‘Comment is Free’: The West’s militarism inspired by “blind support for Israel”

An Oct. 17 essay at ‘Comment is Free’ titled ‘In the Middle East, the prize of peace is now there for the taking not only assigns partial blame for the wars in the Middle East to Israel and its supporters, but takes the imputation of Israeli responsibility a step further, risibly evoking the Roman destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE to illustrate Zionist villainy.

The essay was jointly written by  (Former UN assistant secretary-general and participant in the 2010 Gaza ‘Freedom Flotilla‘) (former UN assistant secretary-general) and , the Sandinista-style Marxist  (and president of the UN general assembly between 2008 and 2009) who previously served as Daniel Ortega’s foreign minister.

Brockmann has an especially noteworthy anti-Zionist pedigree, one forged in part by his response to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hate-filled diatribe in front of the General Assembly in 2008 which evoked classic racist canards of Jewish domination. Ahmadinejad’s conspiratorial speech – which accused “Zionists” of “dominating an important portion of the financial…centers [and] political decision-making centers of…the US in a deceitful…manner” - may have earned him wide scorn, but also the warm embrace of Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann

Brockmann embraces Ahmadinejad after his 2008 UN speech.

The ‘CiF’ commentary by Brockmann and his co-contributors addresses the issue of how peace in Middle East conflict zones can be realized and begins by noting how peace has been achieved elsewhere in recent history:

In 1973 Nixon and Henry Kissinger signed the Paris accords that put an official end to the US war in Vietnam. A decade before that, John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev resolved the Cuban missile crisis by, on the Soviet side, withdrawing missiles from Cuba, and, on the US side, by promising not to attack Cuba and withdrawing missiles from Turkey.

These events changed the course of history away from endless confrontation and the risk of global war.

..

Peace is not something to be made between friends but between adversaries. It is based on a recognition of reality. When countries or ideologies are in conflict, there are only two issues: total destruction of one side, as with Rome and Carthage, or peace and negotiations.

So, there are really only two choices: “total destruction of one side, as with Rome and Carthage, or peace and negotiations“.  

Brockmann and his co-contributors continue:

All these developments should be pursued with the utmost energy. The planned second Geneva conference on Syria must include all internal and external parties to the conflict if it is to constitute an important step towards finding a solution to the tragedy of that war-torn country. The unjust sanctions against Iran, as in the earlier case of Iraq, are severely punishing the population and must be lifted as soon as possible.

Who stands in the way of diplomatic solutions to these problems? Brockmann and his co-contributors explain:

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his supporters are staunchly opposed to these moves towards peace.

Other than the Israeli Prime Minister, what is the primary obstacle to achieving similar peaceful results throughout the Middle East? Brockmann and his co-contributors elaborate:

During recent decades, when it comes to the Middle East, the west has forgotten the very notion of diplomacy. Instead, it has followed the line of “total destruction of the enemy“, whether Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, the Assad regime in Syria or the Islamic Republic of Iran. That line has been based on ideology: a mixture of human rights fundamentalism and blind support for the “only democracy in the region”, Israel.

So, the West’s failure to pursue diplomacy in the Middle East (in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Libya), and their adoption instead of an ethos of “total destruction of the enemy” is based, in large measure, on “blind support for…Israel.”

According to these ‘CiF’ contributors, Israel and its blind supporters in the West are in the ‘Roman destruction of Carthage’ camp.

Up to 110,000 have been killed in Arab on Arab violence in Syria since 2011, thousands of Iraqis continue to die as the result of Islamist inspired terror attacks which continue to ravage the country, and ‘Comment is Free’ contributors look around the region and see the ideological footprint of Zionism.

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann is a Marxist ideologue – whose ‘special advisors‘ as UN president included Noam Chomsky and Richard Falk – so the extreme nature of the commentary he co-authored is not surprising. However, the licensing of such hateful anti-Zionist agitprop by ‘Comment is Free’ editors again demonstrates how the Guardian continues to make mockery of their claim to represent ‘liberal’ values.

What patriots would never say: Glenn Greenwald’s Top 5 anti-American rants

As we’ve documented continually, Glenn Greenwald has a history, both at his former blog at Salon.com and ‘Comment is Free’, of advancing antisemitic tropes (including use of the neo-Nazi-derived anti-Semitic slur “Israel-Firster”). He also subscribes to a leftist ideological package which naturally imputes almost comic book-style villainy to the United States.

Recently, when asked to sum up the political significance of his campaign on behalf of Edward Snowden’s theft of thousands of classified NSA documents, he answered thusly:

the US and its closest allies are trying to build a surveillance system that has as its primary objective the elimination of privacy globally, by which I mean that everyone’s communications electronically will be collected, stored, analyzed and monitored by the US government.

Of course, the primary objective of the NSA is not some sinister plot to eliminate privacy globally but, rather, to defeat terrorists and their organizations by collecting and analyzing information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.

More recently, Greenwald, along with  and , published a new expose based on files obtained by Snowden, titled NSA shares raw intelligence including America’s data with Israel‘, Sept. 11.  Whilst you can read a good fisking of Greenwald’s new ‘revelations’ here, an even more interesting question worth exploring is how someone like Greenwald, with such a palpable loathing towards the U.S., is considered to have any credibility at all on issues of American national security.

