The Conspiracy Theory Mindset and its Contribution to the Guardian/CiF World View

A guest post by Mitnaged

Background

I recently attended a conference in London about conspiracy theories, the academic research done into them, the personality characteristics of the type of people who tend to hold them and why they are so impervious to change or amendment even in the light of rigorous evidence which introduces doubt about their veracity.

The conference was run on a shoe string budget but was well attended.  The speakers were acknowledged and in most cases widely published experts in this new and growing field.  All shades of opinion were represented in the audience, including “troofers” – those who believe that 9/11 and 7/7 and other phenomena were put up jobs and conspiracies by our own governments against us.

I attended because I am interested in the psychological functions which conspiracy theories serve for the people who hold them and why they might be so persistent and resistant to change or the new evidence which refutes them.   One psychological definition of these manifestations of rigid thinking would be that the “troofers” hold over-valued ideas about powerful others’ roles in causation and effect of events, to the exclusion of almost every other point of view which contradicts them.  In this they have much in common with the repetitive, perseverative and one-track minded views of many of the commenters about Israel below the line on CiF.

The “troofers” in the audience tended for the most part to be vociferous and extremely single-minded.  Although all but one of the speakers took great care to stay within the parameters of their own research findings and not to personalise them, the “troofers” misconstrued almost everything these speakers said and over-personalised the research findings, opinions and statements invariably negatively, and as being directed deliberately at them. 

Correspondingly, the speakers had to take care, respectfully and often, to remind the audience that they were indeed talking of research findings, rather than about particular people or their views.  

(The “troofers” also set up a stall at the back of the  hall from which they sold copies of DVDs which purported to tell us the real story about the events of 9/11 and 7/7.  I paid £1.00 and got a DVD pack, but had great difficulty taking seriously anything on the 7/7 disc, from the time it started with a message from Muad’Dib (a fictional character from Frank Herbert’s Dune), until it told its viewer, with great seriousness that the Muslim suicide bombers had been duped, and were given their final instructions from the offices of an Israeli-owned company in Luton; that Bibi Netanyahu had said that 9/11 was a good thing, and implied that the London training exercise in case of terror attack, held a year previously, was a rehearsal for the attack itself.  None of these was triangulated with other, disinterested material which could be from sources reliable enough to constitute hard and fast proof, all of it was a mix of conjecture, mixed with a hefty dollop of self-serving bias).

However, two of the speakers (Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller, the authors of a pamphlet about conspiracy theories for Demos)  whilst being respectful and professional, said that they would not be unduly careful about not giving offence since as a result of their own research, offence would be taken no matter what they said.  Although almost all the speakers were very good these two were like a breath of fresh air.

I say “almost all” the speakers. The only one who left me feeling distinctly uncomfortable/exasperated, because he expected us to believe everything he said unquestioningly, was one Ian R Crane, a self-styled “geopolitical researcher” a late stand-in for David Aaronovitch, who was ill. The organisers admitted that they did not know what he was going to talk about, but believed it to be fair to invite a nominated person who held an opposing point of view to address us.

The speakers and what they said

I shall now go on to give a brief outline of what each speaker told us:

Dr Chris French and Robert Brotherton outlined the difficulties of arriving at a universally acceptable definition of what constitutes a conspiracy theory and summarised the components as follows:

Everything is evil – there is invariably an assumption of malign intent (whereas, commonsensically, some conspiracy theories may be benign);

They reach far beyond the everyday – they are invariably over the top.

They evidence indiscriminate distrust – of the government, of other allegedly powerful groups (the audience was told that there were even conspiracy theories about the meeting we were attending!)

Every official explanation is a lie – “That’s what they want us to believe” and theorists do not believe evidence-based consensus. 

Everything is intended – there is the  assumption of hyper-competence on the part of conspirators who are perceived to be all-powerful – and that nothing happens by accident.

Everything is significant – inherent grandiosity of any theory.  (Real conspiracies are, by contrast, limited in scope)

Heroic strivings to seek out evidence – in the absence of positive objective proof

Small anomalies are imbued with crucial significance.

They are self-insulating and therefore very resistant to change, and are sealed off from impartial examination of the evidence, and they arise even before the full facts are known.

French and Brotherton’s research has found that the strongest predictor of belief in conspiracy theories is that the person has previously been inclined to endorse other conspiracy theories.  Another finding was that racial marginalisation had an effect on the inclination towards conspiracy beliefs, as did perceptions of powerlessness and low self-esteem. Also noteable were the over-inclination toward belief in the paranormal, superstitiousness and religiosity.   Conspiracy theorists tended towards emotional reasoning, they tended to possess an external locus of evaluation/control, and to be victims of post-hoc (inverted) cause/effect reasoning.

Dr Karen Douglas spoke about why conspiracy theories were so popular.  Her own research indicated that people who held them had little interpersonal trust even in some cases towards their own families,  that they often felt that they had little control and that the world was in chaos; that the world is unjust.  They were also inclined to believe that “big” events necessitated “big” explanations rather than simple ones.

