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

New CST report on antisemitic discourse in Britain slams the Guardian

The last time we posted about the annual report on antisemitic discourse in Britain by the Community Security Trust (the charity organisation advising British Jews on matters of security and antisemitism) we focused on the fact that the Guardian was singled out for opprobrium.  

cst 2011

In fact, CST devoted an entire section of their 21 page report to the Guardian, noting that “in 2011, the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.”  Specifically, CST focused on an article by Chris McGreal characterizing US government support for Israel as “slavish” and a widely condemned ‘chosen people‘ slur by columnist Deborah Orr.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on McGreal’s “slavish” comment here and here, and our take on Deborah Orr’s ‘chosen people’ slur here and here.)

In the latest CST report on antisemitic discourse, released just today, the Guardian again was singled out.  

cst 2012

Specifically, the CST wrote the following:

The largest antisemitism-related controversy concerning mainstream media content in 2012 was a cartoon in the Guardian, by Steve Bell. This depicted Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary William Hague MP as glove puppets of the Israeli Prime Minister. Bell resolutely denied any antisemitic intent and the cartoon was not removed.

Steve Bell cartoon, Guardian. Nov. 15, 2012.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on the Steve Bell cartoon, here and here.)

The CST report also singled out a ‘Comment is Free’ commentary by Juan Cole, and included the following:

An intervention by CST caused the Guardian Comment is Free website to partly amend an article that had echoed antisemitic charges of Jewish conspiracy and warmongering.

(See CiF Watch’s posts about the row here and here)

Also of note, Robert Fisk was singled out for making “a highly insulting allegation about people supposedly being called antisemitic Nazis for writing the “truth” about Israel.”

(CAMERA posts about Robert Fisk can be found here)

CST’s summary of their annual report is here, while you can see the full 36 page PDF here.

Email shows The Independent got it wrong on Antisemitism working definition

Recently we posted about a peculiar essay about the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism at The Independent, written by a journalist who’s admitted to being prejudiced against Jews.  Though you can read our post to see several of her erroneous claims about antisemitism, and Israel more broadly, we recently were provided evidence which refutes one specific claim made in the article – that the EU retired the Working Definition.

indy headline

First, here’s the EUMC Working Definition:

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Despite Bar-Hillel’s enthusiastic suggestion that the Working Definition was retired, which she claimed (per the Livingstone Formulation), served to allow Jews to stifle the free speech of Israel’s critics, we pointed to the following facts:

  • 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.

Recently, a CiF Watch reader forwarded us her email exchange with a representative from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) – the successor agency to the EUMC (European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia). 

email 1

Now, here’s the FRA reply:

email 2

The next time a commentator hostile to Jews or Israel claims that the EU “retired” or “repudiated” the EUMC Working Definition, you can definitively respond that their Fundamental Rights Agency – per their own words – did nothing of the sort.  

As we’ve noted on numerous occasions, the Working Definition is not law.  

However, it does represent a widely respected and practical guide (formulated by NGOs and reps from the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination section of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in 2005) used by law enforcement agencies and human rights bodies in the EU to help determine what constitutes anti-Jewish racism. 

Those committed to defending the fundamental human rights of Jews would be wise to follow their lead. 

The Telegraph’s 14 weaselly words about the power of ‘the lobby’

It’s less than clear how Telegraph Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer views the nuclear deal recently signed in Geneva, but in his latest report he certainly seems to take pleasure in the Israeli prime minister’s profound disappointment over the terms and implications of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1.

spencer

Spencer’s story, titled ‘Iran nuclear deal: Israel rages and no one cares‘, Nov. 24, begins thusly:

Everyone expected Israel‘s furious response to the Iranian nuclear deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had used every weapon in his considerable diplomatic and rhetorical arsenal to oppose one, up to hand-drawn drawings at the United Nations Security Council of circular bombs with cartoon fuses to illustrate his “red lines”.

What fewer can have expected is that no one would listen.

 Then, after citing statements by UK Foreign Minister William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry he interprets as dismissive of Israeli concerns, he writes the following:

If ones takes Israel’s public position at face value, however, it is hard not to ask how it got itself into a position where its wishes could be ignored by its closest ally, the United States (an ally that according to popular opinion its Washington lobbies have in their pockets).

One answer might be the extraordinary, prickly, combative persona of Mr Netanyahu.

Of course, there is another answer to the question of why the American president didn’t take Israel’s concerns about the deal into consideration that Spencer didn’t explore: the possibility that the narrative suggesting that ‘pro-Israel lobbies have the U.S. government “in their pockets” has no foundation in reality, and represents the kind of crude, simplifying hypotheses fancied by weak minds, conspiracists and bigots who can’t grapple with the complexities of the world.  

ShowImage

Ar-Risala, June 22, 2008
Headline: “The Wagon [that gets you] to the White House.”

images

Two papers published the same cartoon: Al-Watan, June 10, 2008 and Arabnews, June 11, 2008

Zionist lobby with Obama and Clinton in pocket

Akhbar al-Khalij, June 9, 2008
The bearded man is labeled: “Zionist Lobby” and has then Senator Barack Obama in its pocket, and Obama has Senator Hillary Clinton in his pocket.

