Guardian report on IDF rocket seizure includes gratuitous reference to ‘powerful Jewish lobby’

We’ve commented previously on the Guardian’s tendency to see the nefarious machinations of AIPAC (and the broader pro-Israel lobby) in a myriad of US foreign policy decisions which run afoul of their far-left ideology.  Usually, their contributors don’t go as far as blaming Jews as such – instead, merely characterizing this political force, which evidently wreaks havoc on the US and the world, as merely AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, or the Israel lobby. 

However, they typically aren’t shy about imputing the worst motives to the organized pro-Israel community, often suggesting their members have a thirst for war.  At times, there’s even the thinly veiled charge that Americans who associate with such lobbies are more loyal to Israel than their own country.

Here are a few examples:

elements of the lobby vilify Jewish critics of Israel and intimidate the media – ‘Comment is Free’, Antony Lerman, Nov. 20, 2009 (Affirming comments made by Peter Oborne, presenter of Channel 4′s Dispatches documentary Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby)

“Just as important is the pressure that pro-Israel campaigners put on the mainstream US media. They warn people off the very word Zionist as though only antisemites use it and demand Israel be treated as a special country whose politics deserve more sympathy than others….In fact US publishers, editors, and reporters carry the biggest responsibility for the rotten state of US policy in the Middle East. The pro-Israel lobbies are powerful and Obama weak mainly because Americans rarely get an alternative view.” - Guardian, Jonathan Steele, Aug. 10, 2010

What do Nebraska and Iran have in common? Not much – but enough to cause big trouble for former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, whose possible nomination to be secretary of defense is being challenged by the powerful bomb-Iran-yesterday lobby.”…Militarists in Washington, taking their cue from pro-Israel lobbyistsare trying to derail the appointment because Hagel doubts the wisdom of starting another war in the Middle East.” - Comment is Free, Stephen Kinzer, Dec. 31, 2012

The Israel lobby has a “stranglehold” over the American debate about Israel – Glenn Greenwald, Dec. 22, 2012 (You can see Greenwald’s history of scaremongering about ‘the lobby’ here)

Obama…established a position his critics may find hard to assail. He forced those many members of Congress and beyond who have conflated America’s interests with Israel’s on to the back foot by saying that on Iran there are differences – and he will serve US interests first. – Guardian, Chris McGreal, March 9, 2012

“President Obama must show America’s pro-Israel lobby that he is tough somewhere in the Middle East - Guardian, Simon Jenkins, Jan. 3 2012 (On why Obama imposed economic sanctions on Iran)

But the failure of an Aipac-supported effort to pass legislation blocking Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran has led to a reassessment of the fabled ability of its lobbyists to wield a veto over US policy when it comes to matters of Israeli security. - Guardian, Harriet Sherwood and Dan Roberts, March 2, 2014

Interestingly, not only did the Guardian manage to slip in a negative reference to ‘the lobby’ in a March 5 story, by Ian Black and Martin Chulov, on the IDF’s interception yesterday of an Iranian shipment of rockets destined for Gaza, but let the veil of respectability slip in neglecting to use the familiar euphemism:

The high seas interception is the fourth of its kind by Israel in the past 12 years and the first since the start of the Syrian civil war three years ago. It comes after a spate of air attacks on weapons warehouses and arms convoys in the past 18 months that officials in Tel Aviv had hinted were destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The seizure follows a visit this week by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to Washington, where he used a meeting with Barack Obama and a stump speech to the powerful Jewish lobby AIPAC to underscore his reservations about a nuclear deal with Iran.

Of course, AIPAC is not a Jewish organization, as anyone familiar with their racially, ethnically and religiously diverse membership - which includes African-Americans, Latinos, and evangelical Christians - would understand. Moreover, it’s telling that even the most prolific promoters of ‘AIPAC root cause theory, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, use the term ‘Israel lobby’ (and not ‘Jewish lobby’) when speaking of AIPAC and other assorted groups they claim are distorting US foreign policy.

More broadly, writers who chronicle the evolution of political thought may one day look back at our era and marvel over the popularity, among presumably “enlightened” voices, of narratives which impute to organized Jewry both immense power and disloyalty – those characterized by Leon Wieseltier as “the herd of fearless dissidents who proclaim in all seriousness, without in any way being haunted by the history of such an idea, that Jews control Washington”.  