Many lacked information to evaluate conflicting explanations for phenomena and, rather than sit with the discomfort of “not knowing”, filled in the missing pieces themselves, often by paranoid projection and confirmation bias.  Douglas, surprisingly, found that people believed conflicting conspiracy theories and endorsed both as true.  Her findings echoed those of French and Brotheron – that “Authority” is generally involved in the cover up, that “Authority” is “hiding something”, that they feel mistrustful and uncertain and powerless (and are less likely to vote in order to change things, so they are in fact less powerful), have a heightened sense of injustice, feel under threat.

Conspiracy theories undermine people’s autonomy and they are often unaware that this is happening.   The resulting sense of powerlessness can lead to despair and insularity and the tendency only to interact with like-minded others (“echo chamber” effect).

Next came Dr Carl Miller, whose research into the role of the internet in conspiracy theories found that terrorist ideology correlated highly with tendency to believe in conspiracy theories.  His paper, co-authored with Prof Jamie Bartlett, also argued that extremism tends to demolish trust between the community and the state.  The paper caused considerable discussion when it was published online.  Among its findings:

In-group v out-groups dominated in web-based discussion, with very few dissenting voices.

Ad hominem insult levels were very high where these were in evidence.

Hardened received wisdoms went unquestioned.

Evidence of overvalued/delusional ideas* among conspiracy theorist groups on-line

Self-aggrandisement of members and lack of reality-testing of points of view

Entrenched rigid world views and extremely tight construing

*(overvalued ideas – false or exaggerated beliefs sustained beyond reason or logic but with less rigidity than a delusion, also often being less patently unbelievable. Source: Dorland’s Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers, 2007;

Delusional ideas: Beliefs held in the face of evidence to the contrary, that are resistant to all reason Source: Collins English Dictionary)

Prof Jamie Bartlett was next and argued for the careful, thoughtful and sceptical evaluation of the evidence presented by conspiracy theories and indeed of everything on-line.  He suggested that there is a “foul-smelling legacy” of conspiracy theories on-line, of thoughts presented as facts which the uninformed take as true.  In this respect, and from the behaviour of the “troofers” in the audience, which I have deliberately not addressed here, I remember thinking of the dialectical behaviour therapy theory that rigid thinkers tend to make lemons out of lemonade (ie attribute cause and effect in reverse order and often see correlations between random events as being cause/effect).

Bartlett also argued for the inclusion of the teaching of critical thinking skills in school curricula, so that students could more effectively evaluate the information they are given on-line and, interestingly for our purposes, also suggested that the main stream media had a role in the control and manipulation of narratives which may inform conspiracy theories.

The final speaker was Ian R Crane, a “geopolitical researcher” the quality of whose contribution, when compared with the others was the most disappointing.   He presented many opinions about 7/7, 9/11 and the death of Princess Diana all of which showed, (according to him, and his supporters in the audience judging by their applause), that conspiratorial machinations were afoot in all three, but none of which constituted what could be called rigorous scientific evidence let alone proof.  He presented no research findings, rather he came across more like a preacher than an academic researcher, and almost invariably generalised from the particular without providing his rationale other than he believe what he said and many others did too.  Crane believes many things, apparently.

In the final plenary session all the speakers answered questions from the floor, some interesting, some of which exhibited the woefully restricted, almost paranoid “troofer” mindset when it collides with reasoned argument.  Academics are as capable as anyone else of backbiting in private but there is an unwritten professional rule that they treat each other at least politely when sharing a public platform.  I was sorry but not at all surprised when Ian Crane, put on the spot by one question, referred to Dr Karen Douglas’ research, published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals, as “shallow” because Crane has no equivalent academic publications record.  The reader is invited to refer back to what Carl Miller said about the raised level of ad hominem insult when “troofers” are disagreed with.

Relationship to CiF?

How, then, does any of this relate to CiF?  Regular lookers-on and posters to CiF may well link some of the one-track-minded personality characteristics of regular posters there to the personality traits mentioned above. Conspiracy theories about Zionists, Jews and their power are rife throughout the Middle East and the inclination towards them is also evident above and below the line on CiF.  It is also easy to make connections between the putative mindsets of the posters of some of the “Zionist/Jewish plot” tropes repeated ad nauseam, often by the same posters there too.  This is particularly so in the case of the organ theft libels resurrected once more on CiF and written about on CiFWatch .  

We know that mindless hatred of Israel and/or Jews and/or Zionism itself represents CiF’s own overvalued/delusional idea and that this attracts the disaffected, half-baked and often floridly bizarre views and overvalued/delusional ideas of the regulars below the line in their turn.   There is one important difference between the two parties, however: 

The posters who hold these views find it immensely threatening to climb down from them and cling to them like drowning men to a life raft, perhaps for the reasons given by Dr Karen Douglas set out above.   In this, although they are immensely annoying, they are arguably harmless enough for the most part.

 CiF however seems to deliberately manipulate the challenged who hold such views, by providing a virtually sealed environment (by virtue of its biased moderation policy) whereby these lies, in the relative absence of disagreement, grow and take on a life of their own and are notoriously difficult to undermine.  In order to do this CiF controls and manipulates the narratives which inform those conspiracy theories, as Prof Bartlett said, and adds to them and beds them in.