Though Spencer doesn’t explicitly endorse this ‘Zionist root cause’ scenario, his failure to dismiss it provides succor to the alarming number of putatively mainstream commentators who, as Leon Wieseltier wrote, continue to “proclaim in all seriousness, without in any way being haunted by the history of such an idea, that Jews control Washington.” 

Editor’s Note: The title was amended at 12:00 EST to more accurately reflect the substance of the post

Did CiF Watch “browbeat” Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson into submission?

Two days ago, I discovered that CiF Watch, a Jewish supremacist site interested solely in cleansing British press of any criticism of Israel and Jewish power, was boasting that the Guardian surrendered to their pressure – Gilad Atzmon (Jan. 25, 2012)

You can’t win – [antisemitism is] the ultimate trump card. No matter how many innocent people the Israeli state kills, any criticism is automatically proof of anti-semitism. No wonder idiots like Ahmadinejad want to deny the holocaust. They are jealous. They’d love to silence their critics like that. – Martin Rowson (Dec. 2011)

Though Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson is obviously in no way comparable to extremist Gilad Atzmon, we were reminded of both our battle with Atzmon last year and our periodic critiques of Rowson’s depictions of Israeli villainy following a brief Twitter conversation this morning with the ‘visual artist’.  

rowson

This social media tête-à-tête with Rowson reminded us that we were remiss in failing to note a pithy exchange with him a few months ago which would no doubt inspire ‘fear and trembling’ in those, such as Atzmon, who routinely do battle with the cabal of hegemonic, perfidious Jews and their philo-semitic friends.  

rowson

So, per Rowson’s sage advice, we shall now endeavor to “big ourselves up” with the satisfaction of knowing that our “campaign” to stifle the Guardian’s anti-Israel creativity “has worked”, and contemplate the possibility that the global Zionist ‘conspiracy’ to “cleans the British press of any criticism of Israel and Jewish power” may indeed be as far reaching as our enemies claim.  

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

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

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

cohen

First, there’s this passage:

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

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

memo

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

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

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

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

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

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

mondoweiss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praise for Max Blumenthal’s ‘I hate Israel handbook’ from David Duke and the usual suspects

Cross posted by Petra Marquardt-Bigman 

Coinciding with last weekend’s 75th anniversary of the “Kristallnacht” pogrom by the Nazis, several institutions in Berlin, including the Jewish Museum, organized an “International Conference on Current Phenomena of Antisemitism in Europe.” Given that the focus of the conference was supposedly on “current” manifestations of antisemitism in Europe, it was not at all promising that the keynote speaker – Oxford University philosopher Brian Klug – has made a name for himself by arguing that the demonization of the Jewish state is not “necessarily anti-semitic.” And while Klug has spent much energy opposing the notion that there is a “new antisemitism” that targets Israel, he seems eager to embrace the relatively new concept of “Islamophobia.” 

When critics of Klug published a dossier detailing their objections to his views, the Oxford professor immediately hinted that he might take legal action, because his “attorney…confirmed that the dossier is defamatory.” That left me wondering if Klug (and his attorney, of course!) feels there is anything “defamatory” about the fact that he is being enthusiastically defended and cheered on by a site like Mondoweiss, which has often been accused of publishing antisemitic material.

In recent weeks, one of the biggest stories at Mondoweiss was the publication of a new book by Max Blumenthal, one of the site’s heroes. As one critical reviewer elsewhere noted, Blumenthal’s “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” is really a “I Hate Israel Handbook” brimming with implicit equations of Israel with Nazis, which “could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club (if it existed) without a single word change once it’s translated into Arabic.”

Unsurprisingly for those of us who are less sophisticated about antisemitism than Brian Klug, there is a big market for a new “I Hate Israel Handbook.” The Israel-haters at the Electronic Intifada jubilantly announced that the book was at one point “the number one seller on Amazon.com in the category of Israeli history.” So perhaps we can imagine that just as Brian Klug shared his thoughts on “Current Phenomena of Antisemitism” with his audience at the Berlin conference, some Mondoweiss (and Brian Klug) fans and other Israel-haters were savoring Blumenthal’s screed – and perhaps they even happened to read the chapters on the Israeli-run concentration camp and the Israeli-perpetrated Kristallnacht?

Blumenthal Goliath

It is arguably no coincidence that a site like Mondoweiss would champion both Oxford philosopher Brian Klug and anti-Israel propagandist Max Blumenthal. Indeed, the fairly impressive endorsements Blumenthal has been able to get for his screed could be seen as the fruit of Klug’s endlessly repeated mantra that there should be precious few red lines when it comes to criticizing Israel. In one of his first articles on this subject Klug wrote some ten years ago:

“In his book, The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz argues that when criticism of Israel ‘crosses the line from fair to foul’ it goes ‘from acceptable to anti-semitic’.

People who take this view say the line is crossed when critics single Israel out unfairly; when they apply a double standard and judge Israel by harsher criteria than they use for other states; when they misrepresent the facts so as to put Israel in a bad light; when they vilify the Jewish state; and so on. All of which undoubtedly is foul. But is it necessarily anti-semitic?

No, it is not.”

Let’s imagine for a moment how Professor Klug would feel about this version:

“when critics single Islam out unfairly; when they apply a double standard and judge Islam by harsher criteria than they use for other religions; when they misrepresent the facts so as to put Islam in a bad light; when they vilify the Muslim religion…[this] undoubtedly is foul. But is it necessarily Islamophobic?

