British journalist who admitted to anti-Jewish prejudice plays ‘dual loyalty’ card

Mira Bar Hillel is Property and Planning correspondent for the Evening Standard.  

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And, though she is Jewish, she is also prejudiced against Jews.  In fact, Jews scare her quite a bit.

Don’t take our word for it. Here are her exact words, in a Haaretz interview:

The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles ) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.”

She also recently complained, in a column at The Independent, that Zionist Jews try to gag her into submission.

My most vicious Twitter trolls are Jews from all over the world accusing me of treason for daring to criticise Israel’s racism and other excesses and trying their best to gag me.

Since arriving in London I have not ONCE experienced anti-Semitism, although jews talk about it a lot, as Marcus said. I am not a self-hating jew - I hate people who use the label to gag into submission any critic of Israel and its deplorable actions. And very effective they are too.

Yet, somehow, Bar Hillel evidently hasn’t been effectively muzzled by the British Jewish community, as her recent column at The Independent (Israel and the US: Drawing up lines of allegiance, Oct. 30) demonstrates.

Bar Hillel begins her meditation on Jewish allegiance by noting the ‘inflammatory’ nature of the topic:

Ask British Jews whether they feel more loyal to this country or to Israel – and expect to be instantly labelled anti-Semitic and sent packing. The same, only more so, applies in the USA.

When Israeli positions conflict with British ones, nothing is more inflammatory than allegations of “dual allegiance”,  not to mention putting Israel first. The pro-Israel lobbyists do their work subtly, although in the US their activities, especially among politicians, attract more attention…

Bar Hillel then pivots from British Jews to American Jews, per the focus on her column:

…Which makes it even more peculiar that tens of thousands of leaflets have recently been distributed to Jewish Americans, as well as to Israelis living in the United States, asking them to indicate where their allegiance would lie in the case of a crisis between the two countries

Within days, following the report of the story in the Israeli press, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu hastily directed the ministry to stop backing the questionnaire, which was commissioned by the Israeli American Council, a private nonprofit group established in Los Angeles in 2007

According to the IAC, this expansion is to be sponsored by Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Bar Hillel fails to note that the head of the umbrella organization of American Jews denounced the questionnaire as well. 

Now, for a hint of conspiracy, Bar Hillel writes the following:

In October 2013  Adelson called upon the US to warn Iran it would use Nuclear missiles if necessary, initially aimed at the desert and subsequently threatening to hit Tehran if it did not halt its nuclear programme . This could have been – and possibly was – scripted by Netanyahu.

Now, for the question of loyalty:

I wouldn’t dare ask Sheldon Adelson, whose wife is Israeli, where his allegiances lie. But I would dearly love to hear his answer.

No, Bar Hillel “wouldn’t dare ask” the question she in fact just asked, about the loyalty of Jewish Americans, just as I wouldn’t dare ask editors at The Independent how they reconcile their recent defense against charges of antisemitism with their decision to publish a column evoking the charge of ‘dual loyalty’ by a writer who has admitted being prejudiced against Jews.   

But, ‘I would dearly love to hear’ their answer.

Jonathan Freedland’s blindspot on antisemitism

Though we’re often in disagreement with his politics on Israel, Jonathan Freedland is one of the few Guardian journalists who takes the issue of antisemitism seriously, and his latest essay at ‘Comment is Free’, ‘Antisemitism does not always come with a Hitler salute does something quite extraordinary. Freedland not only does a competent job discussing the various manifestations of anti-Jewish bigotry but also, at least indirectly, calls out two fellow Guardian contributors for their antisemitic discourse.

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First, Freedland frames the essay:

The Daily Mail’s sustained assault on the late Ralph Miliband, the Marxist scholar it branded “The Man Who Hated Britain”. Some detect a whiff of anti-Jewish prejudice, some swear there is no such thing. When pressed on the point by the BBC, Ed Miliband himself declined to add antisemitism to his list of charges against the paper.

All of which, I imagine, must make it hard for the open-minded outsider, the non-Jew keen to oppose all forms of racism. They know they’re against antisemitism, but how exactly to spot it? When is the line crossed? Where, in fact, is the line? In the spirit of public service, let me attempt an answer.

He then notes the persistence of antisemitism in the Middle East and even links to a report by Tom Gross on antisemitic cartoons in the Arab world.

[Antisemitism] is not a phenomenon safely buried in the past. Just because hatred of Jews reached a murderous climax in the 1940s does not mean it ended with the war in 1945. It is alive and well even in 2013. Whether it’s on Twitter or in the cartoons that routinely appear in much of today’s Middle Eastern press, crude slurs and hideous caricatures of Jews – hook-nosed and money-grabbing – endure.

Later in the essay, Freedland makes reference to two particularly egregious examples of antisemitism at the Guardian:

In the antisemitic imagination, Jews are constantly working for some other, hidden goal. In this, antisemitism stands apart from other racisms, which tend to view the hated as straightforwardly inferior. Antisemitism is instead a conspiracy theory of power, believing that the Jews – always operating as a collective – are bent on some grand plan of world domination. Which is why images of Jews as puppet masters, or of having the world in their financial grips”, as Baroness Jenny Tonge so memorably put it, always hit a nerve.

The “puppet masters” reference links to a piece by Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott (Accusations of antisemitism against a political cartoon) criticizing an ugly cartoon by Steve Bell last November which depicted the Israeli prime minister as a puppet master controlling Tony Blair and William Hague.

Freedland continues:

And always on hand for the antisemite is some reference to Jews’ religious practice, real or imagined. For centuries, those who hate Jews would throw the phrase “chosen people” back in their faces, falsely interpreting it as a mandate for Jewish supremacism. 

His “chosen people” reference links to another essay by the Guardian’s readers’ editor (On averting accusations of antisemitism) which called out the shameful antisemitic use of the term “chosen people” by Deborah Orr. 

Freedland continues, rightfully pointing to the persistent tropes which evoke the classic antisemitic narrative of ‘dual loyalty’: 

Instead, there are familiar tunes, some centuries old, which are played again and again. An especially hoary trope is the notion of divided allegiances or plain disloyalty, as if, whatever their outward pretence, Jews really serve another master besides their country. Under Stalin, Jews, especially Jewish intellectuals, were condemned as “rootless cosmopolitans” (another euphemism) lacking in sufficient patriotism. The Mail’s insistence that Miliband Sr was not only disloyal but actively hated his country fits comfortably in that tradition.

Freedland didn’t provide a link or cite any concrete examples of commentators employing such racist canards, so we thought it would be helpful to point to a colleague of Freedland’s at the Guardian who has engaged in such tropes on numerous occasions. His name is Glenn Greenwald. 

Here are a few quotes from Greenwald imputing such disloyalty:

  • Large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups are the ones agitating for a US war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests.” - Feb. 3, 2007
  • “Those [American Jews] who favor the attack on Gaza are certainly guilty…of such overwhelming emotional and cultural attachment to Israel and Israelis that they long ago ceased viewing this conflict with any remnant of objectivity.” - Jan. 4, 2009
  • “The point is that the power the [Israel lobby] exercises [is] harmful in the extreme. They use it to squelch debate, destroy the careers and reputations of those who deviate from their orthodoxies, and compel both political parties to maintain strict adherence to an agenda that is held by a minority of Americans; that is principally concerned with the interests of a foreign country.” – March 11, 2009 Salon
  • “[Charles] Freeman is being dragged through the mud by the standard cast of accusatory Israel-centric neocons (Marty Peretz, Jon Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg, Commentary, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, etc. etc., etc.).” –March 9, 2009 
  • “Meanwhile, one of the many Israel-Firsters in the U.S. Congress — Rep. Anthony Weiner, last seen lambasting President Obama for daring to publicly mention a difference between the U.S. and Israel — today not only defended Israel’s attack. – June 1, 2010

We of course don’t know if Freedland has had the pleasure of meeting his new colleague but – insofar as he truly takes antisemitism seriously – we humbly suggest that he at least familiarize himself with Greenwald’s record of anti-imperialist inspired Judeophobia which we continue to document at this blog. 

