Brits for the Islamic State: Guardian publishes two pro-ISIS letters

Based on a recent poll, 7 percent of residents in the UK support the barbaric jihadists of the Islamic State (ISIS), which, though incredibly disturbing in its own right, represents a far lower level of support than in France, where 16 percent expressed their approval.

While support in Europe for ISIS presumably comes mostly from Islamists in predominantly Muslim immigrant communities, the following letters, published at the Guardian on Aug. 27 (which were in response to an op-ed titled ‘Isis: an apocalyptic cult carving a place in the modern world‘) were penned by Brits in largely white, non-immigrant communities. 

The Islamic State caliphate finally realises a dream that goes back to the 1920s when the Muslim Brotherhood was established. Syria has been its main target since the 1960s. Assassinations of government figures hardened the Assad regime’s security apparatus and freedom was sacrificed for security. Syria remains resolutely secular and the nation’s disparate minorities continue to support Assad. The Islamists could not overthrow them, even with US weaponry and Saudi finance. Now they have established a base where they can fulfil their dream of an Islamist state. Why not let them have it? Agree new borders with Syria and Iraq to replace the Sykes-Picot lines in the sand, encourage repopulation of the region with fundamentalists and fund relocation of the refugees. The state of Israel was established against a similar background of desperation mixed with terrorist cruelty – existential challenges bring out the worst in people. The west supported the Zionist dream, so why not the Islamist one?
Craig Sams
Hastings, East Sussex

John Gray (An apocalyptic cult carving a place in the modern world, 26 August) says that “to view Isis as expressing the core of one of the world’s great religious is to endorse Isis’s view of itself, which Islamic religious authorities across the world have rejected”.

I thought the point of the Enlightenment (and the Guardian) was to take nothing on authority but to think for oneself and test one’s theories rationally. Mr Gray, author of Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern, appears to have missed this point. Neither the views of Isis about itself nor the views of “religious authorities” are or should be determinative. I prefer to think for myself and, having read the Qur’an from cover to cover several times, I agree with Isis.
Paul Simmons
East Twickenham, Middlesex

We’ve read some outlandish letters at the Guardian before, but these are simply beyond comprehension.

We’ll leave the simply delusional comparison with Zionism, in the first letter, aside, and just note that ISIS represents a simply monstrous brand of Islamic extremism, whose members have kidnapped large numbers of women for sex slavery and engaged in the mass murder of religious minorities.  Their objective is the establishment of a worldwide Caliphate.

201408260406105

ISIS Tweeted this photo showing a child holding a severed head of an executed man, with a phrase boasting that: “This is how the cubs of the Caliphate are raised up”.

The SITE Intelligence Group provides good background:

The massacres carried out by IS are an integral expression of the organization’s worldview and not random atrocities.  This ideology, while related to the jihadi-salafism practiced by al-Qaeda (AQ), is far more extreme, leading the Islamic State to claim that it is AQ that has altered the original creed and methodology of Usama bin Ladin.  Among the specific aspects that set it apart from al-Qaeda’s belief system are a requirement of absolute obedience to their so-called “caliph” with no dissention and no organizations that are separate from his control; a demand for constant warfare against anyone who supports the “apostate” regimes; and a focus on wiping out entire cultures and people groups, including Yazidis, Christians, Sabaeans, and all Shi’a.

Each piece of this abhorrent ideology comes with deliberate planning and purpose-built organizations designed to realize the new “caliph’s” vision.  For instance, in order to impose their horrific vision of society on the people of Syria, the Caliphate is forcibly inculcating ordinary Muslims, especially the young, into the Islamic State’s version of Islam.  Recent reporting from Raqqa, Syria, by Vice News, an edgy group of journalists known for their work in dangerous spots around the world, shows the use of indoctrination centers (some in former churches), mobile proselytization vans, and outdoor propaganda gatherings to introduce unwilling citizens of Raqqa to the Islamic State’s ideology and way of life.  There is also video footage of strangely compliant prisoners, all calmly agreeing that they have sinned and deserve their punishment of death or beatings.

To coerce conquered populations into living out IS’s vision, the groups has set up “shari’a police,” or the Hisba.  Based on a medieval institution sometimes known as the “Body to Command Right and Forbid Wrong,” the Hisba enforces compliance with the group’s extremist version of Islamic law.  AQ affiliates like Shabaab have set up similar units that have the authority to arrest anyone caught committing infractions against that group’s stringent legal code

IS has also created an ideologically motivated force, similar to the Nazi SS troops, to act as their shock forces in this fight.  The units, known as the “Inghimasiyun,” or “those who plunge [into battle],” recall a concept of warfare from the early days of Islam, when the most ardent of the believers would rush into the enemies’ ranks without taking care for their own lives.  In a similar fashion, accounts from Iraq and Syria suggest that the Inghimasiyun often carry out suicide bombings either as part of the planned assault or as a way to avoid capture. 

Even more disturbing than the Inghimasiyun are the so-called “Dhabiha” (or “Slaughterers”), which constitute what would be the Einsatzgruppen (Nazi death squads) of IS.  The purpose of these units, as with the Nazi “task forces,” is to carry out the massacre of enemies of the state in an organized fashion.  Unlike the Nazi units, however, the Dhabiha take care to film themselves carrying out their atrocities and post photos and videos to social media in order to terrify others into obedience.  The recent beheading of 700 tribal members involved in an attempted uprising in Dayr al-Zawr, Syria against IS fits the modus operandi of the Dhabiha, as does the posting online soon afterward of videos of the carnage.

SITE reasonably characterizes ISIS’s medieval ideology as akin to the worst totalitarian states of the last century.