For some background on his ideological orientation, here are a few highlights from Greenwald, the ‘civil libertarian’ who authored a book titled ‘How would a patriot act?‘:

1. Greenwald “the patriot” once evoked the Nazi conquest of the Sudetenland in criticizing the US-led mission to topple Saddam Hussein

Greenwald, Salon, June 29, 2010:

Those who perpetrate wars of aggression invariably invent moral justifications to allow themselves and the citizens of the aggressor state to feel good and noble about themselves.  Hence, even an unprovoked attack which literally destroys a country and ruins the lives of millions of innocent people — as the U.S. invasion of Iraq did — is scripted as a morality play with the invaders cast in the role of magnanimous heroes.

And, of course, German citizens were told those invasions were necessary and just in order to liberate the repressed German minorities.

It’s difficult to find an invasion in history that wasn’t supported by at least some faction of the invaded population and where that same self-justifying script wasn’t used.  That’s true even of the most heinous aggressors.  Many Czech and Austrian citizens of Germanic descent, viewing themselves as a repressed minority, welcomed Hitler’s invasion of their countries, while leaders of the independence-seeking Sudeten parties in those countries actively conspired to bring it about.

As the liberal commentator Joe Klein observed

This is obscene. Comparing the Kurds, who had been historically orphaned and then slaughtered with poison gas by Saddam Hussein, with Nazi-loving Sudeten Germans is outrageous. Comparing the United States to Nazi Germany is not merely disgraceful, but revelatory of a twisted, deluded soul

2. Greenwald “the patriot” has hysterically all but accused President Obama of ordering the murder of Muslim civilians:

Greenwald, Guardian, on Nov. 15, 2012:

Extra-judicial assassination – accompanied by the wanton killing of whatever civilians happen to be near the target, often including children – is a staple of the Obama presidency.

Greenwald, Salon.com, June 12, 2012

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

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.” 

“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.”

As we revealed last November, the source Greenwald provided in support of his allegations that the U.S. intentionally targets Muslim civilians are two articles posted at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, neither of which even minimally back up this extraordinary claim.

3. Greenwald “the patriot” characterized Al Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awaki as a civil rights activist:

Anwar al-Awaki (killed by U.S. forces after Greenwald’s 2011 speech shown below) was a senior ‘talent recruiter’ for Al Qaeda who likely incited the jihadist rampage of the Fort Hood shooter and the attempted attack by the ‘Underwear Bomber‘.  Greenwald can be seen in the following clip (at a Marxism conference) characterizing the violent Islamist extremist as merely someone who speaks up for the civil rights of Muslims.

4. Greenwald “the patriot” argued that even the very word ‘terrorism’, when used by Americans, is inherently racist:

Greenwald, Guardian, April 22, 2013

The word “terrorism” is, at this point, one of the most potent in our political lexicon: it single-handedly ends debates, ratchets up fear levels, and justifies almost anything the government wants to do in its name. It’s hard not to suspect that the only thing distinguishing the Boston attack from Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook and Columbine (to say nothing of the US “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad and the mass killings in Fallujah) is that the accused Boston attackers are Muslim and the other perpetrators are not. As usual, what terrorism really means in American discourse – its operational meaning – is: violence by Muslims against Americans and their allies.

Greenwald, Salon.com, July 23, 2011

Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target.

Greenwald, Salon.com, Feb. 19, 2010:

The term [terrorism] now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity.  It has really come to mean:  ”a Muslim who fights against or even expresses hostility towards the United States, Israel and their allies.

If we’re really going to vest virtually unlimited power in the Government to do anything it wants to people they call “Terrorists”, we ought at least to have a common understanding of what the term means.  But there is none.  It’s just become a malleable, all-justifying term to allow the U.S. Government carte blanche to do whatever it wants to Muslims it does not like or who do not like it (i.e., The Terrorists). 

5. Greenwald “the patriot” praised Bradley Manning as a hero who deserves a medal:

Bradley Manning was recently convicted of multiple counts of espionage for disseminating hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks – information which was then available to the world, including terrorist enemies of the United States.

Greenwald, ‘Comment is Free’, Dec. 14, 2011:

medal

Greenwald’s essay at Comment is Free included the following:

The oppressive treatment of Manning is designed to create a climate of fear, to send a signal to those who in the future discover serious wrongdoing committed in secret by the US: if you’re thinking about exposing what you’ve learned, look at what we did to Manning and think twice. The real crimes exposed by this episode are those committed by the prosecuting parties, not the accused. For what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.

Conclusion:

In short, real American patriots don’t hysterically evoke comparisons between the US military action in Iraq and the Nazi conquest of Europe; they don’t defend Al Qaeda and other dangerous enemies of the country and amplify the message of terrorists by suggesting that the U.S. is engaged in a war against Islam; and they don’t express support for citizens who engage in treason.  

Whilst it is not surprising that Guardian style leftists support Greenwald, it is troubling that some within the mainstream left, the political center, and even some on the right, continue to treat him as if he was a serious journalist, and thus legitimize his radical, anti-American campaign.