“Israel-firsters”, “traitors” and other epithets hurled at Chuck Hagel’s critics by Guardian readers

The empirical probability that reader comments in response to Israel-related content at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ will quickly devolve into anti-Zionist vitriol is as good as the likelihood that the specific epithets used by commenters will be consistent with the Guardian Left narrative.

Both are near certainties.    

While we’ve often posted about reader comments which are more explicitly antisemitic, the following thread effectively illustrates the manner in which the debate over Hagel’s nomination for Defense Secretary has been framed at the Guardian – where a conservative Republican has engendered the sympathy of the Guardian Left due largely to the political orientation of those aligned against him.   

Here is a brief snippet of the conversation below the line of Matt Williams’ Jan. 7 Guardian report, ‘Obama keen on Chuck Hagel nomination despite opposition‘.

The Israeli-Palestinian issue is “never debated” in the US.

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Israel, and American “Israel Firsters” control the US.

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Historically oppressed Jews have now become the oppressors. 

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American Israel-Firsters are, in fact, traitors to their country.

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Then, there was this rebuttal:

smWe hear it all the time below the line, following dog whistles above the line, at ‘Comment is Free’. 

Jews & the charge of ‘Dual Loyalty’: CiF’s Rachel Shabi excuses a classic antisemitic canard

Rachel Shabi

Rachel Shabi is a journalist who writes for ‘Comment is Free’ and Al Jazeera whose contempt for the Jewish state, and seeming indifference to antisemitism, is consistently demonstrated.

Shabi has blamed Zionism for the ethnic cleansing of 900,000 Jews from Arab lands; characterizing their plight as being caused “either by agitating Zionist emissaries, or by the shockwaves that Zionism sent through the Middle East.” [emphasis added]

She has accused those who raise the issue of the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab lands of engaging in cynical “political point-scoring”, and has even mocked the notion of historic Arab antisemitism.

She also dismissed Israeli concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) – writing that the MB was merely “perceived as…anti-Semitic - characterizing the Jewish state’s fear of the Islamist group’s rise (a movement whose spiritual leader literally called for Allah to murder every last Jew on earth) as evidence of Israeli racism!

In addition, while Shabi has carved out a successful journalistic niche as a Jewish critic of Israel I have found nothing Shabi has written on the subject of antisemitism, and absolutely no indication that she is at all burdened by the malign Jewish obsession which is normative in the Arab world – all of which provides relevant context to her latest essay at ‘Comment is Free’, False accusations of antisemitism desensitize us to the real thing“, Feb. 17.

Shabi, in arguing that “rightwing pro-Israelis [have] sucked the oxygen out of any conversation about the country”, argues: 

a broader rash of pouncing-upon from rightwing pro-Israelis that has sucked the oxygen out of any conversation about the country – especially in the US. Witness the recent storm over the phrase “Israel firsters”: used to accuse people of putting policy on Israel above US interests, it sparked a row among liberal commentators on whether it carries connotations of dual loyalty that feed into antisemitic tropes. This was just another attempt to smear liberal American critics of Israel,

Yet the real danger in all this is that the rush to throw charges of antisemitism…and silence…people who criticise Israel will desensitise vigilance over the real thing. Such tactics are meant to intimidate and paralyse, choke and divert the discussion over Israel’s occupation and policies in the Middle East.

Briefly, the controversy Shabi is referring to arose when it was discovered that Zaid Jilani, who blogged for a Center for American Progress (CAP) website, ThinkProgress, used Twitter to call US supporters of the Jewish state “Israel Firsters” –  evoking the antisemitic narrative that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country.

As several progressive commentators observed following the row, “liberal” voices who defend this dual loyalty canard are evidently unaware of or unburdened by the fact that the idea that diaspora Jews are insufficiently loyal to the country where they reside has a decidedly reactionary pedigree.

The charge of dual loyalty was central in the Dreyfus Affair through the Nazi’s rise to power – and, indeed, this notion in large measure underlay the failure of European emancipation.  In the 1920s American industrialist Henry Ford published The International JewThe World’s Problem where it was asserted that disloyal American Jews were pushing the U.S. into WWII, though the war was not in the national interest.

While after WWII manifestations of this charge often remained on the fringes of American society, Paul Findley, a former Republican U.S. Congressman, wrote a book in 1985, They Dare to Speak Out, which became a best-seller. In it, Findley maintained that American Jews utilized “tactics which stifle dissent in their own communities and throughout America” to benefit not their own country but, rather, Israel.

Paleoconservative commentators, not surprisingly, have similarly championed this narrative. Pat Buchanan wrote in 2008 that “Israel and its Fifth Column in [Washington , DC] seek to stampede us into war with Iran”, and has previously written that Jews “harbor a ‘passionate attachment’ to a nation not our own that causes them to subordinate the interests of their own country and to act on an assumption that, somehow, what’s good for Israel is good for America.”

As liberal columnist Spencer Ackerman noted on the term “Israel-firster”:

It turns out white supremacist Willis Carto was reportedly the first to use it, and (former KKK Grand Wizard) David Duke popularized it through his propaganda network…It is a term that Charles Lindbergh would [have been] comfortable using.

As David Bernstein observed upon researching the term:

The “Israel-firster” slur was not used in “mainstream” discourse until the last few years.

Before that, you can find it occasionally in the early 1980s and 1990s in sources such as Wilmot Robertson’s anti-Semitic Instauration journal, a 1988 anti-Semitic book called “The F.O.J. [Fear of Jews] Syndrome, and a 1998 anti-Semitic book “Rise of AntiChrist.” I also found a couple of references to “Israel-firsters” in the extremist anti-Israel publication, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs…

By the early 2000s, one can find “Israel-firster” being used by a variety of anti-Semitic “right-wing” sources like DavidDuke.com and the Vanguard News Network. As the decade wore on, the phrase occasionally pops up in far left anti-Israel sites that have ties to the anti-Semitic far-right or are known for playing footsie with anti-Semitism

Finally, over the last few years the term has become increasingly used on the anti-Israel far left

So the question is, does your average Progressive recoil at the use of terminology that migrated recent from the far-right racist kook fringe to refer to members of minority groups? They sure do. Should they recoil less if the terminology is aimed at Jews, as opposed to other minority groups? They sure shouldn’t–unless they are themselves prejudiced against Jews.

Rachel Shabi, a “progressive” commentator writing for a publication which fancies itself the “worlds leading liberal voice”, not only doesn’t recoil from such a malign narrative, questioning the loyalty of Jews but, rather, is outraged that those who engage in such Judeophobic tropes (popularized on the far-right) are being “smeared” as antisemites.

As A. Jay Adler concluded in a recent CiF Watch cross post about those, like Shabi, who would defend or excuse such a slur on Jewish Americans”.

They defend their use of the term because they believe that this time it is true. They believe that this time there really are divided loyalties, there really is a cadre of Jews exercising excessive, secretive power while aggressively attempting to suppress any exposure of it. And like all their reactionary forebears…they forget that the belief they cling to is the belief to which purveyors of anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish power always hold fast – it’s the essential marker of the tradition – that what they believe is true.

