The chosen blog? Guardian gives a shout out to “pressure group” called CiF Watch

Though the Guardian has implicitly alluded to our presence on one or two occasions, they seem to have an unwritten policy of never explicitly referring to us by name. Indeed, even the most benign references to ‘CiF Watch’ in the comment section of ‘Comment is Free’ (‘CiF’) are still routinely deleted by their moderators, and, in 2012, this writer had his commenting privileges below the line at ‘CiF’ permanently suspended for some still unknown violation of their ‘community standards’. 

So, we were a bit surprised – to put it mildly – when a column written by the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in the print and online editions of the paper (The many pitfalls when covering Israel/Palestine issues, Oct. 27th) devoted some space to addressing one of our recent complaints concerning a truly reprehensible column in the Guardian by discredited anti-Zionist historian Shlomo Sand titled ‘I wish to resign from being a Jew.

Specifically, we objected to Sand’s use of the term ‘chosen people’ to suggest that Jews treat Palestinians poorly due to a belief in their own racial superiority, and noted that Elliott himself had previously acknowledged (in upholding a CiF Watch complaint in 2011 against an article by Deborah Orr) that such pejorative references to the “chosen people” – widely understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold high standards of moral behavior – are typically used by antisemites as code for ‘Jewish supremacism‘.

Here’s the passage from Sand:

By my everyday life and my basic culture I am an Israeli. I am not especially proud of this, just as I have no reason to take pride in being a man with brown eyes and of average height. I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.

Elliott’s reply can be found in the highlighted section of his article below (Click Image to Enlarge):

Continue reading

Independent posts op-ed by Ilan Pappe calling Israel a ‘supremacist’ Jewish state

The Times of Israel recently published a story titled ‘Israeli soldiers sperm in hot demand‘, which reported an increase in the number of Israeli women seeking sperm donors with a military background, likely reflecting the fact that the war in Gaza may have given many of the women new insights into the value of heroism and patriotism.

However, as we’ve seen time and time again, the most popular anti-Zionists among British news editors tend to be those who can take a relatively innocuous fact about the Jewish State, and manage to impute the most malevolent and racist motives.

To boot, an Aug. 17th op-ed at the Indy by the anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe (What a rising demand for the sperm of IDF soldiers and a “fun” questionnaire reveal about Israel) takes the Times of Israel story about sperm donation trends into a predictable direction.

Here are the relevant passages in Pappe’s op-ed:

The first is the present drive among infertile Jewish parents to seek the sperm of the combatant elite units who fought in Gaza. This is to ensure the purest and most supreme DNA possible for their prospective children. And it is fully supported by the official Israeli Sperm Bank.

To be honest, these soldiers did not do too well in the battlefield. Conventional armies are inept when it comes to battling face-to-face with desperate guerrillas dug deep in tunnels and bunkers. Possibly the HAMAS DNA would have been a bit more fitting for this purpose, if one wishes to take ad absurdum this Israeli Jewish obsession with human engineering.

It was bad enough to base the whole Zionist idea on the wish to create an exclusive and supremacist Jewish democracy, in a land where the Jews were not and are not going to be ever such a majority (unless they genocide the local population).

There are other enormously problematic elements of Pappe’s op-ed, but the charge leveled against Israel that those Jewish Israeli women who want the father of their children to be Israeli soldiers reflects some sort of endemic Jewish racism should briefly be put in context.

The term “Jewish supremacism” – an especially vile form of the ‘Zionism = Racism” charge – has been popularized by extreme antisemites such as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and a neo-Nazi style extremist named Gilad Atzmon. Indeed, the doctoral thesis written by Duke was titled ‘Zionism is a form of ethnic supremacism’. 

But, at the heart of Pappe’s charges is something much darker than merely a commentary on Zionism.  If you recall, back in 2011 the Guardian’s Deborah Orr achieved well-deserved notoriety for complaining that so many Zionists believe “that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate [Palestinian] neighbors” – “Zionists” of course being a euphemism for “Jews”.

Such an ugly distortion of the Jewish ‘chosen people’ idea often suggests that the Jewish faith, in practice if not by theological design, arguably shares an ideological similitude with other odious, exclusivist 20th century ideologies in that they see their group as a superior race.

Ilan Pappe had to be aware of the ideological baggage associated with that the term “supremacist” in relation to the state of the Jewish people, and editors at the Indy – which claims to be a champion of enlightenment values – should certainly not have allowed its editorial pages to be used as a repository of such reactionary, racist notions about Jews and Israel.  

New CST report on antisemitic discourse in Britain slams the Guardian

The last time we posted about the annual report on antisemitic discourse in Britain by the Community Security Trust (the charity organisation advising British Jews on matters of security and antisemitism) we focused on the fact that the Guardian was singled out for opprobrium.  

cst 2011

In fact, CST devoted an entire section of their 21 page report to the Guardian, noting that “in 2011, the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.”  Specifically, CST focused on an article by Chris McGreal characterizing US government support for Israel as “slavish” and a widely condemned ‘chosen people‘ slur by columnist Deborah Orr.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on McGreal’s “slavish” comment here and here, and our take on Deborah Orr’s ‘chosen people’ slur here and here.)

In the latest CST report on antisemitic discourse, released just today, the Guardian again was singled out.  

cst 2012

Specifically, the CST wrote the following:

The largest antisemitism-related controversy concerning mainstream media content in 2012 was a cartoon in the Guardian, by Steve Bell. This depicted Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary William Hague MP as glove puppets of the Israeli Prime Minister. Bell resolutely denied any antisemitic intent and the cartoon was not removed.

Steve Bell cartoon, Guardian. Nov. 15, 2012.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on the Steve Bell cartoon, here and here.)

The CST report also singled out a ‘Comment is Free’ commentary by Juan Cole, and included the following:

An intervention by CST caused the Guardian Comment is Free website to partly amend an article that had echoed antisemitic charges of Jewish conspiracy and warmongering.

(See CiF Watch’s posts about the row here and here)

Also of note, Robert Fisk was singled out for making “a highly insulting allegation about people supposedly being called antisemitic Nazis for writing the “truth” about Israel.”

(CAMERA posts about Robert Fisk can be found here)

CST’s summary of their annual report is here, while you can see the full 36 page PDF here.

In article on Syria, Deborah Orr again throws in antisemitic ‘chosen people’ slur

Deborah Orr evidently can’t help herself.  


