Benghazi to Boston: Glenn Greenwald’s hypocrisy in condemning ‘rush to judgement’ over marathon attack

In response to the bomb attack at the Boston Marathon on Monday which killed three people and injured more than 175, Glenn Greenwald did what he does best: vilifying America and warning about racist-inspired assumptions regarding the religious identity of terrorist perpetrators.  

In his CiF commentary, ‘The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions’, April 16, Greenwald lectures Americans outraged by the assault that they are in no position to make judgements in light of the “horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade

Greenwald is of course largely referring to the US military’s drone campaign against Islamist terrorists – in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere – who plot attacks against innocent American civilians.  (The use of such unmanned aerial assaults against enemy combatants is supported by most Americans, but has become something of a negative obsession for Greenwald and other Guardian commentators.)

Additionally, Greenwald spends a large percentage of his column condemning those on Twitter and elsewhere in the traditional and social media for their alleged ‘rush to judgment’ over the suspected perpetrator(s) of the Boston attack:

The rush, one might say the eagerness, to conclude that the attackers were Muslim was palpable and unseemly, even without any real evidence. The New York Post quickly claimed that the prime suspect was a Saudi national (while also inaccurately reporting that 12 people had been confirmed dead). The Post’s insinuation of responsibility was also suggested on CNN by Former Bush Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend (“We know that there is one Saudi national who was wounded in the leg who is being spoken to”). Former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman went on CNN to grossly speculate that Muslim groups were behind the attack. 

Wild, unverified accusations with “zero evidence” singling out a minority group for responsibility over a deadly act of violence?  That sounds familiar.

Indeed, the day after the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Greenwald, in a post titled The tragic consulate killings in Lybia and America’s hierarchy of human life‘, wrote the following:

Protesters attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday night and killed four Americans, including the US ambassador, Chris Stevens. The attacks were triggered by rage over an amateurish and deeply hateful film about Islam that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as, among other things, a child molester advocate, a bloodthirsty goon, a bumbling idiot, and a promiscuous, philandering leech. A 13-minute trailer was uploaded to YouTube and then quickly circulated in the Muslim world, sparking widespread anger (the US embassy in Cairo was also attacked).

Further, Greenwald repeated completely unverified (and ultimately false) claims that the film-maker (Sam Bacile) was “an Israeli real estate developer living in California” and that he had made the film with “the help of 100 Jewish donors.”

Greenwald’s wild speculation about the cause of the attack, and the putative Israeli and Jewish connection (also parroted by the Guardian’s Julian Borger and Caroline Davies), however, was completely unfounded.

  • On Sept. 12, reports already began to appear contradicting claims that Bacile was an Israeli Jew.  And, a day later it was confirmed that he was an Egyptian Christian. 
  • The Guardian was forced to correct Greenwald’s false claim about the Jewish identity of the film-maker

Reports regarding the importance of an obscure, low-budget anti-Muslim film represented merely a ruse, designed to divert the attention of those in the media already ideologically inclined to blame Jews, Israel and the West for deadly Islamist terror attacks. 

Greenwald’s ‘shock’ over the ‘racist’ rush to judgement of those who disseminated unconfirmed reports that the terrorist attack in Boston was committed by al-Qaeda (or other Islamist terror groups) again demonstrates the Guardian contributor’s stunning moral hypocrisy.

“I am going to start an Intifada.”

The narrative regarding the deadly terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, which the MSM and the Guardian advanced, but which soon was proved to be completely erroneous, suggested that an obscure anti-Muslim film – which, it was claimed, was produced by an Israeli Jew – triggered a “spontaneous” protest outside the embassy, leading to an assault which left four people dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

It soon became apparent that the film – which was actually created by a Coptic Christian – had absolutely nothing to do with the attack.  

It is now known that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a premeditated act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.

On September 28, 2000, an Israeli Jew was blamed for inciting what would become known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada – a brutal five-year campaign of Palestinian terrorism, directed largely against Jewish civilians, which claimed over 1,100 innocent lives and injured thousands more.

