Jewish Daily Forward ‘Top 50′ list includes “journalist” who promotes antisemitism

The Jewish Daily Forward 2013 ‘Top 50‘ represents their annual survey of the 50 men and women who’ve made “a significant impact on the Jewish story” over the past year, and is informed by “rules require that every one is an American citizen whose actions speak with a Jewish inflection”.  Their 2013 list includes such prolific Jewish voices as Philip Roth and Ruth Wisse – as well as a former Guardian columnist we’ve commented on quite frequently: 

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Their selection of Glenn Greenwald is explained thusly:

The biggest story of 2013, and possibly the decade, has been the exposure of the National Security Agency’s domestic and international surveillance program, including the extent of intelligence-sharing between America and Israel. At the center of this story — its conduit — is Glenn Greenwald.

As a columnist for the Guardian, Greenwald came into contact with the NSA security contractor Edward Snowden in May. Snowden was ready to reveal the extent of the agency’s spying, and Greenwald’s first story ran on June 6. At that point, Greenwald became the world’s most important journalist — though some question whether he is a journalist or an advocate.

Greenwald, 46, is based in Brazil, where he lives with his partner, but he grew up in New York and Florida and worked as a constitutional and civil rights lawyer before he started a blog in 2005 and saw his career take off.

Though his fame over the past year has been due to the NSA revelations, Greenwald’s columns, at Salon and the Guardian, frequently dealt with Israel in a critical way

Whilst the far-left orientation of the paper, which once ran a glowing profile of a prolific opponent of Israel’s continued existence known as Ali Abunimah, at least partly explains the honor they bestowed to Greenwald, their characterization of his politics as ‘critical of Israel’ represents a simply egregious deception.  

As we’ve demonstrated continually, it is not at all an exaggeration to characterize Greenwald’s hostility to Israel (and the U.S.) as similar to the hate rhetoric of Islamist extremists – a fact which may in part explain Greenwald’s defense of Hamas, Hezbollah and even, on at least one occasion, an American Al Qaeda operative.

Additionally, to get a sense of The Jewish Daily Forward’s ideological airbrush of Greenwald – employing the Guardian tactic of characterizing commentators who engage in antisemitism as merely “critical of Israel” – here is a collection passages from his columns which ‘deal with Jews in a critical way‘.

  • 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, Unclaimed Territory
  • “The dominant narrative among neocons and the media is that, deep down in his heart, [Obama] may be insufficiently devoted to Israel to be president of the United States. Has there ever been another country to which American politicians were required to pledge their uncritical, absolute loyalty the way they are, now, with Israel?” - May 13, 2008 Salon
  • If you don’t…pledge your loyalty to our policies toward Israel and to Israel, what will happen to you is what just happened to Charles Freeman. You’ll be demonized and have your career ended.” - Jan. 8, 2009, interview on Hugh Hewitt  Show
  • “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 Salon
  • “So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the U.S. Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations and has even devoted its resources to criminally prosecuting and imprisoning satellite providers merely for including Hezbollah’s Al Manar channel in their cable package.  Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources to target and punish Israel’s enemies.” – March 9, 2009, Salon
  • The real goal [of the Israel lobby], as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions. [Charles] Freeman’s critics may have scored a short-term victory in that regard, but the more obvious it becomes what is really driving these scandals, the more difficult it will be to maintain this suffocating control over American debates and American policy.” – March 11, 2009 Salon
  • “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; and that results in serious cost and harm to the United States. In doing so, they insure not only that our policies towards Israel remain firmly in place no matter the outcome of our elections, but also that those policies remain beyond the realm of what can be questioned or debated by those who want to have a political future.” – 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 Salon
  • “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 Salon
  • This is a truly disgusting spectacle…commentators — all of whom are writing well within the range of mainstream opinion on Israel — are being publicly smeared early in their careers as anti-Semites as part of a coordinated, ongoing campaign planned by Josh Block and carried out by numerous journalists with large media platforms, and aided and abetted by Jewish groups trading on their credibility to suppress debate. – Jan 19, 2012 Salon

On The Jewish Daily Forward’s history page, we are told that the paper (which originally launched as a Yiddish-language daily in 1897) has fought, over the years, for social justice, and has been “among the nation’s most eloquent defenders of democracy and Jewish rights.”

So, perhaps the paper’s editor, Jane Eisner, can explain how they can reconcile their commitment to promoting social justice and defending Jewish rights with their decision to honor an extreme ideologue who trades in explicitly racist narratives about the injurious influence of ‘disloyal’ American Jews on the body politic.

A victory for Liberalism: Glenn Greenwald leaves the Guardian!

Glenn Greenwald is leaving the Guardian.

Statement of Glenn Greenwald:

“My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved.

“The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline. 

“Because this news leaked before we were prepared to announce it, I’m not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture, but it will be unveiled very shortly;”


Statement of the Guardian’s Jennifer Lindauer:

“Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him. Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. We are of course disappointed by Glenn’s decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best.”

Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who was instrumental in disseminating NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, which highest ranking British intelligence officials claimed represented the worst national security breach in history, said he is leaving to join a “a general media outlet and news site”.  (Reports indicate that the new site is financially backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and that it has sought to hire Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who linked Snowden to Greenwald.)

Official statements by the Guardian and Greenwald aside, it is still unclear what prompted Greenwald’s departure.  Though Greenwald’s far-left, anti-American, and anti-Zionist politics were naturally a good fit ideologically with the Guardian, it remains to be seen whether the chorus of criticism on the extreme harm done to British national security inflicted by the leaks influenced Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger (who had been under pressure from GCHQ officials) to take steps to facilitate Greenwald’s resignation.

Whilst we’ll continue to report on this developing story, we of course take immense pleasure in Greenwald’s departure, whose politics were so viscerally hostile to the West that he, on more than one occasion, found common ground with terrorists, and often amplified the message of Islamist extremists by advancing the toxic narrative suggesting that the West was at ‘war with Islam’. 

We hope that those on the left arduously attempting to save their movement from Greenwald’s Red-Green Alliance style ‘anti-imperialism’ – and other egregious betrayals of everything true “liberalism”, properly understood, has historically stood for – join us in celebrating this victory over faux left political extremism.  

This blog is of course dedicated to fighting antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy, but you simply cannot separate the particular struggle against anti-Jewish racism with the broader fight in defense of the West, whose clear moral advantages in the area of democratic elections, religious tolerance, women’s rights, gay rights – and, of course, press freedom! – Greenwald tries so desperately to obfuscate.  

We are committed to the simple idea that even flawed democracies – whether in North America, Europe or the Middle East – are far preferable to their illiberal alternatives, and remain worth fighting for.   