Tripod: CAMERA links in 3 languages, Aug. 29-30: BBC Watch, Presspectiva, In Focus, and Revista

Our regular roundup of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

BBC R2 promotes and mainstreams anti-Israel Greenbelt Festival
A BBC live broadcast from the recent ‘Greenbelt Festival’ avoided all mention of its anti-Israel campaigning agenda. (BBC Watch)

BBC presentation of Israeli view on Syria intervention replete with inaccuracies
Saddam Hussein only attacked Tel Aviv; Israelis have to buy gas masks – just two of the inaccuracies in a three paragraph BBC presentation of Israel’s view of intervention in Syria. (BBC Watch)

EFE: impartiality, credibility and immediacy
The Spanish wire agency has difficulties offering a complete account of an event, devoid of opinion. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Reflections on Interning with the CAMERA Campus Department
Life as an intern at CAMERA. (In Focus)

CAMERA Fellow Published in Tulane Paper
Ben Kravis writes that one can be a passionate pro-Israel activist and be pro-Palestinian. (In Focus)

Farewell to Journalism
Spanish news agency Europa Press bids farewell to journalism, and promotes pro-Palestinian activism. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The lies of George Galloway
British MP George Galloway advanced a bizarre anti-Israel conspiracy theory on Iranian TV regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and then, when challenged on it in the House of Commons, flatly lied about it. (CiF Watch)

Guardian clashes with much of the Islamic world over U.S. military action in Syria

The likelihood that the Guardian would eventually publish an editorial opposing U.S. led military action in Syria in response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons to murder of hundreds of civilians, and that the op-ed would evoke the 2003 Iraq War, was something approaching an empirical certainty.

Sure enough, yesterday, Guardian editors launched their pre-emptive polemical attack against even limited Western military action: 

guardian

Here are the highlights from their editorial:

The West’s ‘war against Arabs and Muslims’

“After eight western interventions in Arab or Muslim countries in 15 years, sceptical generals and a hostile western public at large are entitled to answers.”

It’s about Iraq, stupid!

“Specifically in Syria, the most toxic and enduring element of the civil war – the sectarian battle between Sunnis and Shias – though a historic one, is a product of the way US forces used Shia militia when they first came under sustained attack from Sunni insurgents in Iraq. Syria is so intractable not just because of where it is, and who its neighbours are, but because the damage caused by such interventions is cumulative.”

Iran and Russia, the peacemakers:

“The return to Geneva [for peace talks] has to involve Russia and Iran, both of whom have acknowledged that chemical weapons have been used in Syria but blame their use on jihadi groups fighting on the rebel side

If the process of trying to prevent the use of chemical weapons in Syria was kept within the framework of the UN, or if, as the price of avoiding an airstrike, Iran could back the idea of a permanent UN presence in Syria monitoring Mr Assad’s stocks of chemical weapons, then a way back to the negotiating table could be found.”

Anyone familiar with Guardian editorials on the Middle East would surely recognize the narrative – a template for opposing military action in the Middle East which is employed seemingly regardless of the particular circumstances. 

Interestingly, however, especially in the context of the paper’s political sympathies towards the Arab and Muslim world, if you were to visit the homepage of The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – which defines their group as representing “the collective voice of the Muslim world” – you’d see the following:

oic

Here are highlights from their statement on Syria:

The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) reiterated its condemnation of the dreadful attack on the suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus with internationally banned chemical weapons, inflicting a heavy loss of lives among civilians. 

The General Secretariat also stressed the need to hold the Syrian Government legally and morally accountable for this heinous crime and to bring its perpetrators to justice. It called on the Security Council to discharge its duty of preserving international security and stability, take a unified position against this monstrous crime and its perpetrators, and put an end to such violations, while reaffirming OIC’s consistent position on the preservation of Syria’s unity and stability. 

The General Secretariat indicated that this attack is a blatant affront to all religious and moral values and a deliberate disregard of international laws and norms, which requires a decisive action. 

The stance echoes an even more definitive resolution by the organization of Arab Gulf states (GCC), which earlier condemned the attack and called on the UN Security Council to authorize decisive action. 

Remarkably, such the positions suggest that much of the Arab and Muslim world doesn’t see a limited attack against Syrian military assets as representing an ‘attack against Muslims’, that they don’t give a damn what the Russians or Iranians think, and are not haunted by the fact that 10 years ago NATO forces launched a major war in Iraq and put an end to the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Whilst the motivations of Muslim and Arab states supporting Western intervention in Syria vary, they certainly aren’t paralyzed by the obtuse historical understanding and crippling ideology which informs a Guardian Left groupthink that surrenders to pacifism, if not cold indifference, in the face of even the most barbaric Muslim on Muslim violence in the MIddle East.

George Galloway boycotts 6 million Jews

To those who don’t believe that BDS and other forms anti-Zionist agitation often lead to racism, here’s a video posted today at the site of the Oxford University Student Union.

The Respect MP (and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor) had just begun to debate Eylon Aslan-Levy, a student at Brasenose, a constituent college of Oxford, on the motion ‘Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank’.

Here’s what transpired next.

 

Galloway had been “misled”.  He wouldn’t have agreed to participate if he knew he was debating an Israeli.  He said:

 “I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.

(I guess we can assume his policy of exclusion doesn’t extend to Muslim and Arab citizens of the state.)

So, out of a population of roughly 13.5 million Jews in the world, 6 million live in Israel. 

George Galloway, who has paid homage to Saddam Hussein, “glorified” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and even praised the Syrian butcher, Bashar al-Assad, doesn’t respect 44% of the world’s Jews.

Whilst there is always the danger of using gratuitous political analogies in even the most sincere attempts to characterize the extreme malevolence of the BDS movement, there is a passage in a book about European Jewish history I read a while back which used a darkly evocative term that seems, at least in this context, historically apt.