In 2011 the veteran Guardian journalist was forced to apologize after engaging in a gratuitous and ugly smear against Jews as inherently racist by completely distorting the concept of ‘the chosen people’ in a commentary on the Gilad Shalit prisoner release exchange. Here’s the infamous passage:

“At the same time, however, there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”

Her apology – a quite mealy-mouthed one at that – included the following:

Last week, I upset a lot of people by suggesting Zionists saw themselves as “chosen”. My words were badly chosen and poorly used, and I’m sorry for it.

Remarkably, given the paper’s history with sanctioning such Judeophobic narratives, the Guardian’s readers’ editor wrote the following about Orr, two weeks after her column, in a piece titled ‘on averting accusations of antisemitism':

Two weeks ago a columnist used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.

Though Orr has been relatively silent about issues pertaining to Jews and Israel since then, in an essay she penned yesterday, on the Jewish New Year, she managed to again revisit the ugly ‘chosen people’ smear. Though the article was ostensibly about Syria, (‘Russia is holding a lot of the cards in the Syria crisis. We should face that, Sept. 6), she was only able to stay on topic for eleven paragraphs, before pivoting inexplicably to Israel, ending with the following five paragraphs:

This would be a splendid time to try to get Egypt to sign the [chemical weapon] convention as well. And Israel, as yet, has not ratified. One can hardly blame Israel for this when two hostile countries on its borders haven’t even signed. However, one can blame Israel – and also the US – for going ahead with missile testing when the region is in crisis. The excuse given was that the exercise had been long-planned. Oh, dear. Could there be a more powerful declaration of the long-standing partisan interest the west has in the Middle East?

In the Middle East, people insist that all their troubles come back to Israel. It’s certainly true that some of them do. Israel, of course, is another country brought into being in the region largely by outsiders. Also, it was done without the agreement of either the majority of those living on the land at that time, or the neighbours, who have predictably proved to be so determinedly hostile. The creation of Israel has not been what anyone could call an unmitigated success, least of all the refugees whose descendants live until this day in camps, the product of a stalemate that has remained since 1948.

Israel has a right to exist, because it exists and because millions of people need it to continue to exist. But Israel’s creation was in part a response to another refugee crisis, after another terrible war. Just like all other religious groups, Judaism tends not fully to understand that its own sacred beliefs are true only to itself. I believe that the Jews are God’s chosen people no more than I believe that Christ was the son of God, or that Mohammed was God’s final prophet. How can I, when I don’t believe in God? I do believe, however, that the Middle East is the cradle of all three monotheistic religions. That’s a fact.

The idea that Israel is the product of some sort of ancient first-dibs right to a slice of the Middle East? That’s something that Jewish people – and anyone else – have every right to believe. But, in all religious groups there needs to be an understanding that even if a belief forms a crucial part of their own identity or faith, it isn’t a fact to be accepted by others who don’t share that identity or faith. A workable Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement grounded in 21st-century geopolitical fact, and stripped of ancient religious belief, is a necessary part of any wider settlement in the region.

Israeli Jews are no different to other religious, ethnic or nationalist groups in the Middle East in a basic respect: they want a land to call their own, in which they are safe. That’s only human. It’s time for the Middle East and the world to start trying to build on the things that humans have in common with each other, even if progress is difficult and slow. The things that make us different are the things we tend to insist are more important. These, unfortunately, offer no basis for agreement at all – only for continued conflict.

First, the degree to which Orr deviated off-topic is simply staggering – imputing significance to a concept in Judaism (which she egregiously misinterprets) in a piece ostensibly about an Arab on Arab conflict that has nothing to do with Jews.  In the face of unimaginable savagery in a Syrian war which has claimed over 100,000 lives, and has included the regime’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians, the Guardian journalist looks around the region and can’t help but see Jews. 

More importantly, however, she once again shamefully legitimizes the distorted idea of ‘chosenness’ – derived from a passage in the Torah understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold an especially high standard of ethical behavior – as Jews’ belief in something akin to religious supremacy, an idea her readers’ editor dismissed as the propaganda of antisemitic extremists.  

The Guardian readers’ editor, in his piece on “averting antisemitism” cited above, concluded thusly:

I have been careful to say that these examples may be read as antisemitic because I don’t believe their appearance in the Guardian was the result of deliberate acts of antisemitism: they were inadvertent.

The Guardian should not be oppressed by criticism – some of the language used by our critics is abusive and intimidatory – or retreat into self-censorship. But reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant to ensure our voice in the debate is not diminished because our reputation has been tarnished.

Try as they may to “avert” such charges, their journalists and contributors’ obsession with Jews will continue to earn the “liberal” broadsheet the just reputation as one of the leading mainstream media purveyors of antisemitic tropes. 

Who’s the most bigoted Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ contributor?

The Guardian published a relatively humorous April Fool’s story yesterday titled ‘Guardian launches augmented reality specs to offer immersive liberal insight‘: 

Guardian Goggles

The story introduced the ‘new’ technology in the following manner:

“…this newspaper announces a groundbreaking development in the modern history of the media: a pair of web-connected “augmented reality” spectacles that will beam its journalism directly into the wearer’s visual field, enabling users to see the world through the Guardian’s eyes at all times.

As the wink and the nod by the Guardian contributor who penned the piece was evident, the otherwise painful evocation of such a dystopian scenario can, at this point in the ‘story’, be forgiven.

The satire continues:

“The motion-sensitive spectacles, known as Guardian Goggles, incorporate translucent screens in the lenses, overlaying the wearer’s view of their surroundings with a real-time stream of specially curated opinions from the paper’s reporters, critics and commentators.

Again, such a truly chilling prospect is at least clearly meant in jest.

However, in the subsequent passage their light-hearted parody becomes infused with the unmistakable reality of Guardian Left ideology.

“The spectacles also feature optional built-in anti-bigotry technology, which prevents exposure to non-Guardian opinions by blacking out columns by Melanie Phillips or Richard Littlejohn, among other writers, as soon as the user attempts to look at them.” [emphasis added]

It’s quite telling that, of all the examples of real racism they could have chosen to illustrate the ‘features’ of this faux technology, they chose Phillips – whose informed and serious commentary on the very real danger posed to the West by the violent and reactionary values of radical Islam clearly runs afoul of their political sensibilities.