No, it is not.”

Of course, one could try this with Blacks, Roma, gays, or whatever other group or entity one would like to vilify while claiming the authority of Oxford philosopher Brian Klug to argue that none of this means that one is “necessarily” bigoted.

However, as we all know, the Klug-definition for bigotry is considered acceptable only when it comes to Israel. So Max Blumenthal and many others can apply double standards and judge Israel by harsher criteria than any other state; they can misrepresent the facts so as to put Israel in a bad light; and they can freely vilify the Jewish state without risking to be denounced as “necessarily anti-semitic.”

Now let’s have a look at some of those who were happy to endorse Blumenthal’s “I Hate Israel Handbook.”

The top editorial endorsement featured on the book’s Amazon page is unsurprisingly from ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Antony Loewenstein: “Goliath…shows in forensic detail the reality of the Israeli mainstream’s embrace [of] blatant racism against Arabs and Africans.” It is noteworthy that the ‘CiF’ contributor is saying here that the vast majority of Israelis are blatantly racist: the rightwing is racist by definition (certainly by The Guardian’s definition), and since the mainstream is also racist, only a small minority of far-left Israelis are perhaps not racist. It’s also safe to assume that Loewenstein is only talking about Jewish Israelis here – so at least Arab Israelis may not be racist…

Ironically enough, another warm endorsement for Blumenthal’s screed comes from The American Conservative (TAC), nicely illustrating that when it comes to the evils of Israel, a supposedly “progressive” publication like ‘Comment is Free’ and a paleoconservative publication like TAC can see eye to eye.

Then there is an endorsement from Stephen Walt – with his full institutional affiliation: Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Walt praises Blumenthal’s “[b]rave reporting,” adding: “Makes me wish he wrote for the New York Times.” Given that earlier this year, Walt served as guest contributor for the Hamas mouthpiece MEMO, it is arguably not surprising that he would happily endorse a book that “could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club.”

Another high-profile academic endorsement for Blumenthal’s screed comes from Rashid Khalidi, though the Columbia professor apparently didn’t want his institutional affiliation displayed. Khalidi praises the book because he feels it “lifts the carefully maintained veil concealing the reality of Israel as it actually is today” and he deplores that this reality “is elided in most reportage from the region.” Obviously Khalidi has a point: with all the bad press Israel is getting, the ‘unveiling’ of its concentration camps and Kristallnachts is still something that is usually found only on the lunatic Jew-hating fringes.

Needless to say, Blumenthal also made sure to collect endorsements from some well-known Jews. Charles H. Manekin, Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center of Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, likes to describe himself as a “cultural Zionist” – that is to say, a “Zionist” who cares about Jewish culture but not about a Jewish state (– and non-philosophers might think that makes him an anti-Zionist…). His enthusiasm about Blumenthal’s “I Hate Israel Handbook” was such that he professed: “I would like to send a copy…to every Jew I know.”

In addition to these endorsements from academics, there is much praise from writers who work or worked for influential publications: Glenn Greenwald, who has just left The Guardian, apparently found it “stunningly insightful” to read about Israel’s concentration camps and Kristallnachts; David Hirst, also affiliated with The Guardian, worries that Israel will be destroyed by the “virulence of a cancer, both institutional and popular, which [is….] essentially of its own racist and colonialist making;” award-winning former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges considers Blumenthal’s screed one of the most “fearless and honest books ever written about Israel;” and long-time Ha’aretz columnist Akiva Eldar also couldn’t help feeling impressed by Blumenthal’s relentless demonization of Israel.

Naturally, Blumenthal’s “I Hate Israel Handbook” was also warmly praised by his trusted comrades from Mondoweiss and The Electronic Intifada. And unsurprisingly, Blumenthal’s work is also much appreciated by Gilad Atzmon and David Duke.

Here’s a passage of praise from Duke’s site:

“Blumenthal’s writings and videos are extremely valuable in the study of Jewish extremism, as he is not shy about using his Jewish name and looks to gain access to Jewish extremists in order to document the ugliest side of Zionism…as it pertains to Israel.”

While this is an endorsement Max Blumenthal chose not to quote on his Amazon page, I think that this is exactly the company the people who praised Blumenthal’s screed deserve. But I have no illusions that any of them would feel embarrassed by the fact that a propaganda tract they endorse is also praised by far-right antisemites. Moreover, even those who have prestigious academic positions know that, thanks in part to efforts like those of Oxford philosopher Brian Klug, there is no price to pay for cheering the vilification of the Jewish state – and therefore inevitably the Jews who sustain it – in ways that would be completely unacceptable if any other group with a long history of persecution and discrimination was the target.

Are Jews a “privileged” class?

A few months ago Louise Mensch was attacked at ‘Comment is Free’ for dismissing the idea of “privilege checking”.  Mensch had argued the following:

“Check your privilege”, for example, is a profoundly stupid trope that states that only those with personal experience of something should comment, or that if a person is making an argument, they should immediately give way if their view is contradicted by somebody with a different life story.