The book, ‘The fate of European Jews’, by Leni Yahil, characterized the effects of the Nuremberg Laws and other antisemitic measures enacted by Germany in the 1930s as condemning the nation’s Jews to a “social death” – an idea which resonates at least when contextualizing the political objectives of some of the most extreme anti-Israel activists.

George Galloway, by, in effect, boycotting and refusing to recognize the moral legitimacy of Israelis (and not merely the state or its institutions), is attempting to consign six million Jewish men, women and children to pariah status, and social exclusion from the international community.

This is the hideously racist moral place the malign obsession with the Jewish state – often the sine qua non of the BDS movement – inevitably leads.    

Glenn Greenwald on Israel’s ‘extreme violence’ against Muslims & US “child-killing” drones

Glenn Greenwald’s latest outrage is inspired by commentary by some in the media – in response to riots and violence in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere – expressing surprise that Muslims in those nations are not grateful to the US for backing Mubarak’s ouster and initiating military action to topple Gaddafi.

Greenwald, in US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude, Sept. 15, cites “decades of arming, funding and general support [for Mubarak] from the US” and the civilian death toll from the Libya operation as reasons why citizens in both countries are rightfully far from grateful to America.

He then lambastes those, such as NBC correspondent Richard Engel, who argue that the “primary reason these Muslims have such animosity toward the US is because their heads have been filled…with crazy conspiracy theories about how the US and Israel are responsible for their woes”.

Greenwald writes:

“…to act as though Muslim anger toward the US and Israel is primarily the by-product of crazy conspiracy theories is itself a crazy conspiracy theory. It’s in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US and Israel have continuously brought extreme amounts of violence to the Muslim world, routinely killing their innocent men, women and children.

Listening to Engel, one would never know about tiny little matters like the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon, the almost five-decade long oppression of Palestinians, the widely hated, child-killing drone campaign, or the attack on Iraq.” [emphasis added]

While Greenwald’s narrative about U.S. responsibility for Muslim anger is entirely predictably – an expression of American self-flagellation over every conceivable problem afflicting non-Westerners which is popular within a segment of the American left – his implication that Muslim anti-Zionist hatred is justifiable given Israel’s ‘oppression of Muslims’ is ahistorical and morally unserious.

Citing statistics from the book “Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century,” 2003, Professors Gunnar Heinsohn and Daniel Pipes note the following:

deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict [number] 51,000 [since 1950]  in all. Arabs make up roughly 35,000 of these dead and Jewish Israelis make up 16,000.

These figures mean that deaths in Arab-Israeli fighting since 1950 amount to just 0.06 percent of the total number of deaths in all conflicts in that period. More graphically, only 1 out of about 1,700 persons killed in conflicts since 1950 has died due to Arab-Israeli fighting.

In a different perspective, some 11,000,000 Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, or 0.3 percent, died during the sixty years of fighting Israel, or just 1 out of every 315 Muslim fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent of the 11 million who perished were killed by fellow Muslims. 

(Adding the 11,000 killed in the Israeli war of independence, 1947-49, made up of 5,000 Arabs and 6,000 Israeli Jews, does not significantly alter these figures.)

Examples of Muslim on Muslim violence since 1950 include the Iran-Iraq War, the Algerian Civil War, the Syrian massacre in Hama, Jordan’s killing of Palestinians (Black September ), Saddam Hussein’s mass murder of Shiites, Kurds and others, and the ethnic cleansing in Darfur. The list goes on.

Massacres, of course, are still taking place in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and elsewhere – “extreme” Muslim on Muslim violence - and yet no citizens, other than Israeli Jews, are routinely called “blood-thirsty“, “genocidal“, “terrorist“, or “Nazi” by Muslim countries. 

Click image to see video

The Muslim public’s “outrage” over Israel’s treatment of Arabs and Palestinians, as with their extreme antisemitism, is cynically exploited by the Arab media – dangerous propaganda which is often ignored, or even legitimized, by Western media elites. 

While economic under-development and the continued absence of true democratic values represent the Muslim world’s greatest problem, Greenwald would have us believe that the the Muslim world’s malign obsession with Israeli Jews is somehow justified - that 1.6 billion Muslims are being oppressed by 6 millions Jews.

It is a pernicious lie.

The top 10 illiberal, uninformed and racist comments of the Guardian’s latest star, Juan Cole

Juan Cole, an American academic and blogger, characterizes Israel as fascist state whose behavior was at least partly responsible for the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks against the U.S. on  9/11. He also has advanced antisemitic narratives about dual loyalty, and is quite vigilant in warning his followers about the dangers of ‘Jewish power’.

Juan Cole

So, obviously, he was recently welcomed by Guardian editors to offer his analysis on Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel at ‘Comment is Free’.

While you can read a superb critique of Cole’s CiF essay by the CST’s Mark Gardner (cross posted at CiF Watch), I thought it would be helpful to also provide a little background on Cole, whose blog is called ‘Informed Comment‘.

