Guardian columnist acknowledges Muslim Brotherhood’s antisemitism

Among the themes often addressed at the blog is the Guardian’s consistent failure to report on the pervasive antisemitism within the Arab and Muslim Middle East – what we’ve characterized as their antisemitic sins of omission.

This ideological proclivity to ignore explicit manifestations of Jew hatred in the region, we’ve argued many times, egregiously skews their coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, as well as the regional political upheavals over the last few years.

So eager are many to view reactionary Islamist movements through a progressive lens that even Yousuf al-Qaradawi – one of the intellectual leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood - has been characterized as something akin to a moderate by Guardian contributors, despite his record which includes calling on Allah to murder every Jew on earth and literally endorsing the Holocaust.

 

 

Indeed, the Guardian’s coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt last year ignored the group’s long and well-documented antisemitic record (consistent with the paper’s tendency to obfuscate other groups’ extreme Judeophobia), all of which makes Giles Fraser’s recent ‘CiF’ column on the Brotherhood quite unique.

Though Fraser still advanced some characteristic moral apologetics for the group, he did nonetheless include the following:

And, of course, I have no love in my heart for Islamist terrorism, nor the hateful antisemitism that is often present within the Muslim Brotherhood

Whilst this one painfully obvious acknowledgement wouldn’t ordinarily be notable, given that it represents such a rare expression of moral sobriety regarding the problem of Islamist antisemitism – at a paper with an institutional aversion to such clarity – the Guardian columnist should nonetheless be commended for his honesty. 

Is the Guardian’s ‘Israel Obsessive Disorder’ in remission?

Over the past several years the Guardian has averaged over 1000 reports or commentaries annually tagged with “Israel”, an average of over 2.7  Israel-related posts per day, representing a statistically disproportionate (overwhelmingly negative) focus on the Jewish state in comparison to other nations – a dynamic we’ve noted continually at this blog.

However, recently there has been a brief but noticeable change to this pattern. Remarkably, there has not been an Israel related entry at the Guardian since June 30 – an unprecedented ten-day respite from the jaundiced and obsessive coverage of the region which, as much as anything, has come to define their institution’s brand of pseudo liberal activist journalism.

Israel page

Snapshot of Guardian’s Israel page, July 10th.

Additionally, save for one piece in the culture section of The Observer (sister site of the Guardian) about Arab films, there has been nothing on the Guardian’s ‘Palestine’ page since June 30, and nothing new on their Gaza page since June 24.

Whilst it’s possible that the civil war in Syria and the political upheavals currently taking place in Egypt have (organically) driven Israel off the ‘front page’, such a theory doesn’t square with the fact that, up until now, the violence and unrest throughout the Middle East since the start of the “Arab Spring” in 2011 hasn’t even minimally resulted in less Israel-related coverage at Guardian Group sites.

However, one thing is certain: the failure of the “Arab Spring” to bring genuine democracy or nurture even a minimal ethos of tolerance and pluralism – and the contradictions within Arab nationalism more broadly – contrasts markedly with the success of Jewish nationalism and the state’s thriving, progressive polity, and demonstrates the irrelevance of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to the political pathos which haunts the Arab Middle East. 

Far be it from us to even suggest that Guardian editors may have actually learned something and allowed new information to penetrate their ideologically-inspired myopia, but it would certainly represent an invaluable gift to their readers if the recent dearth of Israel-related content reflected even a minimal awareness of the supreme folly of their long-time obsession with the Jewish state.

Anti-Zionism of fools: What Egypt and the Guardian can learn from Israeli democracy

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Israeli woman votes in 2013 election

An Egyptian opposition activist named Himda Hamdi was interviewed on Israeli TV last night and, buoyed by the fall of Mohammed Morsi, told citizens of the Jewish state that if her country could overturn the Muslim Brotherhood led regime then surely Israelis can do the same and remove Prime Minister Netanyahu. While the site of this young, progressive Arab woman speaking Hebrew was in many ways exhilarating, she perhaps needed reminding that Israeli voters peacefully decided the fate of their government in free and fair elections earlier in the year.

When the nineteenth Israeli Knesset was sworn in March, it represented merely the latest chapter in a 65 year history of non-violent democratic political transitions in the Jewish state.

Though Israelis of course disagree on any number of domestic and foreign policy issues, extremes within the country remain at the margins, and the centre continues to hold.  And, whilst there are factions lobbying for evolutionary change in social policy, and with regard to negotiations with the Palestinians, the country’s economy is exceptionally strong, their democracy remains robust and there is no serious political faction agitating for revolutionary change.

