Stealth ‘corrections’ at the Indy in Mira Bar-Hillel’s confessional about Olmert

A couple of hours ago we posted about an op-ed by Mira Bar-Hillel, titled ‘I dated Ehud Olmert once. His ambition stood out, but the corruption was yet to come‘, which included two errors:

First, she got the date of Ariel Sharon’s coma wrong.

More significantly, Bar-Hillel greatly inflated the casualty figures from the 2008-09 war in Gaza.  Here’s the original passage:

he [Olmert] ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead, 

As we noted, even B’tselem (the NGO which has one of the highest casualty tallies) didn’t claim that the three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas “left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead”.  While other sources (including, quite tellingly, Hamas) place the civilian casualty figures dramatically lower, B’tselem has claimed that 773 of the 1387 Palestinians killed “did not take part in hostilities”.

Shortly after contacting Indy editors and alerting them to the errors, we noticed two changes:

First, the date of Sharon’s coma was corrected.

However, though there was a second change, it was not at all sufficient.  They merely changed this…

Two years later, he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead… 

to this:

Two years later he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left nearly 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead..

So, do they accept B’tselem’s figures, or don’t they? If they do, then are we to believe that 773 is “nearly 1000″?

Finally, it’s important to note that though newspaper editors (at the Guardian and elsewhere) who respond positively to our correction requests typically explain the revision or acknowledge it somewhere on their site, the changes to Bar-Hillel’s op-ed were not acknowledged or explained via an email, nor noted by Indy editors anywhere on the page.

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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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Economist removes antisemitic cartoon; apologizes for ‘inadvertent’ offense

Earlier today we posted about the following cartoon published at The Economist – used to illustrate an article about negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – which evoked the antisemitic narrative complaining of the injurious effects of Jewish power on U.S. foreign policy.

Within the past hour, we learned that the Economist removed the cartoon from the online edition of the article, and issued the following addendum:

econ

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Do ‘sophisticated’ Brits at the Economist believe Jews control Washington?

The Economist’s goal is to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” (Economist mission statement)

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the czarist forgery purporting to reveal a Jewish conspiracy to control the world, may not, argued Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee, “be acceptable dinner conversation any more”.  However, he added, “repackage the sentiment as criticism of Israel, and say that the Jewish lobby controls U.S. foreign policy against ‘true’ American interests, and voilà, you are no longer dabbling in nasty old tropes about sinister Jewish power, but in bold political analysis.” 

As we’ve documented previously at this blog, the argument that the power, money and influence of Jewish or pro-Israel groups undermine peace in the Middle East (or even erodes US democracy) is something akin to conventional wisdom within a segment of the British and European Left.

Political cartoons represent an efficient way to transmit such prejudices, and often have a more immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than lengthy essays.  And, though the largest output of antisemitic cartoons nowadays come from the Arab and Muslim world, antisemitic motifs advancing canards about Jewish power also appear in Western, putatively liberal, publications.

Interestingly, the Economist article in question (A big gap to close, Jan 18), which provides analysis on the “joint plan of action” negotiated recently between Iran and six world powers “to temporarily freeze Iran’s nuclear programme” doesn’t use the words “Jew”, “lobby”, or “AIPAC”, and the only allusion to the Peter Schrank cartoon editors chose to use in the article can be found in the text we highlighted in the opening passages:

AFTER several weeks of unexpectedly hard and often tetchy bargaining, six world powers and Iran reached an agreement on January 12th that sets out the details of a “joint plan of action” (JPA) to freeze Iran’s nuclear programme for six months. The implementation of the JPA, originally negotiated in November, will begin on January 20th…

However, the clock is now ticking on efforts to achieve a comprehensive long-term pact. Even supporters of the interim deal rate the chances of success as low.

Though hailed as an historic breakthrough by some and a terrible blunder by others (notably Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister), the November deal may be best seen as a six-month truce to buy time. Gary Samore, who was Barack Obama’s adviser on arms control until last year and is now at Harvard’s Belfer Centre, points out that neither side has given away any of its big bargaining chips. Most actions being taken are reversible; the trickiest issues have been kicked down the road.