Perhaps such intellectual historians will explain how Judeophobic tropes typically associated with the far-right became politically fashionable at a paper which – no matter how risibly – continues to claim the mantle of the ‘world’s leading liberal voice‘. 

Finally, it’s worth recalling an article titled ‘Averting accusations of antisemitism‘, published in 2011 by Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott, which in many ways vindicated the work of this blog, and included explicit warnings to their reporters and commentators to stay clear of “language long associated with antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control”.

Evidently, Black and Chulov didn’t get the memo.

(UPDATE: The Guardian revised the article early this afternoon, and deleted the original reference to “powerful Jewish lobby”.)

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Guardian Mid-East editor legitimizes the political pornography of Ali Abunimah

The Guardian’s Middle East Editor, Ian Black, provided an analysis of President Obama’s March 21 speech in Jerusalem (titled ‘Obama shows emotional and political intelligence with Jerusalem speech‘) which represents a good example the Guardian Left tendency to impute ‘authenticity’ to the most radical and uncompromising activists.  

This journalistic tick can be seen, for instance, in Harriet Sherwood’s decision to award ‘progressive’ Hechsher labels to both Joseph Dana and slain terror-abetting anti-Israel campaigner, Vittorio Arrigoni

Such political posturing also colored their coverage of the so-called ‘Palestine Papers’ in 2011, where Mahmoud Abbas’s putative flexibility during negotiations with Israel over the refugee issue was characterized as “craven” – as “selling out” Palestinian rights – in a series of reports which seemed to reflect the media group’s attempt to ‘out-Palestinian’ the Palestinians themselves. 

Their institutional tendency to promote a radical chic (and even terrorist-chic) brand is also evident in their frequent decisions to publish Islamist extremists, and the dearth of space they provide to peaceful and truly moderate two-state proponents.

In his March 21 report Black praised Obama’s speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center as “appealing to ordinary Israelis over the heads of their political leaders”, and as representing “a smart combination of emotional and political intelligence in pressing the buttons that matter to mainstream Jewish opinion in Israel.”

Palestinians, however, observed Black, were not impressed.  He noted that some Palestinians complained that Obama’s speech lacked depth or substance, before citing a critique by Ali Abunimah, the American born, Ivy League educated son of a Jordanian diplomat who founded ‘Electronic Intifada’ (EI) – and who, from his home in Chicago, engages in hate-filled “commentary” about the Jewish state with abandon.

ali

Indeed, the Tweets by Abunimah (a former ‘Comment is Free’ contributor) cited in the following passage by Black are a fair representation of the activist’s social media style.

Black writes the following: 

Ali Abunimah, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and a supporter of the one-state solution, tweeted in anger: “Palestinians yearning for peace live in a tough neighborhood, surrounded by racist settlers and a murderous US-backed sectarian ‘army.’ Obama’s ‘history’ of Israel is as delusional as his US history which still praises slave-owning, slave-raping founding fathers. This speech will drive liberal Zionists wild because it legitimizes their segregationist desires & dresses them up as ‘peace’ & ‘democracy.’”

The text cited, however, represents several separate Abunimah Tweets.  So, for clarity, here are the three (140 character or so) ‘meditations’ by Abunimah which the Guardian Middle East editor evidently found elucidating. 

Here are a few additional Tweets that day by Abunimah not cited by Black:

Zionist psychopaths: 

Israel slaughters children:

Israel is a “supremacist” state:

Though Abunimah blocks many pro-Israel activists from following him, it still isn’t difficult to locate his Twitter paper trail – which includes a tweet concerning the murder of Israelis by Hezbollah terrorists in Bulgaria in 2012, which clearly suggested a Mossad conspiracy,  and another one calling for Palestinians to start a 3rd Intifada.

However, Abunimah is no mere American pro-Palestinian activist.  He’s defended Hamas and has flirted with insidious Israel-Nazi analogies – once even Tweeting the following: 

nazi

The fact that the Guardian’s Middle East editor – who undoubtedly could have found a more moderate, lucid and truly peace-seeking pro-Palestinian critic to cite – decided to hitch his wagon to Abunimah’s hateful political brand is an apt commentary on the Guardian’s continuing  fealty to the most belligerent voices in the region.