To this I’d add one more caveat.

Activists like Shabi, like so many others at ‘Comments is Free’, seem to believe that self-proclaimed “progressives” are ipso facto free of prejudice, and so should be granted a kind of impunity from accusations of racism even when trading in the most classic Judeophobic stereotypes.

Such supreme moral hubris continues to inform so much of the the commentary about Israel and Jews by Guardian reporters, contributors and their “progressive” fellow travelers.

“Israel Firster”: Anatomy of an Antisemitic Smear

This is cross posted at The Sad Red Earth, by A. Jay Adler

There are many aspects to the current controversy over use of the “Israel Firster” term. There are people who use the term – continue to use it, resistantly defending its use – and there are those who criticize them for it. The critics claim that adopters of the term are continuing an ages-old anti-Semitic libel against Jews – of disloyalty to their home country because of greater, primary loyalty to their Jewish identity. The people who use the term have accused their critics of “smearing” them with the anti-Semitic label for political ends. Again, there are multiple issues buried in these counter charges – that of anti-Semitism itself, and of disloyalty, or divided loyalty or, as has mostly been expressed, “dual” loyalty – but first I consider the notion of the smear.

The first definition of a smear, in its literal, physical sense is to apply an oily, greasy substance that adheres. Extended metaphorically to its secondary meaning, a smear is an unsubstantiated accusation intended to label and “stick” to its object, sullying its reputation. Note the element of unsubstantiation. There is the additional, more uncertain element of intent.

To criticize, in contrast, is “to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly.” In other words, criticism, in its analytical, intellectual sense, is empirical – evidence based. It is not simply a label applied with sticky fallaciousness, but an analytical discrimination that classifies according to identifying characteristics.

One may use the term smear at will, and many do, but it is not just another one of those misguided, relativistic “one person’s smear is another person’s criticism” cases. The two acts are not the same – they have distinct definitions – and they can be identified and themselves discriminated.

There have been several foci of attention in this current accusatory debate, including those initiated by a Ben Smith piece at Politico and James Kirchick in Haaretz. Another was Jeffrey Goldberg’s blog post responding to an email request from Glenn Greenwald. The email from Greenwald, beginning with a typical, causal and friendly “Hi Jeffrey” and ending with a “Much appreciated” explains that Greenwald is “working on (yet another) piece about the CAP anti-Semitism controversy.” Greenwald is seeking helpful information from Goldberg.

Goldberg himself, given the substance of the request, wryly noted the “much appreciated” sign off. I’ll add to that the “(yet another)” parenthetical. It’s all just one pro – writer, blogger, journalist – seeking assistance from a fellow slogger in the field (oh, you know, “yet another”) in getting some work done. What decent guy or gal would not provide collegial assistance?

However, the specific request was the following:

Hi Jeffrey – I’m working on (yet another) piece about the CAP-anti-Semitism controversy. Could you confirm whether, when you joined the IDF, you took this standard oath:

“I swear and commit to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel its laws, and authorities, to accept upon myself unconditionally the authority of the Israel Defense Force, obey all the orders and instructions given by authorized commanders, devote all my energies, and even sacrifice my life for the protection of the homeland and liberty of Israel.”

Much appreciated -

That is, Greenwald was trying (so he thought) to get the goods on Goldberg, to establish, voila, that Goldberg was/is(?), like Sasquatch caught by flash lumbering through the Bayou – there he is, Ladies and Gentleman, you pays your buck, you steps right up, you get to see him, certified, we got the goods on him – a real live Israel Firster in the flesh.

Goldberg provided his answer in the blog post. He offered other comments in other posts, which prompted other responses from a variety of defenders of the Israel-Firster term, including, from Corey Robin, one exceedingly tedious attempt at clever academic exegesis, of an observation by Goldberg, intended to demonstratesee, we’re not anti-Semitic, you’re anti-Semitic, nyah, nyah.

Focus on Goldberg is significant. Goldberg is a liberal supporter of Israel. (The meaning of the word “support” when applied to Israel is yet another issue embedded in this debate. For my purpose today, I’ll call such supporters of Israel as Goldberg firm supporters.) Critics – indeed, very harsh critics of Israel – consistently identify firm support of Israel with the political right, which identification is an essential ground to this whole debate. Neocon is another popular label. Such as Greenwald will apply that term to any individual who has offered any measure of support at any time to exercises of military force by the United States. The right aids in this identification by the typically fundamentalist belligerence of its own support for Israel. If firm support for Israel can successfully be isolated as a hard right position –  and there has been great success in this effort – then the ongoing campaign against the Israeli position can gain greater strength. If a firm, liberal supporter of Israel can be exposed as an “Israel-Firster,” then the very idea of liberal support for the Israeli position can be dismissed as a phantasm. The Israeli-Palestinian war of historical cases can be drawn only in terms of Israel’s most extreme defenders, while the Palestinian extremes are ideologically white washed, and liberal sense is vanquished from the field.

First, then, I call your attention to Greenwald’s approach to Goldberg, on a personal level. In the past, Greenwald has been consistently vituperative in his treatment of Goldberg, with whom he has no personal relationship. Yet he sends this email dressed in the imposture of a friendly, collegial request for assistance – an email intended to gather the information that will help Greenwald, as he sees it, expose Goldberg as a disloyal American. Now it is true that in the political world – and in the journalistic world, where reporters are always seeking very, very importantinformation, justifying all sorts of behavior for the greater good of the human race and the future of the world – excuses are often made for what is normally considered bad behavior. But in that normal world, Greenwald’s phony smile of an email, with its hateful, destructive intent, is as slimy as a human being gets. That the act he committed with his email was not committed for money or to gain political power is a function only of the interests that motivate his life. The discredit it brings upon him should not be forgotten.

Second, consider that we know from the public record of Goldberg’s service in the IDF decades ago, oath taken or not. There are about  in some form, with the details complex and varied. Dual citizenship may easily be argued as prima facie (thought not actually certain) evidence of dual loyalty. The United States does not formally recognize dual citizenship; neither does it restrict or punish it in any way. While there are no records kept of dual citizenships, the 2010 census shows the percentage of foreign-born Americans – people with the potential of being dual citizens, and likely to feel degrees of dual loyalty – to be 12.7%, or about 39 million people. Americans, like people all over the world, feel multiple loyalties, to their religious faith, their families, to causes and ideals separate from the official policies of their national governments. Red meat GOP candidates will almost without fail name God first among their following loyalties to family and country. And if God led them to believe that some other nation or group was in his service rather than their own nation?

Beginning in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, approximately 2800 Americans fought in Spain on behalf of the Republican cause, in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and elsewhere. Most were members of the Communist Party or other leftist organizations. They served without the support of the U.S. government, were treated with suspicion after the war, and in some cases were even prosecuted by the Roosevelt Administration for recruiting volunteers into the Brigade. These volunteers into a foreign army are universally regarded with respect and even reverence by American liberals and the broader left.

Whether Goldberg himself swore the oath in question, it is a matter of the most common sense that any military force would require of its personnel that they pledge allegiance to the fighting force that was entrusting them with weapons and their cause.

Greenwald’s attempt to impugn Goldberg’s full loyalty to the United States is vile and reprehensible on two scores. First, in the convergence of some elements of the American left with reactionary movements and sentiments, Greenwald’s attempt to question Goldberg’s loyalty on the basis of an oath resounds with the questioning of Roy Cohn and others during the McCarthy hearings:

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?

Now, the question is from Greenwald, and from those who countenance these questions about the loyalty of American Jews whom they believe to support Israel a little too much,

Are you now or have you ever been too ardent a supporter of Israel?