As the dramatic developments unfolding in Egypt now demonstrate, democracy isn’t one single event but rather a persuasion – a political habit of mind nurtured by the behavior of a nation’s citizenry, its cultural, media and religious gatekeepers and political class. It generally can not be imposed by a foreign power, nor brought to life by a (temporary) strongman. Political parties with no ideological propensity towards progressive, representative forms of government can not be trusted to govern in a manner which shows fealty towards such democratic norms as the separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and a system of laws which fiercely protect the rights of women, minorities and political opponents.

As the brief reign of the reactionary movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood shows us, political Islam – as with the Pan-Arabism and statist dictatorships which preceded its rise within the region – is fundamentally at odds with truly liberal political aspirations within the Arab world.

Interestingly, the Guardian earlier today published an editorial not only criticizing the military coup by praising the Muslim Brotherhood as, yes, defenders of constitutional democracy, demonstrating again – as with their defense of Hamas’ ‘democratic’ legitimacy – the institution’s inability to recognize the difference between democrats (those who seek genuine representative democracy) and demopaths (those who seek democratic legitimacy in order to destroy liberal society). As one Arab pundit recently observed about Morsi’s ‘reforms’ which had the effect of merely solidifying Brotherhood control of the country and codifying illiberal Islamist doctrine: “Morsi proved that political Islam seeks to use democracy only to seize power only to bury the democratic dream later.”

Additionally, if the strength of a democracy can in part be measured by how well the nation treats the proverbial ‘other’, Morsi’s government – which nurtured a society in which the beleaguered Christians and Bahais (and even Shiites) faced increasing discrimination and violence – failed miserably.  Further, while it may be a bit cliché to note that the health of a society can be gauged by how well they treat their Jewish minority, the following passage, from an essay written by a Muslim named Ahmed Hashemi, commenting on the increased antisemitism in Egypt (a nation with a Jewish population of, at most, 40) after the revolution, rings true.

…if we are going to establish a healthy, tolerant society that respects differences, and pursues a pluralistic democracy, we have to accept that Jews and the Jewish community have been part and parcel of our own communities. This affirmation of coexistence represents the essence of today’s civilization. An ‘Arab Spring’ without religious tolerance that rests on strong anti-Semitic attitudes cannot bring about genuine democracy and freedom. In a peaceful and democratic Middle East, everyone can prosper and flourish.

In reading the Guardian daily, it seems that the most pronounced effect stemming from their largely uncritical advocacy on behalf of Arabs (including Palestinian Arabs), and their hostility towards Zionism, relates not to its injurious influence on Israel, but the harm it inflicts upon their Arab protagonists by legitimizing their sense of victimhood and their immutable grievances against the Jews.

As the most successful democracy in the region, Hashemi added, “possessing a strong and diversified economy and a dynamic multiparty political system in a tyranny-affected region, Israel can be a role model.”

The Guardian’s ideologically inspired legitimization of the Arab world’s hostility towards Israel nurtures their continuing social pathos and sclerotic economies, and ensures that, regardless of whom takes power in Egypt, the shining example of diversity, tolerance sober, and liberal self-government to their north will never be leveraged to their advantage.

The anti-Zionism of fools makes it more probable that the ‘Arab Spring’ will continue to be merely a chimera.

An Egyptian discovers that when an Israeli is pricked, she indeed bleeds

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”. – (Act III, scene I).” William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

The only revenge Israeli wrestler Ilana Kartysh exacted on her Egyptian opponent, Enas Mostafa, in the Golden Grand Prix tournament in Italy – after Mostafa refused to shake her hand and, during the match, reportedly bit her on the neck – was emerging victorious in the bout and, having secured the gold, basking in the sound of her national anthem as she stood on the podium.

Kartysh, 22, who competed in the the  67-kilogram (147.7 pound) weight category, experienced an incident unlike any other in her career.

Per Ynet:

“In wrestling you must shake hands at the beginning of a match,” Kartysh said. “But not only did [Egyptian wrestler Enas Mostafa] refuse to shake my hand, she even broke my fingers and bit me until I began bleeding.”

However, she continued, “Because of her dirty behavior my desire to beat her grew stronger.”

Kartysh said she felt “some kind of hatred” directed at her by Mostafa, but that she did not know whether it was political or personal.

“It’s never happened to me before,” the 22-year-old wrestler said. “She really attacked me.”

The gold medal that Kartysh won was Israel’s first in a Golden Grand Prix tournament.

At the end of the match, the Egyptian again refused to shake hands with her.

Unlike other sports-related news in the region which is contextualized as possessing wider political significance, this story of racism during an athletic competition wasn’t reported in the Guardian.  Moreover, as I have argued previously, it is simply impossible to accurately understand the politics of the Middle East, and Israel’s relations with its neighbors, without fully appreciating the antisemitic venom which courses through the veins of otherwise sober Arab citizens.

