Shocker in London: Guardian reporter refers to some Palestinians as ‘terrorists’ (without quotes)

The Guardian – like other UK papers – seems to have an unwritten rule against using the term ‘terrorist’ to characterize Palestinians – even those affiliated with groups designated as ‘terrorists’ by the US and Europe – except when safely surrounded in quotes.  Typically, the word ‘militant’ is used instead – reflecting the sage advice of their Style Guide which counsels their journalists that “the most important thing is that, in news reporting, we are not seen – because of the language we use – to be taking sides”. 

Indeed, banish the thought that Guardian journalists may be taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict!

In fact, some Guardian journalists have taken the politically correct terminology to a whole other level. Last year, Harriet Sherwood initially referred to the 104 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners who are to be released by Israel as a good will gesture to the PA as “political prisoners” – suggesting that these Palestinians are arguably nothing less than prisoners of conscience. 

Ahead of a three-hour session with Kerry on Tuesday morning, Netanyahu stated that he was “determined not only to resume the peace process with the Palestinians, but to make a serious effort to end this conflict once and for all”…But he has refused to meet the Palestinians’ key precondition of freezing settlement expansion, although it is thought that Israel may avoid announcing any new construction projects in the coming weeks….The Palestinians also want the release of 123 political prisoners who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed…

The Guardian only revised Sherwood’s propagandistic euphemism after this blog demonstrated to their editors quite convincingly that every single prisoner was convicted in an Israeli court for murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder.

So, given their history with such terms, we were left scratching our collective Zionist heads after reading the following passage in a Guardian report by their political editor Patrick Wintour, in a March 13th piece titled ‘Tony Blair briefs David Cameron for meeting with Palestinian president‘.

Israel and the Palestinians are preparing to confront the issue of whether Israeli Arabs will be included in the next prisoner release later this month. Palestinian officials have said in recent days that they expect Israel to release Israeli Arabs in the final group of 26 prisoners due to go free on 28 March…Under the framework agreement from last July that led to the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Israel was to release 104 convicted terrorists in four stages. Israel has already released 78 prisoners.

However, we’re not entirely convinced that the counter-revolutionary act of referring to Palestinian murderers in the pejorative is consistent with the papers ‘editorial standards’.  So, we took a snapshot of the page in case the inevitable complaint from a Palestinian hasbaraist is upheld by Guardian editors and the offending term is removed. 

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Economist removes antisemitic cartoon; apologizes for ‘inadvertent’ offense

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

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


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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.

Guardian evokes caricature of powerful Jewish state manipulating Western leaders

Last November we posted about a political cartoon at the Guardian by Steve Bell depicting British foreign minister William Hague and Tony Blair as puppets being controlled by Binyamin Netanyahu, in the context of expressions of support by these leaders during the war in Gaza.  Bell’s image evoked the canard of powerful Jews controlling western politicians for their own nefarious purposes and was hauntingly similar to more explicitly antisemitic cartoons routinely found in the Arab and Islamist world.  

Guardian: Nov. 15, 2012

The Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, addressed the row a couple of weeks later, and actually rebuked Bell for ‘unintentionally’ using the visual language of antisemitic stereotypes.

While such cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than lengthy essays, the damage done by such toxic ideas regarding ‘Jewish control’, in any form, should be taken seriously.  The Guardian narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in news reports and commentaries, often includes passages with the unmistakable  suggestion that Israel (and the pro-Israeli lobby) wields enormous power over ineffectual Western leaders – a theme present in a report by Harriet Sherwood and Julian Borger titled ‘Iran nuclear programme deal in danger of unravelling’, Nov. 11.  The story centered on nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) which ultimately unraveled largely due to concerns that the agreement would have eased sanctions on Iran without requiring that it cease enriching uranium.  

The report by Sherwood and Borger included the following:

In a bid to contain the danger, the lead US negotiator, Wendy Sherman, flew straight from the talks in Geneva to Israel to reassure Binyamin Netanyahu’s government that the intended deal would not harm his country’s national interests.

