Chilling applause line at J St. Conference (Hatred of Israel as “progressive” Jewish politics)

H/T Israel Matzav

If you want to get a glimpse into the mind of many who align themselves with the group J Street, go to the 4:40 mark of this video and listen to the applause during journalist Mona Eltahawy’s chilling justification of Egyptians’ hatred of Israel.

Please keep in mind while watching this that, per a 2010 Pew Global Survey, anti-Semitism (no not merely Israel hatred) is nearly universal in Egyptian society, with a staggering 95% of those surveyed expressing animosity towards Jews.

That a journalist would fan the flames of hatred even further is bad enough, but please remember that Ms. Eltahawy’s remarks, and subsequent applause – simply dripping with contempt for the Jewish state – took place at a major conference for an organization which describes itself as pro-Israel.

I’d like someone to explain to me why, during the course of Eltahawy’s diatribe against Israel, there doesn’t appear to have been even one hoot, jeer, or protest from this progressive and supposedly independent thinking crowd.


(Update: Seth Mandel, at NewsRealBlog, has a great take on the J. Street crowd’s roaring approval for Eltahawy’s anti-Israel diatribe, here.)

Guardian’s defense of John Galliano seems “slightly” less credible after video surfaces of the fashion guru praising Hitler

H/T Harry’s Place

On Friday, The Guardian posted this piece in response to John Galliano’s arrest on Thursday for assaulting and hurling anti-Semitic abuse at a couple at a bar in Paris.

I have to admit that I’m not as sophisticated as the Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley, and had to look up the French term Bon Viveur” – which I now know refers to Galliano’s apparent zest for life and good living – but I am bright enough to understand the words “racist” attached to “non” mean something to the effect of: “no racism here, nothing to see, please move along.”

However, it seems that the crusading anti-racist daily may have had second thoughts, and saw fit to note the following on Feb. 27.

This article was amended on 27 February 2011. The original headline, Bon viveur? Yes. Racist? Non‘, was felt to have been misleading, by giving the impression the writer had concluded John Galliano was not a racist before any allegation had been fully investigated. It has now been changed.

Misleading? You think?

This video, released today, showing the fashion guru (on a previous occasion) praising Hitler and hurling anti-Semitic abuse to customers to the effect of “People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed” would certainly seem to erode the credibility of the Guardian’s apologia.

Of note, Morley’s defense of Galliano – the text of which hasn’t been revised – dutifully quoted a fashion editor, and apparent acquaintance of the colorful Galliano, to vouch for his anti-racist credentials, noting:

“he embraces different cultures in his work – when he is researching a collection, he will travel and immerse himself in the place and the fabric and the people”

So, I guess, of course, in the Guardian’s defense, one could reasonably interpret Galliano’s rant against Jews as merely an attempt to immerse himself in anti-Semitic culture in advance of, oh, I don’t know, a new Gestapo line of footwear or, perhaps, Taliban-style robes he’s promoting.

(Update: John Galliano was fired by Christian Dior after the above video went viral.  No word yet from the Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley)

Et Tu, Jess?

Peter Kosminsky acknowledges using testimony from radical NGO as source for “The Promise”

H/T to an alert reader for capturing Peter Kosminsky’s live chat (below) with viewers of his show, The Promise, which confirms the director’s use of research from highly politicized sources.

As we’ve pointed out previously, the show is brimming with historical falsehoods – such as the implicit assertion that the Arabs were the indigenous people in Israel, and the Jews should rightly seen as interlopers – and Kosminsky’s own virulently anti-Israel politics have been enunciated very clearly in his Guardian op-ed prior to the show’s airing. See my open letter to Kosminsky, in response to his Guardian commentary, here, but here are some highlights of his essay:

“Israel is isolated, loathed and feared in equal measure by its neighbours, finding little sympathy outside America for its uncompromising view of how to defend its borders and secure its future.”

“How did Israel squander the compassion [derived from the horrors of the Holocaust] of the world within a lifetime?”

During the live chat, when asked about the research he conducted for the show – a multi-part drama on British television, about Israel, which just finished airing – Kosminsky cited the NGO Breaking the Silence, as one of his main sources:

Per research conducted by the highly respected watchdog group, NGO Monitor, Breaking the Silence – a group funded by George Soros, New Israel Fund, and the EU (among others) – was active in promoting “war crimes” charges against Israel after the Gaza fighting in January 2009, charges which were based on anonymous and unverifiable hearsay “testimonies.”

Further, per analysis by Amos Harel in Ha’aretz: “Breaking the Silence…has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a ‘human rights organization.’ Any organization whose website includes the claim by members to expose the ‘corruption which permeates the military system’ is not a neutral observer.”

BtS members and anti-Israel activists Yonatan and Itamar Shapira were on the “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” boat “Irene,” which sought to violate Israel’s security-based policies regarding naval traffic into Gaza (September 2010).

While, of course, as anyone who’s actually lived here can testify to, Israelis (unlike citizens in neighboring countries) are free to speak out against the government or the military – a fact which begs the question, what “silence” exactly is BtS breaking? – Kosminsky’s use of testimony by BtS clearly undermines his claim that he conducted objective research for his show.

Instead of asking questions of average Israelis who serve or have served in the IDF, to understand Israeli military life, he chose instead a group with a clear, and quite radical, political agenda whose views are quite marginal, and are only amplified by the enormous resources provided to the group by European governments, and powerful foundations like NIF and George Soros’s Open Society Institute.