However, instead of belaboring this particular point, we thought it would be edifying to include a short list of real bigots who they could have cited in that passage, and who also are either employed by the Guardian or have contributed to ‘Comment is Free’.  (Please consider participating in the poll at the end)

Here’s a list of a few of the antisemitic contributors they’ve published in recent years, and is in no particular order:

Deborah Orr,Guardian journalist: ‘Chosen people’ smear


Though Orr’s logical failures in analyzing the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011 were breathtaking, the following passage from her Oct. 19, 2011, piece (later revised) is particularly worth noting, as it suggests that Jews are inherently racist:

there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer [of prisoners] that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”

Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist: Jewish conspiracy


Whilst you can read these posts to read about Bell’s mockery of the very notion of antisemitic tropes, the following cartoon which he published at the Guardian during the November war in Gaza is most illustrative of the place where Arab Judeophobia bleeds into Guardian “liberal” commentary.

Steve Bell 16.12.2012

Raed Salah, ‘Comment is Free’ contributor: Blood libel and Jewish supremacy


As we’ve noted, an extremist cleric named Raed Salah became a Guardian cause celeb during his 2011 legal battle with UK Immigration Authorities despite his record of promoting violence and racism – which included his recitation of a poem promoting the medieval antisemitic narrative that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to bake their “holy” bread.  

When Salah won his final deportation appeal – at a UK Immigration Tribunal which, nonetheless, concluded that Salah did in fact promote the blood libel – the Guardian awarded him an essay at ‘Comment is Free’.  

Salah’s used his polemical victory lap, published on Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day in 2012, to smear the UK Jewish community by suggesting that their support for Zionism was akin to endorsing an ideology of “supremacism”.

Here are the relevant passages in Salah’s commentary:

“Despite the Israeli policy of “transfer” – another term for ethnic cleansing – the Palestinians will not go away. The Israeli state can occupy our lands, demolish our homes, drill tunnels under the old city of Jerusalem – but we will not disappear. Instead, we now aspire to a directly elected leadership for Palestinians in Israel; one that would truly represent our interests. We seek only the legal rights guaranteed to us by international conventions and laws.

The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy and truly adhere to the universal values of justice and fairness.” [emphasis added]

Ben White‘Comment is Free’ contributor: ‘Antisemitism is understandable’


White is a professional Israel hater who has expressed sympathy for Palestinian ‘martyrs’, and who once defended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from “charges” that he denied the Holocaust – and whose views on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict were recently tacitly endorsed by Hamas.  He continues to publish at ‘Comment is Free’, despite having never once distanced himself from a 2002 essay he published on the extremist online site, CounterPunch.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece, titled: Is It ‘Possible’ to Understand the Rise in ‘Anti-Semitism’?,

I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are”. This after linking the rise of antisemitism with “the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media”.  There are, in fact, a number of reasons. One is the state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians. [emphasis added]

Musa AbumarzuqComment is Free’ contributor: Official in the terror group, Hamas, which openly calls for the murder of Jews


Abumarzuq was published twice at ‘Comment is Free’.  His most recent piece offered insights into his “concerns” about Israeli violation of human rights – “liberal sensibilities” which CiF editors evidently were able to reconcile with his leadership role in a group which endorses the antisemitic conspiracy theories and openly calls for the mass murder of Jews.

(Note: In addition to Abumarzuq, the list of Hamas members published at ‘Comment is Free’ includes Ismail Haniyeh, Osama Hamdan, and Azzam Tamimi.)

Please cast your ballot for the most antisemitic Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ contributor.  When voting, feel free to choose another Guardian contributor which, for the sake of brevity, we didn’t include in the list. 

Guardian fails to take home top prize at 2012 Dishonest Reporting Awards

It just wasn’t their year.

Oh, how they tried to repeat the performance which earned them the 2011 HonestReporting Dishonest Reporting Award‘, but it simply wasn’t to be.

Though the Guardian failed to take home the top prize this year, they did receive less high-profile awards for their denial of reality itself (Biggest Train Wreck Over Principle: The Guardian, and UK Press Complaints Commission) by telling readers that Tel Aviv was Israel’s capital, as well one for most antisemitic cartoon (Most Anti-Semitic-Themed Cartoon: Steve Bell, The Guardian) for a depiction of feckless, slavish British leaders being controlled like a puppet by Israel’s Prime Minister.

While this year’s winner, Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, indeed deserves credit for a very compelling polemical performance in attempting to convince readers that Israelis support apartheid, the Guardian’s body of deceit for the year was, at least in the eyes of this blogger,  impressive nonetheless.

The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, interviewed after being informed by HonestReporting’s judges that their media group lost the coveted award, said the following:

“Though it’s rare for a media institution to take home two Dishonest Reporting prizes in a row, we really thought our overall anti-Israel bias was the most effective in a very crowded anti-Zionist field, and should have won.  In addition to elevating Tel Aviv to the status of Israel’s capital, and publishing a cartoon indistinguishable from what’s found in the most Judeophobic Arab media, I’m also quite proud of the work done by Chris McGreal, whose characterization of the US relationship with Israel as ‘slave-like’ earned him a coveted spot in CST’s 2011 Report on Antisemitic Discourse. 

And, naturally, we thought that the buzz over Deborah Orr’s pejorative reference to Jews as ‘The Chosen People’ would also get the judges attention. 

Overall we had a great year of obsessively dishonest reporting about Jews and Israel and, while we congratulate Gideon Levy for his simply sublime smear of the Jewish state, we respectfully believe that the award academy overlooked our overall body of work. After all, we literally wrote the book on how to avoid reporting fairly about Israel and making antisemitism respectable among the liberal elite.”


Rusbridger and Levy react to Dishonest Reporting Award announcement

CST report on antisemitic discourse slams the Guardian: Singles out Orr and McGreal

The CST, the official body advising the UK Jewish community on matters of security and antisemitism, just released a comprehensive report on antisemitic discourse in the UK for 2011 and singled out the Guardian for opprobrium.  In fact, CST devotes an entire section of their 36 page report to the Guardian.

CST noted the following:

In 2011, the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.

Here are some specific highlights from the full report:



Concerns within the Jewish community and elsewhere regarding the Guardian, relative to other mainstream media outlets, have persisted for many years now – a situation that will probably worsen as the paper’s Comment is Free website grows.

Comment is Free website: overview


Comment is Free website hosts many more articles than the Guardian’s actual print edition –and has lower editorial standards. Articles critical of Israel and its supporters are commonplace and routinely attract hundreds of comments from members of the public. Counter-articles are far less common.

