“Bad taste” & “Wrong on so many levels” – Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’


Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Few things are guaranteed to upset the Guardian like a US Republican presidential candidate’s visit to Jerusalem: on a fund-raiser no less! 

If bookies took bets on such things, you could put your house on the paper writing a poorly worded article that risks sounding like a modern version of old antisemitic conspiracy myths. Remember this Guardian editorial from 2008?

“When a presumptive US presidential candidate arrives in Jerusalem, he willingly dons a jacket designed by Israeli tailors.”

And that was for Barack Obama, a black Democrat! 

Indeed, right on cue, here comes Comment is Free with an article by Juan Cole concerning Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel, entitled:

‘Ten reasons Mitt Romney’s Israel visit is in bad taste’

The “bad taste” begins in the article’s sub-title:

Did you catch that? “Presidential hopeful…fundraiser…playing war enabler in Israel”.

The article is reasonably straightforward, consisting of 10 points against Romney’s visit.

Unlike many other articles on this risk-strewn subject, it at least stresses (in its very 1st point) that Romney is reaching out to Christian Zionists “and the minority of American Jews who would be willing to vote Republican”. So, this is no crass antisemitic slur, but it still risks hitting those nerves, particularly with its 7th point, which states:

7. Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran. When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, destabilised the Gulf for some time, cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and damaged American power and credibility and the economy. As Nancy Reagan said of drugs, so US politicians must say to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf: “Just say no.” Instead, Romney is playing war enabler, and that abroad.

Of the 10 points in the article, this was the “war enabler” one that made the sub-title, obviously having caught the attention of the Comment is Free sub-editor.

Consider, however, exactly what this 7th point actually states. It says “Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran”. Nothing more and nothing less. A war that could make Iraq look like a picnic, promised by a Presidential candidate to “his donors in Jerusalem”

If the Guardian has proof of such a conspiracy and such a dangerous promise, then surely it should be on the front page, not buried on the CiF website with all the other dross. If the Guardian has no such proof, then this allegation should be removed immediately. The author does, however, provide a link. It is here and goes to an Associated Press report that shows differing nuanced statements made by Romney and on his behalf concerning whether or not America would back an Israeli strike upon Iran. It ends with:

“He [Romney] later clarified his comments in a written statement, saying that the candidate “believes we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course and it is his fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”

This hardly meets the burden of proof that “promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran” should require from the Guardian: even upon its journalistically subnormal CiF site.

But there’s worse than this. Double it, in fact, because the promised Iran war is immediately followed by:

“When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed…cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives…US politicians must say [no] to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf.”

So, the Iraq war was all Israel’s fault. Well, not exactly…it was the fault of President Bush’s “pro-Israel supporters” to whom he had “promised…a war on Iraq”. No link is provided for this colossal claim, nor for the even bigger succeeding one, that American wars for Israel is standard operating procedure.

Perhaps the author feels that no proof is required, perhaps this is what simply passes for received wisdom at the Guardian these days. It certainly feels that way: an impression that is not helped by senior figure, Brian Whitaker, recommending the article under the title “best blogs and analysis from the Middle East”.   

26 comments on ““Bad taste” & “Wrong on so many levels” – Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’

  1. Cole, a well known anti-Zionist oaf, it is worth mentioning, also claimed, that in NO way was Iran responsible for the attempt to attack Israeli diplomats back in Feb. of this year…
    He charged that anyone saying otherwise is “parroting Israeli propaganda”…
    Now that India has confirmed that Iran was indeed behind the attacks, Cole is strangely silent… Perhaps the Guardian could ask him to elaborate on that?(Maybe Iran was bought out by the sinister Zionists? :D)
    (Thanks to the inimitable EoZ):
    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/india-police-say-iran-behind-diplomat.html

  2. An excellent article.

    For various reasons, it no longer arouses controversy among Guardian readers to learn that America allegedly fights wars in the Middle East largely on behalf of Israel. One suspects that this opinion is propagated initially by Arabs fanning the flames of antisemitism, who see Israel and the Jews directly or indirectly behind anything bad happening to them.
    They are joined by loonies and conspiracy theorists galore who claim 9/11 was another Israeli/Jewish plot to discredit the Arabs and so on.