Kosmisnsky clearly knows little about the real nation of Israel beyond the one-dimensional caricature which informs the opinions of the elite media and cultural gatekeepers in the UK – an abstraction of the democratic Jewish state which his “research” only served to confirm, and, now, after”The Promise” has been seen by millions of viewers, will be even more firmly embedded in the political  imagination of the British public.

(Update: See NGO Monitor’s latest critical analysis of claims made by the group, Breaking the Silence, here)

Guardian journalistic “ethics”: Publish, & let others deal with the consequences

The Guardian’s pyromania-like tendency to publish information for its own gratification with no concern for the consequences for others has once more come to the fore. After its collaboration with Wikileaks on the US embassy cables and its collaboration with Al Jazeera on the Palestine papers, it last week published the claim that a US citizen being held in Pakistan in connection to a shooting incident is a CIA official.  The next day the Guardian also produced a photo gallery of pictures related to the story.  The photographs depict an atmosphere on the streets of Lahore which can hardly be described as illustrating any kind of commitment to a fair judicial process for Raymond Davis.

According to reports from other sources, AP declined to publish the same information:

“The Associated Press learned about Davis working for the CIA last month, immediately after the shootings, but withheld publication of the information because it could endanger his life while he was jailed overseas, with at least some protesters there calling for his execution as a spy.”

“The AP had intended to report Davis’ CIA employment after he was out of harm’s way, but the story was broken Sunday by The Guardian of London. The CIA asked the AP and several other U.S. media outlets to hold their stories as the U.S. tried to improve Davis’ security situation.”

No doubt the Guardian will justify its actions as it usually does – by invoking ‘the public’s right to know’, although that bench-mark appears to be applied rather selectively. Guardian editors apparently find ‘the public’s right to know’ rather more compelling when it comes with a side-dish of perceived embarrassment for the American or Israeli governments, although the Palestinian Authority has definitely joined that category of late too.

Recent questions surrounding the Guardian’s own tax arrangements and offshore bank accounts are apparently not included in what the public has a right to know.  When Prince Harry served a tour in Afghanistan, the Guardian – like the rest of the British media – was happy to comply with government requests for a news blackout on the subject so as not to endanger lives.

‘Ah,’ you may be thinking, ‘but here we are talking about a spy accused of committing a serious crime – this is different.’ Well let’s go back a few years to the mid 1990s when a Libyan ‘diplomat’ (and member of the Libyan External Security Organization) named Khalifa Ahmed Bazelya was declared ‘persona non grata’ and expelled from the UK on December 11th 1995 after the brutal murder of a Libyan dissident living in the UK.

Oddly enough, in 1997, the Guardian’s then associate foreign editor claimed never to have heard of Bazeyla. One would think that a foreign editor might take an interest in the rare diplomatic expulsion only two years previously of a man associated with the regime responsible for the murder of a British policewoman.  One would consider that particularly likely if that man had been transferring rather substantial payments to one’s own personal bank account, but Victoria Brittain claimed at the time that she had no knowledge of the source of the thousands of pounds landing mysteriously in her account by foreign transfer.

That is quite an impressive lack of curiosity by any standards, and particularly for a journalist. Brittain’s editor at the time, Alan Rusbridger, also appeared to be inflicted with a similar lack of curiosity regarding his employee’s financial arrangements and her personal connections to the Intelligence Chief of the human rights abusing Ghanan military dictatorship at the time, Mr. Kojo Tsikara, for whose benefit the money was transferred.  Despite the fact that the UK had no diplomatic ties with Libya at the time and that it was well-known that Ghaddafi’s regime was heavily involved financially in Ghana, ‘the public’s right to know’ did not prevail in that instance.

In fact, five years after Bazelya was expelled from Britain, the Guardian’s sister paper the Observer, ran a story on the subject in the wake of the leaking of MI6 papers related to the Libyan. Although those papers also contained references to Bazelya’s payments into Victoria Brittain’s personal bank account, that information was not deemed suitable for publication at the time. As Stephen Glover wrote in the Spectator at the time:

“There is no evidence that she [Brittain] knew Bazelya personally, though it is plausibly alleged that her friend Kojo Tsikata did, and had meetings with him in London on 17 September and 16 December 1993, and 25 March 1994. The point is that the Observer has decided, no doubt correctly, that Bazelya is a dangerous man. It fulminates against MI5 for letting him into the country and for not keeping a proper eye on him. But it deliberately leaves out Ms Brittain’s own links to Bazelya for fear that they might embarrass her and compromise the Guardian. It is as good an example as you will find of double standards and readers being short-changed.”

Plus ca change….it seems that at the Guardian, ‘the public’s right to know’ depends entirely upon whom that knowledge is likely to embarrass or compromise and the Guardian’s own resulting gratification.

Nick Cohen’s masterful deconstruction of the Israel-obsessed Guardian Left

This is perhaps the first time I’ve posted an essay from the Guardian without critical comment, but Nick Cohen’s post on the hypocrisy of the Israel-obsessed Guardian Left is a masterpiece.  So, here it is:

The Arab revolution is consigning skip-loads of articles, books and speeches about the Middle East to the dustbin of history. In a few months, readers will go through libraries or newspaper archives and wonder how so many who claimed expert knowledge could have turned their eyes from tyranny and its consequences.

To a generation of politically active if not morally consistent campaigners, the Middle East has meant Israel and only Israel. In theory, they should have been able to stick by universal principles and support a just settlement for the Palestinians while opposing the dictators who kept Arabs subjugated. Few, however, have been able to oppose oppression in all its forms consistently. The right has been no better than the liberal-left in its Jew obsessions. The briefest reading of Conservative newspapers shows that at all times their first concern about political changes in the Middle East is how they affect Israel. For both sides, the lives of hundreds of millions of Arabs, Berbers and Kurds who were not involved in the conflict could be forgotten.