The Guardian: overview


Specific accusations of antisemitism against the Guardian itself usually arise from opinion pieces that reflect the hostility of the writer to Israel or those they associate with it. These articles are rarely, if ever, explicitly antisemitic. Rather, they usually contain remarks and attitudes that echo antisemitic motifs, such as Jewish conspiracies of wealth and power, and the notion that Jews are loyal to no one but each other. In their hostility, these articles afford little or no room for mainstream Jewish voices or perspectives.

[Not] innocent in the war of words about Jews and Israel

A March 2011 opinion piece in the Jewish Chronicle by its deputy editor, Jenni Frazer, appeared to capture the feelings of many Jews and mainstream UK Jewish communal bodies towards the Guardian. She wrote: “…I cannot count the number of complaints we have had from readers who do not understand the Guardian’s obsession with Jews and Israel, the poisonous letters or op-eds it publishes.”

Typifying the Guardian’s problems regarding antisemitism, according to the CST, were comment articles by Washington correspondent Chris McGreal, a piece by weekly columnist Deborah Orr and its coverage of the Sheikh Raed Salah deportation case.

Chris McGreal: “George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state”


In an article concerning American Jewish voting patterns, senior Guardian correspondent Chris McGreal wrote: “Obama [told] American Jewish leaders that he would put some ‘daylight’ between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation.”Following protests that this risked reading as if former President Bush had somehow been a slave to Jews, the word “slavishly” was changed to“consistently”. The Guardian stated that this would“clarify the intended meaning” of the sentence.Given President Obama’s ethnicity, it seems unlikely that the Guardian would have allowed the word “slavishly” to be as readily used as in relation to former President Bush.

Nevertheless, the importance of conspiracy theory to antisemitism requires the newspaper (and others) to show sensitivity to risking such associations. In this regard, the Guardian’s alteration of “slavishly”to “consistently” maintained the overall meaning of the sentence, while reducing (but not entirely removing) the potential antisemitic sting.

Deborah Orr: “lives of the chosen”


In October 2011, Israel exchanged over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for a soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive in Gaza for five years.Guardian columnist Deborah Orr sparked outrage when she used the phrase “the chosen” in an article about the exchange:  “…there is something abject in their [Hamas’]eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe –that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.”

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, commentator David Aaranovitch explained his (and others’) concerns with Orr’s use of “the chosen…when the predicted complaint [about the Shalit exchange terms] was made in the predictable place (the Guardian’s opinion columns), the source surprised me. Deborah Orr is a clever, sensitive writer, as little given to bombast or prejudice as any columnist.“…What was so shocking to me about this phrase was its casualness – not its deliberation. The writer just didn’t realise, it seemed, that this charge about ‘chosenness’ – as applied specifically and categorically to Jews (whether ‘Zionists’ or not) is one of the most recurrent and poisonous tropes in antisemitism… Had she been confronted with the suggestion that, say, blacks were a bit childlike,undisciplined, sensual and physical rather than intellectual, she’d have recognised immediately the contours of old-time racism. The alarms would have gone off, the thought would have been interrogated, the problem noticed.“…Orr’s reaction seems to come from a place that deems all Zionism – all belief in a Jewish homeland– to be beyond respectability.“…What worries me here, as it increasingly has done for a decade, is the way in which the Palestinian issue is leading to a slippage in sensibilities, from concern, to partisanship, to an almost unconscious acceptance of the characterisation of Jews or Zionists or Israelis which replicates ancient libels….”

Blood libel allegation, Sheikh Raed Salah


Controversies concerning alleged antisemitism from Islamist sources were typified by the 2011–12 visit to Britain of Sheikh Raed Salah, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel. In particular, the Guardian newspaper was highly partial in its reporting of the case. Some coverage of the case (including, in part, by the Guardian) asserted or assumed that the Salah controversy had been engineered by the Israeli Government and carried out, at its behest, by its ‘local’ supporters and forced, somehow, upon the Home Secretary. These allegations about Israeli Government involvement were both unreferenced and untrue.

Guardian summary

The case exemplified the manner in which UK Islamists and pro-Palestinian activists defend their political allies from accusations of antisemitism. It is normal for such groups to act in this way and for them to misrepresent British Jewish concerns; but Blood libel allegation CST argued that Salah’s presence was unwelcome, primarily because of a speech he had made in Jerusalem in 2007 that had alluded to the “blood libel”, the notorious medieval charge that Jews kill Christian children in order to use their blood for religious practices.

These images, of medieval, Nazi, Syrian and modern day Hizbollah origin, each depict the notorious antisemitic blood libel charge.

As the controversy developed, Salah and his supporters claimed that Israeli officials had brought no charges against the speech, then said charges had been brought but dropped due to lack of evidence, before admitting that the case remained outstanding in Israel, but Salah and his supporters now claimed he had been discussing the Spanish Inquisition, not the behaviour of Jews.The final hearing (which Salah won) agreed with CST’s interpretation of the speech.

In February 2012, Justice Ockelton ruled in Salah’s favour against deportation, despite Section 59 of his own ruling finding that Sheikh Salah (“the appellant”) had indeed referred to the blood libel and that the Home Secretary had been right to consider this.  This finding has never been acknowledged…in any Guardian articles.”

Justice Ockelton’s statement included:

“In our judgment this [Salah’s counterargument] is all wholly unpersuasive. The appellant is clearly aware of the blood libel against Jews…The truth of the matter is that the conjunction of the concepts of ‘children’s blood’ and ‘holy bread’is bound to be seen as a reference to the blood libel unless it is immediately and comprehensively explained to be something else altogether.”.

“We have taken into account that the same sermon contained more moderate language and concepts and positive references to Jewish prophets and synagogues. Nevertheless we do not find this comment [by Salah] could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews…”

“The Guardian: pro-Salah bias:

Throughout the controversy, the Guardian…reported the views of Salah’s UK Islamist hosts and defenders, but failed to adequately ask for, report, or consider, the concerns of CST and the UK Jewish community.  It ran no articles countering Salah’s position.

Haneen Zoabi

On 29 June 2011, the Guardian ran an article by Haneen Zoabi, entitled, “An Israeli trap for Britain”.This framed the Salah controversy as being an Israeli ploy, carried out by its “supporters abroad”. It essentially reduced the allegations against Salah to the status of lies, concocted by Israel and its British supporters to defend racism and then forced upon the Home Secretary. Excerpts included: “…Unable to produce any legal evidence, the Israeli establishment and its supporters in Britain accuse him of antisemitism….It appears that the charge of antisemitism is being used as a way of suppressing criticism of Israeli policies…it seems that the British government has bowed to pro-Israel pressure even when it comes to inshore affairs.