No, this ugly episode on a wrestling mat in Italy was not, to be sure, merely an act of poor sportsmanship.  Mostafa is the product of a culture with anti-Jewish racism so pervasive that the country’s President could, with total impunity, refer to Jews as “sons of apes and pigs” and sermonize to parents on the importance of “nursing their children” with Jew hatred .  

The Jewish community in Egypt, which numbered 80,000 in 1948, is now all but extinct. 

Indeed even such serious domestic problems as food shortages and an erosion of political freedoms post-Mubarak haven’t seemed to redirect the focus of their animosity.  The ‘Arab Spring’ hasn’t even minimally unhardened their hearts.

Kartysh’s comments after the match included the following.

“I can’t even describe how proud I felt hearing ‘Hatikva’ (Israel‘s national anthem) playing in the end.”

The Egyptian wrestler learned that when an Israeli Jew is pricked, she indeed bleeds, and that when she is so wronged she will avenge such an indignity by persevering and – in a display of pride, defiance and resilience – emerging victorious.

wrestling

Kartysh pictured in the center. Mostafa is immediately to her left.

New Year’s Eve Reflections: On the Guardian’s disproportionate focus on Israel

israel obsession imageWith 2012 coming to a close, I decided to look back at some the more popular CiF Watch posts.

First, here are the posts read most by our loyal readers – and more than a few of our opponents – over the last year.

While interest in these posts are not surprising, there was one popular post which caught my eye.  Here’s a CW post from Jan. 2, 2011, which still continues to get an awful lot of traffic.  

It was published nearly two years ago but is still garnering new viewers.

The post illustrates – via data illustrated at the site ‘Views of the World‘ – the Guardian’s egregiously disproportionate focus on the Jewish state in 2010, using the Guardian’s own compilation of of tags by country.  Specifically, stories about Israel came in 6th – behind only the UK, USA, Afghanistan, Iraq and China – in the Guardian for 2010 (1,008 stories about Israel in all).

Not surprisingly, Guardian data for 2011 showed almost identical results – despite the political turmoil and violence in the region due to the upheavals of the “Arab Spring”.

While I expect that the results for 2012 will be much the same as the prior two years, we’ll, of course, let you know when the new data is released by the Guardian.

Until then, we’d love to know your thoughts. 

While we’re continually documenting the Guardian’s institutional bias against Israel, what factors do you think contribute most to their editorial decision to devote so much space to covering – via both straight news stories and in ‘CiF’ commentary – the Jewish state?

To all of our (virtual) friends and respectful foes, here’s wishing you a Happy New Year from all of us at CiF Watch. 

Why did the Guardian change a headline originally suggesting Hamas culpability?

Nabila Ramdani’s essay at ‘Comment is Free’ (Israel’s Gaza bombardment has put Palestine at the top of the agenda, Nov. 23), about the aftermath of the Gaza war arrives  at quite predictable conclusions about the war’s effect on the region.

After offering a soft critique of “Rockets being fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip” (remember these words) and “the bombing of a bus [in Tel Aviv]“, Ramdani writes that Palestinians in Gaza are an “oppressed, forsaken people” who were “killed and maimed by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza”, which she characterizes as the US backed “Israeli war machine.” She further suggests that Israeli behavior in the war was “barbaric”.

Ramdani contextualizes the violence in a manner suggesting that the Palestinian casualties during the war has placed the ‘Palestine’ question in the front of the Arab Spring agenda:

The oppression of the Palestinian people regains its status as the most pressing problem in the Arab world today. [emphasis added]

This claim, however, is simply risible in light of the events she chooses to ignore: the daily murder and brutality in Syria which has claimed over 40,000 lives, or the increasingly dictatorial powers assumed by Egypt’s new President (dashing the hopes that anything resembling a democracy will take hold in that country) and the extreme poverty, underdevelopment and political backwardness which plagues the region.   

If the Arabs decide that continuing to feed their malign obsession with Israel is more important than the requirements of their own political progress, it will have signaled that the Arab Spring has failed miserably.

As thoughtful critics have maintained since the uprisings have begun, democracy is more than elections and revolutions. Democracy is a cultural habit which must be nurtured and, even in the best of circumstances, requires time to take root within the body politic.  In the Arab world true liberal democracy will require that they find a way to  stop scapegoating Jews and Israel and take responsibility for their failures and disappointments.

The decision by a plurality of Palestinians in 2006 to vote for Hamas – a religious extremist movement opposed to human rights and democracy, and opposed to peace with Israel – was a politically destructive act, and represented further evidence of the social and political pathos plaguing their society.

Every rocket fired by Hamas at Israel, and every attempted cross border attack or effort to kidnap Israeli soldiers represents continuing impediments to peace, Palestinian development, prosperity and freedom.  

