Does Guardian columnist Michael Cohen regularly follow the hate site, Mondoweiss?

The embedded hyperlinks in reports and commentaries at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ are often quite revealing, as the sources cited ostensibly serve to back up a claim or buttress an argument. (Though, as we’ve demonstrated, in the case of some Guardianistas the links do not in fact back up their claims at all.)  

Additionally, the specific “sources” used by ‘CiF’ and Guardian contributors often serve as a good window into their ideological sympathies. To boot, Guardian columnist Michael Cohen’s commentary excoriating the Israelis for having the audacity to object to the proposed Iranian nuclear deal (Frenemies: the US-Israel relationship gets rocky over Iran and peace talks, ‘CiF’, Nov. 13) leads us to quite radical ideological territory.

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First, there’s this passage:

The Israeli position of no uranium enrichment, even for peaceful purposes, the removal of all enriched uranium from Iran and the shutting down of all enrichment facilities is a negotiation non-starter – and stands in sharp contrast to the US position.

Firstly, Cohen’s claim is at best extremely misleading, as the Israeli position is that any enriched uranium would eventually be used to produce weapons-grade nuclear fuel. Israel doesn’t oppose a ‘peaceful Iranian nuclear program'; they share the belief of most experts that their goal is to use such fuel to produce nuclear weapons. More interestingly, the link embedded in the words ‘Israeli position’ above takes you to an article at the site of the Hamas-friendly Middle East Monitor (MEMO).

memo

In 2011, CiF Watch reported the following about MEMO’s Hamas connections:

Daoud Abdullah, who is the director of MEMO as well as deputy secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and a senior researcher for the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Palestinian Return Centre, has two major claims to fame. The first is his lead of the MCB’s boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK. The second is his signing of the Istanbul Declaration which potentially endorsed terrorism against British service personnel.

Senior editor of MEMO is Ibrahim Hewitt, who also heads ‘Interpal’ – the charity which has been the subject of three investigations by the Charity Commission and named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial in the United States, as well as having been banned in Israel because of its Hamas connections.

And, that’s not all.  The following paragraph in Cohen’s ‘CiF’ piece has an even more interesting link:

First, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that the failure to negotiate a final status agreement with the Palestinians could lead to a “third intifada” and further international “isolation” for Israel. Days later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not only blasted US diplomatic efforts to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program but openly encouraged American Jews to speak out against the potential agreement.

Whilst it’s unclear why Cohen finds it strange that the prime minister of Israel sought out the support of American Jews on an issue vital to his nation’s security, when you open the link in “encouraged American Jews” it takes you here:

mondoweiss

To those not already familiar with the ideological extremism which the Guardian columnist evidently fancies, here are excerpts from an essay I cross posted at Elder of Ziyon in 2010:

Nazi, Soviet, and, more recently, Arab anti-Semitic caricatures often portray Jews as spiders, cockroaches, and Octopuses – dehumanizing Jews by turning them into animals that are destructive, inhuman and evil. The cartoon below, by the notorious anti-Zionist cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, was posted on the “progressive” Jewish anti-Zionist blog, Mondoweiss recently – by a frequent Mondoweiss blogger named Seham – in reference to the Gaza flotilla incident.

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That such a cartoon would appear on the pages of Mondoweiss, funded by The Nation Institute is, sadly, not particularly surprising to anyone familiar with the blog. Mondoweiss is an openly anti-Zionist Jewish blog and consistently advances, among other classical antisemitic tropes, the argument that Jews exercise too much power over U.S. policy and that Jewish “progressive” voices on the Middle East are censored by the organized Jewish community. The viciousness and hatred towards Israel, and the state’s Jewish supporters, can’t be overstated. The main blogger, Philip Weiss, states that “Zionism privileges Jews and justifies oppression, and this appalls me.” Weiss has complained that the “suffering of Palestinians that has been perpetrated politically in large part by empowered American Jews who are all over the media and political establishment.”

Weiss has even called for ‘a quota’ on Jews who work in the media. 

Weiss, like fellow liberal, Glenn Greenwald, demonstrating a bizarre left-right anti-Zionist alliance, also has contributed to Pat Buchanan’s paleo-conservative magazine, The American Conservative. Weiss’s alliance with Pat Buchanan seems quite consistent with the blogger’s frequent tropes suggesting the existence of an organized Jewish community so powerful as to render the U.S. President impotent to confront its mendacity. In one post, Weiss complains that the U.S. President’s desire to oppose Israel “colonization” has been “nullified politically because of the Jewish presence in the power structure.”

He went on to warn darkly that, “[One fifth] of [the U.S. Senate] are Jews, even though Jews are just 2 percent of the population. Over half of the money given to the Democratic Party comes from Jews. Obama’s top two political advisers are Jewish, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. The news lately has been dominated by Obama’s aides Kenneth Feinberg and Larry Summers. And what does it mean that the Treasury Secretary gets off the phone with Obama to confer immediately with Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman and Jamie Dimon of Morgan (Dimon’s Jewish; Blankfein would seem to be)? As I have frequently said, the biggest money game in town on the Republican side is Sheldon Adelson, a Zionist Jew.” Such a passage would suggest that the hideously anti-Semitic cartoon posted by Mondoweiss blogger, Seham, isn’t an anomaly. Weiss genuinely seems to see Jewish tentacles wrapped around the Obama Administration.