The hastily arranged trip represented an acknowledgement of Netanyahu’s power to block a deal through his influence in the US Congress and in Europe. Egged on by the Israelis, the US Senate is poised to pass new sanctions that threaten to derail the talks before they get to their planned next round in 10 days’ time.

More immediately, Netanyahu demonstrated over the weekend that he could sway the Geneva talks from the inside through his relationship with Paris.

These passages of course strongly suggest that US congressional leaders take their marching orders from Jerusalem and that the French government’s position was not motivated by what it saw as its own national interests but, rather, as a result of the influence of the Israeli prime minister.  

However, the deal was fatally flawed, according to many experts, due in part because it would have fallen short of the requirements in six resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council over the years which called on Iran to suspend ALL uranium enrichment – resolutions passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, rendering them binding under international law.

As Adam Chandler observed in an essay published at Tablet about the superficial analysis by Sherwood and Borger: 

[Their argument] smacks of that paranoid, evergreen charge that all wars and international campaigns are waged on behalf of Israel, a claim that devolves from Israel into “the Jews” as it goes through portal after conspiratorial portal. 

You don’t even need to believe that antisemitism is at play to nonetheless be contemptuous of the extraordinary myopia displayed in the Guardian report.  As Walter Russell Mead observed recently about the broader intellectual dynamic which unites antisemitism with anti-Zionism:

Weak minds…are easily seduced by attractive but empty generalizations. The comment attributed to August Bebel that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools can be extended to many other kinds of cheap and superficial errors that people make. The baffled, frustrated and the bewildered seek a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.

Guardian “journalists” may fancy themselves sophisticated, erudite and worldly, but their frequent ‘Zionist root cause’ explanations betray both their ideological bias and the extraordinarily facile nature of their reasoning.

CiF contributor ‘reveals’ Bono’s neoncon-inspired rock ‘n roll imperialism

Though what likely first comes to mind to most when thinking about the rock star known as Bono are the many memorable songs from his band’s long and successful career, or perhaps his humanitarian work on behalf of the poor of Africa.


However, when ‘Comment is Free’ contributor (and British marxist literary critic) Terry Eagleton looks into the soul of the widely admired cultural icon he sees something much darker. His latest Guardian contribution, a June 26 review of a book about the U2 front man by Harry Browne, explores the the dark, capitalist underbelly of the Dublin born star. 


After a few introductory paragraphs, Eagleton goes on the attack.  

For all [Bono's] carefully crafted self-irony (how ridiculous for me, an overpaid rock star from working-class Dublin, to be saving the world!), the inside is a place he has never betrayed any great reluctance to occupy. Since an outsider is unlikely to know much about global economics, he is likely to take his cue from the conventional wisdom of the insiders, which is why Bono is both maverick and conservative.

 he inherited the social conscience of the 1960s without its political radicalism, which is why he has proved so convenient a front man for the neo-liberals.

In fact, as Browne points out, he has cosied up to racists such as Jesse Helms, whitewashed architects of the Iraqi adventure such as Tony Blair and Paul Wolfowitz, and discovered a soulmate in the shock-doctrine economist Jeffrey Sachs. He has also brownnosed the Queen, sucked up to the Israelis, grovelled at the feet of corporate bullies and allied himself with rightwing anti-condom US evangelicals in Africa

Browne’s case is simple but devastating. As a multimillionaire investor, world-class tax avoider, pal of Bush and Blair and crony of the bankers and neo-cons, Bono has lent credence to the global forces that wreak much of the havoc he is eager to mop up. His technocratic, west-centred, corporation-friendly campaigns have driven him into one false solution, unsavoury alliance and embarrassing debacle after another.

Of course, Eagleton’s righteous outrage towards Bono’s rock ‘n roll imperialism is quite understandable when you consider that (as we’ve noted previously) he is an advocate of the marxist-inspired “religion” known as ‘Liberation Theology‘, a vocal ‘Occupy‘ supporter and Shlomo Sand enthusiast.  The anti-Bono activism of the literary critic also seems a bit more comprehensible when you contemplate that he once cast Jesus, in a book he wrote about the Gospels, as a proto ‘Palestinian insurgent‘ and (most memorably) recently characterized a quite well-known antisemitic Jew named Karl Marx as nothing less than a “Jewish prophet”.  

