On Jews & Nazis: The hateful tweets of Irish “journalist” Frank McDonald

FrankThis blog’s previous experience with Irish Times journalist Frank McDonald involved our success at prompting a correction at the paper last August to a false allegation he made concerning BDS.

Despite the correction, however, the Aug. 3rd story on renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations was slanted against Israel to such a degree that it truly could have been written by the Palestinian Ministry of Propaganda.

And, based on a series of recent Tweets by the “environmental journalist”, not only isn’t he too fond of Israel, but he’s not above engaging in ugly smears regarding the Jewish state’s alleged similitude with Nazism which are indistinguishable from what’s leveled by antisemitic extremists.

Indeed, among the most malevolent lies spread by anti-Zionists is that Israelis today are behaving like Nazi Germany did during the Holocaust.

There’s been much written about this insidious moral inversion – a charge made with varying degrees of explicitness recently by two British MPs –  but there are two dynamics worth noting, leaving aside for the moment that such charges are deemed antisemitic by the EUMC Working Definition on Antisemitism.

First, there is the suggestion – again, with varying degrees of explicitness – that Israel is engaging in genocide in Gaza.  This charge, as we demonstrated in a previous post (‘Are Jews the Most Incompetent Ethnic Cleansers on the Planet?), is so counter-factual that only those who possess a crippling hatred towards the Jewish state could even conceive of it.  

During the Shoah, half of Europe’s Jews (including 1.5 million children) were systematically exterminated by the Nazis.  

In Gaza, a blockade on weapons is being enforced by Israel to prevent the flow of rockets and other weapons from getting into the hands of Hamas, a group which launched thousands of such deadly projectiles at Israeli town over the years and is dedicated to the state’s destruction. The population of Gaza has increased from 82,000 in 1949 to more than 1.7 million today. 

Second, there is the moral inversion, in which a vocal minority of putatively liberal commentators see no moral difference between an Islamist extremist group whose founding charter calls for the mass murder of Jews, and the Jews who represent object of their immutable racism. Indeed, some have even convinced themselves that it is the Islamist extremist group which is the victim of Jewish aggression.

This brings us to the following Tweets by Frank McDonald.

The comparison between The Warsaw Ghetto is almost beyond comprehension, but a few facts need to be noted: in 1941 many Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were limited to a diet of less than 200 calories a day, and in 1942 up to 5,000 Jews in the Ghetto were dying every month due to starvation. 

Not only is there no humanitarian crisis (yet alone starvation) in Gaza, but obesity has actually been a problem in the strip since at least the late 1990s.

However, in case you’re in any doubt as to whether McDonald believes that Israelis behave like Nazis, here’s one final Tweet – one of several which evoke the Holocaust that you can see on his Twitter feed over the past several days.

Of course, if post-Holocaust taboos against demonizing Jews were still the norm, the suggestion that Israeli Jews behave like Nazis would render the author of such a hateful invective politically toxic to the progressive journalistic community. 

But, we clearly don’t live in such a place.

Rather, the political realm we inhabit – a mere 69 years since the liberation of Auschwitz - allows for such odious charges in the name, often, of liberal, pro-Palestinian political commentary.

Leon Wieseltier, in The New Republic, made the following observation about those who demonize Israel and characterize its Jewish citizens as morally beyond the pale:

“A whole country and a whole people have been expelled from the realm of imaginative sympathy…there is a poison in the air.”

The  ideological toxins which inform the views of Frank McDonald will likely not be challenged by liberal left opinion leaders, and we can be all but certain that his editors at the Irish Times won’t blink an eye or even demand an explanation for his appalling racist smear of Israel’s six million Jews.

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Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi apologises for comparing Gaza to the Holocaust.

Cross posted by London based blogger Richard Millett

Well done, Tal Ofer! After I reported on Thursday that during Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on Gaza Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi had compared the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza to that of Jews living in Nazi Germany Labour Party activist Ofer immediately reported her remarks to Labour’s HQ and brought it to the attention of the media generally.

Qureshi had said:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.”

You cannot get more offensive to the few remaining Holocaust survivors and to those who lost loved ones in Auschwitz, Belsen etc.

Gaza is no Belsen. And the suffering in Gaza is at the behest of Islamist-terror organisation Hamas which is happy to oppress its own people so that useful idiots in the West will blame Israel.

The response to Qureshi’s remarks from the Labour Party itself was an utter disgrace:

“These remarks were taken completely out of context. Yasmin Qureshi was not equating events in Gaza with the Holocaust. As an MP who has visited Auschwitz and has campaigned all her life against racism and anti-Semitism she would not do so.”

However, soon after, Qureshi must have had a pang of conscience and came out with this apology:

“The debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust. I apologise for any offence caused. I am also personally hurt if people thought I meant this. As someone who has visited the crematoria and gas chambers of Auschwitz I know the Holocaust was the most brutal act of genocide of the 20th Century and no-one should seek to underestimate its impact.”

So Qureshi is “personally hurt”? Poor her. Not as “personally hurt” as those who were in Auschwitz or Belsen etc or lost family there.

But let’s all feel sorry for Qureshi instead!

It is also pretty frustrating that Labour List’s Mark Ferguson thinks “Qureshi’s apology should draw a line under this, and rightly so. If there was no intention to cause offence or equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust I am happy to accept that.”

How can there have been “no intention”? Her words are 100% clear. There is no nuance!

And then what does Ferguson think of Gerald Kaufman MP’s words about Israelis?:

“Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.”