If you doubt me, consider the stories that the Middle Eastern bureau chiefs missed until revolutions that had nothing to do with Palestine forced them to take notice.

• Gaddafi was so frightened of a coup that he kept the Libyan army small and ill-equipped and hired mercenaries and paramilitary “special forces” he could count on to slaughter the civilian population when required.

Lieila Ben Ali, the wife of the Tunisian president, was a preposterously extravagant figure, who all but begged foreign correspondents to write about her rapacious pursuit of wealth. Only when Tunisians rose up did journalists stir themselves to tell their readers how she had pushed the populace to revolt by combining the least appealing traits of Imelda Marcos and Marie-Antoinette.

Hearteningly, for those of us who retain a nostalgia for the best traditions of the old left, Tunisia and Egypt had independent trade unionists, who could play “a leading role”, as we used to say, in organising and executing uprisings.

Far from being a cause of the revolution, antagonism to Israel everywhere served the interests of oppressors. Europeans have no right to be surprised. Of all people, we ought to know from our experience of Nazism that antisemitism is a conspiracy theory about power, rather than a standard racist hatred of poor immigrants. Fascistic regimes reached for it when they sought to deny their own people liberty. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the forgery the far-right wing of the decaying tsarist regime issued in 1903 to convince Russians they should continue to obey the tsar’s every command, denounces human rights and democracy as facades behind which the secret Jewish rulers of the world manipulated gullible gentiles.

Read the rest of the essay here.

The Importance of Being Rosalind Levy

Back in November 2010, I wrote a post about the disproportionate number of anti-Israel letters published in the Guardian. Nothing much has changed on that front, of course, but a belated comment recently appeared on the defunct thread from a signatory of one of the letters mentioned in the article – a Ms. Rosalind Levy.

Rosalind Levy:

I am disappointed to see that you neither got my full name nor any of my affiliations : (Labour Party, Amnesty, Co-op, JFJFP, JBig).
I am furious to be described as anti Israeli, I am not. I am anti the current government in the same way that I am anti the current government of Zimbabwe. I am anti the shitty things that the administration does, particularly because as a jew it is assumed they are done in my name and I support them. David Beauvais has said it for me.

Had the (self-Googling?) Ms. Levy bothered to click upon the supplied link to the original letter as published in the Guardian she would have seen that her name appears there exactly in the format in which it was reproduced in the post: Ros Levy. Complaints should therefore be addressed either to the Guardian or to herself for signing it in that way.

As for Ms. Levy’s ‘affiliations’, they too were not mentioned in the original letter and to be frank, it really is just too tedious to waste time investigating the background of every one of the handful of members of such insignificant fringe groups as JfJfP, JBig and such like, particularly as the same names tend to crop up like mushrooms after the rain whenever a new one of these groups is launched. However, seeing as Ms. Levy herself has brought the subject into the public arena, let’s take a closer look at some of her objections.

The core argument she presents is the following:

“I am anti the current government in the same way that I am anti the current government of Zimbabwe.”

Leaving aside the repugnant and unserious comparison of Israel to Zimbabwe, that argument can of course only begin to hold water on the day that we see Ms. Levy’s signature on the launch of JfJfZ (Jews for Justice for Zimbabweans) or JBzg (Jews for boycotting Zimbabwean goods). Naturally, one doubts that the prefix ‘Jews for’ would make any impression whatsoever in campaigns relating to any subject other than Israel – maybe Ms. Levy should ask herself exactly why that should be the case.

In addition, Ms. Levy has been busy signing a plethora of anti-Israeli letters and petitions for several years – long before the current Israeli government came to office – and so her claim to be ‘anti the current government’ is obviously dishonest.

One also wonders whether Ms. Levy has used her affiliation to the discredited Amnesty International to try to get the subject of Zimbabwe discussed at least once at the UN Human Rights Council (I appreciate that it must be very difficult to find a time-slot in among all the relentless discussion of Israel, but even so…) or to get some much-needed balance in their reporting so that the number of reports and press releases might actually reflect the regions of the world with the greatest abuses of personal liberties and worst loss of life.

Likewise, Ms. Levy’s declared ‘affiliation’ to the Co-op could maybe prompt her to demand from that company that its bank cease to provide services to ‘Viva Palestina’ which, contrary to British law, has provided material and cash aid to a proscribed terrorist organization which targets Israel’s civilian population – a clear and evident war crime.

But Rosalind Levy’s most revealing statement in her comment is this one:

“I am anti the shitty things that the administration does, particularly because as a jew it is assumed they are done in my name and I support them.”

Two main points are obvious here. Firstly, apparently Ms. Levy would rather the Israeli government place her well-being at the top of its priority list rather than the actual citizens who have a vote in Israel, even though she is unlikely to come under attack from Hamas Grad rockets or Hizbollah Katyushas in North London or wherever she resides.  Tragically, it would seem that Ms. Levy has some very basic misunderstandings on the subject of a democratically elected government’s legal obligations regarding the protection of its citizens.

Secondly, if she does find herself being held responsible by other parties for the actions of the Israeli government, rather than recognizing this for what it is – antisemitism according to the EUMC Working Definition: “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” –  and fighting it accordingly, Ms. Levy apparently prefers to take a coward’s approach to the problem by siding with and whitewashing the perpetrators of that racism. Should this concept be too difficult for Ms. Levy to get her head around, maybe she could ask herself why Zimbabwean ex-pats in the UK are not held personally responsible for the actions of the current regime or automatically assumed to be supportive of it in any way.