More evidence that Glenn Greenwald is not a serious journalist

As we reported yesterday, on June 27th Glenn Greenwald addressed, via Skype, the annual U.S. ‘Socialism Conference’, a speech which was characteristically loaded with sophomoric platitudes, contemptuous diatribes directed at the U.S. government, and smears of his critics.

While you can view the entire video yourself to glimpse Greenwald’s triumphalism over his partnership with Edward Snowden, the following quote from his talk is especially worth exploring as it reveals much about his highly skewed understanding of what it means to be a journalist.

At roughly the 15 minute mark, Greenwald makes the following claim:

David Halberstam defined the measurement of good journalism as how much you anger the people in power that you’re covering…while most establishment journalists measure it by how much you please the people in power that you’re covering. And, for me, if you are pleasing the people in power with the things that you’re disclosing you may be very good at your job, but your job is not journalism.

Is that really the job of professional journalists? Should reporters at the Guardian and other news sites measure their effectiveness by the degree to which they “anger the people in power”? 

I’m sure most people working in the profession could easily refute such a facile and appallingly juvenile understanding of what it means to be a journalist, but a good answer to Greenwald’s hackneyed cliché was recently provided by a commenter beneath the line at a blog friendly to Greenwald. Here’s what the commenter wrote:

Glenn Greenwald is really full of himself these days. Good journalism is not measured by “how angry you make the people your covering.” That is a conceit that only Greenwald could come up with.

Good journalism is measured by how deeply, accurately, and objectively one covers a story or event. In doing so, a good journalist may indeed anger those he is covering. But not necessarily so. If Greenwald thinks that good journalism is only that which angers those being covered, he has a very narrow, pinched view of what constitutes journalism.

If Glenn Greenwald wants to be a political activist that is of course his right. However, those who read and fancy his commentaries at ‘Comment is Free’ must at least disabuse themselves from the increasingly absurd notion that what he’s engaged in at the Guardian even remotely resembles professional journalism.

Glenn Greenwald and the anti-American conspiratorial tradition

Here are a few paragraphs from my essay published today at PJ Media:

Glenn Greenwald is a former blogger at Salon.com and currently a columnist on civil liberties and U.S. national security issues for the Guardian. His political orientation embraces a brand of “anti-imperialism” — common within the UK far-left — informed by a palpable loathing of America, a nation characterized as a dangerous force in the world. Greenwald’s anti-Americanism is so intense that he once compared the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq to the Nazi conquest of Europe.

As is the case with many Guardian-brand commentators, Greenwald’s anti-imperialist ideological package includes a strong hostility to Israel, and a corresponding belief in the injurious influence of organized U.S. Jewry on American foreign policy in the Middle East. Indeed, Greenwald has not infrequently advanced explicitly antisemitic narratives, darkly warning of the Israel lobby’s total “stranglehold” on American policy which, he’s argued, represents a control over political debate in the U.S. so complete that it’s even eroded free speech protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution. Greenwald claims that the “real goal” of the Israel lobby is to ensure “suffocating control” on U.S. foreign policy, so that Americans aren’t even allowed to debate their country’s “indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli action.”

Greenwald also often imputes the darkest, most ignoble motives to his political opponents, once, for instance, accusing conservative Jewish columnist Charles Krauthammer of possessing a “psychopathic indifference to the slaughter of innocent people in pursuit of shadowy, unstated political goals.”

Understanding Greenwald’s imputations of bad faith and conspiratorial (often bigoted) narratives is vital in contextualizing the story which he broke at the Guardian last week about the NSA collection of phone records of Verizon users, and allegations that big tech companies granted the government access to private user information via an operation called PRISM. While significant allegations included in Greenwald’s “scoop” — such as the claim that the NSA had attained “direct access” to company servers, and the casual suggestion that the NSA has been acting illegally — don’t seem to hold up to critical scrutiny, he has also engaged in characteristically risible hyperbole in attempting to frame the issues.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Guardian deletes ALL reader comments from Glenn Greenwald’s Woolwich related posts (Updated)

A CiF Watcher recently informed us that every one of the comments beneath the line of Glenn Greenwald’s two Woolwich terror attack related commentaries disappeared without warning.  

Greenwald’s posts (‘Was the London killing of a British soldier ‘terrorism?’, May 23, and ‘Andrew Sullivan, terrorism and the art of distortion, May 25) both elicited an extremely large volume of comments, all of which at some point disappeared, prompting Greenwald to write the following beneath the posts.

For reasons I’ll let the Guardian explain, all of the comments to all of the columns and articles posted on the London attack were deleted, and the comment sections then closed. I hope that won’t happen to today’s column here, as the topics discussed here are not really about the attack but the broader debate about terrorism. But it’s possible that it will happen again. Those wanting to post comments should be aware of this possibility before spending your time and energy to write one.

Additionally, the comment function seems to have been turned off on every other Woolwich related commentary we could find at CiF, even beneath a post by the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott which addressed the paper’s coverage of the attack.

Below Greenwald’s brief explanation, the Guardian has added the following:

Comments have been removed for legal reasons. Further explanation of UK law around active court cases here

The link takes you to a post by Bella Mackie, from over a year ago, titled ‘Why we sometimes turn off comments‘, which cites the Guardian’s director of editorial legal services, Gill Phillips.  Here is his explanation:

As publishers we are legally responsible for all the output that we produce whether it be news stories, comment above or below the line, and our tweets etc. This applies equally to matters of contempt as it does to matters of defamation.

Section 1 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 states that it is a contempt of court to publish material that creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice in proceedings from the period that a defendant is arrested to the date that they are sentenced or found not guilty of an offence. This is known as the active period. This provision is designed to ensure that people get a fair trial and applies once anyone has been arrested. Section 1 creates a “strict liability” offence, so intent is irrelevant.

Legally speaking, charging a suspect has no particular significance in terms of what can or cannot be reported because the active period starts on arrest. Practically speaking however, it can be said that the risks of adversely affecting a trial increase once someone has been charged, particularly with a serious offence because (i) you know there will be a trial; and (ii) you know that the trial will be before a jury; (iii) and you know that the trial will take place sooner rather than later. The closer the trial gets, arguably the greater the risk because matter will start to stick in the minds of potential jurors.

The sort of matters that traditionally have been held to be in contempt include (i) publishing anything that suggests the defendants are in fact guilty or prejudges the outcome; (ii) publishing “bad character” material or previous convictions about them; (iii) publishing derogatory matter about them; (iv) publishing any material/evidence which it is possible the jury would not be told about.

We have to be particularly cautious about tweets and about “below the line” discussions of matters which are not pre-moderated and where we cannot expect members of the public to know the subtleties of the law of contempt.