    The myth of Israel controlling America reminds me of Nazi propaganda.
    Why supposedly intelligent people in the West still fall for it would take a long time to work out and use up more energy than I feel able to summon up in this holiday season. Anyway, we know for certain it’s not only Israel that feels threatened by the Iranian régime. Appeasers on the Guardian are very hypocritical, short-sighted and so ignorant.

    ‘First they came for the Saturday people; then for the Sunday people; finally it was the turn of the atheists…’

  3. It’s a pity that Gardner is so selective as to which of Cole’s 10 points he chooses to comment on. He might have chosen point 5:

    “5. Romney is clearly holding the event in some large part to please casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who first bankrolled Newt Gingrich and now is talking about giving $100m to elect Romney. Adelson is a huge supporter of rightwing Likud party prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and published a free newspaper in Israel to support all things Bibi all the time. Adelson is under investigation on suspicion of bribing Chinese officials in Macau in reference to his casino empire there. Since Adelson is potentially an agent of Chinese influence and is a partisan of one of Israel’s most rightwing parties, Romney’s indebtedness to him is disturbing”.

    So Adelson is a major Likud supporter and is holding out the promise of vast funding for Romney’s campaign. Might not these facts combine to make a significant conflict of interest for Romney and help to explain his pro-Likud line on so many Middle East issues? Moreover the investigation of Adelson on suspicion of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act should lead any US politician to keep some distance from him, but apparently not Romney.

    • And nothing on Soros, who bankrolled Obama in the millions, including tens more to various “Progressive” causes, known for his anti-Israel policies, who made his money by very nearly bankrupting the UK and the Pound in 1992…
      Secondly, in all countries, and the US, in part, where the rule of law is paramount, and supreme, a person is innocent until proven guilty .
      Adelson, has yet to be convicted of anything, yet.
      So, some donations are “a-okay”, and others(especially as they pertain to Israel), are obnoxious and illegitimate…
      Nice logic you’ve got there… are you ready to finally graduate from primary school?

      • Of course Adelson is entitled to presumption of innocence and of course it’s no crime for Romney to take funding from a criminal suspect. The question is: is it wise politics? I’m reminded of David Cameron giving the suspected phone hacker, Andy Coulson, ‘a second chance’ by employing him as communications director. Now Coulson is heading for court under multiple charges and Cameron has egg all over his face.

        The more important point is Romney’s willingness to spout Likud’s dangerous policies in return for cash.

        • “The more important point is Romney’s willingness to spout Likud’s dangerous policies in return for cash.”
          Uh-huh…
          This, as opposed to Obama’s willingness to spout CAP(“Center for American Progress”), MoveOn.org, Media Matters for America(MMFA), and others’ dangerous policies in return for Soros’ cash?
          Why is Likud taboo, but Progressives who might well be leading the US into another recession are suddenly trustworthy counterparts?
          FYI, Coulson is heading to court ONLY on the charge of perjury.
          And furthermore, the damage dealt by Soros’ dealings upon the UK economy, far outweighs Cameron’s opprobrious decision.

          • “Coulson is heading to court ONLY on the charge of perjury”

            Sorry, you’re out of date:

            “Coulson was charged on five counts of conspiring unlawfully to intercept communications, with specific charges relating to the hacking of phones to listen to voicemails relating to the Milly Dowler, Blunkett, Clarke and Best. He was also charged – alongside six of the remaining seven – with conspiring to hack phones between 2000 and 2006, targeting communications of over 600 people.”
            Guardian, 25 July, 2012

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/24/coulson-rebekah-brooks-phone-hacking?newsfeed=true

            • Well, thanks for the update…
              So far, he has not been pronounced guilty, convicted, and hence we’ll wait for the results, although I agree it doesn’t look promising, and I am not here to absolve Coulson.
              Now, what about Soros, and his bottomless financing of Obama-related Orgs.?
              Surely THAT, is one of those you incidents you referred to, whereby a magnate is leading(in this case the President), down a very topsy-turvy, and potentially dangerous path? Eh? ;-)?

