacring Jews. From his weekly round-up of the very best in Likudnik commentary:

FDD’s Ben Weinthal notes:

According to media reports, activists invoked on their way to Gaza the Islamic battle cry, “Jews, remember Khyabar [sic], the army of Mohammed is returning.” The reference is to a Muslim massacre and expulsion of Jews in seventh-century Arabia.

The reader is then encouraged to “Read more” with a link that goes to a May 30 Jerusalem Post article which quotes Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and the Foreign Ministry as the basis for this assertion:

“Also Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon criticized the effort, saying anti-Semitic chants voiced by the activists on board earlier in the day showed the ‘real motivation’ for the campaign, which he termed an ‘armada of hate.’

According to a Foreign Ministry press release, participants on the flotilla were recorded shouting ‘Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad saya’ud,’ which means ‘Jews, remember Khyabar [sic], the army of Mohammed is returning.’ This cry relates to an event in the seventh century when Muslims massacred and expelled Jews from the town of Khaybar, in modern-day Saudi Arabia.

‘Israel condemns the anti-Semitic chants that were publicized this morning,’ Ayalon said. ‘This amply demonstrates that many are not against a particular policy of the Israeli government, but have very real and dangerous hatred for Jews and the Jewish State.'”

So, from FDD, we get “media reports” that are based entirely on assertions by a government ministry without the slightest effort to confirm those assertions from any independent source. This, of course, begs many questions, such as of the source of the recording, how it was obtained by the Foreign Ministry, and how many of the flotilla’s participants allegedly took part in the chants, if indeed that’s what took place.

As a former reporter for the New York Times, May should be a bit more conscientious about what he and his colleagues assert as fact. Especially when Khaybar is spelled “Khyabar,” twice.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. claim to have a recording of this from Al Jazeera but there is no sign of Al Jazeera’s logo anywhere on the clip so how genuine it is, I don’t know. And Palwatch (Palestinian Media Watch) appears to be “an Israeli NGO” with fairly strong anti-Palestinian ideals.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Itamar Marcus Israeli political activist; founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch.”

    “Marcus lives in the West Bank settlement of Efrat.”

    “In February 2007 together with Sen. Hillary Clinton he released a report on the newest PA schoolbooks at a press conference in Washington.”

    Lawrence of Cyberia posted the following refutation of Itamar Marcus’s report:

    So Itamar Marcus appears to have a history of being “economical with the truth”!.

  2. Even if we assume for a moment that the claim is correct, and the chanting did indeed take place (and I’m not saying there’s any evidence that it did), how does that justify murder?

  3. I just watched the “Al-Jazeera” tape several times. Although the provenance is suspicious, I tend to think the tape is authentic and not a provocation or fake. I have no Turkish or Arabic, but I assume we’ll know soon if the chant has been “misreported.” In any case, I don’t see how the emotionalism of some of those sailing in the convoy justifies a commando operation leading to the killing of nine people. Should the United States bomb Tehran every time we see people in the streets shouting “Death to America”? (Yes! would no doubt be the answer of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Wall Street Journal editorial board.)

  4. It’s obvious by who’s dead and the fact that the IDF ‘dropped in on” the Turkish ship that Israel wanted to send the Turks a message.
    Well Turkey got it and they sent one back…and I would not be surprised if Turkey didn’t send them a great big message sometime in the near future.
    Countries who want a lesson on how to handle dickless bullies should look to Turkey.

    I am waiting for Israel for to kill some gentiles like the Irish on board the Rachel Corrie.
    Our government lets Israel kill Americans without batting an eyelash but Ireland knows a thing or two about occupation and has had some bang up freedom fight terriers of their very own…I doubt Ireland would cheer on Israel slaughtering some Irish the way our congress ignores the killing of Americans.

  5. Germany occupied a fair part of Europe during WWII and many people in the occupied territories took up arms or sabotaged the German army. This went on for the better part of 5 years. The world today calls these resistance fighters “heroes”.

    Contrasting this with the Palestinians who have endured brutal Israeli occupation, house demolishions and a multitude of denigrating individual maltreatments by the IDF soldiers, is it any wonder that Israel is disliked and hated by many arond the world. Israel behaves just as cruelly as they accuse the Germans of having acted during WWII, with the exception that as yet they have not resorted to gas chambers. But they are slowly starving the Palestinian people and driving them out of their homes and land. That in my eyes is “ethnic cleansing’ just as much as arresting Jews all over Europe in the ’40s.

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