The Intifada was defined by the hideous tactic of suicide bombing, in which the Palestinian terrorists detonated explosive belts in crowded public places (in order to maximize the loss of life), sending thousands of pieces of shrapnel tearing into human limbs and organs. 

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On March 27, 2002, a Palestinian suicide bomber named Abdel-Basset Odeh murdered 30 people at a Seder meal at the Park Hotel in Netanya, including several Holocaust survivors

Most who truly understand the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict would have known already that Yasser Arafat started the Second Intifada, but the latest admission by Arafat’s widow, Suha, about the origins of the Intifada – which she similarly acknowledged last year – serves to completely discredit those who continue denying the obvious.

Suha Arafat in an interview in December on Dubai TV, said the following:

“Yasser Arafat had made a decision to launch the Intifada. Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return, in July 2001 [sic]. Camp David has failed, and he said to me: “You should remain in Paris.” I asked him why, and he said: “Because I am going to start an Intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so. I do not want Zahwa’s friends in the future to say that Yasser Arafat abandoned the Palestinian cause and principles. I might be martyred, but I shall bequeath our historical heritage to Zahwa [Arafat’s daughter] and to the children of Palestine.”

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Click on image to go to video

Here’s permanent content on the Guardian’s Israel page, The Arab-Israel conflict:

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The photo story consists of 22 photos illustrating the history of the conflict.

Here’s the photo representing the Second Intifada. (Note the caption)

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Click to Enlarge

Here’s a photo and caption from a 2006 Guardian piece titledAriel Sharon: A life in pictures‘.

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Indeed, among the more common erroneous narratives advanced by the mainstream media (and, of coursethe Guardian) is that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, “sparked” the Second Intifada and that the Intifada began organically – lies repeated so often that causal observers could be forgiven for believing them.

However, commentators of good faith can no longer make such a claim.

Arguing that an Israeli Jew sparked the Second Intifada, however, often serves a broader polemical objective: to deny Palestinian terrorists, and their leaders, moral responsibility for the five-year war of terror against Israeli civilians, and its injurious political consequences, in a manner consistent with an anti-Zionist narrative which rarely assigns such moral agency to the Palestinians under any circumstances.  

The claim that, in 2000, Jews incited Palestinians to kill Jews, like so much of what passes for conventional wisdom about the conflict, is a total lie.

Guardian spices up coverage of MENA riots with incitement against Israelis and Jews.

The Guardian’s coverage of the riots and attacks on American and other Western diplomatic missions , as well as other targets, currently taking place throughout the Middle East and North Africa began on Tuesday, September 11th, with a video (sourced from Reuters) of what it termed ‘protestors’ at the US embassy in Cairo. 

At 23:30 BST that night the Guardian published an article by Associated Press in Cairo on the events at the US embassy which also included the same video and raised the subject of the film supposedly responsible for triggering the riots. On Wednesday September 12th, the Guardian published another video, this time of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which, it later emerged, Ambassador Stevens and other US citizens were killed. The video’s strap-line declared that: 

“The violence is in response to an unspecified American film protesters say is blasphemous”

By 11:09 am BST, the Guardian had gone from “unspecified American film” to declaring – in an article by AP – that the film’s director was Israeli. 

Interestingly, here in the Middle East itself, there were no reports at that time of Israeli involvement in the making of the film: that notion appears to have been generated in the West, solely on the basis of the anonymous AP report, although the theme was later adopted by interested parties.  

By Wednesday morning US time, (roughly three hours after the publication of the Guardian article) the Wall Street Journal – which had originally run the AP story suggesting Israeli involvement – was backtracking

“On Wednesday, a records search turned up no references to any men in the U.S. by the name Sam Bacile. Israeli officials said they haven’t found any records of an Israeli by that name. The Journal was unable to reach the telephone number again and as of Wednesday, it had been disconnected.

The cellphone number used Tuesday was registered to a user at a home in Cerritos, Calif., where one of the residents was listed in public records as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.”

By this time, other media outlets too had realized that the supposed Israeli connection to the film was a hoax. Even Al Jazeera had managed to get the story straight by early Wednesday morning. 