Weiss has even taken positions which seem to flirt with the political dynamic known as the Red-Green Alliance, as exemplified by British politician George Galloway. In one post Weiss openly expressed support for the terrorist group, Hezbollah. In addition to the group’s open and repeated call for the destruction of Israel, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has a long and well-documented record of engaging in extreme expressions of anti-Semitism. He has stated, “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” He also said, “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew.” A few days before the Lebanese elections in 2009, Weiss said, “I hope Hezbollah wins….Nobody else seems to care for the poor people in Southern Lebanon.

Mondoweiss also hosts the musings of Max Blumenthal, author of the ‘Israel haters guide to the universe’ praised by such notable ‘activists’ as Gilad Atzmon and David Duke.

The politics of Michael Cohen have been revealed in previous ‘CiF’ essays – where he once suggested that terrorist attacks on Israelis may actually ‘help’ the peace process – but his legitimization of Mondoweiss suggests an especially troubling dynamic whereby antisemitic commentary typically associated with the extreme right garners increasing respectability by those who consider themselves ‘progressive’ voices on the Middle East.

Indy’s political editor misrepresents David Ward’s vile Holocaust remarks

We recently reported on a Tweet by David Ward MP, which read “Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?”, suggesting that the Bradford East MP was relishing the inevitable destruction of the “apartheid” Jewish state.  Ward’s Tweet, on top of comments he made on Holocaust Memorial Day earlier this year, resulted in minor disciplinary action being taken against him by his party, the Lib Dems.

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David Ward, MP

Whilst the Guardian reported the most recent row somewhat fairly, a July 18 piece in The Independent, reporting on both Ward’s latest Tweet and his original Holocaust Day ‘reflection’ egregiously downplayed the latter. Nigel Morris, the Indy’s political editor, in a report titled “Liberal Democrats suspend MP David Ward over Israel comments on Holocaust Day“, wrote the following:

A Liberal Democrat MP who questioned the continued existence of Israel lost the party’s whip yesterday following a dressing-down from Nick Clegg.

David Ward, the MP for Bradford East, had previously been reprimanded by the party’s leadership over comments condemning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

The issue came to a head after a new post on Twitter in which Mr Ward wrote: “Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?”

Of course, it is grossly misleading to write that Ward had been reprimanded due to comments “condemning Israel’s treatment of Palestinians”. The quote which caused the row specifically referred to Jews, and not Israelis.  Here it is:

“Having visited Auschwitz twice– once with my family and once with local schools … I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new state of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza,” 

As the quote clearly indicates, Ward was castigating Jews as Jews for, a mere few years after liberation from the death camps in 1945, evidently not learning the correct moral lessons and thus beginning immediately to inflict atrocities on Palestinians.  

Jews, ‘of all people’, an exasperated Ward was in effect exclaiming, had visited upon the Palestinians a level of cruelty and violence which arguably evoke the crimes committed against their co-religionists in the death camps throughout Europe – a “they of all people” argument which Howard Jacobson aptly characterized as leaving the Jewish people doubly damned: to the Holocaust itself and to elevated moral scrutiny as a result of it.

 As Chas Newkey-Burden so eloquently wrote:

Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity. Do not accept it; turn it back on those who offer it. For it is us, not you, who should know better.

Contrary to the extremely misleading passage by Morris, Ward did not simply condemn Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, but criticized Jews for their alleged collective amnesia over the Shoah, and their resulting ‘inhumanity’ towards others.  Jewish victims, Ward’s logic implies, have “sadly” become the new victimizers.

Ward egregiously crossed the line between criticising Israel and collectively criticising Jews, a huge moral distinction which the Indy editor should have easily identified. 

David Ward disciplined by Lib Dems after Tweet about Israel’s inevitable imposion

We posted recently about the following July 13th Tweet by David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP who had lectured Jews (on Holocaust Memorial Day in January) for inflicting atrocities on others and thus failing to learn the right moral lessons from the Nazi genocide.

Well, it was reported about an hour ago that, due to his comments about Jews on Holocaust Memorial Day, as well as his most recent Tweet, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and chief whip Alistair Carmichael met with Ward and decided to withdraw his party whip, essentially temporarily suspending him from the parliamentary party.

Here’s the letter by chief whip Alistair Carmichael to Ward:

David Ward MP
House of Commons
LONDON
SW1A 0AA

17th July, 2013

Thank you for coming to see Nick, Simon and me this afternoon.

You will recall that we discussed the report of your two meetings with the group convened by Simon, which included Jewish colleagues. As Nick indicated to you, that report was a largely positive one. In particular we were all pleased to note that you appreciated the need to use language in this debate that was proportionate and precise.

It was therefore with immense disappointment that we were presented with your public comment made on 13th July on Twitter in the following terms:

“Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?”

We were in unanimous agreement that questioning the continued existence of the State of Israel fails the test of language that is “proportionate and precise”.

We want to be clear with you that in this process we are not concerned about your views and opinions on the policies of present or previous Israeli governments, nor the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories, nor the strength of feeling with which your views are held. As we have sought to impress upon you repeatedly, we are having to decide on whether language you chose to use in January and February, and now this month, is language which brings the party into disrepute or harms the interests of the Party.