There is a defence to contempt for “fair and accurate” court reports that protects us for example in terms of reporting the Leveson inquiry, providing we do so “fairly and accurately”. Often below-the-line comments do not simply “fairly and accurately” report what was said as opposed to passing comment on it so, as we have responsibilities as the publisher of all the material on our website (whether above or below the line), we do have to be very careful about allowing comments on Leveson pieces that touch on or refer to anyone who has been arrested. Generally speaking therefore, given that we would not want to run the risk of prejudicing someone’s right to a fair trial, it is sensible for us to maintain a situation where we restrict comments on pieces once people have been arrested because of the dangers of people posting prejudicial remarks.”

Mackie then adds additional possible reasons why CiF may turn comments off, none of which seem to apply in this case.

So, did the Guardian remove all of the comments beneath Greenwald’s commentary – and turn off comments for the other Woolwich related CiF pieces – for fear of prejudicing the future trial of Michael Olumide Adebolajo and the other suspects?

Greenwald has been uncharacteristically silent about the matter on Twitter, but we’ll do our best to try keeping you updated on this strange decision by Guardian editors as more facts become available. 

UPDATE: ‘Comment is Free’ editor Natalie Hanman just posted an explanation why comments were turned off for the Woolwich related commentary. Here it is:

There has been some confusion from commenters as to why we have turned off the ability to comment on Comment is free articles about the Woolwich attack. In an ideal world, we would allow our readers to debate all of the articles we run on the site, but we felt it was sensible for us to restrict comments on these pieces because once people have been arrested there is a risk of contempt of court if users post prejudicial remarks about the case. Following consultation with our lawyers and community moderators, we will endeavour from now on, where resources allow, to have one premoderated thread on the topic open each day. Today’s article from Boya Dee is here.

 

The Rage, Relativism and Racism of Glenn Greenwald

The following was originally published at the blog Jacobinism, and is being reposted here with the author’s permission

“Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,

All centuries but this, and every country but his own…”
- W. S. Gilbert 

SHOT 6/8/08The ACLU annual membership conference in Washington, D.C.

For a commentator who gets as exercised about the killing of innocent Muslims as Glenn Greenwald does, he has had precious little to say about the ongoing catastrophe in Syria. That is, until Monday 6 May. 

After more than two years of an increasingly vicious civil war that has so far claimed the lives of an estimated 80,000 Syrians, events took a particularly ugly turn last week. On Saturday 4, news began to filter out of sectarian massacres committed by regime loyalists over the previous two days in the coastal city of Banias and the neighbouring village of al-Bayda. Graphic pictures depicting the piled corpses of men, women and small children were greeted with a wave of revulsion amid unconfirmed estimates that between 60 and 100 people had been murdered at both sites. Meanwhile, reports and allegations that the regime had begun using sarin and other unspecified chemical agents against rebel forces and civilians continued to emerge, intensifying the debate about whether or not Obama’s “red line” had been crossed and what on earth to do about it if it had.

Then on Sunday March 5, Israel apparently rocketed government positions inside Syria, seemingly with impunity and from Lebanese airspace. Although Israel has not taken public responsibility for the attack, it was widely reported that the targeted strikes were aimed at the destruction of shipments of Fateh-110 rockets being held in and around Damascus, en route from Iran to Lebanese Shi’ite terror group Hezbollah. Dozens of soldiers loyal to Assad’s brutal Ba’athist dictatorship were killed in the process.

After more than two years of silence on the subject Greenwald evidently decided that a red line of his own had been crossed and that enough was enough. So he drew himself up, approached his podium at The Guardian and declared:

Few things are more ludicrous than the attempt by advocates of US and Israeli militarism to pretend that they’re applying anything remotely resembling “principles”. Their only cognizable “principle” is rank tribalism: My Side is superior, and therefore we are entitled to do things that Our Enemies are not.

Greenwald, it transpired to the surprise of no-one, was not particularly interested in the horrors of the Syrian civil war – neither the butchery unleashed by Assad’s regime in Banias and al-Bayda nor the appalling human rights crisis afflicting much of the country warranted so much as a murmur.

What irks him is that those seeking to defend or justify Israel’s very brief and limited involvement in the conflict should presume to offer a moral justification for her behaviour when, so far as Greenwald can tell, their reasoning is nothing more honourable than a naked and single-minded chauvinism rooted in an unjustifiable Western exceptionalism.

In support of this contention, Greenwald defies those he calls “Israeli defenders” to defend equivalent (theoretical) actions taken by Iran or Syria on the same grounds of self-interest, or to condemn Israel’s nuclear arsenal with the same vehemence reserved for Iran’s ambitions. Stretching the already elastic logic of this argument to its limit, he even implies that those who defend Israel while denouncing Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan (the victims of whom Greenwald describes as “incidental”) are guilty of double-standards.

The use of this kind of shabby relativist equivalence to denigrate Western democracies and excuse the actions of terrorists and dictators is par for the course on certain sections of the self-proclaimed anti-Imperialist Left. But, oddly, Greenwald is indignant that anyone should presume to characterise his views in this way. “The ultimate irony,” he complains…

…is that those [like Greenwald] who advocate for the universal application of principles to all nations are usually tarred with the trite accusatory slogan of “moral relativism”. But the real moral relativists are those who believe that the morality of an act is determined not by its content but by the identity of those who commit them: namely, whether it’s themselves or someone else doing it….[thus] Israel and the US (and its dictatorial allies in Riyadh and Doha) have the absolute right to bomb other countries or arm rebels in those countries if they perceive doing so is necessary to stop a threat but Iran and Syria (and other countries disobedient to US dictates) do not. This whole debate would be much more tolerable if it were at least honestly acknowledged that what is driving the discussion are tribalistic notions of entitlement and nothing more noble.

Hmm. It seems to me that the only reason Greenwald is perplexed by accusations of relativism is that he doesn’t understand what the term means. Moral relativism holds that there is no objective means of deciding right and wrong so, since countries and their respective cultures cannot be judged by any meaningfully objective standard, they must simply be understood as different, rather than comparatively better or worse.

Pursuing this logic, then, a culture which tortures and imprisons dissidents is no worse than one which protects free assembly and expression; a culture which publicly hangs homosexuals from cranes is no worse than one which enshrines their equality and rights as individuals in law; a culture which confines women to the home and denies them the vote is no worse than one in which they run companies and head governments. Lest this sounds like a caricature, it ought to be remembered that Michel Foucault eulogised the Iranian revolution on the grounds that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s nascent theocracy was simply a different (and in many ways superior) “regime of truth”.