Their reference to the Israeli prime minister takes on relevance further in the piece:

A series of extensions will happen only if those hostile to the interim deal on both sides hold their fire. Yet support has grown in Congress for legislation to bring in new sanctions against Iran. With support in the Senate getting close to the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto (which would otherwise be exercised), they remain distinctly possible, though the White House doubts that Democratic senators would go so far while an accord was still in place. Mr Samore reckons that Congress, having a version of the “Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act” ready as a threat, might put useful extra pressure on Iran. But were the sanctions now to become law, “it would just kill the interim agreement”. 

Schrank’s cartoon then is arguably designed to illustrate the forces – on both the US and Iranian sides – who are conspiring to “kill the interim agreement’.

cartoon

Schrank, a cartoonist with The Independent and Economist, by use of the Star of David on the left, is suggesting that Israel, the pro-Israel lobby, or Jews are controlling Congress and working against a peace agreement between the U.S. and Iran – echoing a disturbing, if familiar, tradition of antisemitic imagery

Cartoonist, Zapiro, (South African) Mail & Guardian, Nov. 2012

Cartoonist: Zapiro. (South African) Mail & Guardian, Nov. 2012

Muslim Observer, Oct. 27

Cartoonist: Muslim Observer. 

jewlobby_carsale

Cartoonist: Bendib. Posted at website of David Duke

Cartoonist: Carlos Latuff.

salami20121222174716670

Used to illustrate article at PressTV: Dec. 23, 2012

Ad-Dustur, January 30, 2012  Headline: "Obama emphasizes  ironclad commitment to Israel's  security". Written on the iron  ball: "Zionist Lobby in America".

Ad-Dustur (Jordan), January 30, 2012
Headline: “Obama emphasizes
ironclad commitment to Israel’s
security”. Written on the iron
ball: “Zionist Lobby in America”.

Ar-Rai, January 14, 2012  The American is holding a  document titled: “Israeli terror."  On the iron ball: "The Zionist  Lobby."

Ar-Rai (Jordan), January 14, 2012
The American is holding a
document titled: “Israeli terror.”
On the iron ball: “The Zionist
Lobby.”

arab cartoon 3

Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), March 7, 2012
Headline: “Netanyahu in the
US.”

Whilst Schrank’s imagery may not be as explicit as the other examples we’ve cited, all (to varying degrees) convey to readers the unmistakable message that Jewish elements are dictating and shaping American foreign policy for their own malevolent ends.  Such a world view echoes well-established Judeophobic calumnies, and we would hope that evoking such crude stereotypes would be considered a liability by any serious mainstream media outlet – especially one which fancies itself a sophisticated, enlightened force battling the “timid ignorance” which “obstructs our progress”.

Regardless of the Economist’s intent, it’s difficult not to be dispirited by the fact that less than 70 years after the Holocaust, with Jews representing less than 2% of the U.S. population, tropes and graphic representations warning that Jewish ‘pressure groups’ are too powerful are once again becoming fashionable amongst the opinion elite – the herd of ‘independent minds’ who carelessly reinforce the idea, without being haunted by its lethal history, that Jews control Washington. 

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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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On our 4,000th post: Looking back at a few which went viral

We recently published our 4,000th post.  So, we thought it would be fun to look back at the five most popular posts since this blog was first launched in August of 2009. 

Here they are in order of popularity:

1. On the Guardian’s malign obsession with Israel:

one

2. On the Guardian’s “disproportionate” focus on Jews:

two

3. On contrasting reactions to offensive or racist cartoons:

three

4. Nepotism by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger leads to an embarrassing reprimand

four

5.  The charge that Jews are engaged in “ethnic cleansing” in Palestine has as much empirical validity as the garden variety anti-Jewish  conspiracy theories advanced by extremists and their enablers:

fiveOn the occasion of our 4,000th post, we’d like to thank you – our supporters, volunteers, contributors and readers – for your loyalty over the years as we’ve continued ‘speaking truth to power’ in carrying out our primary mission: Combating antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’. 