Here are some samples of Juan Cole’s malign and supremely uniformed fixation, in own words:

Many Zionist organizations are fascist and exert undue influence on the media and US Congress

“[The] fascist point of view is privately shared by many of the strident Zionist organizations that are so influential with the press and the US Congress in the United States.” – Informed Comment, June 1, 2005

American Jews with dual loyalties have powerful positions in Bush White House

I believe that Doug Feith, for instance, has dual loyalties to the Israeli Likud Party and to the U.S. Republican Party. He thinks that their interests are completely congruent. And I also think that if he has to choose, he will put the interests of the Likud above the interests of the Republican Party.” – Informed Comment, Sept. 9, 2004

Thinly veiled Nazi Analogy

[The] wounded romantic nationalism of [Jewish blogger, Jeffrey] Goldberg’s sort is a pathetic remnant of the twentieth century, which polished off tens of millions of human beings over wet dreams about “blood and soil.” There isn’t any “blood” or “pure” “races,” and human groups have no special relationship to territory.” - Informed Comment, March 17, 2010

Fascist Israel is responsible for Muslim rage around the around the world

No American media will report the demonstrations in Israel as fascist in nature, and no American politicians will dare criticize the Likud. But the fact is that the Israeli predations in the West Bank and Gaza are a key source of rage in the Muslim world against the United States (which toadies unbearably to whatever garbage comes out of Tel Aviv’s political establishment), something that the 9-11 commission report stupidly denies.” Informed Comment, July 26, 2004

Israel ethnically cleansed Lebanese Shiites for the same reasons Saddam Hussein did

So let’s get this straight. The Israelis warn the small town Shiites of the south to flee their own homes and go hundreds of miles away (and live on what? in what?). But then they intensely bombing them, making it impossible for them to flee. The Lebanese have awoken to find themselves cockroaches.

I repeat, this is nothing less than an ethnic cleansing of the Shiites of southern Lebanon, an assault on an entire civilian population’s way of life. Aside from ecology, it is no different from what Saddam Hussein did to the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, and the Israelis are doing it for exactly the same sorts of reasons that Saddam did.” –  Informed Comment, July 21, 2006

Israeli barbaric behavior threatens U.S. democracy 

Israeli atrocities in Gaza are endangering American security. If the Israeli operation were something other than a cynical power play that almost wholly disregards civilian welfare, then the US would be right to support it and damn the consequences. But it is a shame to place our land and even our democracy in danger on behalf of a barbaric military operation.” - Informed Comment, Aug. 1, 2009

Twin threats of Fascist Israel and Al-Qaeda

...our press and politicians do us an enormous disservice by not putting the Israeli announcement about the Jerusalem barrier on the front page. This sort of action is a big part of what is driving the terrorists (and, of course, Sharon himself is a sort of state-backed terrorist, anyway). The newspapers and television news departments should be telling us when we are about to be in the cross-fire between the aggressive, expansionist, proto-fascist Likud coalition and the paranoid, murderous, violent Al-Qaeda and its offshoots.”Informed Comment, Nov. 26, 2005

Israeli behavior caused 9/11

We don’t need any more U.S. buildings blown up because our government is coddling cuckoo [Israeli] settlers who are stealing other people’s land to fulfill some weird religious power fantasy.” Informed Comment, Feb. 1, 2004

It is obvious to me that what September 11 really represented was  a dragooning of the United States into internal Middle East political conflicts. Israel’s aggressive policies in the West Bank and Gaza have poisoned the political atmosphere in the Middle East (and increasingly in the Muslim world) for the United States. It is ridiculous to suggest that radical Islamists don’t care about the Palestine issue.” – Informed Comment, Sept. 9, 2004

Neocon Likudnicks in Bush White House cynically used 9/11 to get U.S. to fight wars for Israel

It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud faction in the Department of Defense. First, Iraq would be taken out by the United States, and then Iran. David Wurmser, a key member of the group, also wanted Syria included. These pro-Likud intellectuals concluded that 9-11 would give them carte blanche to use the Pentagon as Israel’s Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv (not wars that really needed to be fought, but wars that the Likud coalition thought it would be nice to see fought so as to increase Israel’s ability to annex land and act aggressively, especially if someone else’s boys did the dying).” - Informed Comment, Aug. 29, 2004

Israel gets the U.S. to fight its wars, on behalf of pro-Israel supporters

When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed…cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives…US politicians must say [no] to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf.” – Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’, July 30, 2012

As Mark Gardner noted, Cole’s bigotry earned him a coveted spot on veteran Guardian journalist Brian Whitaker’s list of “Best blogs and analysis from the Middle East”.

Whitaker, for those unaware, previously served as the Guardian’s Middle East editor.

Finally, as Jonathan Chait wrote about Cole, in The New Republic:

“One of the odd things about people with very left-wing views on the Middle East is that they’re obsessed with the political influence of American Jews yet almost completely unfamiliar with the actual beliefs of the subject of their obsession.”

“…the general tendency among this ideological clique is to write about American supporters of Israel with almost total ignorance, in a tone of hysteria, and treating their target as a broad, undifferentiated mass.”

A more apt characterization of the Guardian’s narrative about Zionists would be hard to find.

Perpetrators as victims: Seumas Milne ignores Islamist-inspired antisemitism of Toulouse massacre

Mohammed Merah

As we reported, The Guardian’s two official editorials on the Islamist inspired murders of four innocent Jews in the French city of Toulouse by Mohammed Merah, in over 900 words of text, never once used the word “antisemitism”nor mentioned the names or Jewish identity of the victims, yet employed the phrase “anti-immigrant rhetoric” three times.

The second editorial, published after Merah’s identity, and Jihadist background, was known, warned not of Islamist inspired Jew hatred, but of the danger of French officials “alienating” the French Muslim community.

