Democracy deficits & moral deficits: The mindless anti-Zionism of CiF contributor Mark Weisbrot

An exquisite convergence of anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism appeared in ‘Comment is Free’ today, written by Mark Weisbrot, perhaps the most prolific among CiF’s core of extreme left commentators.

Weisbrot’s sophistication and erudition, when expounding upon the U.S war against sadistic Taliban terrorists, was on display in his previous CiF entry, where he thriftily and pithily summed up the US campaign as “soldiers pissing on corpses [and] drones slaughtering civilians”.

He characterized the U.S. war against terrorism more broadly as arguably indicative of “a crusade against the Muslim world” – agitprop which seems to slip off Weisbrot’s tongue with the ease of someone schooled in the Noam Chomsky school of tyranny apologetics.    

And, as I noted previously, Weisbrot quite explicitly accused the U.S. of committing a “Holocaust” in Iraq, accusing critics of such a characterization as guilty of “Holocaust Denial”.

Naturally, as part of his broader anti-American ideological package, Weisbrot is necessarily as hostile to Israel as he is sympathetic to Arab despots.

Weisbrot – whose output of anti-Zionist and (mostly) anti-American vitriol, at Znet and CiF, is quite impressive – today published “Why American ‘democracy’ promotion rings hollow“, Jan. 31.

While the broader narrative, mocking American democracy promotion in the Arab world is itself a work of political sophistry worthy of scrutiny, the following passage about Israel is a much repeated, if banal, narrative within Guardian-Left circles, and  represents yet another casual assault on the Jewish state’s legitimacy.

Write’s Weisbrot:

Nowhere is [the hypocritical U.S. claim to promote democracy] more obvious than in the Middle East, where the US government’s policy of collaboration with Israel’s denial of Palestinian national rights has put it at odds with populations throughout the region. As a result, Washington fears democracy in many countries because it will inevitably lead to more governments taking the side of the Palestinians, 

The notion that the Arab world, which continues to be defined by increasing intolerance towards religious and ethnic minorities, extreme antisemitism, and the denial of basic human rights – in stark contrast with Israel’s unique and enduring democratic prowess – possesses any moral credibility in denouncing the U.S. is a political inversion of the first order.

Arabs of Palestinian origin, whose rights are systematically denied throughout the (non-Jewish) Middle East, have become the propaganda tool of choice for far left ideologues such as Weisbrot – activists who similarly fail to mention the absence of such democratic values in Palestinian ruled territory.

The reason why Western liberals fear the upheavals in the Arab world is the increasingly clear slouch towards Islamist political movements which are, by definition, decidedly reactionary and illiberal, and at odds with true democratic values.

The romaticization of the Arab Spring, the edifice of a “democratic” revolution, is becoming increasingly difficult for those who claim intellectual integrity to maintain.  

The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists in Egypt, the Enhada Party in Tunisia, or major parties vying for power in Libya, can largely be defined (or may likely, one day, be defined) by a greater adherence to (in spirit or letter) Sharia law, and an atavistic, ideological antisemitism which bears little if any connection to the plight of the Palestinians.

As a report on antisemitism in the Arab world in the context of the ‘Arab Spring”, written by scholars at the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, noted:

[While] the popular uprisings in the Arab world do not represent a general change in attitude towards Israel, Zionism and the Jews it seems the anti-Semitic discourse and incitement have become more extreme and violent,”

Charges of an international Jewish conspiracy have been a central motif in the anti-Semitic propaganda that has accompanied the Arab Spring uprisings. This motif has been emphasized in each of the countries especially by way of pointing a blaming finger towards Israel, Zionism and Jews conspiring against Arabs and Muslims

Of course, the continuing Arab antipathy towards Jews is not at all surprising to those who study the politics of the region, and the habitual denial of this endemic Judeophobic dynamic by Guardian reporters and commentators is documented continually on the pages of this blog. 

But the mere ubiquity of voices like Weisbrot, at ‘Comment is Free’, who are willfully blind to the most malign anti-Jewish racism, makes it no less deserving of critical scrutiny, nor, especially, any less morally repugnant.

Did Guardian cave to pressure from Bahrain? Story critical of the regime removed from site

H/T Dave

Thanks to the internet, nothing really ever disappears.

As such, here’s a screen capture of a Guardian report on Jan. 30 titled “Bahrain has failed to adopt reform: So why is the Grand Prix going ahead?“, which is no longer on their site.

 A rather important story for genuine human rights activists in the Arab world, don’t you think?  The arrest and torture of human rights activists and political dissidents: Apartheid practiced against an indigenous population; a complete lack of due process, and outrage by activists at the attempt to legitimize such a despotic regime by allowing them to host an internationally prestigious sporting event? 

Such a story, which holds Arab rulers accountable for their continued violations of basic human rights, and make a mockery of the spirit of the much vaunted “Arab Spring”, is very much outside the box given the Guardian’s Judeocentric view of human rights abuses in the region.

However, when you go to the link now, this is what you find:

What happened? Well, per the report’s authors, Nabeel Rajab and John Lubbock, the Guardian is being threatened with legal action by Bahrain.

Here’s Lubbock’s Tweet:

Truly remarkable. An institution which prides itself on “speaking truth to power” caves to pressure from a Bahrain PR Firm (perhaps the PR firm responsible for promoting the Grand Prix event?), or the regime itself, and completely removes a piece critical of the country.

The hypocrisy is stunning.

While, based on Lubbock’s Tweets, it appears that the piece may be re-posted in some form, can anyone remember a similar case involving Israel, where the Guardian removed a defamatory piece about the Jewish state due to threats from the Israeli government, or even following substantial evidence of factual errors?

Yes, it’s a rhetorical question.