All of this seems to demonstrate once again that armchair communist revolutionaries never die, at least as long as their discredited, destructive theories can continue to find fertile ground on the cultural pages of the Guardian. 

Guardian cartoonist draws upon antisemitic stereotypes in depicting Henry Kissinger

Here’s a recent photo of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.


Now, here’s how Kissinger was depicted on June 8th by Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, in a cartoon about the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group in Watford. (The Bilderberg Group is  a policy forum consisting of influential people in business, finance and politics which consistently provides fodder for conspiracy theories due to the relative secrecy of the meetings.)

Martin Rowson cartoon 8.6.2013

Here’s a closeup.


A few observations:

  • Though the Bilderberg meeting includes other former political leaders vilified by some due to their involvement in foreign wars, such as Tony Blair for instance, Rowson chose only Kissinger (A German-born Jew) to depict as having blood on his (oversized) hands – inspired, presumably, by his role under President Nixon during the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • Despite the antisemitic history of such caricatures – historically, the ‘big hooked nose’ (often in conjunction with a sneering expression) on a Jew is typically meant to suggest his depravity - Rowson chose to include such a stereotypically exaggerated nose among Kissinger’s other grotesque features. 
  • Rowson’s history at the Guardian includes cartoons which have employed similar motifs, including such facial features and the gratuitous use of blood to illustrate putatively sadistic Jewish behavior. Here’s one, titled Mindless in Gaza”, of Ariel Sharon from 2001:


Additionally, to provide further visual context, here’s a collection of Nazi and Arab antisemitic depictions – focusing on the hooked nose and oversized hands – which CAMERA published during the row over Gerald Scarfe’s ‘Sunday Times’ cartoon.  (Scarfe’s cartoon, which Rowson defended in an essay at the Guardian, is on the top right.)

anti semitic cartoons

Indeed,  if you compare Rowson’s cartoon with the most extreme racist depictions of Jews in the 20th century it isn’t difficult to see the overlapping facial features.  Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Rowson’s Kissinger with the infamous Nazi antisemitic caricature published by Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer, titled ‘The Poisonous Mushroom’:


Whilst we’re not suggesting that Rowson was intentionally evoking such comparisons, the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in a post responding to criticism over Steve Bell’s Nov. 15 cartoon depicting William Hague and Tony Blair as puppets being controlled by Bibi Netanyahu, wrote the following:

I don’t believe that Bell is an antisemite, nor do I think it was his intention to draw an antisemitic cartoon. However, using the image of a puppeteer when drawing a Jewish politician inevitably echoes past antisemitic usage of such imagery, no matter the intent.

The Holocaust and its causes are still within living memory. While journalists and cartoonists should be free to express an opinion that Netanyahu is opportunistic and manipulative, in my view they should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.

Echoing Elliott, whether or not Martin Rowson had racist intent is not as relevant as the more fundamental point: that a cartoonist for a “liberal” broadsheet should possess the moral decency to strenuously avoid employing visual language which historically represented the major antisemitic motifs in the long and bloody persecution of Jews.

The antisemitic reflex: A Jew-baiting Tweet by the Guardian’s Michael White

Today, pending an investigation, the Labour Party suspended Baron Ahmed, a member of the House of Lords and the first male Muslim peer in the UK, for claiming that his prison sentence several years ago for dangerous driving resulted from pressure placed on the court system by Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels”.

He reportedly said the following during a TV interview last year.

“My case became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this.”

Ahmed was imprisoned for 3 months in 2008 after sending text messages while driving.

Today, on Twitter, as news of Ahmed’s suspension was reported, there was this exchange between veteran Guardian journalist Michael White and Daniel Finkelstein, a journalist for The Times.

The exchange continued:


Let’s be clear about what just transpired.

A reporter for The Times expressed surprise that news of a Labour Party investigation into racism against a member of Parliament was not in BBC radio news summaries.

A Guardian journalist, noting that Finkelstein was Jewish, immediately engaged in an ad hominem and completely irrelevant attack, raising the topic of settlements in the state of Israel.