ISIS is simply evil, and the thought that even 7 percent of Brits – including, evidently, some inspired by a far-left ideology – view the group favorably is truly frightening. 

An appeal to Owen Jones: don’t associate with anti-Semites

This is cross posted from the blog of The CST, and was originally titled ‘Opposing antisemitism: an appeal to put words into action’.

owen jones

Owen Jones

The past two months have seen the number of antisemitic incidents in Britain approach record levels Much of this has been due to extreme reactions to the conflict between Israel and Gaza that reached its latest ceasefire yesterday. This problem, and its link to extreme manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment, has been covered extensively in the British media.

Some pro-Palestinian activists have recognised this problem and spoken out against it. 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has said that antisemitism has no place in its activities, and Owen Jones wrote a column for the Guardian in which he warned of the need to take antisemitism seriously. In particular, he wrote:

Antisemitic themes are depressingly constant: of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence. Sometimes this hatred is overt, other times more subtle and pernicious.

We welcome these statements from supporters of the Palestinian cause, just as we previously welcomed PSC’s rejection of the equation of Israel with Nazi Germany. And because we consider these statements to be important and necessary, we hope and expect that the people who made them will live up to their words and the sentiments behind them.

It is for this reason that we appeal to PSC and to Owen Jones to reconsider the inclusion of Tim Llewellyn as a speaker at a PSC meeting tomorrow evening, 28th August, on “Gaza: let down by the BBC and mainstream media?” We appeal to PSC as the organiser of the meeting and to Jones as one of the other speakers.

Our objection is not to the meeting itself. We do not oppose your right to hold public meetings in support of the Palestinians, or to criticise Israel, or to critique media coverage of the conflict between the two.

Our objection is specifically to the inclusion of Llewellyn as a guest speaker on this topic because he has a record of statements that illustrate exactly what Jones warns against: themes “of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence.”

For example, last year at a meeting in London that was also about media coverage of Israel, Llewellyn claimed that the BBC is intimidated by the “Jewish lobby”. When he was challenged on this by the chair of the meeting, he resisted criticism of his choice of phrase. The full exchange ran as follows and can be viewed here on the CST Blog:

Llewellyn: “Is it because… I can see it in the BBC. They’re frighten’, these people are quite aggressive, right. The Jewish Lobby is not much fun. They come at you from every direction.”

Off camera, another speaker says “no”, then, “its the pro-Israel lobby”. It is not exactly clear who says what after this, but it includes the chair Mark McDonald talking over Llewellyn, stating:

“I mean that’s a very important thing to say, that it’s not a Jewish lobby. Can I interrupt a second. It’s not a Jewish lobby. It might be a Zionist lobby. It may be a pro-Israel lobby.”

Llewellyn replies: “Yes, but they use Jewish connections to get you.”

This statement by Llewellyn was not a one-off. It fitted a long record of statements and writings that mix “Jewish” with “Zionist” while alleging that both hold undue and nefarious influence in British public life. For example, in 2006, Llewellyn wrote the following in the Foreword to a new edition of Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover-Up by Michael Adams and Christopher Mayhew:

No alien polity has so successfully penetrated the British government and British institutions during the past ninety years as the Zionist movement and its manifestation as the state of Israel…the Zionists have manipulated British systems as expertly as maestros, here a massive major chord, there a minor refrain, the audience, for the most part, spellbound.

…this cuckoo in the nest of British politics…

… Israel had worked its spells well, with a lot of help from its friends: these lined the benches of parliament, wrote the news stories and editorials, framed the way we saw and heard almost everything about the Middle East on TV, radio and in the press. History, the Bible, Nazi Germany’s slaughter of the Jews, Russian pogroms, the Jewish narrative relayed and parlayed through a thousand books, films, TV plays and series, radio programmes, the skills of Jewish writers, diarists, memoirists, artists and musicians, people like us and among us, all had played their part.

…the fervent Zionist Labour MPs, some of them little better than bully-boys, Richard Crossman (not a Jew), Ian Mikardo, Maurice Edelman, Emmanuel “Manny” Shinwell, Sidney Silverman, Konni Zilliacus et al, are, mercifully, not only no longer with us but have not been replaced, not in such virulent form.

… the Union of Jewish Students, which elbows and induces Zionistically inclined undergraduates towards influential positions in British public life, especially the media, the banking sector and information technology.

Llewellyn mixes “Zionist” with “Jewish”, describing both as “alien” to Britain; and alleges undue and negative influence and manipulation of the media, politics and “the banking sector”. These allegations all have clear antecedents in antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Another example: in 2004, Llewellyn was quoted in the Jewish Chronicle as describing former US ambassador Dennis Ross in these terms:

He also denounced broadcasters who invited the “insidious” former US ambassador to the Middle East Denis Ross, without fully identifying him.

Mr Llewellyn said: “What a lovely Anglo-Saxon name! But Denis Ross is not just a Jew, he is a Zionist, a long-time Zionist… and now directs an Israeli-funded think tank in Washington. He is a Zionist propagandist.”

The suggestion that broadcasters should identify an interviewee as “a Jew”, lest their viewers be fooled by an “Anglo-Saxon name”, is scurrilous and prejudiced.

In 2012, Llewellyn wrote of

massive media distortion, and … Zionist penetration and manipulation of our institutions – the media, universities, local education, political parties…

He went on to describe as Britain’s

real enemies… the ambitious and greedy British politicians and insidious political influence, in this case spawned by an alien state and strengthened by its friends in our midst, people who put Israel’s interests above that of their own nation.