Jewish money: The Guardian leaps once more into the sewer of antisemitic conspiracies

A guest post by AKUS

Adam Levick has already demonstrated the prevalence of typically anti-Semitic language and themes that form the core of the disgusting article by Arun Kundnani, Newt Gingrich’s agenda-setting big donor, with its implication of “Jewish money” setting the agenda for the US elections, and the twinned article by  Paul Harris, The Secrets of the billionaire bankrolling Gingrich’s shot at the White House, with its juicy hint of a secretive Jewish donor manipulating the Republican nomination campaign.

Arun Kundnani claims that Adelson is “setting the agenda” for Gingrich by donating money to a Super-PAC that supports Gingrich’s candidacy.

This, of course, is nonsense. A PAC does not “set the agenda” for a candidate. All PACs promote the agenda of candidates they find consistent with their donors’ views by placing advertizing in the media. Kundnani basically admits as much:

Of course, like all private funding of politics, there is no way of knowing with certainty what the Adelsons expect to achieve with their money.

Precisely.  There is no way to know what donors expect other than they hope their preferred candidate will win the nomination and will, therefore, implement polices the donors support – but do not control. The idea that because Adelson is Jewish (and even worse – a Jew who loves and supports Israel) he must be setting Newt’s agenda is clearly a reversion to the age-old theme that “Jewish money” controls politics (among other things).

Money is flooding into the coffers of all candidates now that the Supreme Court has (foolishly, I believe) opened the doors to corporate donors. The Sunlight Foundation has been tracking Super PAC money, and it reveals that although the pro-Gingrich Super PAC that Adelson supports, Winning Our Future, has  spent $8,511,433, the pro-Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future, has outspent Gingrich’s Super Pac by more than 2:1 – $17,485,657.

PACs supporting other candidates have spent or raised amounts in the $1 million to $4 million range, including, by the way, a PAC that supports perennial Guardian favorite, the anti-Israeli Ron Paul.

Yet we do not see an investigative piece in the Guardian that tries to tie Romney’s donors to powerful and wealthy Mormons, or Ron Paul’s PAC to – well, some lunatic fringe Texan, I suppose who hopes to “achieve something with his money” such as restoring the US to the gold standard.

In fact, while Adelson might support Gingrich because Gingrich supports Israel is very likely true, it is apparently not necessarily true that Gingrich is supporting Israel to court “Jewish money”.  Even the virulently anti-Israeli Guardian journalist, Chris McGreal, has dropped his blinkers long enough to note what everyone else already realized some time ago – that Newt’s real audience is the vastly greater evangelical voting bloc:

But Gingrich’s vocal support of Israel has less to do with support from the Jewish community than the votes of a much larger group: Christian evangelicals, who are strongly supportive of Israel for theological reasons

McGreal went on to cite a person claiming that the evangelicals are to the right of Netanyahu’s government when it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict. Nevertheless, he also could not avoid bringing Adelson into the mix, even though he is only one of Gingrich’s donors and we have no way to know how he compares with other donors – for example, to donors to Romney’s far greater Super PAC. For those interested, it is worth noting that Jeffrey Katzenberg has donated $2 million to Barak Obama’s Super PAC, but the Guardian editorial pool does not seem to feel that this donation raises the specter of “Jewish money” at work distorting the electoral process.

Harris article, The Secrets of the billionaire bankrolling Gingrich’s shot at the White House, was typical of the worst of the Guardian’s feeble attempts at investigative reporting. In more than 2,000 words, Harris revealed “secrets” that a few milliseconds on Google would turn up. The gist, of course, was that as a result of the Adelsons’ support, heavily outspent Gingrich “…suddenly has an outside chance of becoming president”. Perhaps to put this whole affair in perspective, take a look at the billions spent by lobbying companies  listed at OpenSecrets.org.

It is the delicious conjunction of “Adelson” – “Jewish” – “Israel”- Abe Foxman” – “AIPAC” and, of course, “money” that makes the whole issue of Adelson’s very public “secrets” so interesting to Harris and the Guardian. The Guardian even foolishly added the sub-header claim, ludicrous to every sane observer of the Republican nomination process, that is being debunked even as I write this, that “Sheldon Adelson is not running for office – but his cash could swing Tuesday’s Florida primary”.

Well, it may not. Romney is trouncing Gingrich in the Florida primary polls.

If it is inappropriate for wealthy people to support Gingrich, why is it not inappropriate for Romney to raise at least twice as much money, and far more than twice as much before the Adelsons stepped forward with their donation or donations? There is really only one answer, and it runs like a shameful thread through all three articles. It is because Adelson is Jewish and a supporter of Israel, and Newt has been more outspoken in his support of Israel than Romney (but less, by the way, than former candidate Michele Bachman, for example).

The Guardian moderators were out in force shredding comments BTL to Kundani’s article. One of the comments deleted was this one, and I would say that SantaMoniker only got it half right:

The fact is, there was nothing “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” about the articles by Kundnani and Harris, in particular. They were blatant invocations of the age-old anti-Semitic idea that “Jewish money” controls politicians. The Guardian has been slipping more and more frequently into the sewer of anti-Semitism, and this time was in it up to its neck.

But the Republicans of Florida will vote, and it appears that Romney will trounce Gingrich.

Will we then see a shame-faced retraction by the Guardian? Of course not.

Fogel family murderers praised on Palestinian TV: Why the Guardian won’t report it, & why it matters

This blog’s “What the Guardian wont’ report” posts typically highlight news which we feel is vital to accurately understanding the Israeli-Palestinian (and Israeli-Islamist) Conflict, but which doesn’t comport to the Guardian’s political narrative and so is ignored by their reporters covering the region.

As such, it is impossible to engage in a rational debate about the root cause of the conflict without acknowledging the degree to which antisemitism and the glorification of violence against Jews permeates Palestinian society and, moreover, how such culturally normative racism represents one of the greatest impediments to peace.

At the end of the day, if Israelis aren’t reasonably sure that a future Palestinian state will accept the existence of a Jewish state, and will inculcate their children with the values of peace, tolerance and pluralism, most will continue to be skeptical of further territorial concessions which could strengthen the most malevolent Palestinian political movements.