The remainder of Qureshi’s speech was also disgraceful, especially the way she frames Jews solely by religion. She said, referring indirectly to Kaufman:

“I want to praise the people in Israel and the Jewish people in this country who campaign actively for the rights of Palestinians. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton, I am sure that they are criticised by other Jewish people perhaps for trying to betray the state of Israel”.

But the likes of Kaufman are criticised not just by “Jewish people” but people of all religions and none. It is this division of Jews into “good Jew/bad Jew” that is almost tantamount to inciting racial hatred.

Meanwhile, these Holocaust comparisons are slowly, slowly becoming the norm.

American Professor Joel Beinin told a student audience at SOAS recently that Israel is putting the Bedouin into “concentration camps” and at a recent War On Want talk at SOAS students were told that the Palestinians are living in “apartheid ghettos”.

Thanks to the rhetoric of Beinin, Qureshi, War On Want and others Israeli Jews (and, by extension, any Jew that supports Israel) are slowly becoming thought of as Nazis.

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A day of anti-Israel hatred and Holocaust trivialisation in Parliament.

Cross posted by London based blogger Richard Millett

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

“It was supposed to be Never Again” declared Ismail Patel but the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, he said, are “oppressed”, undergoing “ethnic cleansing” and suffering a “genocide”.

Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa, was speaking in the Grimmond Room of Britain’s Houses of Parliament last night at an event to launch his organisation’s “Jerusalem Report” which focuses on “Protecting Palestinian Citizenship Rights in East Jerusalem.”

According to Megan Driscoll, Advocacy Officer at Coalition for Jerusalem (based in Jerusalem), who spoke first, Israel’s “Jerusalem Masterplan” is to secure the Jewish majority in the city.

Driscoll said that the Palestinian population there is currently 34% and that Israel’s aim is to drive this down to 30% and probably lower.

The way Israel is doing this, she continued, is through “residency revocation” which makes Jerusalem Palestinians “stateless”.

Driscoll said Israel revokes residency if Palestinians have lived abroad for more than seven years or have taken citizenship in another country.

She said there is also a Jerusalem “centre of life” test that Palestinians must pass. This, she said, is so stringent that even Palestinians still living in Jerusalem have not been able to prove such centrality and have lost their residency rights.

Driscoll claimed that since 1967 there have been over 14,000 such “residency revocations”. She referred to this as the “Quiet Deportation” and said it was successful because instead of being “mass collective punishment” it received less attention in the media because it was executed against individuals and families.

Linda Ramsden, Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, said that Israel’s “policy of displacement began in 1948 when 530 Palestinian villages were demolished and 750,000 Palestinians made refugees”.

She described how most Palestinians applying for building permits are refused because they cannot prove ownership of land due to a lack of documents (does it not occur to Ramsden that maybe, just maybe, they do not own the land in question?).

Ramsden said that once a house is built without a permit a Palestinian family will suffer from stress worrying which day their home will be demolished. She said this causes a lot of “stress related illness”.

When a house is due to be demolished, she continued, hundreds of police and dogs arrive which, she said, is “very frightening”. Bulldozers are used for the demolition and pneumatic drills destroy the base of the house.

She claimed the families are fined and sent a bill for the demolition and that some Palestinians demolish their own homes to avoid these “horrendous costs”.

Meanwhile, last night’s event was hosted and chaired by the Labour MP for Bolton South-East Yasmin Qureshi. Qureshi was fresh from the House of Commons debate that afternoon on the situation in Gaza.

Qureshi is very quietly spoken but the words that come out of her mouth are pure poison where Israel is concerned. If one thinks that Ismail Patel’s application of the term “Never Again” to the Palestinians was bad enough, Qureshi’s Holocaust minimization is more shocking.

Here is what she said in yesterday’s Parliamentary debate:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.” (my emphasis)

This followed Labour MP Gerald Kaufman’s attack on ALL Israelis in the same debate:

“Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification…It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.” (my emphasis)

This is how Britain’s Parliament is sometimes so abused. While innocent Syrians are being murdered and left permanently disabled by barrel bombs dropped out of the sky by Assad’s forces certain MPs are offensive about Israel, Israelis and the Holocaust instead.

While Kaufman voted against any intervention in Syria, Qureshi couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to that vote last August!

Last night’s event launching the “Jerusalem Report” was sold out but due to the strike on the London underground not many people could get there.

It must be galling that when so much effort has been put into producing an evening of hatred, lies and Holocaust minimization so few people are there to appreciate your efforts.

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Guardian readers commemorate the Holocaust in their own special way

h/t to the ‘global network’ of CiF Watchers

A commendable essay by Hila Shachar was published at ‘Comment is Free’ yesterday (Jan. 27) titled ‘The Holocaust is not your metaphor to use in modern political debates – one in a series of appropriate articles which appeared in the Guardian on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated annually on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay:

In thinking about what it actually means to honour the victims, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the best ways to do this is to continue reminding ourselves that those victims were individual human beings. This should seem obvious, right? And yet, the victims of the Holocaust continue to be appropriated as political metaphors and dehumanised in the process.

Specific examples can be both well-meaning or purposefully disrespectful. Take the animal rights group PETA, which is known for its insensitive shock tactics when it comes to its marketing. In 2004, the group created the Holocaust on your plate campaign, using images of emaciated victims of Nazi concentration camps and comparing meat-eaters and those working in the meat-production industry to Nazis. I hope I don’t need to explain why this is wrong. But as I’ve been watching Facebook and Twitter conversations about the Tony Abbott government’s treatment of refugees degenerate into comparisons with the Nazis, I have to wonder if perhaps I do.