Here’s looking forward to the next 4,000!

Adam Levick, Managing Editor

News that Bugs Bunny may be Jewish sends Gilad Atzmon into a rage

CiF Watch contributor Gidon Ben-Zvi broke the news yesterday for the Algemeiner that a noted Jewish-British cinematic historian has claimed that Bugs Bunny may in fact be Jewish.

bugs

Ben-Zvi:

According to film scholar David Yehuda Stern, Bugs Bunny was created by a Jewish producer, lived in a Jewish neighborhood, has a distinctly New York/Jewish accent and uses his wit and sense of humor to avoid all attempts to eliminate him.

Stern, who watched thousands of animated shorts that feature Bugs Bunny, noted in his presentation that there are Jewish fingerprints all over the smart aleck cartoon character, including the very voice of Bugs Bunny – Jewish actor Mel Blanc.

The New York neighborhood Bugs grew up in is teeming with obviously Jewish characters, such as ultra-Orthodox Jews and other stereotypically Eastern European figures from the turn of the 20th century.

The Algemeiner’s cheeky Christmas ‘revelation’ about the “Wascally Wabbit” was shared widely yesterday on social media sites such as Twitter and, in fact, this writer’s link to the story on Facebook garnered more than few comments by Jewish and non-Jewish friends alike, all eager to dissect this animated genealogical controversy.

However, there was at least one antisemitic extremist who didn’t find the news at all amusing.

atzmon

Writing at Veterans Today, an aggregator for conspiracy-oriented and right-wing extremist websites, Atzmon wrote the following:

On Christmas Eve the ultra Zionist Algemeiner decided to break out the news to the world -“Bugs Bunny might be Jewish”

The Jewish outlet reported today that, ‘a noted Jewish-British cinematic historian has claimed that the world’s most famous rabbit displays prominent Jewish characteristics.” According to the Jewish scholar David Yehuda Stern, Bugs Bunny was “created by a Jewish producer, lived in a Jewish neighbourhood, has a distinctly New York/Jewish accent and uses his wit and sense of humour to avoid all attempts to eliminate him.”

I guess that when we talk about Hollywood’s indoctrination in the context of Jewish Power, we should feel free to refer to the Zionist outlet as well as the ‘noted Jewish cinematic historian’.

Of course, Atzmon’s response to Ben-Zvi’s article wouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog. As we’ve noted previously, Atzmon is a prolific anti-Semite who has engaged in ‘Holocaust Revisionism’ while simultaneously arguing that, if Hitler’s genocide did occur as historians “claim”, the mass murder of six million Jews can at least partly be explained by Jews’ villainous behavior.  On this latter note, he’s claimed that Hitler’s views about Jews may one day be vindicated.  

Atzmon also has explicitly charged that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world, and has endorsed of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, arguing about the antisemitic forgery that “it is impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities and its capacity to describe” later Jewish behavior.

He also once accused CiF Watch of being a “Jewish Supremacist” site after we influenced the Guardian to remove his book, The Wandering Who?, from their online bookshop.

Interestingly, Atzmon ends his piece at Veteran’s Today by posting the following YouTube clip of Bugs ‘shilling’ for what he terms the “USA propaganda machine”.

And, really, what self-respecting Jew hater wouldn’t be outraged by such an insensitive and stereotypical portrayal of Nazi mass murderers.

Finally, in light of Atzmon’s political sympathies, we did some research and found what we believe to be a suitable alternative to the dangerously Semitic toon – a rabbit who definitely could not be accused of being part of the Jewish power structure:

Rabbit120208_468x338

Naturally, the Jews who control Hollywood (and the Zionist lobby) would never allow American TV to air such marginalized genocidal voices.