Laurie Penny is an absolutely prime example; she does it all the time. The other day on Twitter she told people not to rise to what she felt was a race-baiting article by Rod Liddle in the Spectator. She was quite right. Everybody with a blog knows what “don’t feed the trolls” means. However, she was angrily contradicted by the black comedian @AvaVidal who told her that people of colour were striking back and they should rise to it. Instead of defending her position, Penny caved, recanted, and commented mournfully that “having your privilege checked” was painful.

Here are the relevant passages from an essay by Laurie Penny, contributing editor at The New Statesman. 

Louise Mensch is confused. The erstwhile MP and professional gadfly has published a blogpost decrying “privilege checking”, and longing to return to a species of “reality-based” feminism where everyone would stop bothering her about class, race and money.

Actually, “privilege” isn’t at all hard to understand. It just means any structural social advantage that you have by virtue of birth, or position – such as being white, being wealthy, or being a man. “Check your privilege” means “consider how your privilege affects what you have just said or done.” That’s it.

Privilege is not the same as power. Nor is it a game whereby only the least privileged people will henceforth be allowed an opinion – the last time I checked, the political conversation was still dominated by rich white men and their wives. These are the people who go into spasms of outrage at the very notion that a black person, or a woman, or a working-class person might have as much right to an opinion as they do on matters that affect them.

Whilst the idea of ‘privilege’ is intellectually suspect for a host of reasons (many of which Mensch explored in her blog post), it’s quite interesting that Jews, of all people, are often considered among “the privileged” within this paradigm.  Not only has the post-Holocaust taboo against antisemitism been eroded, but Jews, who represent a fraction of 1% of the world’s population, are – in a manner evoking classic tropes about Jewish control – typically portrayed, by virtue of their relative success, as an elite, powerful, and privileged class. 

Whilst reasonable people can agree or disagree with attempts to explain disparities in economic, educational and social outcomes in terms of one’s ‘privilege’, it seems difficult to avoid including Jews among those who are “historically disadvantaged” when honestly exploring its political implications.

So, for those who fancy the specious argument that you can quantify privilege in terms of one’s race, ethnicity, gender, etc., here’s some food for thought – a list of the advantages (privileges) of waking up in the morning as a non-Jew – the daily effects of non-Jewish privilege.

1. You likely don’t have your people’s right to national self-determination questioned or characterized as racist.

2.  You are not characterized as racist for the alleged sin of caring more about your own people’s safety and welfare than that of other groups.

3.  You are not accused as a group – by virtue of by your current alleged “immoral behavior” – of having betrayed the memory of coreligionists who were victims of genocide.

4.  You are not accused of being more loyal to a foreign state than to the interests of your own nation.

5.  You are likely not held personally responsible for the actions of others who share your religion or ethnicity.

6.  You are not likely to be targeted for terrorist attacks by extremists simply because you happen to share the same religion as the majority population in one foreign state.  

7.  You likely don’t have to avoid expressing your religious identity when visiting Middle Eastern or even European countries for fear of violence.

8.  You are likely never accused of being part of an international conspiracy to control the world.

9.  You are not accused of exercising disproportionate control over the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

10. Your success and personal achievements – and other fruits of your hard work – aren’t turned upside down and characterized as evidence of your ‘privilege.

To be clear, none of this is meant to suggest that we subscribe to the facile theory that groups should be divided between the ‘privileged’ and the non-privileged.  However, for those who do give this paradigm credence, it does seem to represent an egregious moral double standard to impute ‘privilege’ to such a historically persecuted, disenfranchised and marginalized minority as Jews.   

Jonathan Freedland’s blindspot on antisemitism

Though we’re often in disagreement with his politics on Israel, Jonathan Freedland is one of the few Guardian journalists who takes the issue of antisemitism seriously, and his latest essay at ‘Comment is Free’, ‘Antisemitism does not always come with a Hitler salute does something quite extraordinary. Freedland not only does a competent job discussing the various manifestations of anti-Jewish bigotry but also, at least indirectly, calls out two fellow Guardian contributors for their antisemitic discourse.

freedland

First, Freedland frames the essay:

The Daily Mail’s sustained assault on the late Ralph Miliband, the Marxist scholar it branded “The Man Who Hated Britain”. Some detect a whiff of anti-Jewish prejudice, some swear there is no such thing. When pressed on the point by the BBC, Ed Miliband himself declined to add antisemitism to his list of charges against the paper.

All of which, I imagine, must make it hard for the open-minded outsider, the non-Jew keen to oppose all forms of racism. They know they’re against antisemitism, but how exactly to spot it? When is the line crossed? Where, in fact, is the line? In the spirit of public service, let me attempt an answer.

He then notes the persistence of antisemitism in the Middle East and even links to a report by Tom Gross on antisemitic cartoons in the Arab world.

[Antisemitism] is not a phenomenon safely buried in the past. Just because hatred of Jews reached a murderous climax in the 1940s does not mean it ended with the war in 1945. It is alive and well even in 2013. Whether it’s on Twitter or in the cartoons that routinely appear in much of today’s Middle Eastern press, crude slurs and hideous caricatures of Jews – hook-nosed and money-grabbing – endure.

