Guardian removes claim about Iran’s nuclear “weapons” program from ‘the pages of time’

If you go to the Guardian’s business page you’ll see a report by Rupert Neate about a British company which allegedly earned millions of pounds selling goods to Iran, “including to a state-owned firm that supplies the regime’s nuclear programme”

The title of the report, as it now appears, is “Glencore traded with Iranian supplier to nuclear programme”.

after

However, the if you go back in time a few days (to a cached page), you can see the title they originally used: “Glencore traded with Iranian supplier to nuclear weapons’s programme”.  

orig

Cached page, as it originally appeared

At some point after the story was published on April 21 the word “weapons” was deleted from title.

Whilst we’ll likely never know for sure what prompted the Guardian “correction” to the evidently counter-revolutionary suggestion that Iran is working on a nuclear weapons program, the paper’s history in denying the obvious about the regime’s nuclear ambitions provides some context.

For instance, there was Seumas Milne’s attempt, in a 2011 Comment is Free post, to obfuscate on the issue, which included an urgent plea for readers to prevent a “covert US-Israeli campaign against Tehran” from exploding into a global war.  He further argued that “a US-Israeli stealth war against Iran” would be “shocking” as “the case against Iran is so spectacularly flimsy.” He concluded thusly:

“There is in fact no reliable evidence that Iran is engaged in a nuclear weapons programme…. the evidence suggests Iran suspended any weapons programme in 2003 and has not reactivated it.”

In fact nothing could be further than the truth.  A Nov. 2011 IAEA Report included the following conclusions:

  • Iran has been conducting research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapons capability
  • Iran had carried out tests relevant to the development of a nuclear device.

Even a Guardian story (which included a pdf of the full IAEA report) characterized the IAEA findings as establishing that that “Iran appears to be on a structured path to building a nuclear weapon.”  Further, as recently as early April 2013, IAEA head Yukiya Amano said in an interview that his agency “has information indicating that Iran was engaged in activities relevant to the development of nuclear explosive devices in the past and now.”

But the award for great achievements in ideologically driven propaganda goes to their former veteran journalist Brian Whitaker, who actually served as the Guardian’s Middle East editor for seven years.  In a ‘CiF’ piece in Nov. 2011 titled “Why do the US media believe the worse about Iran?”, Whitaker not only ignored IAEA reports but suggested that the clandestine Iranian program may not even be a military program at all, but merely a ‘peaceful civilian project’ to manufacture nanodiamonds.

nanodiamonds

Nanodiamonds – a substance used in polishing compositions, coatings, lubricants and polymers.

Though the question of whether or not the Islamist regime in Iran will be able to successfully carry out their mission to develop nuclear weapons depends on the resolve of Western political and opinion leaders to stand up to the threat, the Mullahs in Tehran can always count on the Guardian Left to run interference on their clear aspirations to regional hegemony.

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.

“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”.   

The Canary In The Guardian’s Coalmine

The following is cross posted by Alan A at Harry’s Place

When a country is in trouble, it looks for scapegoats. All too often, that scapegoat has been the Jew. So it has been, too, with The Guardian.

The Guardian is in a death spiral. Like most newspapers, it has found that readers prefer not to pay for something that they can read for free on their mobile phones on the way in to work. In order to survive, it has undergone a sea-change into something rich – not in a monetary sense – and strange.

Most of you will be familiar with the extent of the problem at the beleaguered newspaper. The Scott Trust is in reasonably financial shape, and provides a safety net: but there is a natural limit to how long it can continue to underwrite a vanity project. Der Spiegel reports:

The Guardian has been losing money every year since 2004. Last year alone, it and its sister newspaper, the Observer, lost more than €47 million. It’s only thanks to the farsightedness and generosity of its former owners, the Scott family, that the paper hasn’t gone bankrupt.

Since 1936, the paper has been funded by the Scott Trust. This structure has but a single aim: “To secure the editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity.”

Many newspapers would like to be based on such a business model. The Scott Trust owns a number of lucrative companies, including the used-car magazine and portal Auto Trader. The profits generated on these are used to offset the heavy losses incurred by The Guardian.

“Our mission is to be profit seeking rather than profit finding,” says Deputy Editor Ian Katz. Even CP Scott, the paper’s owner in the early 20th century, believed it was more important to be influential than to turn a profit.

However, the Guardian’s losses have become too big to absorb — and in 2007 the Scott Trust was forced to sell some of its assets to refill its coffers.

Andrew Miller, a former consumer-goods industry manager and for the past year the managing director of the newspaper’s parent company, the Guardian Media Group, recently warned that if theGuardian continued to make such heavy losses, the company would simply run out of money within five years.

Alan Rusbridger’s solution is to turn The Guardian into a Huffington Post style web venture. Der Spiegel explains how this is supposed to work:

But for all its online verve, the Guardian isn’t making any money on the web either. Aside from a few allied services and a mobile subscription, the paper gives away its content wholesale, convinced this is the only way it will eventually be profitable. The hope is that the more people use the online edition, the greater the associated advertising revenues will one day become.

To date it has remained just that: A hope, though Rusbridger has a two-line graph he thinks proves his point. One line shows income from the print edition which is heading steadily downward. The other shows income from the web and points in the opposite direction. His reporters jokingly call the point where the two lines intersect the “Rusbridger cross”, the moment when their boss’ gamble would theoretically pay off even though the print Guardian continues to lose money.

The only question now is when and at what level the two lines will meet. “It is far too early to say that it won’t work out,” he Rusbridger says. “We have to wait and change the advertising industry’s mind.”

Comment is Free is at the very heart of this project. The problem is that the website is a cesspool. The greater its “success”, the more extensive the damage to The Guardian’s brand.

Recently, The Guardian launched its Open Journalism initiative. Put simply, it constitutes the infection of the remainder of the newspaper by the values embodied by CIF. This was made clear in the “Cannes Lion Award Winning” Three Little Pigs advert, which in one scene featured a nutter in his bedroom finding out “the truth” by googling around on the internet, and phoning it into the newspaper.

According to a recent GQ article, Guardian staffers understand well the problematic nature of The Guardian’s new business strategy:

The atmosphere among Guardian staff is turbulent. A reporter tells GQ: “There’s a lot of grumbling. People don’t like what the management is doing. They get that we’re losing money hand over fist and we need to stop the losses as much as we can, but they think that what’s being sacrificed is journalism.”At the heart of the Guardian’s problems is a crucial question: how much does good journalism matter? Or rather: how much is it worth?

For a decade now, ever since Seumas Milne, the former Business Manager of the Stalinist Straight Left newspaper was installed as Comment Editor of The Guardian, the newspaper and its associated web venture, Comment is Free, has been a happy home for anti-Israel obsessives, Hamas supporters, and activists in fringe far Left political parties.

I should make one  thing clear. The reason that this has happened is not that the CIF clique are antisemites. Rather, they are America-haters, from the fine old British tradition with its roots in both upper middle class elites and the far Left. None of these people see themselves as Jew haters. They see themselves as progressives, at the vanguard of opposition to “imperialism” and injustice. They honestly believe themselves to be good people, doing important work. When they publish and promote people who want to kill Jews – even as they congratulate themselves for their opposition to “racism in a digital age” – it is because they think they’re socking it to the global hegemon. For those on the far Left, that is the USA: however, some of those they publish believe that it is Israel and the Jews who are pulling the strings of power. However, that’s no biggie. Seumas Milne supports them all, and gave them column space, for the same reason that he supported ”militants”  in Iraq who killed British servicemen.

As a business strategy, this editorial line has paid dividends, but of a very odd sort. Some readers, who share these preoccupations, like it very much. Others, including long time self-defined “Guardian readers” loathe it. Either way, it generates page impressions, which in Rusbridger’s mind must eventually translate into profit.

Under the leadership of Becky Gardiner, the process has accelerated. It is now pretty much impossible, for example, to get an article in response or rebuttal even to an article by Hamas onto the website. As readers will know, any attempt to draw attention to Hamas’ notorious Covenant will result in immediate deletion of the comment. The Guardian’s official position is that of Nelsonian blindness to antisemitism and theologically backed promises to kill Jews.

Repeated attempts were made by Jewish Guardian writers to encourage Becky Gardiner to allow a single word of dissent on the subject of Raed Salah, the blood libel cleric, whose Op Ed was published on Holocaust Rememberance Day. Muslim liberals, tried too. All were batted away by Becky Gardiner: because she is a supporter of the man, what he stands for, what he says. Not content with offering the racist hate preacher a column, Gardiner even intervened to defend her hero in the resultant discussion.

The adulation of Raed Salah continued in the newspaper itself, where he was championed by David Hearst. When Salah lost at first instance, The Guardian simply refused to report the fact. Instead, it recycled conspiracy theories about The Community Security Trust’s role in the affair, propagated by Asa Winstanley: a “Christian Youth Minister at the Wembley Church of Christ“. They also published, on  Holocaust Memorial Day, a completely erroneous piece – which they later had to correct – about a supposed conflict of interest between Michael Gove MP and The Community Security Trust.  The source for that article was Professor David Miller, whose website once notoriously reproduced the thesis of a notorious neo Nazi, Kevin MacDonald, who believes that Jews are genetically predisposed to scheme and conspire against non-Jews.

Open journalism in action.

Well, who could possibly have predicted that when The Guardian opened its doors to those whose nastiness focused on Israel and Jews, that others – with a broader focus – would follow in their wake?

So, it has happened. If there is no reason to bat an eyelid at the parade of clerical fascists who are supporters or members of Hamas, then there can be no reason to oppose the printing of supporters of other associated clerical fascist parties: Egypt’s Ikhwan, Tunisia’s Ennahda. If them, why not mouthpieces and apologists for the Islamic Republic of Iran? And if you’re going to have Islamists and Communists from far away lands, who believe that their woes result from a world wide Jewish conspiracy, why not our own home-grown nutters: people like the comedian Charlie Skelton who has convinced himself that reporting on Syria is being controlled by a conspiracy involving the Bilderberg Group and George Soros?

Unhappiness at The Guardian with the direction of Comment is Free could not be clearer. Former Middle East Editor and Comment is Free Editor Brian Whitaker appears to be in open revolt, twittering away his anger at his inability to get an article criticism “infantile leftist ex-friends” – a phrase Whitaker might use himself – onto the pages of the website he supposedly edits.

Let me be absolutely clear about this. If Guardian journalists are twitchy about what is happening to their newspaper, they have only themselves to blame. The Jews were, as always, the canary in the coal mine. When those journalists stayed silent, either because they didn’t think they could say anything, or because they didn’t care, or even because they partly agreed, they allowed a culture of zaniness and extremism to take root at the newspaper. Now, the guns have been turned on them, over Syria and Middle East reporting generally, and it may well be too late for them to stop it. The Indymediaisation of The Guardian is likely spread further, across its other departments, as experts leave and are replaced by “Open Journalism” monomaniacs.

The problem is pretty clear. The Guardian has no self correcting mechanism. When long time readers of the newspaper – buyers of their product – appeared in comment threads asking what had happened to the journal that once defined their values, they were written off as “Tory Trolls” or “Zionists”.  Like many on the Left, The Guardian believes that it can do no wrong, and can make no mistakes. Its management cannot comprehend why many people who once loved the newspaper now think of it as the nasty paper, a sort of Daily Mail of the Left, whose online circulation is kept high by trolling its own readers.

Indeed, a friend whose judgement I respect, advised me not to mention Jews in this piece at all. To do so, he argued, would result in most people just switching off. That is exactly my point. Too many people switched off when Comment is Free began its decline, because they thought that it didn’t matter, or that it was best not to fuss, or that these were essentially communalist and parochial concerns. This is why we are where we are, generally.

I would love to see The Guardian return to basic journalistic values. However, with money short, genuine reporting is expensive: but comment is free.

What The Guardian really should do is to sack Becky Gardiner and to make a conscious effort to capture the mainstream. The GQ article quotes Juan Señor, a partner at Innovation Media Consulting, who observes:

“It’s the same old strategy of going for volume when they should be going for value. They’re obsessed with volume. They can’t see past the old digital fable that ‘if you build it, they will come’. It’s almost become a messianic mission.”

But CIF – in its present form – may well now be a juggernaut that cannot be halted. What The Guardian has built is a home for a very vocal, weird and nasty fringe. There’s brass to be made from muck, most certainly. However, what The Guardian will lose forever, and may have already damaged beyond repair, is its reputation.

Once that has happened, Rusbridger’s cross – the point at which the venture can run on web profits alone – will be forever outside his grasp.

CiF Watch Schadenfreude Alert: Brian Whitaker taunts the Guardian on Twitter

The fallout from Charlie Skelton’s ‘Comment is Free’ essay The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?” has gotten a bit ugly.

Briefly, as we posted on July 15th, Skelton used his CiF column to warn darkly that many of the Syrian opposition leaders are connected to the U.S. government and various American neocons (who evidently are “ultra-ultra” hawks) and to promote scepticism of the protesters’ motives .

Skelton wrote:

“…spokespeople [for the Syrian opposition] are vocal advocates of foreign military intervention in Syria and thus natural allies of well-known US neoconservatives who supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq and are now pressuring the Obama administration to intervene.”

“The bombs doors are open. The plans have been drawn up….This has been brewing for a time. The sheer energy and meticulous planning that’s gone into this change of regime – it’s breathtaking….They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change, and the mainstream news is hungry to buy.”

The essay by Skelton, a prolific conspiracy theorist, seemed to anger veteran Guardian journalist (and Middle East Analyst) Brian Whitaker, who then Tweeted about the fact that Syrian government TV actually cited Skelton’s CiF essay on one of their programs to discredit opponents of the Assad regime. 

Here’s the Tweet:

Then, Whitaker Tweeted the Guardian (aka, his employer) daring them to publish an essay extremely critical of the political thinking of Skelton, and his fellow far left thinkers, regarding Syria. 

The essay, at a blog not at all friendly to Zionism, is written by Guardian contributor Robin Yassin-Kassab.  

Here are some of the passages:

“One of my infantile leftist ex-friends recently referred to the Free Syrian Army as a ‘sectarian gang’.
… 

“…the problem with blanket thinkers is that they are unable to adapt to a rapidly shifting reality. Instead of evidence, principles and analytical tools, they are armed only with ideological blinkers…they read every other situation through the US-imperialist lens....”

Seumas…cough, cough, Milne, cough…

“…how do the blanket thinkers see the situation? For them it’s yet another clear-cut case of American imperialist aggression against a noble resistance regime, and once again the people are passive tools.”

“It is the duty of any right-thinking person, leftist or otherwise, to support the oppressed people in their struggle.”

Whitaker then followed up his original Tweet with another one, daring the Guardian to publish the essay.

Finally, Whitaker, who evidently received a reply to his challenge, Tweeted the following:

Ouch!

We will of course keep you posted on any further developments in the Whitaker – Guardian Twitter Smackdown!

A Guardian-Baathist Alliance? Syrian gov’t uses CiF essay for pro-regime propaganda

H/T Harry’s Place

On July 12th, ‘Comment is Free’ published an essay by Charlie Skelton titled “The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?”.

Skelton uses his CiF column not to condemn the Assad regime’s murderous campaign against opponents of the regime – indiscriminate attacks which have killed thousands of innocent civilians – but to warn darkly that many of the Syrian opposition leaders are connected to U.S. government and various American hawks.

Who are these shadowy forces pulling the strings of Syrian opposition? 

Do we really even need to ask?

 Skelton writes:

“…spokespeople are vocal advocates of foreign military intervention in Syria and thus natural allies of well-known US neoconservatives who supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq and are now pressuring the Obama administration to intervene.”

So, who are those evil neocons? Skelton names one in particular, with a predictable ethnic background.

“A key combatant in this battle for hearts and minds is the American journalist and Daily Telegraph blogger, Michael Weiss.

One of the most widely quoted western experts on Syria – and an enthusiast for western intervention – Michael Weiss echoes Ambassador Ross when he says: “Military intervention in Syria isn’t so much a matter of preference as an inevitability.”

Two Jews? Go figure.

But it gets worse.

“But Weiss is not only a blogger. He’s also the director of communications and public relations at the Henry Jackson Society, an ultra-ultra-hawkish foreign policy think-tank.”

So now we have an “ultra-ultra” (that’s ultra times 2!) hawkish Jewish neocon.  

 Skelton adds:

“The Henry Jackson Society’s international patrons include: James “ex-CIA boss” Woolsey, Michael “homeland security” Chertoff, William “PNAC” Kristol, Robert “PNAC” Kagan’, Joshua “Bomb Iran” Muravchick, and Richard “Prince of Darkness” Perle.” 

Oh my!  There are more Jewish names in the mix. 

What is their end goal?

Skelton, after a few passages in which he questions the veracity of “reports” of the Assad regime’s savagery, adds:

“The bombs doors are open. The plans have been drawn up….This has been brewing for a time. The sheer energy and meticulous planning that’s gone into this change of regime – it’s breathtaking….They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change, and the mainstream news is hungry to buy.”

Yes, the neocon warmongers who brought you the Iraq war are now manipulating the U.S. government into launching another malevolent military adventure. 

However, Skelton is an optimist and believes that all is not lost.

“But it’s never too late to ask questions, to scrutinise sources. Asking questions doesn’t make you a cheerleader for Assad – that’s a false argument. It just makes you less susceptible to spin. The good news is, there’s a sceptic born every minute.”

So how skeptical is Skelton?

Well, as Harry’s Place observed, Skelton is a “conspiracy theory hobbyist”.

Here’s Charlie Skelton – who has evidently covered other events as a Guardian reporter – at ‘Comment is Free on September 11, 2009:

“The massive banner opposite the lobby says INVESTIGATE 9/11, which I realise isn’t an imperative at all. It’s a question. Everyone here is a question. Gareth is a question. Nano-thermite is a question. Truth is a question. 9/11 is a question.”

And here is Skelton (who has previously appeared on the show of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones) at a 9/11 ‘troofer’ conference:

“I think we’re living in a time when the alternative media is so important, and the distinction between alternative media and mainstream media is blurring, and I think I’m probably just sort of playing around in the blurring area, and getting to write a few little things on the Guardian website which is fine, and that sort of just crosses over a little bit into the mainstream.”

So, Charlie Skelton is a ‘Comment is Free’ contributor, conspiracy theorist, and 9/11 ‘troofer’ who is obsessed with the injurious influence of neocons on U.S. foreign policy.

Finally, the Guardian contributor caught the eye of one particular media outlet in desperate need of such propaganda: Syrian state TV.

So, am I overstating the case by arguing that the Syrian regime just used the Guardian to assist in their  propaganda war to discredit the opposition?

Hardly.

Here’s a recent Tweet by veteran Guardian journalist Brian’s Whitaker:

It is impossible to know for sure what Whitaker’s motivation was, but I suspect the Tweet indicates that he was a bit annoyed by the decision of ‘Comment is Free’ editors to publish an essay by a conspiracy theorist who used the Guardian’s blog to run interference for the brutal Assad regime.  

Either way, may I humbly suggest retweeting Whitaker’s (under-140 character) take on this embarrassing Guardian – Baathist alliance. 

Jenin. Ten Years Since Something That Never Happened: A Learning Moment for the Guardian

[While I read the Guardian everyday now, I wasn't so "privileged" back during the Palestinian wave of terror known as the Second Intifada. While I did know that the Guardian made a morally incomprehensible comparison between Jenin (Israel's Operation Defensive Shield) and 9/11, I didn't realize that they never published an apology, even after the narrative of "Jenin Massacre" was definitively disproven. This essay at Harry's Place, (which they submitted to, and was rejected by, editors at Comment is Free), thoroughly fisking the Guardian's coverage of the battle of Jenin, is simply required reading for anyone wishing to understand their institutional anti—Israel journalistic malice   — AL]

For two full weeks in April of 2002, the Guardian ran wild with lurid tales of an Israeli massacre in the Palestinian city of Jenin on the West Bank — a massacre that never happened.  The misrepresentations and outright fabrications have never been properly addressed in the ten ensuing years, as though the Guardian’s editors believe nothing more than some hasty reporting and bad sourcing happened.  But the reportorial failings were far too systematic to be so dismissed, and until the Guardian conducts a thorough investigation of its own errors and publishes a detailed account to its readers, its integrity on Israel-Palestine will continue to be called into question.

First the facts: On the heels of a thirty-day Palestinian suicide bombing campaign in Israeli cities which included thirteen deadly attacks (imagine thirteen 7/7’s in one month), Israel embarked on a military offensive in the West Bank.  The fiercest fighting in this offensive occurred in the refugee camp just outside the West Bank town of Jenin, the launching point for 30 Palestinian suicide bombers in the year and half previous (seven were caught before they could blow themselves up; the other 23 succeeded in carrying out their attacks).  In this battle, which lasted less than a week, 23 Israeli soldiers were killed as well as 52 Palestinians, of whom at most 14 were civilians (there is some marginal dispute about that last figure).

There was nothing extraordinary in this battle or in these numbers.  Looking back, what is extraordinary is that Ariel Sharon’s Israel sat through 18 months of Palestinian suicide terror before embarking on even this military offensive.  Seamus Milne assured readers on April 10 of the ‘futility’ of this military response, though with the benefit of hindsight we can clearly see this battle as the turning point in the struggle to end suicide terror on Israel’s streets.  Milne referred to ‘hundreds’ killed, ‘evidence of atrocities,’ and ‘state terror.’  Not to be outdone, Suzanne Goldenberg reported from Jenin’s ‘lunar landscape’ of ‘a silent wasteland, permeated with the stench of rotting corpses and cordite.’  She found ‘convincing accounts’ of summary executions, though let’s be honest and concede that it’s not generally difficult to convinceGoldenberg of Israeli villainy.  In the next day’s report from Jenin, a frustrated Goldenberg reported that the morgue in Jenin had ‘just 16 bodies’ after ‘only two bodies [were] plucked from the wreckage.’  This didn’t cause her to doubt for a moment that there were hundreds more buried beneath or to hesitate in reporting from a Palestinian source that bodies may have been transported ‘to a special zone in Israel.’  Brian Whitaker and Chris McGreal weighed in with their own equally tendentious and equally flawed reporting the following week.

Read the rest of the essay here.

Tweeting for Khader: Octavia Nasr’s latest terrorist crush

Following the death of the Lebanese Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, one of the original spiritual guides of Hezbollah, CNN senior Middle East affairs editor Octavia Nasr Tweeted the following.

Despite an attempt at an apology, Nasr was subsequently fired by the network, which released a statement noting that Nasr’s “credibility…as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.”  You think?!

Just to be clear, the Hezbollah leader Nasr was Tweeting support for was an unequivocal supporter of suicide bombing against Israeli civilians, had issued a fatawa justifying the suicide bombing which attacked the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and was a Holocaust revisionist.

A year or so after the incident, during an interview with Asharq Al-Awssat (an Arabic international newspaper based in London), Nasr blamed, yes, the “Zionist lobby” for her dismissal, a narrative echoed by the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker in a CiF column he wrote shortly after Nasr was fired.

Yet, the brave Octavia Nasr, clearly undeterred by the powerful Zionist forces aligned against her, recently Tweeted support for her latest terrorist crush – Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan.

Then, CiF Watch commented:

Nasr’s reply:

Another Tweet to us by Nasr, declaring the conversation over:

Our reply:

Then there was this:

Who did she block? After noticing that she was no longer listed as someone we were following, I tried to follow her, only to find this:

After being axed by CNN for a pro-Hezbollah Tweet, no doubt Ms. Nasr is a wee bit sensitive about being called out again for shilling on behalf of a terrorist.

Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are worthy of her sympathy,  but CiF Watch is evidently a hate site.

If Octavia Nasr didn’t exist the “Zionist lobby” would SO have to invent her. 

Guardian’s Simon Tisdall fears Romney’s belligerence (& Israel’s obsessive fears) may push U.S. to war

Simon Tisdall

His moral instincts are so refined, so sophisticated, and so unburdened by conventional thinking that he was able to see past the  universal enmity towards Sudan’s tragically misunderstood leader, Omar al-Bashir, charged with genocide for acting with intent to destroy non-Arab ethnic groups in the Darfur region.

Al-Bashir’s unimaginably bloody campaign resulted in up to 400,000 dead and resulted in 2.5 million refugees. 

Here’s the money quote from Simon Tisdall’s Dec. 27, 2010 apologia for Omar al-Bahsir.

“ostracised by western governments, [and] makes an easy target. America always needs bogeymen and Bashir fits the bill: big, bothersome, bad-tempered, black, Arab and Muslim.”

That final sentence should be placed in a museum of intellectual thought as a perfect representation of the Guardian Left’s capacity to synthesize anti-Americanism, post-colonialism and a perverse understanding of anti-racism in order to defend the morally indefensible. 

Such background should help partially contextualize Tisdall’s latest “analysis” of the foreign policy implications of the American elections, “You’ve been Romney-ed! Obama must beware of GOP foreign policy vortex“, Jan. 15.

Tisdall’s broad argument is that Obama should keep to his principles and not be pushed unwillingly into a regional war with Iran, as both the result of a political pressure (to be more hawkish and, thus, win re-election) from Mitt Romney’s increasingly confrontational and belligerent foreign policy positions regarding Iran – pressure partially caused by “Israel’s obsession “with eliminating the Iranian threat.”

Tisdall blames Romney for his “uncompromising hostility to the Tehran regime” – such as his support for an “increase [of] US military presence around Iran, stepped up covert warfare, support for Iranian opposition groups, and beefed up military co-operation with Israel” – which, he argues, would play right into Netanyahu’s hands.

Tisdall:

All this must be highly encouraging to Netanyahu, who does not get on with Obama, is obsessed with eliminating the Iranian threat, and fears Obama would use a second term to pursue a more forceful regional peacemaking agenda, on Palestine as well as on Iran. For Iranian leaders, pondering war or peace, it must all seem highly provocative.

In this passage Tisdall demonstrates his moral divide: a militaristic Israel which fears the specter of a “peacemaking agenda”, and is irrationally obsessed with the Iranian threat, versus an Iran (“pondering war and peace”) which understandably views such American and Israeli belligerence as “provocative”.

Tisdall’s empathy for the legitimate concerns of the Mullahs in Tehran, and condemnation of Israeli measures meant to thwart the Iranian threat, represents pretty much conventional wisdom at the Guardian.

Such moral reasoning has included:

  • A Guardian editorial warning Israel against saber-rattling against Iran, and arguing that the Jewish state should just learn to live with a nuclear armed Iran (Iran, bolting the stable door, Nov. 9).
  • Saeed Kamali Dehghan’s warning against covert actions by the West and Israel to prevent Iran from acquiring nukes, which will “ruin any chance of dialogue with Tehran” (The covert war on Iran is illegal and dangerous, Jan. 11).

Of course, strangely missing from any of these essays and editorials warning about the dangers of provocative acts by Israel and the US is any mention that Iran’s military is not only already engaged in routine belligerence acts, but routinely foments terrorism around the globe, and engages in proxy wars as a component of their foreign policy aims of exporting their Islamist revolution.

Iran is widely recognized as the world’s leading state sponsor of international terrorism.  Both directly and indirectly, Iran funds, trains and arms groups that share the regime’s stated goal of destroying Israel and the West, as well as overthrowing moderate Muslim regimes. Groups who have received the Islamic Republic’s largess include Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. 

Iran also provides support to Islamist insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have inflicted casualties on American, British, Australian and other multinational forces.

In fact, Iran is attempting to expand its terror network beyond the Middle East, using Hezbollah and splinter groups of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to recruit and train sleeper cells in foreign countries.

The manner in which Tisdall and his Guardian colleagues almost uniformly contextualize the regional tension in a manner which frames Israel and the West as the warmongering aggressors and Iran as the victim of such (imperialist) aggression represents another instructive example of Guardian Left ideology.

The anti-imperialism which inspires such moral inversions, and informs their journalistic activism, is one of the more salient factors in properly understanding the institution’s near universal lack of moral sympathy for the Jewish state and the very real dangers the country faces.

The Guardian’s anti-Zionism doesn’t occur in an ideological vacuum and, as such, their coverage of the Iranian nuclear issue should necessarily be seen as part of their broader perverse understanding of what stances their “liberal” political package demands. 

What do Mitt Romney and Yusuf al-Qaradawi have in common? Ask the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker

Brian Whitaker has had many assignments during his nearly twenty-five year career at the Guardian, including a long stint as the paper’s Middle East editor.

So, the Guardian veteran’s image and moniker caught my eye in the comment section below CiF’s latest edition of Divine Dispatches by .

Whitaker was responding to Shariatmadari’s final bullet point about “speculation as to whether Mormons would have undue influence over the White House” (in the event of a Mitt Romney Presidency).

Here’s Whitaker’s reply:

Whitaker linked to an essay he wrote in 2005, while Middle East editor, titled “Fundamental Union“, which began thusly:

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Islamic scholar who approves of wife-beating and believes in traditional family values. The Mormon church, having abandoned polygamy more than a century ago, believes in traditional families too.

With that much in common, they have joined forces to “defend the family” and fight progressive social policies at the United Nations.

Intrigued by a comparison between the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader and the Utah based Church of  Latter Day Saints, to which Romney is a member, I read on.

“The Doha conference”, Whitaker informs us, “provides a striking example of growing cooperation between the Christian right (especially in the United States) and conservative Muslims.” [emphasis mine]

Further intrigued by a Guardian editor evoking the specter of a burgeoning Evangelical-Islamism Alliance – which, after all, represents something approaching apostasy at an institution which continually claims that the Christian right (and America more broadly) is immutably Islamophobic – I read further.

The debate about family values, opined Whitaker, does not “follow the usual dividing lines of international politics. The battle is between liberal secularists and conservatives…who think religion has a role in government.” 

On this issue, Whitaker’s flourish concludes, “the United States now sits in the religious camp alongside the Islamic regimes: not so much a clash of civilisations, more an alliance of fundamentalisms.” [emphasis mine]

While there is, to be sure, much to criticize about the Christian right in the U.S. – such as their views on gay rights and other social issues – it takes a truly breathtaking leap to posit anything approaching a moral overlap with Islamism, particularly the brand of Islamist thought championed by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Al-Qaradawi’s Islamism (which, along with the even more extreme Salafists, garnered a strong majority of the vote in Egypt’s recent elections) doesn’t merely condemn gays, but calls for their execution

Al-Qaradawi’s Islamism approves of female genital mutilation, and believes that women who are the victims of rape arguably should be punished for their apparent sin of tempting their innocent male attacker! 

Al-Qaradawi Qaradawi also supports acts of terrorism innocent American and Israeli civilians – and issued a fatwa in 2003 specifically authorizing the use of women in suicide attacks.

Finally – and strangely absent, even in passing, anywhere in Whitaker’s nearly 2,000 word essay – there’s the issue of Al-Qaradawi’s extreme, explicit and unapologetic antisemitism.

Such Jew-hatred, which Whitaker ever so curiously omitted, includes the MB spiritual leader’s citation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in “religious deliberations”, and his incitement of violence specifically against Jews.

More recently, Al-Qaradawi’s (Mormon-style?) Islamism explicitly endorsed Hitler’s genocide against the Jews, and was quoted in a Wikileaks cable literally calling on Allah to kill every last Jew on earth.

Whatever legitimate criticisms their may be regarding Mormon religious doctrine, even a cursory view of the Church (and its leadership) would disabuse those sincerely interested in such an inquiry of any suggestion that the faith is compromised by even a hint of such extremism. 

Whitaker’s bizarre, tall tale of twin, morally overlapping, fundamentalisms represents a classic Guardian polemicism: preconceived, politically convenient, and ideologically driven conclusions in desperate search of anything even resembling supporting evidence.   

Guardian “Moderate Islamist” Update: Tunisian constitution bans non-Muslims from Presidency

H/T Harry’s Place

The following news, about Tunisia’s new discriminatory constitution, is quite interesting in light of the baffling suggestion by the Guardian’s Jonathan Steele, in Oct., that secular (anti-Islamist) Muslim parties competing in the Tunisian elections were playing on Islamophobia.

Such news  is similarly interesting in context of the Guardian’s surreal characterization of Rached Ghannouchi (after his Ennahda Party won the elections) as a “moderate” Islamist.

So, it turns out that Tunisia’s newly elected constituent assembly, dominated by the “Moderate Islamist Party” Ennahda, approved a “mini-constitution” which, the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker is evidently shocked to discover, bans non-Muslims from seeking the Presidency.

As Whitaker dryly notes, a real democracy would never “stipulate that presidential candidates must belong to any particular religion.”

You think?!

But, what’s even more indicative of Tunisian Islamists’ intolerance towards non-Muslims is the demographics of the nation:

Out of more than 10 million citizens, 98% are Muslim, 1% are Christian, and 1% are Jewish.

Tunisian Islamists evidently fear that their society may be corrupted by the pernicious influence of non-Muslims, who make up a whopping 2% of the population.

Of course, don’t expect such legally codified discrimination against non-Muslims in Tunisia to get in the way of the Guardian’s continuing tale of a democratic Arab Spring, any more than previous evidence of  Ghannouchi’s record of support for terrorism, advancement of antisemitic conspiracy theories, and (of course) his wish that Israel be destroyed, tempered their enthusiasm for his brand of “moderate Islamism”.

Guardian Left comic moral equivalence watch: CiF’s Medhi Hasan shills for Iran

One of the most defining features of the far (Guardian-style) left is a refusal to discriminate between liberal democratic states and backwards totalitarian regimes.

During the Cold War, such dupes were seen shilling for the Soviet Union, or their client states in Europe and Central America.

Today, this dynamic is at play in the moral equivalence posited between Islamists and the West.

Even so, you really have to try hard to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran, though economically stagnant, does lead the world in one notable category: the export of terrorism.

Their President also has the nasty little habit of denying the Nazi Holocaust, while inciting for another one.

No matter, in the post-colonial world which Medhi Hasan occupies, the theocratic regime is the victim of the arrogance of imperialist Western powers.

Medhi Hassan’s recent CiF post, “If you lived in Iran, wouldn’t you want the nuclear bomb?“, Nov. 17, isn’t surprising to anyone familiar with the New Statesman (and Channel 4) editor’s politics.  

Hasan opposes a two-state solution because such a formula would recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state.

He’s also excused antisemitism – in the polemical spirit of Ben White – as the natural reaction to Israeli policy.

Further, Hasan is a religious extremist who literally likened those who don’t accept the teachings of Islam to cattle.

So, Hasan’s apologia for the mullahs in Iran flows naturally from his Guardian-style politics.

In his latest polemical tale, Hasan asks us to empathize with the plucky Iranian underdog “surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies and regional rivals, both nuclear and non-nuclear.”

And, though Hasan, as with the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker, sows doubt on the “question” of whether Iran is indeed attempting to build a nuclear weapon – contradicting the findings of the latest IAEA report – he nonetheless asks:

“If you were our mullah in Tehran, wouldn’t you want Iran to have the bomb?”

Adds Hasan:

“[When it comes to Iran] Empathy is in short supply… the Islamic Republic is dismissed as irrational and megalomaniacal.”

And, herein lies the quintessential post-modern moral equivalence. 

It takes a lot of ideological conditioning to see the reactionary, theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran as the protagonist. 

Freedom House’s survey of Iran ranked the county as among the worst human rights violators in the world.

Per Freedom House’s 2011 report on Iran:

Opposition politicians and party groupings have faced especially harsh repression since the 2009 presidential election, with many leaders—including former lawmakers and cabinet ministers—facing arrest, prison sentences, and lengthy bans on political activity.

Freedom of expression is severely limited. The government directly controls all television and radio broadcasting. Satellite dishes are illegal…Even the purchase of satellite images from abroad is illegal. The Ministry of Culture must approve publication of all books and inspects foreign books prior to domestic distribution.

The Press Court has extensive power to prosecute journalists for such vaguely worded offenses as “insulting Islam” 

Iran leads the world in the number of jailed journalists

Key international social-media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked

Religious freedom is limited in Iran, whose population is largely Shiite Muslim but includes Sunni Muslim, Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian minorities. The Special Court for the Clergy investigates religious figures for alleged crimes and has generally been used to persecute clerics who stray from the official interpretation of Islam. Ayatollah Seyd Hussain Kazemeini Boroujerdi, a cleric who advocates the separation of religion and politics, is currently serving 11 years in prison for his beliefs

Conversion by Muslims to a non-Muslim religion is punishable by death.

Some 300,000 Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority, are not recognized in the constitution, enjoy virtually no rights under the law, and are banned from practicing their faith…Hundreds of Baha’is have been executed since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and at least 60 were in prison in 2010 because of their beliefs.

Academic freedom is limited. Scholars are frequently detained, threatened, and forced to retire for expressing political views, and students involved in organizing protests face suspension or expulsion in addition to criminal punishments

The constitution prohibits public demonstrations that “violate the principles of Islam,”

security services routinely arrest and harass secular activists as part of a wider effort to control nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Iranian law does not allow independent labor unions

The country’s penal code is based on Sharia and provides for flogging, amputation, and execution by stoning or hanging for a range of social and political offenses; these punishments are carried out in practice.

Suspected [political] dissidents are frequently held in unofficial, illegal detention centers. Prison conditions in general are notoriously poor, and there are regular allegations of abuse, torture, and death in custody. Male and female detainees alleged rape by security forces in the second half of 2009;

Women do not enjoy equal rights under Sharia-based statutes governing divorce, inheritance, and child custody…A woman’s testimony in court is given only half the weight of a man’s,

It would certainly seem difficult for a genuine progressive – even those who are strangely unmoved by the Iranian President’s frequent call for the annihilation of the Jewish state – to empathize with the nuclear aspirations of a regime which rules in manner so fundamentally at odds with even the broadest understanding of progressive values.

Iran may severely oppress women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents, but, as this blog continues to demonstrates, Guardian left values continue to be defined by this reflexive and comically facile ideology which posits that the enemy of the United States, Israel and the West is necessarily worthy of our sympathy.

Medhi Hasan’s latest commentary demonstrates that those predisposed to shilling for enemies of the democratic West didn’t disappear following the fall of the Soviet Union.  

They merely adapted to the new political environment, and found new, creative ways to defend the morally indefensible. 

Guardian warns of dangerous saber rattling by anti-Iranian Sunni-Zionist Alliance

There has, for some time, been something of a concerted effort by Guardian writers to dismiss the whole issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme as something unnecessarily hyped-up by reactionary neo-cons in Jerusalem and Washington.

Israeli motives are framed as deliberately bellicose and US understanding of Israel’s concerns is interpreted as a product of magical Israeli influence in the White House alongside confirmation of what the Guardian always suspected to be ‘redneck’ qualities.

And so we have seen, among others, Brian Whitaker chastising the American media for spreading ‘scare stories’, Simon Tisdall declaring Barak Obama ‘beyond redemption’ should he opt for military action against Iran,  a rather hilarious Observer editorial accusing Israel of ‘posturing dangerously’ and Simon Jenkins reprimanding the UK for even thinking of supporting an American ‘itch to brawl’.

But perhaps the best example of all came on November 9th in the form of a surreal Guardian editorial urging us to just get used to the idea of a nuclear armed Iran. On the same day it also published a letter from representatives of the ‘Stop the War Coalition’, including the famous ‘pacifist’ Hamas operative Mohammed Sawalha.

Guardian antipathy towards Israel and the United States is not new, although that does nothing to make the fact that such antipathy is allowed to colour analysis and judgement any the less unfortunate. What is interesting, however, is the manner in which the Guardian is dealing with the wave of ever louder opposition (which mirrors Israeli and American concerns) to the Iranian nuclear programme from the direction of the Gulf States over which it so often fawns.

This week’s release of the IAEA report has had the effect of making previously fairly low-key objections from the direction of the Gulf States more audible. These objections are nothing new; the Guardian itself published examples of them in the Wikileaks cables. However, a recent article by Mubarak al Hajri in the leading Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reflects the worries of the states neighbouring Iran with previously rare frankness.

“Iran is close to gaining nuclear weapons, something which threatens the peace and security of the world.

The mentality controlling the policy in Tehran is an archaic, sterile one which looks further afield. Iran aspires to rule the Arab Umma (nation) as a whole.

Iran will not rest until it sees its flag flying above the capitals of the Arab world.”

 But Simon Tisdall’s November 8th article seems to indicate that the Guardian has decided that rather than address the concerns of the Gulf States in a serious manner, even they will  be defined as drama-queen hysterics if they express a stance similar to that of Israel and the US.

“While Perry and the pacemakers play drums, the Gulf’s Sunni-led monarchies, historical enemies of revolutionary Shia Iran, are on acoustic guitar. Their lament, orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, is music to the ears of tone-deaf neocons and oil executives everywhere: Iran is the snake skulking under every stone – backing Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the blood-drenched Alawite regime in Syria. An Iran armed with the bomb, they warn, would terrorise the region, threaten energy supplies, and provoke a pan-Arab nuclear arms race. Their solution? By “cutting off the head of the snake”, Washington would defang these troubles and maybe get Syria (and pro-Tehran Iraq) thrown in for free.”

It is probably very easy to be so wittily scathing about the environmental and security fears of the 90% Sunni majority in the Middle East from the safety of London.

Tisdall’s glib comments are, however, indicative of his and many other Guardian writers’ cultural handicap which becomes evident when they try to analyse Middle East affairs through their own limited blinkers.

The Sunni majority countries in close proximity to Iran understand very well that the ideology which drives Ahmadinijad and others in the Iranian regime does not answer to Western-style reason or logic.  They know only too well that the Shi’ite version of Judgement Day includes the slaughter of all Sunnis and that the messianic Hojatieh Society cult to which Ahmadinijad subscribes adheres to the belief that the Mahdi, or Hidden Twelfth Imam, will only appear during a time of war and mayhem in the world and that his followers can speed up his coming by creating such a situation. They have also no doubt noticed the  interpretations of the ‘Arab Spring’ by some Iranian leaders as heralding the coming of the Mahdi and the attempts to propagate that belief.

Click to see video at PJTV

Of course Ahmadinijad’s messianic beliefs seem ridiculous to a Western secular mind. That, however, does not justify the adoption of a position of normative relativism which leads to factoring them out of any analysis of current events in the region. Post Ghaddafi, Western journalists should also have learned by now that a whacky persona with comic elements and entertaining dress sense is no guarantee of benign actions.

It is reasonable to assume that the peoples and leaders of the Gulf States are, like the Israelis, very realistic with regard to the dangers of Western military intervention in Iran: they know that any such action would put them in immediate danger.

Instead of dismissing the concerns of the Middle East’s Sunni majority with precisely the same flippancy as it dismisses the concerns of Israelis, it is therefore appropriate for any journalist seeking to provide useful and relevant analysis rather than mere ‘progressive’ platitudes to understand the background to the Sunni call for foreign intervention in the crisis.

A good place to commence would be the corner-stone assumption in the latest Guardian editorial urging us to embrace a nuclear armed Iran which states that “Neither [Iran nor Israel] wants to disappear in a cloud of nuclear dust.” Logic would dictate that statement to be true, but logic plays no part in end of times messianic beliefs and will also play no part in the crucial ongoing power struggles within the Iranian elite.

Guardian reader comment of the day: On the prospect of a few million dead Israelis

I posted yesterday on an essay by the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker which cast doubt on the “question” of whether Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and cited, as his sole source for what he believes may be Iran’s peaceful intent, a marginal, far left conspiracy blog called “Alabama Moon”.

While I’m still amused at Whitaker’s evidently serious suggestion, per the blog he linked to, that what appears to be an Iranian nuclear weapons program may actually be the Islamic Republic’s benign efforts to manufacture nanodiamonds, there were some reader comments beneath the line which are anything but humorous.

Following a commenter who asked folks on the thread who were defending Iran to consider the fact that an Iranian nuclear attack could wipe out millions of Jews – a comment which, inexplicably, was deleted by CiF moderators – a Guardian reader using the moniker “rodent”, asked the following:

And, no, if you follow the comment thread you’ll clearly see that this reader was not being in the least sarcastic.

And, yes, his/her skepticism that Iran has actually ever threatened Israel with annihilation, and seeming indifference at the prospect of millions of dead Israelis, garnered 30 recommends, and has not been deleted.

CiF piece by Brian Whitaker on “why media believes worst about Iran” draws on conspiracy blog

Brian Whitaker simply doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about Iran.  

He’s baffled as to why the media blindly accepts the conventional wisdom about Iran’s quest to develop nuclear weapons.

Despite the recent IAEA report demonstrating that Iran has been working on developing a nuclear bomb since 2003, Whitaker offers an alternative explanation.

 “[Iran's aspiration] possibly…wasn’t nuclear at all, but [rather] a project to manufacture nanodiamonds.”

Evidently, nanodiamonds can be used for polishing, as additives to engine oils, dry lubricants for metal industry, or as reinforcing fillers for plastics and rubbers.

You see, it’s all been a tragic misunderstanding. 

As proof of this alternative explanation – which has somehow eluded intelligence agencies, nuclear watchdog groups, and the international monitoring agency – Whitaker links to a fringe site called “Moon of Alabama“.

While I’ve never come across the blog before, a quick look reveals  a conspiratorial site which, in addition to being obsessed with defending the Iranian regime, shills for the Assad regime in Syria, alleges the “Israel lobby” is pushing for Turkey to invade Syria, and defends Sudan’s Omar Al Bashir’ from charges of ethnic cleansing.

Regarding the latter, the blog asks why “the neocon [Washington Post] editors are condemning Bashir, and accusing his regime of genocide, and then concludes:

“Another possible motivation behind the hostile position towards Sudan are Israeli considerations like the “Yeor plan” which envisions water supply for Israel through pipelines from the Nile…Supporting the suspicion that water for Israel is a motive for the false claims against Sudan is the fact that the “Save Darfur” movement is driven by Jewish interest groups.”

Of course!  It’s “Jewish interest groups” who are driving the reactionary campaign against the beleaguered Omar Al Bashir.

Further, the site advances conspiracy theories I’ve never come across before, such as the claim that al-Qaeda’s English language online magazine, Inspire, is actually produced as a “disinformation tool” by some Western agency.  They write:

 “Inspire is a general disinformation tool of some “western” agency with the additional purpose to flash out some dumb folks who then can be made into “terrorists” though FBI sting operations.”

The site also advances thinly veiled antisemitic narratives, as in this post, “Panetta tries to hold Israel back from attacking Iran“, which included this passage:

“A surprise attack on Iran by Israel alone, while useless against Iran’s nuclear program, would inevitably be followed by some acts from Iran against Israel to which the U.S. would than be pressed to respond by the Israel-firsters in Congress and the media.”

Oh yes, those “Israel-firsters” in the media.  Whoever could they be referring to?

So, Whitaker’s sole source in arguing that Iran is not – as commonly believed by Western intelligence agencies, and the IAEA – pursuing the production of nuclear weapons, is a fringe conspiracy blog which shills for Iran, as well as despots in Syria and Sudan, and advances antisemitic narratives regarding the threat posed by “Israel-first” media groups.

Please explain to me again why the Guardian is read by folks who fancy themselves “progressives”.