If there is one outstanding factor to be taken note of as a result of the currently ongoing unrest in the Arab world, it is the inability of most Western commentators to see the Middle East in anything but one-dimensional terms. Unfortunately, this disability afflicts politicians, journalists and many an analyst, as well as the general public such as Ms. Levy.

If Mubarak, Ben Ali and Ghaddafi are bad, then the automatic assumption is that those who oppose them must be good. If Israel does things of which they disapprove (and no matter the reasons behind it – understanding those is far too taxing), then Israel’s enemies must be whiter than white and deserving of their unquestioning support.

Of course most of the world does not work like that, and certainly not the Middle East, but the simplistic Western view provides comfort and reassurance in the face of a very complex picture. It allows its holder to categorize players and their actions into neat and tidy compartments and it cannot be denied that such stereotypes make the life of their holder infinitely more easily manageable.

Unfortunately, this one-dimensional and facile view has also become the socially acceptable narrative in many circles and so people like Rosalind Levy can both absolve themselves from anything approaching strenuous thought about the Middle East and, at the same time, earn Brownie points in their social circle by wearing their radical-chic fashion accessory credentials on their sleeves.

The fact that their incessant letter-writing campaigns and attempts to secure a place in the public limelight for their earnest trendy little grouplets might raise objections from those people who actually live in the region they campaign about apparently fills them with indignation, as revealed by the above comment.

The inflated sense of self-importance nurtured by so many members of such insignificant fringe groups such as JfJfP and JBig apparently encourages them to believe that their self-initiated walk-on part on a stage so big and complex – with an ever-changing plot they do not even try to understand – makes the whole issue revolve around them. They are, of course, sadly – if often amusingly – mistaken.

Guardian praised by speakers at meeting of Islamist UK group, MEMO (A first hand account)

This is a guest post by Tom Wilson

Earlier this week The Guardian and Al-Jezeera’s rather grandly titled ‘Palestine Papers’ were the subject of a major event organised by the pro-Hamas organisation Middle East Monitor (MEMO).  Indeed the Guardian’s Seumas Milne was scheduled to speak but like Clare Short was at the last-minute sadly unable to attend.  An insight into the kind of worldview that MEMO pushes can be gained from a peruse of the website of this deceptively neutrally named organisation.  News stories on the website include such titles as ‘Israel’s Mossad is accused of kidnapping a Palestinian engineer in Ukraine’, ‘Israeli internal security officers accused of “attempted rape” of a child prisoner’ and my personal favourite ‘Extend the hand of friendship to Islamists and it will be welcomed’.

Despite the official subject of the five-hour long event the panelists spoke remarkably little about the Guardian’s leaked papers, preferring instead to dwell on the familiar claims about the all-powerful Jewish lobby and the urgent need for a one state solution and the end to Israel as a Jewish State.   Predictably all of the speakers expounded on the wisdoms of working with Hamas and the wrongs of the Western nations giving support to Israel and even the Palestinian Authority. It was the usual rhetoric for the most part with the occasional anti-Jewish remark thrown in from time to time and yet given the apparent gravity of the subject up for discussion the panelists somehow seemed strangely flat.

Hannah Arendt might have known a thing or two about the banality of evil but these speakers were on the whole just tediously repetitive, perhaps almost tired of repeating the same farfetched lines year in year out. Far more interesting at times was the behaviour of some of the audience members around me.  Particularly concerning was when some of them started trying to interrupt and shout down a question from a lady affiliated with Independent Jewish Voices.  Seemingly unaware of the organisations pro-Palestinian stance they must have just heard the ‘J’ word and assumed the worst.

One should of course be careful when alleging anti-Jewish sentiments.  Several of the panelists were at great pains to stress that they and other critics of Israel were being victimised by false allegations of anti-Semitism.  Indeed former CIA political analyst (and Counterpunch contributor) Kathaleen Christison, who said the only just solution was the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish State, before hastily adding that she had nothing against Jews as individuals, went so far as to claim that in the US discussion of Israel has been taken off the agenda for fear of being labelled anti-Semitic.  The Chair of the event Lord Andrew Phillips whole heartedly agreed, claiming ‘we have a bit of that starting here I’m afraid’, the irony seemingly lost on him that he was claiming Israel isn’t being talked about while at an event dedicated to the subject.

Yet considering what Lord Phillips was to go onto say he should hardly be surprised if onlookers question where his feelings towards Jews lie.  Talking about the Jewish community in America Lord Phillips casually remarked that while ‘the Jews aren’t lacking in intelligence, they may be deeply prejudiced, many of them’. True he did go onto acknowledge the existence Jewish voices critical of Israel both in America and in Britain but in the latter case he followed this by scoffing ‘It’s a very divided community’.  Despite this apparent division Lord Phillips still expressed his belief that there is a ‘very powerful Jewish lobby in this country’.  Not a Zionist lobby you may note, Lord Phillips was very consciously talking in terms of a ‘Jewish lobby’.  Still this is the man who during the same event described the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as ‘a very impressive man, a moderate man’ before justifying Hamas’ refusal to recognise Israel and thundering ‘you never hear the end of corporal Shalit’.