Later in the essay, Freedland makes reference to two particularly egregious examples of antisemitism at the Guardian:

In the antisemitic imagination, Jews are constantly working for some other, hidden goal. In this, antisemitism stands apart from other racisms, which tend to view the hated as straightforwardly inferior. Antisemitism is instead a conspiracy theory of power, believing that the Jews – always operating as a collective – are bent on some grand plan of world domination. Which is why images of Jews as puppet masters, or of having the world in their financial grips”, as Baroness Jenny Tonge so memorably put it, always hit a nerve.

The “puppet masters” reference links to a piece by Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott (Accusations of antisemitism against a political cartoon) criticizing an ugly cartoon by Steve Bell last November which depicted the Israeli prime minister as a puppet master controlling Tony Blair and William Hague.

Freedland continues:

And always on hand for the antisemite is some reference to Jews’ religious practice, real or imagined. For centuries, those who hate Jews would throw the phrase “chosen people” back in their faces, falsely interpreting it as a mandate for Jewish supremacism. 

His “chosen people” reference links to another essay by the Guardian’s readers’ editor (On averting accusations of antisemitism) which called out the shameful antisemitic use of the term “chosen people” by Deborah Orr. 

Freedland continues, rightfully pointing to the persistent tropes which evoke the classic antisemitic narrative of ‘dual loyalty': 

Instead, there are familiar tunes, some centuries old, which are played again and again. An especially hoary trope is the notion of divided allegiances or plain disloyalty, as if, whatever their outward pretence, Jews really serve another master besides their country. Under Stalin, Jews, especially Jewish intellectuals, were condemned as “rootless cosmopolitans” (another euphemism) lacking in sufficient patriotism. The Mail’s insistence that Miliband Sr was not only disloyal but actively hated his country fits comfortably in that tradition.

Freedland didn’t provide a link or cite any concrete examples of commentators employing such racist canards, so we thought it would be helpful to point to a colleague of Freedland’s at the Guardian who has engaged in such tropes on numerous occasions. His name is Glenn Greenwald. 

Here are a few quotes from Greenwald imputing such disloyalty:

  • 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
  • “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
  • “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.” – 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 
  • “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

We of course don’t know if Freedland has had the pleasure of meeting his new colleague but – insofar as he truly takes antisemitism seriously – we humbly suggest that he at least familiarize himself with Greenwald’s record of anti-imperialist inspired Judeophobia which we continue to document at this blog. 

Guardian Jerusalem Syndrome: Giles Fraser fears Judaisation of Temple Mount

Jerusalem Syndrome: a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. 

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday continued in its long campaign of incitement concerning the Temple Mount, condemning Jews who tour the holy site by suggesting that their visits represent a broader Israeli scheme to “Judaise” the site with the ultimate goal of rebuilding a Jewish Temple.

The PA-controlled media has specifically claimed that “hordes of settlers and Jewish extremists plan to storm and desecrate the Aksa Mosque” – part of a broader campaign of incitement by Islamist extremists in Jerusalem which has triggered several Palestinian riots at the Temple Mount over the past few months.

wafa

Wafa, official Palestinian News Agency, Sept. 4, 2013

The threat of riots last month around Ramadan, for instance, prompted Israeli police to close off the Temple Mount to non-Muslim visitors.

Lending polemical support to such an often repeated lie that Israel – which allows freedom of worship for all faiths at holy sites in Jerusalem – represents a threat to the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism), is the Guardian’s Giles Fraser, whose latest piece at ‘Comment is Free’ is titled ‘An Israeli claim to Temple Mount Would Trigger Unimaginable Violence.’

fraser

Fraser’s essay includes the following:

Jewish access to Temple Mount has been strictly forbidden (by religious, not secular, law) for centuries – though some of the more secular Israeli nationalists increasingly want access simply to insist upon their jurisdiction over that part of Jerusalem. It was Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative visit to the Temple Mount on 28 September 2000 that sparked the second intifada. 

First, as we’ve demonstrated on several occasions, Fraser’s claim that Ariel Sharon sparked the second intifada is a complete lie, as evidence abounds that the violence was coordinated at the highest levels of the Palestinian government. As we noted, for instance, Yasser’s widow, Suha, admitted that her husband explicitly told her, in early 2000, that he was going “to launch an intifada.”

suha

See video, here.

Moreover, contrary to Fraser’s suggestion in the passage, Jews already have access to the Temple Mount. Though Jews who visit are forbidden from praying there, the site has regular visiting hours, and is open to all faiths.  

Fraser continues:

The orthodox position has long been that the Temple can only be rebuilt and sacrifices resumed when the Jewish messiah returns. There have been a few dissenting voices to this consensus – most notably, Maimonides – but since the foundation of the state of Israel, the idea of Jews returning to Temple Mount prior to the arrival of the messiah has been the obsession of a tiny minority. And mostly, like Sharon, driven by secular political rather that theological concerns. But as Israel continues its shift to the right, these dangerous voices are now entering the political mainstream.

Whilst Fraser’s broad suggestion that Israel has been shifting to the right – a favorite narrative of the Guardian which was undermined by the results of the last election – is erroneous, his more central claim that support for rebuilding the Temple has reached the mainstream is absurd.  