The Guardian reporter’s ugly response to Finkelstein’s Tweet represents the classic antisemitic “reflex” of holding Jews collectively responsible for the perceived sins of the state of Israel – a bigoted association he’s made on at least one other occasion in a column at the Guardian.

Daniel Finkelstein is not an Israeli.

He happens to be a Jew but is no less British than Michael White.

Guardian claims Hamas scored political points from photo of Egypt PM cradling dead baby

An official Guardian editorial (Gaza: storm before the quiet, Nov. 21) on talks of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas cited legitimate claims of victory both sides could make if a truce is signed.

[Netanyahu] can say that while Gilad Shalit is back with his family, the man who kidnapped him, Hamas’s military chief Ahmed al-Jaabari, is dead; he can say that the stock of missiles in Gaza is depleted and that the Iron Dome missile defence system proved itself. He can say the operation gave the lie to those who claimed Israel cannot act militarily now that the regional environment has been changed by the Arab spring. 

Now, here’s the Guardian assessment of what Hamas will gain:

“Hamas has a different narrative. Whether a ceasefire takes effect or not, they will say their rockets established their reach over the majority of the population from Jerusalem to north of Tel Aviv. And far from being wiped out in the initial Israeli bombardment, they kept firing to the very end.”

Then, parroting Seumas Milne’s recent triumphant polemic about Hamas’ ‘victory’ in establishing themselves as the main Palestinian resistance movement, the editorial continues:

“At home, Hamas will have reaffirmed its role as the main resistance to the occupation – a role which it was in danger of surrendering to competitive militant groups in the Gaza Strip.” [emphasis added]

The editorial continues:

“More significant, Hamas claims, would be the political gains achieved during the past traumatic week – the pictures of the Egyptian prime minister and Turkish foreign minister clutching dead Gazan children, the stream of visits and support from the entire Arab League. What did the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sitting all on his own in Ramallah get? Tony Blair.” [emphasis added]

It is worth noting that the Guardian is once again suggesting that Hamas, unlike the “craven” Palestinian leaders in Fatah, is more deserving of our moral sympathy, more justified in claiming the mantle of the authentic Palestinian resistance movement. 

Further, the picture of the Egyptian prime minister clutching a dead Gazan child, which the Guardian is referring to, is an incident which was revealed to be a fraud.

Though media reports initially claimed the child in question, 4-year-old Mahmoud Sadallah, was killed by an Israeli strike, it later was revealed that he was almost certainly killed by an errant Hamas rocket.

This cynical manipulation of a dead Palestinian boy to score public relation points should be a source of shame for Hamas, not a source of pride.  

However, as long as the Guardian remains enamored of Hamas, and sympathetic to their claims of legitimacy, don’t expect even the most specious moral and political claims by the Islamist group to be subjected to critical scrutiny.

US Congressional resolution supporting Israel makes Glenn Greenwald’s head explode

Western government support for Israel’s right to defend it’s citizens against Hamas really infuriates some people.

Those who routinely demonize the Jewish state and parrot the most ludicrous claims about Israeli villainy – and excuse or ignore the racism, incitement and violence of Islamist extremists in the region – simply can’t wrap their mind around the fact their anti-Zionist view is extremely marginal.

The mind of Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell was evidently ready to explode upon hearing the expressions of support for Israel by British foreign secretary William Hague and former PM Tony Blair. So, Bell expressed, in cartoon form, his belief that the only possible explanation for this maddening political dynamic is the puppeteer like control exercised over the subservient British leaders by Israel’s Prime Minister.

Another ‘anti-Zionist head-exploding’ moment occurred when the U.S. House and Senate overwhelmingly passed non-binding resolutions backing “Israel’s right to self-defense”.

There’s nothing unusual about such a resolution, as popular support for Israel in America, based on polling by Gallup over the last 45 years, has been consistent and overwhelming - a fact which CiF contributor Glenn Greenwald, whose fear of powerful Jewish forces in the U.S. borders on the conspiratorial, simply can’t fathom.