Guardian readers note CiF Watch’s presence, & object to our suggestion that blood libel against Jews is false

As a follow-up to our post earlier, “CiF piece critical of Gilad Atzmon elicits storm of antisemitic comments, including organ theft libels“, we observed that some CiF readers have taken notice of our blog.

And, then there was this, by a commenter praising CiF Watch for holding CiF Moderators accountable:

Finally, here’s a comment by “wh1952″,  a reader who evidently was shocked to learn that his/her pro blood libel comment was noted by CiF Watch:

Here is the comment in question, by “wh1952“, which we published in our previous post:

Yes, as you can clearly see, our blog is so politically correct that we would condemn “out of hand” the charge that Israel murders Palestinians for the purpose of harvesting their organs.

Do charges by Alison Weir (and other sensitive anti-Zionist souls) that the medieval blood libel against Jews may indeed by historically accurate, and may help explain the recent organ harvesting charges against Israel, “have legs”?

Inquiring, un-PC, open-minded, liberal Guardian Left readers want to know.

Legitimizing antisemitism: Guardian provides platform to Alison Wier, blood libel promoter

CiF published a commentary by Andy Newman yesterday, “Gilad Atzmon, antisemitism and the left“, which took aim at the extreme antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon, as well as Alison Weir, an extreme anti-Israel activist who penned an essay for CounterPunch in 2009 lending support to the defamation against Israel regarding the trafficking of Palestinian organs.  

Newman’s piece, as we noted in post yesterday, elicited a high volume of antisemitic reader comments, several explicitly supporting the organ trafficking story.

Shamefully, the Guardian provided Weir a forum yesterday by publishing her letter, Antisemitism and the left – some facts, Sept. 26.

Weir, defending her promotion of the lie that Israelis harvest Palestinian organs from, and charges by Newman that her thesis is devoid of any evidence, writes, on the pages of the Guardian:

I quoted a speech on international organ trafficking by Dr Nancy Scheper-Hughes – Chancellor’s professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, the founder of Organ Watch, and the world’s foremost expert on organ trafficking – in which she stated: “Israel is at the top. It has tentacles reaching out worldwide.” [emphasis mine]

Weir further responded to Newman’s argument that her CounterPunch essay legitimized the medieval antisemitic blood libel against Jews.

(The blood libel, the charge that Jews ritually murdered gentiles and used their blood to cast spells, was a mainstay of medieval European anti-Semitism. In Europe, the blood libel led to pogroms, mass slayings and expulsions.)

Writes Weir:

I am happy to point Mr Newman to a previous lengthy article I wrote on Israeli organ trafficking in which, near the end, there is a very short section in which I quote Israeli media reports that a prominent Israeli professor of medieval Jewish history had published a book on this subject.

So, briefly, who is Weir?

No mere anti-Israel activist, Weir, according to the Anti-Defamation League, advances classic Zionist conspiracy theories, such as the argument that the Israel lobby uses intimidation tactics, corrupts the American political system and prevents criticism of its conduct from being voiced by the mainstream media.  Weir also employs anti-Semitic imagery and portrays Israel “and its agents” as ruthless forces that control American policy through brutal intimidation and deception.

In an April 4, 2008, opinion piece she wrote in The Greenwich Citizen entitled, “What Our Taxes to Israel are Funding,” Weir characterized Judaism as “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.”

In her 2003 letter to Israel and Israel’s “frenzied defenders,” published at her own website and in CounterPunch, Weir claimed that Israel imposed its “uni-cultural nation, ridding yourself of hundreds of thousands of human beings who did not fit your national vision of purity.”  Weir added, “In this country [the U.S.]…you’ve killed careers. You’ve killed businesses. You’ve killed hope. You’ve weeded out sprigs of integrity from our Congress, journalists of principle from our press

The Aftonbladet Organ-Trafficking Accusations against Israel

In the Swedish paper, Aftonbladet, writer Donald Boström, in 2009, recounted a story that a young Palestinian man, wanted for terrorism, was shot dead in 1992, and how his body was returned a few days later to his family for burial. Boström then claims there are rumors that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) kills Palestinians and uses their organs for transplants – in collusion with the Israeli medical establishment. The article ends by saying it is time to look into this macabre activity, and urges the Israelis to investigate the allegations.

Medical experts have unanimously stated that the theft of organs from the dead for use in transplants, as alleged in the story, is medically impossible (read here).

However, Boström never outright asserts that Israel does any of these heinous things; he just reports rumors.

These initial responses were followed by a plethora of criticism of the paper, its editor in chief, and its cultural editor for publishing such an article. Politicians such as Gunnar Hökmark, member of the European Parliament from the Conservative Party, wrote that the article was shameful and that Aftonbladet had joined the ranks of papers that have published Nazi-like anti-Semitic propaganda.

The alleged witnesses to the events described in his article, including the families of the purported victims, have completely disavowed the story (read here)

In contrast, Boström’s article was welcomed in the Middle East – for instance, both in Iran and Syria.  In September, various Middle Eastern media published articles mimicking Boström’s, and, not surprisingly, took the conspiracy allegations even further.

The Algerian newspaper al-Khabar ran a story claiming that gangs of Algerians and Moroccans kidnapped Algerian children, took them to Morocco and then to Israel, where their organs were harvested and sold – all of this masterminded by Jews. Later that month, Iran’s Press TV charged that there was a Jewish conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs, and that this activity was growing.