Though some on the extreme right have supported the right of Jews to merely pray at the Temple Mount, the Jewish legal (halakhic) ban on visiting the site is supported by most orthodox Jewish leaders.  Additionally, the number of religious Jews who even visit the Temple Mount each year is tiny.  Further, only those on the extreme fringes of Israeli society seriously discuss rebuilding the Temple, a fact that Fraser himself alludes to in his subsequent passage:

It would be hard to overstate how dangerous an idea this is. The vast majority of orthodox rabbis have reiterated their opposition to it.

It would be dangerous if there was any chance that it was seriously being contemplated by Israeli political leaders, but that is clearly not the case. 

Finally, Fraser wouldn’t be a Guardian Left journalist if he didn’t include a gratuitous pejorative reference to “settlers”, so his essay includes this throw away line near the end:

But the settler mentality is now increasingly focusing on what is politically the most explosive site on the planet. If they succeed, a billion Muslims worldwide would go ballistic. 

It’s of course unclear what the ideological connection is between 350,000 Jews, both religious and secular, who live (for varying reasons) across the green line, and a tiny politically insignificant minority of Israelis who call for the Temple to be rebuilt.

Moreover, it’s remarkable how Fraser could write an essay about religious tensions at the Temple Mount without even mentioning the long history of ideological incitement by their political and religious leaders which continues to represent the root cause of such “tensions”.  Fraser, who has filed his last two reports while visiting the holy land, has joined the chorus of those on the far left who shamefully amplify the incitement, fear mongering and Jerusalem delusions of Palestinian extremists. 

Guardian frames Egypt ‘Spy Stork’ row as sign of increased xenophobia under military regime

In terms of entertainment value it’s hard to beat recent reports that Egyptian police placed a stork under arrest late Friday after a mysterious device was found attached to its feathers, fueling accusations that it might have been used for Zionist espionage.  Evidently, the stork was taken to a police station, and ‘interrogated’, but soon cleared of wrongdoing after veterinarians realized that the bird was bearing nothing but a wildlife tracker installed by French scientists.

stork

A migrating stork was held in an Egyptian police station after a man suspected it of being a spy. Photo, AP

However, the story doesn’t end there, at least not if you’re a blog which monitors the Guardian.  Almost as enjoyable as the story itself was the account of the episode by the Guardian Cairo correspondent, Patrick Kingsley.  

Though his story, Eyes on storks? Egyptian fishermen thought bird was a foreign spy, Sept. 2, was, in fairness, mostly light-hearted and cheeky, being the Guardianista he is, he naturally somehow failed to note reports that some thought the bird was spying for Israel, while imputing the following political significance:

But the stork’s treatment comes amid a wider rise in xenophobia in Egypt this summer. Since the army forced out ex-president Mohamed Morsi in a widely backed move on 3 July, the country has been consumed in a wave of pro-military nationalism.

One side-effect has been the blaming of the country’s ills on foreigners – from American diplomats, to Syrian refugees and western journalists.

Whilst blaming the stork’s apprehension on the current mood of jingoism – in contrast, presumably, to the ‘enlightened internationalism‘ under the Muslim Brotherhood – is itself quite comical, those of us who’ve ‘covered’ previous instances of spy animals can refute the reporter’s thesis by noting other examples of Egyptian ‘xenophobia’.

A couple of years ago there were reports that some Egyptians were blaming Israel for a shark attack that killed a German tourist in the Red Sea. Such suspicions were best articulated by the South Sinai Governor, Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha, who said the following:

What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark in the sea to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm”.

This all prompted Chas Newkey-Burden to illustrate the anti-Zionist paranoia the following way at his blog, (using a graphic by Jonathan Sacerdoti):

shark1

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water

Oh, and finally, contrary to the Guardian reporter’s theory on a military regime-inspired fear of migratory foreigners, the “Zionist shark attack” took place in 2010, before the military regime and before Morsi, undermining the suggestion that the stork arrest can be tied to societal fears stoked by the current ‘wave’ of militant nationalism.

(You can get up to speed on the complete list of Zionist Spy Animals here.)

The lies of George Galloway

When he’s not engaging in antisemitism, licking the boots of fascist dictators, or contributing to ‘Comment is Free’, George Galloway provides commentary on world events for PressTV Global News.

Recently on the Iranian network, he offered a classic conspiracy theory, alleging that Israel supplied the Syrians with chemical weapons used to murder several hundred civilians last week – a charge which found its way onto the floor of the House of Commons.

Here are a few passages from an entry at 5:18 PM at the Guardian‘s Live Blog of the House of Commons debate on Syria intervention yesterday:

Matthew Offord, a Conservative, asks Galloway if it is true that he said on Iranian TV that the Israelis supplied the Syrians with chemical weapons.

Galloway says Offord should not believe what he gets told in green ink letters from constituents. But the rebels in Syria have been caught with sarin gas, he says. It is relatively easy to produce.

Interestingly, the Guardian didn’t include the rest of what Galloway said, where he flatly denied making such accusations.

Now, here’s a video posted by Trending Central of the House of Commons debate, and Galloway’s comments on PressTV which prompted Offord’s query:

Galloway blatantly lied.

Trending Central suggests the following to hold the MP from Bradford West accountable:

Resolved: Antisemitism is the main obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace

Harriet Sherwood’s July 18th Guardian storyon efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, reports on a meeting convened last night by Mahmoud Abbas with other Palestinian political leaders to decide whether to return to the negotiating table.  