An analysis of the shootings by the Guardian’s Paris correspondent, , which attempted to locate root causes for Merah’s rampage, similarly never mentioned the word “antisemitism” yet included this possible explanation for his massacre:

 Merah had self-radicalised in prison, where he spent nearly two years as a teenager after stealing a handbag. Merah’s lawyer said he been a polite and tolerant teenager, but resentful about that prison sentence and angry at being rejected by the army.

And, Chrisais added this:

Merah’s background of petty crime and poor schooling on a housing estate in a drab neighbourhood of Toulouse has catapulted the question of social inequalities and the integration of minorities in France back onto centre stage….Some said the social alienation and discrimination felt by second and third generation, ethnic minority French youths must be addressed...

Not to be outdone, the Guardian’s Associate Editor Seumas Milne, in an essay on April 3 praising the dictator-loving George Galloway (whose political infatuations have included Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh) wrote the following:

Since last month’s atrocities in ToulousePresident Nicolas Sarkozy has improved his poll ratings a bit, pandering to xenophobes and Islamophobes and posturing as a security champion

Yes, clearly: The lesson of the Toulouse massacre is the danger of Islamophobia and xenophobia, but certainly NOT Islamist antisemitism!

Three official editorials, and a prominent feature report by their France correspondent, and not even a cursory attempt to address the disturbing dynamics of a malign Islamist ideology which would prompt a 23-year-old man, raised in France, to murder three innocent Jewish children.

In a refreshing bit of political lucidity French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, commenting on the recent arrests of 30 radical Muslims by French police, who were tracked on Islamist forums preparing to travel to areas including Afghanistan, Pakistan and West Africa to wage Jihad, said the following:

“There will be no respite in France’s pursuit of militants…The pressure on radical Islam and the threats it represents will not stop.”

That such an intuitive understanding of the moral and political lessons of the Toulouse massacre – the need to face the threats posed by radical Islam in Europe, and not the problem of Islamophobia, second generation immigrant “alienation”, poverty or poor schooling – is even remotely controversial at the Guardian is another commentary on their editors’ supreme political pathos.

The Guardian group continues to be defined by this morally perverse and intellectually unintelligible understanding of what a modern liberal political sensibility demands.

Abdel Atwan’s CiF piece and the Guardian’s role as platform of choice for religious extremists

Abdel al-Bari Atwan is the editor-in chief of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, and has been named among the 50 ‘most influential Arabs’ by Middle East Magazine.

He’s perhaps best known for his comments during an interview on Lebanese television concerning how he’d react if Iranian missiles hit Israel. Talking about Iran’s nuclear capability on ANB Lebanese television on June 27, Atwan said:

“If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.” 

In Dec. 2010, at a speech at the LSE – where he opined about the dangers of the Jewish lobby – Atwan pointed to various [non-Israeli] Jewish students and said: “You bombed Gaza.”

He’s also expressed sympathy with Saddam Hussein’s resistance to the US invasion of Iraq, commenting on the former president’s execution that:

“[Saddam] will go to the gallows with his head held high, because he built a strong united Iraq without sectarianism…The Arab people will remember Saddam Hussein as the only Arab leader who fired 40 missiles at Tel Aviv, stood beside the Palestinian resistance, gave sponsorship to martyrs’ families, and defended Damascus from Israeli tanks heading to occupy it.”

Perhaps most disturbing though was when, in March 2008, Atwan said that the Mercaz HaRav shooting, in which a Palestinian gunmen murdered eight students (aged 15 to 26), “was justified.” He added that the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva is responsible for “hatching Israeli extremists and fundamentalists” and that the celebrations in Gaza following the attack symbolized “the courage of the Palestinian nation.

In response to Atwan’s legitimization of the Mercaz HaRav shooting in March 2008, Lior Ben-Dor, a spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in London, said:

“The problem is that when addressing the British public, he tends to hide his true opinions and ideology – his support for terror, religious extremism and the murder of civilians.”

However, Atwan’s CiF entry on July 31st, The chance of Ramadan, about NATO’s war in Libya, represents an explicit ethical and religious endorsement of Muslims waging war against “infidels.”  He says:

Islamic experts assure me there is no prohibition of warfare during Ramadan. On the contrary, many of Islam’s great conquests occurred during this holy month, including the first clash between Muslims and infidels, which occurred in 624 when Muhammad led his troops to victory in the battle of Badr. War for the furtherance of Islam and against non-believers is considered ethically acceptable by scholars, even during the month of fasting and prayer.

Atwan contrasts this ethical waging of war during Ramadan, with wars waged by non-Muslims:

Islamic clerics concur that it is absolutely prohibited for Muslims to seek the help of non-believers against fellow Muslims.

By continuing to post essays by Atwan, the Guardian editors are making a conscious decision to provide a platform to an anti-Semite who openly supports religious extremism and terrorist attacks against innocent civilians.

Worse, today’s piece by Atwan demonstrates that CiF editors evidently think it’s perfectly acceptable for this same commentator to openly justify war against non-Muslims “in the furtherance of Islam” on the pages of the Guardian.

In the context of the Guardian’s continuing righteous condemnations of right wing political incitement, their decision to sanction an open advocate for violent religious extremism represents yet another example of their appalling moral hypocrisy. 

The moral half of civil disobedience is that you accept the consequences that come with it.

