My Letter to the Huffington Post (MJ Rosenberg Edition)

This is a cross post by Zach of the Brothers of Judea (h/t Solomonia)

Dear Huffington Post Staff,

I am writing in response to your request for more information in combating the problem of anti-Semitism on the Huffington Post. I would like to draw your attention to a blogger named MJ Rosenberg whose actions in many ways encapsulate this problem; he does not say anything anti-Semitic himself but enables and legitimizes those who do. If I could spare a moment of your time I will explain why I make this accusation. It was not made lightly.

I will begin by informing you about an anti-Semitic staple that has appeared in various forms for centuries: The myth of the Zionist occupied government. In short this myth claims that a secret group of Jews control not only the government of many countries but in fact seek to control the entire world (if they do not do so already). The most prominent example of this is the famous forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” which made exactly that claim. Since then it has appeared in the writings and political cartoons of many anti-Semites, including the Nazis and quite a few Muslim nations. It is one of the few myths about Jews that have persisted into the modern era, even when many religiously-based slanders (such as deicide) have all but disappeared.

So you might be asking at this point: What does this have to do with MJ Rosenberg? Well I will tell you: Mr. Rosenberg writes almost exclusively about what he likes to call “The Lobby” aka “the pro-Israel lobby” aka AIPAC. In fact it appears that Mr. Rosenberg is on a quest to tear down AIPAC and replace it with other pro-Israel groups that he likes, most notably J Street. For every one post about any other topic, there is one attacking AIPAC or people who support it. This isn’t all that unusual, there is much to criticize about the way that AIPAC operates. If criticizing AIPAC was all that Mr. Rosenberg did, I would not be writing to you.

The problem is that Mr. Rosenberg discusses this issue in a matter that, quite frankly, inflames anti-Semitic sensibilities, though he is clearly not an anti-Semite himself. In fact he encourages people who believe the “Zionist Occupied Government” anti-Semitic myth mentioned above, and in some cases (intentionally or otherwise) appears to push it himself. Let me give you one of many examples. In his second most recent article published on the Huffington Post, Rosenberg wrote the following (emphasis mine):

“Take a look at this AIPAC-drafted Senate letter, designed to show that, flotilla or no flotilla, AIPAC owns the Senate including your favorite liberals”

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Whose Guardian is it?

This is a guest post by Gili Brenner

CiF’s editorial, Gaza: State of Siege from last week, is yet another indication that if Hamas ever runs out of spokespeople, it need not worry – the Guardian, masked in a veil of intellectual liberalism and equipped with a distorted human rights agenda, is there for the rescue. Written from a position of unique bias, it becomes very unclear what or whom exactly the CiF is interested in guarding. Judging by the editorial, as it is caressing its own intellectual ego, CiF is not even remotely interested in the Palestinian people and their welfare.

Take, for example, the usual claim of scarcity in Gaza which the Guardian tirelessly makes. While the media is full of reports of well-stocked stores and markets (including the “careless” last 30 seconds of a video made by the Guardian itself), and of streets packed with vehicles, CiF repeats its very catchy mantra but seems to ignore one small thing – the truth. It also ignores the economic revival in the West Bank and the very inconvenient facts that life expectancy in both Gaza and the West Bank are higher, and infant mortality rates are lower, than in Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan. But CiF does not let facts confuse its subjective world in which CIA World Factbook is probably controlled by Zionists.

But Gazans and their welfare do matter for the Guardian. As the editorial highlights, the people have democratically elected Hamas and there is “no convincing evidence” it is losing support. I seem to have missed the latest popular talkshow or poll in which Gazans express trust in their regime as well as their agreement to having no election in the foreseeable future. The crushing of opposition and execution of alleged collaborators with Israel? Details. CiF has its reliable sources to distinguish between right and wrong – radicalized university students in London.

CIF’s support for a dark regime which openly declares its desire to destroy the state of Israel, as well as for IHH Turkish activists or for any group provided it is anti-Israel, is not a journalistic joke anymore. In the name of a self-righteous Israel-bashing – facts, people and the common good have become meaningless. Somebody over there must wake up and ask some serious questions: are we really acting in good faith and who are we guarding?

Readers Revolt as Tariq Ali Scrapes the Barrel

This is a guest post by Bataween of Point of No Return

When Georgina Henry moved from the Comment is Free Middle East desk to edit the Culture Section at the Guardian, CIF Watch predicted that Henry would turn her new fiefdom into a cesspool of antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism. And so it has come to pass. Henry’s latest commission: Tariq Ali’s review of “The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives” by Gilbert Achcar scrapes the barrel of malevolent ignorance and Orwellian misrepresentation. But wonder of wonders, the readership aren’t having it.