Weir, blood libel and CounterPunch:

The blog Counterpunch, which is edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, published an article in 2009 – based largely from articles written about the controversy by notorious anti-Semite “Israel Shamir” – which alleged that the blood libel is true and is related to purported Israeli thefts of human organs from Palestinians. 

Wrote blogger, Adam Holland:

Counterpunch alleges not only that such murders and thefts of organs in fact truly occur, but that they are part of a campaign which is sanctioned by the Israeli government and other Israeli institutions and that it is connected to religious traditions allowing the ritual murder of gentiles.”

“Weir’s article makes the case that Israel plays a disproportionate role in the illegal trade in human organs, that the government and military is involved, and (as indicated above) that this trade has its roots in Jewish religious traditions involving ritual murder of gentiles.”

“In Europe, the blood libel led to pogroms, mass slayings and expulsions.  The Counterpunch article [by Weir] may be the first instance of an American leftist media outlet promoting the blood libel.” [emphasis mine]

However, as CounterPunch has a marginal reach, the decision by the Guardian to publish Weir’s defense of her CounterPunch essay may represent the first instance of a “respectable”, popular, mainstream liberal broadsheet legitimizing the antisemitic blood libel. 

Andrew Phillips’ letter in Guardian complains that UK and US are “over-influenced by Israel lobbies”

A guest post by Anne, who blogs at Anne’s Opinions.

Yesterday’s Guardian yielded yet another nasty letter about Israel and the Middle East “peace” process, with a bigoted, distortion-ridden letter from Lord Andrew Phillips, titled hopes and dangers in the Middle East

Phillips starts:

“First, so long as the (guilt-ridden?) west goes on affording Israel impunity whatever it does in Palestine, , real negotiations are a chimera, for Israel’s determination to go on colonising the West Bank and East Jerusalem will ensure they fail.”

In this amazing feat of verbal acrobatics, Phillips manages to combine in one little sentence a conspiracy theory, bigotry and lies.

Implying that the west affords Israel impunity is simply laughable when one takes into account all the shrill condemnations emanating from capitals worldwide – not to mention the United Nations.  Just a couple of examples from recent days:

UK FM William Hague criticises Israel. (Also, see here)

Bill Clinton blamed Netanyahu (for the collapse of the peace process).

Phillips’ bigotry is on display when he writes that the west is acting out of guilt when it favours Israel, as if Israel could never deserve positive treatment on its own merits; and any such favourable attitude must emanate from western, I assume Holocaust, guilt.

And the distortions occur when he writes of Israel’s “determination to go on colonising the West Bank and East Jerusalem will ensure they fail.”. Phillips is deliberately ignoring not only the 10-month settlement-building freeze of last year, but the ongoing virtual freeze in all the settlements, even Jerusalem, which has been continuing for years.

Phillips’ next point, that the Middle East has changed to Israel’s disadvantage following the Arab “spring” is basically correct. However although he may have reached the right conclusion, he arrives there via a worldview that has been filtered through his own anti-Israel pro-Palestinian glasses.

These revolutions were not motivated by sympathy for the Palestinians, or even anti-Israel feelings, certainly not at the beginning.  

But his third point is probably the most characteristic trope within the Guardian left’s arsenal of defamations against the organized pro-Israel community.

Writes Phillips:

Third, the claims of the US and UK to be champions of international law and a moral world order are viewed as hypocritical, and undermine our authority and influence worldwide. Both countries are seen to be over-influenced by Israel lobbies, particularly in the US. The fact that a big minority of Jewish Israelis, and many British Jews are also desperate about Mr Netanyahu’s coalition seems to count for little. [emphasis mine]

Who are these mysterious people who “see” such influence? We are not told.

Regarding the US Israel lobby, AIPAC  is the largest and most well-known of all the Israel lobbies in the US but it is certainly not the only one. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations  is another, as are the various local and state-level Jewish communities and Zionist organizations – Jewish and non-Jewish.

The Israel lobby in the US consists of both informal  and formal lobbies, and as to their influence, malign or otherwise, the Israeli lobby does not have the field to itself.

Per Mitchell Bard:

On any given issue, it may be opposed by a variety of interest groups unrelated to the Middle East (e.g., conservative groups that have nothing against Israel, but oppose foreign aid on principle), but its main rival is the Arab lobby, which similarly consists of those formal and informal actors that attempt to influence U.S. foreign policy to support the interests of the Arab states in the Middle East.

As to the recurring accusations that AIPAC is a foreign agent, even The New York Times, in a special report on AIPAC, confirmed that:

Aipac is not a foreign lobby — its members and officials are largely American Jews — and because it does not get money from Israel or have a contractual relationship, it is not required to register as a lobby for Israel.

But what is this that I just saw above? The Arab lobby? Has anyone ever heard of that? Well, it turns out that there is a powerful Arab lobby working away in Washington and elsewhere, casting out its influence in the same way as the Israel lobby.

 

Per Bard:

The Arab lobby in the United States is at least as old, perhaps older than the Israeli lobby. It is composed of what I.L. Kenen called “the petro-diplomatic complex consisting of the oil industry, missionaries, and diplomats”. According to Kenen, there was no need for a formal Arab lobby because the petro-diplomatic complex did the Arabs’ work for them.