Of what other ethnic or racial group would supposed progressives permit such questions to be asked without condemnation? And in the matter of the most regressive right political forces in the nation – resisting all identification of their own and others’ racist language and insinuation (see: the current GOP presidential primary race) – though the anti-Semitic history of “Israel Firster” has been well documented – these so-called progressives reach to rationalize use of an offensive term against Jews in a manner they would countenance in no other cultural context.

Just because white supremacists used a term doesn’t mean everyone who employs it is an anti-Semite.

Substitute “racist” for anti-Semite and search left literature world-wide for a similar expression.

“Israel-firster” is admittedly a deliberately crude response, but use of the term should be understood within the context of decades of American Jewish right-wing rhetoric that has largely silenced dissent on Israeli policies by discrediting those who dare to criticize Israel.

Try this substitute:

“Food stamp President” is admittedly a deliberately crude response, but use of the term should be understood within the context of decades of militant black rhetoric that has largely silenced dissent on Welfare policies by discrediting those who dare to criticize their perpetuation of an African-American underclass.

Once again:

He also fails to mention that many of those employing the term “Israel-firster” are deeply concerned about Israel’s future and about regional stability, and are no different from members of the Israeli peace camp – not to mention that some of them are Jewish themselves.

Or

He also fails to mention that many of those employing the term “Food stamp President” are deeply concerned about America’s future and about social and economic stability, and are no different from members of the Nation of Islam – not to mention that some of them are black themselves, e.g. Clarence Thomas, Michael Steele, Herman Cain, and Alan West.

That some people who consider themselves progressive do not cringe with embarrassment and shame at the incoherence of these ideas and arguments, or, in the case of those like Greenwald, at the depths to which they plunge in their animus toward Israel, would be startling if not for the twentieth century history that records these depths before.

It is always so, though, that misguided, even hateful political manifestations will be betrayed in their nature by the figures who most publically represent them. So when we consider Greenwald’s malign questioning of Goldberg’s loyalty on the basis of an oath he might have made over twenty years ago, we need to consider it in the following final light.

When Glenn Greenwald began blogging in 2005, he espoused opinions about illegal immigration that would not be admired or popular among his current fan base. He has been challenged about these views a sufficient number of times to have posted an explanatory update at his original blog, Unclaimed Territory, six years later. His explanation?

This post was written in 2005, one month after I began blogging. It was recently dug up by some Obama cultists trying to discredit my criticisms of the President ….

That was a 6 yrs ago: 3 weeks after I began blogging, when I had zero readers. I’ve discussed many times before how there were many uninformed things I believed back then, before I focused on politics full-time – due to uncritically ingesting conventional wisdom, propaganda, etc. 

Six years is not a very long time in the intellectual life of a 44 year old man. For Glenn Greenwald and Mitt Romney, however, it is sufficient time to reverse most of their previously, and apparently not very reliably, conceived political views, and to now scorn those who believe some of what they once did, including, for both men, ironically, Barack Obama. Six years is sufficient time for Greenwald to expect not to be held accountable for his views. In contrast, for Greenwald, the twenty-two years since Jeffrey Goldberg may have taken an oath that Greenwald thinks damning is no barrier to setting Goldberg up for a smear of disloyalty (IsraelFirster) based upon it.

To repeat and clarify: criticisms are based on evidence analyzed and subjected to judgment. A smear is unsubstantiated. The anti-Semitic history of the term “Israel Firster” has been clearly laid out by numerous sources. The disloyalty (IsraelFirster) of no one of significance or party to this debate has been substantiated, only malignly alleged in the hope that the accusation will stick.

These critics of Israel could easily back away from the expression and continue to make their case about Israel-Palestine on the basis of the merits they can gather. That they do not, that they aggressively reassert their claim to the term “Israel-Firster,” – rationalizing it in the face of all evidence – and attack those who object to it – casting themselves as victims (rather like Rick Perry’s and Newt Gingrich’s “war on Christianity) – clearly reflects their likeness to their mirrored opposites. These critics defend their use of the term because they believe that this time it is true. They believe that this time there really are divided loyalties, there really is a cadre of Jews exercising excessive, secretive power while aggressively attempting to suppress any exposure of it. And like all their reactionary forebears (like every GOP reactionary today who plays the card of nationalist loyalty) they forget that the belief they cling to is the belief to which purveyors of anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish power always hold fast – it’s the essential marker of the tradition – that what they believe is true.

And this is the belief, like a ball that is chained to the ankle, drawing one down to the depths, by which they will be known.

On a political culture which tolerates accusations that British Jews aren’t sufficiently loyal to UK

Image from antisemitic site which states: UK Foreign Office has been under Zionist influence for decades

As is the case in the majority of Israeli homes, Friday is cleaning-up day in the Israelinurse household.

But in order for copious amounts of ‘economica’ (bleach), furniture polish and floor shampoo to do their magic, I have to prepare myself with two cups of coffee in rapid succession – usually consumed whilst trying to determine how many of the offspring will be home for dinner, checking e-mails and having a quick browse of the news online.

The third load of laundry is now hanging out to dry, the kitchen sparkles, the spicy pumpkin and tomato sauce for tonight’s kubbeh is bubbling away on the hob and sunlight filtering through the pomegranate tree outside the south-facing living room window makes dancing dappled shapes on a shiny terrazzo floor.

But throughout the polishing, wiping, scrubbing, chopping and mopping I’ve been troubled by one more thing I feel needs clearing up: a Tweet I noticed during morning coffee. 

It refers to the story which broke yesterday regarding the questioning, by British MP Paul Flynn, of the national loyalties of the UK ambassador to Israel, and was sent by another MP who, to the best of my knowledge, has an impeccable record on the subject of anti-racism. That makes it all the more puzzling to me. 

Tweet by MP Rob Halfon

Paul Flynn accused the British Ambassador, who happens to be Jewish, of being incapable of doing his job properly because of dual loyalties – a classic antisemitic trope, as is Flynn’s additional assertion – according to the JC – that Mr Gould does not have the required “roots in the UK”.

So Robert Halfon’s Tweet and the article on his blog are somewhat confusing from my point of view. Have we reached a point at which people – not least public figures – can make antisemitic accusations whilst secure in the knowledge that their reputations will remain squeaky clean?

If so, it wouldn’t exactly be a precedent in British politics. I’m sure many readers remember the remarks made by former Labour Minister Ben Bradshaw in 2009 regarding seemingly irresistible pressures supposedly applied to the BBC by Israel.

My personal view is that someone who is a genuine anti-racist would not have been susceptible to the kind of smears brought up by Giblin and Bartolotti against Ambassador Gould and would most probably have bothered to inform himself of the backgrounds and motivations of the accusers. A genuine anti-racist would certainly not have repeated such an obviously anti-Semitic trope in a Parliamentary Select Committee.

But the bigger question here is this: does the employment of anti-Semitic dialogue make one an anti-Semite or not? I think it does, but if not – what are the criteria necessary in 21st century Britain for someone to be defined as anti-Semitic?

I’d be very interested to hear what readers think. 

Labour MP & anti-Israel activist accuse British Ambassador of greater loyalty to Israel than the UK

Regular CiF Watch readers will no doubt remember the rather hilarious video of one Pippa Bartolotti  – a British participant in last summer’s ‘flytilla’ – bashing the doors at Ben Gurion airport with her suitcase.

Of course Ms. Bartolotti also has a less amusing side as indicated by her meetings with Hamas representatives in Gaza and her eagerness to pose with the flag of the fascist Syrian Socialist National Party whilst on a trip with ‘Viva Palestina’.  