Recently, I came across this Facebook post that uses an image of a child who was killed in Auschwitz next to an image of a baby who was born in Christmas Island detention centre. It’s highly emotive and also, in my view, highly unethical. Using images of those who were killed by the Nazis to make a point about the Australian government’s policies is demeaning to those who died. It is essentially saying that their deaths are not to be remembered for their own sake, but rather because they are useful tools as points of reference and comparison in contemporary political debate. It turns Holocaust victims and survivors into concepts, decontexualised imagery and generalisations, and erases their individuality as human beings – even when the intentions behind it are sincere and well-meaning.

As part of our mission, we often monitor reader comments below the line of ‘CiF’ essays to see if moderators promptly remove antisemitic commentary (consistent with their own stated ‘community standards) and, more generally, to get a barometer of the hate often elicited by any Guardian or ‘CiF’ entry which focuses on Jews or Israel.  Here are just a few samples of the less than enlightened reader responses to Shachar’s essay:

Israel-Nazi comparison: 36 ‘Recommends’ and NOT deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators:

oneIsrael-Nazi analogy:

oneIsrael-Nazi analogy:

one

Jewish conspiracy/general antisemitism

oneDavid Ward, MP?

oneInevitable “Zionist Lobby” comment:

one

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Guardian publishes letter by Gilad Atzmon ally Karl Sabbagh

Karl Sabbagh, the British academic and author of Palestine: A Personal History, had a letter published at the Guardian on Jan 9:

Harry Goldstein’s assertion (Letters, 7 January) that the Palestinians were “offered [a state] in 1947 and refused, preferring to make war on Israel“, must be challenged. The Palestinians were told that 56% of their existing state of Palestine was to be taken away and made into a Jewish state, even though half of the population of the “Jewish” area was Arab. Since the Jews made it clear they wanted even more than the 56% and would take it by force, the Arab armies, far smaller in number and less well-armed than the Jews, moved up to the border of the Jewish state, in an attempt to protect the remaining territory they had been allocated, and stop Israel taking those areas by force. They failed either to stop the Jewish armies or to prevent them expelling Palestinian Arabs from a land in which they had once formed 90% of the population. - Karl Sabbagh

Even by Guardian standards, this is an especially egregious distortion of historical reality.  

First, contrary to what Sabbagh implies, there was never an “existing state of Palestine”. Further, the suggestion that Jews were the belligerent party in 1947-48 represents a remarkable inversion, as it was the Jews (and not the Arabs) who accepted partition, despite the fact that it gave them only a small portion of the land previously promised to them. (Indeed, 77% of the landmass of the original Mandate for the Jews was excised in 1922 to create a fourth Arab state – today Jordan.)

Arab leaders didn’t unleash their armies merely to adjust the borders, but were completely clear that their goal was the total annihilation of the nascent Jewish state.

“I personally wish that the Jews do not drive us to this war, as this will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Tartar massacre or the Crusader wars”. - Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, October 11, 1947

To Arab leaders in the months before and after partition, a Jewish state of any size was intolerable.

Of course,  Sabbagh’s historical distortions concerning Israel’s creation aren’t at all surprising when you consider that he wrote a blurb for one of the most antisemitic books to be published in several years.

“Gilad Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who? is as witty and thought-provoking as its title.  But it is also an important book, presenting conclusions about Jews, Jewishness and Judaism which some will find shocking but which are essential to an understanding of Jewish identity politics and the role they play on the world stage.” Karl Sabbagh 

(You can see more about Atzmon’s extreme antisemitism here.)

Finally, here’s a video of Sabbagh in a panel discussion about the book ‘The Wandering Who?’ heaping more effusive praise on Atzmon.

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The Guardian whitewashes antisemitism of Nicolas Anelka pal, Dieudonné

A major controversy erupted on Saturday at Upton Park in London after French Muslim footballer Nicolas Anelka used a gesture widely considered to be antisemitic and often described as “the Nazi salute in reverse”. After his first goal in the 3-3 draw at West Ham, “he celebrated with his right arm extended towards the ground, palm opened and the other one bent across his chest touching his right upper arm.”

anelka-600x357

Nicolas Anelka

Anelka is now under investigation by the Football Association for the gesture – which was almost certainly inspired by the gesture promoted by antisemitic French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala – and was swiftly condemned by the French Sports Minister as a “shocking, disgusting” display of antisemitism. 

dieudonne

Dieudonné M’bala M’bala (Left)

Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is a notorious racist “comedian” who, per Hope Not Hate, “has moved towards the antisemitic fringe of French politics”. The site notes that Dieudonne has become “increasingly marginal culturally and increasingly shrill in his antisemitism, denying the Holocaust, blaming Jews for the slave trade and more generally for the oppression of the Black and Arab peoples.” Dieudonne also traveled to Iran to meet with President Mohammed Ahmadinejad, and subsequently hailed Iran as “a place where anti-Zionists can meet and communicate and develop”.  

Additionally, Dieudonne had befriended the late far-right extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen, and also once invited Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson onstage at a performance, and asked the audience to applaud.

In reviewing UK newspaper coverage of the row, the Guardian naturally stands out in downplaying the episode and, more specifically, whitewashing Dieudonne’s antisemitism.