Next, Zoabi alluded to Zionists being responsible for Islamophobia, repeated her dismissal of the allegations against Salah and ended by implying that “Zionist racism” and “the pro-Israeli lobby”were controlling UK policy: “Pro-Israel organisations in Britain and elsewhere are manipulating growing European Islamophobia to discredit us by falsely portraying the democratic Palestinian struggle against racism and discrimination in Israel as antisemitic.“…The British authorities have fallen into an Israeli trap…until now, Palestinian citizens of Israel have been struggling for our political rights in our country, and confronting Zionist racism inside Israel. But now it seems we have to confront Zionist racism abroad as well.“The pro-Israeli lobby must not be allowed to determine politics in Britain…

Official Guardian editorial

On 1 July 2011, the Guardian ran an editorial in support of Salah. Its title, “Muslim Brotherhood activists: unwelcome guests?” signaled the newspaper’s failure to properly address the antisemitism allegations against Salah, or what this meant for British Jews, Muslim-Jewish communal relations and the Government’s recently tightened anti-extremism guidelines.

The editorial echoed Haneen Zoabi’s opinion piece by crassly suggesting that the UK Government was moving against “all Palestinian activists Israel has a problem with”, before appearing to accept Salah’s denials at face value: “…he says [the allegations] were fabricated, and for which he has started libel proceedings…Mr Salah has not been convicted of antisemitism”.

Additional coverage of Salah by the Guardian.

On 26 September 2011, the Guardian reported upon Salah’s forthcoming appeal. The story summarised the antisemitism allegations against Salah and ran his lawyer’s rebuttals of them. This included implying that CST had “doctored”the Koranic poem and the “blood libel” speech to include mentions of “Jews”.

Following CST’s intervention, the story was altered on the Guardian website, clarifying that these were the lawyer’s claims, not the Guardian’s, and stating:“there is no suggestion that CST doctored the quotes”.  A line suggesting CST had not checked the quotes for accuracy was removed; but a further clarification that CST had actually found and supplied the accurate versions of the poem and speech was not included.

On 30 September 2011, the Guardian reported that Salah had won compensation for two days of wrongful immigration detention.  

On 26 October 2011, Salah lost his first appeal. Despite its extensive prior coverage (at least articles prior to this date), this verdict did not appear to be reported by the Guardian. Indeed, the paper seems to have made no further mention of Salah until 9 April 2012, when he won a further appeal. This was covered at length by the  two articles, which implied that Salah had won on all charges, whilst making no mention of the ruling dismissing Salah’s denial of having made a blood libel speech.

It also ran an article by Salah himself, entitled, Britain’s duty to the Palestinian people”.

Salah’s CiF piece included the claim that “The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy…”


CST’s 2011 Report on Antisemitic Discourse clearly demonstrates the Guardian’s continuing antisemitic sins of ‘commission and, just as dangerous, ‘omission': their silence in the face of clear evidence of antisemitism when covering a story. 

While this blog’s mission is clear, and we’ll continue combating antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, we also have a related mission: to name and shame the Guardian as an institution which fancies itself the “world’s leading liberal voice” yet continues to display tolerance towards decidedly illiberal opinions about Jews.

It is incumbent upon all those who consider themselves passionate anti-racists to join us in this fight.

More tortured logic by the Guardian’s Deborah Orr

The notoriety of Guardian journalist Deborah Orr is well deserved.  

Following the 2011 release of Gilad Shalit by Hamas, after five years of captivity and in exchange for over 1000 Palestinian prisoners (including scores of cold-blooded terrorists who had murdered Israelis), the Guardian journalist expressed anger, not at Hamas, but at Israel.

Israel’s sin?


She wrote:

“[Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a [prisoner] transfer…tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.

Her tortured logic, which included an antisemitic understanding of “chosenness” to infer that Jews are racist due to theological first causes, was stunning even for the Guardian and rightfully elicited a chorus of condemnationsresulting in a (mealy-mouthed) apology from Orr.

More recently, Orr employed her penetrating insight to pass judgment on the sins of recent Western blasphemers (the creator of the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, and the editor of a French satirical magazine who published depictions of Muhammad) who believe that their freedom of speech includes the right to offend people of various faith traditions.

In a Guardian piece titled ‘The West and the Islamic world should leave one another to live and let live’, September 21st, Orr wrote the following:

“Free speech does not confer the right to be wrong, mistaken, biased or merely a doggedly axe-grinding pain-in-the-ass about your pet hates.”

Actually, the “right to be wrong, mistaken, or biased” is EXACTLY what free speech in the West confers – a liberty unconditionally bestowed upon those who criticize Muslims or mock their prophet and even, in fact, to “journalists” with an axe to grind against Jews and express their pet hate on the pages of the Guardian. 

Deborah Orr’s Tweets defend ‘chosen people’ essay, complain about Zionists’ sense of victimhood

Deborah Orr will go down in the Guardian hall of shame as the journalist whose antisemitic smear in a column was so explicit she was evidently pressured to issue an apology (albeit a mealy-mouthed one), and whose commentary was so hateful that Israel’s ambassador to the UK cited it as an egregious example of British antisemitism. She also featured prominently in HonestReporting’s 2011 Dishonest Reporting award, which the Guardian won by a landslide.

Here’s the most important passage in Orr’s essay, Is an Israel life really more important than a Palestinian’s?, which was dripping with contempt for Jewish citizens of Israel.

“It’s quite something, the prisoner swap between Hamas and the Israeli government that returns Gilad Shalit to his family, and more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to theirs…[which is] an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives.”

“At the same time, however, there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors. “[emphasis added]

The capacity to impute racism to Israel because it freed over a thousand Palestinian prisoners (many serving sentences for lethal attacks against Israeli civilians) to gain the release of one Israeli demonstrates the seemingly unlimited capacity of anti-Zionists to vilify the Jewish state in response to any political phenomenon.

Regarding her swipe at “the chosen”, Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in a piece in November curiously titled “on averting accusations of antisemitism“, included this clear reference to Orr:

Two weeks ago a columnist used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.

While Orr has avoided commenting on the Middle East since then, she hasn’t been quiet on Twitter (see here and here ); a forum which often serves as journalists’ Id, allowing them to enter political territory they otherwise wouldn’t dare go, thus the ubiquitous disclaimer: “My Tweets are my own“.