The significance of the following story simply cannot be dismissed or rationalized by anyone sincerely passionate about promoting peace in the region. 

As you recall, on March 11, 2011, five members of the Fogel family were killed in their home in the town of Itamar by Palestinian terrorists from the Awad family. Hakim Awad led the attack, killing the parents Ehud and Ruth and three of their children, aged 11 years, 4 years, and 2 months.  

Per Palestinian Media Watch (PMW):

Official Palestinian Authority TV broadcast greetings to the murderers of the Fogel family from the relatives of the killers and from the PA TV host. 

The weekly PA TV program For You dedicated to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons let the mother and aunt of one of the murderers praise the terrorists as “heroes.” After the mother of the murderer Hakim Awad explained how she is prevented from visiting her son for security reasons, the PA TV host said: “Go ahead, sister, we can convey your voice.”

On the phone, Hakim Awad’s mother “blesses” her “dear son,” and despite the fact that participants in this TV program normally do not mention the terror attacks for which their relatives are serving time, the mother mentions that her son is the one who “carried out the operation in Itamar and sentenced to 5 life sentences,” referring to her son’s brutal killings in the town Itamar.

Hakim Awad’s aunt also participated in the program and referred to the terrorists involved in the killings as “heroes,” calling Hakim Awad “the hero, the legend.” This prompted the PA TV host to add: “We, for our part, also convey our greetings to them.” [emphasis added]

As PMW noted, it was Hakim Awad who killed Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their young children by stabbing them repeatedly with a knife.

Ruth Fogel, 35, Udi Fogel, 36, and their children Elad, 4, three-month-old Hadas, and Yoav, 11

I suggest that you consider sharing the following video of the Palestinian program described above not as “hasbara”, but merely to reach those who are still open minded, so they might ponder the injurious impact of such morally toxic messages within Palestinian society on the peace process.

The program, about which neither Harriet Sherwood nor Phoebe Greenwood will ever report, was broadcast on official state-run Palestinian TV on January 19, and repeated again on January 21.

‘Comment is Free’ Reader Hate of the Day

Inspired by Arun Kundnani’s scare story about the toxicity of Jewish money (“Newt Gingrich’s agenda-setting big donor“, Jan. 27) were a few predictable reader comments.

The text in quotes below are from another reader comment which “beachbear2012″ was responding to. Please note the final passage of the comment by “beachbear2012″, which helpfully fleshes out the full scope of the conspiratorial plot. And, when reading, remember, it’s Zionists he/she hates not Jews.

But, the following “truth-telling” comment about Jewish subterfuge (which received 12 “Recommends” before being deleted),  posted under Paul Harris’s piece on Adelson, “Secrets of the billionaire backing Gingrich’s shot at the White House“, serves to make “beachbear2012″ seem downright philosemitic. 

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Arun Kundnani, & a Guardian dog-whistle about the injurious effects of a wealthy American Zionist

Arun Kundnani at Islamic Human Rights Commission Event

The 2012 Presidential Republican Primaries have just gotten started, and the Guardian has found their villain:

A  “secretive”, pro-Israel, bullying, racist Jewish billionaire exercising a nefarious influence on the American political process.

His name is Sheldon Adelson, and, in nearly 3000 words in two separate Guardian reports (both published on Jan. 28,), Paul Harris and Arun Kundnani have played to their Guardian base with the unmistakable evocation of the injurious effects of (Zionist) Jewish money on the American body politic.

Harris’s “The Secrets of the billionaire bankrolling Gingrich’s shot at the White House“, warning of a Jewish billionaire attempting to purchase the outcome of the U.S. elections, contains tropes similarly found in Arun’s piece, but Aruns account of Adelson, in “Newt Gingrich’s agenda-setting big donor, represents a far more egregious polemical assault on pro-Israel American Jewry.

Arun begins his critique of Adleson’s substantial donations to the Gingrich campaign by attempting to explain his motives, complaining that the New York Times and others in the MSM have been less than direct, and even coy, about Adelsons’ political views.

Writes Arun:

[The NYT] ignored the fact that the Adelson [family] uses their wealth to fund rightwing groups in Israel and anti-Muslim campaigns within the U.S.

Adelson is a friend of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu… [and] has also funded the leading pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)…known for its strong and effective advocacy of Israel’s interests.

Arun’s caricature of Adelson couldn’t be clearer: A wealthy American Jew attempting to manipulate the U.S. political system to promote not American but, rather, Israel’s interests.

He continues:

[Adelson] also reportedly supports the Clarion Fund, which produces scare-mongering films advancing the conspiracy theory that Muslims seek to impose sharia law in America.

One of the Clarion Fund’s films, “Obsession“, which I’ve seen, at odds with Arun’s characterization, does not contain anti-Muslim racism, and certainly does not trade in conspiracy theories.  The film opens with a very clear explanation that their focus is not on the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world, but merely on Islamists who espouse radical and violent views.

Indeed, the video largely consists of clips of Islamists on Arab TV (in their own words) advancing hate and inciting their followers to launch a global Jihad.

The suggestion there’s something bigoted about warning of the very real threats posed by radical Islam is one of the moral signatures of the Guardian Left – those who genuinely seem more concerned with the “agenda” of Zionist Jews than with proponents of a reactionary, violent, and theocratic movement inherently at odds with progressive values.

Arun continues:

While Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have also declared their strong support for Israel, only Gingrich has embraced a vision of civilizational conflict between the west and Islam – a convenient narrative for the right in Israel, which fears growing international support for the human rights of Palestinians, and would prefer Americans to think of Israel as a bastion of western values threatened by Islamic barbarism.

Right out of the Guardian commentary playbook, Arun sows doubt on the morally intuitive understanding that Israel is indeed a bastion of liberal democratic values and human rights in a region awash in repression and religious totalitarianism. 