During the meeting, we put it to you that your most recent statement – which specifically questions the continuing existence of the State of Israel – is neither proportionate nor precise. Unfortunately, we considered your explanation to be unconvincing and it did not satisfy us that you understood the importance of conducting the debate on this issue at all times and in all places in terms that are proportionate and precise.

We wish to reiterate that this is not about telling you what your views should be. Indeed, we have all visited the occupied territories and we have all experienced an instinctive and liberal reaction to the humanitarian suffering we have witnessed. You will know that Nick, Simon and I have a consistent track record of being outspoken about illegal settlement activities of Israeli governments and the threat this poses to the two-state solution for which the party has long argued.

It is also immensely frustrating for us to find ourselves constantly responding to questions about disproportionate and imprecise language from you. These interventions cause considerable offence rather than addressing questions of political substance about the plight of the Palestinian people and the right of Israel’s citizens to live a life free of violence. It is extraordinarily difficult to gain traction in that debate at an effective political level if the expression of our concerns is undermined by the way your language misrepresents the view of our party.

Whilst we understand you have your own views about this process, which has been long and complicated, we also hope you recognise that we have given you every opportunity to reconcile the expression of your views with the party’s policy on a two-state solution. Unfortunately, you have not been able to do that.

Therefore, it is with regret that I have to inform you that we have decided to suspend the Liberal Democrat whip from you. This period of suspension will be with immediate effect until 13th September inclusive. I very much regret that it has been necessary to take this action.

Yours ever,

Alistair Carmichael

We had noted in our earlier post that even the Guardian failed to come to Ward’s defense after his Holocaust remarks. 

David Ward Tweets truth to Jewish power

Those among us who are Jewish were recently castigated by David Ward MP about the historical lessons that our fellow stiff-necked co-religionists simply refuse to learn. 

On Holocaust Memorial Day earlier in the year he expressed how “saddened” he was that “Jews” who “suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust,” could, “only a few years [after] liberation from the death camps,” begin “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel”, and “continue to do so on a daily basis”.

Ward’s reflections about the lessons Jews failed to learn from Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor even failed to evoke the sympathy of the Guardian.  And, though he faced a putative ‘disciplinary’ process by his party, the Liberal Democrats, over his remarks, recent comments by Ward about his earlier ‘Shoah reflections’ demonstrate that he doesn’t possess even a hint of remorse – an observation only reinforced by a Tweet from his account two days ago:

In addition to contemplating that a British Member of Parliament seems to be fetishizing about the possible downfall of the Jewish state, it’s also worth noting that, shortly after his Holocaust remarks in January, Ward attempted to contextualize the onslaught of criticism he was receiving by warning of “a huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism.”

So, you see, the MP from Bradford East is not ‘merely’ lecturing Jews on their shameful immorality, and fantasizing on the inevitable implosion of the Zionist entity, but is indeed ‘breaking the silence’ and boldly refusing to surrender to the suffocating control of ‘the lobby’.  Ward fancies himself a brave soul who dares to speak truth to Jewish power.  

The Guardian, Steve Bell, Bibi and more puppet-like control

Here’s the cartoon published by Steve Bell, Guardian on Nov. 15, titled: Tony Blair and William Hague’s role in Israel-Gaza clash.

Steve Bell 16.12.2012

As we noted in a post the day after the cartoon was published (a graphic depiction of the puppet-like control Bibi had over Blair and Hague in the context of the two British leaders’ expressions of support for Israel’s recent war in Gaza) the cartoon evoked the antisemitic canard of Jewish control over non-Jewish British politicians.  Further, Bell’s cartoon was almost indistinguishable from what is routinely published in the Arab media (in cartoons and in prose) alleging unimaginable Jewish control over world leaders.

Bell defended the cartoon, arguing thus:

“I can’t be held responsible for whatever cultural precepts and misapprehensions people choose to bring to my cartoon.”

Today, February 4th, evidently in response to an apology by Sunday Times’ owner Rupert Murdoch – over the controversial Gerald Scarfe cartoon (published on Holocaust Memorial Day), which depicted mangled, tortured bodies being buried over with bricks laid by the bloody trowel of a murderous Netanyahu – Bell published the following, titled: Steve Bell’s If … on Rupert Murdoch’s apology to Israel.

(Note: the second frame is a reference to a comment by Murdoch in November, complaining that the Jewish owned press is consistently anti-Israel.  The final frame is a reference to Sooty, a popular glove bear and TV character back in the 50s.)

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Is Bell mocking Murdoch’s complaint that media companies with Jewish owners are anti-Israel by noting that indeed the opposite is the case – that powerful Zionist Jews in fact exercise too much control over the media?

Admittedly, such graphic depictions inevitably leave a lot open to interpretation.  

However, after the row following Bell’s cartoon in November, Chris Elliott – the Guardian’s readers editor – responded to complaints, noting that the image of Jews having a disproportionate influence over the US and British governments has often been replicated by anti-Jewish cartoonists in the Middle East since the end of the second world war, and concluded thus:

“While journalists and cartoonists…should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.”

Given Bell’s reaction to the row over the Scarfe cartoon – where he mocked the notion that the cartoon was antisemitic during a BBC debate with Stephen Pollard and refused to answer Pollard’s question as to whether he was even aware of the history of antisemitic cartoons in the Arab media – it seems clear that the Guardian cartoonist remains, at the very least, breezily unconcerned with the damage caused by “using visual language” which evokes “antisemitic stereotypes”.