(From The Battle for Public Opinion in Europe: Changing Perceptions of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, eds. Daud Abdullah & Ibrahim Hewitt, not online). Again, this echoes the classical antisemitic allegation of ‘dual loyalty’, whereby British Jews are accused of lacking loyalty to the country of their birth.

If the important and welcome statements by PSC, Owen Jones and others about their opposition to antisemitism and determination to exclude it from pro-Palestinian activism have real meaning, then there should be no place for Tim Llewellyn at a PSC meeting. This is not an abstract argument: the sharp increase in antisemitism in Britain in recent weeks demonstrates that fact. Words lead to actions, good and bad. We now invite PSC and Owen Jones to put their valuable and worthy statements and principles into practice. A discussion of media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict must not give room to those who believe that there is a Zionist conspiracy to control, manipulate or influence the British media, politics, banking and education, as Tim Llewellyn has suggested. Nor should pro-Palestinian activism be a home for those who believe that Jews are an alien presence, disloyal to Britain, who change their names to disguise their true loyalties.

Put your words into action, and remove Tim Llewellyn from your platform.

Guardian fauxtography: Chris McGreal pulls a Jon Donnison

You no doubt recall when, during the last war in Gaza in 2012, BBC’s Jon Donnison tweeted a photo of a girl with the title “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.  It of course turned out that the genuinely heartbreaking image was actually from Syria and not from Gaza – a mistake for which Donnison subsequently apologized. 

Well, within the last hour, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal just retweeted the following, to his nearly 4,000 followers, a Tweet by Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, for Human Rights Watch.

syria

However, this photo of a boy (8 year old Eid) holding his new prosthetic leg was taken in Syria, not Gaza.

pcrf

The article posted at the site of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund explains:

Thanks to the support of donors all over the world, the hard work of the PCRF Jordan Chapter, and Mr. Charl Stenger, an orthotics specialist working in Dubai, 8-year-old Eid from Syria got his new artificial legs after losing them from a bombing earlier this year (his mother was killed and his 5-year-old sister also lost a leg).  The PCRF is dedicated to helping any child in need, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnicity.  

No doubt, apologies from McGreal and Whitson will be forthcoming.

UPDATE: Whitson deleted her tweet and wrote this:

delete

No word yet from McGreal.

Everything you always wanted to know about media coverage of Israel but were afraid to ask

In carrying out this blog’s mission, we often attempt to contextualize Guardian/UK media coverage of Israel and the Jewish world by explaining not only what they get wrong, but also why they get it wrong.

eye_stardavid400x246_3k8lxgc5Tablet Magazine just published a long and extremely important article (by former AP correspondent Matti Friedman) which masterfully dissects such institutional bias against Israel – in the broader Western media – and we strongly encourage those who’ve thought seriously about the subject to read the 4,000 word essay in full.

Here are some excerpts:

Intro:

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; 

How Important Is the Israel Story?

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel.

What Is Important About the Israel Story, and What Is Not

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate

Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011, I…counted 27 separate articles, an average of a story every two days….this seven-week tally was higher than the total number of significantly critical stories about Palestinian government and society, including the totalitarian Islamists of Hamas, that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.

The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP

What Else “Isn’t” Important?

In early 2009..two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story….

This decision taught me a lesson that should be clear to consumers of the Israel story: Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.

How Is the Israel Story Framed?

The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls—0.2 percent of the Arab world—in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries…

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party

The Old Blank Screen

For centuries, stateless Jews played the role of a lightning rod for ill will among the majority population. They were a symbol of things that were wrong. Did you want to make the point that greed was bad? Jews were greedy. Cowardice? Jews were cowardly. Were you a Communist? Jews were capitalists. Were you a capitalist? In that case, Jews were Communists. Moral failure was the essential trait of the Jew…

Like many Jews who grew up late in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents. One thing I have learned…is that I was foolish to have done so. Today, people in the West tend to believe the ills of the age are racism, colonialism, and militarism. The world’s only Jewish country has done less harm than most countries on earth, and more good—and yet when people went looking for a country that would symbolize the sins of our new post-colonial, post-militaristic, post-ethnic dream-world, the country they chose was this one.

Who Cares If the World Gets the Israel Story Wrong?

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer…requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is not democracy or modernity. It is rather an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots

Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. 

Read the rest of the essay here.

Guardian cartoon juxtaposes ISIS and Netanyahu

No, this is not, by a long stretch, the worst Guardian cartoon (Martin Rowson on the Bárðarbunga volcano – cartoon, Aug. 24). And by that we mean, unlike other cartoons published by the media group that we’ve highlighted, this one is not antisemitic.  

However…

rowson

Here’s a close up of the relevant section of the cartoon, which references recent news regarding a possible volcanic eruption in Iceland to make a point about ‘human sacrifice’ (a possible allusion to the row over the Elie Wiesel Anti-Hamas ‘Child Sacrifice’ Ad), violence and ‘savages’ among us:

snapshot

First, note the cartoon’s placement of evidently equally abhorrent “savages” – the ISIS jihadist, Netanyahu, the Hamasnik, Russia’s Putin, Egypt’s al-Sisi, Syria’s Assad, President Obama, Saudi’s King Abdullah and (possibly) Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau. 

Moreover, let’s remember one thing. This is the Guardian, and their cartoonist’s decision to place the Israeli Prime Minister right next to the ISIS jihadist is certainly not an accident.

Indeed, the mere absence of overt Judeophobic calumnies does not lessen the injurious editorial impact of Rowson’s graphic agitprop: by blurring the profound moral distinctions between antisemitic extremists and the Jewish target of their hate, it is hostile to the most elementary understanding of what opposing antisemitism means.