Whilst a story by the Guardian/Reuters published this morning reported that Abbas and his colleagues ultimately decided to simply defer making any decision at all on whether to enter talks, both Sherwood’s report and the Reuters story characteristically avoided any mention of the the single largest issue preventing peace between Israel and its neighbors: An Arab culture which consistently promotes the demonization and dehumanization of Jews – antisemitic incitement promoted by Arab governments which permeates their educational system, religious life, media, and popular culture.

You simply can’t have an honest discussion about the Arab-Israeli conflict without acknowledging the toxicity of the Arab world’s blind hatred towards Jews – racism which continues to render any hope for genuine peace and coexistence (and the Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state within any borders) merely an illusion.

Whilst the Guardian all but completely ignores the role Palestinian Jew-hatred plays in perpetuating the conflict, the Guardian (as my colleague Gilead Ini notes in his superb analysis of the broader problem) is by no means alone.  With few exceptions, mainstream media outlets reporting on the political process of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict routinely fail to inform their readers of the broader moral and cultural factors which represent the main impediments to peace in the Middle East.  

Ini writes the following:

Assume, for a moment, that the Jews are demons.

Imagine having been taught that they purposefully infect your countrymen with AIDS, and that such evil deeds have been a consistent part of Jewish history for thousands of years, ever since they killed their own prophets and tried to kill yours. Believe that their ultimate goal is to corrupt the world and hoard its money and power. Feel certain that they are so diabolical that even rocks and trees — the earth itself — wants them dead.

Could you possibly see them as good neighbors — good people like your own family and friends? Would you support negotiations with them, let alone substantive concessions?

A resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict will require trust. But you can’t trust the devil. It will require compromise. But you don’t compromise with evil. It will require an understanding by each side of the other’s legitimate interests and concerns. But if Jews — not just Israelis, not just one or another political party, but the Jews — are irremediably concerned with spreading disease, sowing corruption and accumulating money, it would be reasonable to conclude that they should be met with outright rejection, not concessions.

And what if, despite enormous headwinds driven by public revulsion for these demonized Jews, your leaders nonetheless signed a peace deal with them? Could it take root in such unfertile soil?

Can a society that accepts the most outlandish conspiracy theories about Jews, and that has long used Jews as the scapegoat for setbacks and failures, thrive? Can such a society successfully grapple with difficulties that, in reality, have nothing to do with Jews?

Walter Russell Mead argues that “widespread popular anti-Semitism is almost always a leading indicator of economic failure and autocratic rule.” Although anti-Semites might think this is because Jews “use their hidden superpowers to block and frustrate the economic development of peoples brave enough to tell the truth about Jewish machinations,” in fact, Mead says,

“anti-Semitism is usually associated with attitudes of bigotry, dogmatism and hostility to new ideas and different perspectives. Tolerance, openness to different ideas and a willingness to work with people from different religions and backgrounds are essential qualities for long-term successful and democratic development in a capitalist world, and people who hate and fear Jews usually lack them.”

In other words, for the two sides to coexist peacefully, sustainable and successfully, their worst passions must be subdued. As Martin Luther King Jr. says toward the end of the attached video (link below), hate makes you do irrational things. “You can’t see straight when you hate,” he explains.

But the video also reveals that, in all too many mosques, schools and television programs across the Arab and Muslim world, the public is indoctrinated with the most vile anti-Jewish bigotry. Hatred is idealized to a degree that the average American, and the average Israeli, cannot comprehend or imagine.

Journalists have a particular responsibility to inform global audiences about this scourge — about the presence and prominence of anti-Semitism and its role as “leading indicator” of societal dysfunction and spoiler of peace hopes. But with few exceptions there has been little coverage in the mainstream media of the phenomenon and its importance. Instead, an ossified storyline focuses on other supposed obstacles to peace in the Middle East that omits this central force.

CAMERA has produced an excellent short video to illustrate Ini’s post, which you can view here.

Guardian’s David Hearst participates in discussion on the power of the Israel lobby

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST.

Swapping “Zionist” or “pro-Israeli” for “Jewish” is not opposing antisemitism. It is, at best, a lazy linguistic complacency that camouflages antisemitic ways of thinking: making antisemitism harder to expose and fight. An unusually explicit example of this can be clearly seen in the footage of a meeting at London journalist haunt, the Frontline Club. View it here (but read the below first).

The meeting, on 12 June 2013, used a book by British Islamist, Ibrahim Hewitt, as the basis for discussion about the media’s approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The discussion, between Hewitt, ex-BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn, and Guardian foreign leader writer David Hearst, was chaired by Mark McDonald, a founder of Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East.

Under the title, Anti-Zionism: the Frontline, CST Blog had already warned what might happen at this meeting. We related some of the overblown anti-Zionist conspiracy theory and imagery that Hewitt’s group, MEMO, had previously published. We noted that Llewellyn might be worse than Hewitt. We recalled Hearst’s silence in the Guardian after a judge had found against Sheikh Ra’ed Salah’s denials of having made a blood libel speech. (The judge still granted Salah his appeal.) We asked, without optimism, if Hearst or McDonald might intervene if either of their fellow Frontline speakers strayed into territory occupied by antisemitism.