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

Indy columnist who ‘fears Jews’ smears the Jewish State

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

Mira Bar-Hillel represents proof that the stubborn reality of Israel’s progressive advantages in the region in the civil rights protections afforded to minority groups, and the absence of anything resembling codified discrimination, aren’t impediments for anti-Zionist commentators who wish to smear the state with the charge of Apartheid.

mira

Interestingly, Bar-Hillel’s Dec. 13 op-ed in The Independent, Israel and Apartheid: Confused? You will be‘, deals almost entirely with issues tangential to the narrative she’s trying to advance, such as Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision not to attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial, and Israeli arms sales to Pretoria in the 70s and 80s (which, contrary to her suggestion, actually represented a miniscule percentage of the regime’s military imports).  

So, Bar-Hillel actually bases her insinuation of a parallel between Apartheid South Africa and Israel on two sentences in her final paragraph:

Maps which were only revealed in the past few days show how the Israelis plan to create bantustans for the Nomadic Bedouin in its southern Negev region. Tens of thousands of them would be forced into ghettoes to make way for new Jewish towns and military zones. A-word, anyone?

Of course, the word “bantustans” was used by the Indy columnist specifically because of its common association with a system of codified racial segregation in South Africa.  According to the common definition of the term, it refers to the following:

Bantustan, also known as Bantu homeland, South Africa homeland, or black state,  any of 10 former territories that were designated by the white-dominated government of South Africa as pseudo-national homelands for the country’s black African (classified by the government as Bantu) population during the mid- to late 20th century. The Bantustans were a major administrative device for the exclusion of blacks from the South African political system under the policy of apartheid, or racial segregation.

The 1959 Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act relabeled the reserves as “homelands,” or Bantustans, in which only specific ethnic groups were to have residence rights. Later, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970 defined blacks living throughout South Africa as legal citizens of the homelands designated for their particular ethnic groups—thereby stripping them of their South African citizenship and their few remaining civil and political rights. 

In contrast to such racist legislation, what’s known in Israel as the Prawer-Begin Plan (the plan, recently shelved by the government, which Bar-Hillel is alluding to) represented an effort to settle the problem of 70-90,000 Israeli-Bedouin living in unrecognized villages in the Israeli Negev, and the resulting land claims.  The plan would have legalized a large majority of the unrecognized land, but called for roughly one-third of this population to relocate (with full compensation in money and land) to recognized, planned and developed towns within a few kilometers of their current homes.

Alternatively, as these Israeli-Bedouin are Israeli citizens with full civil rights protected under the law, they could of course choose to live elsewhere – indeed anywhere in the country.  Bar-Hillel’s suggestion that even one Israeli Bedouin would be forced into a “bantustan” (conveying to readers the impression that they’ll be legally segregated from the rest of Israeli society) is a total lie.

As Bar-Hillel continues to engage in such smears, half-truths and distortions about Israel, it’s becoming evident that “the Jews of today” scare her a lot more than her increasing notoriety as a bigoted, dishonest journalist.

Antisemitic reporter Mira Bar-Hillel pens op-ed (on antisemitism!) for The Independent

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

As we’ve reported previously, Mira Bar-Hillel is a British journalist who has admitted (per the quote above) to being prejudiced against Jews.  

Yet, despite this explicit admission of racism, editors at The Independent deemed her qualified to comment on the Ralph Miliband-Daily Mail antisemitism controversy in October - a column which dismissed charges of racism against the DM and accused Jews (per the Livingstone Formulation) of trying to “gag into submission any critic of Israel…”.

In her latest Indy op-ed (an essay addressing the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism), Bar-Hillel again regales British readers with her ‘penetrating insights’ into the danger posed by ‘false accusations of antisemitism’ by organized Jewry - a piece riddled with distortions.

False claim that ‘EU Working Definition of Antisemitism’ has been “retired”

Here’s the headline of the op-ed:

headlineHowever, as we noted in a previous post on the issue, it is untrue that “the EU has retired its working definition”.