More than a cartoon: What Jews talk about when they talk about antisemitism

The Gerald Scarfe Sunday Times cartoon controversy has followed a familiar pattern, with some arguing that the depiction of the bloody trowel wielding Israeli Prime Minister torturing innocent souls – published on Holocaust Memorial Day – evoked the classic antisemitic blood libel, while others (including Guardian contributors and cartoonists) dissented, claiming that Scarfe had no racist intent and was merely critiquing the policies of a head of state who happened to be a Jew.

In response to some who have noted, in Scarfe’s defense, that he had previously depicted Syria’s Assad using a similar blood motif, Stephen Pollard of The JC aptly noted: “But there’s never been an anti-Alawite blood libel, and the context matters. The blood libel is central to the history of antisemitism.”

Though Scarfe may have indeed possessed no antisemitic intent whatsoever, Pollard is stressing that the effect of the cartoon simply can’t be ignored, and that historical context matters.

When we talk about antisemitism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ on this blog we’re not claiming to possess some sort of political mentalism – a piercing moral intuition which grants us access to the souls of their journalists and contributors.  Similarly, we’re not suggesting that we can ever tell with any degree of certainty that, when we argue that criticism of Israel crosses the line to antisemitism, the writer who’s the focus of our ire is necessarily haunted by dark Judeophobic thoughts.

Rather, many of us who talk seriously about antisemitism are skilled at identifying common tropes, narratives and graphic depictions of Jews which are based on prejudices, stereotypes and mythology and which have historically been employed by those who have engaged in cognitive or physical war against Jews.

Though I’m now an Israeli, an apt analogy on the moral necessity of understanding and being sensitive about the racist context of seemingly benign ideas can be derived from my experience growing up in America.

Those who grew up in the US and inherited not the guilt but the moral legacy of slavery and segregation intuitively understand that we owe African-Americans an earnest commitment to strenuously avoid employing the linguistic, cultural and political currency of racism’s tyrannical reign.  Though race relations have matured immeasurably by any standard, and codified bigotry all but eliminated, there are, nonetheless, unwritten prohibitions against language which, even though often unintended, hearkens back to the past, evoking the haunting memory of the nation’s past sins.

In America, comedians avoid black-face routines, in which white performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person.  A mainstream newspaper wouldn’t publish a cartoon depicting an African-American as lazy and shiftless, nor would any publication present a black public figure (in any context) as  a boot licking  ‘Uncle Tom.  And, someone using the N-word (in public or private) would be rightfully socially ostracized or at least stigmatized as crude racist.

Such political taboos in America have developed organically over time in response to a quite particular historical chapter, and are recognized by most as something akin to an unwritten social contract on the issue of race.  White Americans can not ever fully understand black pain, the learned cognitive responses from their collective consciousness, but it is reasonable of them to expect that we not recklessly tread, even if without malice, on their sacred shared memory.  

Further, whites who honor this implied covenant – and avoid evoking such narratives and imagery – by and large don’t bemoan the so-called “restrictions” placed on their artistic or intellectual expression, or complain that African-Americans are stifling their free speech.  Rather, such unwritten rules, social mores and ethical norms about race are typically understood to represent something akin to a moral restitution for a previous generation’s crimes.  While in the US, the First Amendment affords legal protection to those who would engage in anti-black hate speech, it is largely understood that responsible citizenship often requires self-restraint – the greatness of a people measured by what they are permitted to do, but decide not to in order to preserve national harmony, what’s known in Judaism as Shalom bayit.  

When Jews talk seriously about antisemitism they are asking those who don’t wish to be so morally implicated to avoid needlessly poisoning the political environment which Jews inhabit.

They are appealing to the better angels of their neighbors’ nature by asking them not to carelessly conjure calumnies such as the “danger” to the world of Jewish power or conspiracies , Jews’ “disloyalty” to the countries where they live, that Jews share collective guilt for the sins of a few, that they’ve come to morally resemble their Nazi persecutors, or that Jews intentionally spill the blood of innocents.

In short, we are asking that decent people avoid employing canards which represented the major themes in Europe’s historic persecution of Jews, and which, tragically, still have currency on the extreme left, the extreme right, and, especially, in much of the Arab and Muslim world today.

The Scarfe/Sunday Times row is about more than the cartoon itself, and it is certainly not about the “right” to offend. It’s about sober but passionate pleas by a minuscule minority that decent people not afflict the historically afflicted, and to recognize their moral obligations to not provide aid and comfort to anti-Jewish racists.  

We are asking genuine anti-racists to resist becoming, even if unintentionally, intellectual partners or political fellow travelers with those who trade in the lethal narratives and toxic calumnies associated with the resilient Judeophobic hatred which has caused us immeasurable pain, horrid suffering and indescribable calamities through the ages. 

A place where Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell can find “real” antisemitism

On the ‘Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 29th January, there was a debate between Stephen Pollard of the Jewish Chronicle and Steve Bell, political cartoonist for the Guardian, over the Gerald Scarfe cartoon in the Sunday Times published on Holocaust Memorial Day – depicting mangled, tortured bodies being buried over with bricks laid by the bloody trowel of a sinister Israeli leader.