Is it even debatable that the “human rights of Palestinians” continue to be abrogated by their decidedly reactionary Islamist leaders in Gaza?

What possible defense could Arun mount to evidence that the rights of women, gays, political dissidents and religious minorities are routinely violated in the Palestinian Territories?

Interestingly, Arun, a Soros fellow, has appeared at events about Islamophobia sponsored by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).  

To those unaware about the IHRC’s understanding of human rights, here’s Douglas Murray, former director of the Centre for Social Cohesion:

 [The IHRC] campaigns for imprisoned extremists such as the “Blind Sheikh”, Omar Abdel Rahman, currently serving a life sentence in the US for his part in the first blowing-up of the World Trade Centre in 1993. The IHRC’s chairman, Massoud Shadjareh criticised the prosecution of Abu Hamza in 2006, claiming that the conviction created “an environment that can only further alienate the Muslim community” Shadjareh has called Zionism a racist ideology, and, in a 2006 demonstration in London, called for support for Hezbollah. The IHRC also organises the annual al-Quds day parade in London – an event instituted by that well-known champion of human rights, Ayatollah Khomeini.

Arun also appeared in 2006 UK forum titled “Racism, Liberty and the war on terror”, whose co-panelists included a who’s who of Islamists and their supporters, including Moazzam Begg, former Taliban supporter and al-Qaeda member, and Salma Yaqoob, the former vice-chair, of the Respect Party who described the 7/7 terror attacks as reprisal attacks against American aggression.

Arun is an editor at the journal, ‘Race and Class’, which frequently publishes essays by those opposed to Israel’s existence, including one by Hilary and Steven Rose which championed the virtues of a complete cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

Arun has also, in an interview, spoken favorably of Islamist thinkers like Hassan al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood), Tariq Ramadan (a proponent of Islamism who happens to be the grandson of al-Banna) and Sayyid Qutb (the Islamist writer who’s been credited with inspiring the ideology of Islamist groups like al-Qaeda).

Moreover, in the Marxist-inspired, ideological spirit of Guardian Associate Editor Seumas Milne, Arun has derided the West’s war against Islamist terrorism as nothing more than another form of neo-colonialism“.

Finally, and arguably the most chilling passages in his ‘Comment is Free’ piece, Arun concludes:

The number of Americans holding [Adelson's pro-Israel anti-Islamist] views [are] declining. One index of this shifting mood was the  that the standing ovation Netanyahu received at Congress was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby”, implying that money rather than shared values underlies the special relationship. Yet there remains a reluctance to fully discuss these issues for fear of fueling the old hate libels about Jewish money controlling world events. This is a real concern: antisemitism continues to be central to much far-right ideology in the US and Europe. Equally, though, we should not be discouraged from properly scrutinising the millions of dollars being spent to advance the career of a politician who promotes conspiracy theories about a Muslim takeover of America and is running for the presidential nomination while espousing a Greater Israel agenda. [emphasis added]

Arun here is marveling, indeed celebrating, the American lurch towards the mainstreaming of classic antisemitic tropes; seeing its resurgence as a hopeful, indeed progressive, indicator of the changing political climate: The fear of American Jews loyal not to their own country, but to a “greater Israel”.

Arun is speaking truth to power, bucking the politically fashionable concerns of a resurgent antisemitism.

But, perhaps Arun’s greatest conceit, and most deceitful narrative, involves the suggestion that antisemitism “continues to be central to much far-right ideology in the US and Europe”.

Is there really anyone who’s intellectually and morally serious who believes that Judeophobia is an ideological vice primarily found on the right?

Can anyone aware of the malign, often annihilationist, anti-Jewish rhetoric emanating from the Middle East – in their media, popular culture, and during sermons delivered in mosques located in Cairo, Damascus, Riyadh, Gaza City, and Ramallah – honestly suggest that the the most serious, pervasive and endemic antisemitism in our day lay not in the Islamic world?

Arun’s profound moral obfuscation about Islam’s Jewish  problem, couched in an essay itself laden with classic Judeophobic tropes regarding the corrosive effects of Jews’ money, represents a supremely cynical moral inversion.

Yet, Arun’s polemical assault on the motives and loyalties of American Jews represents the kind of bigoted propaganda continually, and audaciously, couched in progressive terms at the ideological space known as the Guardian Left.

Israeli Winter Diarist: Rain, rain come again.

I know, I know: we Israelis are funny about rain. We get very excited when it makes an appearance, talking about it incessantly and even going out on trips to see it. But that’s what happens in a country with sporadic rainfall at best for only five months of the year and a national average which would barely fill a bucket. We even have words for the first rain of the year (yoreh יורה  ) and the last (malkosh  מלקוש ) – a concept which seems quite bizarre to most English speakers.

So you won’t be too surprised to hear that I was out and about today in the rain doing what we call in my family ‘stream hunting’. The reservoirs are still far from full – the past few winters have been drought years – but there is still a lot to enjoy. 

 

The Upper Jordan River

Israeli day-trippers watching a waterfall

The Aiyt waterfall

 

The Sea of Galilee from Korazim

Meeting the locals

So far, we’re not doing badly at all this year, with some areas in the north-west of the country having already reached their annual average rainfall and in the south the figure currently standing at 40-65%. Let’s hope for much more in the coming months before the malkosh arrives and the long hot dry season begins. 

Did Guardian journalists violate international law? Delegitimization of the settlements jumps the shark

As I’ve noted on several occasions, the allegations by Guardian reporters that Jews living anywhere beyond the green line (that is, where Jews have lived for centuries, with the exception of the period between 1949 and 1967) are in violation of international law are leveled as frequently as they are lazily. Such reports rarely even bother inserting a hyperlink to a source on the adjudication of the illegality of such Israeli communities.

Charges have been legitimized by the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood that Jerusalem’s light rail line – which audaciously serves both Arab and Jewish neighborhoods – is arguably a violation of international law.