Guardian/Observer, Dec. 28: West Bromwich Albion’s Nicolas Anelka could face ban after arm gesture:

Relevant passage:

Dieudonné is a controversial figure in France, having been accused of insulting the memory of Holocaust victims. The quenelle is Dieudonné’s signature gesture, although he insists it is an anti-establishment gesture and not against Jewish people

Interestingly, other British papers were much clearer on Dieudonne’s antisemitic history, with some characterizing him as an “antisemitic comedian” or “antisemitic activist” without qualification:

The Independent, Dec.28: Nicolas Anelka gesture: Striker’s two goals overshadowed by controversial celebration after alleged anti-Semitic gesture

Here’s the relevant passage: 

His celebration was a mirror image of the gesture made popular by French, anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala…

The Telegraph, Dec. 29Nicolas Anelka’s ‘quenelle’ gesture in support of ‘racist’ friend Dieudonné causes outrage in France

Relevant passage:

In the last few years, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, his full name, has become an anti-Semitic activist and campaigner…

Mail Online, Dec. 28: Anelka’s ‘Nazi’ salute storm: Striker could face lengthy FA ban for offensive goal celebration along with sanctions in France

Relevant passage: 

Dieudonne has been convicted six times in France for alleged anti-Semitic remarks. He was fined £6,000 in 2008 for describing Holocaust remembrance as ‘memorial pornography’.

Sunday Times, Dec. 29: FA acts over Anelka’s ‘race-hate’ gesture (pay wall)

Relevant passages: 

Dieudonne has been prosecuted for making antisemitic comments

Dieudonne has been convicted six times in France for alleged anti-Semitic remarks. He was fined £6,000 in 2008 for describing Holocaust remembrance as memorial pornography.

The Guardian stands alone in whitewashing the “comedian’s” clear record of anti-Jewish rhetoric – another antisemitic sin of omission at the “liberal” broadsheet which has, by now, achieved a well-earned reputation for such curious moral blind spots.

Guess which British journalist re-tweeted Gilad Atzmon?

Say you’re a British Jew and work professionally as a journalist.

And, though you are highly critical of both Israel and many Jews, you still fancy yourself a progressive and anti-racist.  Indeed, you are buoyed by the fact that a mainstream “enlightened” British newspaper continues to publish your commentaries about Israel.

Again, supposing that you were such a “progressive”, ‘independent’ Jewish voice, what would your response be to an article written by Gilad Atzmon, an extremist who has advanced the following arguments?

  • Jews stifle debate about the scope of the Holocaust.
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a prophetic document which accurately characterizes (and predicts) Jewish behavior.

You would completely distance yourself from the views of such an extreme racist, wouldn’t you?  Further, you would emphatically denounce his views at every opportunity, right?

Well, there is one British Jew (who contributes to the London Evening Standard and the Independent) claiming the mantle of anti-racism who, when encountering the commentary of Mr. Atzmon decided to tacitly endorse it.

retweet

If you’re entertaining the notion that Bar-Hillel’s re-tweet of Atzmon did not in fact ‘imply endorsement’, consider that Atzmon’s post (The Milibands, The BBC and The Proloteriat, Oct. 13) included passages which are quite consistent with Bar-Hillel’s own complaints about the stifling of debate about Israel.

Atzmon’s post, which Bar-Hillel re-tweeted, included the following:

Now, is this a legitimate concern or, is socialism, like Jewishness, beyond any criticism or scrutiny?

Of course this is a rhetorical question. Apparently in Britain 2013, any attempt to question the intellectual foundations, history and meaning behind Marxism and socialist thinking is reduced simply to ‘antisemitism’. So, it looks like Marxism and cosmopolitanism, like Jewishness and Israeli racism, have been merged into one vague entity removed from our public discourse, let alone criticism.  

Now, here’s Bar-Hillel in an interview published in Haaretz:

Any criticism of the policies of Israel…is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash

Also of note, this was not a one-off between Atzmon and Bar-Hillel, as you can see in this ‘enlightened’ exchange in September:

tweet convo

One of the most common deceits advanced by many Jewish critics of Israel is that, though they may demonize Israel and even reduce its Jewish citizens to grotesque caricatures, they are nonetheless passionately opposed to “real” antisemitism.

Though there are some Jewish critics of Israel who can credibly claim to walk such a moral tightrope, Bar-Hillel’s decision to engage (and legitimize) a vile neo-Nazi style anti-Semite like Gilad Atzmon demonstrates that she can no longer fancy herself a principled anti-Zionist and a principled anti-racist.  

Her tolerance towards one of the most repugnant promoters of Jew hatred should, at the very least, disqualify her from contributing to any publication which takes its moral reputation seriously

Towards a new ‘liberation theology’: Will progressives ever learn to embrace Jewish success?

Here are the first few paragraphs of my Times of Israel essay published today:

If the progressive community was truly concerned about the fate of historically oppressed minorities, and sincerely moved by a passionate desire to find the social and economic remedies to ameliorate the condition of the marginalized, the example of Jews in the late 20th and early 21st centuries would serve as a model for all future campaigns.

Progressives who are unburdened by the fetishization of victimhood, and misplaced faith in ‘systemic’ root causes, would have to be inspired by the example of world Jewry – a community which not only survived the  Holocaust, but quickly re-established their communities and, within a short period of time, could boast of social, economic and political success (in Israel and the diaspora) quite ‘disproportionate’ to their miniscule numbers.