Indeed, only a couple of weeks after the “chosen people” row, Orr, in an exchange with a critic, Tweeted this:

Her Tweet couldn’t be more clear:  Jews/Zionists wield power so immense that they can silence Israel’s critics – a suggestion that’s laughable in light of the obsessive criticism the Jewish state receives in the media, from self-described “activists” and at international bodies such as the UNHRC.  I’ve often joked that if Zionists are indeed engaged in a concerted effort to silence their critics, they’re doing an awfully bad job.

Orr’s latest foray into the debate over Israel was her reply to a CiF Watch Tweet, which noted Orr’s history of Jew baiting in the context of a thread inspired by a recent Commentator piece about Guardian diary editor Hugh Muir. (Also see this piece on Muir).

CiF Watch:

Here’s another CiF Watch Tweet, citing a relevant example of such Guardian behavior:

Orr then Tweeted the following responses:

Here’s the first one, clearly suggesting that she still defends her reprehensible November Guardian essay on the Shalit prisoner deal.

Then there was this:

 Admittedly, the rhetorical limits of Twitter makes it impossible to adequately express complex ideas, but I’ll quickly try to unpack this.

By “your”, she could be referring to CiF Watch the organization, myself, or our cadre of contributors and volunteers, or perhaps Zionists and/or Jews.  But, either way, we stand accused of engaging in a (“paradoxical”) “aggressive” defense of our “victimhood”, rendering us unserious.

I don’t think it’s unfair to connect these words with her Tweet noted above from November.  

Zionists, believes Orr, (who she already established are burdened with racist notions of their own superiority) attempt to silence their critics.  

How do we achieve such a herculean task?

Per her most recent Tweet, Orr may think we cynically exploit our past victimhood in an attempt to gain impunity from current sins.

If this is her proposition it certainly isn’t the first time Jews/Zionists have stood accused of engaging in such moral blackmail.  Indeed, a quite familiar trope used by antisemites against Zionists and their Jewish supporters is that they exploit the Holocaust and past antisemitism to blunt criticism about Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

While I can’t of course get into Orr’s mind, her columns and Tweets certainly erode any hope that she used the response to her November Guardian essay as an opportunity to engage in serious self-reflection about the dangers of engaging in Judeophobic narratives.  

I’m very curious to hear readers’ thoughts on Orr’s Tweet, and whether folks think I’m reading too much into her 121 character missive. 

Clip of Israeli Amb to UK, Daniel Taub, blasting Deborah Orr at ‘Big Tent for Zionism’ conference

One of the many highlights at the Nov. 27 Big Tent for Israel Conference (on combating delegimization) I attended, and participated in, was listening to the keynote speech delivered by Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub.  

Taub blasted the Guardian’s Deborah Orr regarding her hideous commentary on the Gilad Shalit prisoner release deal – in the context of his broader critique of delegitimization in the British media.

Speaking to a 700-strong audience in Manchester, the ambassador’s speech represented a call to arms, arguing that anti-Israel campaigns that delegitimize Israel opened a “new front for Israel” in the UK and were “a serious problem for those institutions and organizations which allow it to fester.”

Here’s a clip of the particular segment of his speech where he singles out the Guardian.

And, here’s Taub’s entire presentation.

Another pejorative reference to Jews as “Chosen People” by a Guardian contributor

H/T Margie

Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott, in his quasi mea culpa, “On Averting Accusations of antisemitism“, wrote:

Three times in the last nine months I have upheld complaints against language within articles that I agreed could be read as antisemitic...Two weeks ago a columnist used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.

The columnist Elliott was referring to is Deborah Orr, who contemptuously referred to Jews’ supposed racist belief in their own superiority, in a bizarre missive which imputed bigotry to Israel in the context of the prisoner release deal to free Gilad Shalit.

Wrote Orr:

“…there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”

Though Orr’s “apology” was far from adequate or honest, the incident at least set a precedent at the Guardian regarding the antisemitic pedigree, and unacceptability, of such tropes.

More recently, the Guardian removed a passage from Khaled Diab’s CiF essay after we alerted them about a similarly pejorative characterization of Jews as ‘chosen people’ – a quote, included by Diab, in support of his broader narrative of Israeli bigotry, by none other than Gilad Atzmon.

Yesterday, Feb 15, in a characteristically ugly anti-American, anti-Zionist polemic by Noam Chomsky, The Imperial Way: The American Decline in Perspective, Part 2,  there was this passage:

Christian Zionism in Britain and the US long preceded Jewish Zionism, and has been a significant elite phenomenon with clear policy implications (including the Balfour Declaration, which drew from it). When General Allenby conquered Jerusalem during the first world war, he was hailed in the American press as Richard the Lion-Hearted, who had at last won the Crusades and driven the pagans out of the Holy Land.

The next step was for the Chosen People to return to the land promised to them by the Lord. Articulating a common elite view, President Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes, described Jewish colonization of Palestine as an achievement “without comparison in the history of the human race”. [emphasis added]

While it’s not surprising that Chomsky – an outspoken opponent of Israel’s existence who has likened Zionism to Nazism and expressed support for Hezbollah – would engage in such anti-Jewish vitriol, its instructive to note that the seemingly sincere call by Chris Elliott on how the Guardian can “avert accusations of antisemitism” evidently hasn’t been taken seriously by his paper’s contributors and editors.

Gilad Atzmon takes aim at CiF Watch, accusing us of running “a Jewish supremacist site”!

As I’ve noted previously, merely characterizing Gilad Atzmon as antisemitic doesn’t do him justice.  Atzmon advances hateful, demonizing rhetoric about Jews which is on par with the most vile Judeophobic charges ever leveled, and which is often as crude and malevolent as what would be heard at a meeting of neo-Nazis or Islamist extremists.  

In brief, he repeatedly refers to Judaism as “supremacist“‘ faith, a term popularized by David Duke.  And, Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK, has strongly praised Atzmon’s writings.

Atzmon also has questioned whether the Holocaust occurred, while simultaneously arguing that, if Hitler’s genocide did occur, it can partly be explained by Jews’ villainous behavior.  On this latter note, he claimed that Hitler’s views about Jews may one day be proven right

Atzmon also explicitly charges that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world, and has endorsed of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, arguing about the document that “it is impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities and its capacity to describe” later Jewish behavior.

The Guardian has a history with Atzmon which includes; a 2009 review of his music (Atzmon is an Israeli born Jazz artist now living in the UK), which barely touched on, as the Guardian’s John Lewis so carefully put it, Atzmon’s  “provocatively anti-Jewish rhetoric”. Additional reviews of Atzmon’s music in the Guardian, in pieces published in 2011, 2006, 2004, 2003 and 2001 virtually ignored his politics altogether.

