Walnuts and Other Kinds

I haven’t yet got round to reading Anthony Julius’ new book ‘Trials of the Diaspora’ , but from what I have heard and seen so far, I am sure that it is going to be fascinating. Keith Kahn-Harris’ recent article about the book on CiF does not detract from the anticipation, but knowing CiF as we do and reading the comments on his piece, one has to conclude that Kahn-Harris was more than a little naive to think that this was the right place for a serious discussion about Anthony Julius’ book.

Less sympathy can be accredited to whoever commissioned this article because, given the hothouse of antisemitic bigotry which CiF is cultivating, it must have been crystal clear what the reactions of the CiF regulars would be. True to form and predictable as ever, on an article about a history of antisemitism, some of the comments (far too many to reproduce here in their entirety) were antisemitic. In fact, should Mr. Julius ever wish to write a post script to his work, he need look no further for suitable subject matter.

Some try to re-define antisemitism in order to suit their political motives.


23 Feb 2010, 11:30AM

what makes zionists more semite than palestinians?


23 Feb 2010, 12:51PM

all of those people banging on about pro palestineans being anti semitic should maybe be made aware that palestineans are also semite

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“Comment is Free” Subject to PCC Jurisdiction

There’s been a positive development over at the Press Complaints Commission, the self-regulatory body which deals with complaints about the editorial content of newspapers and their websites.

In a case involving a Spectator blog post on the Benefits of multicultural Britain, Rod Liddle made the following statement which triggered a PCC complaint by a private individual, Mr. Oli Bird:

The overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community.

In its adjudication, the PCC upheld the complaint which was predicated on a claim that the offending statement above was in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors Code of Practice.

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A Tale of Moderators and Moderates

A funny thing happened on CiF recently when Ghassan Khatib – a member of the Palestinian People’s Party – wrote a reply to an article published a few days previously by the Canadian-Jewish journalist Jesse Rosenfeld. At first glance, Khatib appeared to be presenting a more moderate stance than that of Rosenfeld with regard to the Palestinian approach to bringing an end to almost a century of conflict and veteran CiF watchers will not be surprised by the fact that this did not go down well with some of the CiF regulars. Poster Abtalyon put it in a nutshell, but his/her post was for some reason deleted by the moderators.


25 Feb 2010, 2:20PM

Ahalan, Ghassan Khatib:

Welcome to CiF which occasionally serves the London Branch of the Hamas Supporters Club.

So different from your gentlemanly discussions with Yossi Alpher at Bitter Lemons, eh?

I bet you didn’t think that you would be attacked and accused of being a quisling and a betrayer of Palestinian rights by those who consider themselves the elite supporters of a Palestinian State.

Well, now you know that from a lot of comments here, not every so-called “peace activist” actually wants peace.

To what was Abtalyon referring? Well there was this:


25 Feb 2010, 1:00PM

In his CiF article the other day, Jesse Rosenfeld wrote:

Israeli invasions of PA territory have increased since the summer, hitting Ramallah regularly for the past few months to arrest popular struggle leaders and international solidarity activists, and raiding the offices of grassroots anti-occupation movements. While usually it is impossible to go more than two blocks in the West Bank Palestinian political centre without seeing armed PA forces, when the Israelis come into town, they are ordered back to their barracks and are nowhere to be seen. I witnessed this countless times while living in Ramallah.

And these kind of disgusting, deliberately humiliating incursions into Palestinian areas by the Israeli Occupation Forces have been going on (with the explicit collusion of the PA) for a number of years now. That’s not to mention the innumerable extra-judicial executions of Palestinians by the Israeli forces that have also taken place.

Is this acceptable to you? Does this aid Palestinian statehood? I’m sorry, Ghassan Khatib — but (to put it as diplomatically as I am able) the phrase ‘Uncle Tom’ springs to mind.

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The Game is Up

Jonathan Hoffman has already ably discussed on these pages Seth Freedman’s March 9th article from the point of view of its economic inaccuracies. But of course Freedman wasn’t in the least bit interested in the economic reasoning behind his story; he was merely using it as a tool to push his political agenda. No sooner had he planted the idea that the EU and the OECD should be using membership of that latter organization for ‘carrot and stick’ actions against Israel, then the below the liners took up the theme big time. And given that Freedman himself brought up the subject of boycotts against Israel, it was hardly surprising that this was one of the dominant themes in the comments too. Check out this first moniker.


9 Mar 2010, 1:45PM


I support a 100% boycott of all Israeli economic and cultural activity. Do you ?


9 Mar 2010, 2:04PM

Sod the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, sod the EU, the US, and the UK — the time for a full-bodied boycott of Israeli goods and services is way, way past ‘last resort’.