Condemning antisemitism in the abstract while failing to name, shame and condemn actual anti-Semites is the anti-racism of posers and cowards.

Dishonourable Brits: Why the Guardian can’t distinguish between Semites & anti-Semites

If a radical right-wing U.S. group possessed an ideology which was homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic, and continually attempted to murder a historically oppressed minority to clean the region of their ‘pernicious influence’ – due to their fundamentalist interpretation of a religious text – anti-racist commentators at the Guardian would stand proudly on the side of the besieged minority and rightfully demonize the racist extremist group.

Transplant this scenario to the Mid-East (and replace the white sheets with black face masks and green headbands) however, and such moral clarity – which distinguishes between a racist extremist group and the minorities they’re targeting – often gets blurred.

hamas_talks_a_0305

In a review of BBC2’s The Honourable Woman, the Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent Julian Borger (Can The Honourable Woman teach us anything about the Gaza conflict?, Aug. 20) presents another example of media group’s profound moral confusion when interpreting conflicts between Israel and Islamist extremists.

Borger characterizes the show as “a tale of intrigue, betrayal and silk blouses set against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, and then adds: “Whether we will have learned anything about Gaza or the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is another matter”.

Border then writes:

So the ruthless and omnipotent assassin, a regular plot device of political thrillers, is in this case a Palestinian militant. Just like the show’s American inspiration, Homelandit revives the spectre of the Arab bogeyman as the evil genius among us, ghosting across borders on false passports. 

This is understandably vexing for Palestinians. After all, it is Mossad that has won itself the reputation in recent years for sending assassins to kill abroad on forged identity papers. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have largely fought their battles on home turf with much blunter methods.

Likewise, the agony of liberal British Jews looking on in horror at the bloodletting in Israel and the Palestinian territories is true to life. What feels like a sentimental anachronism is the central premise in the plot: that they can do anything to change it. It is hard to imagine in these dark times that it would be so easy for a well-meaning Jewish philanthropist to breeze through the West Bank and for her saccharine, slightly condescending speeches to be received so admiringly by Palestinian students. Hard to imagine, too, that Nessa Stein would have such an easy time of it in Netanyahu’s Israel. These days, there would be rightwing mobs outside her doveish events, chanting: “Death to the Arabs.”

Leaving aside Borger’s risible suggestion that Palestinian jihadist groups have shown more restraint than Israel when carrying out attacks on their enemies, the Guardian editor’s review is notable in which political actor in the Middle East is identified as the racist (Jewish mobs chanting “death to Arabs”) and which one is the unfairly stereotyped minority (the “Arab bogeyman”).

It’s important to read such passages in the context of the Guardian overall coverage of both the current war between Hamas and Israel, and the broader Israeli-Islamist Conflict.

Though Guardian correspondents sometimes note that Hamas is ‘considered’ a terrorist group by much of the West, their reporters, editors and commentators almost never explain to their readers that Hamas is an antisemitic extremist group - a reactionary racist, violent, fundamentalist movement at odds with the liberal, enlightenment values they claim to champion.

Whilst the Guardian never tires in highlighting racism (real or imagined) expressed by the most unrepresentative fringe elements in Israeli society, they almost uniformly avoid mentioning that the group currently ruling Gaza literally calls for the extermination of Jews.  It simply isn’t possible for UK news consumers to clearly understand the battles being waged in Israel and Gaza while ignorant of this fundamental fact about Hamas’s eliminationist antisemitism.

Reports about ceasefire negotiations between the two parties in Cairo which merely emphasize that Hamas demands a loosening of the Israeli blockade, while ignoring that their end goal continues to be the annihilation of the only Jewish state, are akin to media reports during WWII noting Germany’s territorial aspirations without any context regarding Hitler’s belief in Aryan racial supremacy and his wish to exterminate Jews and other ‘undesirables’.

On the other hand, it is heartening to see the support – among many Guardian contributors – for the West’s efforts to rein in an apocalyptic and genocidal Middle-East based, Sunni extremist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood with a global expansionist worldview, which targets civilians, ruthlessly murders its enemies, possesses a pathological hatred for Jews and advocates Sharia Law over universal human rights.

However, whilst we’re of course referring to ISIS (Islamic State), we also just accurately described the fundamental ideological orientation of Hamas.

So, what accounts for such a profound moral inconsistency? Why are Palestinian jihadists not like the other jihadists?   

Though antisemitism is one factor which partly explains this phenomenon (among some Guardian contributors and journalists), the more widespread political dynamics at play are moral relativism, an egregiously skewed understanding of anti-imperialism, a glorification of ‘Palestinian resistance’ and an obsession with Jews and Israel  - in short, the signature ideological ticks of the Guardian Left.

There is, however, one more factor. 

We are often asked if we believe the Guardian to be institutionally antisemitic.  While their obsessive and almost entirely negative coverage of the Jewish State fans the flame of antisemitism, this writer, for one, does not believe the media group is compromised institutionally by anti-Jewish racism.

It may be more accurate to observe in the Guardian worldview a capacity to forcefully condemn antisemitism in the abstract, but an inability to summon such righteous indignation when doing so would require parting company with other ‘historically oppressed’ groups, and indeed challenge their very ideological identity.

In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community. 

Former Guardian staffer reflects on the media group’s ‘vicious’ anti-Israel bias

The following was written by Alan Simons, and originally posted at his blog, Jewish Info News

the-guardian-a

Many years ago in the UK, I worked for The Guardian. I have to admit I didn’t actually work in the editorial department, but I had day-to-day contact with many of the paper’s columnists and journalists. I even had to pay for the occasional round of drinks at the ‘local,’ around the corner from the office.