Then following a CiF essay by Andy Newman last September which included Atzmon in his (rather mild) criticism of leftist antisemitism, the Guardian published a letter by Atzmon in response, defending the ideas in his book, The Wandering Who? – a work which the CST has characterized one of the most antisemitic book published in the UK in years.

Shortly after that incident, CiF Watch discovered and subsequently posted about the fact that the Guardian’s online bookstore was selling Atzmon’s book, which included this chilling synopsis:

“An explosive unique crucial book tackling the issues of Jewish identity Politics and ideology and their global influence.

Evidently embarrassed, and unable to defend their decision to carry and promote such hate, the book was removed form their site within 24 hours of our post.

The latest incident involving Atzmon involved an essay at CiF by Khaled Diab published last week which positively cited an Atzmon observation in the context of what Diab characterized as Israeli surprise over the alleged Saudi hacking of computers at El Al and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Here’s this passage:

Some commentators went even further. “The Jewish state is pretty devastated by the idea that a bunch of ‘indigenous Arabs’ are far more technologically advanced than its own chosen cyber pirates,” Israeli jazz musician Gilad Atzmon observed wryly on his blog.

After we objected to Guardian editors about both the positive reference to Atzmon, as well as his specific pejorative reference to Jews as “chosen” – which, per the Deborah Orr affair, they had acknowledged was antisemitic – the piece was amended and the passage removed, noting that the language was inconsistent with their standards.

Well, sometime after the piece was amended, Atzmon learned of the incident and wrote about it in his blog, beginning:

Two days ago, I discovered that CIF Watch, a Jewish supremacist site interested solely in cleansing British press of any criticism of Israel and Jewish power, was boasting that the Guardian surrendered to their pressure and removed an Atzmon passage [which included the “chosen” comment]. [emphasis added]

Interesting. While we now only typically check our blog’s rankings in Technorati’s world politics category (where we’ve been consistently ranked within the top 25), it looks like we’d now be wise to similarly check our listings in the evidently new category of “Jewish supremacist blogs” – a blog niche I must admit that I never previously considered!

Atzmon continues:

Shocking but typically, the Guardian surrendered immediately to the Zionist’s demands.

Yes, Guardian editors consistently, and cravenly, succumbing to Zionist demands!  What only appears to the untrained eye as a media group viscerally hostile to the Jewish state is, in fact, yet another institution bullied by Jews into Zionist subservience.

Turning to his book, Atzmon writes:

The book attempts to grasp the bizarre continuum between Israeli barbarism…the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign surrender to rabid Zionist bodies and the ‘Guardian’s regulation’. [emphasis added]

In conclusion, Atzmon writes:

I’m not one bit surprised by the surge of Jewish power. I wrote a book about it. But, being intimately familiar with Jewish history, I know exactly where it will lead. Jewish political arrogance has always proved to be, above all, devastatingly dangerous for Jews.

For the sake of peace, both Jews and gentiles must confront the prominence of Jewish identity politics. We should never be afraid to question ideologies and lobbies that impose a threat to peace, our value systems, freedom of thought, humanity and humanism. [emphasis added]

In that comically gratuitous passage lay the rhetorical thread which runs through much of the hardcore antisemitic bravado through the ages – their belief that they are not just criticizing Jews and Judaism, but speaking truth to power, and boldly defending civilization from a dangerous, yet furtive, Jewish onslaught.   

CiF Watch may appear to be merely a media watchdog blog, but Atzmon’s piercing intellect sees us for who we really are: a threat to freedom of thought, world peace and humanity itself.

On a shoestring budget, and a group of dedicated volunteers, we have managed to become larger than ourselves:

Grassroots pro-Israel activism no more.

The Protocols of the Elders of CiF Watch Zionists have arrived!

Following our post & complaint, Guardian amends Khaled Diab’s CiF essay: Removes Atzmon passage

Yesterday, we posted about a CiF essay by Khaled Diab (“Hacking away at Arab and Israeli stereotypes“, Jan. 19), which contained a positive reference to, and quote from, extreme antisemite, Gilad Atzmon.

Here’s the original quote by Diab, which was employed in his broad critique of Israeli surprise to the alleged cyber attacks on  El Al airline and the Tel Aviv stock exchange by Arab hackers – which Diab framed as evidence that Israelis see Arabs as backwards and unable to display such tech prowess.

Some commentators went even further“The Jewish state is pretty devastated by the idea that a bunch of ‘indigenous Arabs’ are far more technologically advanced than its own chosen cyber pirates,” Israeli jazz musician Gilad Atzmon observed wryly on his blog.

In addition to yet another pejorative depiction of Jews as ‘chosen’ in the Guardian (as with Deborah Orr’s piece), the “Israeli jazz musician”, as we explained, tends to trade in the most vile antisemitic narratives, including the explicit argument that Judaism is a supremacist ideology, Jews are trying to control the world, and suggestions that history may one day vindicate Hitlers hatred of the Jews.

Following our post, and official complaint, the essay was amended, and the entire passage (cited above) was removed.  

While we would have preferred if they had acknowledged that citing Atzmon in a CiF or Guardian piece is, in any context, necessarily at odds with their community standards, we’re pleased that pejorative references to Jews as the ‘chosen’ are understood by Guardian editors as, by definition, antisemitic.   

Applying Deborah Orr’s moral arithmetic to assess the value of ‘chosen’ Jewish apartments

A guest post by AKUS

Israel should never underestimate the guile of the Palestinians and the cunning they exhibit in laying Israel open to new charges of racism.  Their latest effort is worthy of Deborah Orr herself who first claimed to know the racist motives behind Israel’s agreeing to swap one thousand Arab prisoners for Gilad Shalit.

Ever since President Obama made his way to Cairo and torpedoed the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and a good deal more in the Middle East with his outreach speech, the Palestinians have had one immutable demand that they insisted must be met before peace talks could resume. 

This demand was a “red line” that would never be crossed. It was no less than a “sacred issue”: A precondition that, if not met, would mean that no Palestinian leader would ever sit down at the negotiating table with an Israeli leader; A demand  that caused the world to condemn Israel from the halls of the UN to the Parliament of Iceland for its  blind obduracy, deliberate obfuscation, typical Jewish intransigence and Talmudic standing on meaningless principles.

