The New Haven Register provides the following information about Jones: "Jimmy E. Jones is president of Masjid Al-Islam and associate professor of world religions at Manhattanville College, where he is founding coordinator of the Center for Middle East Understanding. Write to him at 624 George St., New Haven 06511. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org."
Jones has written a number of articles for The New Haven Register in which he touches on the Arab-Israeli conflict. They have been universally heavily biased against Israel and have generally contained significant factual inaccuracies.
After Saturday's article, I sent some comments to the PRIMER mailing list and also sent a letter to the editor in response. I sent a copy to Jones, which prompted a reply from him, leading to an exchange that lasted several days until it was beyond pointless to continue.
After a few more comments, we include here the comments sent to the PRIMER mailing list (which give some idea of the content of Jones' article), the letter sent to The New Haven Register, and the texts of the exchanges, edited to remove repetition and thus improve clarity. In some cases, the reply was interspersed with the text of the email to which it was in reply; in those cases, the portions from the latter are in italics. (As is typical in email exchanges, most of the emails contained the texts of all the previous emails, making things rather confusing.)
1. As is typical of anti-Israel activists, Jones repeatedly falsely accuses Israel and its supporters of sins of which its enemies are guilty.
2. As is also typical of critics, Jones repeatedly refuses to offer any alternatives - even unreasonable alternatives - to the Israeli policies and actions he unfairly attacks.
3. As is also typical of Israel-haters, Jones includes obvious factual errors in addition to more understandable misrepresentations and distortions in his letter.
Comments Sent to the PRIMER Email List
Jones falsely refers to Operation Cast Lead as a "slaughter of innocents." As is typical of critics of Israel, he gets things backwards, falsely accusing Israel of the crimes of its enemies.
Israel's purely defensive action was undertaken to end the attempted slaughter of innocents by Hamas and its allied terror groups controlling Gaza.
CAMERA has an excellent "Timeline and Causes of “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza" which may be viewed at http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=52&x_article=1581.
Among the illuminating facts in that report, totally ignored by Jones, is that during 2008, no fewer than 1,571 rockets from Gaza struck Israel. Despite that onslaught, Operation Cast Lead was not launched until the very end of the year, on December 27.
Note that 1,571 rockets in one year amount to an average of more than four per day - in a year which included a six month "calm!!!"
Those rockets have no guidance system, being purely terrorist weapons aimed at murdering innocent civilians. Imagine the outcry if even a single rocket hit an American city from a nearby, hostile entity!
CAMERA also has a useful report "Myths and Facts about the Fighting in Gaza" which may be viewed at
Jones also praises and misuses the infamous "Goldstone Report." CAMERA also has a devastating critique of that, "The Goldstone Report: A Study in Duplicity," available at http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=52&x_article=1736. (Many other organizations have also intelligently analyzed the Goldstone Report.)
Jones falsely refers to "more than 1,000 innocent lives lost." As almost always happens, the figures given by Hamas and other Arab groups have proven to be wildly inflated while the figures given by Israel have proven to be accurate.
Hamas itself admitted as much, although the news went largely unreported in American newspapers. Check "Hamas's Revelation Undermines Key Conclusion of Goldstone Report" at http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=52&x_article=1952, which begins with the information "Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad's admission that Hamas and affiliated militias lost 600-700 fighters in the Israeli 'Cast Lead' military operation undermines the central accusation of the Goldstone Report that the Israeli operation was 'premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed ... [at] the civilian population.'"
Indeed, Israel Ambassador to the United States has observed that the proportion of civilian casualties Gaza during Operation Cast Lead was incredibly low, far lower than in virtually any other instance of urban warfare, where generally the vast majority of casualties are civilian. This despite the deliberate use of civilians as shields by Hamas.