Pollard advanced an argument similar to the one he made so eloquently in The JC today, arguing that the cartoon slips into antisemitism because it invokes the blood libel, and while papers should always have the right to publish offensive material, possessing such freedom to offend doesn’t mean that it is always the correct decision to do so.

Bell disagreed, and argued as follows:

“Apologising for this cartoon – for once it wasn’t a bad cartoon – I think Stephen Pollard invokes terms like “the blood libel” and kind of ‘genocidal hate rage’…. he’s attributing this to a cartoon which is actually … it’s sort of like a mirror image of the cartoon Scarfe did the week before … President Assad clutching the head of a baby … not a squeak about that …

The problem with the State of Israel and the Zionist Lobby is that they never acknowledge the crime of ethnic cleansing upon which the State was founded …”

Bell’s fictitious history of Israel’s founding is as characteristic as it is malicious, as it was the tiny Jewish state which was forced, a couple of years after the Holocaust, on the day of its founding, to defend against five invading Arab armies intent on extinguishing their presence from the river to the sea.  Bell’s revisionism also excludes the shameful episode after Israel’s founding, in which hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens of Arab countries were punished for the crime of Israel’s continued existence by being systematically expelled – that is, ethnically cleansed – from land where their ancestors had lived for hundreds of years.

Also during his debate with Pollard, Bell the historian also warned against using “the term ‘blood libel’ loosely and ridiculously”, and then added:

“Extraneous notions like ‘blood libel’ are dropped in and sensitivities are talked up .. the very word ‘antisemitic’ becomes devalued .. ‘they’ throw it around with such abandon, if there really is antisemitism it’s actually getting ignored.”

So, what does Steve Bell know about “real” antisemitism? My guess is that he doesn’t know too much. 

While Bell was all too willing to publish a cartoon (during Israel’s military operation in Gaza) depicting weak, cowardly British leaders being controlled like puppets by a powerful Jewish leader, when has he ever employed such graphic agitprop to mock “real” antisemites who occupy the landscape of the Arab Middle East?

Did the “populist” liberal satirist ever fancy the idea of caricaturing Egypt’s President Morsi, for instance, who characterized Jews as descendants of apes and pigs, and who told his fellow citizens to nurse their children on Jew hatred?

Additionally, has he ever thought to ridicule Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for engaging in Holocaust denial?

Finally, has it ever occurred to Bell to mock the ubiquitous commentators and clerics in the Arab and Muslim world who still peddle in the most bizarre Jewish conspiracy theories, such as the charge that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to bake their ‘Sabbath’ bread? 

If he ever decided to do so, Bell could have used text from an actual poem by a radical and quite well-known Islamist preacher – demonstrated in a UK Immigration Tribunal ruling on Feb. 8, 2012, to be a clear reference to the antisemitic blood libel – which included the following: 

“We have never allowed ourselves, and listen carefully; we have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread for the breaking [of] fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan with the blood of the children.  And if someone wants a wider explanation, then he should ask what used to happen to some of the children of Europe, when their blood used to be mixed in the dough of the holy bread.”

Of course, if Bell did decide to direct his righteous ire at those who engage in such “real” antisemitism – and perhaps even at arrogant, hypocritical media groups which have actually championed the cause of such crude and unrepentant racists – he’d be hitting just a wee bit too close to home.

A ‘Comment is Free’ essay by the extremist who evoked the “real” medieval blood libel cited above, Raed Salah, was published on April 19, 2012, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial day.

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How one British paper decided to depict living Jews on Holocaust Memorial Day

H/T to Raheem at The Commentator

In my 2010 report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs about antisemitic cartoons, I noted that political cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes than a lengthy essay.  They express ideas which are easy to understand, and thus represent an efficient way to transmit hate and prejudices, including antisemitism.

While the largest output of antisemitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world, some “respectable” European papers have published graphic depictions of Jews evoking classic Judeophobic stereotypes.

Some of the core motifs of antisemitic cartoons are Jews as absolute evil; imagery equating Israel with Nazi Germany; Jewish conspiracies; Zionists controlling the world; and variations of the blood libel.

While mainstream Western papers avoid explicitly promoting the blood libel, variations of this theme – suggesting in cartoon and in prose that bloodthirsty Israeli Jews intentionally kill innocently Palestinians (often children) – have been published at popular sites.  For instance, one of the most popular news sites in the Anglo world, The Huffington Post, posted a cartoon in 2012 by notorious antisemitic cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, which clearly conveyed the idea that the Israeli Prime Minister was murdering Palestinian babies to gain votes in the upcoming election, suggesting that baby killing was supported by the Israeli public.

A similar motif of infanticide appeared in a 2003 cartoon by Dave Brown in the progressive British daily The Independent. The cartoon shows Sharon eating the head of a Palestinian baby and saying, “What’s wrong? Have you never seen a politician kissing a baby? It won Britain’s 2003 Political Cartoon of the Year Award.

The following cartoon was published at The Sunday Times (the largest-selling ‘serious’ British national Sunday newspaper) today, Jan. 27, International Holocaust Memorial Day.

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In case you didn’t notice, the text reads ‘Will Cementing Peace Continue?’, an apparent allusion to Israeli construction across the green line.