Greenwald’s steadfast refusal to arrange countries into a moral hierarchy explicitly endorses the complete suspension of moral judgement required by the above. As does his conclusion that there can be no reason for assigning cultural superiority to free societies, nor justifying acts of violence committed in their defence, besides an “adolescent, self-praising, tribalistic license” on the part of those fortunate enough to live in them. To Greenwald, it seems, arguments about cultural superiority are no better than a debate between competing, morally indistinguishable subjectivities, each as valid or invalid as the next.It is this thinking that allows Greenwald to endorse Mehdi Hasan’s assertion of a direct equivalence between a theocracy aiding a genocidal dictator by shelling rebels to further its own interests, with the actions of a democracy safeguarding its security and the lives of its citizens from Hezbollah rockets:
tweetShiraz Maher is correct to identify this as tawdry relativism. Greenwald, on the other hand, misdescribes Hasan’s position (and by extension, his own) as universalist because it seems he doesn’t understand what that term means either.

The universal application of moral and ethical principles requires the organisation of cultures into a moral hierarchy, according to the degree to which objectively good precepts and values are upheld. These might include a commitment to rationalist (and therefore secular) government; the protection of individual human rights, irrespective of race, gender or sexuality; the defence of free expression and free assembly and a free press; the independence of judicial process and so on.

Those of us who recognise the universal importance and desirability of the above, have little difficulty in ascribing inferiority to a culture that is – conversely – obscurantist, theocratic, misogynistic, racist and oppressive, such as that of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The recognition of this fact is the most elementary form of solidarity one can show to its embattled populace, enslaved by a tyrannical regime and its religious codes, who yearn for modernity.

However, it must be noted that, elsewhere, Greenwald has written passionately and extensively in defence of free speech. This is odd given the above, since it suggests an acknowledgement on his part that (a) freedom of expression has an axiomatic, objective moral worth and that (b) consequently, a society in which expression is restricted is inferior to one in which it is comparably free.

Greenwald has also criticised the US detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on the grounds that they deny those held there the protection of the rule of law and due process. But if these are markers by which it is possible to judge the American administration’s commitment to human rights, why are they not also suitable markers by which to judge that of the Iranian or Syrian regimes, whose behaviour by these standards is demonstrably much worse? And if these markers are deemed legitimate points of universalist comparison by Greenwald, then why not others such as the emancipation of women, and the protection of LGBTQ rights? And why the reluctance to judge, and where necessary indict, cultures accordingly?

One will search Greenwald’s writing for coherence in vain because, although he espouses moral relativism when it suits his agenda, as we’ve just seen, he’ll vehemently disown it with his very next breath. His is not a thoughtful, principled commitment to a philosophy he’s prepared to defend or apply consistently. Rather, his geopolitical outlook might be best described as a half-understood kind of dime-store Third Worldism; a gruesome combination of a thoroughgoing Western masochism with an ostensible compassion for the wretched of the earth that masks the same racist condescension and contempt typified by the worst kind of colonialist paternalism.

Thus, the planet is divided between the sentimentalised poor of the Global South and the brutal, arrogant power of the modern West. The former struggle valiantly beneath the jackboot of the latter’s economic and military hegemony, yet are ennobled by a humble commitment to primitive – and often deeply regressive – traditions, and confinement within a pitiable victimhood. Any resistance to the hegemonic power of the West or rejection of modernity is therefore held to be, by its very nature, progressive and laudable, irrespective of how barbarous the groups/individuals/regimes in question, or how retrogressive their aims. As Greenwald’s firm opposition to the French intervention in Mali and his unbending defence of the Iranian theocracy’s right to apocalyptic weaponry demonstrate, there seems to be no third world regime or militia repellent or cruel enough that he would deny them his solidarity should they come into conflict with the West’s democracies.

Greenwald can only withhold judgement of Iran’s dismal human rights record or Syria’s campaign of sectarian slaughter by affirming that Persians and Arabs are simply not culturally suited to the liberties and protections derived from Enlightenment thought to which Westerners rightly feel they are entitled. Instead, they must be perceived as childlike, simple and sometimes savage peoples whose cultural proclivities demonstrate a preference for subjugation, violence, injustice and fear over liberty and peace, and who are incapable of understanding egalitarian concepts of human rights due to their uniquely ‘Western’ character.

Greenwald is of course free to believe this if he wishes, but I can hardly think of a more reactionary or racist point of view. And this manichean thinking is only made possible by the application of an indefensible double-standard, one which demands that the actions of the West be judged according to a quasi-Biblical moral absolutism, whilst the actions of those in Third World, no matter how egregious, are afforded a relativist justification, and indulgently excused in the name of ‘resistance’:
tweet

In the end, for all his righteous fulminating about injustice, what animates Greenwald is not a sincere and fair-minded commitment to universalist principles and norms, but simply a myopic and visceral hatred of the West, America and – especially – Israel. This is self-criticism, unfettered by perspective or coherent moral philosophy, and thereby transformed into a disabling self-loathing, manifested in unseemly displays of narcissistic self-flagellation.

With Israel, as with the West in general, no concession will ever be enough; no achievement will ever be deemed praiseworthy; no atonement, no matter how abject, will be sufficient. And if Israel should fall to her enemies, Greenwald would doubtless affect a tone of gravest sorrow and announce that, alas, once again, the Jews had brought it on themselves, just as America had done when she was assaulted by theocratic fascists on 9/11. But on that count, for the time being – at least as long as Israel possesses nuclear weapons with which to safeguard her security and survival, and the anti-Semitic theocracy in Iran does not – Greenwald’s spiteful schadenfreude will have to wait.

Those who advance the contemptible argument that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians demonstrates that Jews have ‘learned nothing’ from Auschwitz contrive to ignore the evidence before their eyes. It is surely because of this experience more than any other that Israel was established as a secular parliamentary democracy in which minority rights and free expression remain protected to this day. This despite being surrounded by peoples and regimes hostile to her very existence since inception, not one of which comes close to affording its citizens the freedoms Israel does.

Which is not to say I agree with everything Israel or America or any other democracy does. Rather that as an emancipatory model, free and democratic societies possess a worth above the immediate benefits they bestow on their own citizens and beyond the reach of the crimes they commit. The space provided for dissent and disputation allows for self-criticism and evolution; political accountability and an independent judiciary provide oversight, punishment and redress. The separation of religion and the State ensure policy will be decided on the basis of reason and argument rather than the enforcing of religious dogma. It is this framework that has allowed the West’s democracies to evolve and grow in ways that closed societies cannot, thereby facilitating progress.

The regimes in Iran and Syria may make no such claim in defence of their survival. On the contrary, their very existence ought to be an offence to anyone who cares about individual liberty, as Glenn Greenwald claims to do. And it is for this reason that self-interested actions taken by these regimes to further their interests are not remotely morally equivalent to those taken by democracies to protect their people. That is, unless, like Glenn Greenwald, you happen to be a moral relativist.