To cite a few examples: 

  • In 2010, the UK All-Party Inquiry into antisemitism recommended that the Working Definition should be adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies.
  • An official document published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.

False claim about Israeli Bedouin

Bar-Hillel writes:

There was not, in that lengthy and detailed definition, anything new or that I would disagree with – apart from a dangerous sting in the end. This stretched the definition of anti-Semitism from the simple 2,000-year-old Jew-hating and baiting to “attacking Israel … by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.”

It was this dubious extension which has been used recently to gag, or at least mute, free speech and most criticism of Israel in the UK media and beyond.

For example, the Prawer Plan, now being enforced in Israel. Under it, between 40,000 and 70,000 Bedouin, nomads who became Israeli citizens in the 1950s, will be forcefully removed from land they roamed for centuries to make way for “military firing zones”.

First, Bar-Hillel (much like Glenn Greenwald) implicitly smears the Jewish community with charges that they work to stifle free speech.  

Further, as we demonstrated in a post last week, the number of Israeli Bedouin who will be relocated is not “between 40,000 and 70,000″ as Bar-Hillel claims.  Under what’s known as the Prawer-Begin Plan, most (about 60,000) of those currently living in unrecognized villages in the Negev will have their land legalized, while a much smaller number (30,000) will be moved a few kilometers (from their current encampments) to planned communities.  

Additionally, her claim that the land where some of these Bedouin currently reside will “make way for IDF “military firing zones” seems to be completely untrue.  Though new Israeli cities will be built where these encampments now stand, nobody is claiming that “military firing zones’ will be established in its place. (It’s possible Bar-Hillel is conflating the Israeli Negev with the South Hebron Hills, an area in the West Bank where a row over IDF “firing ranges” has indeed been reported.)

Almost no reports about the Bedouin issue in the British media?

Bar-Hillel, commenting more broadly on the Prawer-Begin plan for the Bedouin and the protests surrounding the row, also makes the following claim:

Moreover, only one newspaper in this country covered the proposal – or the extremely violent protests which followed.

However, a quick Google search shows that the Indy, Guardian, Telegraph and Financial Times have all reported on the issue.

‘Jewish pressure’ on the media?

Bar-Hillel then provides an explanation for the (erroneous) ‘fact’ that “only one newspaper in the country covered the proposal”. 

I can only speculate on the reasons why, but suspect that the “working definition”, which has recently allowed all those who criticise Israel – including myself – to be labelled anti-Semitic, had something to do with it.

Get it?  Bar-Hillel not only comes to the risible conclusion that British newspapers don’t provide enough coverage of Israel, but that this putative dearth of coverage is inspired by fear of being labeled antisemitic.

Of course, her working theory is undermined by recent studies on British media coverage of Israel (and, more specifically, the Guardian’s own data) which demonstrates quite the opposite: that news relating to the Jewish state represents something approaching an obsession to UK editors, reporters and commentators. 

Conclusive proof that British papers don’t fear accusations of antisemitism can of course also be found in the simple fact that Indy editors felt no hesitation in publishing an essay – on the topic of antisemitism – by a journalist who has admitted to possessing an antipathy towards Jews.  

If the organized Jewish community is indeed trying to stifle the free speech of anti-Semites, they’re clearly failing miserably at this task.

David Ward MP – Jews, money and power

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Jews, money and power is a well-worn antisemitic trinity.

So, what possessed David Ward MP to send this tweet on 15th November?

That Roma are marginalised is not in question. If David Ward MP wishes they had a better reputation, or better representation, then let him say so: but this tweet appears to say far more about the Board of Deputies than it does about marginalised Roma.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is the representative body of British Jews. It does its job as best it can, and has done so since 1760. It is, in mundane reality, neither awash with money, nor all-powerful. Ward is an MP for Bradford. There are very few Jews in Bradford, but very many Muslims. Taken at face value, the Board would basically be an irrelevancy for both David Ward and his constituents.