Israelis attempting to violate international law by boarding Jerusalem's Light Rail

And, more recently, Israeli quarry mining in the West Bank, which provides economic activity and employment for Jews and Palestinians alike, was characterized in a report by Harriet Sherwood similarly as a possibly ‘illegal” act per international law.

Internationally outlawed economic activity: Quarry Mining

And, until recently, I thought the most surreal accusation that Israel was in violation of international law was when the Jewish state stood accused, by the NGO Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, of committing a WAR CRIME when they, in 2010, reopened a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, which had been destroyed by the Jordanians following the the 1948 War.

Synagogue in historically Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem: Violation of International Law

However, the following report by International Middle East Media Center truly jumps the shark with such accusations. 

Their story, titled “International media complicit in legitimization of Israeli settlements“, Jan. 27, by Alessandra Bajec, includes the following:

Unbelievable, but true: over 70 journalists from international mainstream media took part in a tour through Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank last Thursday 19th… guests of the Head of the Samaria Regional Council Gershon Mesika and the Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein. 

Participants included journalists from well-known media outlets such as the British Guardian, the Reuters news agency, as well as reporters from France, Poland, China, Germany, South America, the United States, Radio London and several TV stations from Russia. 

Bajec can hardly contain her rage:

What calls immediate attention is the very fact that a (large) delegation of international media professionals went on a tour around Israeli settlements, all deemed illegal under international law. In other words, a host of media people, from the same countries that condemn illegal settlements in occupied Palestine, partook in something that essentially breaks international law.

The simple act of touring settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is an affront to international law…international media buying into a tour of this kind shows that they are complicit in covering up Israel’s war crimes. 

Who’s to blame for such a journalistic apostasy, per Bajec? Yeah, you guessed it:

…pro-Israel lobbies and Zionist networks…and the Israel influenced mainstream news agencies for whom they work [which] made them turn a blind eye on the topical settlement issue…

While I really wish I knew which Guardian journalist participated in the tour and, thus, flagrantly violated international law, I guess, any way you look at it, it’s becoming harder and harder to avoid reaching the conclusion that the Guardian Group is merely another tool of the international Zionist network.

Journalists' partaking in an internationally illegal meal in Shomron Region

(Ben) White Wash at Amnesty

This is cross posted by Richard Millett

Ben White showing off his well-trolled quotes at Amnesty last night.

Ben White was last night handed the opportunity by Amnesty’s UK branch to call for the destruction of Israel. Not necessarily in the way Hamas would wish to achieve it, but White wants Israel changed from a Jewish state into another Muslim Arab state. This is what White thinks is “justice”.

Lest we forget that it was White who once wrote: “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are”.

For that and other statements of his there was a small protest outside Amnesty last night. Once sign read “Amnesty is great, except on Israel”, which is probably about right. Amnesty will stand up against other human rights’ abuses except when they are against Israel. They raised their voice in anger when Gaddafi was cruelly tortured before being executed, but when Israeli soldiers are kidnapped or Israeli children are bombarded by Hamas rockets from Gaza Amnesty falls silent.

Amnesty’s opposition to Israel’s existence is now, sadly, almost policy. Virtually no month passes without there being an anti-Israel event and never will there be a pro-Israel voice on the platform. One of Amnesty’s roles is to try to bury Israel.

White was promoting his new book Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy and it will be instructive to jump straight to the end of last night’s talk.

After calling for “A future based on a genuine co-existence of equals, rather than ethno-religious supremacy and segregation”, with its obvious anti-Semitic connotation of Jewish supremacy, White said (see clip):

“Instead of asking ‘can we return?’ or ‘when will we return?’ Palestinian refugees can ask ‘what kind of return do we want to create for ourselves?’ I think that’s a kind of beautiful phrasing actually that speaks to the liberation of the imagination that has to take place as we move towards securing a peace with justice”:

I can’t see Israelis ever voting for their state being changed into a Muslim Arab state, so what White is basically promoting is more war and bloodshed.

White’s talk, probably like his book, was a long list of out-of-context and out-of-date quotes.

He started with an apparent quote by Balfour in 1919 – “in Palestine we do not propose to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country” – and ended with one by Moshe Dayan’s father, MK Shmuel Dayan, from 1950 – “Maybe (not allowing the refugees back) is not right and not moral, but if we become just and moral, I do not know where we will end up”.

White must spend many nights trolling through the internet and old books looking for quotes that support his pursuit of Israel, but it is obviously a money-making exercise judging by the queue of people waiting for him to sign their copy of his 90-page book.

In between quotes he criticised Israel for what he calls the “Judaisation” of the Galilee and the Negev and for Israel not allowing “Palestinian citizens of Israel”, as he calls them, to live in Israel with their spouses who come from the West Bank and Gaza. The serious security implications for Israel if it allowed the latter are obvious, but Israel’s security isn’t high up on the list of White’s priorities.

During the Q&A he praised the protests during the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall saying that the protests:

“Were targetting a body, the IPO, that receives funding from the Israeli state and also does concerts and stuff for Israeli soldiers.”

He raised the accusation of anti-Semitism aimed at him and said:

“The irony of the accusation of anti-Semitism against me in this context is that it is precisely opposition to all racism that informs my personal opposition to Israeli apartheid”.

And when someone asked him about Hamas and its policies White simply said that the evening wasn’t about Hamas but he hoped that the questioner would “support efforts to end the discriminatory practices against the Palestinians”.

It seems that Hamas is not much of an issue for White or Amnesty, whereas the Jewish state’s existence is.

More clips and photos from last night:

Ben White on “Jewish and Democratic?”

Ben White on “Judaisation” -

I bought this last night as no one else was buying.

Harriet Sherwood, and the Guardian’s strange fixation on the survival of one Jerusalem bookshop

Back in April I posted about a report by the Guardian’s Conal Urquhart (who was briefly filling in for the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood)  titled “Israeli authors join campaign to keep Arab bookseller in the country, April 3, which warned that a bookshop at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem was in danger of closing.  