For its part The Guardian did receive some praise.  Christison followed her speech about how American politicians and political publications fear the power of the Israel lobby by speaking approvingly of The Guardians analysis on Israel.  Former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Lewelly [see Lewellyn’s recent letter in the Guardian] who during his speech came out condemning just about every round of peace talks that have ever taken place and dismissed Hamas missiles as ‘those pathetic rockets’ also praised The Guardian as the exception within an otherwise apparently pro-Israel British media.  His own former employer the BBC he lambasted as having a shameful record and even went so far as to remark that ‘you could learn more from watching The Promise than 100 BBC reports’, this probably says far more about The Promise as a source anti-Israel propaganda than it does the BBC as a source of Middle East news.

If anything positive can be drawn from this sorry line up of hate speech it’s that it was all being directed towards the converted. Many of the audience members had decorated themselves with free Palestine badges and keffiyeh’s and were visibly outraged when Britain’s former Ambassador to Libya Sir Richard Dalton dared to argue that Israeli democracy is real.  However the anger quickly turned to applause when Dalton hastily added that EU’S ties with Israel should be cut and that the British government should withdraw its backing of Tony Blair as the Quartet’s Middle East representative.  When the panelists weren’t chastising Israel they were laying into America, some such as Kathaleen Christison purported that ‘Israel is part of the very being of the United States’ and therefore the primary factor in its Middle East policy, or others who portrayed Israel as a pawn in America’s quest for oil.  Even the European countries didn’t escape blame and stood accused of supposedly funding the occupation through their support of the Palestinian Authority.  Once again the West and its liberal democracies were held responsible for the majority of the world’s ills with the assault on Israel standing at the heart of their attack.

Events such as this one remind you why the Reut Institute recently described London as being the hub of hubs for the delegitimizasion of Israel.

(Tom Wilson is studying for a PhD in Israeli politics at London’s UCL.  As well as being Co-Chair of the UCL Jewish Society, Tom is also a researcher for Beyond Images and is the London representative for the conflict resolution and democracy promotion group StandforPeace)

Guardian reader pulls out anti-Semitic Khazar myth

In Nick Cohen’s piece in CiF today, “Our absurd obsession with Israel is laid bare“, we were treated to a rare CiF column which called out the Guardian Left’s obsession with Israel and, with precision and without mercy, exposed the human toll of their indifference to Arab brutality and despotism – which has been laid bare during the political upheavals over the last few weeks.  We were also heartened to see many reader comments in support of Cohen’s piece.

However, then there was this:

For those unaware of the anti-Semitic Khazar myth, Stephen Plaut’s explanation should make it clear:

Arthur Koestler is a writer better known for his lifelong battles against totalitarianism in all its forms. Koestler’s book was largely based on the earlier book The History of the Jewish Khazars, by the historianD.M. Dunlop.

Dunlop rejected the idea that large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews could trace their origins to the Khazars, but not so Koestler. By grossly and sensationally exaggerating the role and numbers of Khazar descendents among European Jewry, Koestler – who was a strong Zionist – inadvertently provided today’s racialist anti-Semites with all the ammunition they could want, and many of them frequently cite his book as the basis for their racialist denunciations of Israel.

Dunlop rejected the idea that large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews could trace their origins to the Khazars, but not so Koestler. By grossly and sensationally exaggerating the role and numbers of Khazar descendents among European Jewry, Koestler – who was a strong Zionist – inadvertently provided today’s racialist anti-Semites with all the ammunition they could want, and many of them frequently cite his book as the basis for their racialist denunciations of Israel.

It is one of the great ironies of the 21st century that anti-Zionists and anti-Semites on both the Left and the Right, have returned to racialist arguments against Jews that most of us thought had died out after World War II.

One of the most bizarre aspects of this “re-racializing” of anti-Semitism is the role played by the Khazar myth.

The newly fashionable Khazar mythology holds that modern day Ashkenazim, and especially the European leadership of the Zionist movement, are not Jews at all in the racial sense, but rather descendents from non-Jewish Khazars; therefore, the Khazar “theorists” claim, Zionists and Israelis have no legitimate claims to the Land of Israel.

It would be hard to exaggerate how widespread the misuse of the Khazar myth is among those seeking to delegitimize Israel and Jews today. A recent investigation showed nearly 30,000 websites using the Khazar “theory” as a bludgeon against Israel and Zionism.

Some two hundred websites claim to describe a cabal known as the Khazarian Zionist Bolsheviks (KZV). Neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial organizations and websites are particularly fond of the Khazar myth. It is also growing in popularity among left-wing anti-Zionists.

Arab…propagandists have long bandied about the Ashkenazim as Khazars theory and Iran’s genocidal leaders adore it. Al-Jazeera has been using the Khazar story to urge a worldwide Christian religious war against the Khazar pseudo-Jewish imperialists.

Groups promoting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion often cite the nefarious role of Khazars as “proof” of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy (I counted 700 such websites). And even Jewish anti-Zionist cranks like Alfred M. Lilienthal and the Swedish “Israel Shamir” have used the Khazar myth to attack Zionism.

Why are these various groups suddenly interested in a rather esoteric and archaic group of people in Central Asia that disappeared nearly a millennium ago?

Plaut explains:

According to the Khazar theory of the new anti-Semites, most Jews today, particularly Ashkenazi Jews, are not racially Jews at all but descendants from the Turkic tribe of Khazars, whose ruling class and parts of its rank and file population converted to Judaism in the 8th or early 9th century CE. Hence, argue the racialists, Ashkenazi Jews have no rights to live in the racially Semitic Middle East and especially not in the Land of Israel.

You almost have to marvel at the lengths anti-Semites who read the Guardian will go to justify their animosity (some even willing to assert that Jews living in Israel aren’t really Jews at all) and how comfortable many of them are floating seamlessly between both right-wing and left-wing political narratives as long as the end result is the moral delegitimization of Jews and Israel.