Nevertheless, this kind of thinking, the well-worn drawing together of Jews, money and power, betrays Jews, Muslims and Ward’s own Liberal Democrat Party. It also betrays Ward, but only in the sense of revealing how he thinks, or what he may think appeals to his Muslim constituents.

David Ward has, in under a year, gone from relative obscurity to becoming a one man wrecking ball for the reputation of his party. (For brief example, see here; and see here for his attending a meeting on November 4th that disgraced Parliament.)

The Liberal Democrats must have thought that Jenny Tonge’s much awaited exit had put all of this aggravation and nonsense behind them. Unfortunately, Ward has swiftly occupied the space vacated by Tonge’s departure; and, once again, the Jewish community is left dismayed by the antisemitic resonance of statements made by a Liberal Democrat MP.

The last time we got here with Ward, the party leadership suspended him, and failed in attempts to educate him on the subject of antisemitism and Jewish sensitivities. Then, at the recent Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow, Ward attended an open meeting of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel group, entitled,

Crossing the line: Israel, Palestine, language and anti-Semitism

Before it, he had tweeted:

looking forward to LDFI event tonight on use of sensitive language

On behalf of CST, I spoke at the meeting, as did Alistair Carmichael MP, Maajid Nawaz and Lesley Klaff.

David Ward and a colleague sat near the front. Ward appeared to be paying very close attention, his face a scowl of concentration as he scribbled furiously throughout. I tried to direct my explanation of contemporary antisemitism and anti-Zionism straight at him, including:

If I think that someone’s made an antisemitic remark, or that the accusations they make against Israel or Zionists sound just like an update of older antisemitism, with the word Zionist used where the word Jew used to be, then I’m not saying that that person hates every single Jew in the world…I’m just saying that they’ve made an antisemitic remark. The context surrounding that remark, and how they react to my perception of what they’ve said, how other people react in accordance with all of that – now that’s important to me.

Because that’s the basics of how racism works. Its a form of political violence. It feeds off loose language and stereotypes. If the media or the politicians or activist groups run anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim or anti-black scare stories, then attacks on those people increase. You know that, we all know that and its no different with Jews. If you don’t care about the anti-Jewish aspect of racism, or about the feelings of Jews as victims, then it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a dyed in the wool antisemite, but it certainly makes you part of the problem.

At the very least, David Ward MP is certainly part of the problem.

Why is a Swedish Jew filing for political asylum in her own country?

Last year we had the pleasure of interviewing a Swedish Jew (and Zionist activist) named Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, who recounted her experiences living in a country plagued by a dangerous rise in antisemitism.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm, September 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

As the recent poll on European antisemitism by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) confirmed, the already precarious situation for Sweden’s Jews has taken a turn for the worse, and Hernroth-Rothstein’s latest essay at Mosaic Magazine serves as an important personal story to add detail and nuance to the FRA data.

She writes:

Here in Stockholm this fall, we in the Jewish community have enjoyed our 21st annual Jewish film festival, a klezmer concert, and a number of other cultural diversions. I choose the word “diversions” advisedly. It’s thanks to such entertainments that so many of my fellow Jews can allow themselves to say that we’re doing okay here—that there’s no need to rock the boat or cause trouble.

But you know what? We are not okay, and this is not okay.

Kosher slaughter has been outlawed in my country since 1937, and a bill is now pending in parliament that would ban even the import and serving of kosher meat. Circumcision, another pillar of the Jewish faith, is likewise under threat. In my job as a political adviser to a Swedish party, I have dealt with two bills on this issue in the past year alone; a national ban is rapidly gaining political support in the parliament and among the Swedish public. When it comes to our religious traditions, those on both the Right and Left in Swedish politics find common ground; they take pride in defending both animals and children from the likes of us, and from what one politician has called our “barbaric practices.” 

Later, she provides a more personal glimpse into life for Swedish Jews.