The book in question, is itself a scurrilous work of revisionism, intended by a ‘professor of International Relations at SOAS’ partly to demolish the sacred cow of Arab complicity with the Nazi Holocaust. Like all anti-Israel propaganda, it tries to turn fact into controversy – declaring, as the book’s subtitle denotes, a ‘war of narratives’. Downplaying Arab antisemitism and support for the Holocaust exonerates Arabs from any responsibility for Israel’s establishment.

Tariq Ali, venerable Pakistani Marxist anti-Zionist and warrior against US imperialism, applauds Gilbert Achcar’s ‘systematic and scholarly refutation of the simplistic myths that have arisen from the formation of Israel’. The book, which is being published in an Arab edition, is a ‘valuable corrective’, drawing on such ‘objective’ sources as Tony Judt, Norman Finkelstein, Gabriel Piterberg and Amira Hass. But Ali’s review does not make clear where Achcar’s opinions begin and Ali’s views end.

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The Privileged Slander: Why the Media Laps Up The Anti-Israel Media Campaign

This is a cross-post by Professor Barry Rubin of the GLORIA Center

Israel is subject daily to scores of false claims and slanders that receive a remarkable amount of credibility in Western media, academic, and intellectual circles even when no proof is offered.

Palestinian groups (including the Gaza and Palestinian Authority regimes), associated local and allied foreign non-government organizations, Western radical and anti-Israel groups, and politically committed journalists are eager to act as propaganda agents making up false stories or transmitting them without serious thought or checking.

Others have simply defined the Palestinians as the “victims” and “underdogs” while Israel is the “villain” and “oppressor.” Yet truth remains truth; academic and journalist standards are supposed to apply.

While regular journalists may ask for an official Israeli reaction to such stories the undermanned government agencies are deluged by hundreds of these stories, and committed to checking out seriously each one. Thus, the Israeli government cannot keep up with the flow of lies.

So the key question is to understand the deliberateness of this anti-Israel propaganda and evaluating the credibility of the sources.

An important aspect of this is to understand that Israel is a decent, democratic country with a free media that is energetic about exploring any alleged wrongdoing and a fair court system that does the same. To demonize Israel into a monstrous, murderous state—which is often done—makes people believe any negative story.

Some of these are big false stories—the alleged killing of Muhammad al-Dura and the supposed Jenin massacre—others are tiny. Some—like the claim Israel was murdering Palestinians to steal their organs– get into the main Western newspapers while others only make it into smaller and non-English ones.

Taken together, this campaign of falsification is creating a big wave not only of anti-Israel sentiment but of antisemitism on a Medieval scale, simply the modern equivalent of claims that the Jews poisoned wells, spread Bubonic Plague, or murdered children to use their blood for Passover matzohs.

Come to think of it even those claims are still in circulation. Indeed, on June 8, the Syrian representative at the UN Human Rights Council (oh, the irony!) claimed in a speech that Israeli children are taught to extol blood-drinking. No Western delegate attacked the statement.

Here are three actual examples of well-educated Westerners believing such modern legends reported to me recently by colleagues:

–A former classmate, one told me, claimed that the Palestinians are living in death camps, being starved, etc. Asked to provide facts and provided with evidence to the contrary, he could provide no real examples. Finally, he remarked, `The truth is always somewhere in the middle.’”

–Hundreds of American college professors signed a petition claiming that Israel was supposedly about to throw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of the West Bank though there was zero evidence of any such intention and, of course, nothing ever happened.

–A British writer of some fame claimed, on the basis of an alleged single conversation with a questionable source, that Israel was preparing gas chambers for the mass murder of Palestinians. When asked if she was really claiming this would happen, she stated that it wasn’t going to happen but only because people like her had sounded the alarm to prevent it.

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Plaiting Sawdust

Reading Antony Lerman’s latest CiF offering was about as productive as plaiting sawdust.

Lerman’s attempts to present Zionism as some sort of reactionary stance which is toxic to any green shoots of peace in the Middle East by citing supposed foundations for his view from sources such as Moshe Arens, through the World Zionist Congress to Peter Beinart fall as flat as an under-baked soufflé due to his usual stubborn insistence upon avoiding any mention of the full range of factors which have contributed to the failed peace-making attempts of the past two decades.

“Israel may show all the signs of being a typical westernised, post-ideological society. But in response to growing international pressure over recent years and with the country’s centre of political gravity drifting to the far right, Zionist ideology appears to be playing an increasingly important role in decision-making and in determining the face that Israel presents to the world. “

With typical sleight of hand, Lerman in this opening paragraph attempts to persuade the reader that there is a link to be made between Zionist ideology and the ‘far right’, thereby attempting to discredit the former by linking it to something the reader will instinctively reject. This does not stand up to scrutiny from any angle: Zionism is something which transcends or precedes political viewpoints for most Israelis and is the mesh which holds this truly multi-cultural and far from ‘post-ideological’ society together.