One of the earliest activities of the petro-diplomatic complex began in 1951 when King Saud of Saudi Arabia asked U.S. diplomats to finance a pro-Arab lobby to counter the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs (later the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -AIPAC). The Arab lobby became an official, active, and visible spokesman for the Arab cause in the wake of the oil embargo. “The day of the Arab-American is here,” boasted National Association of Arab-Americans (NAAA) founder Richard Shadyac, “the reason is oil.”

There is one further, extremely important item to note, hidden in the contrast between the two lobbies:

The other major difference between the two lobbies is the use of paid foreign agents by the Arab lobby.  Again, Per Bard:

Pro-Arab U.S. government officials can look forward to lucrative positions as lobbyists, spokesmen, and consultants for the Arab cause. For example, the outspoken critic of the Israeli lobby, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William Fulbright, was hired by the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. It was the Saudis’ agent, Fred Dutton, a former Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs and special assistant to President Kennedy, who spearheaded the AWACS campaign and reputedly conceived the “Reagan vs. Begin” angle. Other top officials who have provided their services to the Arab lobby include: Clark Clifford, President Johnson’s Defense Secretary; Richard Kleindienst, President Nixon’s Attorney General; and William Rogers, Nixon’s Secretary of State.

Can we now expect to hear Lord Phillips and his fellow travellers condemning the Arab lobby for its sinister influence on Washington?

Turning to Britain, the accusation that an Israel lobby exerts any kind of influence on Whitehall is greatly undermined by the increasingly hostile attitude towards Israel, Zionism, and the state’s Jewish supporters in UK.

The British Israel lobby, such as it is, consists of party political groups such as Labour Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Israel.

BICOM is another major Israel lobbyist, whose major aims are presenting Israel’s case to journalists, opinion formers and policy makers.  

Judging by the hostile atmosphere prevalent on UK campuses and within the British government I would venture to say that the Israel lobby, even if it existed in the UK in an official capacity, is not doing a very good job.

However Phillips’ implicit accusation of Zionist forces exerting injurious influence over the US and UK political systems represents a pernicious narrative that is very hard to uproot, regardless of the facts or logic employed. And, since Guardian readers will no doubt accept such commentary about the Israel lobby at face value, this is a fight that we shall have to continue for a long, long time. 

The Guardian continues to run interference for the radical antisemitic preacher, Raed Salah

H/T Harry’s Place and Margie

The Guardian’s capacity to cover up clear and undeniable evidence of Islamist antisemitism has no limits.

In “May warned of weak case against Sheikh Raed Salah“, Sept. 26, the Guardian’s David Hearst suggests that the case against Raed Salah’s political extremism and antisemitism is quite weak, and is owed largely to efforts by the UK Jewish community.

Writes Hearst:

Emails seen by the Guardian, show that UK Home Secretary Theresa] May was determined to find a reason to exclude [Raed] Salah, before the evidence against him had been verified.

Just 17 minutes after receiving a report on the activist, prepared by Michael Whine of the Community Security Trust, a UK charity monitoring antisemitism, Faye Johnson, private secretary to the home secretary, emailed about a parliamentary event Salah was due to attend.

“Is there anything that we can do to prevent him from attending (eg could we exclude him on the grounds of unacceptable behaviour?)” she wrote. Whine’s report said Salah’s record of provocative statements carried a risk that his presence in the UK could have “a radicalising impact” on his audiences. [emphasis mine]

Added Hearst:

“Saleh’s legal team say the quotes he is alleged to have said and written were doctored to make them sound antisemitic.

The Home Office presented four allegations of antisemitism against him, all drawn from the Israeli press: [emphasis mine]

The doctored quotes have been repeated by the Israel’s press, pro-Israeli websites, two British newspapers and the CST.

In a classic ad hominem attack, Hearst insinuates that the fact that the quotes were reported by the UK Jewish community and “the Israel’s press” [sic], “pro-Israeli websites, two British newspapers and the CST” undermine their credibility. 

In fact, the site which reported Salah’s comments, MEMRI, is a widely respected organization which provides English translations from the Arabic, Persian, Urdu-Pashtu, and Turkish media.

The credibility of of MEMRI’s translations has never been seriously questioned and, indeed, the organization routinely assists U.S. federal and local governments (as well as the U.S. military) in their counter-terrorism efforts. 

As such, MEMRI reported the following about an article written by Raed Salah, in which he advanced the classic 9/11 antisemitic conspiracy theory:

Raed Salah wrote in Saut Al-Haqq Wa-Al-Hurriyya, “A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened! Were 4,000 Jewish clerks absent [from their jobs] by chance, or was there another reason? At the same time, no such warning reached the 2,000 Muslims who worked every day in the Twin Towers, and therefore there were hundreds of Muslim victims.”

In a sermon in 2007, as reported by the Israeli left newspaper, Ha’aretz, Salah said:

“We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood,” he said. “Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.”

Most dishonestly, Hearst writes that “Salah has served two terms of imprisonment in Israel, two years for funding proscribed charities”.