The footage shows that Hewitt did not repeat the wilder material from MEMO, and that Llewellyn was indeed worse than him. Hearst explained things calmly and without resort to conspiracy theory, but does not seem to have directly rebutted either Hewitt or, especially, Llewellyn. If anything, Hearst surely normalised his fellow speakers to the mainly young audience – rather than undermined them.

The footage also shows that there was only one intervention against a speaker who took things too far. This was against Llewellyn, when Hewitt pulled him up for saying“the Jewish Lobby”: whereupon the meeting chair, Mark McDonald, said that it should be “the Zionist Lobby” or “pro-Israel Lobby” instead.

Any serious objection to antisemitism must go far deeper than swapping “Zionist” for“Jewish”. Otherwise, it simply becomes an exercise in how to swap an antisemitic conspiracy theory for an ‘anti-Zionist’ one. The anti-Zionist left claims, furiously, to oppose antisemitism, but swapping “Zionist” for “Jew” is advising upon camouflage, not anti-racism.

The salient moment occurs approximately 30 minutes and 45 seconds (30:45) into the footage, when Tim Llewellyn asks David Hearst to explain why he says that newspaper editors “wilt under pressure”. Llewellyn:

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

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

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

But Llewellyn won’t give it up. He retorts:

Yes, but they use Jewish connections to get you.

McDonald’s anti-racism intervention now wilts. He wants consensus, not a discursive analysis on the meaning of “they use Jewish connections to get you”. So, he lamely replies:

Yes, but it’s not necessarily a Jewish lobby, as in

McDonald’s words trail off. He does not say ‘its not necessarily a Jewish lobby as in the way that antisemites allege Jews run the media and politics, via intimidation, money and power’. Llewellyn gives an inch:

Alright, it’s an Israeli lobby. A friends of Israel lets say. Lets not be too polite about them, because they’re not very polite about us.

Llewellyn continues, asking why “we are afraid of them”:

Why are we afraid of them. That’s what I don’t understand. You know, I mean, we’re all British…I may be Welsh, but I’m British.

Nobody intervenes. Nobody asks Llewellyn to clarify if he is meaning to say that these lobbying, connected Jews are somehow not British. There are no more anti-racist interventions, not even half-hearted ones.

And so the meeting goes on, showing how easily anti-Zionist conspiracy can be normalised when people are willing to sit alongside it and treat it with respect.  In particular, Hearst and McDonald treat Llewellyn’s interventions as if they are entirely normal and legitimate. They are not merely bystanders in this, they facilitate it. The audience takes it all in.

Contemplate the following low points and note that all of them were treated as being entirely normal:

06.20 Ibrahim Hewitt stresses England football manager Roy Hodgson was right to visit Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, but asks about his not visiting the nearby remains of Palestinian village, Deir Yassin.

08.57 Hewitt says that Abraham Foxman (of the Anti Defamation League) is the only person “guaranteed”  to get their letters published in the New York Times.

11.30 Hewitt says he enjoys reading the obituaries in the Guardian. Llewellyn interrupts, “any day now”.

21.55 Llewellyn asks “a deeper question” about BBC reporting:

why is it like this?…is it a sinister conspiracy…a lazy way of looking at, you know, the fact that the Israeli lobby is very powerful in all three of our main political parties. Is it the BBC being very fearful?

40.44 Hewitt’s curious use of the word “diaspora”: “one of the paradoxes…that the media in Israel is often more lively and robust on this issue than the media in the so-called diaspora in New York and Europe”.

41.11 Llewellyn jokily tells Hewitt, “learn to write in Yiddish”, to get his letters published in Israeli media. Someone (from the audience) says “Hebrew”, Llewellyn counters, “No, Yiddish”.

50.04 A well spoken English woman cites Moses, her ‘them and us’ style is a classic of the genre:

AIPAC, America’s Jewish Israeli lobby, they are sooooo well organised. And we’re too nice. Whether we’re the Palestinians, or the British, we are awfully nice, we, as you say, go make a cup of tea. They don’t make cups of tea…they are desperately tough…Moses said that they were a hard-necked people. They are. And they are so well organised… 

58.40 Llewellyn adds more about what “troubles” him. He objects to Europeans regarding Israelis as being like themselves, whereas Palestinians are not seen that way. He says “the Jewish lobby”, interchangeably with “the Israeli lobby”:

We talk about the Jewish lobby, the Israeli lobby, the friends of Israel. There is this people like us thing…   

1.01.20 Llewellyn brings the lobby’s political power into the BBC equation:

The BBC is pressured because its part of a Governmental system. There’s no question about the friends of Israel are big in each three political parties, right.

1.14.08 Hewitt reveals his theory about the “sleepers” that the Israelis are now allegedly activating in media positions of power around the world:

It’s very telling that…the Israeli Foreign Ministry actually issued a directive to the hasbara people, the propaganda people, around the world, start placing articles…so they were very confident that they had the ability, the people in place to be able to do that…said a lot, if they can just basically give this directive and all these sleepers all of a sudden wake up and start doing things. There are clearly people in positions of influence who are able to do this.

1.32.06 Finally, the last word at the meeting went to Tim Llewellyn:

The editor of the Guardian who said that comments were free and facts were sacred: was the biggest Zionist who ever lived.

(The footage link, again, is here.)