The continued attacks by Hamas also ensure an Israeli response, which, in turn, takes the media focus away from Hamas’s failures and onto the desired narrative of ‘Israeli oppression’ of Palestinians. 

Interestingly, the original title of Ramdani’s piece implicitly acknowledged the cynical exploitation by Hamas.

First, here’s how it looks now:

However, here’s a cached version of the original title, published on Friday and evidently revised on Saturday.

The truce between Hamas and Israel would suggest that the rockets will be quieted for a while, but don’t expect the peace to last too long.  

Hamas’s temptation to engage in aggression which they know will end up sacrificing the lives of Palestinians, thus ensuring sympathetic coverage from a pliant media which wants desperately to avoid holding Palestinians responsible for their own failures, will be too great to resist. 

‘Comment is Free’ contributor: Israeli leaders murder Palestinian children to score electoral points

Up to 37,000 people (mostly civilians) have been killed in the Syrian civil war since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime erupted 20 months ago.

During the Libyan Civil War, roughly 15,000 were killed.

At least 846 Egyptians (mostly civilians) were killed during the Egyptian revolution – the 3 week uprising which toppled Hosni Mubarak. Many were killed by  police forces “shooting protesters in the head and chest with live ammunition.”

Around 219 were killed during street protests in Tunisia. 

The death toll thus far in operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ has been 40 Gazans and 3 Israelis.

But, guess which country Egyptian ‘Comment is Free’ contributor  demonizes as vicious killers of Arabs?

In ‘Gaza is no longer alone‘, Soueif not only advances the insidious narrative that Israel’s operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ was launched by Netanyahu to win an election (a meme parroted by Guardian journalists Harriet Sherwood and Simon Tisdall) but characterizes the conflict as a “killing spree” inspired by Zionist blood lust.

Soueif writes the following, in a post which was highlighted at the Guardian’s ‘live blog’ on the conflict:

“Israel has always sold itself to the west as a democracy in a sea of fanaticism. The Arab spring has undermined that narrative, possibly fatally. So Israeli politicians have been pushing hard for a war against Iran and, in the interim, they’ve gone on a killing spree in Gaza.

If they had wanted to instigate violence against themselves they could not have done better than to assassinate Ahmed al-Jaabari, the Hamas commander who’s prevented attacks on Israelis for the past five years. With his killing they’ve raised the probability of these attacks resuming, as is happening now. They can then try to hijack the narrative of the Arab spring and wind the clock back to “Islamist terrorists v civilised Israelis”. Meanwhile, they take the heat off Bashar al-Assad’s murderous activities in Syria – and, of course, score hawkish points for Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak before the coming elections.

But they have served to remind the world that Israel is a democracy where politicians may order the murder of children to score electoral points. [emphasis added]

So, for Soueif, murdering Palestinian children is quite popular among the Jewish electorate.

The enormity of this smear – a staggering moral inversion which evidently was unchallenged by Guardian editors – is difficult to even fathom.

Speeches which literally call for the murder of every last Jew on earth have been made by Hamas leaders and other leading Islamist figures – calls for genocide which can be found on several reputable websites.

And, such extreme, homicidal antisemitism isn’t confined to Palestinian leadership, as suicide bombing, for instance, against Israeli civilians remains disturbingly popular among the Palestinian electorate.

In fact, after Palestinian terrorists from the West Bank butchered five members of the Fogel family in 2011 – brutally stabbing to death parents Udi and Ruth and their children aged 11, 4 and 3 months – there was celebrating on the streets of Gaza.

A Palestinian man distributes sweets in the streets of the southern Gaza town of Rafah to celebrate murder of five Israelis (Getty Images)

Not only is there no celebrating on the streets of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem when Israeli strikes against Hamas terror targets inadvertently injure or kill Palestinian civilians, but the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties during anti-terror operations.  This is one of the reasons why, according one leading British military expert, the ratio of civilian deaths to combatants killed in Gaza wars has been unprecedentedly low.

While there are no Israeli electoral benefits for causing Palestinian civilian casualties, you have to wonder which political crowd Guardian editors are trying to appease by sanctioning Soueif’s hideous smear against the Jewish state.

The Muslim Brotherhood are turning into Leninists in Islamist dress. Egypt is in real trouble

(Alan Johnson’s essays on the the dangers posed by the rise of Islamism are truly in a league of their own.  And, his most recent analysis, published on Nov. 5 at The Telegraph and excerpted below, is clearly no exception.  A.L.)

