Deputy Editor of ‘Comment is Free’ expresses concern for Ben White’s “reputation” on Twitter


The most infamous essay of CiF contributor Ben White was a 2002 CounterPunch piece titled, “Is it possible to understand antisemitism?”.

First, there was this passage:

I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are. There are, in fact, a number of reasons. One is the state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians. It is because Zionists have always sought to equate their colonial project with Judaism that some misguidedly respond to what they see on their televisions with attacks on Jews or Jewish property.

And he further linked the rise of antisemitism with “the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media”. 

But, equally as pernicious was this:

[There was a] controversy in Germany over alleged anti-Semitic remarks made by Jürgen Möllemann, the deputy leader of the FDP party, when he compared the Israeli government’s actions to those of the Nazi regime. Since his remarks Jewish groups have taken to the streets to call for Mr Möllemann’s resignation.

Comparisons between the Israeli government and the Nazis is unwise and unsound, since the Israelis have not (at the time of going to press) exterminated in a systematic fashion an enormous percentage of the Palestinians. Cold-blooded killings, beatings, house demolitions, vandalism, occupation, military assaults, and two historical pushes at ethnic cleansing–yes. Full fledged genocide–no.

However, the comparison is not anti-Semitic. It does not make racist assumptions, nor does it smack of bigotism. 

(Also of note, White has recommended an essay by Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, in his book on “Israeli Apartheid”.)

Regarding the Israel-Nazi analogy, White has also employed language which at least evokes this political parallel, such as in the following passage from an essay posted on his website:

“Palestinians, who, in the name of a ‘social-democratic experiment’, had to endure massacres, death-marches, and ethnic cleansing…”

In addition to such comparisons being intellectually unserious, such morally obscene comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany are codified as antisemitic by the EU Working Definition

Flash to a Twitter exchange yesterday which involved Sunny Hundall, editor of Guardian partner blog, Liberal Conspiracy, Louise Mensch, British MP, and David Shariatmadari, deputy editor of ‘Comment is Free’.

The row began after White posted an essay at Liberal Conspiracy, titled “Mensch to speak at ‘extreme’ Israeli conference“, which criticized Mensch’s upcoming appearance at a Stand With Us conference, and leveled simply unserious accusations that StandWithUs “donors accused the group of having “a web of funders who support organisations that have been accused of anti-Muslim propaganda.”  

There was, of course, quite a bit of vitriol below the line, which included defenses of the Israel=Nazi Germany comparison after one commenter brought attention to White’s defense of this view.

Here is a snippet from the Twitter exchange which followed. 

Mensch:

Then when Ben White joined the exchange, taking issue with Mensch’s characterization of his views, Mensch responded thusly:

Then, Comment is Free editor, David Shariatmadari, chimes in:

So, the Guardian’s Shariatmadari evidently finds it morally relevant whether or not White was defending comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany broadly (not as bad), or whether there was a specific charge that Israel exterminates Palestinians in Auschwitz-like concentration camps.

Mensch responds clearly:

Did Mensch really have to Tweet this morally intuitive argument to the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ deputy editor?  

Further, Shariatmadari’s grave concern about Ben White’s “reputation” speaks volumes about a media group who continually licenses commentators who may possess a liberal veneer but are morally compromised by an undeniable antipathy towards Jews. 

12 comments on “Deputy Editor of ‘Comment is Free’ expresses concern for Ben White’s “reputation” on Twitter

  1. Will wonders ever cease?? CiF concern about bottom feeder White’s reputation is rather like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted – whatever reputation White had has sunk beyond redemption long before the exchange of tweets above.

    But no, the clue, like the antisemitism devil, as ever lies in the detail:, as Adam says. Shariatmadari seems more concerned about the words White used than about the intent behind the use of them. Set against White’s previous contributions to CiF and elsewhere should be no doubt in any intelligent person’s mind about White’s attitude to Jews, but no, Shariatmadari is vainly engaged in trying to pull CiF’s reputation nuts out of the fire, as though, if he succeeded and White didn’t actually SAY what he was accused of saying, he didn’t mean anything equally reprehensible. As if!!!

    Adam’s final paragraph sums up nicely what the Guardian/CiF are all about – having fallen utterly for their own rhetoric as the “liberal voice” (when the company they keep in terms of the haters from whom they commission articles they show themselves to be anything but and often entirely the opposite) they leap to the defence of the haters with whom they are associated for fear their hate-filled articles will reflect badly on them!

    Too late! We have White’s measure and that of the rest of the CiF stable. Nothing Shariatmadari tweets about the words used or not used (as I said set against the generalised nastiness and Jew-hatred of White) can detract that CiF has backed a wrong ‘un in White and others like him.

  2. Further, Shariatmadari’s grave concern about Ben White’s “reputation” speaks volumes about a media group who continually licenses commentators who may possess a liberal veneer but are morally compromised by an undeniable antipathy towards Jews.

    Yes. The ‘progressive’ adjective that The Guardian likes to refer to itself has damaged the meaning of the word for generations.

    They have sullied rational peoples interpretation of ‘Left’ too.

    Ben White. All he has is his hate of the one Western Liberal Democracy in the Middle East. You can feel that it ‘eats’ at him.

  3. Shariatmadari misuses the verb “to effect” when he meant “affect.”. A small point, but for an editor to do this shows what kind of sophomoric minds are at work at the Guardian.

  4. Oh, the irony this article describes.

    White is an S H one T, How could one ad hom him?

    I do not understand antisemitism. I do not understand how anyone can know anything about Nazism and then turn 180º and say it’s Jews’ modus operandi. But it is a great way of spitting on six million graves if you are so morally and intellectually disordered.

    Last night I heard that 300m people died as a result of Communism. The only estimate I’ve heard of deaths resulting from Islam is 270m, Both ideologies of course had far longer than Hitler to achieve their destruction.

    How many corpses would satisfy a hater?

  5. When you have someone called Shariamadari as the deputy editor of CiF then you can expect CiF to be a cesspool,where the Ben Whites and their ilk can swim comfortably.

    It’s not surprising that this Sharia guy would even think of defending a low life like this Ben White,don’t forget this is the Guardian after all.

    I saw a picture of this Ben Whine in the Guardian,his steely blue eyes,thin tight lips,closely cropped hair……Reminded me of those German Nazis……..

  6. The Guardian is starting to get worried about their whole racist reputation,not just Ben White’s reputation….

    That Article by Chris Elliot shows that the Guardian has taken notice of what is being said about their tarnished reputation,and of their racist attitude towards Jews and Israel………..

    CiFWATCH needs to be commended for it’s large part in exposing the Guardians underbelly.

  7. Pingback: Why is a liberal blog continuing to publish a defender of a homophobic hate preacher? | RichardMillett's Blog

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