Think of it as “big tent” anti-Semitism.

Harriet Sherwood and the normalization of anti-Israel bigotry

Those who speak of ending the “divisions” between Fatah and Hamas generally fall within two categories: Those who naively (though often genuinely) think that Hamas (who they may agree seeks Israel’s destruction) has the potential to become more moderate, and those who really don’t take issue with the hateful ideology of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – and their rejection of the right of Israel to exist within any borders – and think what separates Fatah from Hamas are minor non-ideological issues which can easily be bridged.

While Harriet Sherwood – as well as many of her Guardian colleagues – often characterize such efforts at reconciliation in a way which indicate that they believe the former, it is striking how the tone and tenor of Sherwood’s recent report (Young Palestinians call for protests on 15 March, Guardian, Feb. 24) would almost lead the reader to believe that the youth movement seeking a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation could be characterized as a progressive one.

In the opening paragraph, Sherwood describes the March 15 movement thusly:

“The goal is to force an end to the political divisions among Palestinians by stirring the youth of Gaza and the West Bank.”

Yet, later she acknowledges, almost in passing, what precisely the group is united behind:

“What they want is the parties to overcome their bitter rivalries and unite to fight their common enemy: Israel.” [emphasis mine]

And, a peek at their Facebook Group clearly illustrates that there’s no ambiguity whatsoever regarding their goal:

One of the ‘calls of unity’ listed on their FB group is:

the end of all forms of security coordination with the Zionist enemy

And, a couple members of the FB group are quite clear what  moves them to enthusiastically embrace the March 15th movement.

And, this member:

Here’s an enlargement of Jack’s profile photo, in case you can’t make out the Zionist monster strangling the U.S. government.

While pursuing the FB group, and reading Sherwood’s account of their aspirations,I can’t avoid concluding how utterly normative anti-Israel bigotry has become to journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

One of the most dangerous political phenomena in the context of the Middle East is the tendency of many on the (Guardian-style) left to use, or accept use of, the term “Zionism” (the right of the Jewish people to live in a sovereign state, in their historic homeland) in the pejorative, whereas explicit expressions of contempt for the Jewish state, and calls for her destruction, has become nearly a banality barely worth noting, let alone condemning.

I’m quite certain that such Guardian-style leftists continue to rationalize such clear enmity against Jews, often by making incredulous claims that the near universal anti-Semitism is in the Arab world is “merely” the result of their reaction to Zionism.  Adopt a two-state solution, or eliminate Israel altogether, they might say or think, and anti-Semitism would diminish accordingly.

Yet, even a cursory view of Jewish history shows that this is certainly not the case.  Indeed, anti-Semitism has often thrived in countries where the Jewish population was minuscule.  Even today, when (after expulsions of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the period after Israel’s birth) all but a few thousand Jews remain in Arab lands, often even those minuscule populations are seen as a threat to the majority Muslim populations.  As recently as last week, Tunisian protesters directed such hate towards the country’s tiny Jewish community, outside one of the last remaining synagogues in Tunis, while chanting anti-Semitic invectives.

One of the biggest moral failures of the Guardian-style left is their failure to take such unbridled hatred towards Jews in the Arab world seriously, and, how even those who might denounce hatred against Jews are too ready to excuse such hatred as the result of “the occupation” or the mere existence of Israel, itself.

Of course, this is a classic example of confusing cause with effect.

Anti-Zionism isn’t the cause of anti-Semitism.

Rather, insofar as such enmity represents classic intolerance of a majority towards a religious minority (Jews) in land the majority views as theirs exclusively, anti-Zionism should rightly be understood as, not the cause of, but as a symptom of anti-Semitism.

While I wouldn’t characterize the failure of Harriet Sherwood and her fellow travelers to take such hatred against Jews seriously as necessarily representing evidence that they possess anti-Semitic attitudes, themselves, I would assert that such a failure represents a glaring and dangerous ideologically driven moral blind-spot – one which, due to their enormous influence, continues to endanger the Jewish community both in Israel and in the diaspora.

One of the goals of CiF Watch is to name and shame those who engage in such glaring moral double-standards in hopes of lessening their influence, and the potentially injurious effects on the Jewish community.

This response to Sherwood’s whitewash of Palestinian intolerance towards Jews represents such an effort.

Is Stephen Walt Blind, a Complete Fool, or a Big Liar?

From the blog of Martin Peretz, writing for The New Republic:

I’ve been trying to add to my knowledge of the Arab countries now in the “massacring-their-people” stage. All of the big powers have both rewarded and connived with Colonel Qaddafi to keep him and his family in power for 42 years. Not, by the way, that he is a king or anything. Moreover, he is not the first of the military colonels in the Arab world to take control of the state and turn it into a “revolutionary socialist” regime, so-called. More formally: the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. It’s been in power since 1969, which makes it the oldest continually ruling one-man regime in the world.

Anyway, in my search for new viewpoints on the Arab world, I came across an article by Stephen Walt, who is the Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard (his chair was donated to the Kennedy School by a good Zionist family; so much for the control bought by Jewish money) and co-author with John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago, of The Israel Lobby,in which I play a supporting role. I’ve written about this book on The Spine and so have others in TNR like Jeffrey Goldberg.