Howard Jacobson has forcefully argued that the world has never forgiven Jews for the collective guilt driven by memory of the Holocaust. However, it seems equally as urgent to acknowledge that the progressive movement seems not to have forgiven Jews for a success born largely of their own perseverance.

Read the rest of the essay here.

More evidence the Guardian got it wrong on Rouhani’s “Holocaust” remarks

rouhaniOn Oct. 1 we posted about a classic Guardian whitewash in a report about a CNN interview with the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.  We noted that the Guardian’s characterization of Rouhani’s response to Christiane Amanpour’s question about the Holocaust was at best completely misleading, if not flat-out wrong.  

We argued that even if you were to believe the extremely suspect CNN translation of the Sept. 25 interview (the content of which was contradicted by other sources) the Guardian, in a report titled ‘Iranian president Hassan Rouhani recognises ‘reprehensible’ Holocaust‘ (and accompanying video), failed to provide their readers with important context.  This includes their failure to explain how Rouhani’s reply, which questioned the “scope” of Nazi crimes, was clearly consistent with Holocaust revisionism, and didn’t represent, as the paper reported, a clean break with the explicit Holocaust denials of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Additionally, more evidence has now emerged on the inaccuracy of the CNN translation, supporting claims made by the Wall St. Journal and Al Monitor that Rouhani never in fact used the term ‘Holocaust’.  First, here’s the Guardian quote in their Sept. 25 story, culled from the CNN translation, of Rouhani’s answer to Amanpour on the question of the Holocaust:

I’ve said before that I am not a historian, and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust, it is the historians that should reflect,” 

However, the Wall St. Journal’s Persian commentator noted that Rouhani never uses the word “Holocaust”, but merely spoke euphemistically of “historical events.” Now, here’s a specific translation of the line in question from Arash Karami at Al Monitor’s Iran Pulse‘:

Rouhani: I have said before that I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of historical events, historians should explain and discuss it.

On Oct. 5, CAMERA noted the following:

We already know that Sohrab Ahmari, the Wall Street Journal, Arash Karami, Ali Alfoneh, two journalists who spoke with the New York Times blog The Lede, and Fars News Agency all concur that Rouhani did not use the word “Holocaust” in his interview with CNN and Christiane Amanpour. We already know, in other words, that CNN mistranslated him. And CNN also already knows.

Now, just to make matters more clear, Rouhani’s own translator has weighed in. “No, he did not use the word ‘Holocaust,’” Banafsheh Keynoush told NBC’s Robert Windrem.

Here’s the relevant video clip of the interview with Keynoush:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Guardian’s reliance on an evidently faulty translation is more than simply an innocent error, but is part of a larger pattern – which we’ve commented on previously – of engaging in selective reporting and omissions in order to advance the desired narrative of a new “moderate” Iranian president. 

Evidence which makes a mockery of this narrative abound, and include Rouhani’s involvement in several deadly Iranian sponsored terrorist attacks against Jewish and American targets abroad, as well as his role in crushing pro-democracy movements at home.

These latest faux Holocaust comments represents just one example of what will no doubt be a continuous drumbeat of pro-Rouhani propaganda by Guardian commentators and reporters.

Robert Fisk unleashes characteristic fabrications and hyperbole about Israel

Robert Fisk’s latest work of fiction at The Independent is titled ‘US cowardice will let Israel’s isolated right off the hook‘.

fisk

Here are the lowlights from his characteristic hyperbole and outright misrepresentations about Israel and the state’s supporters:

First, here is the hyperbole:

1. Fisk accuses “thieving” Israelis of conspiring to steal more Palestinian land for “Jews only”:

Fisk:

For there was President Obama at Monday’s meeting, praising Mr Netanyahu for his support for a two-state solution. And what did President Obama actually say? That there was “a limited amount of time to achieve that goal”.

So why was there only a “limited amount of time”? Not a single scribe asked the poor fellow.

There is, of course, only a “limited amount of time” – in my view, no time at all – to achieve this illusory goal because the Netanyahu government is thieving, against all international law, yet more Palestinian Arab land for Jews and Jews only, at a faster rate than ever, to prevent just such a Palestinian state ever existing.

2. Fisk decries Israel and the Israel lobby for bullying and intimidating the US:

Fisk:

These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US – and especially its present, shallow leader – the Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war.

the Israelis know that [Obama] is still a groveller. This is what real “appeasement” is all about. Fear.

…when Congress hesitated to strike Damascus, “the hounds of hell were let loose. Aipac (the largest Likudist pro-Israeli lobby group in the US) sent its parliamentary rottweillers to Capitol Hill to tear to pieces any senator or congressman who objected”.

Now, the misrepresentations:

1. Fisk misrepresents Hassan Rouhani’s remarks about the Holocaust:

Fisk:

These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US – and especially its present, shallow leader – the Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war. Brits and Americans didn’t want to go to war in Syria. Now, with the pleasant smile of President Rouhani gracing their television screens, fully accepting the facts of the Jewish Holocaust

However, even if Fisk were to uncritically accept the false CNN’s translation of Rouhani’s replies to questions posed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, he certainly did not “fully” accept “the facts of the Jewish Holocaust”.  As we argued previously, his qualifications (seen in the following relevant passages from Rouhani’s speech) are quite consistent with the narrative advanced by revisionists in questioning the “scope” of the Holocaust.  

Rouhani, per CNN:

I have said before that I am not a historian personally and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust as such, it is the historians that should reflect on it.

But in general, I can tell you that any crime or – that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable, as far as we are concerned.