Hardliners are gaining the upper hand in Egypt

Paul Berman, the New York intellectual, is perhaps the most penetrating and imaginative essayist writing about Islamist movements and ideas alive today. In 2010 he published The Flight of the Intellectuals, a stylish account of the Muslim Brotherhood: the Islamist political movement founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna (known in Arabic as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen). According to Berman, the party was shaped decisively in both its ideology and organisational methods by mid-century European totalitarianism and was a politically hardened, ideologically driven and anti-Semitic movement. It was from this inconvenient truth that much of the western media and many public intellectuals were in flight.

When I praised Berman’s insights to a group of normally super-astute democracy promotion analysts in DC, to my surprise most took the view that Berman’s thesis was “crazy” and that the Muslim Brotherhood were really like the Christian Democracy in Europe; they had confessional roots, for sure, but were pragmatic folk and could be a force for “moderation”. I responded that the Brotherhood was exactly like the CDU – apart from its party structure, ideology, rhetoric, policy, and goals.

Back in 2010 ours was an academic argument. Well, not any more. The Brotherhood will dominate the region’s politics over the next decade. It is already regnant in Egypt, the most populous Arab country and the intellectual fulcrum of both the Arab and Muslim worlds, after sweeping to power earlier this year by winning the parliamentary and presidential elections, marginalising the secular democrats and knocking the military off their perch. In Tunisia the Brotherhood sits in government in the form of Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennahda. The Justice and Construction Party (JCP) in Libya only won 17 of the 80 seats available for parties in the elections for Libya’s 200-strong national congress in July, but hopes to do better next time (the Brotherhood is very patient). The Syrian branch will be a force in any post-Assad regime (in the early 1980s the Syrian branch conducted an armed rebellion) and in Jordan it grows in strength. Hamas, of course, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

READ THE REST OF THE ESSAY, HERE.

Do you support Arab progress? Then, listen to genuine Arab liberals & reject Guardian’s analysis.

“On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars?” [emphasis added]

Who wrote these words, as part of a longer essay?  A CiF Watch contributor? A conservative British columnist? An Israeli?

No.

It was written by a retired Saudi Navy Commodore named Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, and published at Arab News.

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.

Not only is there a severe dearth of Arab commentators willing to ask such difficult questions, but Western media gatekeepers (at the Guardian and elsewhere) seem to believe that Arab “authenticity” requires that blame for Arab political, social and economic problems continue to be place squarely on Israel.  

I’m overstating the case, you say? Well, try to find more than a handful of Arab or Muslim (or European leftist) contributors at ‘Comment is Free’ who have suggested that the Arabs should have accepted partition in 1948, and recognized and cooperated with the nascent Jewish state instead of launching war.

Al-Muhim continues:

“But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.”

Engaging in such honest critical scrutiny of the Arab world’s malign obsession with the Jewish state is something which is almost never undertaken by Guardian commentators, reporters and analysts.

Al-Muhim continues:

“I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. 

The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?”

The following passages are even more stunning:

“The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list.

….

The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people. 

These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.

In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imaginations? And, isn’t the Iraqis are the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars from the poor Tunisians? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is the most fertile land in the world? Why would Iraqi brains leave Iraq in a country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?”

Al-Mulhim concludes, thus:

Finally, if many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian? 

The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations. [emphasis added]

And, isn’t it about time that Western commentators stop indulging the worst impulses of the Arab world, and cease in allowing Arab leaders to scapegoat their vexing social problems on Jews, Israel and the West?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if ‘Comment is Free’ occasionally published commentary by the likes of Mr. Al-Mulhim, and others, demanding that the Arab world take steps to overcome their reflexive antisemitism and their socially crippling anti-Zionism, to cease scapegoating and to begin to soberly address the real problems they’re facing.  

A genuine movement for Arab progress, freedom and prosperity would necessarily strive to achieve the following goals:

  • Adopt true democratic reforms, and develop transparent government institutions.
  • Recognize that Islamism is necessarily incompatible with free, prosperous, tolerant and liberal society.
  • Abolish UNRWA and grant Palestinian Arabs who fled the 1948 War (and their descendants) full citizenship in the Arab states where they’re currently living.
  • Grant equal rights to Arab women, and begin to overcome a culture of misogyny which denies half of their population fundamental freedom, and denies their countries the potential benefit of full female economic participation.
  • Promote tolerance towards gays and lesbians. 
  • Stop persecuting Christians and other religious minorities, accept Arab responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of 900,000 Jews from Arab lands, and, more broadly, slowly begin embracing the values of tolerance and diversity.
  • Recognize Israel and strategize on how best to benefit from social economical and political cooperation with the Jewish state.
  • And, finally, begin to rid their culture of their endemic Judeophobia. 

Do I expect any of these changes to occur any time soon, or for the Guardian to begin holding Muslims and Arabs accountable to such genuinely liberal standards?