Jones' perverted perspective may be symbolized by his recommendation of a book, "Popular Resistance in Palestine," by Mazin Qumsiyeh. Qumsiyeh is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. He is fanatical about the fictitious "right of return" of descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees to the land of Israel in which they never lived. If even a small proportion of Palestinian Arabs share the extreme views he spews out on his website http://www.qumsiyeh.com and his book "Sharing the Land of Canaan" (which may be read on his website), any reasonable peace in the foreseeable future is a pipedream.
(The references to CAMERA's studies are for convenience; similar information is available from numerous other sources. The reference to Qumsiyeh's website is to encourage readers to educate themselves about the fanaticism and duplicity of anti-Israel activists. Those who are actually committed to peace - for Israel and for its neighbors - need to be aware of the forces arrayed against peace.)
The Letter Sent to The New Haven Register
A copy of this letter was sent to Jones with the introduction:
"Most charitably, I found your recent Forum column horribly misguided and demonstrating tremendous gullibilty. To help set the record straight, I have sent the following response to The New Haven Record and am sending you a copy.
"I hope you will better inform yourself in the future before spreading misinformation that has been contradicted even by its source."
In his Faith Matters piece, Jimmy Jones did what so many critics of Israel do: he inverted the truth.
When it comes to the slaughter of innocents, that is precisely what Hamas and its allied terror groups based in Gaza are doing. They fired 8,000 rockets at Israeli civilians before Israel finally responded in December 2008. Nearly 1,600 rockets were fired in 2008 alone, despite the fact that year included a six month long "calm!" Sderot, the closest Israeli city, was hit by more than one rocket per family.
Imagine how New Haven would react if West Haven was ruled by a "democratically elected" terror group pledged to destroy it and fired even a single rocket at a school or kindergarten!
Jones also repeats the Hamas lie, one of the bases of the infamous Goldstone Report Jones misleadingly praises, that more than 1,000 innocents were killed in Gaza. That lie has recently been refuted even by Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, who admitted Hamas and its affiliated "militias" lost between 600 and 700 fighters in the operation.
Michael Oren, a noted historian and currently Israeli ambassador to our country, has pointed out that in urban warfare it is typical for 80-90 percent of the casualties to be civilian. In Gaza, the proportion of civilian casualties was probably the lowest in the history of urban warfare, despite Hamas' deliberate policy of putting civilians in harm's way for propaganda purposes.
Israel should be lauded, not condemned, for its virtually unprecedented efforts to avoid casualties among enemy civilians.
The following is the exchange of emails, in order.
Jones to Stein
I have made it clear in many places (,verbal and written, here in the US and abroad), that I unequivocally abhor the slaughter of innocents particularly in the name of Islam by Hamas or anyone else. My record in this regard is clear and open for all to see. What saddens me most about your letter is that you want to rationalize what even many Israelis (not just Judge Goldstone) view as the unconscionable killing of (by your minimizing count) at least 300 innocent Gazans like the daughter and nieces of the courageous Dr Abuelaish as "typical" Have really became this callous that mutual infanticide is our ONLY possible response to terror? This is indeed a very sad way to promote Middle east understanding particularly as we prepare for the Martin Luther King weekend.Please, please do not distort my views in order to advance yours.
Stein to Jones
I did not distort your views in any way, although you have now distorted mine - I did not give any count, minimizing or otherwise, of innocent Gazans killed. I merely pointed out that a Hamas leader contradicted the incorrect figures you used in your letter; while one can be sure the number of terrorists killed was no fewer than the number he gave, it's likely it was significantly higher.
In any war, there will be civilians killed; it's unavoidable. As I pointed out, what was amazing in Gaza is that so few were killed.
What I did not write, although it's true, is that the responsibility for those deaths lies with the party which forced the war - the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. Hamas and its allied terror groups also did their best to maximize civilian casualties for their own despicable purposes. One of the signs of the absurdity of the conflict is that Israel has shown a far greater interest in keeping Arabs alive than the Arab leaders.
I would suggest, given that you are so bitterly opposed to anything and everything Israel ever does to keep its own citizens from being slaughtered, you might suggest some reasonable alternatives. I have yet to hear a single reasonable suggestion from any of those who, like your, are so critical of everything Israel does.