However, the Sunday Times cartoonist decided to depict such building as not only injurious to peace, but (as the bloody, mangled bodies being buried over with cement, laid by the bloody trowel of a sinister Israeli Prime Minister) as a sadistic act of violence against innocents in order to gain votes in the Israeli election.  

In light of the Sunday Times’ decision to publish a cartoon on Holocaust Memorial Day depicting a blood-lusting Jewish leader, as well as recent comments by British MP David Ward suggesting that, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Jews should learn to stop “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”, as well as other routine debasements of Holocaust memory, here’s a simple, if counter-intuitive request to those who believe that the Holocaust means anything at all:

Spare us your Holocaust pieties, your monuments, your memorials, museums and days of remembrance, and consider that, instead of honoring Jews murdered over 65 years ago, you may want to begin, instead, to honor Jews who are still among us.

There are many ways to show reverence for a tiny minority which has somehow survived despite the best efforts, past and present, of practitioners of homicidal antisemitism. However, the especially morally righteous among you may wish to gain a basic understanding of the precise manner in which Jews have been caricatured, vilified, demonized and dehumanized prior to pogroms, massacres and genocides, studiously avoid advancing narratives or creating graphic depictions which evoke such antisemitic imagery, and righteously condemn those who do so.

You can not undo the horrors inflicted upon six million souls, but you can live your life with a steely determination to never again allow lethal, racist narratives about living Jews to go unchallenged, and to assiduously fight efforts to reintroduce such toxic calumnies into the “respectable” public discourse. 

Turn David Ward’s vile charge on its head

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As CST and others have reported, British MP David Ward (Liberal Democrat, Bradford East) recently decided to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, observed internationally on Jan. 27 (the day, in 1945, that Auschwitz was liberated), by grossly debasing Holocaust memory.

On his website, there is an entry with the following title: ‘Bradford MP condemns Israel for treatment of Palestinians on the day he signs the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment’.

It begins thus:

Sunday January 27th will mark the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the weeks running up to the day, the Holocaust Educational Trust placed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, giving MPs the chance to honour those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust and encouraging constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today.

Then there is a quote from Ward himself:

Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.

While some have rightfully focused on the morally obscene comparison between casualties as the result of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Nazi extermination of six million Jew, there’s an element of Ward’s quote which is even more disturbing. It is the “they-of-all-people” argument: the suggestion that Jews, having faced unimaginable persecution, should know better than anyone not to be oppressors.

As Howard Jacobson argued, the argument leaves the Jewish people doubly damned: to the Holocaust itself and to elevated moral scrutiny as a result of it.  By this logic, Jacobson argued, “the Holocaust becomes an educational experience from which Jews were ethically obliged to graduate summa cum laude, Israel being the proof that they didn’t.”

Further, as Chas Newkey-Burden so eloquently argued, those who employ the “they of all people” argument are, in essence, saying that it is Jews, and not the antisemites, who have lessons to learn – that it is Jews, not the antisemites, who need to clean up their act. 

Newkey-Burden:

“The Holocaust followed centuries of slander, persecution, violence and murder committed by gentiles against Jews. So it is not you who have an increased responsibility to behave morally, but us.

For instance, something that we gentiles should know better than to do is lazily accuse Jewish people, or the Jewish state itself, of any misdemeanour. We have seen what centuries of slander against the Jewish people led to during the 1930s and ’40s. We see the hatred, heartbreak and bloodshed that such anti-Jewish libels continue to provoke, particularly in the Middle East.

Yet much of the world still continues to delight in damning Israel with indecent haste. From Al Dura (the false claim that Israeli forces murdered a boy in Gaza) to Jenin, from the Goldstone Report to the Gaza flotilla; time and again the world has found Israel guilty of a particular crime before all the evidence was available. When the full picture emerged and exonerated Israel it was too late to undo the damage. We gentiles, of all people, should know better.”

Newkey-Burden’s urgent moral plea to resist those who would so debase Holocaust memory ends thusly:

“Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity. Do not accept it; turn it back on those who offer it. For it is us, not you, who should know better.”

Turn David Ward’s vile charge on its head!

Guardian’s duty to Jews on Yom HaShoah? Don’t publish accusations that we’re “supremacists”!

While you should read Hadar Sela’s superb take down of the reprehensible decision by Comment is Free editors to provide a forum, on Holocaust Heroism and Remembrance Day, to the recently released Islamist Raed Salah, (Britain’s duty to the Palestinian people, April 19) one particular passage in Salah’s claim of moral vindication deserves scrutiny.

Here’s the relevant passage:

After a 10-month legal battle, I have now been cleared on “all grounds” by a senior immigration tribunal judge, who ruled that May’s decision to deport me was “entirely unnecessary” and that she had been “misled”. The evidence she relied on (which included a poem of mine which had been doctored to make it appear anti-Jewish) was not, he concluded, a fair portrayal of my views. In reality, I reject any and every form of racism, including antisemitism. [emphasis added]

Here’s the version of the poem as cited in the recent UK Immigration Tribunal ruling:

“We are not a nation that is based on values of envy.  We are not a nation that is based on values of vengeance.  We have never allowed ourselves, and listen carefully; we have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread for the breaking [of] fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan with the blood of the children.  And if someone wants a wider explanation, then he should ask what used to happen to some of the children of Europe, when their blood used to be mixed in the dough of the holy bread.  God almighty, is this religion?  Is this what God wants?  Allah’s curse be on you: how you are deluded away from the Truth.  How dare you to lie to God?  How dare you to fabricate things on God?” [emphasis added]

However, contrary to Salah’s claim in CiF, the UK Immigration Tribunal did not vindicate the poem at all.