Chris McGreal vs. Harriet Sherwood on Israel’s 2009 settlement construction freeze

mcgreal and sherwood

As we reported on Nov. 8, Chris McGreal’s post-election analysis, Obama’s in-tray – Israel/Palestine, Nov. 7, included this passage:

“Obama sought to pressure the Israeli prime minister to halt Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, at their first meeting in the spring of 2009Netanyahu not only resisted but humiliated the president by publicly lecturing him about Jewish history.” [emphasis on all quotes are added]

McGreal’s latest post, ‘International criminal court is a lever for Palestinians on Israeli settlements, Dec. 15, repeats the historical revisionism suggesting that Israel did not in fact implement a temporary settlement freeze.

“An ICC ruling in favour of the Palestinians might have another effect. When Obama first came to power four years ago, he attempted to strong-arm Netanyahu into taking an agreement with the Palestinians seriously. The president began by demanding a total freeze on settlement construction. The Israeli prime minister outmanoeuvred and humiliated Obama, and carried on as before.”  

Not only is it untrue that “Netanyahu “resisted” Obama’s request, but, in fact, the 10-month Israeli freeze on new construction in the West Bank, declared in Nov. 2009, was reported by the Guardian (and through wire services on their site) as an uncontroversial fact.

Tellingly, Harriet Sherwood, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, has also unambiguously reported Israel’s 10-month freeze in reports continually over the past few years.

Here’s Sherwood on Nov. 9, 2010, in ‘Israeli plan to build hundreds of homes in West Bank settlement risks US anger‘:

“The Ariel and East Jerusalem proposals came six weeks after the end of a 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction.”

Here’s Sherwood, on July 5, 2010, reporting on US pressure to extend the 10-month freeze on settlement construction, titled ‘US to press Binyamin Netanyahu to extend freeze on settlements‘:

The 10-month moratorium, which excludes building in East Jerusalem, is due to end at around the same time as the four-month period set for proximity talks comes to an end.

And Settlement Watch, an Israeli organisation, said that preparations are being made for a massive construction boom this autumn on the assumption the moratorium will be lifted.

The freeze, which began last November, was wrung out of Netanyahu by the White House after months of negotiation and against the opposition of the prime minister’s rightwing coalition partners.”

Here’s Sherwood on Nov. 10, 2010, inIsraeli settlement plan sparks international outrage‘:

“The Ariel and East Jerusalem proposals come six weeks after the end of the 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction.”

Here’s Sherwood, on March 13, 2011, reporting on the Israeli response to the murder of five members of a Jewish family in Itamar, in Israel to expand settlements after family killing‘:

 “Israel is to build hundreds of homes in West Bank settlements in response to the murder of five members of a Jewish settler family…

The homes are to be built in the large settlement blocks which Israel expects to keep under any peace agreement with the Palestinians. It is the biggest tranche of construction announced since the end of the settlement freeze almost six months ago.”

Here’s Sherwood on July 26, 2012, in ‘Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year:

A 10-month partial freeze on settlement expansion came to an end almost two years ago, since when there have been no meaningful talks.”

Here’s a passage in a report by Sherwood on Oct. 22, 2012, in ‘Israel’s cranes reprove Barack Obama’s failure to pursue two-state solution.

“On the Israeli side, Obama said the US did not accept the legitimacy of Jewish settlements. “It is time for these settlements to stop,” he said bluntly.There followed protracted negotiations between the US and Israeli governments which resulted, in November 2009, in Netanyahu reluctantly acceding to a temporary construction freeze in West Bank settlements.”

Here’s Sherwood on Oct. 30, 2012, in ‘EU urged to re-think trade deals with Israeli settlements in West Bank‘:

“Settlement growth has accelerated in the past two years, since the end of the temporary construction freeze brokered by the US.”

So, which Guardian reporter is correct?

Was there a settlement freeze, or did Netanyahu resist Obama’s request for the temporary halt in construction across the green line?

Of course, the fact that it’s difficult to find a reporter other than McGreal, working for the Guardian or any other paper, who has argued that Israel didn’t in fact agree to a construction freeze would seem to vindicate Sherwood.

As I’ve noted previously, Chris McGreal is perfectly entitled to dislike Israel and take the side of the Palestinians.  However, as a professional journalist, he is not free to lie or misrepresent the facts to suit his ideological agenda.

Glenn Greenwald criticizes Bibi AND Obama’s “policies” of intentionally killing innocent Muslims

“Every person has their own definition of terrorism.” - Glenn Greenwald.