Jones to Stein
All I ask is that you not jump to conclusions about what I have done/think based on an article (and your rather fixed pre-conceived position). If you are really interested- we can talk about what I have done over the years to try to stop this sens less bloodshed- just because you do not know about it does not mean it is not going on.
Stein to Jones
Are you disavowing what you've written? You have a pretty consistent record of one-sided, misinformed op-eds over the years. If you do not wish people to reach conclusions based on what you write, I suggest you include a disclaimer with each of your columns.
The violence may seem senseless to you, but it's certainly not senseless to Hamas, which thrives on it; indeed, its charter demands it - as does the charter of Fatah, and the charter of the PLO, all of which still call for the destruction of Israel.
I'd be happy to talk to you, but it will have to wait until I return from Israel, which has already been hit by more than a dozen rockets and mortars fired from Gaza so far this year. Three rockets fell on Ashkelon, where Rabbi Shaul Praver of Newtown has a home, just yesterday. What do you think New Haven would want our government to do if it was hit by three rockets in one day?
Perhaps you have tried to do some things to "stop this senseless bloodshed," but your writing clearly does the opposite. I would certainly be interested in helping to educate you and to help you become productive rather than counterproductive.
Jones to Stein
My question to you is have you really read what I wrote? This is very sad. What you write here confirms what I wrote - especially about whether such incursions end up making Israelis and Americans safer - we are all less safe because of these policies. Like you, I have been there and talked to both sides (do you talk to palestinians while there?)- my basic pont is that 2 wrongs do not make a right. As for your discussions of Hamas,et.al, please show me where I have ever defended or rationalized any thing they have done as you insist on doing with Israel. I await your return so that we can talk about these issues more fully.
Stein to Jones
My question to you is have you really read what I wrote?
Yes, I have.
This is very sad.
What you write here confirms what I wrote - especially about whether such incursions end up making Israelis and Americans safer - we are all less safe because of these policies.
One can debate the wisdom and effectiveness of what you call "incursions" (itself loaded terminology indicating a biased agenda rather than any objectivity), but to blindly criticize anything and everything America and Israel to attempting to defend themselves and their citizens without offering any alternatives is unfair and irresponsible.
Like you, I have been there and talked to both sides (do you talk to palestinians while there?)- my basic pont is that 2 wrongs do not make a right. As for your discussions of Hamas,et.al, please show me where I have ever defended or rationalized any thing they have done as you insist on doing with Israel.
You basically ignore them (and all the other Arab and Muslim terror groups, which still include Fatah and the PLO despite our attempts to pretend otherwise) while blasting Israel for whatever it does in reaction.
As it is said, if the Arabs had no weapons there would be no war, while if Israel had no weapons there would be no Israel. He who, like you, ignores that basic reality becomes part of the problem.
I've answered your question about whether I really read your columns. I'm still waiting for you to make some -- any -- realistic alternatives for Israel to try to carry out its most basic obligation, protecting the lives of its citizens against the genocidal attacks of Hamas and its allied terror groups.
Jones to Stein
This is even sadder - please talk to the IDF about the word "incursions"- I got it from them - that 'is why I put the quotation marks. Your characterization of me because of that IDF word shows who really is the "blind criticizer." Further, you try to paint me as a terror sympathizer with no proof other than the fact that I have had the audacity to criticize Israeli policies ( I have also criticized hamas Egypt and others). You seem like a decent person but you are not being fair or just to me. By now it is clear that the only people you seem to care about are your own and anyone who dares criticize the Israeli government had better watch out. Sad-sad-sad - I still say we should talk.
Stein to Jones
Israel has been hit by more than 8,000 rockets fired from Gaza, rockets with no military purpose, designed purely to wreak terror on innocent civilians. Thousands of them have been launched since Israel completely left Gaza in 2005, turning it completely over to the Palestinian Arabs. They even ethnically cleansed Gaza of any Jewish presence. The Arabs there had a choice, completely their own:
a. With virtually the entire world, including Israel, wanting to help them, make Gaza into a paradise.
b. Turn Gaza into a terrorist de facto state.