Glenn Greenwald’s latest diatribe against Israel’s supporters, and others he detests

- “The outgoing Salon blogger can’t seem to have an honest discussion without accusing his debate partners of malicious motives”. (Foreign Policy Magazine, Aug. 16, 2012, 

Glenn Greenwald doesn’t seem much interested in the vexing moral questions naturally elicited by the ongoing bloodbath in Syria. The Arab dictator’s bombing of civilians, and the routine use of torture,  summary executions, and sexual violence against women and children by troops and ethnic groups loyal to the regime don’t weigh heavily on his conscience.   

And, whilst the putative topic of Glenn Greenwald latest CiF piece would suggest an interest in Israel’s recent, brief military foray into the conflict, he characteristically doesn’t attempt to engage in anything approaching serious critical scrutiny over IAF operations to destroy sophisticated Iranian made weaponry heading to Hezbollah.   Similarly, he doesn’t bother devoting space in his column calculating the political, military and political factors at play in the regional threat faced by the Jewish state from Bashar al-Assad and his Shiite Islamist allies, Hezbollah and Iran.

Additionally, Greenwald doesn’t take a stab at weighing the costs and benefits of Israeli military action relative to the alternative of simply allowing the illegal militia occupying much of Lebanon – which has already accumulated an arsenal of thousands of sophisticated rockets – free rein to further threaten Israeli communities, and what remains of Lebanon’s tattered national sovereignty.

Indeed, in reading Glenn Greenwald it seems clear that he doesn’t much fancy such serious, critical analyses of the real and often vexing political and moral decisions faced by democratically elected heads of state.

Greenwald’s inspiration – the blogging muse which constantly ignites his frenetic prose – lay in deconstructing the confidence and righteousness of democracy’s defenders, and those otherwise possessed with the moral clarity which he seems to so detest.

He informs us in quite vivid language, yet in tellingly vague military terms, about of the damage caused by Israel’s bombs  - which he notes are “massive” - and the IDF’s military objective communicated by “Israeli defenders” – and, evidently, only “Israeli defenders” – of targeting weapons provided by Iran that were to end up in the hands of Hezbollah.

And, he then – again, avoiding directly weighing in on the policy decision at hand – evokes a straw man while lashing out at supporters of Israel’s action.

Because people who cheer for military action by their side like to pretend that they’re something more than primitive “might-makes-right” tribalists, the claim is being hauled out that Israel’s actions are justified by the “principle” that it has the right to defend itself from foreign weapons in the hands of hostile forces.

Greenwald then descends further into the absurd:

Or, for that matter, if Syria this week attacks a US military base on US soil and incidentally kills some American civilians (as Nidal Hasan did), and then cites as justification the fact that the US has been aiding Syrian rebels, would any establishment US journalist or political official argue that this was remotely justified?

Of course, Nidal Hasan didn’t “incidentally” kill some American civilians.  He entered the Soldier Readiness Processing Center in Fort Hood, TX in 2009 and, armed with several high-caliber assault rifles, shouted “Allahu Akbar!” while open firing on a room crammed with fellow soldiers. Hasan “sprayed bullets at soldiers in a fanlike motion” before aiming at individual soldiers.  Nidal didn’t attack a “military base”, but engaged in a cold-blooded execution of as many people as possible.

Greenwald’s contemptuous critique continues:

Few things are more ludicrous than the attempt by advocates of US and Israeli militarism to pretend that they’re applying anything remotely resembling “principles”. Their only cognizable “principle” is rank tribalism: My Side is superior, and therefore we are entitled to do things that Our Enemies are not

One could say quite reasonably that this is the pure expression of the crux of US political discourse on such matters: they must abide by rules from which we’re immune, because we’re superior. So much of the pseudo-high-minded theorizing emanating from DC think thanks and US media outlets boils down to this adolescent, self-praising, tribalistic license: we have the right to do X, but they do not. 

This whole debate would be much more tolerable if it were at least honestly acknowledged that what is driving the discussion are tribalistic notions of entitlement and nothing more noble.

Greenwald, a review of his posts on the subject of terrorism suggests, doesn’t merely advance the post-modern cliché that ‘one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, but believes that the term “terrorism” is racially loaded and that the suggestion of serious moral distinctions between political actors represents an expression of primitive triumphalism.  

Greenwald not only isn’t prepared to acknowledge that regimes in Damascus, Khartoum, Pyongyang, or Tehran (for instance) may have less regard for human rights than those in Washington, D.C. or Jerusalem, but that those possessing such beliefs are necessarily compromised by intellectually and morally debilitating ethnocentric biases.

As such, for Greenwald, the suggestion of considerable moral differences between Syria and Israel is necessarily loaded with the pathos of “tribalistic license”.

A review of his latest post, as well as much of his work to date, demonstrates that he’s not prepared to engage in serious thinking regarding the threats posed in the region by the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis.  Nor does he possess the capacity to conduct a broader analysis of the Middle East – in the context of the Arab upheavals in general and the Syrian war in particular – and dissect the continuing democracy deficit in the region.

In his latest 800 word diatribe against Israel’s “supporters”, Greenwald doesn’t even briefly suggest why Israel’s limited military operation in Syria wasn’t justified, because such quotidian concerns – relating to how citizens of democratic nations can most effectively, and most ethically, defend themselves from hostile state and non-state actors – don’t seem to much interest him.

For a careful, sober political survey of the Israeli-Arab (and Israeli-Islamist) conflict, and the broader issues concerning the “Arab Spring”, you’ll have to seek the commentary of serious analysts - those more concerned with honestly assessing the political dynamics of the region than with engaging in ad hominem and often hysterical attacks against their opponents. 

The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald again smears pro-Israel American Jews

While the baffling support given to a far-right conservative (deemed hostile to women’s rights, gay rights and civil rights) named Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary by many on the far-left represents an interesting topic, the narrative advanced by Hagel defender Glenn Greenwald is especially worth exploring.

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Greenwald’s latest post, titled ‘Who paid for the Log Cabin Republicans’ anti-Hagel NYT ad?‘, primarily focuses on the question of who’s funding an anti-Hagel ad published by a well-known gay Republican group in the US (the Log Cabin Republicans), but also touches on one of Greenwald’s favorite themes: the alleged “stifling of debate” by the Israel lobby.

After floating the theory that a pro-Israeli lobby group may have funded the Log Cabin Republican ad, Greenwald pivots to one of his favorite targets:

While I agree with those who insist that a Hagel nomination would not meaningfully change administration policy, the goal of the anti-Hagel smear campaign is to ensure that there can be no debate and no diversity of views on Israel when it comes to top government officials.

As we noted, Greenwald similarly complained last week, on MSNBC, about the supposed “smear” campaign against Hagel by the pro-Israel lobby, and accused such activists of having a “stranglehold” over the American debate about Israel.