Of course, one of the “charities” Hearst alludes to is Hamas – a group which cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its very founding charter to “prove” that Jews are trying to take over the world, is dedicated to Israelis destruction, and is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S., EU, UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, and even Jordan.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya holds a portrait of Sheikh Raed Salah, after the Islamist leader was arrested in London

Further, Salah, in 2007, incited Palestinians to engage in violence under the pretense that Israeli authorities were going to destroy the he Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Salah has also defended honor killings and said that homosexuality is “a great crime”, adding: “such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society. Those who believe in Allah know that behavior of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen.”

During the space of about one week, in late June and early July, and again, more recently (Sept. 20th), the Guardian devoted eight posts (stories, commentary, and letters) to the UK’s decision to detain Salah – all of which, like Hearst’s latest piece, were sympathetic to the radical preacher.

After Salah was detained by UK authorities in late June, Salah’s Islamic Movement blamed the “Jewish lobby” for the arrest, which they said served to protect the “Zionist narrative.”

David Hearst’s latest apologia for the Islamic extremist preacher – which, tellingly, was published verbatim at the site of “Friends of Al-Aqsa“, a pro-Hamas UK organization which advocates Israel’s elimination – demonstrates that such antisemitic conspiratorial narratives continue to find fertile ground on the pages of the Guardian.

Fisking Ahmadinejad

A guest post by Oded Ben-Joseph, a freelance Tel-Aviv based writer.

Once again, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regales us with his annual view of the world, using the always willing UN General Assembly as a platform. One can only surmise from its content that those righteous souls in the UN must be in increasing despair, clinging to the several scraps of his political rhetoric which seem in tune with their charter.

Perhaps those UN policymakers are committing Neville Chamberlain’s error, thinking more about those charter terms that vow to practice “tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good Neighbors,”  conveniently setting aside the further clauses meditating on what ideals those neighbors should subscribe to, or even (considering the state of most of the UN member states today) merely aspire to aspire to:

“Reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”

Unlike many other critiques of Ahmadinejad, there is no hint intended here of a comparison with Hitler. Chamberlain was only mentioned as a point of thought about his modern counterparts, not alluding to his historical foe. The said comparison would be absurd, if only for the reason that Hitler was Nazism and Nazism was Hitler. Without him, Nazi Germany would either not have materialized at all or would crumble much earlier.

Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, more than a leader, is a faithful representative of a wildly popular movement of thought (whether through choice or fear), which either directly supports or fails to resist certain, shall we as neutrally as possible say – inconsistencies – common in the Mideast, where inconsistency kills.

Perhaps it is dishonorable for the millions of living and dead victims to use the word “inconsistency”, but I’m trying to use language as neutral as possible, hoping that facts will shine forth even more brightly this way.

War commemorations vs. celebrations

In his speech, Ahmadinejad recognizes that “despite the general longing and aspiration to promote peace [Glad to hear it], progress, and fraternity, wars, mass-murder, widespread poverty, and socioeconomic and political crises continue to infringe upon the rights and sovereignty of nations, leaving behind irreparable damage worldwide…”

He later asks, “Who provoked and encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade and impose an eight-year war on Iran, and who assisted and equipped him to deploy chemical weapons against our cities and our people” [?]

Well said! So good of him to mention the Iran-Iraq war, “the longest conventional war of the twentieth century”.

Ahmadinejad’s doublespeak knows no boundaries here. If indeed the war was forced on his country, the most neutral observer might find it curious why Iran actually celebrates the war’s beginning – as they have been doing annually for the last 31 years – rather than the end.

Again, repeating: in Iran they mark the start of the Iran Iraq war – the bloodiest conflict in the history of the region, which resulted in about a million dead, suicide brigades of Iranian children marched to clear battlefield mines, long bouts of ballistic missile battles between Iranian and Iraqi cities, and widespread chemical weapons use that killed and maimed hundreds of thousands.

In short, one week of this war produced more suffering to its hapless participants than 10 years of the Israeli-Arab conflict (pick any decade or even the whole lot of them).

It's not Star Wars, just wars: An Iran-Iraq war anniversary parade in Teheran

Most countries that celebrate wars (an admittedly questionable practice, I’m sure even non-pacifists would agree) nevertheless commemorate their end, their result: peace, or at least the beginning of the end – an indication, perhaps, that although nationalistic militaristic sentiment exists, there is also a wish that it would have attained its goals peacefully.

Iran didn’t even clearly win, at all: the war concluded in a stalemate. What, then, might the most neutral postmodern live and let live liberal thinker ask, are they celebrating over there?  Not all questions have to be answered, I hope. Another one: what concepts, about war and violence, are likely form in the mind of millions of Iranian children taken to watch such parades?

WWI? think again. Chances are you were already born when this image was taken, during the Iran-Iraq war , 1980-1988

On slaves and salvos

Onwards to slightly happier matters, Ahmadinejad begins a series of questions meditating on the topic of world evil, all which seem to have the same answer, such as:

“Who abducted forcefully tens of millions of people from their homes in Africa and other regions of the world during the dark period of slavery , making them a victim of their materialistic greed [?]”

Is Ahmadinejad hinting that slavery in Africa is over and done with – at least the kind perpetrated by his favorite Satans?