The story focused on the shop’s owner, Munther Fahmi, who was in danger of losing his Israeli residency.

Fahmi was born in 1954 in the “East” section of Jerusalem then under Jordanian control, and moved to the U.S. when he was 21 where he lived for nearly 20 years.  Upon his return to Israel in the 90s, and opening the bookshop, Fahmi had been living on temporary tourism visas, which, recently, was in danger of not being renewed. (Fahmi’s parents, like many Arabs in East Jerusalem, had declined Israel’s offer of citizenship following the Six Day War.)

Urquhart characterized the dispute, in his April report, over Fahmi’s residency status as politically motivated, and quoted an Israeli journalist claiming that the dispute was “symptomatic of the chauvinistic and intolerant behaviour” (towards Palestinians) displayed by Israel’s current government.

Well, evidently Israel’s chauvinism and intolerance was short-lived, as yesterday, Jan. 27, Harriet Sherwood reported, in “Palestinian bookshop owner celebrates Jerusalem residency ruling“, that Fahmi had been granted a two-year residency extension which his lawyers were confident would likely lead to permanent residency status.

Of course, the broader political narrative advanced by Urquhart and Sherwood is itself highly misleading, suggesting that Palestinians (non-citizens) who have residency status are exceptional in the threat they face in losing their status if out of the country for an extended time.  In the U.S., for instance, absences of one year or more can result in the loss of permanent resident status.

But, such immigration and residency issues aside, the significance imputed to Fahmi’s bookshop – which Sherwood described as a “celebrated Jerusalem bookshop patronised by politicians, diplomats, authors and activists” – is difficult to comprehend.

Indeed, back in April, Urquhart characterized the bookshop as arguably “the only decent English-language bookshop in the country.”

Further, Urquhart, in stressing how vital the bookshop was, uncritically included Fahmi’s specious claim that is was very “hard [in Israel] to get English-language books [and that] many Israeli authors who wrote in English could not sell their books in their own country.”

However, the suggestion that there is a paucity of English books in Israel (or that Israeli authors writing in English can’t sell their books here) should strike anyone who lives, or has spent any time, in the nation – where shops offering new and used English books are abundant – as especially peculiar. 

I came to this determination about the grossly inflated significance of Fahmi’s shop while visiting the store in April, but I decided to return (cell phone camera in hand) to demonstrate to those who haven’t been to the shop why I remain curious about all the press the story is receiving.

Here’s a photo I took yesterday of the bookshop, which is roughly the size of the bedroom in my Jerusalem apartment.

This photo captures the entire size of the store, with the exception of a bookshelf to the left of the woman pictured

Further, I observed in my original post that Urquhart’s characterization of the shop as “a haven of tolerance for scholars in a bitterly divided city” seemed at odds with the works they carried, which, for instance, included, as their sole book about the Holocaust, Norman Finkelstein’s notorious “The Holocaust Industry”.

But, I decided before leaving this time to pay closer attention to the fifteen or so books in the shop’s display window, to see what Fahmi was promoting to facilitate tolerance and harmony in this “bitterly divided city”, as bookshops typically use such retail window space to promote books which sell briskly, or possess a unique, or important, literary quality.

Here’s what I found. 

As an Israeli, I’m certainly relieved at the reprieve for this literary oasis in the otherwise barren Israeli intellectual landscape – a mecca of ‘peace and co-existence’ which will also certainly never be accused of surrendering to Jewish supremacism.

Misleading Guardian report on UK government funding to help secure Jewish schools (Updated)

The Community Security Trust (CST) is an organization which provides physical security, training and advice for the protection of British Jews; assists victims of antisemitism and monitors antisemitic activities and incidents in the UK. 

CST recently noted that “the Guardian has chosen to mark Holocaust Memorial Day by attacking the funding provided by the government to pay for security guarding at Jewish state schools in England and Wales.”

A Guardian report by Rob Evans titled “Michael Grove criticized for awarding public funds to organization he advised“, Jan. 27, cited criticism by the group Spinwatch that “Michael Gove, the education secretary, awarded £2m of public money to an organisation that he promoted as an adviser for four years”.

As CST noted on their site, “The Guardian story is misleading as it suggests that the money provided by the Department for Education pays for CST to provide security at Jewish schools…[while] the funds are “merely administered by CST and distributed in full to the Jewish schools who then use it to employ their own security guards” (not from CST).  

CST added further:

“[CST] does not keep any of the grant money and there is no allowance made for CST’s staff time in administering the funds to each school. In the end the project actually costs CST money, the exact opposite of the impression given by the Guardian.  If the Guardian had contacted CST for comment before running the story, we could have explained all of this to them.”

Moreover, the funding from the UK Department of Education only accounts for a fraction of the total costs associated with the CST’s work to secure over 300 synagogues, over 120 Jewish schools, more than 1000 Jewish communal organisations and buildings; and nearly 1000 communal events, from antisemitic attacks and potential acts of terrorism.

Further, CST noted, “the overwhelming bulk of CST’s funding is provided by voluntary donations from the UK Jewish community”.

In 2010, there were 639 reported incidents of antisemitism in the UK, the second highest since the CST began keeping records in 1984, which included 58 incidents targeting Jewish schools, students, or teachers.

UPDATE 1: After a complaint from CST, the Guardian has now added a paragraph near the end of their article which reads:

“All the money is distributed by the trust to the schools which then employ the security guards. As the trust’s role is essentially administrative, none of the money is retained by the trust or pays for any of the trust’s work.”

However, the acknowledgement that the grant does not pay for CST’s work isn’t reflected in the headline or opening paragraph of the article, which have not been amended.

UPDATE 2: Harry’s Place has some fascinating information on the background of David Miller, the Spinwatch official who brought the complaint to the Guardian’s attention in the first place. Seems like the crusader for ethics and transparency has a soft spot for antisemites. (See here.) 