And I would like to remind viewers that we are currently in the middle of The Sixth Annual Israeli Apartheid Week 2010.


9 Mar 2010, 2:23PM

In the meantime, it is incumbent on organisations such as the OECD and EU to flex their muscles in a fashion that is measured yet firm. That seems to be the approach that the EU is taking of late, but the OECD seems to be falling short of its own responsibilities. If, as expected, Israel’s membership is ratified in May, it can only be hoped that the OECD’s opposition to Israel’s misdeeds comes late rather than never.

One can understand Seth Freedman’s hesitancy and opposition to the Global BDS Movement, but “opposition to Israel’s misdeeds” just ain’t gonna come from any of the above any time soon. Israel’s impunity is one of the most sickening spectacles in the world today — and in the absence of credible censuring from governments / economic organisations, it is time that the concerned citizens of this world took whatever steps are open to them. I recommend Seth watch these two highly informative videos on the subject.

Video 1

Video 2

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Mossad expulsion: Michael White still doesn’t get it

This is a guest post by AKUS

Michael White, he of the infamous comment about Israel during an interview that had nothing to do with Israel:

“In Israel they murder each other a great deal. The Israeli Defence Forces murder people because they don’t like their political style and what they’ve got to say. And it only means that people more extreme come in and take their place”

Apparently glued to his laptop while waiting for a new episode in the Peter Pan series to begin in the House on March 24th – “waiting for Alistair Darling to deliver his budget”– what better way for an “assistant editor [who] has been writing for the Guardian for over 30 years, as a reporter, foreign correspondent and columnist” to pass the time than to condemn the Mossad’s assumed evil-doings: Mossad expulsion: they still don’t get it and explain how this excuses his comment.

(Before continuing, let me say that the expulsion of an Israeli “diplomat” or whatever status that person really had represents a new low in Britain’s descent from its once much-admired standing as an example of democracy, law, and order. Whatever the suspicions, there is no proof whatsoever that Israel was involved in the Dubai assassination of Mabhouh. The clownish nature of the operation makes me believe it was very unlikely to have been the Mossad. Nevertheless, a precedent has been set in Britain now. On the basis of suspicion alone, without proof, the British government will act against those against whom it feels represent some kind of threat. Of course, that does not mean the new rule will be applied equally – there are a number of notorious Hamas supporters at large in Britain, and it is clear that Mabhouh travelled on more than one false passport – yet no action has been taken against his terrorist colleagues happily sipping teas and eating scones in posh cafes in London while whipping up enthusiasm for the supposedly starving masses of Gaza. But now the door is open to this abuse of power and what starts with the Jews and Israel will not end with them).

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Only For Our Own Good

I have already addressed on these pages the article by Abe Hayeem from March 11th but it is worth returning to in light of the comments to the article which were not all in at the time.

First, it is interesting to see the photograph chosen to illustrate this article. As we have previously noticed several times here at CiF Watch, the Guardian’s choice of illustrative photograph often subconsciously prompts the reader to approach the subject in a certain manner. Here a photograph of new immigrants to Israel from 2003 was used, but despite the fact that Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox) make up a mere 18.8% of Israel’s population, the Guardian only managed to find this photograph.

An ultra-orthodox Jewish family making aliyah arrive at Ben Gurion airport, 2003. Photograph: Yoav Lemmer/AFP/Getty Images

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The UK’s Disproportionate Response

CIF’s Israel attack dogs went wild when British Foreign Minister David Miliband announced on Tuesday that he had expelled an Israel diplomat in retaliation for Mossad’s alleged cloning of British passports. Former Ambassador to Libya Oliver Miles – who is on record as believing that Jewish historians have no place on the UK Iraq War Enquiry – sanctimoniously welcomed the expulsion as ‘action, not words’ suited to a country that “continues to flout international law and ignore any UN condemnatory resolution that does not suit it.”

But look what happened in an arguably precisely analogous case in Israel, to one of the Guardian’s favourite sons, Alastair Crooke.

Crooke used to work for MI6, the UK equivalent of Mossad. Now he is the Beirut-based Director of Conflicts Forum and as someone who showed disregard for the opposition demonstrations in Iran after the elections, is even too extreme for Mark Perry (who started last week’s malicious misrepresentations of what General David Petraeus really said about Israel). Perry quit as a Director of  Conflicts Forum – started by Crooke – in protest.

Crooke was was sent to Israel, as part of the British consular delegation in Jerusalem, ostensibly to oversee Israeli Palestinian relations on behalf of the UK Government.

Sheila Raviv – an Israeli freelance journalist – says that Crooke had relationships with some highly questionable people in and around Jerusalem, people who were not connected to his diplomatic work. She relayed these concerns to the then British Ambassador (2001-3) Sherrard Cowper-Coles.