Unlike now, many of the editorial staff were media icons in their own right. Mark Arnold-Forster, Clare Hollingworth, Victor Zorza, John Cole, Mary Stott, Norman Shrapnel and of course Alistair Cooke in the USA, to name a few.

Editors of the past such as Alistair Hetherington who continues to be regarded as one of the leading editors of the second half of the twentieth century and Peter Preston both strove to present a balanced view. Since then the paper has steadily strengthened its biased anti-Israel position.  As Greville Janner the former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has stated, the paper is “viciously and notoriously anti-Israel.”

It may surprise some readers to learn that C. P. Scott, one of the most famous editors of The Guardian had a strong  friendship with Chaim Weizmann. It is believed that friendship played a role in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In 1948 The Guardian was a supporter of the new State of Israel.

With Alistair Hetherington at the helm, The Guardian‘s favourable view of Israel continued, as illustrated in their Leader of Monday, June 12, 1967 16.44 BST:

Future security is their first concern. They will not give up the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank of the Jordan, or the heights over looking the upper Jordan valley until they know what the Arabs will accept. If there is no peace settlement, will they ever give them up?

Israel wishes to live in peace. She does not want hostile neighbours on her borders, whoever they are, for another hundred or two hundred years. She wants normal trading relations with her neighbours. The offer of generous terms is therefore still worth trying – especially if, through the United Nations and all the Great Powers, Israel’s future frontiers are effectively guaranteed.

In 2002 the paper ran a Leader which, in part said, “the Jewish community is right to fear that the repulsive antisemitism… in many Arab countries…  can find an alarming echo within some British Muslim communities.” But, that was The Guardian of the past.  And now, in 2014 The Guardian  breaks all the barriers in stoking the fire of antisemitism that twelve years ago it found quite alarming.

Here below is a video link to the speech given by Seumas Milne, the paper’s associate editor. Prior to working for The Guardian, Milne was the “business manager of Straight Left, a monthly publication of…  the Communist Party of Great Britain.” I suppose it’s a no-brainer to figure out where he’s coming from.

This associate editor of The Guardian, in front of tens of thousands of anti-Israel protesters at Hyde Park in London, explicitly justified Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis (a refrain from his Guardian column in mid-July), and accused ‘terrorist’ Israel of  ‘industrial scale’ killing in Gaza.”

Paraphrasing Tarek Fatah, the Canadian writer, broadcaster and secular Muslim activist: movements created on the basis of a hatred towards others will soon run out of people that they can hate and will devour themselves.

In response, I say to the antisemites of this world. Hurry up, my people haven’t got all day!

Guardian pretends they’re not sure whether Israel or Hamas violated ceasefire

On Monday, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to extend a temporary ceasefire in Gaza by 24 hours so they could continue to conduct more talks on a long-term truce. The five-day ceasefire was set to expire at midnight Israeli time.

On Tuesday, at roughly 15:45 Israeli time (less than 16 hours into the 24 hour extension), terrorists in Gaza violated the ceasefire when they fired three rockets at Israel, causing large explosions near Beersheva. (This represents the eleventh cease-fire that Hamas either violated or rejected since the war began.)

Forty-five minutes later, at 16:30, there were reports of further Gaza rocket attacks on Ashdod and Ashkelon.

At 16:34, the IDF began retaliating in response to the Palestinian rocket barrage.

The timeline is not in dispute, as US officials made clear last night.

However, here’s the Guardian misinformation that we were all anticipating:

Print edition headline and strap line:

printHere’s the online edition:

onlineHere are the relevant opening passages:

Israeli negotiators withdrew from peace talks in Cairo aimed at forging a durable ceasefire in the six-week war in Gaza on Tuesday night as rocket fire and air strikes resumed hours before the latest truce was due to expire.

Israel accused Hamas of violating the latest of a series of temporary ceasefires after rockets were launched from Gaza, triggering a swift military and political response

Israeli officials said 10 rockets were fired from Gaza, the first of which were launched about eight hours before the truce was due to end at midnight

Then, we learn what the head of the Palestinian negotiating team claimed:

Palestinian negotiators blamed the collapse of the Gaza ceasefire on Israel’s failure to take Cairo-based negotiations seriously. Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Palestinian delegation, claimed that Israel had always intended to break the truce, and had used the firing of three rockets from Gaza on Tuesday afternoon as an excuse for an already-made decision to sabotage the talks.

So, according to Al-Ahmad, Hamas may have technically violated the ceasefire, but the rocket attacks from Gaza were cynically exploited by Israel, who had already made the decision to “sabotage the talks”.

Then, we learn what Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed about the ceasefire.

The Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, denied knowledge of the rocket fire which Israel said had breached the truce.We don’t have any information about firing rockets from Gaza. The Israeli raids are intended to sabotage the negotiations in Cairo,” he told reporters. 

Whilst the Palestinian lead negotiator tacitly admitted that his side violated the ceasefire, all the official Hamas spokesman could muster was a denial of ‘knowledge’ concerning Palestinian rocket fire.

So, despite the timeline of events clearly indicating that Hamas violated the ceasefire, and one implicit acknowledgement by a Hamas negotiator that they indeed broke the ceasefire, the Guardian still isn’t willing to blame the Islamist terror group.