This essay, by Christopher Hitchens, was posted at SLATE on Dec. 6 (the day before Assange’s arrest in the UK on rape charges in Sweden.)

In my most recent book, I reprint some words from a British Embassy cable, sent from Baghdad to the Foreign Office in 1976. The subject is Iraq’s new leader. His quiet coup d’etat is reassuringly described as “the first smooth transfer of power since 1958.” It is added, as though understatement were an official stylistic requirement in official prose, that although “strong-arm methods may be needed to steady the ship, Saddam will not flinch.” Admittedly, these words were used before the “smooth transfer” had been extended to include Saddam’s personally supervised execution of half the membership of the Baath Party. But Saddam already had a well-established addiction to violence and repression.

I came across this cable after it had been declassified a few years ago, and I reprinted it because it very accurately reflected the tone of what I’d been told by British diplomats when I was visiting Iraq at the time. And I ask myself: What if I had been able to get my hands on that report when it was first written? Not only would I have had a scoop to my name, but I could have argued that I was exposing a political mentality that—not for the first time in the history of the British Foreign Office—chose to drape tyranny in the language of cliché and euphemism.

But what else, aside from this high-minded ambition (or ambitious high-mindedness), ought I to have considered? A democratically elected British Parliament had enacted an Official Secrets Act, which I could be held to have broken. Would I bravely submit to prosecution for my principles? (I was later threatened with imprisonment for another breach of this repressive law, and it was one of the reasons I decided to emigrate to a country that had a First Amendment.) The moral “other half” of civil disobedience, as its historic heroes show, is that you stoically accept the consequences that come with it.

Read the rest of the essay here.

Exclusive: Teletubbies to write political analysis for CiF

O.K. – that’s not true (as far as I know), but to be frank, were Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po and Tinky Winky to rise to the challenge, they certainly could not have come up with anything less puerile than the ‘analysis’ of the U.S. Embassy cables  leaked by WikiFlops which appeared on CiF on November 29th.

A gaggle of commentators, including some of the most prominent conspiracy theorists around, produced a collection of absolute comedy gems which the Guardian apparently hopes to pass off as serious political analysis to readers it obviously considers to be both ill-informed and gullible.

Thus we have Seumas Milne trying to persuade us that the Arab leaders whom the leaked cables show as having expressed deep concern regarding the Iranian nuclear program don’t really want to take Tehran to task. According to Milne, they’re only saying so because they get money from America, and even if they do really mean it, they don’t count in his book because they’re lacking in proletariat credentials.

“The relentless global mobilisation of US power against Iran – and of Washington-backed Arab autocracies and dictatorships for an American attack on Tehran – is an ominous thread that runs through thousands of the leaked state department WikiLeaks cables published in the Guardian.”

As familiar as we are with Milne’s monochrome anti-Americanism which taints his view of almost everything going on in the world, even for him it is quite an achievement to reach the conclusion that “the majority of their people support Iran’s nuclear programme and believe it would be “positive” for the region if Iran did develop nuclear weapons” on the basis of one poll and in total ( and apparently willful) ignorance of the limitations of any poll which takes place in societies subject to relentless propaganda, high levels of illiteracy and low levels of freedom of information. Even if the average Egyptian or Saudi Arabian really does believe that the world will be a better place if Iran has nuclear weapons, that hardly seems like a good reason for Western analysts to jump on the bandwagon driven by people who, if asked, would probably also tell Milne that thieves should have their hands chopped off and adulteresses be stoned to death.

Next we have the rather colorful figure of Craig Murray with his contribution to the analysis.

“There is therefore a huge amount about Iran’s putative nuclear arsenal and an exaggeration of Iran’s warhead delivery capability. But there is nothing about Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal. That is not because WikiLeaks has censored criticism of Israel. It is because any US diplomat who made an honest and open assessment of Israeli crimes would very quickly be an unemployed ex-diplomat.”

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What the Guardian won’t report: The inferior status of Christians under Islam

This is a guest post by Bataween of Point of No Return

The atrocity at Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad in which 52 Christians were murdered has set off a flurry of articles about Christians under threat of extinction in the Middle East. Al-Qaeda has declared Arab Christians a legitimate target. Even Robert Fisk of The Independent is sounding the alarm about a flight of Christians of Biblical proportions – and that was before the massacre.

First the Saturday people – now the Sunday people. Jews have been virtually wiped out in Muslim lands.  Now it’s the turn of the ancient Christian communities.  Forty percent of the Assyrian Christian population of Iraq has fled since the fall of Saddam.

“Shhhh! “– whispers Middle East analyst Chris Phiillips on CIF. Reports of the death of the Christian communities of the Middle East are greatly exaggerated: they will only ’ escalate fears of potential persecution’. Let’s not talk about the imminent demise of the Christian minorities,  or radicals will start believing in the ‘clash of civilisations’.

I hate to break it to you, Mr Phillips – but radicals already believe it.  They virtually shout ‘clash of civilisations’ from their mosques and minarets. Their ideology pits Dar-al Islam in a holy war or jihad against the infidels of Dar-al Harb. And in case Philips had not noticed, it is radical Islam which has declared war on non-Muslims, not the other way around. Radical Islamists have been around since the 1930s, burning down Coptic churches and Jewish homes and shops in Egypt. The massacre of Christians is not new either – some 3,000 Assyrian Christians were murdered in Iraq in 1933. Since then the Assyrians have thought only of emigrating.