He expressed his frustration today, thus: 

Poor Glenn. The Congressional resolutions, which audaciously affirmed that “no nation”, including Israel, “can tolerate constant barrages of rockets against its civilian population”, actually passed unanimously

In his essay on Nov. 2011, on ‘averting accusations of antisemitism‘, Guardian readers editor Chris Elliott warned Guardian journalists and commentators to avoid “antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control.”

Elliott also noted that “three times” he had “upheld complaints against language within articles [which] could be read as antisemitic”, such as his decision to delete the term “slavish” (to describe the US relationship with Israel) from a report by Chris McGreal.

Glenn Greenwald’s characterization of the democratically elected U.S. legislative body as “subservient” to Israel (and/or the Jewish lobby) similarly contains antisemitic undertones, but also represents, to quote Walter Russel Mead, a sign that the ‘Comment is Free’ contributor is among those who are “baffled, frustrated and the bewildered” and therefore “seek[s] a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.”

“Anti-Semitism”, wrote Mead, “is one of the glittering frauds that attract the overwhelmed and the uncomprehending.”

The anti-Zionist left is increasingly defined as much by their intellectual laziness as they are by their blind subservience to the logic of historically right-wing Judeophobic narratives regarding the dangers of Jewish control.

Guardian publishes cartoon showing Israeli leader as puppet master controlling Hague & Blair (Updated)

Here’s a cartoon by Steve Bell, Guardian, Nov. 15., titled “Steve Bell on Tony Blair and William Hague’s role in Israel-Gaza clash – cartoon”.

Some relevant background:

Here’s a cartoon in Al-Ahram Weekly, October 4-10, 2012 (Egypt) depicting both Romney and Obama kissing Bibi’s hands.

Here’s another Al-Watan cartoon of Obama nad Romney on Sep­tem­ber 10, 2012.

The Saudi paper Al-Watan, on October 11, 2008, published this, depicting Jews were puppet masters, controlling both McCain and Obama.

The message the Guardian cartoon is trying to convey – similar to the Arab cartoons posted above – is unambiguous.

Bell is complaining that recent expressions of support for Israel’s operation in Gaza by UK foreign secretary William Hague (and Tony Blair) suggest they are being controlled by the Prime Minister of the Jewish state. 

Walter Russel Mead summed it up best in response to a BBC journalist who stated recently that “The American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s unwavering support for Israel.”

“…weak minds…are easily seduced by attractive but empty generalizations. The comment attributed to August Bebel that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools can be extended to many other kinds of cheap and superficial errors that people make. The baffled, frustrated and the bewildered seek a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world; anti-Semitism is one of the glittering frauds that attract the overwhelmed and the uncomprehending.”

Steve Bell simply couldn’t accept that British expression of support for Israel’s action in Gaza is based on their understanding of the threat posed by Hamas and other terrorists movements, or other strategic considerations.

He needed an easy explanation as to why his nation’s leaders don’t share his hostility towards Israel, and the temptation to attribute such a vexing dynamic to sinister Israeli control was too great for him to resist.

The Guardian cartoonist has succumb to historically antisemitic (and necessarily reactionary) narrative which imputes Jewish power and Jewish control to the decisions of non-Jewish world leaders.

(Bell, and the Guardian, needs to be held account, so please consider emailing the Guardian’s readers editor, Chris Elliott,, to respectfully voice your complaint.)

UPDATE: Per The JC, Steve Bell responded to criticism that his cartoon is antisemitic, thus:

“I can’t be held responsible for whatever cultural precepts and misapprehensions people choose to bring to my cartoon. My intention, I think, is fairly clear.”

UPDATE II: The Guardian published a letter (21.00 GMT, Nov. 16) protesting Bell’s cartoon by the CST’s Dave Rich.

Guardian’s David Hearst equates Israeli war against Hezbollah to Syria’s ongoing civilian massacre

This is cross posted by our friend Anne, who blogs at Anne’s Opinions.

Attacks by Syrian troops led by President Bashar al-Assad has resulted in up to 6000 dead

David Hearst, one of the Guardian’s “foreign leader writers” according to his bio, has never met an Israel-hater or delegitimizer he didn’t love.

In his article yesterday at “Comment is Free, in which he addressed the Russian and Chinese veto of a UN Security Council vote against Syrian President Bashar Assad, he correctly described the unpopularity of Putin’s decision to use his veto power and the strategic error in such a move.

