See update below.
As we reported yesterday, Glenn Greenwald Tweeted his outrage after Al Jazeera recently published and then deleted an appallingly antisemitic essay by Joseph Massad – titled, ‘Last of the Semites’ – which you can read here. Massad’s nearly 4000 word attack on Jews and the Jewish state explicitly advanced the argument that there is an “ideological similitude” between Zionism and Nazism and, in sum, was difficult to distinguish from the bile found on extremist websites.
Greenwald expressed his outrage over the removal of Massad’s pseudo intellectual assault against Jews, thusly:
Al Jazeera publishes an article by Columbia Professor Joseph Massad, then deletes it when usual suspects complain electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abun…
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 19, 2013
As we noted, the identity of Greenwald’s “usual suspects” wasn’t difficult to determine, as he linked to a predictable take on the Massad row by Ali Abunimah at Electronic Intifada which accused the Qatari-based media group of caving in to “Zionists extremists” – naming the Jewish trio of Jeffrey Goldberg, John Podhoretz and Rahm Emmanuel.
Though Greenwald refused to answer our query, during a Twitter exchange, asking him to clarify his allegation against “the usual suspects”, we didn’t have to wait long to receive an answer, as the ‘Comment is Free’ columnist addressed the topic in his latest post titled ‘Al Jazeera deletes its own controversial op-ed, then refuses to comment‘.
The fact that Greenwald, per the title, was indeed unable to get a clear answer from Al Jazeera on why they removed Massad’s essay didn’t represent a significant obstacle in his determination to reach a ‘conclusion’ about the media group’s decision. After addressing the “controversial” nature of Massad’s Zionism-Nazi allegations – writing: “I’m not expressing any views here on the merit of Massad’s arguments because that’s irrelevant to the issue” – he then pivoted to the question of who was to blame for the stifling of Joseph Massad.
Greenwald writes the following:
I spent much of the weekend emailing various Al Jazeera officials for comment, to no avail. Everyone either ignored my multiple inquires or said they were barred from commenting and referred me to the head of the outlet’s PR department, who never responded.’
Greenwald, further into his post, begins to reveal “information” he was able to receive from unnamed ‘sources':
Al Jazeera’s deletion of this Op-Ed, and especially its refusal to provide any explanation for what happened here, is significant beyond just this one episode. Several people who work for the outlet, none of whom was willing to speak for attribution due to fear of retaliation by the network’s officials, say that Al Jazeera officials have become much more cautious and fearful ever since they purchased Current TV last December for $500 million and prepared to enter the US television market under the brand name “Al Jazeera America”
Greenwald then expands on the cause of the Arab news outlet’s new-found caution.
In particular, these sources say, the primary impetus for the removal of the Op-Ed came from Ehab al-Shihabi, who was recently named to head the American TV network. They say that he is petrified that angering “pro-Israel” factions in the US will bolster the perception of Al Jazeera as both anti-American and anti-Israel, thus dooming the network with both corporate advertisers and cable carriers and render it radioactive among mainstream politicians. Al-Shihabi, they say, went to the network’s top executive in Doha, Director-General Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, and demanded the removal of the Massad Op-Ed.
The question is whether this can continue now that Al Jazeera is seeking to establish a serious TV presence in the US. The Qatari regime is a close American ally, hosting several vital US military assets used to wage the war in Iraq. But the regime has come under criticism from US officials and “pro-Israel” commentators for its support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is hard to see how a US television network owned by the regime in Qatar will regularly broadcast journalism that is truly adversarial to its close ally, the US government, or air commentary that offends influential political factions in the US.
As we’ve documented continually, this particular accusation is par for the course for Greenwald, who has shown himself to be seemingly obsessed with the alleged power of “influential” “pro-Israel factions” in the US.
Here are a few examples from his former blog at Salon:
“So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations…”
“Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources [by the Israel lobby] to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”
“Meanwhile, one of the many Israel-Firsters in the U.S. Congress — Rep. Anthony Weiner, last seen lambasting President Obama for daring to publicly mention a difference between the U.S. and Israel — today not only defended Israel’s attack (obviously) but also, revealingly,pronounced: ”Even if we are the only country on earth that sees the facts here, the United States should stand up for Israel.” In other words: who cares how isolated it makes us or what harm we suffer?”
“It is simply true that there are large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups which are agitating for a U.S. war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests…”
And, it is simply true that the ideological territory which Glenn Greenwald claims routinely endorses tropes about the injurious influence of Jewish power which share a long and toxic antisemitic pedigree.
UPDATE: This evening Al Jazeera reposted the Massad piece, which prompted Greenwald to Tweet the following:
Kudos to Al Jazeera: posts an editor’s note acknowledging its errors, re-publishes the Massad Op-Ed aljazeera.com/indepth/opinio…
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 21, 2013
Al Jazeera editors explained their decision to republish Massad’s hateful screed thusly:
After publication, many questions arose about the article’s content. In addition, the article was deemed to be similar in argument to Massad’s previous column, ” Zionism, anti-Semitism and colonialism“, published on these pages in December.
We should have handled this better, and we have learned lessons that will enable us to maintain the highest standards of journalistic integrity.
Our guiding principle has always been “the opinion and other opinion”. Our pages have always been – and will always be – open to the most thought-provoking thinkers and writers from across the globe.
Al Jazeera does not submit to pressure regardless of circumstance, and our history is full of examples where we were faced with extremely tough choices but never gave in. This is the secret to our success.
Evidently, those “influential” “pro-Israel factions” aren’t so influential after all!
- An ugly disgusting rant: Joseph Massad and Glenn Greenwald attack ‘the usual Jewish suspects’ (cifwatch.com)
- The Rage, Relativism and Racism of Glenn Greenwald (cifwatch.com)
- Glenn Greenwald defends Jew hatred (Nick Nipclose)