Glenn Greenwald makes characteristically hysterical claims about Israel and the US in his latest ‘Comment is Free’ piece titled Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza‘:

Here are the most egregious examples:

1. He claims that “overwhelming Israeli force slaughters innocent Palestinians, including children”.

There’s nothing new here in Greenwald’s use of the most unserious hyperbole to impute the most violent and malevolent motives to Israel. Greenwald ignores the fact that Israel uses unprecedented restraint in targeting only Hamas leaders and terror targets, which would explain that the death toll in two days of fierce fighting is 19 Palestinians and 3 Israelis. 

2. According to Greenwald, Israeli attacks on Palestinians “are preceded (and followed) by far more limited rocket attacks into Israel which kill a much smaller number, rocket attacks which are triggered by various forms of Israeli provocations.”

It’s unclear which Israeli provocations Greenwald is referring to, but Hamas’s main grievance against Israel, per the words of their leaders and their very founding charter (which, evidently Greenwald hasn’t bothered to read), has been the Jewish state’s stubborn desire to exist.  

3. Greenwald claims that”most US media outlets are petrified of straying too far from pro-Israel orthodoxies….US criticism of Israel is impossible for all the usual domestic political reasons.”

I’ve documented numerous examples of Greenwald advancing the most bigoted rhetoric about US Jews’ supposed control of the US government and media, and this latest charge is nothing new.  Indeed it is relatively mild compared to his previous smears, such as his warning about the “absolute”, “suffocating” “Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy” by the Jewish lobby.

4. Greenwald writes: “Provocations from the Israelis were geared toward disrupting an imminent peace deal with Hamas.”

Greenwald is referring to a temporary truce  - which was being brokered in the days following an attack (with an anti-tank missile) which injured four Israelis – motivated by Hamas’s concern regarding the damage IDF attacks was inflicting on their military capacity. More broadly, however, it takes either extreme naiveté, a considerable degree of hostility towards Israel, or a cynical indifference to historical reality to make the serious argument that Hamas is, or could ever be, a peace seeking movement.

5.  Greenwald argues that the Obama administration “supported the Israeli” attack on Hamas terror chief Ahmed Jabari, as it represented the model of “extra-judicial assassination[s] – accompanied by the wanton killing of whatever civilians happen to be near the target, often including children – which is a staple of the Obama presidency.” “Obama…could not possibly condemn Israeli actions in Gaza without indicting himself…Extra-judicial assassinations, once roundly condemned by US officials, are now a symbol of the Obama presidency”.  “There is now a virtually complete convergence between US and Israeli aggression”

This later paragraph is where the convergence between Greenwald’s anti-Americanism and his anti-Zionism is most clear.

Greenwald is defined by his opposition to the policy of killing Islamist terrorists (who are planning terror attacks against American civilians) in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but his commentary also suggests that President Obama is an enthusiastic supporter of killing innocent civilians in these regions.  According to Greenwald, Obama is muted in his response to Israel’s violent acts because he lacks the moral authority to issue a credible condemnation.

To understand the extent of Greenwald’s obsession with Obama’sdrone war, it would be helpful to review a piece he wrote before joining ‘Comment is Free’, published at Salon.com, titled “US again bombs mourners”.

If you find that title a bit overblown, or something out of PressTV, you need to also read the strap line.

The Obama policy of attacking rescuers and grieving rituals continues this weekend in Pakistan

Just the work of an editor, you think?

No.

Here are some quotes from Greenwald’s essay on June 4, 2012.

“In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the U.S. kills people with drones in Pakistan, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals.” [emphasis added]

“On Sunday, June 3, the US targeted mourners gathered to grieve those killed in the first strike.”

Killing family members of bombing targets is nothing new for this President.”

“The US is a country which targets rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn.”

“That tactic continues under President Obama, although it is now expanded to include the targeting of grieving rituals.”

However, the main source Greenwald provided to back up his claim is the discredited “Bureau of Investigative Journalism” (BIJ), the organization which fed the BBC information pertaining to the Newsnight story falsely alleging “a senior Thatcher-era Tory” was a paedophile.

Moreover, the specific link Greenwald cites as proof that the US  targets innocent civilians in Muslim countries – rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn – does not back up his claim at all.

The link to a nearly 2500 word BIJ report (which cited a more detailed BIJ report) on the drone war in Pakistan includes a claim in the headline that the CIA “targets rescuers and funerals” but failed to support  the dramatic claim in the subsequent story.

Typical are passages like this:

“A team of local researchers…found credible, independently sourced evidence of civilians killed in ten of the reported attacks on rescuers.”