But Hearst being Hearst, how could he leave Israel out of this issue? Even though Israel is not connected in any way to the uprising in Syria, the revolutions in the Arab world and the violence committed in these countries, Hearst managed to work Israel into his first sentence.

If anyone thinks the international opprobrium heaped on Russia and China for vetoing the UN resolution condemning Syria’s violent repression of its people is unusual, they should cast their minds back to 13 July 2006. George Bush and Tony Blair spent the best part of the following 33 days dismissing calls for an end to Israel’s bombardment of southern Lebanon in response to a cross-border raid by Hezbollah.

Note how Hearst compares Israel’s defensive war against Hezbollah’s terrorist bombardment of Israel’s northern cities with a dictator slaughtering his own civilians.

Hearst continues:

On 3 August Sir Rodric Braithwaite, a former British ambassador to Moscow, wrote that Blair’s premiership had descended into “scandal and incoherence”. Nor were serving Foreign Office officials quick to leap to Blair’s defence. The government’s policy of resisting calls for a ceasefire [in Lebanon, in 2006] was “driven by the prime minister alone”, they said.

Such a position is today occupied by Vladimir Putin

Now he compares Putin’s cynical decision to play the role of Assad’s Guardian with Blair’s stand against calls to save the Iranian backed Islamist terror group in Lebanon.  Blair preferred to back a democratic ally acting in self-defense, and withstood enormous political pressure rather than cave in to the predictable chorus of “right-thinking” (or should we call it “left-thinking”) calls to condemn Israel whenever it has the temerity to defend its citizens.

One of the commenters on Hearst’s article, who calls him/herself “external”, remarked so acutely:

Wow ! You managed to mention Israel in the first paragraph. Good work, even by Guardian standards !

As I have said before, the man is execrable, but oh so suitable for the Guardian’s World View™.

CiF commenter suggests Tony Blair should be killed: 68 ‘Recommends’ & NOT deleted by CiF Moderators

One of CiF Watch’s signature posts is “Why was this deleted” and, alternately, “Why wasn’t this deleted”?

We spend quite a bit of time monitoring comments beneath the line at ‘Comment is Free’ observing what precisely runs afoul of their “community standards”, and have documented scores of examples of pro-Israel comments being deleted, while some of the most hateful anti-Zionist vitriol remains.

Beyond the narrow issue of deleted comments, however, there are some commenters whose apostasy has rendered them in a state of pre-moderation – where CiF Moderators review, and then release, on a case by case basis, only those comments deemed acceptable.

The last strike for unruly CiF commenters is to have their user privileges permanently suspended due to an especially egregious violation, or pattern of violations, of their norms.

We recently documented two cases in which such a ban was employed – one commenter for merely questioning whether an essay by Sunny Hundal was consistent with Guardian editorial guidelines, and another for simply asking CiF Moderators why his/her comments, noting the Islamist (pro-Muslim Brotherhood) sympathies of CiF contributor, Wajahat Ali, were being deleted.

While the latter example seemingly demonstrates that the Guardian is not about to have their consistent licensing of pro-Islamist voices – who espouse views they evidently deem consistent with “liberal” thought – questioned, the former suggests an institution which is, at the very least, remarkably thin-skinned.

In light of this propensity by CiF Moderators to ban users for content they deem offensive, the following comment, beneath the line of s CiF essay on Dec. 22, “Iraq must divide to survive“, which  has not been deleted, nor resulted in the commenter being banned, is especially curious.

Is there any question this commenter is referring to Tony Blair?  And, further, is there any doubt that the commenter using the moniker “ChanceyGardener” is suggesting that Blair be killed?

Here are a few CiF standards, from their ‘Community standards and guidelinespage, which would seem relevant when assessing comments calling for murder:

We understand that people often feel strongly about issues debated on the site, but we will consider removing any content that others might find extremely offensive or threatening.

We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling and mindless abuse will not be tolerated. 

…we do ask users to find ways of sharing their views that do not feel divisive, threatening or toxic to others.

So, the suggestion that a former British Prime Minister should be executed: “divisive”, “threatening”, or “toxic”?