The Ambassador was apparently very sympathetic to her information and asked her to prepare a full report. But within ten minutes of sending it by email, Raviv received a frighteningly threatening email warning her off – the Ambassador’s personal computer had been hacked! Concerned for her own safety, Raviv reported her concerns to the Shin Bet.

Crooke was investigated and within a short time was packing his bags. But there was no public announcement of an expulsion. The Israeli government had the prerogative of a formal public expulsion, of course – as all governments have for the diplomatic corps whom they host. But it seems that Israel chose to magnanimously offer the UK the chance of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’  that Crooke could go quietly and below the radar, so as not to embarrass an ally.

It was later revealed that Crooke was a member of MI6 and the astonishing breadth of his terrorist contacts became known. An Italian magazine, Il Riformista, commented as follows (July 2005):

This activity over the past year finished by provoking a growing resentment among Israeli authorities, who a couple of times went so far as to issue “warnings” to Crooke and to present confidential protests about him to the British embassy in Tel Aviv. Further, on 19 May, the deputy chief of information at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Gideon Meir, referring to the secret British meetings, saw fit to say that “any contact with Hamas on the part of representatives of foreign governments is considered by the Israeli government as encouragement for striking us with terrorist acts.”

Yet despite this flagrant breach of trust, Israel – unlike Miliband on Tuesday – did not seek to turn a diplomatic spat into a PR opportunity.  Crooke’s departure took place quietly and discretely, out of respect to an ally.

Why did Miliband not show the same respect and magnanimity towards Israel as Israel showed to the UK in the Crooke case? And of course as an Arabist and a former Middle East Ambassador, Miles must know all about the Crooke case. Not mentioning it must have been an oversight, of course.

Ah, but there is an election within six weeks in the UK and Miliband knows that Israel-bashing plays well with Labour’s core vote. And Miles just happens to be deputy chairman of the Libyan British Business Council.

The moral of this story: As far as this Foreign Minister and the FCO’s camel corps are concerned, when votes and money are at stake, “respect for allies” can go hang, especially when that ally is Israel and the UK Jewish community just lies back and thinks of England.

As Oliver Worth says:

British Jewry, in its muted action, has goaded the willingness of the British government to stab Israel in the back. We are undoubtedly in a situation where the British government has no fear of provoking the pro-Israel and Jewish population into meaningful action, rendering Israel by far the easiest target when finding a scapegoat to cover up domestic misgivings. This must be the wake-up call.

He might have added that Israeli citizens do not blow up UK ones.

(UPDATE: The Spectator has published an apology on its site which reads as follows:

A blog by Melanie Phillips posted on 28 January 2011 reported an allegation that Alastair Crooke, director of Conflicts Forum, had been expelled from Israel and dismissed for misconduct from Government service or the EU after threatening a journalist whose email he had unlawfully intercepted. We accept that this allegation is completely false and we apologise to Mr Crooke.

The ‘allegation’ referred to in this apology refers to the post above from which Melanie Phillips quoted. As can be seen, however, this post made no such allegation. Insofar as an inference could be drawn to that effect, we would like to make it clear that no such implication was intended and no such inference should be drawn. However, neither CiF Watch nor Sheila Raviv made any such allegation, and consequently the Spectator’s statement is inaccurate.)

CiF: Never Knowingly Balanced

This is a guest post by Geary

Ever wondered why CiF chose to have those particular categories for what they so endearingly term ‘Comment’?

Namely: CiFAmerica, CiFbelief, Liberty central, CiFMiddleEast, CiFGreen.

Let’s take the geographical classifications.

Why no CiFEurope, or CiFAfrica, or CiFFar East? The last one all the more surprising, given the very large numbers of British readers whose family histories originate in China or the Indian subcontinent.

If we take topic categories, why not CiFScience? CiFWarandPeace? CiFClassRace&Gender? (isn’t that what any self-respecting leftist rag should be discussing?)

Could it just be that those five above are the categories for which the CiF editors – or the readership they presume – find it easiest to decide their bias? To decide who or what to love and hate? Because, perhaps, said editors find nuance tedious. They find balance uninspiring. Or perhaps, more simply, they can’t keep more than a monothought in their heads at any one time.

CiFAmerica. That’s an easy one, anti-Americanism being the hardiest of leftist perennials. Of course it mutates as regularly as HiV. Today we love Obama and hate any American who gets in his way (white racists to a man). Yesterday we hated Bush and the neocons and loved anyone who was against them. Yes anyone. From the obnoxious Michael Moore, through the obsequious George Galloway, to throat-slitting, streetmarket-massacring ‘insurgents’.

CiFbelief. Islam and Muslims: good. Presumably because – in GuardianWorld – Muslims are Downtrodden. Quite who is Downtreading them all – apart from Islam itself – is not so clear. Probably America (it usually is).