No, of course not, given their continuing identification, or at least sympathy, with the most reactionary voices in the region.

However, the promotion of such long-term political objectives should at least represent a litmus test of sorts for those claiming sympathy towards the Arab and Muslim world.

If you want to know how best to advocate for hundreds of millions of Arabs – at least those genuinely supporting a real democratic “Spring” – you can begin by reviewing the Guardian’s coverage of the region and adopting a political persuasion based on the complete opposite of what you read.

Guardian Live Blog on Middle East riots legitimizes Arab op-ed advancing conspiracy theory

The Guardian’s September 13th Live Blog on the current violence in Middle East – edited by  and Tom McCarthy – included this post at approximately 14:20 BST:

First, note that Guardian editors included a commentary implicitly advancing the original (now discredited) claim that the film incited the violence, when in fact evidence increasingly suggests that Islamist terrorists had planned the attack days or weeks ago.  

Shukrallah further suggests the film was part of a concerted effort to ignite a “clash of civilizations”, meant to “goad” Muslims into violent behavior which will darken the image of the Arab Spring.

But it gets worse. If you go to the full essayat Ahram Online, by Shukrallah (the managing editor of Ahram) you’ll find that the author acknowledges that he’s advancing a conspiracy theory, writing that he “strongly sense[s] conspiracy in the whole sordid “film maligning the Prophet” fracas…”.

He later adds this:

“Netanyahu’s Israel, of course, is the greatest beneficiary of all this.”

Yes, of course.  “Who benefits?”, the siren song for conspiracy theorists everywhere.

And, finally, the Mossad makes an appearance.

“Whether the film is a Mossad operation or not is beside the point, and such a claim cannot be made on the basis of conjecture, but tangible, solid information.” [emphasis added]

Later, Shukrallah writes:

“As for the image of Arabs and Muslims as fanatical, violent and irrational, that – it almost goes without saying – is a fundamental premise of Israel’s continuing enslavement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.”

While Shukrallah’s conspiracy theory suggesting the involvement of American Christians, Zionists, Israelis (and possibly the Mossad) is mild in comparison to the scare mongering about Jews and Israel typically found in the Middle East media, the Guardian’s decision to feature this commentary (in a blog largely consisting of straight news updates) is curious to say the least.

Anti-Zionist conspiracy theories, fed by the Arab world’s obsession with Israel, are indicative of an absence of reason and represent the sine qua non of continued despotism and underdevelopment. 

Those who sincerely wish to see the Arab Spring succeed must confront their socially crippling political vice.

Glenn Greenwald notes that unnamed sources told Chris McGreal Israel controls CNN. So, it must be true!

H/T Margie

In his latest CiF commentary, ‘CNN and the business of state sponsored TV news‘, September 4th, Glenn Greenwald argues that CNN compromises its journalistic integrity by engaging in financial arrangements with the same repressive ‘Gulf states’ that the network covers.  

Greenwald’s piece follows up on a post he published on the same day, ‘Why didn’t CNN’s international air its own documentary on Bahrain’s Arab Spring repression?‘, in which he claimed that the network’s business relationship with Bahrain influenced their decision not to air a report titled ‘iRevolution: Online Warriors of the Arab Spring’. (Greenwald fails to mention that the Guardian itself completely removed a commentary from their site for over a month which was critical of Bahrain, evidently after legal threats.)

Greenwald, towards the end of his latest post, threw in the following:

“Amber Lyon [the on-air correspondent for iRevolution] insists that CNN journalists and producers complained relentlessly about the type of business-driven censorship she now vocally claims was prevalent at CNN.”

Then Greenwald added:

“Back in 2004, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal reported on the network’s Middle East bureau: “CNN sources say the network has bowed to considerable pressure on its editors. Israeli officials boast that they now have only to call a number at the network’s headquarters in Atlanta to pull any story they do not like.” “

Who was the source for this ‘shocking’ revelation?  Well, McGreal doesn’t say. 

Further, if you go back to McGreal’s 2004 report you will see the following passages which Greenwald did not include: 

“The network’s former Middle East correspondent, Jerrold Kessel, who was widely respected for his informed and nuanced reporting, said that while doubtlessly there was pressure on his editors to get him to modify his coverage, he regarded it as irrelevant.

“The less notice one takes of pressure, the less pressure one invites on oneself,” he said. “If you get into a mind where the pressure is a factor, you get into the mind of worrying about what the effect of the pressure is going to be.” “

So, the entirety of Greenwald’s supposition that the Israeli government can kill stories they don’t like simply by dialing CNN’s offices is based on an anonymous source – a characterization which was dismissed by the network’s former Middle East correspondent.

This is what passes for journalism by the Guardian’s latest U.S. correspondent. 