Guardian obfuscation at its finest. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guardian readers’ editor claims that Hamas ‘denies’ using human shields

Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in an Aug. 18th column on the Hamas ‘child sacrifice’ advert featuring Elie Wiesel, wrote the following in the context of suggesting that his paper’s decision to publish the ad was not a wise one.

whatever the intention, the biblical language, the references to child sacrifice, all evoke images of that most ancient of antisemitic tropes: the blood libel. The authors may believe that they have steered a careful course by aiming these matters at an organisation, Hamas, rather than all Palestinians, but the association is there. If an advertisement was couched in similar terms but the organisation named was the IDF rather than Hamas, I can’t imagine the Guardian would run it – I certainly hope it wouldn’t. I think that’s the issue.

Of course, the difference between charging soldiers of the Jewish State with a blood libel (the historic allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially children, and use their blood for religious rituals, part of a broader narrative regarding Jewish “murder-lust”) vs leveling such charges at Hamas is that there is no history of racist anti-Palestinian blood libel tropes.

However, there’s another claim in Elliott’s critique of the ad which is even more dubious:

Each advertisement has clearly got to be decided on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind not just specific criteria but the context of the times as well. I entirely support the argument that freedom of expression means the freedom to offend. On that basis I don’t think it was wrong to run an advertisement that expressed a viewpoint, with which the Guardian has no sympathy, about the alleged use of human shields by Hamas, which the organisation has strenuously denied. But there are always limits. 

So, Hamas has “strenuously denied” the charge? Really?

Evidently, Elliott didn’t see this widely circulated MEMRI clip of Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (from Al-Aqsa TV on July 8th) commenting on one of the many well-documented ‘human shield’ incidents.

Contrary to Elliott’s claim, the official Hamas spokesman couldn’t possibly have been clearer about the use of human shields: “We in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy“.  

Giles Fraser finds one righteous Jew – and his name is Gideon Levy

One of the most edifying political experiences I had before making Aliyah occurred in 2007 when I observed an anti-Israel event outside Philadelphia, in which an anti-Zionist Jew named Marc Ellis was asked by an anti-Zionist non-Jew, at the Q&A after the event, how many ‘righteous Jews’, like him, there actually were in the world.  

Ellis’s answer: “Sadly, not very many“.

Indeed, many within the Guardian Left often insist upon the virtue of ‘left-wing’, ‘peace activist’, ‘human rights-advocating’ Israelis, in contrast to the living, breathing obstacles-to-peace represented by the ‘right-wing’, ‘settler’, ‘ultra-Zionist‘, ‘war-hungry’, ‘anti-Arab’ variety Israeli – a paradigm that’s been compromised of late by the near universal Israeli support for their country’s war against an extremist movement which calls for the mass murder of Jews known as Hamas.

Israeli writer Amos Oz, a founder of “Peace Now,” explained recently why he supports the war, by stating quite simply: “The only way to repel aggression is unfortunately by force”.

This clearly presented a dilemma for the Guardian’s Giles Fraser, in his Aug. 7 op-ed, “Against the war: the movement that dare not speak its name in Israel“. 

The Guardian’s Giles Fraser

So, what to do?  

Find a ‘brave’ Israeli peace activist.

Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy

Fraser’s protagonist is Ha’aretz’s prolific anti-Zionist, Gideon Levy, whose infamous record of baseless claims includes falsifying a poll to suggest Israeli support for apartheid (for which he was forced to apologize) and parroting the ‘Zionism = Racism’ canard in declaring that “a Jewish state means a racist, nationalistic state, meant for Jews only.”

Much like an interview with Levy in 2010 at the Independent (by the radical anti-Israel journalist Johann Hari)Fraser presents the Ha’aretz columnist as a courageous voice who strives to expose Israel’s immutable sin.

Fraser writes:

In his column in Haaretz, [Levy] has long since banged the drum for greater Israeli empathy towards the suffering of the Palestinians. He is a well-known commentator on the left, and one of the few prepared to stick his head above the parapet

Levy’s unpardonable crime is vocal opposition to the war and to the bombing of Gaza. According to recent polls, support for the military operation in Gaza among the Jewish Israeli public stands somewhere between 87% (Channel 10 News) and 95% (Israel Democracy Institute). Even those who are secretly against the war are cautious about voicing their opinion openly.

Of course, the suggestion that Israelis who oppose the war are “cautious about voicing their opinion openly” would be news to the thousands who have turned out for anti-war protests in Tel Aviv over the past several weeks.

 Fraser then seeks an alternative explanation for the overwhelming Israeli support for their country’s war with Hamas.

Most newspapers and TV channels are simply cheerleaders for the government line, offering a constant diet of fear and fallen heroes, with little evidence of any of the atrocities going on in Gaza. The problem is, ordinary Israelis have little idea what has been going on. I know so much more about what is happening in Gaza when I’m sitting in London than I do in Tel Aviv. Under this level of information manipulation, how can ordinary Israelis be expected to be critical?

Fraser’s hubris is extraordinary. Not only does he fail to empathize with the citizens of a nation sharing a border with an Islamist extremist group which seeks their annihilation, but actually seems to think that Israelis don’t share his views because they don’t live in London, and therefore evidently aren’t privy to what’s ‘really’ happening in Gaza.

Fraser continues: 

Later I go for a drink at a friend’s flat in Tel Aviv with a group of broadly leftwing activists in their late 20s and early 30s, NGO types that I was expecting would share my exasperation. And I make a mistake, assuming too much common ground. I ask whether their fear of rockets is properly calibrated to reality, given that people are so much more likely to die in a car accident in Israel than at the hands of Hamas. And there is an awkward reaction. The question was insensitive. 

‘Insensitive’, indeed.  In addition to the psychological terror which countless Israelis – including young children – suffer from the thousands of rocket attacks since Hamas’s rise to power in 2006, over the past fifteen years alone more than 1,200 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terror attacks. An additional 8,500 or so were maimed and wounded.