More importantly, it’s impossible to properly contextualize Greenwald’s complaint about the injurious effect of the Israel lobby on the US body politic without recalling previous comments by Greenwald which evoke the same theme.

Here are a few examples from his old blog at Salon.com:

“So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.” 

Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources [by the Israel lobby] to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”

The real goal [of the Israel lobby], as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions. [Charles] Freeman’s critics may have scored a short-term victory in that regard, but the more obvious it becomes what is really driving these scandals, the more difficult it will be to maintain this suffocating control over American debates and American policy.”

“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.”

I have written previously about the dark history of the broader narrative Greenwald advances about the undue influence of the pro-Israeli/Jewish lobby, but beyond the odiousness of imputing such malevolence, and ill motives, to such (largely Jewish) pro-Israel activists, there is a fatal flaw in his argument.

When pro-Israel advocates in the US contact the media to make their voice heard, lobby for or against congressional legislation, or contact their representatives to express their concerns about a nominee for an important position, they are merely exercising their First Amendment rights as all Americans have the right to do.  

They aren’t “stifling”, squelching, or exercising a stranglehold over debate – and, despite the dark, conspiratorial musings of some, don’t possess the power to do so – but, rather, are participating in the political process, confident in their freedom to do so as citizens who are equal under the law.

Pro-Israel activists (and Jews as such) in America who legally use the levers of democracy to express their concerns about Chuck Hagel – regardless of the merits of their argument – are not denying the rights of Glenn Greenwald, Peter Beinart, Andrew Sullivan, Richard Silverstein, and others, to advocate on behalf of Hagel.

In short, free speech isn’t a zero-sum game.

Moreover, plain decency – and, it would seem, a liberal sense of fairness – would at the very least demand that Hagel’s defenders debate the issue on its merits, and avoid engaging in what amounts to nothing more than a vicious ad hominem attack on the Jewish community.

The stranglehold on the US by one lobby: One minute with Glenn Greenwald

The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald is evidently traveling and has been unable to write over the last couple of days, but was decent enough to post a few clips from his appearance on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes, ‘The Israel Lobby’s smear campaign and Dark Zero Thirty, Dec. 22.

Greenwald was on the show to discuss (among other issues) the possible nomination of Chuck Hagel as US Defense Secretary.  Talk of Hagel’s nomination has come under fire due to the Nebraska Senator’s views on Israel and the Middle East. 

In this brief clip which follows (which I edited from a longer segment on the MSNBC show) Greenwald is seen reacting to a speech Hagel gave about the 2nd Lebanon War on the Senate floor (on July 31, 2006), in which he demanded that “the sickening slaughter on both sides must end”.  

Though it’s arguably true that Israel’s supporters in the US have indeed over-reacted to the possible Hagel nomination, MSNBC’s  Hayes framed the row in a manner which allowed Greenwald the opportunity to denounce the Israel lobby, and he didn’t disappoint.

What you’re “allowed” to say:

In the first 15 seconds, Greenwald claims that you’re “allowed” to criticize Israeli policy more in Israel than you are in the United States, representing one of the central conceits of such critics: that pro-Israel lobbyists stifle debate.  

Of course, Greenwald, MJ Rosenberg, Andrew Sullivan as with Chuck Hagel, Congressman Keith Ellison and Dennis Kucinich, and academics like Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, are “allowed” to be as critical as they’d like about Israel.

However, defenders of Israel are equally entitled to voice their views and use the democratic process in hopes that their side prevails over US policy decisions.  

The fact that critics of Israel face moral opprobrium doesn’t mean their voice is being silence. Freedom of speech does not require that such speech be immune from criticism.

Israel bombs ‘a longstanding ally’ of the US.

At the 25 second mark Greenwald complains how unfair it is that Senator Hagel wasn’t “allowed” to criticize Israel for bombing “a longstanding ally of the United States” – which refers to Lebanon (in the context of the 2nd Lebanon War) and conveniently ignores that Israel was at war, not with the government of Lebanon, but with the Iranian backed Islamist terror movement, Hezbollah.  

US public opinion was overwhelmingly supportive of Israel’s action, which was prompted by Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel, as well as a cross-border raid in which they killed eight Israeli soldiers and abducted two others.

Israel wasn’t bombing an ally. The citizens of an ally, Lebanon, were being held hostage to the terror committed on its soil by an illegal militia funded, armed and trained by Iran.

Israel lobby has a “stranglehold” over the American debate about Israel 

At the 40 second mark he goes even further, claiming there is a “stranglehold” over US debate about Israel.  In fact, Greenwald has used the term “stranglehold” before in the same context.

“So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.” – Greenwald, Salon.com, 2009

Greenwald, in the 2009 quote, is referring to Hezbollah’s TV station, Al-Manar, which was banned by the US in 2006 – labelled a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity.  

Greenwald believes not only that the Israel lobby controls the debate about Israel in the US, but, evidently, that is also controls much of US national security policy as well.

Interestingly, Al-Manar has also been banned in France and Germany, and to varying extents in the UK, Canada, Netherlands, and Australia, which would evidently suggest, per Greenwald’s logic, that the Israel lobby has pulled off a feat that Hezbollah could not – achieving a truly global penetration.  

In fairness, Greenwald likely would not buy into theories about Zionist global conspiracies.  

However, when you carelessly use the language and tropes of those who do, you further legitimize their toxic narratives about the dangers of Jewish control. 

In support of Jews goin’ rogue

Is it possible that the whole world is wrong and [the Jews] are right?”

– Ahad Ha-‘Am, 1893 (about the blood libels)

Kofi Anan, 2002 (about the Jenin “massacre”)

“How impoverished a world, when the answer to that question is no.”

- Richard Landes

Glenn Greenwald believes in ‘American Exceptionalism’.

He is a firm believer that, contrary to what most Americans think, his country is exceptionally oppressive to its perceived enemies, both foreign and domestic.  The America conjured by Greenwald daily on his blog is that of an imperialist hegemon exporting ‘terror’ around the globe - a putative democracy which stifles dissent and denies true freedom to its citizens.

One day historians may look back at the likes of Greenwald and marvel at the political dynamic in early 21st century America which influenced affluent and privileged Americans – those blessed with freedom and prosperity unimaginable to most – to be so hyper-critical of their own nation and possessed with a seeming religious belief in their country’s immutable sin.

While it would be easy to contextualize Greenwald’s hostility towards Israel – and the ‘Comment is Free’ columnist’s history of employing Judeophobic tropes in the service of criticizing the state’s American supporters – in a manner imputing antisemitism, a different conclusion should be reached.  Though, admittedly, he seems to have accepted narratives about the dangers of Jewish power which are often advanced by anti-Jewish racists, his anti-Zionism seems to more accurately represent a political derivative of his anti-Americanism.