In today’s Sweden, home to all of 20,000 Jews amidst a national population of some nine million, the public display of Jewish identity, like donning a kippah or wearing a Star of David pendant, puts an individual at severe risk of verbal harassment and, even worse, physical harm. Synagogues are so heavily guarded that Jewish tourists are turned away if they try to attend services unannounced. Inside the sanctuary, we celebrate our festivals and holy days under police protection. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, during the five-minute walk to the water for the ceremony of tashlikh, my young son asked a guard why so many policemen were accompanying us. Replied the officer: “so that no bad people can hurt you.”

This is the self-image—the reality—that Jewish children in Sweden grow up with: being Jewish means being under threat of harm from bad people. This is where we are at.

You can read the rest of Hernroth-Rothstein’s story and learn why she is filing for political asylum in her own country, here.

We also encourage you to read her passionate letter titled ‘How to survive as a Jew in Sweden? Shut up and fade into the woodwork‘.

For context on the situation in Sweden, you can read CST commentaries on the FRA poll about European antisemitism here, here, here and here.

Yes, boycotting the goods and services of six million Jews is certainly antisemitic.

An Australian named Antony Loewenstein penned a piece at ‘Comment is Free’ on Nov. 7 which not only endorsed the unfiltered hate of Max Blumenthal, but defended the claim that the BDS movement against Israel is not antisemitic – specifically justifying the boycott of (of all places) Hebrew University, the Israeli academic institution known for its history of promoting coexistence.

Loewenstein wrote the following:

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an Israel-based organisation that claims to be a civil group “fighting for rights of hundreds of terror victims”. It is currently taking Jake Lynch, head of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), to the Australian federal court. They assert that Lynch has allegedly breached the 1975 racial discrimination act by refusing to sponsor a fellowship application by Israeli academic Dan Avnon. Lynch and CPACS support BDS, and since Avnon works at Hebrew University.

Of course, as anyone who’s been to either its Givat Ram campus or its main campus at Mount Scopus can attest to, Hebrew University is where Jews and Arabs (both Christian and Muslim) can be found mingling freely in the classroom, the cafeteria, and other common areas – sometimes encountering each other for the first time. Indeed, it was no coincidence that the university was the target of a Hamas terrorist attack in 2002, where a bomb packed with shrapnel was placed in a bag in a crowded cafeteria, killing nine people – four Israelis and five foreign nationals – and injuring 85.

Loewenstein addresses the issue of BDS and antisemitism in the following sentence:

The Australian which has been driving the debate on the issue, publishing countless stories that deliberately conflates antisemitism and support for the BDS movement.

Interestingly, Lowenstein doesn’t spend any further space attempting to back up his argument. Indeed, as his own one-state advocacy demonstrates, BDS advocates who target the entire country and all of its institutions are typically not trying to undermine the legitimacy of the settlements but, rather, the legitimacy of the state’s existence within any borders.

As a comprehensive survey published recently by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) indicates, campaigns which seek the economic, cultural and academic exclusion of Israeli Jews is viewed as racist by a large majority of Europe’s Jews. This survey of Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of antisemitism in the EU (which covers the UK, France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy Hungary, and Latvia) reported that 72 percent believed that the boycott of Israeli goods was antisemitic.

Perceptions of the moral implications of boycotting the only Jewish state should be contextualized within the overall results of the poll, which found that an increasing number of Jews in Europe fear for their safety, with nearly 30 percent of respondents having seriously considered emigrating due to antisemitism.  Additionally, 26 percent had experienced one or more incident of antisemitic harassment in the previous 12 months and, quite chillingly, nearly 70 percent “at least occasionally avoid wearing items in public that might identify them as Jewish”.