The danger of Western projection: Egypt’s ‘Spring’ devolves into atavistic authoritarianism

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi, an Anglo-Israeli writer who blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind

Egyptians are choosing between a radical Islamist and Hosni Mubarak’s former prime minister in the second day of a presidential runoff greatly dominated by the country’s military.

Two days before the second round of the country’s first “free” presidential elections, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court ruled to invalidate the parliamentary election there. With parliament, 75 percent of whose members were Islamists, being dissolved, the military has taken over total authority.  

Egyptian protesters chant slogans against country’s military ruling council & Presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, as one holds a poster with merged photos of Mubarak and Ahmed Shafiq with stars of David, at Tahrir Square on Thursday.

The highest court in the land also ruled that the army-backed candidate, Ahmad Shafiq – the last president to serve under Hosni Mubarak- could stay in the race, in what was widely seen as a double blow for the Muslim Brotherhood

The decision was denounced as a coup by opposition leaders, who fear that they will lose much of the political ground they have gained since Mubarak was ousted 16 months ago. 

What do these latest developments mean for the much ballyhooed ‘Arab Spring’? Does the West now find itself in the awkward position of condemning the Egyptian military and simultaneously demanding that the Muslim Brotherhood be put into power?  

This thoroughly misunderstood revolution has laid claim to the hearts and minds of many an erudite Western observer. Did not the awakening that flowered with the removal of Hosni Mubarak usher in a new dawn of social cohesion, economic vibrancy and political democracy

Evidently not. In a country woefully unprepared for democracy, the apparent choice for the good citizens ofEgypt is now between a Sharia state and a military junta. 

One reason that that the West got it wrong was that it fell under the spell of several tantalizing myths, including the one that attributes Mubarak’s ouster to the Facebook generation. While the young and wired up may have played a role in sparking the Arab Spring, they have not been its main beneficiaries. 

The West also overestimated the significance of the democratic secularists and the degree to which demonstrators across Egypt were committed to Western-style democracy rather than a quasi democracy that represented Islamist values.  

Indeed, pro-democracy activists may have induced a gullible Western public to swoon, but they never succeeded in generating a grass-roots following inside of Egypt, which in the end is more important.

Grossly underreported in the media coverage coming out of Tahrir Square was the rise to prominence of the highly organized Muslim Brotherhood. The leading Islamist party in Egypt, which had been banned from participating in national politics by Mubarak, reaped the benefits of a suddenly open political system. 

Last Thursday’s decision by the supreme constitutional court -whose judges were appointed by Mubarak - brings into sharp focus the old regime’s complete lack of public support.

Such machinations bode ill for the Arab world’s newest ‘free society’. In fact, Egypt remains a ‘fear society’ – whose rulers lack the legitimate support of the people. In order to remain in power, Mubarak’s coterie must apparently resort to extraordinary judicial maneuvers. 

As such, despite the West’s infatuation with the image of pro-liberty demonstrations and protests occurring across the Arab world, there’s actually nothing new taking place underneath the Cairo sun.  

In fact, the rise of religious revolutionary forces that drove a nation’s strongman to leave his country bears a striking resemblance to the events leading up to 1979’s Iranian Revolution. 

Once the Western powers realized that Iranian society was on the verge of a fundamental change, they chose to accommodate this change. After recognizing the opposition groups, they facilitated them with opportunities such as media coverage. Through this action, changes accelerated with an unexpected speed.  

It appears, then, that the West is once again on the wrong side of history. What’s behind this chronic inability to get it right? Besides buying into a few unexamined assumptions about the ‘Arab Spring’, Westerners have also tended to lean heavily on the Eastern European revolutions of 1989 as point of reference. Indeed, the unpopularity of these regimes in 1989 is comparable to the loathing expressed across theMiddle East at inert and intolerant authoritarian rulers in 2011. 

However, the role of foreign forces in 1989 and 2011, respectively, is strikingly different. The unpopularity of regimes swept out of power by in 1989 originated in the fact that they were imposed from the outside — from the Soviet Union after World War II — and the governments were seen as tools of a foreign government.  

The Arab Spring was different. The regimes did not come into being as foreign impositions. Nasserism, the ideology of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who founded the modern Egyptian state, was not imposed from the outside. Indeed, it was an anti-Western movement, opposed to both European imperialism and what was seen as American aggression. 

Until the West learns to read and interpret events on the ground with better accuracy, it will continue to find itself waking up in bed with Iranian Mullahs and Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Ultimately, such diplomatic naiveté only serves to arouse public suspicion in these countries towards Western intentions in the Middle East. 