Atheists generally good, except when we want to tease our audience a tad.

Christians and Christianity? Oh, now here’s some balance. They alternate between retarded and risible.

Jews come in two makes: shining white and pitch black. There’s a new Guardian shibboleth. Prepared to denigrate Israel? There’s always a welcome at CiF. But show any affection for the place and you’re beneath contempt.

CiFMiddleEast. Where to begin? Pretty easy: Israel, bad, worse, worst. Relentlessly, remorselessly. Who else is there? Iran? Despite its world records in anti-liberalism (take, say, capital punishment and gay persecution) the Iranian regime used to be Plucky Hard-done-by (by Big and Little Satan). But with the internal revolt, that line is a bit harder to push.

Iran supplying arms to terrorists? Syrian torture prisons? Lebanese prison camps for Palestinians?

Guardian Monkey see no evil.

Hamas and Hezbollah? Not terrorists, not Islamist supremacist butchers, not at all. Nelson Mandelas to a man.

CiFGreen is just as Manichaean: ….. Peasant farming and sustainable poverty are magnificent. Bad are: meat, motors, modernity, mankind. Nuclear will destroy the world, biofuels will save it. Or is that the other way round now?

CiFLiberty: Such irony or post-irony, irony deceased. Has any other source done so must to traduce the great liberal agenda, based on freedom of speech, in favour of narrow-minded witch-hunting political correctness? When Scott wrote ‘comment is free, facts are sacred’ he meant that, whilst facts are precious, comment is free, easy, cheap.

Of the three, CiF has chosen to go for cheap. Cheap and often nasty.

Isn’t it ironic

Seth Freedman, may be CiF’s resident diva of over the top sarcasm and ridiculous hyperbole, but obviously his repertoire does not extend to understanding irony. In his February 22nd article he attacks Israel’s new PR campaign, employing such terms as “witch-hunts and whitewashes”, “darker side of Israeli hasbara” and “McCarthyite hounding”. That’s quite a spectacular reaction to a web site, a few pamphlets and three TV commercials.

Of course the irony lies in the fact that if Freedman and others like him did not devote their energies to writing articles which have no other purpose than to delegitimise Israel for a newspaper which seems to have made this cause its raison d’etre, then Israel might have less of a need to try to counteract the destructive results of their polemics. When confronted with this point in the comments, Freedman clearly demonstrated his pitiful lack of self awareness.


22 Feb 2010, 2:33PM

madisonwest – “Seth Freedman, isn’t it safe to say that no matter what Israel does, they are doomed because there are so many writers out there who go out of their way to constantly demonize Israel in virtually every topic they discuss?”


Oh dear. But for the rest of us it is patently obvious that Freedman’s repeated nit-picking of every aspect of Israeli life not only has a detrimental effect on Israel’s image but also distorts people’s understanding of the conflict and one need look no further than the comments on this or any other CiF thread – I/P related or often not – to see this in action.

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Not the White Response

This is a cross-post from Honest Reporting

The Guardian Associate Editor’s weak excuses and justifications for outrageous comments against Israel.

Frosty US-Israeli relations and a very public and direct rebuke by Britain for alleged cloning of UK passports by Israel’s Mossad have created a storm of negative headlines in recent days.

Some (but not all) British media took particular glee in reporting the expulsion of a diplomat from Israel’s embassy in London. The Guardian even livebloggededitorial referred to Israel as “an arrogant nation that has overreached itself”, thus smearing more than just Israel’s government but also its entire population. the event as it unfolded while an

Some took advantage of Israel being hauled over the coals to justify their own failings. In December 2009, The Guardian’s Associate Editor Michael White made the following comment during a discussion on BBC Radio London’s Breakfast Show concerning the physical vulnerability of political leaders:

In Israel they murder each other a great deal. The Israeli Defense Forces murder people because they don’t like their political style and what they’ve got to say and it only means that people more extreme come in and take their place.

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Why was this deleted?

I’ve read this comment three times over from the Steve Bell thread earlier this week and for the life of me cannot figure out why it was deleted.



This comment doesn’t even express a pro-Israel position but is somewhat neutral in its commentary which goes to show just how radical the Guardian moderation team is.

I can only surmise that the Guardian moderators are so far out of touch with reality that they truly believe that there is moral equivalency between Israel’s security services and Jihadist mass murderers and the suggestion of anything to the contrary is verboten.

Contrast this with an example of an undeleted comment in the same thread that engages in classic Jewish conspiracy theory under the thinly veiled  euphemisms of “Zionist” and “neocon”:

But what else can one expect when Peter Preston, a veteran Guardian editor, echoes JRuskin’s sentiments above the line with this article last year?