The American public’s overwhelming support for Israel likely only indicates, to Greenwald, (ala Noam Chomsky) imperialist overlap.

To Greenwald, both nations’ proclivities to ignore the fiction known as the “international community” and go their own way in protecting their interests and in refusing to bow before the UN designated authorities on moral behavior (in sober recognition of the selective justice pursued by such arbiters of civility) makes them especially worthy of opprobrium.

Indeed, quite recently the Guardian blogger expressed concern that, contrary to conventional wisdom on which nations in the world should be criticized for flagrantly defying international norms, it is the stubbornness of Israel (and the U.S.) which should rightly earn them the status of “rogue states”. (A short quiz on the US, Israel on ‘rogue nation’ status, CiF, Dec. 4).

Their sins, per Greenwald?  Opposing Palestinians observer status at the UN, opposition to calls for international oversight of Israel’s nuclear facilities, and Netanyahu’s decision to allow for zoning and planning for future Israeli homes between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.

For Greenwald, it simply isn’t possible that the whole world is wrong – that granting the Palestinians a road to statehood independent of negotiations and without assurances as to the nascent state’s peaceful intent, is advisable – and Israel and the U.S. are right.

Nor, evidently, can Greenwald conceive why Israel may be a bit suspicious that Arab-led efforts to neuter Israel’s military advantages may not be motivated by the best of intentions.

And, of course, Greenwald is baffled as to why the Jewish state is hesitant to defer to the collective wisdom of leaders in Brussels, London and NYC before engaging in planning decisions near their capital.

Though these all represent unique questions, they are also tied in to a larger dynamic often at play within the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ – a tendency of those who fancy themselves anti-colonialists to engage in a form of soft colonialism which continually fancies in haughtily lecturing Jews on what they need to do, and what they need not do, to pacify their enemies and achieve peace.

The history of such imperiousness attitudes in the face of determined Jewish will predates, by quite a few years, Glenn Greenwald and the New Left – and indeed the evocation of the ‘obstinate Jew’ underlay much of early Christian anti-Judaism.

In its modern (20th century) form Jews were asked why they stubbornly infested a continent instead of packing up and leaving for Palestine – to be followed, decades later, with the inverse query: why don’t they get the hell out of Palestine and return to their European cities of “origin”?

Thousands of Jews ignored warnings to avoid emigrating to Palestine during WWII, as the consensus was that the land couldn’t possibly economically support such a massive influx of impoverished refugees.

Jews were told to delay, or permanently avoid, declaring statehood in 1948, as Western leaders were certain that they’d be horribly defeated by numerically superior enemy forces.

Levi Eshkol was told not to launch a strike against Arab armies, which were amassed along their border in June 1967 and planning a catastrophic attack, but to wait instead for the international community to intervene.  Golda was told much the same in the days leading up to the surprise Arab attack on Yom Kippur in 1973.

The voices of wisdom and protocol were certain that Menachem Begin absolutely should not strike Iraq’s nuclear facility in 1981.

Oslo, Israelis were assured by statesmen and diplomats, would moderate Palestinians and reduce their motivation for terror.  The ‘Land for Peace’ formula, they were told, was simply axiomatic.  

In 2001, when Israel denied it had committed a massacre in Jenin, the spokesman for the ‘international community’ – and more than a few journalists – scolded Jews for their pomposity: How could it be that Israel was right and the whole world wrong?

When a few stubborn scholars began to critically examine the  death of Mohammad al-Durrah, many stood aghast at the audacity of questioning what everyone simply knew to be true.

Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon would make Hezbollah less powerful, they said. And, similar territorial concessions in Gaza would neuter Hamas, denying the Islamist group their raison d’être – and would surely bring peace to Israel’s south.  

The roots of radicalism lay in occupation we were and still are told – a political calculus not scrutinized even after thousands of rockets have been launched from unoccupied land.  And, of course, defending yourselves against such premeditated acts of terror emanating from sovereign Palestinian territory will only radicalize the radicals. 

Through it all, the secular sages who continue to grace the mainstream media pages have never waned in their beliefs: that they know what’s best, their ‘tough love’ will save Jews from themselves.

Yet, despite being an evidently stubborn lot – or, more likely, because of it – Jews (not unlike Americans) are alive and quite well, proud, prosperous, masters of their fate and still audaciously goin’ rogue. 

Glenn Greenwald criticizes Bibi AND Obama’s “policies” of intentionally killing innocent Muslims

“Every person has their own definition of terrorism.” - Glenn Greenwald.

Glenn Greenwald makes characteristically hysterical claims about Israel and the US in his latest ‘Comment is Free’ piece titled Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza‘:

Here are the most egregious examples:

1. He claims that “overwhelming Israeli force slaughters innocent Palestinians, including children”.

There’s nothing new here in Greenwald’s use of the most unserious hyperbole to impute the most violent and malevolent motives to Israel. Greenwald ignores the fact that Israel uses unprecedented restraint in targeting only Hamas leaders and terror targets, which would explain that the death toll in two days of fierce fighting is 19 Palestinians and 3 Israelis. 

2. According to Greenwald, Israeli attacks on Palestinians “are preceded (and followed) by far more limited rocket attacks into Israel which kill a much smaller number, rocket attacks which are triggered by various forms of Israeli provocations.”

It’s unclear which Israeli provocations Greenwald is referring to, but Hamas’s main grievance against Israel, per the words of their leaders and their very founding charter (which, evidently Greenwald hasn’t bothered to read), has been the Jewish state’s stubborn desire to exist.  

3. Greenwald claims that”most US media outlets are petrified of straying too far from pro-Israel orthodoxies….US criticism of Israel is impossible for all the usual domestic political reasons.”

I’ve documented numerous examples of Greenwald advancing the most bigoted rhetoric about US Jews’ supposed control of the US government and media, and this latest charge is nothing new.  Indeed it is relatively mild compared to his previous smears, such as his warning about the “absolute”, “suffocating” “Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy” by the Jewish lobby.

4. Greenwald writes: “Provocations from the Israelis were geared toward disrupting an imminent peace deal with Hamas.”

Greenwald is referring to a temporary truce  - which was being brokered in the days following an attack (with an anti-tank missile) which injured four Israelis – motivated by Hamas’s concern regarding the damage IDF attacks was inflicting on their military capacity. More broadly, however, it takes either extreme naiveté, a considerable degree of hostility towards Israel, or a cynical indifference to historical reality to make the serious argument that Hamas is, or could ever be, a peace seeking movement.