Neither is it any more true to say that Israel has moved to the right from a political point of view than to make the same statement about the United Kingdom based upon the results of the recent elections there. The party which received the most votes in the last Israeli elections was Kadima, but coalition building sometimes produces strange bed-fellows as the British people should now be finding out. Both the current Likud-led government and the vast majority of the Israeli people today accept and support the concept of a two-state solution; thirty years ago this was an eccentric fringe opinion in Israeli society. If anything, Lerman would be more correct if he pointed out that as in many European countries, the Left in Israel has caused itself to become increasingly less relevant and centrists either mildly to the right or left, but with little to distinguish between their policies and principles, command the majority vote.

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Seaton: Still digging after all these years…..

Tony Lerman is still Israel-bashing on CiF, and readers may judge for themselves whether he is telling us anything new or interesting.  The article reflects his own conflicted and tortured relationship with his Jewishness and Zionism (he used to be a youth leader in a Zionist youth group) when he tells us (yet again) that the “cherished assumptions of Zionism” are being questioned by Jews themselves  – nothing new here, Jews are nothing if not critical thinkers – and again he pushes his own agenda for a one state solution to the conflict.  There is precious little new there and I do not propose to go further into it.

The whole thread is, however, a prime example of the sort of confusion brought about when a moderator/staff member is allowed to comment freely and give opinions on the thread.  As I have argued elsewhere on this blog, this, from a person whose agenda is plain and who is more powerful than the commenters whose contributions he can easily get removed, is neither professional nor ethical.  Lerman seems unable or unwilling to defend himself, so Matt Seaton has once again taken upon himself the mantle of his rescuer. The result is highly educative about the “group mind” of CiF and is painful and hilarious by turns.  It seems that Seaton still has not learned to stop digging when he is in a hole.

There seem to be two parallel themes in this thread – one being the deletion of MarkGardner1’s post (Mark Gardner is Director of Communications at the Community Security Trust):  His post, which follows, was deleted but subsequently reinstated following an appeal to the moderators by Seaton:

Seaton’s comment about Mark Gardner’s post follows.  I would imagine that the moderators were wobbled by Mark Gardner’s notion that people should make up their own minds.  Note also that Seaton says that  the moderators “have exercised some latitude” presumably about what is or is not off-topic   It would appear so, otherwise most of Seaton’s subsequent comments to the following might have been deleted too:

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The Nest of Vipers

This is a guest post from The Bagelnosher Blog

BGU – Ben Gurion University of the Negev – suffered parallel snake problems this week. On two separate occasions, they had to deal with serpents in their midst.

One of the critters they had captured, bagged and hauled away. But when confronted with the other snake, this one they wanted to keep right where he was — in front of the classroom.

The first serpent – a black three-foot long species native to Israel – surprised the staff when it was spotted lurking behind a desk at the nanotechnology building on the University’s main campus. Officials called Beersheba’s official snake catcher who responded to the scene. “The snake wasn’t a poisonous variety,” the snake removal man said afterward. “It appeared to have gotten into the building through an improperly secured air vent. The snake was aggressive, but I caught it and later released it in a remote place where it won’t do any harm.”

The second, equally aggressive, snake is far more dangerous. This one, known as Neve Gordon, walks upright on his own two feet, although he, too, lurks behind a desk at BGU where he’s spent almost a decade bombarding students with his anti-Israel, anti-Semitic tirades. This snake in the grass is treated far differently by BGU officials. Not only was Neve Gordon not bagged and hauled away — instead, the President of BGU, Rivka Carmi, promoted him.


Up to now, Neve Gordon had been merely a “lecturer” but this week, he was promoted to “Assistant Professor.” For an undistinguished academic, whose writings tend toward hysterical anti-Israel propaganda, how did they justify it? Officials assembled a panel of far-leftist evaluators, who requested letters from other far-leftist anti-Israel radicals, and that did it. Like promotes like.

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Denying Denial

The ever-estimable Bataween has already addressed on these pages the content of Gilbert Achcar’s CiF article of May 12th. As seems to be generally the case with any CiF article connected in some shape or form to the subject of the Holocaust, the comments generated display a depth to the nature of anti-Semitism which other subjects seem to expose to a lesser degree.

The EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism relates to the subject of the Holocaust in several of its clauses.

“Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).”

Whilst the word ‘amplified’ is not specifically used in the wording of the EUMC Definition, common sense would dictate that its employment could fall into the same clause as “Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

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