Well now Ms. Bartolotti is in the news again, having apparently been the inspiration for Labour MP Paul Flynn’s accusations of ‘divided loyalty’ towards the British Ambassador in Israel.

According to Mr. Flynn:

“doubts had been raised about Mr Gould’s loyalty by two of his constituents, Pippa Bartolotti and Joyce Giblin, who had been held in prison in Israel after taking part in the “flytilla” demonstration against the Gaza blockade in July.

“When they were briefly imprisoned in Israel, they met the ambassador, and they strongly believe… that he was serving the interest of the Israeli government, and not the interests of two British citizens,”

The EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism states that one of the manifestations of such racism is:

“Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

Thank you Ms Bartolotti and Ms Giblin for providing this classic example of what has been clear to many of us for a long time: the very blurred line between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. 

Guardian’s Chris McGreal accuses former US President of “slavishly” succumbing to pro-Israel pressure

We previously commented (here,here), as did CST, on an appalling Comment is Free piece by John Whitbeck, On Palestine, the US is a rogue state, Dec. 29, 2010, which represented another appalling example of the Guardian’s sanctioning of commentators who openly call for Israel’s demise.  

Whitbeck, we noted, prior to his CiF piece, in an essay for CounterPunch in 2009, had characterized Zionism as a “racial supremacist settle colonial experiment” inconsistent with “human decency”.

Whitbeck’s CiF piece, however, went beyond mere anti-Zionism and advanced the classic antisemitic narrative of a dangerously powerful American Jewish community controlling the reigns of government.

Specifically, Whitbeck characterized the U.S. as submitting to a slave-like (“slavish”) subservience” to Israel. 

Sometime after Whitbeck’s vitriol was published, the CST’s Mark Gardner wrote to the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, and asked the following:

“Can you please explain to me how this notion that the USA is subservient / slavishly subservient to Israel is any different in its rationale to the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians, finance and media?

In response to Gardner’s exchange with the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, the word “slavish” was removed from “slavish subservience to Israel”.

The new piece is here and carries this at its end:

“This article was amended on 17 January 2011. Language that is inconsistent with the Guardian’s editorial policy has been removed.”

Chris McGreal’s latest piece in the Guardian, “Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian promise“, Sept. 16, similarly propagates tropes about the injurious effects of Jewish power on U.S. foreign policy, and used the very language which the Guardian, back in January, acknowledged was inconsistent with their editorial standards.

Wrote McGreal:

Obama followed that up by telling 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. [emphasis mine]

Not that the meaning of the word in question is in any way obscure, it still should be noted that McGreal is in effect saying that the President of United States’ relationship with Israel (and/or the organized, pro-Israel, American Jewish community) was similar to that of a slave to his master.  

McGreal’s piece is also filled with grossly misleading and simply dishonest passages meant to buttress his broader narrative of Israeli villainy, such as when he opined:

Barack Obama has good reason to ask what the present Israeli government has ever done for him.

When the White House asked it to halt construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories to give peace talks a chance, the building went on.

Really, is it even possible that, while writing this, McGreal was truly not aware of the 10 month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank, which Netanyahu agreed to after pressure from President Obama to engage in a good faith effort to restart the peace talks – an act which still didn’t bring Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table?

Further, McGreal’s polemic also included the implicit specter of the corrosive effects of pro-Israel lobby on the U.S. Senate.

The pro-Israel lobby has sought to ensure that Congressional support remains solid by sending 81 members of the House of Representatives on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Jewish state this summer to “gather information”.

But, beyond the specifics of McGreal’s attack on Israel and her Jewish supporters, and his rhetoric about America’s slave-like behavior towards Jews or the Jewish state, the broader problem still remains – that the Guardian Left continues to advance narratives about the injurious effects of organized Jews which is almost indistinguishable from that of the far right.

In 1990, the most well-know U.S. paleoconservative, Pat Buchanan, was widely criticized by the mainstream media and major American Jewish organizations when he referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli occupied territory”.  The Anti-Defamation League challenged Buchanan’s remarks as “reminiscent of scurrilous charges made during WWII” questioning the loyalty of American Jews.  The liberal New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal wrote, “we are not dealing with country club antisemitism” but with the “libel that Jews are not like us…but are others with alien loyalties.”

One of the most disturbing political changes since that time, however, is that such historical calumnies about the corrosive effects of Jews on the body politic – once strictly within the domain of the far right – have become more fashionable within large segments of the left.

Of course, it is not bigoted to simply note that organized Jewry is often politically effective at advancing their interests.  But where it crosses the line into antisemitism is when pro-Israel American Jews (legally exercising their democratic rights) are characterized as a dangerously powerful group whose influence on the U.S. political system is uniquely pernicious or corrupting, and distorts U.S. foreign policy.

McGreal’s rhetoric crosses the line by leaps and bounds and, yet, represents a Judeophobic narrative not all unique among Guardian journalists and commentators.

The insidious narrative that organized American Jewry and, often, the Jewish state, is powerful enough to prevent the President of the most powerful nation on the earth from carrying out policies in the Middle East which would lead to peace represents something approaching conventional wisdom within modern Guardian Left thought.    

Genuine progressives would, it seems, run screaming from even the hint of a suggestion that Jews are controlling the world through domination of politicians, and immediately disassociate themselves from such views – which clearly speaks volumes about how far the Guardian has strayed from anything even resembling principled liberal thought. 

On CiF Watch and the fight against anti-Semitism

I was interviewed recently, on contemporary anti-Semitism and the role CiF Watch plays in combating it at the Guardian and Comment is Free, by Daniel Vahab, a freelance writer who’s currently conducting research for a book he’s writing on anti-Semitism.

He published an edited version of my response in his newsletter

DV: What is CiF Watch?

AL: CiF Watch is a media monitor focused on monitoring and exposing anti-Semitism in the UK Guardian newspaper blog known as “Comment is Free” (commonly known as CiF). As CiF Watch has evolved, our mandate has expanded to more generally combat the assault on Israel’s legitimacy in both Comment is Free and in the Guardian’s online edition.

The Guardian newspaper and its blog, Comment is Free, are renowned for promulgating both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel narratives and have been singled out by the Community Security Trust (the ADL equivalent in the UK) as one of the major purveyors of anti-Semitic discourse in the UK.

As the only media monitor singularly focused on the Guardian’s assault on Israel’s legitimacy, since the nearly 2 years from its launch, CiF Watch has become the leading website combating delegitimization in the UK.

CiF Watch hired me as their managing editor in July, 2010.   Professionally, my background included working for the ADL and NGO Monitor and an evolving expertise in anti-Semitism in the progressive mass media.

DV: Please describe some of the correlations you encountered with antisemitism. And do you see antisemitism as increasing?

AL: First, traditional correlations are often no longer valid. While most anti-Semites in the past in the US were on the Right, data demonstrates that today it is more prevalent on the Left. And, whereas conventional wisdom would suggest that those who are poorer and less educated would be more inclined to be anti-Semitic, today there is evidence to suggest that that also is no longer the case. Other than paleoconservatives (such as Pat Buchanan), the most popular anti-Semitic tropes in the US (such as the “injurious effects” of Jewish power and the “Dual Loyalty” charge) are more often found on the left: Popular leftwing bloggers such as Glenn Greenwald, who blogs at Salon.com, and Andrew Sullivan who blogs at Daily Dish.While in the UK, and much of Europe, you can, as in the US, easily find tropes about Jewish power and dual loyalty, the hostility toward Jews and Israel far exceeds what’s found in the US. One of the drivers of this phenomenon is the influence of Islamist anti-Semitism. The connection between Islamist anti-Semitism and liberal non-Muslim anti-Semitism is sometimes a complicated one. Islamists are often able to argue against Israel using the language of human rights, democracy, anti-imperialism, and anti-Colonialism.