Guardian suddenly feels need to FACT CHECK allegations of human rights violations in Mid-East

We recently reported that the Guardian removed a CiF essay (by Nabeel Rajab and John Lubbock) from their site in late January which reported on human rights abuses against Shia employees of the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), which is to host the Grand Prix in April, due to a threatened lawsuit by the PR company representing BIC.

The essay also reported more broadly on the Bahrain regime’s systemic oppression of its Shia population (in an overwhelmingly Sunni nation).

You can see an unauthorized cache of the essay at our site, here.

At the time I observed how interesting it was to see a media institution which prides itself on “speaking truth to power” – and so poetically champions the “liberal”, democratic values of the “Arab Spring” – cravenly succumbing to pressure from a Bahrain PR Firm which is reportedly associated with the despotic regime.

Well, the following recent Tweet by co-author John Lubbock, updating friends on the status of the removed post, caught me as especially worth noting.

Think about this for a second.

The Guardian, which publishes reports about alleged Israeli human rights abuses with abandon, often on nothing more than anecdotal evidence, or the testimony of one Palestinian, suddenly feels the need to fact check and independently corroborate witness testimony unflattering to the nation it’s covering!?

Can you imagine the paucity of Israel-related content at the Guardian, and ‘Comment is Free’, if such quaint journalistic practices as “fact checking”, independent corroboration of evidence, and objectivity were consistently employed throughout their coverage of the region?

Of course, Israel’s democratic nature, which includes a free press (and hosts the highest number of foreign correspondents per capita in the world) which doesn’t fear legal sanction, or extra-judicial punishment, for filing reports critical of the government, may explain why Harriet Sherwood doesn’t feel the compunction to rigorously check the veracity of her ubiquitous reports critical of the Jewish state.

Interestingly, based on the Guardian’s own data, Israel was covered over four times more than Bahrain between 2010 and 2011.

I simply can’t imagine why?!

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.

Flagman: Arab ‘Spring’, the Guardian & the glorification of a nation’s anti-Zionist obsession

H/T Margie

On Aug. 21, shortly after two Egyptians were killed in the firefight which followed an Islamist terrorist attack (launched from Egypt) near Eilat which left eight Israelis dead, thousands in Cairo protested outside the Israeli embassy demanding that the ambassador leave and all diplomatic ties with Israel cut.

While Egyptians would eventually at least partially succeed in the morally urgent task of expelling the Jewish state’s presence from the capital, the riotous crowd on that Aug. night attempted unsuccessfully, though valiantly, to set the Israeli flag, perched 20 stories above ground, afire and so had to settle for a small replica to burn instead:

However, it turned out that a Pyrrhic victory on that warm summer night would not be completely denied, as a young Egyptian man, Ahmed El Shahat, succeeded in scaling all 20 floors of the building which housed the embassy, removing the Israeli flag and pinning an Egyptian one in its place.

Recently, the Guardian commissioned nine Arab writers to reflect on events of the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011. The piece,”Revolution in the Arab world“, was published in the Guardian book section on Jan. 13, and included the reflections of a Palestinian poet named Mourid Barghouti.

If a single scene could summarise the current historic moment in the Arab world it would be that horizontal image of Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, idly, helplessly, and with half-closed eyes, lying on a stretcher behind the court bars juxtaposed with the vertical, flying image of Ahmad El Shahat, the young Egyptian who climbed the 21 floors to the top of Israel’s embassy in Cairo to rip down its flag. The future is coming.

To Barghouti, one of the most iconic and glorious images of the ‘progressive’ Arab Spring seared in his mind (the most enduring symbol of the glorious revolution) was a symbolic display of his nation’s enmity towards Israel. 

Indeed, Barghouti was far from alone. As a report on Aug. 21 regarding Ahmad El Shahat’s act of heroism observed:

People [on Cairo's streets] were chanting, cars honking and others carrying Ahmed El Shahat on their shoulders in joyful expression of the absence of the [Israeli] flag were seen shortly after the incident.

Eyewitnesses at the scene in Egypt’s capital say hundreds of people are flocking to the embassy in a massive rally of joy.

The taking down of the flag created big waves among activists on Twitter and the hashtag #FlagMan was receiving hundreds of tweets.

There are tribute videos all over YouTube dedicated to El Shahat, one which includes this cartoon by none other than Carlos Latuff.

Egypt may have just elected an illiberal Islamist majority to its new assembly.   The country’s Christian minority may continue to flee in fear of a less tolerant post-revolution culture.  And, the country may have to confront such daunting challenges as a sclerotic economy (Egypt has one of the lowest business start-up rates in the world) and a myriad of social problems (Egypt is ranked as worst in the region by the UN Human Development Index).

But, throughout it all, they’ll always have flagman: a symbol of Barghouti’s pride, the aspirations of an ‘Arab Spring’, and the continuing glorification of a region’s crippling fixation.