” “Bacile” is now reportedly in hiding, even though reports suggest that the name is merely cover for a larger group, or a pseudonym for someone who may be neither Israeli nor Jewish – but who cited such an identify to inflame tensions.”

By Thursday, it was quite clear that there was no Israeli involvement whatsoever in the making of the film. 

However, that inflammatory – and untrue – headline still stands at the Guardian – appearing, among other places, under the ‘Islam’ category in its ‘World News’ section. 

Later on Wednesday, at 15:10 BST, the Guardian published another article by Caroline Davies, which repeated the same – and by then, obviously untrue – information regarding the film-maker’s supposed nationality.

At 15:35 BST, Julian Borger weighed in – also promoting the unproven involvement of “100 unnamed Jewish donors” in the making of the film and claiming that “Bacile still insisted that the movie would help Israel”. 

At 16:55 BST on Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald joined the fray, also pushing the already discredited Israeli angle of the story. Two days later, an editor’s note was added to his article. 

“Editor’s note: this article was amended on 14 September. The original stated that the producer of the film was Sam Bacile, an Israeli real estate developer living in California and that he had made the film with the help of 100 Jewish donors. This assertion was based on an Associated Press report that was published in Haaretz”. 

At 20:00 BST on Wednesday, Julian Borger was back with a rehashed version of his earlier piece which still contained unnecessary speculations about Israeli and Jewish involvement in the making of the film. That piece is also still featured as “Top Story” on several of the Guardian’s ‘World News’ pages. 

At 20:23 BST, the Guardian published an article by Rory Carroll, which was still pushing the “100 Jewish donors” line:

“Bacile wrote and directed the film purportedly with $5m (£3m) donated by 100 unnamed Jewish backers. The goal was to show “Islam is a cancer”, he told the Wall Street Journal.”

At 17:00 BST on Thursday, September 13th – well over 24 hours after the ‘Israeli connection’ to the film had been debunked – the Guardian rolled out veteran anti-Israel agitator Max Blumenthal (no stranger to online incendiary films himself) who, despite the fact that the story clearly lacked legs, wrote the following: (emphasis added)

“Bacile told the Associated Press that he was a Jewish Israeli real estate developer living in California. He said that he raised $5m for the production of the film from “100 Jewish donors”, an unusual claim echoing Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style fantasies. Unfortunately, the extensive history of Israeli and ultra-Zionist funding and promotion of Islamophobic propaganda in the United States provided Bacile’s remarkable statement with the ring of truth.

Only at 18:44 BST on Thursday, September 13th did the Guardian begin to set the record straight with an article by Rory Carroll. But by that time, of course, millions of Guardian readers had been spoon-fed with 31 hours-worth of defamatory untruths. 

There are several things which are deeply disturbing about the Guardian’s behavior on this story. One is the emphasis it has put on 14 minutes of puerile, badly produced hate speech as the ‘reason’ for the mass ‘rent a mob’ rioting throughout the Middle East and North Africa. That emphasis is particularly misguided and misleading in light of the fact that the attacks on the US missions in Cairo and Benghazi appear to have been pre-planned to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

No less disturbing is the Guardian’s promotion of fictitious Israeli and Jewish involvement in the production of the film. Not only did the Guardian obviously fail completely to fact check the AP report it originally published, but even when the unreliability of that report came to light, it continued to push that version of the story because it dovetailed with the Guardian’s own existing prejudices. 

If the West should have learned anything over the past few days, it is that rumour – however ridiculous and unfounded – can be a very dangerous and even lethal thing in this part of the world. Whilst some people at the Guardian may find it useful or amusing to promote unsubstantiated rumours which they have clearly not bothered to fact-check, that is not the type of reckless incitement one expects from a responsible, respectable or serious mainstream media outlet. 

The Guardian must therefore promptly issue a prominent correction on each and every one of those articles citing, referring to or inspired by the irresponsible AP report, making it very clear that its reports were misleading, unfounded and untruthful. 

If it has the necessary conscience and guts, the Guardian will also admit to gross professional negligence.