Today, others, and some not so others, continue the tradition. And one must be thankful for that mention of “other regions of the world”, in some of which slavery didn’t exactly abate into the pages of history, either. Where is it that women get death sentences for adultery? Happily, Iran promises not to execute people under the age of 18.

“Who imposed colonialism for over four centuries upon this world. Who occupied lands and massively plundered resources of other nations, destroyed talents, and alienated languages, cultures and identities of nations?

There are so many any eligible contenders from East and West, that only from reading elsewhere in the speech one gets the gist that Ahmadinejad is not talking about the Ottoman Empire.

“Who imposed, through deceits and hypocrisy, the Zionism and over sixty years of war, homelessness, terror and mass murder on the Palestinian people and on countries of the region”?

Ahh, Zionism.

Ahmadinejad’s humanitarian solution to it was not referred to in his recent speech for some reason, as perhaps he was apprehensive that it might stretch his luck with the UN’s moral elasticity, which might have its limits (if only there was some indication of what they were.)

In any case, the explanation by the Iranians and their western apologetics that the phrase “erasing a country off the map” doesn’t exist in Farsi can’t erase certain slogans vividly painted on long-range missile launchers in Teheran military parades.

Who governs the governors?

The speech continues in its Q&A format:

“It is as lucid as daylight that the same slave masters and colonial powers that once instigated the two world wars have caused widespread misery and disorder with far-reaching effects across the globe since then.”

“Do these arrogant powers really have the competence and ability to run or govern the world [Better than the way the speaker runs his backyard, evidently]. Is it acceptable that they call themselves the sole defender of freedom, democracy, and human rights, while they militarily attack and occupy other countries?”

Ahmadinejad really should have named “they”, otherwise it is rather confusing as to whom he is referring in some paragraphs – perhaps to Iran’s terror attacks on other countries, or its Hizbullah columns occupying Southern Lebanon and potentially all of it?

Eventually the culprits are named more closely: “Can the flower of democracy blossom from NATO’s missiles, bombs and guns?”

A very good question!

Perhaps the insinuation here is that this flower can flourish in light of Iran’s leading humanitarian projects (centrifuges for peace?), persecution of gays or legal luminosity of its “civil justice” system, with Sharia judges so omniscient that they arrive at the correct verdict in 120 seconds per case?

Even military tribunals in Israel take at best months to conclude, sometimes years.

Ahmadinejad also complains that “They tolerate no question or criticism…”

Indeed. One can only hope that the next time someone dares poke fun at anything that annoys the Iranian regime, he won’t have to get bodyguards or go into hiding.

The speech closes with sentiments everyone should agree with, hopefully even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

“The idea of creation of the United Nations remains a great and historical achievement of mankind. Its importance must be appreciated and its capacities must be used to the extent possible for our noble goals.”

“Let us salute love, freedom, justice, wisdom, and the bright future that awaits humankind.”

Well said. One can only hope that, in the future, the UN will start advancing towards those liberal goals by insisting on harboring in its midst only member states whose regimes show the barest minimum of inclination towards them. 

But, if you really think all of the above has been regurgitated here just as a smokescreen to distract you from Israeli crimes, I gladly offer you this deal: you support throwing out the ten worst human rights offenders out of the UN, and I’ll support throwing Israel out. Israel has little or nothing to lose (the end of prejudiced UN resolutions perhaps), and the UN has a lot to gain – such as the moral credibility of its founding charter.

CiF piece critical of Gilad Atzmon elicits storm of antisemitic reader comments, including organ theft libels

H/T Margie

A good barometer of the depth of Judeophobia among many regular Guardian readers is observing how they respond to a CiF commentary condemning the most egregious and undeniable expressions of Jew hatred.

As such, the hostility towards Jews expressed in various forms by CiF readers in response to a commentary by Andy Newman “Gilad Atzmon, antisemitism and the left, Sept. 25, is a perfect illustration of this dynamic.

Newman, it should be noted, is a trade unionist and contributes to Socialist Unity website.  That is, he is a leftist in good standing – a fact that didn’t seem to at all protect him from a volley of hate and vitriol from Guardian readers outraged at any suggestion that there is a problem with antisemitism on the left.

Newman’s commentary focuses on Gilad Atzmon, whose bigotry towards Jews recalls the most classic expressions of Jew hatred and antisemitic conspiracy theories throughout history.

Here are a few quotes by Atzmon which demonstrate his anti-Jewish racism.

Jews trying to take over the world:

“we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously…. American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least.”

Jews were responsible for their persecution by Nazis:

“Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler’s March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish
stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the
worldwide Jewish leadership.”

“Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even super powers. AIPAC’s behavior last week reminded me of the Jewish declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933.”

Israel is worse than Nazi Germany:

“We have heard the comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany. I don’t like this comparison because I really think that Israel is far worse than Nazi Germany.”

As you read the CiF comments below, also note that Newman’s commentary also mentioned, as another example of leftist antisemitism, Alison Weir, who published a piece at CounterPunch defending the libels advanced by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet about Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinians in Gaza to harvest their organs. 

(It’s worth noting that the writings of Atzmon have recently received an unqualified endorsement from John Mearsheimer, the darling of the Israel lobby- fearing left.)