Walt’s Libya article was published in Foreign Policy barely a year ago. So it has the reassuring quality of being up-to-date. In the few hours he had in Tripoli, the capital city, he had the opportunity to talk with various high officials and get a real feel for the country. Here’s part of what he had to say on January 18, 2010:

My own view (even before I visited) is that the improvement of U.S.-Libyan relations as one of the few (only?) success stories in recent U.S. Middle East diplomacy. Twenty-five years ago, Libya and the United States were bitter antagonists: U.S. and Libyan warplanes clashed on several occasions in the Gulf of Sidra, and Libyan agents bombed a discotheque in Germany that was frequented by U.S. soldiers. U.S. aircraft attacked Libya more than once, targeting Qaddafion at least one occasion (and killing his adopted daughter Hannah). Libya was also held responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 (though some recent accounts have questioned its culpability) and it had an active WMD development program and received substantial nuclear weapons technology from the illicit A. Q Khan network.

Yet a fortuitous combination of multilateral sanctions, patient diplomacy and Libyan re-thinking has produced a noticeable detente in recent years. In a rare display of policy continuity, the Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations managed to simultaneously keep the pressure on and keep the door to reconciliation open. (Great Britain played a key role here too, and the effort may have succeeded precisely because Washington remained in the background). This effort paid off in when Libya agreed to dismantle all of its WMD programs in 2003 and to re-engage with the West. (A key part of that deal, by the way, was George W. Bush’s decision to explicitly renounce the goal of “regime change,” in sharp contrast to his approach to some other countries.)

Libya has also been a valuable ally in the “war on terror” (having had its own problems with Islamic radicals), and Ghaddafi’s son Saif reportedly played a key role in persuading a Libyan-based al Qaeda affiliate to renounce terrorism and to denounce Osama bin Laden last year. Overall, the remarkable improvement in U.S.-Libyan relations reminds us that deep political conflicts can sometimes be resolved without recourse to preventive war or “regime change.” One hopes that the United States and Libya continue to nurture and build a constructive relationship, and that economic and political reform continues there. (I wouldn’t mind seeing more dramatic political reform—of a different sort—here too). The United States could use a few more friends in that part of the world.

What an insightful man Walt is.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

The Guardian has nothing to report

A guest post by AKUS

Life is getting dull for the Guardian’s woman in Jerusalem. After fleeing the momentous events in Egypt – perhaps wisely, considering the reprehensible sexual assault of Lara Logan – the utterly ridiculous ChickenLady Harriet Sherwood has been limited to such earthshaking articles as:

Providing a tear-jerker about the length of the walkway between Israel and Gaza at the Erez Crossing:

A Ghoul being prevented from cutting hair in Gaza:

Transcribing a report from the Hebrew papers about a phone call between Bibi and Merkel:

And now, reporting that the news from “Palestine” is that there was no news when Thousands join ‘Day of Rage’ across the Middle East. Everywhere else a jolly good time was had by all, but Harriet reports that nothing happened in the non-existent country of “Palestine”:

How disappointing … when everyone else was out killing and being killed (23 in Iraq) on a day of rage, the Palestinians stayed home because of repression … by whom? Surely these “analysts” cannot be referring to the Palestinian’s elected officials???

By the way – why is Harriet transcribing Hebrew papers and offering up such non-news? Perhaps, following the lead of Yuli Edelstein (Israeli minister summons Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood to protest publication of pro-terrorism letter) and the example set in the past by Danny Seaman, Israeli officials no longer invite the Guardian’s representatives to briefing that are open to others?

One can only hope that Israel’s people in charge of PR and communications are awakening from their torpor and internal bickering to realize the damage the constant stream of anti-Israeli articles in the Guardian has done to Israel, and are no longer willing to provide them with the raw material for their attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.

Things are moving in Washington, where it counts, as well – The Jewish Community Relations Council has organized a day on February 27th called the “Israel Advocacy Training Institute: Shaping the Debate” trying to bring together members of the local communities with various media and PR types, even, remarkably, a representative from the Israeli Embassy, Jonathan Peled (extraordinary – they seem to have noticed that there is a large Jewish community in the Washington area at last!).

Their three-day plenary session in March will feature topics such as: “The Changing Landscape of the Middle East – What is President Obama Thinkingwith Ambassador Michael Oren who does seem to be one of the few Israelis (American Israeli, of course) aware that there are Jews who do not support J Street.

The topic will also feature Valerie Jarrett, a “Senior Advisor to President Obama” who seems to have no Middle East credentials. That, of course, perfectly equips her for a role in an administration that has made every conceivable blunder possible in the Middle East. Furthermore, the topic “Engaging the Next Generation” seems to have no connection to the Internet or Social media thus indicating how far hidebound US Jewish organization have to go in recognizing the role of blogs like this one can play to bring on board the “next generation” in attacking those who would delegitimize Israel and advancing Israel’s cause.

The death of linkage (Palestinian issue was never the key to regional stability)

This is cross posted by Danny Ayalon, Israel‘s deputy minister of foreign affairs. and was first published in the Washington Times.

The last few weeks and months have finally proven the fallacy of one of the most mistaken theories about development and peace in the Middle East. For a number of years, foreign officials, experts and commentators have claimed that if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was solved, then there would be peace in the Middle East. This was coined “linkage.”

Former President Jimmy Carter was once asked, “Is the linkage policy right?” He replied, “I don’t think it’s about a linkage policy, but a linkage fact. … Without doubt, the path to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem.” Another enthusiast of linkage is former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who said, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world.”

The WikiLeaks revelations proved that among Arab decision makers and policy-shapers, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fairly low on the list of urgent priorities in the region. These private conversations reveal that Arab leaders are preoccupied with the looming threat of Iran and only make perfunctory statements on the “Palestinian question,” as one senior American diplomat who has spent his career in the Middle East told the New York Times recently.