And just as even such crimes are – if they are to happen today against any creed or belief system or human being as such, we shall again condemn it.

So what the Nazis did is condemnable. The dimensions of whatever it is, the historians have to understand what it is. I am not a historian myself, but we – it must be clear here, is that when there is an atrocity, a crime that happens, it should not become a cover to work against the interests or – or justify the crimes against another nation or another group of people.

So if the Nazis, however criminal they were, we condemn them, whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, because genocide, the taking of the human life, is condemnable and it makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, a Christian or a Muslim or what.

For us, it’s the same. It’s the taking of a human life and an innocent human life is (INAUDIBLE) in Islam. It’s actually something that we condemn and our religion also rejects.

But this does not mean that, on the other hand, you can say, well, the Nazis committed crimes against, you know, a certain group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned, in our view.

So there should be an even-handed discussion of this.

As ADL has argued, the success of Holocaust deniers does not depend on convincing people that the murder of six million Jews didn’t occur; rather, just the idea that the genocide’s scope can be doubted means that “the deniers have scored propaganda points”.

2.  False claim that Netanyahu called Rouhani an “anti-Semite”.

Fisk: 

What we do know is that when Mr Rouhani started saying all the things we had been demanding that Iran should say for years, Israel went bananas. Mr Netanyahu condemned him before he had even said a word. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” “An anti-Semite.” 

However, whilst it was widely reported that the Israeli prime minister called Rouhani “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, we were unable to find any record of him accusing Rouhani (either at the UN speech or elsewhere) of being an “anti-Semite.” Netanyahu did end his UN speech with a tale of the antisemitism suffered by his grandfather and his subsequent Zionism, but this was only meant to illustrate the moral urgency of the Zionist mission to build and maintain a Jewish homeland.

Of course, none of this is anything new, as Fisk is a well-known anti-Israel ideologue who’s been accused of unethical and unfactual reporting in the past.  

However, whilst Fisk is entitled to engage in all the scaremongering and vitriol about the Jewish state that he wishes, editors at The Independent have the ethical obligation to hold their contributors – both reporters and commentators – responsible when they engage in mischaracterizations, distortions or lies.  

Guardian engages in Rouhani Revisionism in report on “Holocaust” remarks

Suppose you were taking a college class on the history of the 20th century and during one lecture the topic of the Holocaust was introduced. Then, in the middle of a class discussion, one student explained to the lecturer that, in his view, though some crimes were committed against Jews (and other groups) by the Nazis, the scope of the killings is still unclear and needs further research by historians and scholars.  Suppose that this student further opined that such crimes committed by the Nazis (whatever the scope) shouldn’t be exploited by Jews today to justify sixty years of usurping the land of another group and committing murderous crimes against them.

What kind of reaction would you expect from the lecturer and the students upon hearing such views?  The chances seem high that the student would be condemned for lending credibility to Holocaust revisionism and evoking the Holocaust in the context of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – remarks which would arguably fall within the EU Working Definition of Antisemitism.  As the Wall St. Journal noted recently, responding to reports of comments made by Iran’s new president in an interview with CNN that included questions about the Holocaust:

Pretending that the facts of the Holocaust are a matter of serious historical dispute is a classic rhetorical evasion. Holocaust deniers commonly acknowledge that Jews were killed by the Nazis while insisting that the number of Jewish victims was relatively small and that there was no systematic effort to wipe them out.

Whilst CNN’s translation of Hassan Rouhani’s much publicized remarks during his interview with Christiane Amanpour on Sept. 24 has been challenged by the Wall St. Journal and Al Monitor - both of which insisted that, contrary to the CNN translation which relied on an Iranian government interpreter, Rouhani never used the word “Holocaust” – opting instead for the more euphemistic term “historical events” -  here are the relevant remarks by Iran’s president based on CNN’s Sept. 25 transcript:

I have said before that I am not a historian personally and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust as such, it is the historians that should reflect on it.

But in general, I can tell you that any crime or – that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable, as far as we are concerned.

And just as even such crimes are – if they are to happen today against any creed or belief system or human being as such, we shall again condemn it.

So what the Nazis did is condemnable. The dimensions of whatever it is, the historians have to understand what it is. I am not a historian myself, but we – it must be clear here, is that when there is an atrocity, a crime that happens, it should not become a cover to work against the interests or – or justify the crimes against another nation or another group of people.

So if the Nazis, however criminal they were, we condemn them, whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, because genocide, the taking of the human life, is condemnable and it makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, a Christian or a Muslim or what.

For us, it’s the same. It’s the taking of a human life and an innocent human life is (INAUDIBLE) in Islam. It’s actually something that we condemn and our religion also rejects.

But this does not mean that, on the other hand, you can say, well, the Nazis committed crimes against, you know, a certain group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned, in our view.

So there should be an even-handed discussion of this.

Here is the Sept. 25 Guardian report on Rouhani’s remarks:

Capture

The Guardian celebration of Rouhani’s faux ‘acknowledgement’ relied entirely on quotes from the CNN transcript, and characteristically hasn’t been updated or revised to note to their readers the major dispute over the translation which came to light the day after their Sept. 25 story.  Interestingly, however, their story, written by , did include one observation by an Iranian-born Israeli named Meir Javedanfar which helps to explain how the remarks have been contextualized by media outlets friendly to the Iranian regime.

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian politics lecturer at Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, interpreted Rouhani’s remarks as the limit he could go within the political and cultural constraints placed upon him.