John-Paul Pagano, in his superb essay at The Tower on the legacy of Norman Geras, wrote the following on the moral double-standards at play which unite antisemitism and anti-Zionism:

Norm had little patience for the standard defense that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. “No, it isn’t,” he wrote, “unless it is.” He granted that the two are not necessarily the same, but he rejected the idea that simply announcing the difference grants immunity from charges of racism. “In the outpouring of hatred towards Israel today,” he wrote, “it scarcely matters what part of it is impelled by a pre-existing hostility towards Jews as such and what part by a groundless feeling that the Jewish state is especially vicious among the nations of the world…. Both are forms of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Zionist activists like Loewenstein evidently wake up in the morning, glance at the news coming out of the Middle East, and react in righteous fury not at the medieval antisemitism codified in Hamas’s founding charter, or the sick spectacle of Palestinian children reciting lessons learned on the immutable evil of those “sons of monkeys and pigs”, but, perversely, at the Jewish target of this monstrous, consuming hate. 

The unsettling reality is that seventy-five years after Kristallnacht an increasing percentage of Europe’s tiny Jewish minority again feel the anxiety born of racism, exclusion and violence.  And, the fact that this beleaguered community interprets a campaign of boycotts targeting six million of their coreligionists as antisemitic should only offend those who fail to interpret the refrain “never again” as a moral imperative to safeguard the rights and safety of living Jews, not merely the memory of those who have long since perished.

 

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

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

gg

Their selection of Glenn Greenwald is explained thusly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups are the ones agitating for a US war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests.” - Feb. 3, 2007, Unclaimed Territory
  • “The dominant narrative among neocons and the media is that, deep down in his heart, [Obama] may be insufficiently devoted to Israel to be president of the United States. Has there ever been another country to which American politicians were required to pledge their uncritical, absolute loyalty the way they are, now, with Israel?” - May 13, 2008 Salon
  • If you don’t…pledge your loyalty to our policies toward Israel and to Israel, what will happen to you is what just happened to Charles Freeman. You’ll be demonized and have your career ended.” - Jan. 8, 2009, interview on Hugh Hewitt  Show
  • “Those [American Jews] who favor the attack on Gaza are certainly guilty…of such overwhelming emotional and cultural attachment to Israel and Israelis that they long ago ceased viewing this conflict with any remnant of objectivity.” - Jan. 4, 2009 Salon
  • “So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the U.S. Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations and has even devoted its resources to criminally prosecuting and imprisoning satellite providers merely for including Hezbollah’s Al Manar channel in their cable package.  Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources to target and punish Israel’s enemies.” – March 9, 2009, Salon
  • The real goal [of the Israel lobby], as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions. [Charles] Freeman’s critics may have scored a short-term victory in that regard, but the more obvious it becomes what is really driving these scandals, the more difficult it will be to maintain this suffocating control over American debates and American policy.” – March 11, 2009 Salon
  • “The point is that the power the [Israel lobby] exercises [is] harmful in the extreme. They use it to squelch debate, destroy the careers and reputations of those who deviate from their orthodoxies, and compel both political parties to maintain strict adherence to an agenda that is held by a minority of Americans; that is principally concerned with the interests of a foreign country; and that results in serious cost and harm to the United States. In doing so, they insure not only that our policies towards Israel remain firmly in place no matter the outcome of our elections, but also that those policies remain beyond the realm of what can be questioned or debated by those who want to have a political future.” – March 11, 2009 Salon
  • “[Charles] Freeman is being dragged through the mud by the standard cast of accusatory Israel-centric neocons (Marty Peretz, Jon Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg, Commentary, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, etc. etc., etc.).” –March 9, 2009 Salon
  • “Meanwhile, one of the many Israel-Firsters in the U.S. Congress — Rep. Anthony Weiner, last seen lambasting President Obama for daring to publicly mention a difference between the U.S. and Israel — today not only defended Israel’s attack. – June 1, 2010 Salon
  • This is a truly disgusting spectacle…commentators — all of whom are writing well within the range of mainstream opinion on Israel — are being publicly smeared early in their careers as anti-Semites as part of a coordinated, ongoing campaign planned by Josh Block and carried out by numerous journalists with large media platforms, and aided and abetted by Jewish groups trading on their credibility to suppress debate. – Jan 19, 2012 Salon

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

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

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

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

bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, for the question of loyalty:

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

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

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