        • Of course Adelson is entitled to presumption of innocence and of course it’s no crime for Romney to take funding from a criminal suspect.

          There are all kinds of billionaires and other businessmen funding presidential campaigns in the US.

          Why single out Adelson?

          • The US political funding system is manifestly corrupt and biased towards big money and the Republicans – just as the UK system, on a smaller scale, is biased towards the Conservatives. Show me the right examples and I’ll put them in the same boat as Adelson. Adelson is I think a particularly heinous example, however, because he is so clearly linked to the extremist policies of a foreign political party and is apparently influencing the pathetic flip-flopping Romney in a direction that is dangerous for the world..

        • Sencar: “Of course Adelson is entitled to presumption of innocence and of course it’s no crime for Romney to take funding from a criminal suspect.”

          So magnanimous of you, but say it like it is sencar. You think Israel is a criminal enterprise, and the Zionist puppet masters of the world – the Jews! – buy the loyalty of their morally degraded non-Jewish supporters – Romney! with their filthy lucre.

          Or is that the old-fashioned way to parade your bigotry?

    • Both sides do what you refer to as “selective” reporting all the time, but it seems like the CiF ass-kissing side (which, no offense, you’ve obviously sided with) does a lot more of the hand-wringing How-Dare-You complaining about this practice than the CiF challenging-factually side.

      • “Both sides do what you refer to as “selective” reporting”

        Of course they do. Unfortunately your sarcasm detector is sadly underpowered.

    • “5. Romney is clearly holding the event in some large part to please casino mogul Sheldon Adelson,”

      What makes this clear? Nothing in the paragraph makes it clear. Mr. Cole is casting aspersions, i.e., something he is expert at doing, along with conspiracy theories, getting things wrong a great deal of the time, and silently expunging his own past failures at prognostication from his own website, so no one would ever know.

  4. The only thing in “bad taste” about Mitt Romney’s campaign, is that he is, in his own words, a Etch-a-Sketch candidate. He will say whatever will get him funds and votes. In order to become Governor or Massachusetts, he outdid the Democrats on liberalism. In order to win the primaries, he outdid Santorum on sanctimonious conservative Christianity. Now, he out-zionists the Jews in order to win their votes. He is an opportunistic weather-vane, not a political leader. For the Guardian however, to comment on bad taste is really the acme of Chutzpah.

  5. Cole: “Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran.”

    He did no such thing, of course!

    “When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, destabilised the Gulf for some time, cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and damaged American power and credibility and the economy”

    Oh dear, oh dear Mr. Cole. What do you sound like?

    • Romney’s spokesman said he would ‘respect’ a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran. What do these weasel words mean? Either Romney favors such an attack or he doesn’t. If the latter he should be making this very clear in view of the profound consequences of such an action. If the former, why can’t he bring himself to say so. The answer is that he’ll say what his listeners want to hear. The ‘clarification’ put him just where Obama is but of course by then Romney hoped to have put some clear pro-Likud water between himself and Obama.

    • “Oh dear, oh dear Mr. Cole. What do you sound like?”

      Your comment is how you British say “spot on.”

  6. Good piece as ever, Mark. I stopped asking for proof/sources/evidence from Israel haters a long, long time ago. They never produce anything valid.

  7. And I’ve told you what Brian Whitaker was (and is) like. This Arabist/Islamist is no friend of Israel’s. All Guardian columnists are the same: pro Hamas/Islamists.

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