However, it’s important to put American and European anti-Semitism in perspective.  As such, there is simply no comparison between antisemitism in the US, or Europe, and antisemitism in Arab and Muslim countries. Credible empirical date demonstrates that, in much of the Middle East, Jew hatred is normative behavior.

To answer your question, anti-Semitism is increasing. Driven, in large measure, by hatred of Israel, anti-Semitism in Europe has indeed increased over the last 20 years. In the Arab world anti-Semitism has reached epidemic and dangerous proportions. In the US, though there are some worrying trends within the activist left, and intelligentsia, by and large anti-Semitism has clearly decreased over the last 20 years.

DV: For argument’s sake, if one compares Israel to Nazi Germany and Israelis to Nazis or to Apartheid South Africa, what can be said to counter those antisemitic statements?

AL: Comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany have been codified as anti-Semitic by the EU working definition of anti-Semitism.

When you compare Israel to Nazi Germany you’re saying, in effect, that, like Nazi Germany, Israel is morally beyond the pale and therefore has no moral legitimacy and no right to exist.  It’s a way for those who seek her destruction to morally and politically justify their stance. Moreover, being asked to respond to such a hideous charge is not unlike asking the US to respond to charges by Iran that America is the great Satan.

In other words, such a charge against Israel is not a morally or intellectually serious argument, and it really shouldn’t be dignified as if it’s a serious charge. It’s simply abuse. The fact is that, by any measure (such as the annual country reports which are published by the highly reputable human rights monitoring organization, Freedom House), Israel is, by far, the nation with the best human rights record in the Middle East.

As far as the Apartheid slur, again, the main point of such a charge is to morally delegitimize Israel. The fact is that Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy full civil rights (in housing, education, voting, etc.) which South Africa’s blacks were denied. There are Arab Israelis in every sector of Israeli society—and their rights are protected by an independent judiciary.

In fact there is a Christian Arab on the Supreme Court, and Arab parties in the Knesset. In South Africa under Apartheid, Blacks weren’t permitted to live in White neighborhoods, go to White schools, or even date (or marry) Whites. There is no policy in Israel which even approaches such prohibitions.

The related charge that Israel “ethnically cleanses” its Palestinian/Arab/ethnic minority population are easily contradicted by population growth of every major religious/ethnic minority, both in Israel proper, and in the disputed territories.

DV: What are the best ways to combat antisemitism? What can the average person, Jew and non-Jew, do to combat antisemitism–that is, aside from becoming an activist?

AL: The best way for someone not involved in professional advocacy to fight anti-Semitism is to speak out against it online—on Facebook, Twitter, and in comment threads of online newspapers/blogs. In other words, what the average person should do who is committed to fighting anti-Semitism is not that dissimilar to what we do. The social media is a place best suited to waging this war as it involves one’s own community (or virtual community).

Further, for those who don’t wish to have their name associated with a particular position regarding Israel, but still wish to defend Israel and speak out against anti-Semitism, the talkback threads at online publications allow users to remain anonymous by using user names (monikers) which have no similarity to their email address or real name.

Also, those committed to fighting anti-Semitism and defending Israel should spend time reading up on the issues. With the internet there’s no shortage of free sites with contain information on Israel, Israeli history, Jews, Jewish history, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.  While there are way too many to cite here, the one I would highly recommend as a great all around reference is Jewish Virtual Library.


DV: What are some of the ways Cif Watch combats antisemitism?

AL: CiF Watch has become a leading innovator in combating delegitimization. CiF Watch’s unofficial mantra is to delegitimize the delegitimizers and that the best form of defense is offense. This manifests itself in the following ways: publishing multiple exposes on specific anti-Israel writers (which, among other things, results in impacting Google searches on these writers that are targeted), utilizing Twitter to directly engage and attack Guardian writers, producing YouTube videos focused on delegitimizing anti-Israel writers and the Guardian, initiating a Press Complaints Commission complaint against a Guardian anti-Israel writer, publishing anti-Israel comments of Guardian readers to demonstrate the kind of discourse that is being generated, and publishing articles which arm CiF Watch readers in waging the battle of ideas against the delegitmizers.

-CiF Watch highlights the anti-Semitic discourse dressed up as “anti-Zionism” of certain anti-Israel writers that is published on Comment is Free. The accusation of anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry is one of the most potent weapons at our disposal. Since most of the Guardian writers are left-leaning, they pride themselves on being anti-racist and therefore the accusation of anti-Semitism is something which they take a strong exception to and vigorously refute. At the same time, the anti-Semitism of the type engaged in by these writers is much more sophisticated in that it is often dressed up in anti-Zionism to shield the writer from accusations of anti-Semitism.

-CiF Watch ridicules the Guardian. The Guardian is more than just a passive actor – it commissions articles from anti-Semites providing them with a mainstream media platform to spew their bigotry; it focuses a disproportionate amount of editorial space to the subjects of the Israel/Arab conflict, anti-Semitism, and Judaism, with the vast majority of articles carrying an anti-Israel or anti-Jewish bias; it knowingly encourages flame wars in its comment threads on Israel-related subject matter in order to generate internet traffic, and it uses its position of influence to deflect any criticism of the Guardian by employing the so-called “Livingstone formulation” (the Jews use the charge of anti-Semitism to suppress valid criticism of Israel).

DV: What are some of the things CiF Watch accomplished so far?

AL: Demonstrable reduction in anti-Israel output of the Guardian. While the Guardian continues to adopt an anti-Israel stance, the number of anti-Israel articles in Comment is Free has reduced by over half when comparing 2010 to 2009. Regular anti-Israel columnists have disappeared from the Guardian which we attribute to our campaigns to name and shame and publicly expose the anti-Israel animus.

-Improved comment moderation at the Guardian. As a result of CiF Watch’s exposure of anti-Israel hate in comment threads of Israel related articles during 2010 the Guardian limited below-the-line commenting of Israel related articles from 9-6pm UK time so as to ensure full-time moderation. It is notable that comment threads of non-Israel related material are open 24 hours a day.

Guardian partners with blog which promotes anti-Semitic imagery

The Guardian’s Comment is Free Editor, Natalie Hanman, recently announced their new partnership with blogs and sites around the web which they will highlight and cross-post.  They announced their decision as motivated by the desire to:

” break down barriers between us and them, between the Guardian’s journalism and the ever-growing wealth of other sources for interesting and informative views on the world….We hope to act as curators for the best of this content…”

The initial list of left-wing partner sites includes a blog called “The Arabist” – a site run by Issandr El Amrani,  former North Africa analyst at the International Crisis Group. 

A quick view of The Arabist took to me to a page on their site called “AIPAC Logo Remakes”.  Here are a few of their remakes:

Organized Jewish community buying the US Congress:

Dual Loyalty charge:

Of note, included in The Arabist’s blog roll is the site about the Arab world called AL-BAB, which seems to be run by Guardian CiF Editor, Brian Whitaker.

Whitaker, as documented in a recent CW post, has consistently expressed an animosity towards the Israel lobby which approaches the conspiratorial – and thus his paper’s partnership with the blog, and their inclusion of his site on their blogroll, represents an interesting, if not at all surprising, anti-Zionist alliance. 

I’ve likely only touched the surface of The Arabist, and will post more as I continue to research this site, as well as the other new Guardian partners.