Here’s the text from the ruling, regarding the poem:

we do not find this [poem] could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews and nothing said by the appellant or Professor Pappe explains why it would be interpreted otherwise from the original Arabic text or in the English text before us. 

Finally, perhaps the most risible claim in Salah’s CiF essay is that he rejects antisemitism.

While we’ve commented on his undeniable record of Jew hatred on many occasions, a later passage in his own CiF essay further demonstrates how absurd his claim is.

Salah writes

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

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

As we’ve noted several times in the context of commenting on Gilad Atzmon, imputing “supremacist” ideology to Zionists and Jews is a morally hideous idea which was, unsurprisingly, popularized by David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

And, yes, when Salah refers to “Israel and its supporters in Britain“, the supporters he’s talking about are Jews.

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

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

Evidently Salah didn’t feel the need to even use such a code word for Jewish supremacism.

And, evidently, Guardian editors have not gotten Elliott’s memo, and continue to show themselves either incapable of recognizing, or indifferent to, even such explicit anti–Jewish racism – on Yom HaShoah, and each day the broadsheet continues in their simply comical mission of being the “liberal” paper of record.   

Harriet Sherwood cynically exploits a Holocaust survivor on Yom HaShoah to criticize Israel

Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s day of commemoration for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of actions carried out by Nazi Germany.

At 10 AM sirens sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. During this time, as every year on this day, people ceased from action and stood at attention; cars stopped; and most of the country came to a standstill as people payed silent tribute to the dead.

On Yom HaShoah ceremonies and services are held throughout the country.

On Erev Yom HaShoah and the day itself, public entertainment venues are closed, and Israeli TV airs Holocaust documentaries, Holocaust-related talk shows, and low-key songs are played on the radio. Flags on public buildings are flown at half mast.

Israel is home to just under 200,000 Holocaust survivors.

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood decided not focus on one of the many heroic tales of survival against impossible odds, or the scars still carried by survivors’ children and grandchildren, those who are still haunted by stories of their parent’s and grandparent’s suffering, relayed by fading memories – a population still able to provide first hand accounts of their encounters with human evil.

Rather, Sherwood, published “Holocaust survivors struggling to make ends meet in Israel“, which is hard to surpass in the manipulation of genuine suffering in the service of agenda driven journalism.

Sherwood opens:

Despite the horrors of a childhood in the shadow of the Holocaust, Ros Dayan survived to build a life she could be proud of in the new Jewish state of Israel.

She trained as a nurse, she sang in a choir that toured the world. She learnt Hebrew, though she never lost her central European accent. She paid her taxes and eventually bought the tiny house in Jaffa that she had rented at a subsidised rate for years. She even learned to live with the pain of three broken vertebrae, the result of an assault by a Nazi soldier.

But, now, in the last years of her life, Ros is ashamed. One of the 198,000 Holocaust survivors still alive in Israel, she is also one of the growing proportion who cannot make ends meet, who struggle with insufficient funds on a daily basis. Wiping a single tear with a shaking hand, she says: “For the first time, I don’t have enough money for food or clothes. I used to have pride, now I am ashamed.”

According to studies, around a quarter of Holocaust survivors in Israel live below the poverty line, struggling to pay for food, heating, housing, medication and care.

But the most manipulative passage is here, where she finds her desired quote:

“A lot of survivors face big medical bills, and life in Israel is very expensive generally,” says Deborah Garel of the Jaffa Institute, which distributes bi-monthly food parcels to Holocaust survivors. “Holocaust survivors going hungry in Israel? This is not right. After being hungry in the ghetto, they shouldn’t be hungry in the Jewish state.”

Whatever the real economic hardships faced by Holocaust survivors in Israel (and even one survivor without enough to eat is, of course, one too many), to evoke hunger in Nazi era ghettos, where the mortality rate due to malnutrition and disease among babies and infants, for instance, was 100 percent, in the context of difficulties survivors face paying for food in the Jewish state is as callous as it is cynical.

(As a side note, the percentage of survivors cited by Sherwood as living below the poverty line 25%, though of course unacceptable, is exactly proportionate with the general population.)

Finally, In the penultimate paragraph, Sherwood finds one last quote to polish off her narrative.

“I love this country, but I don’t feel Jewish here. I came here to feel Jewish. Every Holocaust day I’m sad for what we lost, and I’m sad I didn’t end up in a country that loves me,” [Ros] says.

Whatever the very real economic problems of survivors like Ros, it beggars the imagination that Sherwood couldn’t have avoided vilifying the Jewish state on such a solemn day.

Further, to provide a bit of context to the British-Israeli relationship, it should be noted that had a sovereign Jewish state been created prior the Holocaust the number of Jews killed would have been dramatically fewer, and indeed the British White Paper in 1939, a document influenced in large measure by Arab demands, dramatically limited the number of Jews allowed to immigrate into Palestine (75,000 over the following five years).

