Of course, that the Guardian published a report on the Gilad Shalit deal by a journalist as hostile to Israel as Deborah Orr is not surprising to anyone remotely familiar with the paper adeptly characterized by Robin Shepherd as the mainstream Anglo publication most hostile to Israel in the world.
Nor is it surprising anymore when they publish essays or letters about Israel by commentators with a well-documented record of engaging in explicit antisemitism. While such contributors are often of the Islamist variety, recently they provided a forum to two of the most prolific modern (leftist) antisemites – Alison Weir and Gilad Atzmon.
However, as even the Guardian typically assures that such contributors maintain at least a thin “progressive” rhetorical veneer to furtively advance classic Judeophobic narratives, Orr’s latest piece stands out as a simply ugly, and thoroughly unrestrained, expression of animosity towards Jews.
As we noted the other day, a peculiar, morally illogical argument, that the prisoner swap in which Gilad Shalit’s release for the release of 1027 Palestinian terrorists was somehow evidence of Israeli racism, was being advanced by more than a few Guardian readers beneath the line.
One commenter wrote that the deal meant that, for Israel, “one Jew = a thousand Muslims…a chilling message”.
However, while you can dismiss such vitriol, which turns any semblance of logic on its head, as the musings of few intellectually challenged bigots of no particular significance, Orr’s piece not only parrots this simply bizarre idea, but takes it even further.
“It’s quite something, the prisoner swap between Hamas and the Israeli government that returns Gilad Shalit to his family, and more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to theirs…[which is] an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives.”
Of course, beyond the absurdity of the apparently serious suggestion that Israel is unique among the nations in prioritizing the protection of its own citizens over citizens of other countries, the broader moral logic of this passage is stunning.
It seems that only someone with a simply immutable hatred for Israel could frame the nation’s willingness to release over a thousand terrorists, many with the blood of innocent Israeli lives on their hands – the large majority of which possess a sociopathic absence of remorse for their murderous acts – in exchange for just one of its own citizens as evidence of the state’s racism.
In the annals of political commentary I truly think you’d be hard pressed to find a similar supposition, that an asymmetrical prisoner swap demonstrates racism on behalf of the party forced to agree to release a greater number of enemy prisoners.
However, Orr, emboldened by her accusation against Israel, devolves further, and subsequently, in an attempt to contextualize the inherent racism of the Jewish state, writes:
“At the same time, however, there is something abject in [Hamas's] eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”
The antisemitic use, and profound distortion, of the idea of Jewish “chosenness” – from a passage in the Torah widely understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold an especially high standard of ethical behavior – has a long and dark history.
In 1973, the Soviet Union actually initiated a debate at the UN on the subject of Jews as the chosen people, which they argued was evidence of the Jewish religion’s inherent racism.
Indeed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the most widely distributed antisemitic forgery in history – a book still quite popular in the Arab world – is premised partly on the idea of Jews’ “chosenness”.
A distortion of such “chosenness” is a widely used theme in perhaps the most popular antisemitic site on the web, Jew Watch - replete with quotes such as these:
“The Jewish conception of the Jews as the Chosen People who must eventually rule the world forms indeed the basis of Rabbinical Judaism.”
The most well-known white supremacist in the U.S., David Duke, uses the theme of Jews’ “chosenness” to prove that Jews are the most racist people on the planet. Duke, in his book, “Jewish Surpemacism“, argues:
“Israelites are a “chosen people,” chosen by God above all the other peoples of the world…[which] is a blatant expression of ethnic supremacism.”
The odious notion of Jewish supremacism, inspired by such distortions of Jews “chosenness”, has actually found fertile ground previously on the pages of the Guardian, as their foreign leader editor David Hearst characterized, in a Guardian piece published in August, Israel’s only two moral choices as either accepting a one-state solution or continuing to represent the supremacist ideology of Zionism.
Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook argued on the pages of Mondoweiss a couple months back that Israel’s problem with the Islamic Movement’s Raed Salah was owed to the fact that his Islamic faith was “incompatible with the state ideology of Jewish supremacism.”
Of course, the moral inversion of complaining that Jews oppress others out of a sense of supremacism is exquisite.
You don’t need to be an academic to understand that Jews have indeed been chosen throughout the ages for opprobrium, persecution and slaughter to a degree without historic parallel, inspiring Professor Robert Wistrich to characterize antisemitism as the world’s longest (and most lethal) hatred.
Orr, who in an angry diatribe published by The Independent in 2001, titled “I’m fed up with being called an antisemite“, commented that merely believing, as she does, that “Israel is a shitty little country” doesn’t make her an antisemite.
Perhaps, but when you suggest that Israel is a racist nation because Judaism is racist by design you’re most definitely a virulent antisemite.
And, when editors at a newspaper publish such unbridled hatred, they represent an institution which is a moral accomplice in the historic cognitive warfare against the Jewish people.