5.  Greenwald argues that the Obama administration “supported the Israeli” attack on Hamas terror chief Ahmed Jabari, as it represented the model of “extra-judicial assassination[s] – accompanied by the wanton killing of whatever civilians happen to be near the target, often including children – which is a staple of the Obama presidency.” “Obama…could not possibly condemn Israeli actions in Gaza without indicting himself…Extra-judicial assassinations, once roundly condemned by US officials, are now a symbol of the Obama presidency”.  “There is now a virtually complete convergence between US and Israeli aggression”

This later paragraph is where the convergence between Greenwald’s anti-Americanism and his anti-Zionism is most clear.

Greenwald is defined by his opposition to the policy of killing Islamist terrorists (who are planning terror attacks against American civilians) in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but his commentary also suggests that President Obama is an enthusiastic supporter of killing innocent civilians in these regions.  According to Greenwald, Obama is muted in his response to Israel’s violent acts because he lacks the moral authority to issue a credible condemnation.

To understand the extent of Greenwald’s obsession with Obama’sdrone war, it would be helpful to review a piece he wrote before joining ‘Comment is Free’, published at Salon.com, titled “US again bombs mourners”.

If you find that title a bit overblown, or something out of PressTV, you need to also read the strap line.

The Obama policy of attacking rescuers and grieving rituals continues this weekend in Pakistan

Just the work of an editor, you think?

No.

Here are some quotes from Greenwald’s essay on June 4, 2012.

“In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the U.S. kills people with drones in Pakistan, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals.” [emphasis added]

“On Sunday, June 3, the US targeted mourners gathered to grieve those killed in the first strike.”

Killing family members of bombing targets is nothing new for this President.”

“The US is a country which targets rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn.”

“That tactic continues under President Obama, although it is now expanded to include the targeting of grieving rituals.”

However, the main source Greenwald provided to back up his claim is the discredited “Bureau of Investigative Journalism” (BIJ), the organization which fed the BBC information pertaining to the Newsnight story falsely alleging “a senior Thatcher-era Tory” was a paedophile.

Moreover, the specific link Greenwald cites as proof that the US  targets innocent civilians in Muslim countries – rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn – does not back up his claim at all.

The link to a nearly 2500 word BIJ report (which cited a more detailed BIJ report) on the drone war in Pakistan includes a claim in the headline that the CIA “targets rescuers and funerals” but failed to support  the dramatic claim in the subsequent story.

Typical are passages like this:

“A team of local researchers…found credible, independently sourced evidence of civilians killed in ten of the reported attacks on rescuers.”

But, there was this one passages which claimed intent:

“More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”

However, there was nothing in piece, nor the longer report, which even attempts to corroborate the claim (largely anecdotal evidence by unidentified Pakistanis) that the strikes against innocent civilians represented deliberate US policy.  Further, not considered by either BIJ or Greenwald is the possibility that the “mourners” weren’t actually mourners at all, but, rather, additional terrorists.

Most telling in the BIJ report was this passage:

“Often when the US attacks militants in Pakistan, the Taliban seals off the site and retrieves the dead. But an examination of thousands of credible reports relating to CIA drone strikes also shows frequent references to civilian rescuers.” [emphasis added]

It is unclear to whom these “credible reports” are attributed, but their admission would suggest that it is difficult, at best, for US drones to distinguish between Taliban terrorists and those unaffiliated with the murderous terror group.

The assertion by BIJ that there is a CIA “policy” of killing innocent mourners and rescuers is not supported by the reports cited. Greenwald’s even more unhinged claim that President Obama’s “policy” is to kill such innocent rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn” is not supported by the facts, and parrots the most unserious anti-American propaganda repeated by extremists on the ground in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Greenwald’s June post at Salon.com contained a hideous smear of the US President, suggesting that Obama personally is an advocate of killing innocent Muslims.

Interestingly, a New York Times report on February 5th, ‘U.S. Drone Strikes Are Said to Target Rescuers“, citing the same BIJ report, interestingly, was much more sober, and included the following:

“American officials have questioned the accuracy of such claims [that innocent civilians are targeted], asserting that accounts might be concocted by militants or falsely confirmed by residents who fear retaliation.”

“…most other studies of drone strikes have relied on sketchy and often contradictory news reports from Pakistan.”

“A senior American counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, questioned the report’s findings, saying “targeting decisions are the product of intensive intelligence collection and observation.” The official added: “One must wonder why an effort that has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has been subjected to so much misinformation.” [emphasis added]

Indeed.

Greenwald seems to really believe the most unserious, hateful anti-American propaganda – what you’d typically find in PressTV or Arab media outlets – about American and Israeli villainy.  

In fact, in a Sept. 14 CiF piece, Greenwald summed it up clearly:

 “…the US and Israel have continuously brought extreme amounts of violence to the Muslim world, routinely killing their innocent men, women and children.”

Finally, there’s this quote from Greenwald’s Salon.com post referenced above:

“If a Hollywood film featured a villainous King ordering lethal attacks on rescuers, funerals and mourners — those medically attending to or grieving his initial victims — any decent audience member would, by design, seethe with contempt for such an inhumane tyrant. But this is the standard policy and practice under President Obama and it continues through today.”

In Glenn Greenwald’s world, Hamas, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremists – reactionary, racist, antisemitic, misogynist and extremely homophobic political forces – seem to get a moral pass, but democratic Israel stands accused of slaughtering innocent Palestinians and Barack Obama is an inhumane and villainous figure who murders Muslim children.

The convergence of anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism is truly a work of art.  For Greenwald, and his leftist followers, it is a given that Islamist terrorists are feared by the West not because they threaten the democratic world, but because of racism against Muslims.

For Greenwald, as with Guardian Associate Editor Seumas Milne and other Guardian Left commentators, Israel and the U.S. are the greatest imperialists threats to world peace, and so the reflexive anti-Zionist stance they take simply represents a logical extension of  their broader anti-imperialist, post-colonialist politics.

Finally, supporters of Obama should pay close attention to Greenwald, as the leftist ideology which his views on Israel and the US inspire  represent crude, ugly caricatures of the President which often go far beyond even those of the far right. 

Glenn Greenwald would never, ever falsely “accuse” Obama of being a Muslim as some of his right wing opponents shamefully do.

Greenwald’s demonization of the President, however, is much worse, advancing the hysterical charge that he personally orders (or at least approves policies sanctioning) the murdering of innocent Muslims throughout the world.

The anti-Zionist, antisemitic and anti-American rhetoric advanced by Greenwald represents a classic example of Guardian Left ideology.

Those within the mainstream American Left who don’t succumb to the false moral equivalence between Islamist terrorists and Western democracies, and who don’t buy into the defamatory suggestion that Obama is engaged in a war against Islam, should begin to view him as, at the very least, a crank – a shrill and vitriolic anti-Obama extremist.