You think?! 

Guardian and rest of British media get it wrong about Iranian threat.

This is cross posted by Tom Wilson, and originally published at The Jerusalem Post.

When Iranians stormed the British embassy in Tehran, it was reported that they had burned the British flag, yet the truth is that they actually burned the Israeli and American flags along with the British one. This should have told observers something.

It should have alerted them to the ideology at work there, an ideology that singles out Western democracies less for what they do and more because of what they are and what they represent in the world. And, just as the British media has so often gotten it wrong on Israel’s attempts to defend its civilians, so too this error of judgment seems to extend to Britain’s own international efforts. 

Seeing members of a mob brandishing a portrait of England’s Queen Elizabeth II as they stormed her embassy in Tehran, with the Iranian police initially appearing pretty impassive, you would have thought it would be clear to the British media which side they ought to be on. After all, with the Iranian parliament having voted to downgrade diplomatic relations to the sound of some of its members chanting “death to Britain,” many suspected that the ‘student’ riot was anything but spontaneous and, indeed, far from independent of the Iranian authorities’ influence.

Yet for some, this was not an occasion to rally to Britain’s defense, but rather to chastise its government for its policy on Iran and its nuclear program. A flurry of opinion pieces appeared, mostly in the liberal press, arguing that Britain had brought this on itself through its harsh dealings with Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s regime. This reaction, however, only reveals the extent to which some commentators in the West refuse to recognize that people in other cultures also have agency in their actions, that they are not simply reactive to our alleged geopolitical mismanagements.    

In one opinion piece for The Guardian, former British Minister of State Mark Malloch-Brown argued that Britain had acted as a “ringleader of efforts to squeeze Iran” and, as such, has made itself an American proxy in the eyes of the Iranians, a cardinal sin in the view of Britain’s liberal circles.

The Independent’s Middle East editor Robert Fisk went further still, arguing the case that the recent sanctions are just a small part of a long history of reasons “that makes Iranians hate the UK.” Fisk has dismissed former Bristh prime minister Tony Blair and British governments for “raving” about “the necessity of standing up to Iranian aggression” and what he calls “the supposedly terrorist nature of the Iranian government”. These commentators seem to possess short memories, choosing to ignore the Iranian kidnapping of three British naval personnel in 2007.

Perhaps none of this should surprise us since the IAEA report was published last month, which provided the clearest evidence yet that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, sections of the British media rushed to Iran’s defense, either calling into doubt Iran’s activities or warning that all intervention, military or otherwise, would be futile and damaging.

Predictably these writers tended to chastise Israel and the US for allegedly risking an escalation in the situation and a leading article by The Independent went so far as to allege that “America’s Jewish voters” were driving US policy on Iran. More startling still was British journalist Simon Jenkins’ Guardian piece in which he coldly stated that “No one seriously supposes that Iran, under whatever ruler, would seek to wipe out Israel – and anyway that is Israel’s business”.

All of this appears to indicate a stark failing in moral judgment on the part of sections of Britain’s media. The automatic assumption seems to be one of an irredeemable West committing unceasing aggression against the ever innocent developing world. Ultimately, it has been the very same people who fail to recognize the values that the Jewish State stands for who have similarly proved unable to maintain any kind of moral clarity when it comes representing the dealings of liberal and democratic Britain with the belligerent and terror sponsoring Islamic republic. 

The writer is a researcher and analyst at the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy where he heads the Centre Transatlantic Affairs project. Tom currently lives in London where he is completing a Doctorate at UCL.


Ian Williams: the Epitome of the Guardian World View

This week I read with interest the Hansard report of a recent debate in the British Parliament on the subject of anti-Semitism. One of the many pertinent subjects raised was that of the prevention of the spread of racial hatred via the internet and newspapers which those MPs taking part rightly consider to be an important priority.   Hopefully, the Right Honourable John Mann (one of an increasingly rare breed of politicians who really do live up to the prefix) and his colleagues will be able to make speedy headway on this subject. But, until then, I suspect that we will have to put up with many more articles such as the one by Ian Williams which appeared on CiF on January 21st.