I refer, of course, to the Palestinian refusal to negotiate with Israel unless it agreed to never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, build a single apartment on the holy ground of the non-existent state of “Palestine”. A precondition to resumption of talks that those stiff-necked Israelis absolutely refused to accept.  The result, to the immense satisfaction of the Palestinians, was accusations from Washington to Wellington that Israel was preventing peace from breaking out.

Remember the cries of racism that accompanied Israel’s unwilling agreement to exchange 1,024 Arab prisoners for one Jewish prisoner? Any other nation, it was hinted, would have insisted on parity. One prisoner for one prisoner. Nothing, Deborah Orr made clear in the Guardian, showed the “obscene”, racist nature of Israeli society more clearly than its belief that “the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours”.

Imagine my shock when reading that the Palestinians have come up with an even more diabolical scheme than agreeing to accept 1,000 prisoners in exchange for one Israeli soldier.

The Palestinians are now willing (apparently) to stop fussing about Israeli building apartments (which would only take place in a few years for the most part from what I understand) in exchange for freeing 100 prisoners. They are willing to cross the “red line”, surrender a few “sacred grains of sand”, drop their immutable precondition. Yes, they now say – “Israel can build apartments in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and then we will resume negotiations”

So now we have to apply Orr’s math to this new offer to understand its impact. The world – or at least the Guardian and its pro-Palestinian readership – will be asking:

How many Palestinian prisoners are equivalent to one Jewish apartment in the eyes of the racist Zionist entity?

Let’s say Israel has plans for 10,000 apartments on the books. Let’s imagine that Israel would agree to release 100 prisoners as the Palestinians demand.  That might be a ratio that is not too damning to Israel – 1 Palestinian equals 100 apartments. The world might even approve.

But of course we all know that Israel has the PR sensitivity of a bull in a china shop. Suppose Israel thinks it would be a well-received PR move to make a goodwill gesture to its Palestinian neighbors that would satisfy the Quartet, Obama, Hillary, Leon Panetta, the UN and everyone else by going beyond what the Palestinians have asked for. Typically unaware of the PR disaster awaiting it, suppose Israel proposes to raise the ratio to 1:1 and offers to release 1,000 prisoners, not 100,  in exchange for 1,000 apartments, not 10,000? What if Israel also refuses to build any more apartments till the Palestinians agree it can release more prisoners?

Does that mean people like Deborah Orr could claim that the “chosen” think that one Arab life is only worth one Israeli apartment, not 100 apartments? Would the Arabs then refuse to accept their own offer as a shameful slight to their honor?

Where does the Palestinian proposal leave the USA and the Quartet? After all, they blindly bought into the belief that it was those apartments that were the reason the Palestinians could not and would not return to negotiations. Doesn’t the new offer make them look just a little foolish?

President Sadat famously counseled that one should learn the rules of the oriental bazaar before venturing into the arena of Middle Eastern bazaar diplomacy. Will this sudden volte face by the Palestinians do anything to teach the Obama administration and the Europeans how poorly they understand the high-stakes world of Middle East diplomacy and that they should leave the bargaining to the experts on the ground?

The continuing notoriety of Guardian journalist Deborah Orr’s perverse antisemitic logic

I couldn’t help but enjoy reading the latest update by HonestReporting, which listed their top 5 most read stories of 2011, and see that their coverage of Guardian journalist Deborah Orr’s odious take on Israel’s prisoner release deal with Hamas made the list!.

Here’s HonestReporting’s commentary as the story unfolded (See CiF Watch commentary on Orr in the “Recommended Links” section below):

Over the years, we’ve covered some vicious and despicable pieces in the media, many of them published in The Guardian. But amongst the many commentaries and analyses of the Gilad Shalit prisoner deal, one by Deborah Orr in The Guardian’s print edition really plumbs the depths.

Orr writes:

All this, I fear, is simply an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives. Netanyahu argues that he acted because he values Shalit’s life so greatly.

Yet who is surprised really, to learn that Netanyahu sees one Israeli’s freedom as a fair exchange for the freedom of so many Palestinians? Likewise, Hamas wished to use their human bargaining chip to gain release for as many Palestinians as they could. They don’t have much to bargain with.

Is Orr really suggesting that Israel’s desire to get back one of its soldiers at such a high price is driven by some racist sense of valuing Israeli or Jewish life above all others? Apparently so:

At the same time, however, there is something abject in their eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.

The abuse of the concept of the “chosen people” refers specifically to Jews and is commonly employed by anti-Semites to falsely assert that Jews claim to be superior to non-Jews not only in a theological sense but also in a racial one.

As Joseph Telushkin asks:

Does Judaism believe that chosenness endows Jews with special rights in the way racist ideologies endow those born into the “right race”? Not at all. The most famous verse in the Bible on the subject of chosenness says the precise opposite: “You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth. That is why I call you to account for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2). Chosenness is so unconnected to any notion of race that Jews believe that the Messiah himself will descend from Ruth, a non-­Jewish woman who converted to Judaism.

The fact that Israel values the life of a solitary individual so much that it is prepared to release hundreds of Palestinians responsible for some of the most appalling terrorist outrages instead tells us how much Israel values human life. This overwhelming desire to return one of its own people is a value to be proud of.

Orr appears to be distressed at the implication of a deal that sees one Jew as the equivalent of 1000 Arabs. If this is the case, then Orr would be better directing her ire at Hamas for demanding and setting such an unbalanced equivalence.

That Deborah Orr is prepared to descend to the depths of anti-Semitism to claim that Israel is motivated by racism says much about her own warped values. That The Guardian was prepared to publish such an obscene commentary merely confirms the publication’s vicious anti-Israel bent.


Writing in a Guardian commentary in the October 26 print edition, it is clear at whom Jonathan Freedland is aiming this paragraph:

It should go without saying that Israelis would have preferred a one-to-one exchange, releasing a single Palestinian prisoner, rather than more than a thousand – many of them guilty of horrendous acts of violence – in return for Shalit. But, contrary to what some have suggested, it was Hamas, not Israel, that set that 1:1000 exchange rate; it was Hamas, not Israel, who decided that the freedom of a single Israeli was worth the freedom of a thousand Palestinians.

Still no sign, however, of The Guardian publishing any proper rebuttals of Deborah Orr, either in its opinion section or on the letters page.


The intense criticism and the deluge of emails from HonestReporting subscribers and other concerned parties to The Guardian has had some effect. The October 27 print edition contains a response from none other than Deborah Orr herself.

See our Special Update – Deborah Orr’s Disgusting Excuse For an Apology