Rouhani pushed the envelope as far as it could go, Javedanfar said, without infuriating the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other conservatives back home.

And, that’s really the point:  Holocaust deniers and revisionists typically understand that their animosity towards Jews and Israel can be seen more as more credible, and less morally suspect, if the historical understanding of the Nazi Holocaust – which serves to evoke sympathy for Jews – can be undermined.  Frankly acknowledging the systematic, and historically exceptional, attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe would necessarily draw unwanted focus on the extreme antisemitism permeating Iranian life which has inspired their leadership to call for the annihilation of the Jewish state, and would provide credibility to those insisting that a nuclear armed Iran represents an existential threat to six million Jews, and must therefore be resisted at all costs.

‘Counter-revolutionary’ rhetoric which serves to evoke sympathy for the Jewish state, no matter how obliquely, would indeed, as Javedanfar argued, “infuriate” the supreme leader, and so any pronouncements by Rouhani which touch upon the politically inconvenient topic of the Holocaust must invariably include questions about the “scope” of the Nazi crimes, and further be contextualized with the Jewish state’s ‘comparable’ “crimes” against the Palestinians. 

Rouhani’s political dilemma in allowing Iran to achieve its nuclear ambitions with minimum Western resistance is to steer a careful course which avoids offending Khamenei while simultaneously staying in the good graces of the sympathetic Western liberal media. 

The Guardian’s fawning coverage of the “moderate”, “dovish” Iranian president thus far indicates that he has passed the latter challenge with flying colors.

Buried by the Guardian: The extremism of Hassan Rouhani

If you were to rely solely on the Guardian to understand what the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, said during an NBC interview last week you’d never know that he described Israel as “an occupier and usurper…that has brought instability to the region, with its warmongering policies.“  

rouhani-ayatollah-khomeini

You wouldn’t know this because the report on the interview by the Guardian’s Dan Roberts only mentioned those comments by Rouhani which could be interpreted as conciliatory, while completely omitting his demonizing rhetoric about Israel, quotes which featured prominently in the NBC report which Roberts’ report was based on.

Similarly, upon reading two recent reports by the Guardian’s Saeed Kamali Dehghan, pertaining to Rouhani’s address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, you’d be forgiven for believing that Rouhani avoided criticizing Israel at all.  Dehghan wrote the following in one of his two Sept. 25 reports:

Rouhani made sure his speech was a step forward, however minimal, and that it did not add fuel to the existing tensions, not further complicate the current standoff.

Nevertheless [the speech] was positive. Western representatives at the UN remained seated and did not join Israel’s inevitable boycott of the speech. Intriguingly, Rouhani did not mention, even once, the word that so infamously was associated with his predecessor: Israel (or, as Iranian leaders prefer, “the Zionist regime”). At the end of his speech, he recited a verse from the Qu’ran that talked about the Jewish holy book, the Torah. Those two choices should have pleased the sole Iranian Jewish MP accompanying Rouhani in his UN visit to New York.

 Dehghan’s second report on Sept. 25 that dealt with Rouhani’s speech at the UN included the following:

During his visit to the UN in New York, Rouhani attempted to revamp the image of Iran so badly hurt under Ahmadinejad. He was accompanied by Iran’s only Jewish MP, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, and made no direct mention of Israel in his speech to the general assembly on Tuesday.

Despite the charm offensive, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered his delegation to boycott Rouhani’s speech at the general assembly on Tuesday.

However, despite the implicit message conveyed by Dehghan in two reports, that the new Iranian President stayed clear of polarizing, anti-Israel rhetoric, his UN address included the following:

What has been – and continues to be – practiced against the innocent people of Palestine is nothing less than structural violence. Palestine is under occupation; the basic rights of the Palestinians are tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland. Apartheid as a concept can hardly describe the crimes and the institutionalized aggression against the innocent Palestinian people.

Rouhani didn’t explicitly use the word “Israel”, but those listening to the speech obviously understood that Israel was the state Iran’s President was referring to.

Moreover, whilst some have justly focused on an extremely misleading report by CNN claiming that Rouhani, in a recent interview, acknowledged the Holocaust, (a narrative parroted by the Guardian), critiques of this specific obfuscation should be contextualized as part of a larger pattern, in which media outlets cherry pick quotes by Rouhani and fail to report information which contradicts the desired story of “Rouhani the moderate”.  

Here are a few examples of Rouhani’s far less than moderate political record:

Rouhani: ‘Death to America’:

Rouhani, boasting of duping the West on the nuclear issue:

  • Rouhani, who was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator with Europe for two years (2003-2005), “proudly admitted that he successfully bought time to advance nuclear technology while the EU leaders were busy in negotiations with him.” (The Telegraph)

Rouhani, supporter of terror abroad:

Rouhani, supporter of terror and repression at home:

  • Rouhani (as head of the Islamic National Security Council) had a major role in the violent crackdown on a 1999 student uprising against the Islamist regime, and said, at a pro-regime rally in July that year: “At dusk yesterday we received a decisive revolutionary order to crush mercilessly and monumentally any move of these opportunist elements wherever it may occur.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Rouhani’s current pick for Justice Minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, has been criticized by human rights groups for his role in the summary executions of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in 1988, the assassination of political figures abroad, and the 1998 killings of intellectuals inside the country while he was a director at the Intelligence Ministry. – Al Monitor and Radio Free Europe

As Charles Krauthammer wrote recently about the president of a nation which is among the world’s leaders in fomenting terrorism abroad, and terrorizing women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents at home:

“[Rouhani has a] strange résumé for a moderate: 35 years of unswervingly loyal service to the Islamic Republic as a close aide to Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei [and] one of only six presidential candidates, another 678 having been disqualified by the regime as ideologically unsound. That puts him in the 99th [per]centile for fealty.