They chose b.
I asked you what you would suggest Israel do. Still waiting.
Jones to Stein
Are you kidding? This is no place for cheap debating tactics - the issue is far too serious..
1. If something is wrong like killing innocent children on a regular basis and blaming the other side (both hamas and the IDF do this regularly).Where is you heart??? This needs to stop!
2. There are smarter people than myself (including Judge Goldstone) who have suggested other strategies. As you know there is a robust debate going in Israel as we are typing- are they all "misinformed" as well? I think people there in the ME (both sides) need to bring this to an end-I see my role as speaking out against excesses rather than cheer leading or rationalizing infanticide as some easily do.
I am simply not what you try to make me out to be. BTW-the event that got me re involved in this issue was the murder of two young IDF soldiers in Ramallah in 2000.
Too too sad- I am still waiting to hear what think of the word "incursion' now. Sad-sad
Stein to Jones
To respond to specific points in your email:
Are you kidding? This is no place for cheap debating tactics - the issue is far too serious.
I agree. So why are you doing that?
If something is wrong like killing innocent children on a regular basis and blaming the other side (both hamas and the IDF do this regularly).Where is you heart??? This needs to stop!
Hamas and the other Arab terror groups deliberately target innocent children and dance in the streets when they succeed.
Israel tries very hard to avoid harming innocent people, although it's very difficult and often unavoidable because of the Arab tactic of placing their bases and launching attacks from residential areas and even from hospital, schools and mosques. So sometimes innocent people are harmed. When that happens, Israel typically expresses regret, investigates, when possible modifies its methods to avoid a repetition, and in the rare cases where soldiers deliberately acted inappropriately punishes the soldiers involved.
There's a world of difference, both practically and morally.
There are smarter people than myself (including Judge Goldstone) who have suggested other strategies.
Goldstone, by the way, admitted that the information he used as the basis for his report would not have been sufficient to make a case in any court of law. And, of course and as I pointed out, the figures he used have since been contradicted even by Hamas officials. In other words, Goldstone has no credibility.
As you know there is a robust debate going in Israel as we are typing- are they all "misinformed" as well? I think people there in the ME (both sides) need to bring this to an end-I see my role as speaking out against excesses rather than cheer leading or rationalizing infanticide as some easily do. I am simply not what you try to make me out to be.
In that case, why do you write what you write?
There certainly is a spirited debate going on in Israel. It is of a totally different quality than the debate going on Arab circles.
In Israel, the debate is about how to bring about peace, something virtually everyone wants, and how prevent Arabs from killing Israelis and how to keep Arabs from successfully forcing Israelis to accidentally kill Arabs.
Among the Palestinian Arabs, they still don't even have a serious debate about whether peace is desirable. Their goal (read not just Hamas, but read what's put out by the Palestinian Authority. Check the Palestinian Media Watch website) is still to destroy Israel.
Too too sad
I am still waiting to hear what think of the word "incursion' now.
I regret what I wrote about that and retract those comments.
I'm still waiting to hear from you any suggestions about what Israel could or should do differently. If I don't hear about that from you, I will assume you are what you seem to be, being interested only in propagating anti-Israel propaganda, and won't waste any more time responding.
The ball is in your court.
Jones to Stein
You typed - "If I don't hear about that from you, I will assume you are what you seem to be, being interested only in propagating anti-Israel propaganda, and won't waste any more time responding."
I finally get it-You really are serious about sticking to this distortion of my position. Why don't we leave it at you misrepresenting me and call it a day- You are probably, like me , very busy. If you are really interested in what I REALLY think - Please give me a call - Meanwhile, I will continue to work with those Jews, Israelis, Christians , Muslims and whomever are genuinely interested in peace as opposed to distorting each other's views in order to demonizs the other. This has been a valuable learning experince and reminder of the tough work ahead. I wish you the best
End of Non-Dialog