These revelations shook the linkage argument to its very foundations, but recent events in our region have dealt it the mortal blow.

Last year, the United Nations Development Program released its Human Development Report for Arab states with the assistance of Arab scholars and researchers. This report stated that the Arab world is lacking in all areas of human development, such as freedom, empowerment of women and education. In addition, nearly 50 percent of the Arab world lives below the international poverty line. For the Arab world to merely maintain its current position, which is at the lowest rung on the development ladder, it will need to create 51 million jobs in the next 10 years.

Food insecurity, rising desertification and vanishing water resources have all contributed to placing parts of the Arab world on a precipice. The recent chaos on the streets of capitals in the Arab world demonstrates this volatility.

Furthermore, the linkage argument has allowed a dereliction of responsibility for anything that happens outside of Israel‘s few square kilometers, which is equivalent to less than one seven-hundredth of the Arab world. Even the term “Middle East conflict” is negligent in that it stresses the singularity and uniqueness of our conflict, perhaps even one of the least bloody and destructive, in a region that has seen dozens of recent and ongoing conflicts.

In fact, of the 11 million Muslims that have been killed in violent conflicts since the middle of the last century when the state of Israel was created, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of Muslims were killed in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian or Israeli-Arab conflict. However, more than 90 percent of all Muslims killed during the same time period were killed by fellow Muslims.

While I am sure that the majority of the residents of the Middle East, including Israelis, would desperately like to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians, unfairly overloading the pressure to sign a peace agreement makes it that much harder.

Precisely those who feel that a utopian Middle East will exist after Israeli and Palestinian leader sign their name on a piece of paper demonstrate a lack of understanding of the issues at stake and make it harder for the conflict to be resolved.

Unfortunately, radical elements in our region will remain long after the ink on any agreement has dried. To fully grasp this, we just need to listen to the radical elements themselves. In 1996, al Qaeda rose to prominence with Osama bin Laden’s fatwa or “declaration of war.” The long, rambling fatwa stood at more than 11,000 words, railing against everything deemed unacceptable to his brand of militant Islam. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict barely appeared and was nothing more than a footnote to all the general grievances laid out by bin Laden.

While Israelis, including this Israeli government, desire a peace agreement with all of our neighbors, it cannot come at the cost of our existence. Recent events have only confirmed to Israel that we live in a tough neighborhood with constantly shifting sands. If Israel signs a peace agreement, it needs to know that it is permanent, stable and secure, and not subject to changing circumstances.

Israel, with a narrow waist of only a few kilometers, can afford to take few chances with the security of its population, the majority of which reside a mere RPG launcher away from the Green Line.

Those espousing linkage ignore the reality beyond Israel‘s borders. Recent events have brought the true nature of challenges facing the Middle East to international attention. Let us hope that this wider view will at least prove constructive to meeting those challenges, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can return to its proper perspective to improve the possibility of its resolution.

Guardian “journalist” David Cronin tries to arrest Avigdor Lieberman while hurling abuse at Israel

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker of Honest Reporting

In Feb. 22, Irish “journalist” David Cronin attempted a citizen’s arrest of Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the start of a press conference at the EU in Brussels. Cronin shouted: “Mister Lieberman this is a citizen’s arrest. You are charged with the crime of apartheid” while accusing Israel of being an apartheid state. Video footage of the incident can be viewed below:

According to The Guardian’s report of the incident:

Cronin, a freelance journalist who has written for the Economist, the Inter Press Service news agency and the Guardian’s Comment is Free, was restrained by security guards and escorted from the building, shouting “Free Palestine”.

Can Cronin really be described as a “freelance journalist”? These are not the actions of a credible, honest media professional. Cronin’s actions are an abuse of the access granted to him and others with press credentials.

Perhaps it is unsurprising to see that Cronin contributes to The Guardian, a newspaper that has itself blurred the lines between journalism and activism with its coverage of the Palileaks.

We were also surprised when we saw the story on our Google RSS Reader, which we use to keep track of articles from so many media outlets. Take a closer look at the authors of the article.

Could it be that The Guardian allowed David Cronin to co-author a news item about an incident in which he was the key player? There is no evidence of this on The Guardian’s website. Yet, an RSS feed does not make errors independently from the original source material that it reproduces.

Which leaves us with one question: Innocent slip up that required a swift correction or an intentional cover-up of an unethical piece of reporting?

Update – 25 Feb: David Cronin himself has added the following in the comments section below: “I can confirm that I did NOT co-author the article in The Guardian to which you referred.”

At what point does journalism become activism? In this case, Cronin clearly crossed the line. Indeed, the Arab-Israeli conflict is one prime example of two competing narratives where not only have many journalists accepted one of those narratives but are actively promoting one side over the other.

We hope that The Guardian and other mainstream media outlets will not publish any of David Cronin’s writing on any subject related to Israel. With The Guardian, however, we suspect that Cronin’s outburst will only endear him to the paper’s editorial team.

We now know why the Guardian sucks, and it really does only require 140 characters!

We’d like to thank everyone who entered our first competition, those loyal readers who contributed their pithy Twitter-friendly take – one which required excruciating brevity on a topic which could reasonably consume volumes: Why the Guardian sucks.

While there were many great entries, we only have but one meager $50 gift card to dispense, and so, the winner is: a commenter using the moniker Ehoop, who composed the following limerick.

The Guardian sucks because
It’s gospel for antisemites and bores.
Al Jazeera rebranded,
Hamas-style evenhanded,
It spews disinformation and malice without pause.