And, if the past is any guide, we can expect the Guardian – inspired by an ideology which evokes sympathy for the political aspirations of the most reactionary, anti-Western political movements in the world – to rank in the top percentile for fealty to the new president as he engages in a surreal campaign to cast himself as a political “moderate”.   

Rouhani casts “moderate” degree of doubt on whether the Holocaust happened

Yesterday, we posted about a report, by the Guardian’s Washington Bureau Chief Dan Roberts, on a recent NBC interview with Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani.  Roberts, in typical Guardian fashion, managed to only include those quotes from the interview which made Rouhani sound moderate, and completely avoided any mention of his anti-Israel vitriol – which NBC highlighted in their report on the interview – and his answer to a question about his predecessor’s Holocaust denial.

Here’s the video clip of the brief exchange on the Holocaust between Rouhani and NBC’s Ann Curry.

The journalist’s omission isn’t an isolated mistake but, rather, part of a broader pattern at the Guardian (which we’ve posted about previously) of running interference for the Iranian leadership, and attempting to impute moderation to a regime which is among the world’s leaders in exporting terrorism, and has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction.

Would a genuine political “moderate” ever deny or in any manner cast doubt upon the Nazis’ extermination of six million Jews?

Guardian report on NBC interview with Iran’s president omits Holocaust remarks

The Guardian’s Washington Bureau Chief, Dan Roberts, penned a 500 word report today based on an exclusive NBC interview last week with the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.  Here’s the headline:

headline

The following few opening passages provides a good sense of the message being advanced by Roberts in his Sept. 19 report:

Iran‘s new president Hassan Rouhani has told an American television audience he is hopeful of a diplomatic breakthrough over Tehran’s nuclear weapons programme, insisting his country had no intention of developing weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking before a crucial visit to the United Nations in New York, Rouhani claimed his government had “full power and authority” from Iran’s supreme leader to negotiate over the nuclear programme, which the US fears is close to creating a bomb.

“The problem won’t be from our side,” said Rouhani in his first interview with western journalists since coming to power. “We have sufficient political latitude to solve this problem.”

“Under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever,” he added in initial clips of the interview with NBC aired on Wednesday night

The rest of Roberts’ story similarly conveyed the message of a new “moderate” Iranian president seeking reconciliation with the West. There was nothing in the report to suggest to readers that Rouhani so much as mentioned Israel or touched on the Holocaust denial of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

Interestingly, however, here’s the headline at the nbcnews.com report detailing the interview (with NBC’s Ann Curry), which Roberts linked to his Guardian report: 

headline

Here are the first few paragraphs:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed Israel for causing “injustice to the people” of the Middle East during an exclusive interview with NBC News in which he also called for peace, saying Iran is not “looking for war.”

Unlike his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani struck a moderate tone on many issues, but he deflected a question from NBC News’ Ann Curry about whether he believed that the Holocaust was “a myth.”

I’m not a historian. I’m a politician,” he replied. “What is important for us is that the countries of the region and the people grow closer to each other, and that they are able to prevent aggression and injustice.”

NBC also noted this:

Rouhani described Israel as “an occupier and usurper government” that “does injustice to the people of the region, and has brought instability to the region, with its warmongering policies.

Hassan Rouhani, in addition to characterizing Israel as a warmongering country which destabilizes the region, refused to give his opinion on the “question” of whether the murder of six million Jews ever happened by explaining that he’s not really a historian but, rather, a politician.

Dan Roberts, in cherry picking parts of the interview consistent with the desired narrative, and omitting the Iranian president’s demonization of Israel and refusal to acknowledge that the Holocaust occurred, demonstrates that he’s not really a journalist but, rather, a Guardian Left propagandist.    

Guardian columnist acknowledges Muslim Brotherhood’s antisemitism

Among the themes often addressed at the blog is the Guardian’s consistent failure to report on the pervasive antisemitism within the Arab and Muslim Middle East – what we’ve characterized as their antisemitic sins of omission.

This ideological proclivity to ignore explicit manifestations of Jew hatred in the region, we’ve argued many times, egregiously skews their coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, as well as the regional political upheavals over the last few years.

So eager are many to view reactionary Islamist movements through a progressive lens that even Yousuf al-Qaradawi – one of the intellectual leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood - has been characterized as something akin to a moderate by Guardian contributors, despite his record which includes calling on Allah to murder every Jew on earth and literally endorsing the Holocaust.

 

 

Indeed, the Guardian’s coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt last year ignored the group’s long and well-documented antisemitic record (consistent with the paper’s tendency to obfuscate other groups’ extreme Judeophobia), all of which makes Giles Fraser’s recent ‘CiF’ column on the Brotherhood quite unique.

Though Fraser still advanced some characteristic moral apologetics for the group, he did nonetheless include the following:

And, of course, I have no love in my heart for Islamist terrorism, nor the hateful antisemitism that is often present within the Muslim Brotherhood

Whilst this one painfully obvious acknowledgement wouldn’t ordinarily be notable, given that it represents such a rare expression of moral sobriety regarding the problem of Islamist antisemitism – at a paper with an institutional aversion to such clarity – the Guardian columnist should nonetheless be commended for his honesty.