But, there was this one passages which claimed intent:

“More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”

However, there was nothing in piece, nor the longer report, which even attempts to corroborate the claim (largely anecdotal evidence by unidentified Pakistanis) that the strikes against innocent civilians represented deliberate US policy.  Further, not considered by either BIJ or Greenwald is the possibility that the “mourners” weren’t actually mourners at all, but, rather, additional terrorists.

Most telling in the BIJ report was this passage:

“Often when the US attacks militants in Pakistan, the Taliban seals off the site and retrieves the dead. But an examination of thousands of credible reports relating to CIA drone strikes also shows frequent references to civilian rescuers.” [emphasis added]

It is unclear to whom these “credible reports” are attributed, but their admission would suggest that it is difficult, at best, for US drones to distinguish between Taliban terrorists and those unaffiliated with the murderous terror group.

The assertion by BIJ that there is a CIA “policy” of killing innocent mourners and rescuers is not supported by the reports cited. Greenwald’s even more unhinged claim that President Obama’s “policy” is to kill such innocent rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn” is not supported by the facts, and parrots the most unserious anti-American propaganda repeated by extremists on the ground in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Greenwald’s June post at Salon.com contained a hideous smear of the US President, suggesting that Obama personally is an advocate of killing innocent Muslims.

Interestingly, a New York Times report on February 5th, ‘U.S. Drone Strikes Are Said to Target Rescuers“, citing the same BIJ report, interestingly, was much more sober, and included the following:

“American officials have questioned the accuracy of such claims [that innocent civilians are targeted], asserting that accounts might be concocted by militants or falsely confirmed by residents who fear retaliation.”

“…most other studies of drone strikes have relied on sketchy and often contradictory news reports from Pakistan.”

“A senior American counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, questioned the report’s findings, saying “targeting decisions are the product of intensive intelligence collection and observation.” The official added: “One must wonder why an effort that has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has been subjected to so much misinformation.” [emphasis added]

Indeed.

Greenwald seems to really believe the most unserious, hateful anti-American propaganda – what you’d typically find in PressTV or Arab media outlets – about American and Israeli villainy.  

In fact, in a Sept. 14 CiF piece, Greenwald summed it up clearly:

 “…the US and Israel have continuously brought extreme amounts of violence to the Muslim world, routinely killing their innocent men, women and children.”

Finally, there’s this quote from Greenwald’s Salon.com post referenced above:

“If a Hollywood film featured a villainous King ordering lethal attacks on rescuers, funerals and mourners — those medically attending to or grieving his initial victims — any decent audience member would, by design, seethe with contempt for such an inhumane tyrant. But this is the standard policy and practice under President Obama and it continues through today.”

In Glenn Greenwald’s world, Hamas, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremists – reactionary, racist, antisemitic, misogynist and extremely homophobic political forces – seem to get a moral pass, but democratic Israel stands accused of slaughtering innocent Palestinians and Barack Obama is an inhumane and villainous figure who murders Muslim children.

The convergence of anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism is truly a work of art.  For Greenwald, and his leftist followers, it is a given that Islamist terrorists are feared by the West not because they threaten the democratic world, but because of racism against Muslims.

For Greenwald, as with Guardian Associate Editor Seumas Milne and other Guardian Left commentators, Israel and the U.S. are the greatest imperialists threats to world peace, and so the reflexive anti-Zionist stance they take simply represents a logical extension of  their broader anti-imperialist, post-colonialist politics.

Finally, supporters of Obama should pay close attention to Greenwald, as the leftist ideology which his views on Israel and the US inspire  represent crude, ugly caricatures of the President which often go far beyond even those of the far right. 

Glenn Greenwald would never, ever falsely “accuse” Obama of being a Muslim as some of his right wing opponents shamefully do.

Greenwald’s demonization of the President, however, is much worse, advancing the hysterical charge that he personally orders (or at least approves policies sanctioning) the murdering of innocent Muslims throughout the world.

The anti-Zionist, antisemitic and anti-American rhetoric advanced by Greenwald represents a classic example of Guardian Left ideology.

Those within the mainstream American Left who don’t succumb to the false moral equivalence between Islamist terrorists and Western democracies, and who don’t buy into the defamatory suggestion that Obama is engaged in a war against Islam, should begin to view him as, at the very least, a crank – a shrill and vitriolic anti-Obama extremist.