Here is a sample of some of the commentary beneath the line of Newman’s commentary.

Support, to varying degrees, of Israeli organ theft libel:

Zionists support greater antisemitism, as they see it as benefiting Israel.

Criticisms of Atzmon is a cynical attempt to silence all critiques of the Jewish right wing. Commenter endorses Norman Finkelstein.

Atzmon is not antisemitic at all. He is, rather, a compassionate and wise man whose words are just taken out of context and selectively edited.

Neuman’s essay is part of Zionist neocon campaign to smear Atzmon, who is merely revealing the world’s most sinister and racist ideology – Zionism.

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CiF Watch Exclusive: Zionist Spy Vulture gets wings!

Stock photo of one of the many Mossad vultures in operation

The official transcript of Mahmoud Abbas’ recent speech to the UN General Assembly does not include one part of the address which – certainly in my household – heralded the ‘waste of time listening’ warning bells.  Abbas’ improvised remark about settlers having dogs which they use to attack Palestinians was made, ostensibly, not to his domestic audience which is used to hearing such zoological conspiracy theories, (there’s even a Wikipedia page on the subject), but at the pinnacle of the world stage.

 The fact that Abbas could – or would – not control his penchant for such ridiculous drifts into delusions of his own invention may well have gone unnoticed in the Western world – or at most raised a giggle – but it does have significance.

This man is supposed to be – according to Western opinion – our partner for peace; do we really expect someone who subscribes to and propagates zoological conspiracy theories to be capable of the necessary appreciation of the realities of the complex Middle East situation? Can a man at the head of a government which encourages its people to believe that the Israelis use trained rats to force them to leave their homes in Jerusalem and that a new wild boar (an oxymoron if ever there was one) has been “engineered” by settlers to distinguish between Palestinian and Israeli crops (so as to destroy only the former!), lead his people towards making the necessary compromises based on an acceptance of their own share of responsibility for the current situation?

What many a commentator – including those at the Guardian – seems to have failed to appreciate is that Abbas’ speech was aimed primarily for domestic consumption: hence the use of the obligatory accusatory and fantastic rhetoric.  Mahmoud Abbas has neither the ability nor the inclination to engage in the peace process: he flew to New York solely in order to bolster his own position on the domestic map – quite successfully as it turns out. And if Abbas’ speech is an example of what makes for popularity on the Palestinian street, then alarm bells should be ringing very loud in London, Brussels, Moscow and New York.  All the efforts made by members of the Quartet in the wake of Abass’ demand for statehood are clearly a complete waste of time and energy. If that speech showed anything, it is that the only option currently open in the so-called peace process is to take a time-out.

Of course Mahmoud Abbas is not alone in subscribing to zoological Zionist espionage conspiracy theories; quite a portion of his UN audience may indeed have been quietly nodding in agreement with his canine delusions. After all, the Iranians did arrest 14 squirrels for spying in 2007, the Egyptian governor of Sinai was quite ready to believe that it was a Mossad-controlled shark which attacked tourists there in 2010 and in January 2011 a Zionist Griffon Vulture was apprehended in Saudi Arabia.

So….

Sparing no effort to bring our conspiracy theory-loving neighbours the latest news on the subject of Zionist animal espionage, a CiF Watch correspondent recently attended the graduation ceremony of yet another Zionist Spy Vulture (ZSV) at a secret and secluded Mossad training camp cleverly disguised as a nature reserve. The four year-old Griffon Vulture is code-named A18. Obviously, ‘A’ must stand for ‘agent’.  

In a moving ceremony, A18 was given his (or her – apparently it is impossible to tell the sex of a vulture without a blood test: very crafty indeed….) wings. 

And off he – or she – went on a long trained-for mission to patrol the skies of the Middle East, transmitting vital information back to the home base by means of sophisticated electronic equipment.  

Good Luck, A18 – see you next year at nesting time.  Oh, and try to avoid Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority if you can…

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report erases the humanity of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism

The following passage in Harriet Sherwood’s latest post, “Palestine to press for UN on statehood as soon as possible“, Sept. 25, represents a perfect illustration of the appalling disregard for the humanity of Israeli victims of terrorism by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent.

The 15-member security council is due to begin considering the Palestinian request on Monday amid rising tensions in the West Bank following the shooting dead of a Palestinian villager by Israeli soldiers and the death of a Jewish settler and his son in a car crash that police said was probably caused by rock-throwing. [emphasis mine]

The circumstances behind the Palestinian reportedly killed by Israeli soldiers, who were attempting to defend against violent protests near Qusra, are still being investigated.

The Israeli Jews, on the other hand, were almost certainly murdered by Palestinian terrorists, who intentionally threw rocks at an Israeli vehicle near Kiryat Arba in order to kill the Jewish occupants.

For Sherwood, Palestinian “villagers” are shot dead by a clear protagonist, “Israeli soldiers”.  While Jewish “settlers”, according to Sherwood, are killed, not by Palestinian terrorists, nor Palestinians, nor terrorists, and not even by amorphous rock throwers but, rather, by the act of “rock-throwing”.

Here is a photo of the Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists, Asher, 25, and his one-year old son, Yehonatan: