Howard Jacobson examines the fanaticism of Glenn Greenwald

Those who have followed our posts fisking the extremist commentary of former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald will likely enjoy a recent meditation by critically acclaimed writer Howard Jacobson which examines Greenwald and the issue of ideological fanaticism.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay, which was published in The Independent on Jan. 16th:

So how fare our investigations into what makes someone want to kill cartoonists? (I’m assuming we know why they want to kill Jews.) Maybe, before pondering the education of a jihadist, we should ask a prior question: what makes a fanatic? We were given some insight into this on Newsnight earlier this week when Evan Davis, growing nicely into his job, interviewed the lawyer, journalist and associate of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald – a man strikingly deficient in the musculature necessary to essay a smile. The subject was surveillance and David Cameron’s call for more of it. There are, I accept, differing views on this. I, for example, am for having every member of the human family watched day and night by every possible means because the human family is currently dysfunctional and can’t be trusted. But I understand why others don’t think as I do. This puts me in a different category of person from Greenwald, who allows no beliefs that conflict with his and attributes those that do to a cowardly subservience to authority. Leading Greenwald with expert gentleness into the gated hell that is his mind, Davis put the case for differing viewpoints. Nothing could have been more instructive than Greenwald’s dead expression – his mouth fixed in the rigor mortis of absolute conviction, his eyes unanimated by the pleasure of conversation or the excitement of controversy. Doubt honours a man, but this was the face of someone whom no ghost of a second thought dares visit. No consciousness of absurdity either. As for the humanity whose civil rights he champions with such icy rigidity, for that he had nothing but contempt. We are merely, if we don’t think what he thinks, the playthings of the powerful. This is the terrifying paradox of zealotry: no one hates humanity more than those who believe they know what’s best for it. I don’t, I must say, see Greenwald launching rockets any time soon. The ideologue is still a long way from being the terrorist. These, though, are the first steps. Expelling doubt. Refusing contrariety. Hating play. Making oneself the human equivalent of a weapon, implacable, well-aimed, reduced to a single function.

You can read the rest of the op-ed here, and more on Greenwald here, here, here, here and here.

Another Guardian cartoon throws Charlie Hebdo victims under the bus

Last week, we commented on a Jan. 8th Guardian cartoon (by political cartoonist Andrew Marlton) reacting to the jihadist attack on the staff of Charlie Hebdo, which implicitly blamed the victims for inciting their attackers. 

Recently, we noticed another cartoon, published by The Guardian on Jan. 9th (the day four Jews were murdered in a Paris kosher grocery store), which similarly throws the Charlie Hebdo victims under the bus. 

Here’s the Guardian cartoon by Joe Sacco, a pro-Palestinian artist best known for his graphic novel, Footnotes From Gaza.

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Guardian prints letter by anti-Zionist Jew blaming Zionist Jews for antisemitism

Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) members were quite possibly among those who inspired Howard Jacobson’s award-winning novel, The Finkler Question, as they resemble UK Jews he refers to as “Ashamed Jews,” Jews who are proud to be ashamed of their Israel-supporting fellow Jews.

The group’s executive, an anti-Zionist Jew named Deborah Maccoby, published a letter in The Guardian on Jan. 12th (What Jews can learn from Muslims) in response to an op-ed by Jonathan Freedland about recent jihadist attacks in Paris (Charlie Hebdo: first they came for the cartoonists, then they came for the Jews).

Deborah Maccoby carries one of the JfJfP placards.

Deborah Maccoby

Maccoby, in her Guardian letter, not only asserts that Jews need to learn from their Muslim counterparts’ putative condemnations of jihadist violence “and say loud and clear in response to Israeli atrocities ‘not in my name‘”, but suggests that Jews’ failure to distance themselves from Israeli “atrocities” renders them culpable for subsequent antisemitic violence:

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London says “Je suis Charlie”, “Je suis Ahmed”, “Je suis Juifs”

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

Trafalgar Square in London was unusually quiet and reflective on Sunday as thousands flocked to stand in sympathy with Paris and those left bereaved this week by an Islamist terror gang there.

Thousands came and held up pens, pencils, crayons, signs and their own hand drawn cartoons. They sang Le Marseillaise and applauded.

As darkness fell they lay down their pens on the floor and lit candles, the National Gallery was lit up in red, white and blue and Trafalgar Square’s famous fountains alternated between those same colours.

Some chose to hold up the offending Charlie Hebdo cartoons, but I have not published those photos. I have however published photos of those brave, brave women who I saw holding up signs stating Je Suis Juif. I hope they stay safe.

I also hope that the likes of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign that pour out hatred and lies to naive minds about Israel will now cease their vile activities.

Many of the anti-Israel events I have attended, and written up on this blog, are either full of support for Hamas and Hezbollah who state publicly their desire to murder Jews or they contain outright anti-Semitic language.

If something similar to Paris happens in London we will know who to blame.

Here are some of the scenes from Sunday:

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Is a Guardian cartoon on the Charlie Hebdo attack blaming the victims?

Yesterday, three Alluah-Akhbar shouting gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during an editorial meeting and, armed with Kalashnikovs, brutally murdered twelve people – ten journalists and, moments later, two police officers.

charliehebdocopkilled

Jihadist executes a French policeman outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo

The terrorists were undoubtably taking ‘revenge’ for the cartoonists’ previous depictions of Muhammed, as the staff at Charlie Hebdo received numerous death threats by Islamists over the years due to their refusal to submit to demands they cease in their criticisms of Islam.

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Outrage over a cartoon…and yet no one died

Cross posted by Raheem Kassam, Executive Editor of The Commentator

Only on a BBC radio call-in show in Britain could you have heard listeners phoning in to express how the West would get what it has coming to it for a peasant-like film being uploaded to YouTube by some anonymous character in the United States. 

But that is precisely what I heard, when as a guest on the BBC Asian Network last year, I was asked to take part in a phone-in discussion with listeners about the “Innocence of Muslims” film. 

At the time, protests in Pakistan, Libya and other Muslim countries terrified pusillanimous Western leaders into apologising for the freedom of expression, or freedom to offend. The fallout was the death of an American ambassador and diplomatic staff, although the links to the protests in this case are spurious.

The same of course can be reflected upon of the firebombing of the Charlie Hebdo office in 2011, and of the response on the streets of Britain when a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. Hundreds died. Property was burned. Unknown numbers of people were injured.

Against this backdrop, I have been assessing the implications of the Benjamin Netanyahu cartoon over the past 48 hours. 

The Commentator, as you know, first reported the extraordinarily offensive cartoon on Sunday morning, noting the invocation of the long-standing blood libel against the Jewish people. Many have argued, that the cartoon depicting a big-nosed, blood-loving Netanyahu is nowhere near as offensive as depicting Prophet Muhammed as a terrorist, or similar.

I would argue that actually, the Netanyahu cartoon was worse. Not for ‘criticising’ the Israeli leader, but rather, for invoking the Der Stumer-esque view that the Jews have big noses and dabble in the blood of Arabs or Muslims. This is outright racism. The Mohammed cartoons, were (distasteful) parodies against a singular religious figure, not the demonisation of an entire people.

But even if you don’t buy that – and really, I understand if you don’t because it’s quite a fine line – then upon taking the two incidents as equal, and asserting that the freedom to offend should remain paramount, I would tend to agree with you

The fact is, the Sunday Times exercised its right to offend this past Sunday, on Holocaust Memorial Day, thus making its blood libel doubly, trebly, quadruply more offensive. And indeed, the appropriate levels of offence were taken.

But you didn’t see rioting in the streets, or the calls for the beheading of the perpetrators of the cartoon. You may have heard moans of the decline of Western civilisation, but you never heard encouragement towards it. In fact, the response to the Sunday Times cartoon was quite the opposite of what we’ve seen in recent years when religions take offence.

There were articles, quotes, comments, letters, political interventions and more. But never did the outcry overspill, and only ever was there a call towards more civility, not less.

Now, to be clear, we know full well that Muslim communities around the world, by and large, were not rioting and inciting violence after Mohammed was depicted in a provocative fashion – but it is these ‘moderate Muslims’ who must work to bring their house in order, casting out the crazies, expunging the extremists, declaring vehemently and repeatedly, “Not in my name.” 

It is these demons that Muslims in West still have to overcome – and until they do, they can claim no moral high ground over offences they feel are perpetrated towards them. 

The Guardian, Muslim rioting and ‘Cause & Effect’.

An official Guardian editorial on Oct. 1, In praise of the political cartoon‘, commended the Egyptian newspaper Al Watan for “publishing… pictures with the message that the west misunderstands Islam“, which the editorial contrasted with “Charlie Hebdo‘s senselessly inflammatory caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.” 

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical magazine which printed a set of cartoons on Sept. 19 featuring Muhammad which included more than one depicting him naked.

The magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, explained that they were “using its freedom of expression to comment on the news in a satirical way.” The news he’s referring to is rioting by Muslims throughout the world, beginning in mid-September, in response to the low-budget anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims‘.

In addition to praising the Egyptian cartoons, about the West’s apparent misunderstanding of Islam, the Guardian editorial contrasted such attempts at greater understanding with “…Charlie Hebdos caricatures which, “produced a week of protest, embassy closure, legal complaint and, most gravely, 19 dead [and 160 injured] in Pakistan.”

What the Guardian is referring to is violent rioting, on Sept. 19, in Pakistan’s largest cities – on a day of government-sanctioned protests over the film and cartoon.  According to a New York Times report on the violence, most of the deaths occurred in Karachi, where “protesters burned effigies, stoned a KFC and engaged in armed clashes with the police that left 14 people dead and more than 80 wounded by evening.”

Regardless of the details of the deaths, however, to claim that the Hebdo cartoon – of a man who Muslims believe was a messenger and prophet of God – “produced” the Pakistani deaths is absurd.

The editors of a French satirical magazine do not have blood on their hands.  

Citizens of Pakistan, Israel, America, or adults of any faith in any other nation in the world who possess moral agency, can freely chose to engage in senseless rioting over a religious or political insult  – thus risking death or injury – or they can choose not to.

Is such an intuitive understanding of ’cause and effect’, and individual moral responsibility, even debatable?

Blurred reality: What a Guardian photo of Muslim protest signs fails to focus upon

The Guardian’s recent edition of ‘Picture Desk Live‘, Sept. 24, included this photo of more protests by Muslims over the anti-Islam film, as well as the recent caricatures of Muhammad by a French satirist.  This protest took place in Sri Lanka.

Here’s the caption:

I noticed the word “Jew” on one of the signs, but the shot was taken too far away to make out the words on the sign, so I Googled the image and was able to find a bit more information.

The Washington Post had a shot of the same protest, albeit with photos focusing much more closely on the scene.  Here’s what you can see:

Sign in middle reads: ‘Who’s behind the film? Jews’

Here’s the caption:

The following sign, from the same protest in Sri Lanka, is a reference to Charlie Hebdo, who published several caricatures of Muhammad (along with one of an orthodox Jew) in a French satirical magazine.

Sign reads: France, don’t fall victim to Jewish propaganda

As I observed in a post on Sept. 23 (and as Palestinian Media Watch reported on Sept. 24) the hypocrisy of the protesters’, in condemning insults to Islam while continually engaging in virulent antisemitism, is stunning – a cultural habit which results in the absence of natural feelings of guilt or embarrassment most of us experience when holding two inherently contradictory views. 

The Guardian, as with most of the mainstream media, in failing miserably to expose such groups to the kind of critical scrutiny which would necessarily challenge such moral hypocrisy, ensures that no lessons will be learned. 

The significance of the MSM’s gross moral abdication when reporting on the recent riots in the Arab and Muslim world can’t be overstated.