The gist of Phillips’ argument is that not all Arab countries should be tarred with the brush of intolerance:

“Though anti-Christian feeling may be rising on the extreme radical fringe of sole Arab societies such as Iraq, this should not obscure the harmony that has long been a characteristic of other parts of the Arab world.”

‘Secular’ Arab regimes in particular treat their Christians as well as any totalitarian dictatorships could, it is claimed.  As evidence, Phillips cites the fact that most of Iraq’s displaced Christians have fled not to the West but to Arab states, notably Syria and Jordan. It is true that the ruling Alawite minority – considered heretical by Sunni Muslims – likes to show solidarity with the Christian minority in Syria.  Ten percent of Syria’s population are Christians, religious festivals are observed and the state even gives free electricity and water to churches, Phillips tells us.

In spite of Syrian ‘tolerance’, Philips does recognise that numbers in Syria have been dwindling. But he does not  say that since the late 1960s private Christian schools have been suppressed, nor that the Armenian Christians of Syria are leaving at a particularly high rate: the government has banned their associations, publications, the teaching of their language and their political party.

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Iraq’s disappearing Christians, and the Guardian Left’s disappearing sanity

“When Marxist dictators shoot their way into power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don’t blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies. They blame United States policies of one hundred years ago. But then they always blame America first.” - Jean Kirkpatrick, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN under Ronald Reagan

The Guardian Left’s propensity to blame the U.S. and Great Britain first – while avoiding expressing such opprobrium for brutal dictators or Islamist terrorists – is truly legion, and was on full display in CiF columnist William Dalrymple’s piece on Nov. 12 entitled “Iraq’s disappearing Christians are Bush and Blair’s legacy.”

He begins:

“When George W Bush sent the US into Iraq in 2003, he believed he would be replacing Saddam Hussein with a peaceful, pro-American Arab democracy that would naturally look to the Christian west for support. In reality, seven years on, it appears that he has instead created a highly radicalised pro-Iranian sectarian killing field, where most of the Iraqi Christian minority has been forced to flee abroad.”

So, George Bush “created” a highly radicalized pro-Iranian…[Christian] killing field.”  Of course, the Islamist terrorists who, you know, actually engaged in the killing seem to bear no responsibility for the brutal murders they committed.

Dalrymple continues:

“Before Bush senior took on Saddam for the first time in 1991, there were more than a million Christians in Iraq. They made up just under 10% of the population, and were a prosperous and prominent minority…Of the 800,000 Christians still in Iraq when Dubya unleashed the US army on Saddam for the second time, two-thirds have fled the country.”

At this point I’m not sure if Mr. Dalrymple is a troll – deployed secretly by conservatives in the UK to discredit the left by advancing arguments which seem to long for the days of the Butcher of Baghdad. (See my post about the “glory days” of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq here)

A CiF commenter summed up Dalrymple’s descent into post-colonial lunacy, and liberal racism, best:

Treat the Arab world like adults?  My guess is that Mr. Dalrymple never thought of such a crazy idea.

The unbearable moral inversion of CiF correspondent, David Wearing

The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s front organization, claimed credit for the massacre, on Monday night, at the packed Saint Joseph Chaldean church in the heart of the Karrada district, in Baghdad, that killed 52 Iraqi Christians.

Al Qaeda in Iraq also threatened to carry out attacks against Christian churches across the globe.

“Afterwards, various attacks will be launched against them inside and outside this country, in which their lands will be destroyed, their strength will be undermined, and they will be afflicted by the humiliation that God ordained for them,” al Qaeda said.

Chaldean (pronounced KAL-dee-en) Christians are an ancient ethnic minority of Catholics who make up about 4 percent of Iraq’s population. More than 600,000 of them, half the Chaldean population in Iraq, are thought to have fled the war to neighboring countries over the last several years as Islamic militants have targeted them in viscous campaigns of murder, kidnapping for ransom and forced property expropriations. Chaldean Christians represent about two-thirds of all Iraqi Christians.

Indicative of the Guardian left’s continuing efforts to blame all of the world’s problems on America, the UK (or the West, more broadly), CiF contributor David Wearing tweeted the following in response to the bloody attack in Baghdad on Monday.

David Wearing’s Twitter profile:

First, Wearing is attacking  a straw man.  Nobody with any sense reacted to the Church massacre by asserting that the incident proves Arabs are pathologically inclined to massacre each other.  More importantly, his inference that diverse religious and ethnic groups (including Christians) were living in freedom and harmony in Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein is simply breathtaking.

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BBC Series: Useful Idiots, from Walter Duranty to George Galloway (How intellectual curiosity can mutate into active promotion of dangerous lies)

These video clips are from the BBC Documentary: Useful Idiots, hosted by John Sweeny.

In political jargon, the term “useful idiots” was used to describe Soviet sympathisers in Western countries and the attitude of the Soviet government towards them.

Useful idiots, in a broader sense, refers to Western journalists, travellers and intellectuals who gave their blessing – often with evangelistic fervour – to tyrannies and tyrants, thereby convincing politicians and the public of the Utopian (rather than Dystopian) nature of the society.

In part one (the first three clips) John Sweeney looks at Stalin’s Western apologists.

In part two (the last three clips) he explores how present day stories of human rights abuses across the world are still rewritten.

(H/T to MuggedbyReality and Harry’s Place)

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