Feeble reasons not to boycott the Guardian

The following was written by Geoffrey Alderman, and published yesterday at The JC

Earlier this month, the Board of Deputies declined to adopt a resolution urging “all those who oppose antisemitism to refrain from buying the Guardian or advertising in it”.  

The proposal, tabled by Zionist Federation vice-president Jonathan Hoffman, had already been rejected by the Board’s defence division but the division’s own alternative motion (a wrecking tactic if you ask me), noting the paper’s “continued biased and anti-Israel reporting”, and deploring the lack of action by the Press Complaints Commission, was also rejected.

So, apart from rejecting both propositions, the Board did precisely nothing.

But my concern today is not with the Guardian (for which I have written in the past), or with the concept of a free press – an argument that was, I gather, deployed by opponents of Hoffman’s initiative. My concern is with the Board.

We can argue whether the Guardian really is an antisemitic newspaper and whether – if so – an Anglo-Jewish boycott of it would do any good. In the 1930s, there was a highly effective Jewish-led boycott of the pro-fascist Rothermere press. Lord Rothermere was a supporter of Oswald Mosley. Jewish companies were persuaded to withhold their advertising patronage from his newspapers. Rothermere soon came to heel, signalling that he had done so by ordering the papers to run articles praising the Jewish contribution to British life.

So the “boycott” was highly effective. But this took place three-quarters and more of a century ago, before the internet age. I rarely buy the Guardian, preferring for a variety of reasons (not primarily economic) to read it online. Much of its advertising is placed by international conglomerates which, however “Jewish” some of them might appear, would be unlikely, in today’s economic climate, to forego exposure to make a political point.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Holocaust Memorial Day, 2012

This was written by our friend Chas Newkey-Burden, and originally posted at his blog, OyVaGoy

It is Holocaust Memorial Day [today]. You can read more about this year’s theme here.

On days such as this I am reminded of the words of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who wrote the following:

‘What cannot help but astound us is that the Hasidim remained the Hasidim inside the ghetto walls, inside the death camps. In the shadow of the executioner, they celebrated life. Startled Germans whispered to each other of Jews dancing in the cattle cars rolling towards Birkenau; Hasidim ushering in Simchat Torah. And there were those who in Block 57 at Auschwitz tried to make me join in their fervent singing. Were these miracles?’

What a passage: it is haunting and inspiring, harrowing and uplifting all at once. Similar emotions are provoked by a recording made at Bergen-Belsen shortly after it was liberated in April 1945. It includes weary Jewish survivors singing Hativkah (The Hope), the song that became the national anthem of the state of Israel. You can find a link to the recording on the right-hand side of this page. (Or, see YouTube clip below)

‘Never despair! Never! It is forbidden to give up hope,’ wrote Rabbi Nachman, a century before any of these events took place. These are wise words, yet not always easy to live up to.

Yet consider the Hasidim who celebrated life in the death camps, and the survivors who sang of hope at Bergen-Belsen. Stories such as these remind me how even in the darkest moments it is possible, and essential, to maintain hope.

 

CAP report on Islamophobia co-authored by writer sympathetic to antisemites & Muslim Brotherhood

When I originally wrote about an essay at ‘Comment is Free’ by Wajahat Ali titled, “Fighting the defamation of Muslim Americans“, in August, I wasn’t as aware with the left-wing think tank, Center for American Progress (CAP), which published the report on Islamophobia that Ali co-authored and introduced in his post.

I did note suspicion about the the CAP report, as it included in their list of those guilty of disseminating anti-Muslim bigotry – titled “Fear, Inc. Exposing the Islamophobia Network in America” –  a vast network of institutions which included Fox News, The National Review, and the Washington Times, Middle East Scholar Daniel Pipes, and Terrorism expert Steve Emerson.

But the recent scandal, involving bloggers associated with CAP engaging in antisemitic rhetoric, places Ali’s report, and his contribution to CiF, in a different light.

Briefly, for those unaware, CAP is a Washington-based policy organization that serves as a source of ideas for the Democratic party, and is very influential among policy makers in the Obama White House.  The controversy arose when it was discovered that Zaid Jilani, who blogged for CAP’s ThinkProgress website, used Twitter to call US supporters of the Jewish state “Israel Firsters” –  evoking the classic (typically far right) antisemitic narrative that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country.

Maryland historian Jeffrey Herf, who has authored books on anti-Semitism, expressed concern that such dual-loyalty conspiracy theories, which typically existed mainly on “the far Left and far Right of American politics” may be seeping into the center of American politics.

Further, Matt Duss, CAP’s Middle East Progress director, wrote on ThinkProgress that “the entire Israeli occupation” of the Gaza Strip is “a moral abomination” comparable to the former Jim Crow South in the US. 

The Jerusalem Post obtained an e-mail in January in which Faiz Shakir, editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress, acknowledged that Jilani’s words charging supporters of Israel with dual-loyalty was “terrible anti-Semitic language.”

The think tank has been engulfed in the affair since December, resulting in strong condemnations from civil rights organizations, and resulted in a White House Jewish affairs official terming the situation at CAP to be “troubling.”

But, perhaps more concerning than antisemitic terms being employed by commentators association with CAP, is the background of the activist, Wajahat Ali, they chose to ally themselves with in the 40 page report on anti-Muslim racism.

As I observed previously, Ali has demonstrated a tendency to engage in accusations of “Islamophobia” quite liberally.

For instance, he leveled the charge of Islamophobia against the U.S. government in the context of the FBI prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for the “charity” group’s ties to terrorism – a prosecution which resulted in five convictions, including “conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, providing material support to a foreign terrorist, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.”

Further, a little more research into the background of  Wajahat Ali reveals that the author holds some decidedly illiberal views about another historically oppressed minority.