The Guardian’s Chris McGreal casually advances anti-Semitic canard

Here’s a thought experiment.  Imagine you went online after the 2008 US Presidential elections and found a site with an article stating the following:

“Barack Obama was just elected President of the United States, causing concern among some who feel that his father’s Kenyan Muslim background will influence Obama to be too sympathetic to Muslim and African nations around the world, and not sufficiently loyal to the United States.” 

No doubt you’d casually dismiss such a patently offensive charge, and consider it bigoted to assume that a US citizen who happens to have African and Muslim heritage would be more loyal to foreign countries which he happens to share racial or ethnic ties with than to America.

Not only would such an argument be dismissed, but the publication advancing such an assertion would rightly be considered reactionary or racist – and certainly not progressive.

In yesterday’s Guardian, Chris McGreal, in a straight news story (Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu tells US: Palestinians blocking peace deal, May 24), commenting on Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress, added the following in the context of the implications Netanyahu’s address had for the peace process:

“[Taking] Mitchell’s place [as US Middle East Envoy] is his deputy, Dennis Ross….Ross has been criticised as being too close to Israel. His deputy at earlier negotiations, Aaron David Miller, once described him as acting as “Israel’s lawyer”.

While it might be tempting to refute such a charge by pointing to Ross’s role as President Clinton’s chief negotiator during the Camp David talks in 2000 (negotiations which came close to reaching a deal) such an argument would represent a legitimization of the charge that Ross may be “too close to Israel”, and the broader narrative that Ross, who McGreal knows is Jewish, is more loyal to Israel than to his own country – an insidious charge against Jews in the diaspora known as “dual loyalty”, one which has a long and dangerous legacy.

Indeed, even before the birth of the modern state of Israel, Jews have stood accused of not possessing sufficient loyalty to the nations where they reside.  Its contemporary manifestation however almost always centers around the charge that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own nation.  Often, such charges of dual loyalty are infused with a narrative imputing enormous power to Jewish communities which typically represent a tiny fraction of the overall population.  Such a synthesis of disloyalty on one hand, and exaggerated power on the other, allows the accuser to charge the Jewish community of working to undermine their nation – often alleging that such Jews are dangerous aliens who represent nothing short of a Fifth Column.

One of the earliest examples of this fusion of “Excessive” Jewish Power with Dual Loyalty was the suspicion in parts of medieval Christian Europe that Jews were in league with some Muslim powers.  The charge of dual loyalty could be seen in the Dreyfus Affair through the Nazi’s rise to power – and, indeed, this notion in large measure underlay the failure of European emancipation. 

In the US, during the 1920s, Henry Ford published The International JewThe World’s Problem where it was asserted, along with other calumnies, that Jews were pushing the United States towards war for financial reasons and to achieve world domination.

While, after WWII, manifestations of this charge often remained on the fringes of American society, Paul Findley, a former Republican U.S. Congressman whose 1985 They Dare to Speak Out, an attack on the “Israel lobby,” became a best-seller. In it, Findley maintained that many American Jews utilized “tactics which stifle dissent in their own communities and throughout America” to benefit Israel.

More recently, academics considered to be foreign policy “realists”, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, wrote of the “stranglehold” which the Israel “Lobby” exercises over Congress; of the “manipulation of the media”; and of a “Lobby” working hard to “squelch debate”; and argued that the 2003 Iraq war wouldn’t have been possible without the influence of the Israel lobby – which included the implicit assertion that prominent American Jews who supported the war did so not because they saw the war as in America’s best interest but due to their belief that the war was in Israel’s interest.

While paleoconservative commentators, not surprisingly, have championed this narrative – Pat Buchanan wrote in 2008 that “Israel and its Fifth Column in [Washington , DC] seek to stampede us into war with Iran” – some Liberal columnists have engaged in similar rhetoric.  For instance, Joe Klein asserted on Time Magazine’s ”Swampland” blog that Jewish neoconservatives “plumped” for the war in Iraq and are now doing the same for “an even more foolish assault on Iran” with the goal of making the world “safe for Israel.”  In the ensuing controversy, many progressive bloggers jumped to Klein’s defense.

The anti-Semitic nature of such charges have been codified by both the U.S. State Department and the EU - the former defining as anti-Semitic: “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

As with those who would question President Obama’s loyalty to the US due to his religious, racial, or ethnic heritage, McGreal’s casual suggestion that a Jewish American by the name of Dennis Ross may be more loyal to Israel due to his religious background is an ugly, xenophobic, and racist assertion.

Those who fail to unequivocally, and without qualification, condemn such a historically lethal anti-Semitic narrative – especially those who claim a progressive or liberal orientation – are guilty of supreme hypocrisy and, more importantly, a profound and shameful moral abdication. 

CiF commenter anti-Semitic tropes of the day (Jewish power and dual loyalty)

Sometimes even a single comment by a CiF reader needs to be analyzed to better understand and contextualize the frequent manifestations of ant-Semitic tropes employed by the largely progressive readership who post on the CiF comment thread.

From Simon Tisdall’s Obama faces humiliation over Middle East Talks“, Oct. 4, there was this comment, which has not been deleted.

Translation: Obama is no match for the power of Jewish Americans to subvert efforts at bringing peace to the Middle East.

It is important to understand the history of this idea: that Jews (representing less than 2% of the American population) can single-handedly thwart the desires of the President of the strongest nation on earth; and, that such American Jews are in the pockets of Israel – meaning, more loyal to a foreign power than to the country where they are citizens.

Here are passages from my post at the blog, Z Word, on a similar subject – written about such dual loyalty charges by blogger, Glenn Greenwald.

Even before the birth of the modern state of Israel, Jews have stood accused of not possessing sufficient loyalty to the nations where they reside.  Its contemporary manifestation however almost always centers around the notion of dual loyalty – a charge that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own nation.  Often, such charges of dual loyalty are infused with a narrative imputing enormous power to Jewish communities which typically represent a tiny fraction of the overall population.  Such a synthesis of disloyalty on one hand and exaggerated power on the other allows the accuser to charge the Jewish community of working to undermine their nation – often alleging that such Jews are dangerous aliens who represent nothing short of a Fifth Column.

One of the earliest examples of this fusion of “Excessive” Jewish Power with Dual Loyalty was the suspicion in parts of medieval Christian Europe that Jews were in league with some Muslim powers.  The charge of dual loyalty could be seen in the Dreyfus Affair through the Nazi’s rise to power – and, indeed, this notion in large measure underlay the failure of European emancipation.  Closer to home, in the 1920s Henry Ford published The International JewThe World’s Problem where it was asserted, along with other calumnies, that Jews were pushing the United States towards war for financial reasons and to achieve world domination.

While, after WWII, manifestations of this charge often remained on the fringes of American society, Paul Findley, a former Republican U.S. Congressman whose 1985 They Dare to Speak Out, an attack on the “Israel lobby,” became a best-seller. In it, Findley maintained that many American Jews utilized “tactics which stifle dissent in their own communities and throughout America” to benefit Israel.

More recently, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, wrote of the “stranglehold” which the Israel “Lobby” exercises over Congress; of the “manipulation of the media”; and of a “Lobby” working hard to “squelch debate”.   They argued that the 2003 Iraq war wouldn’t have been possible without the influence of the Israel lobby.