Finally, after expressing his dismay at the failure of even peace activists to condemn their country, Fraser’s protagonist again speaks:

Levy had warned me earlier. “The young people are the worst. More ignorant. More brainwashed. They have never met a Palestinian in their lives.”

However, the suggestion that young Israelis are uninformed because they have never met Palestinians is absurd. There are (to cite just one example) more than 370,000 Palestinian residents of Israel in east Jerusalem alone – permanent residents of the state who Jewish Israelis meet in cafes, shops, places of work, hospitals and every conceivable public and private venue. 

Indeed, if you want to throw around words like “brainwashed” and “ignorant”, we could certainly point to fact that the Guardian’s resident Anglican Priest came to the Jewish state in search of righteous Israeli Jews and, save Gideon Levy, found ‘sadly not very many‘.  

Owen Jones, and the Left’s blind spot over antisemitism

Cross posted by Jeremy Havardi at The Commentator

Owen_Jones

Owen Jones

Leftists have long had a blind spot when it comes to antisemitism. This is partly because some have found comfort in this rank bigotry, seeing Jews as a privileged elite and a personification of the capitalism they abhor. But it is also because they like to define antisemitism on their own terms, showing disdain for how Jews themselves feel.

They recognise and condemn its more usual manifestations, particularly when it comes packaged with swastikas, jackboots and lethal rhetoric. But they refuse to recognise the other side of Jew baiting — the double standards, the conspiracy thinking, the Holocaust inversion and the anti-Zionism.

Owen Jones clearly has the blind spot just mentioned. In an article in Monday’s Guardian [Aug. 11], Jones discusses the menace of antisemitism in Europe. He recognises that it has spiked during the conflict in Gaza and argues that ‘attempts to belittle it are dangerous, allowing the tumour to spread unchecked’.

He dismisses those who try to deflect blame onto the Jews themselves. This, he says, is like ‘rationalising anti-Muslim prejudice as the inevitable consequence of Islamist fundamentalist terror’. So far, so good.

But then he gets unstuck. First, he raises the old canard that pro-Israel supporters accuse ‘pro-Palestinian’ protestors of being antisemitic in an attempt to silence criticism of Israel.

The danger is that the ‘meaning of antisemitism is lost, making it all the more difficult to identify and eliminate hatred against Jewish people at a time when it is rising’. He goes on to say that for some defenders of Israel’s governments, the ‘supposed special attention received by the conflict is itself evidence of antisemitism’.

In reality, he argues that these protestors are condemning the actions of a heavily armed state backed by the West.

The idea that Israel’s supporters routinely accuse their critics of antisemitism is essentially fictitious. The vast majority of these supporters can recognise the difference between criticism of Israeli policy and baseless hatred. Virtually no sane Zionist sympathiser would label someone antisemitic simply for criticising policy on the West Bank or settlements. These are matters of legitimate public discourse.

But what these supporters will argue, justifiably, is that the discourse on the conflict has become badly corrupted. Israel has been likened to a Nazi state that is engaged in a policy of wholesale extermination. Only recently, Lord Prescott labelled Gaza a ‘concentration camp’ in an article for the Mirror. Others, like David Ward and Lee Jasper, have used Holocaust Memorial Day to attack Israel and the Jews.

Cartoonists have routinely tapped into antisemitic stereotypes to depict Israeli leaders, the most popular of which evoke images of the blood libel. The ‘all powerful’ Israel lobby is accused of being an evil puppet master, manipulating western foreign policy for its own insidious ends. This taps into a centuries old stereotype of sinister and demonic Jews controlling the world.

Supporters of Israel have every reason to condemn such ugly displays of bigotry. Yet the accusation is trotted out that they accuse every critic of anti semitism, which is absurd. This is an attempt to silence and smear Zionists, not critics of Israel. Maybe Owen Jones should answer this question: How nasty must criticism of Israel become before it can be considered antisemitic, or at least bigoted?

Is it acceptable to portray Netanyahu as a hook nosed Jew revelling in Palestinian blood, as a latter day satanic Hitler or perhaps as an evil puppet master controlling western leaders? Unfortunately, images such as these have proliferated at anti-Israeli rallies around the world.

Jones is anxious to defend those who go on ‘pro-Palestinian’ rallies. But the unmistakeable sentiment from marchers is unmitigated hostility to Zionism and a Palestine free ‘from the river to the sea’. Yet Zionism is simply the acknowledgement that the Jews are a nation with a collective right to self-determination.

Anti-Zionists deny Jews this right while granting it to every other nation. That is why true progressives, like the great Martin Luther King, have long recognised the connection between hostility to Zionism and hostility to Jews.

Jones secondly fails to understand how antisemitism is often dressed up in ‘progressive’ form. He (rightly) mentions the danger from Front National, Jobbik and Golden Dawn, three extreme groups suffused with xenophobic prejudice against Jews, immigrants and Muslims. He condemns attacks on synagogues in Paris as well as other assaults.

But antisemitism is not just about jackboots and swastikas, torched synagogues and racist insults. It is about discriminating unfairly against Jews, Jewish institutions and Israelis.

It is about holding Jews to a different standard or demanding from them a unique level of behaviour. It is about calculated offence, such as abusing the memory of the Holocaust for political ends. Nor does antisemitism have to be intended for it to be real.

When we stop viewing this prejudice through far right tinted spectacles, we can understand why Kilburn’s Tricycle theatre has been accused of racism. Last week, the Tricycle boycotted the UK Jewish Film Festival after the latter refused to accept a condition that it first reject £1,400 of funding from the Israeli embassy.