So, the gates of Palestine largely remained closed duration of the war, stranding hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe, many of whom became victims of Hitler’s Final Solution.

The fact is that Israel has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors, and nearly a million Jews expelled from Arab lands, since the end of WWII, and offered them citizenship, economic assistance, and didn’t let them languish in refugee camps.

But, most importantly, Israel provided these stateless, homeless Jews a safe haven in the first sovereign Jewish polity in over 2000 years – a historically persecuted minority finally no longer at the mercy of the goodwill, whims and wishes of “enlightened” non-Jewish rulers. 

It is not at all surprising that a Guardian reporter like Sherwood can always find someone to serve a desired narrative of Israeli villainy, even in the context of the Jewish state’s response to the Shoah.  But, the ubiquitous nature of such tendentious journalism doesn’t render it any less irresponsible or offensive.  

But perhaps, just perhaps, her sensitive soul could have been moved (just this one time) to recount just one of the many stories (among the remaining survivors) of those Jewish men, women and children who risked everything to escape the fires ready to consume them in Europe to reach the shores of their promised land.

Having lost much if not all of their family, they had finally arrived in Eretz Y’srael. They had finally reached freedom.

Life in the modern Jewish state is, of course, not perfect, but it is not unreasonable to expect Harriet Sherwood to, at least on this one day, this supremely solemn occasion, display just a modicum of respect, a bit of self-restraint, and avoid such characteristic ideologically driven caricatures of the nation she’s covering. 

Misleading Guardian report on UK government funding to help secure Jewish schools (Updated)

The Community Security Trust (CST) is an organization which provides physical security, training and advice for the protection of British Jews; assists victims of antisemitism and monitors antisemitic activities and incidents in the UK. 

CST recently noted that “the Guardian has chosen to mark Holocaust Memorial Day by attacking the funding provided by the government to pay for security guarding at Jewish state schools in England and Wales.”

A Guardian report by Rob Evans titled “Michael Grove criticized for awarding public funds to organization he advised“, Jan. 27, cited criticism by the group Spinwatch that “Michael Gove, the education secretary, awarded £2m of public money to an organisation that he promoted as an adviser for four years”.

As CST noted on their site, “The Guardian story is misleading as it suggests that the money provided by the Department for Education pays for CST to provide security at Jewish schools…[while] the funds are “merely administered by CST and distributed in full to the Jewish schools who then use it to employ their own security guards” (not from CST).  

CST added further:

“[CST] does not keep any of the grant money and there is no allowance made for CST’s staff time in administering the funds to each school. In the end the project actually costs CST money, the exact opposite of the impression given by the Guardian.  If the Guardian had contacted CST for comment before running the story, we could have explained all of this to them.”

Moreover, the funding from the UK Department of Education only accounts for a fraction of the total costs associated with the CST’s work to secure over 300 synagogues, over 120 Jewish schools, more than 1000 Jewish communal organisations and buildings; and nearly 1000 communal events, from antisemitic attacks and potential acts of terrorism.

Further, CST noted, “the overwhelming bulk of CST’s funding is provided by voluntary donations from the UK Jewish community”.

In 2010, there were 639 reported incidents of antisemitism in the UK, the second highest since the CST began keeping records in 1984, which included 58 incidents targeting Jewish schools, students, or teachers.

UPDATE 1: After a complaint from CST, the Guardian has now added a paragraph near the end of their article which reads:

“All the money is distributed by the trust to the schools which then employ the security guards. As the trust’s role is essentially administrative, none of the money is retained by the trust or pays for any of the trust’s work.”

However, the acknowledgement that the grant does not pay for CST’s work isn’t reflected in the headline or opening paragraph of the article, which have not been amended.

UPDATE 2: Harry’s Place has some fascinating information on the background of David Miller, the Spinwatch official who brought the complaint to the Guardian’s attention in the first place. Seems like the crusader for ethics and transparency has a soft spot for antisemites. (See here.) 

Holocaust Memorial Day, 2012

This was written by our friend Chas Newkey-Burden, and originally posted at his blog, OyVaGoy

It is Holocaust Memorial Day [today]. You can read more about this year’s theme here.

On days such as this I am reminded of the words of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who wrote the following:

‘What cannot help but astound us is that the Hasidim remained the Hasidim inside the ghetto walls, inside the death camps. In the shadow of the executioner, they celebrated life. Startled Germans whispered to each other of Jews dancing in the cattle cars rolling towards Birkenau; Hasidim ushering in Simchat Torah. And there were those who in Block 57 at Auschwitz tried to make me join in their fervent singing. Were these miracles?’

What a passage: it is haunting and inspiring, harrowing and uplifting all at once. Similar emotions are provoked by a recording made at Bergen-Belsen shortly after it was liberated in April 1945. It includes weary Jewish survivors singing Hativkah (The Hope), the song that became the national anthem of the state of Israel. You can find a link to the recording on the right-hand side of this page. (Or, see YouTube clip below)

‘Never despair! Never! It is forbidden to give up hope,’ wrote Rabbi Nachman, a century before any of these events took place. These are wise words, yet not always easy to live up to.

Yet consider the Hasidim who celebrated life in the death camps, and the survivors who sang of hope at Bergen-Belsen. Stories such as these remind me how even in the darkest moments it is possible, and essential, to maintain hope.