Ali is a contributor to the radical anti-Zionist site, Counterpunch, where, in one essay, he likened Israel to Apartheid in S. African, and characterized the Gaza war as an “Israeli blitzkrieg that repeatedly bombards a beleaguered Palestinian refugee population.” Ali also published, in Counterpunch, an extremely sympathetic interview with Norman Finkelstein, about “The Holocaust Industry” – a book which characterizes Israelis as “basically Nazis with beards and black hats”.

Essays at Ali’s own blog, Goatmilk: An intellectual playground, are often cross posted at the English Website of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and, additionally, he was a board member of the Muslim Students Association, an organization established by members of the MB. 

Further, Ali clearly demonstrates a propensity to use his “intellectual playground” to promote voices hostile to Jews and opposed to Israel’ existence.

On June of 2010, he included in his blog, as the “Essay of the week”, a cross-post of a piece by Ilan Pappe, the universally discredited radical Israeli “historian” who advocates the end of the Jewish state.  Pappe, in the essay, commenting broadly about Israel in the aftermath of the May, 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, accused the state of practicing ethnic cleansing, and opined that “only sustained pressure by Western governments [similar to the pressure placed on S. Africa] will drive the message home that the strategy of force [and] oppression are not accepted morally or politically by the world to which Israel wants to belong.”

In April of 2009, Ali posted a piece by Sasha Rabkin titled, “A Jewish American man’s defense of self-hatred” which characterized Zionism as an “identity centered on racism, military might, ["fascism"] and occupation,” and later characterized Jewish Zionist identity as a “Judaism devoid of soul and love and oppressing the most occupied people in the world”.  He also characterized Israel’s War of Independence as an act of “genocide” against Arabs.

Rabkin’s defense of Jewish self-hatred, which Ali evidently endorses, concludes with this passage:

“the two main forces of the 20th century who sought to separate Jews were the Nazis and the Zionists. This is not to fully equate the two. There are obvious differences. But, both sought to single out the Jews, to show them as special and in need of segregation. They both contributed to the death of Jews. Most importantly, they both have sequestered Jewish identity in a militarized, confrontational and racist corner. 

Finally, Ali’s thoughts on the CAP “Israel Firsters” row, can possibly be explained by his retweet of a Max Blumenthal Tweet.

The link leads to a Glenn Greenwald post, “The ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign against CAP and Media Matters rolls on“.

Greenwald, who himself trades in antisemitic tropes about dual loyalty with abandon, summed up the CAP controversy thusly.

 This is a truly disgusting spectacle: these [CAP] commentators…are being publicly smeared early in their careers as anti-Semites as part of a coordinated, ongoing campaign planned by Josh Block and carried out by numerous journalists with large media platforms, and aided and abetted by Jewish groups trading on their credibility to suppress debate….about crucial policy matters in the U.S.,

And, I simply can’t imagine why anyone would find such tropes about the injurious effects of Jewish power, and the disloyalty of “Israel-Firsters”, by CAP bloggers, authors, and their supporters to be antisemitic!?

Fatah arrests 8 Hamas members. Israel arrests 1. Which do you think Harriet Sherwood reported?

On Jan. 9, the Palestinian Times reported that Fatah arrested 8 Hamas members, including a journalist, in the West Bank over several days.  The report also alleged that Fatah arbitrarily extended the detention of other Hamas members, and of firing a teacher who is a member of the group.

Fatah arresting Hamas members in the West Bank

On Jan. 19th, Israel arrested one Hamas member Aziz Dweik , on suspicion of involvement with terrorist activity.

On Jan. 20th, Harriet Sherwood rushed to advocate on behalf of the Hamas terrorist arrested by Israel, posting a piece titled “Israeli jails Palestinian parliament speaker without trial“.  However, further in the article, even Sherwood acknowledges that Dweik is a Parliament speaker in name only, as the Palestinian Legislative Council has not sat since the summer of 2007, when Hamas – which had won elections the previous year – took control of Gaza in a bloody battle with Fatah.

The Guardian also posted a video on Jan. 20 championing the cause of the Hamas speaker of the non-existent Parliament.

Yet, strangely absent from the Guardian’s Israel, Palestinian Territories, or Gaza pages are any mention whatsoever of Fatah’s arrest of eight Hamas members.  Nor mentioned, in service of providing background to Sherwood’s story, was the fact that in 2008 PA security forces aligned with Abbas arrested hundreds of Hamas members and supporters and, further, in 2009, nearly all Hamas-controlled municipal officials were replaced by Fatah officials.

Context similarly missing from Sherwood’s report is the fact that Hamas arrested thousands of Fatah loyalists in Gaza  in 2010 alone, including PA legislators. And, a report in the Palestinian Press as recently as Dec. 30, 2o11 noted that such arrests of Fatah members continued through 2011.

Sherwood characterized the arrest of Dweik as an effort by Israel “to undermine democratic institutions in Palestine”, and hinder reconciliation between the two groups.

Yet, the Palestinians, by any measure, have failed miserably on their own at establishing anything resembling genuinely democratic institutions, as President Mahmoud Abbas is currently serving the seventh year of a four year term, and, per Freedom House, the PA is listed as not free“.

“In the Palestinian Authority administered territories, political rights rating declined from 5 to 6 [7 is the worst score] due to the expiration of President Mahmoud Abbas four-year term in January 2009, the ongoing lack of a functioning elected legislature, and an edict allowing the removal of elected municipal governments in the West Bank.”

So, while the arrest of one Hamas member by Israel elicits a storm of criticism by the Guardian, scores of arrests by Fatah of Hamas officials, and Hamas members by Fatah officials, is evidently considered insignificant to contextualizing the lack of a functioning democracy in the Palestinian controlled territories.

More broadly, both this latest report, and Sherwood’s continuing reports from the region, seem to possess a unique capacity to blame Israel in some manner for every conceivable Palestinian failure, while similarly denying Palestinians basic moral agency (the definition of liberal racism) – a journalistic dynamic which prevents honest reporting on the I-P Conflict.