While Paleoconservative commentators, not surprisingly, have championed this narrative – Pat Buchanan wrote in 2008 that “Israel and its Fifth Column in [Washington , DC] seek to stampede us into war with Iran” – some Liberal columnists have engaged in similar rhetoric.  For instance, Joe Klein assertedon Time Magazine’s ”Swampland” blog that Jewish neoconservatives “plumped” for the war in Iraq and is now doing the same for “an even more foolish assault on Iran” with the goal of making the world “safe for Israel.”  In the ensuing controversy, many progressive bloggers jumped to Klein’s defense.

The anti-Semitic nature of such charges have been codified by both the U.S. State Department and the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia - the former defining as anti-Semitic: “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

It is clear that such narratives are increasingly advanced by those who take cover behind a progressive veneer.”

People often ask where mere criticism of Israel ends and anti-Semitism begins.  I think this is a valid question in the context of CiF Watch’s ongoing efforts to expose anti-Semitism at the Guardian – one which this post, I hope, will help to clarify.

 

Cartoon by notorious anti-Israel activist, Carlos Latuff

 

You can read my whole essay, here.

Meet “progressive” U.S. blogger, Glenn Greenwald: An American Guardianista

Let me introduce you to someone who can give CiF’s Michael Tomasky – their American columnist – a run for his money.  In fact this blogger who, oh yes, happens to be Jewish, actually exceeds Tomasky in that, in addition to his visceral malice towards most Americans, he also employs, without inhibition, classic anti-Semitic tropes.  If the Guardian ever wanted to replace Tomasky, they would be well advised to seek the services of one of the U.S. blogosphere’s most popular commentators, Glenn Greenwald, who blogs at Salon.com.  Much like the Guardian, Greenwald’s blog is highly influential among the left-wing activist elite:  His blog – apart from Salon’s general traffic – is typically ranked in the top fifteen (in overall traffic) among all liberal blogs, and in the top twenty in a category including all print and online bloggers/columnists. On 22 January 2009, Forbes named Greenwald one of the “25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media.

Greenwald’s anti-Americanism

Greenwald’s brand of anti-Americanism is truly legion – he seems to truly regard the United States as something approaching a force of evil in the world. He has argued that one could compare the U.S. war in Iraq with the Nazi conquest of Europe.  And made the incredible assertion that the liberation of the Kurds which (which should be celebrated by civilized people everywhere), can be compared to the Nazi seizure of the Sudetenland:

Greenwald said:

“It’s difficult to find an invasion in history that wasn’t supported by at least some faction of the invaded population and where that same self-justifying script wasn’t used.  That’s true even of the most heinous aggressors.  Many Czech and Austrian citizens of Germanic descent, viewing themselves as a repressed minority, welcomed Hitler’s invasion of their countries, while leaders of the independence-seeking Sudeten parties in those countries actively conspired to bring it about.”

As fellow liberal blogger Joe Klein even argued:

“This is obscene. Comparing the Kurds, who had been historically orphaned and then slaughtered with poison gas by Saddam Hussein, with Nazi-loving Sudeten Germans is outrageous. Comparing the United States to Nazi Germany is not merely disgraceful, but revelatory of a twisted, deluded soul.”

Greenwald’s anti-Americanism has continued recently, when he meditated on the similarities between the Taliban and the U.S.:

“…there are areas — significant ones — where the actions of the American Right (and, for that matter, many Democrats who supported them) are literally comparable to the Taliban and Muslim extremists generally.”

Greenwald adds:

“In what universe is it “obscene” to compare the architects of the Iraq War, the torture regime, and endless War with Muslims “to killers and terrorists”?  The comparison is true by definition.  The people who launched the attack on Iraq are guilty of an aggressive war — what the Nuremberg prosecutors condemned as the “kingpin crime” that “holds together” all other war crimes — which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings, turned millions more into refugees, and destroyed an entire nation.  The aptly named “Shock and Awe” was designed to terrify an entire civilian population into submission.”

Later in the column, he says:

“There are countless examples of America’s political leaders espousing a core mentality indistinguishable from those of the Islamic villains who are endlessly paraded before us…the similarity between the American Right’s aggression, tribalism, and violence and those of the Islamic extremists who are endlessly demonized in American political culture is an important one.”

“[Its ridiculous to argue that] Americans — even when they engage in violent, destructive and inhumane acts — are intrinsically good, well-intentioned, and even superior, and thus no comparison should be tolerated between them and those foreign [terrorists].”

Continue reading

Those “disloyal Jews”

This is cross posted at Richard Millett’s Blog

Matthew Gould: Britain's new Ambassador to Israel

Middle East Monitor (MEMO) is one of those nasty anti-Israel think-tanks which aims to win the ear of the political establishment.

It describes itself as “an independent media research institution founded in the United Kingdom to foster a fair and accurate coverage in the Western media of Middle Eastern issues and in particular the Palestine Question.”

Fair and accurate? Pull the other one.

They won’t even let you into one of their meetings if they disagree with your views.

Now MEMO asks: Is Britain’s new ambassador to Israel really going to be objective?

The question under discussion is:

“Can a Jewish ambassador to Israel ever be truly objective when advising his home government on relations with the Jewish state? That is going to be the big question for Britain’s new ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, who has just taken up residence in Tel Aviv.

This is not the first time the someone’s Jewish background has been held against them recently in the media. When respected historians Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman were appointed to the panel of the Chilcot Enquiry to investigate the Iraq War Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, wrote in The Independent:

“Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism. Such facts are not usually mentioned in the mainstream British and American media, but The Jewish Chronicle and the Israeli media have no such inhibitions, and the Arabic media both in London and in the region are usually not far behind. All five members have outstanding reputations and records, but it is a pity that, if and when the inquiry is accused of a whitewash, such handy ammunition will be available. Membership should not only be balanced; it should be seen to be balanced.”

Should being Jewish really disqualify them from all aspects of political life involving Middle Eastern matters?

And yet I wish I had a pound for the amount of times that someone’s Jewish background has been utilised to make a political point when it is to Israel’s detriment.

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Therein lies the problem

I have just finished reviewing the comments from the David Cesarani thread dealing with the vile accusation by Oliver Miles questioning the impartiality of two Jewish members of the Chilcot Inquiry.

If there was any thread that revealed the raw nature of anti-Jewish bigotry that inhabits the “Comment is Free” threads it was this. The number of comments that accused Jews of being more loyal to Israel than their host nation was simply astounding.

In the recently released JCPA report on antisemitism in US blogs, Adam Levick wrote:

One of the oldest anti-Semitic staples is that Jews are not sufficiently loyal to the countries where they reside and instead are more loyal to Israel. Indeed, this notion underlay the failure of European emancipation. From the Dreyfus Affair in France through the Nazis’ rise to power, Jews – no matter how devoted they actually were to their host countries -were viewed as outsiders lacking in national loyalty.

Such ad hominem attacks against American Jews who support Israel are common within the blogs in question. The “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism” of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia defines as anti-Semitic: “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

We will publish a more extensive post with a collection of the worst comments from the Cesarani thread in the course of the next week. In the meantime, I wanted to highlight this particular comment by petrifiedprozac below not because it was the worst of the worst – it wasn’t – but because of the casualness in which it has become conventional wisdom that Jews who support Israel have crossed some rubicon of acceptability in British society.

Through the drip drip demonization and delegitimization of Israel in the Britism media, Zionism, which in essence is a movement for the self-determination of the Jewish people, has become synonymous with the worst excesses of evil. What is becoming more and more clear is that in 21st Century multicultural Britain, to be a Jew that believes in Zionism, regardless of where one stands on the Israeli political spectrum, is an indelible stain on one’s character. The fact that Zionist Jews (who make up the overwhelming majority of British Jewry) are regarded with such disdain does not bode well for the future of British Jewry. And therein lies the problem.