Leaving aside the article’s subject matter (Williams wants Obama to ‘call Israeli settlements illegal’, but of course does not trouble himself with the question ‘and then what?’), it is interesting and revealing to examine the methods Williams uses to persuade the reader to accept his case.

First, he sets out his disputable quasi-legal case according to which all settlements are illegal, with no nuance, no mention of alternative legal opinions and with wilful disregard of history. The point is, of course, to try to make it seem as though the ‘decent’ world thinks as one and Israelis are out of step with that ‘decent’ world.

Secondly, he establishes an identikit image of Israelis by assigning them stereotypical traits. They show ‘defiance’ even in the face of American bribes and can be likened to common criminals.

“It is as if you have caught someone stealing your car and the police decide to overlook technical issues like the law and ownership and instead tell you to negotiate with the thief to get occasional access to the back seat.”

Next, Williams goes on to invoke the age-old anti-Semitic trope of Jewish power in the form of the omnipotent ‘Israel lobby’.

“Of course, Obama has other problems, such as the economy and healthcare, and on the Middle East must face not only a rabidly pro-Israeli Republican party but also a majority of his own party that would sign up to a resolution declaring the moon to be made of blue cheese if the Israeli lobby demanded it.”

‘Rabidly pro-Israeli’ has very interesting connotations, implying both irrational and unusual behavior which presents a danger (it is common practice to put down rabid animals because of the threat they present to humans) and also the fact that such behavior is the result of infection by an outside force – a pathogen.

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Wikileaks and the journalistic elite

Julian Assange (Wikileaks founder)

The egregious hubris of journalists in liberal, democratic societies was on full display in Simon Jenkins column in CiF, in the very title of the piece:

US embassy cables: The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment: It is for governments – not journalists – to guard public secrets, and there is no national jeopardy in WikiLeaks’ revelations.”

In that brief headline, and subtitle, we have, in short, a journalistic ethos that is both narcissistic as it is adolescent – demonstrating a media elite who don’t allow themselves to be burdened with such quaint notions as citizenship and responsibility.  Whether or not such leaks – classified diplomatic communications from U.S. diplomats abroad – harms national security or endangers lives are questions the likes of Jenkins clearly are not burdened with.

Notably, the Guardian just released a video commentary on the Wikileaks affair – which includes comments from Guardian editors and correspondents. Especially relevant were the comments from Jonathan Powell, former Chief of Staff of Tony Blair, who said: “there may of course be in those [wikileaks] telegrams be [sic] revelations that do actually endanger lives….so I think there is a risk to people’s lives in those telegrams.”

Jenkins and the Guardian (as well as La Monde, El Pais and The New York Times) are, after all, doing what a proper liberal pedigree commands them to do: “Comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.”

Jenkins asserted the following early in his essay:

“Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest. When that democracy purports to be “world policeman” – an assumption that runs ghostlike through these cables – that interest is global.”

No, Mr. Jenkins, not everything said or done in the name of democracy is of public interest.  In the real world, free, democratic nations are engaged in serious battles (militarily and diplomatically) with very real enemies – closed totalitarian regimes (like Iran, N. Korea, Syria, and China) – who, by their very nature don’t have to worry about their own state secrets being revealed, and can (and do) use such asymmetry to their advantage.

It is sad that journalists such as Jenkins likely would snicker at the notion that patriotism should play a role in their decision-making.  However, while responsible journalists in democratic nations should rightly view their job as investigating, and reporting on, the truth in all matters relating to the public interest, such an admittedly noble ideal must also, at the end of the day, be balanced with their responsibilities as citizens of the country in which they live.  It’s not called “selling out.”  Its called being a responsible adult.

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman quite eloquently summed up the Wikileak controversy when he said:

“To keep our country safe, some information must be kept secret. This is a balancing act that the American people themselves ultimately control through our democratically elected representatives and our institutions. What Wikileaks is doing is to short-circuit this entire democratic process – claiming for itself the exclusive, unilateral, and unchecked power to decide what should and shouldn’t be made public. This is therefore not only an attack on our national security, but an offense against our democracy and the principle of transparency.”

I couldn’t agree more.

What are your thoughts?