The Tricycle suggested that UKJFF was being politicised by this money and, by implication, the theatre would be taking sides over the Gaza conflict.

Yet this condition has not been imposed in other cases where cultural institutions have received government funding. To take one example, the Tricycle hosted the London Asian Film Festival, even though it was financed by the Indian government, a party to the long running conflict over Kashmir.

Moreover, the Tricycle has happily taken a sizeable grant from the Arts Council, a government funded body. Yet British governments have recently been mired in controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a blatant case of an egregious double standard applied to a Jewish cultural group. They, and only they, have been forced to sign up to a political credo (i.e. to dissociate from Israel) before they are deemed ‘acceptable’. In an attempt to appear self-righteous, the Tricycle’s organisers have engaged in a most pernicious form of bullying.

Had he cast his net further, Jones might have condemned George Galloway after his recent statement that no Israeli tourists were welcome in Bradford.

Galloway was saying that a boycott of Israeli goods and services was not enough; not one Israeli was welcome to step foot in his constituency either. By demanding that Bradford become Israelfrei, Galloway was not engaging in political debate. He was demonising an entire nation.

Equally bigoted was the decision of the Edinburgh Festival to axe ‘The City’, a play staged by Jerusalem’s Incubator Theatre. There were calls for its artists to publicly dissociate themselves from Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank before being allowed to perform.

But again, such draconian demands have not been imposed on other nationalities. No other performers have been asked to pass a ‘values test’ before they can appear, nor should they be. Such behaviour is an outrageous affront to the principle of artistic freedom.

All three examples revolve around Israel and its conflict in Gaza. But Israel is the ‘Jew among nations’ and the country deserves equal treatment in the court of international opinion. Singling her out unfairly demands some form of explanation.

The motive for doing so is not always racist. Anti-Americanism and hostility to western power galvanise the left, and Israel is a bastion of democratic, western values as well as a staunch ally of America. It is also perceived, wrongly, to be a colonialist power. Hence it is a target of leftist discontent with western power. But the effect of such irrational discrimination and disproportionate focus is no less hurtful than a verbal insult.

It is still targeting the Jews.

It is only when we understand the many ways in which antisemitism manifests itself that we can start tackling it properly. It must be confronted warts and all, and with the blinkers and blind spots removed.

Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton

At London rally, Guardian editor accuses ‘terrorist’ Israel of ‘industrial-scale’ killing

Here’s a clip of the speech given by Guardian Associate Editor (and former Stalinist) Seumas Milne in front of tens of thousands of anti-Israel protesters at Hyde Park in London this past Saturday.  During the four-minute speech, Milne explicitly justified Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis (a refrain from his Guardian column in mid-July), and accused ‘terrorist’ Israel of “industrial scale” killing in Gaza. 

 

Buried by the Guardian: Hamas War Crimes

These videos include just a small fraction of the widely available evidence attesting to Hamas’s use of human shields, a topic we’ve posted about continually in the context of the Guardian’s near silence in the face of such egregious violations of international law by the Islamist terror group.

Compilation clip:

 

Longer clip of France24 broadcast seen in the first compilation video:

 

Longer NDTV clip seen in the first compilation video:

 

Gaza Bishop claims Hamas used church to fire rockets.

 

IDF evidence of Hamas firing from a Gazan school:

When you’ve lost the Guardian… @TricycleTheater #antisemitism

The shameful decision by Tricycle Theater to effectively boycott the UK Jewish Film Festival over its ties with Israel has united some diverse factions, including the Board of Deputies, Ha’aretz, and now…the Guardian – yes, the Guardian!

An official editorial on the Gaza war and the rise of antisemitism included the following:

The board of London’s Tricycle Theatre delivered an ultimatum to the organisers of the UK Jewish Film Festival, which it has hosted for the last eight years: either cut your ties with the Israeli embassy, which gives a £1,400 subsidy to the festival, or find another venue.

UK Jewish Film refused that instruction, along with the Tricycle’s offer to make up the financial shortfall, and is now looking for a new home. No doubt the Tricycle believed it was taking an admirably principled stand on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which flared anew after the truce that had held for nearly 72 hours broke down. But the theatre has made a bad error of judgment.

Some have made the argument that, if receiving money from a state implies endorsement of that state’s policy, then the Tricycle ought to return the £725,000 it receives from the taxpayer-funded Arts Council, lest that be read as backing for, say, UK participation in the invasion of Iraq. Of course, few would see the Arts Council as an arm of the state in that way. And a similar mistake seems to be at work here. For the Israeli embassy in London is not merely an outpost of the Netanyahu government. It also represents Israel itself, its society and its people. It was this connection with Israel as a country that UK Jewish Film refused to give up. Hard though it may be for others to understand, that reflects something crucial about contemporary Jewish identity: that most, not all, Jews feel bound up with Israel, even if that relationship is one of doubt and anxiety. To demand that Jews surrender that connection is to tell Jews how they might – and how they might not – live as Jews. Such demands have an ugly history. They are not the proper business of any public institution, least of all a state-subsidised theatre

Anshel Pfeffer of Ha’aretz wrote about Tricycle Theater’s decision that he “certainly wouldn’t have thought it could happen in one of the most enlightened corners of London”, and we certainly wouldn’t have thought that such a strangely lucid denunciation of antisemitism could have been published at a London broadsheets known for its embrace of Judeophobic voices.

Moreover, we can only hope that this deeply troubling episode will provide a teachable moment about the allure of what Ben Cohen refers to as ‘bistro antisemitism‘ to some of the more sober commentators on the hard left, as well as the leadership of a theater which evidently prides itself on its commitment to ethnic and racial diversity.