The complete Daniel Finkelstein – Michael White Tweet timeline

While covering the exchange in Tweets between Guardian assistant editor Michael White and Times journalist Daniel Finkelstein, there were suggestions made of additional Tweets not shown which would have better contextualized the one which was the focus of the row.  Indeed, White made this argument himself in the comment section of our blog.

So, to be fair, here is the full conversation timeline on Finkelstein’s Twitter page, beginning with his original Tweet on March 14 (regarding news Lord Ahmed’s antisemitic remarks) which led to the reply by White about “Israeli settlements” (which we argued was antisemitic) and ending with Finkelstein’s last Tweet where he wishes White well.

(I added a red arrow to indicate the Tweet by White, preceding the one about settlements, which wasn’t previously included, and which White felt was important. The “settlements” Tweet has a blue arrow.)

new tweet

better snapshot

white timeline

threadAny additional relevant Tweets which didn’t involve Finkelstein can be found on White’s Twitter page. 


22 replies »

  1. Forgive me but I’m still at a loss as to what DF’s oiginalTweet about Ahmed and BBC’s copout has got to do with the “illegal” settlements? In fact DF is conceding to MW that the reason for the copout could be due to legal reasons and room for anything new is hugely limitd, then MW comes straight in with his ridiculous Tweet and then to say that he (MW) knows what DF is doing? What the hell does he mean by that? What is DF doing? And, although I can’t get to grips with his humor, what has hell has SBC got to do with this mess?

    MW must be living on a different planet where every Tweet is anti-Islamic/Arabic/Palestinian and pro-Israeli. I’m confused. Think I’ll go for a walk.

    • I agree that this “context” does nothing to make White’s comments less egregious and I struggle to see how White argues that it does.

      One thing, June. The tweet about “room for anything new” was I believe in response to the question about DF’s thoughts about the budget – nothing to do with Ahmed or White or Jews or Israel or settlements at all.

  2. Excellent. Keep plugging away. Michael White has had free rein to insult Israelis on the BBC, and now deserves every little piece of notoriety and opprobrium that can be squeezed out of his nasty exchange with Danny F. He’s far too arrogant to apologize of course, but hopefully the row will scar him. I get the feeling you don’t mess with Danny F and get away lightly.

  3. Hi Adam , just in passing I think you might be interesed to read an Obituary which appeared in THE SCOTSMAN newspaper ( this is a long established paper bought by many middle class professional people esp. in the Edinburgh area and seen not as a regional paper but as an alternative to THE TIMES , GUARDIAN , D TELEGRAPH aetc. today . The obit. was of a “Palestinian politician ” and ” mother ” . I will e-mail it to you shortly. Best , Angus Logan

    Angus Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2013 18:39:06 +0000 To:

  4. Go on the link to read the full article.
    UK Parliament debates hate incitement and UK funding of PA, based on PMW findings
    Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    Mar. 17, 2013

    UK Parliament scrutinizes Palestinian hate incitement, terror glorification and British funding of PA in debate examining PMW findings

    MP Ellman: “The matters… are truly shocking and put a question mark over the status of the Palestinian Authority as a partner for peace”

    MP Henderson: “No peace agreement will be able to guarantee…peace if a generation of Palestinians is growing up indoctrinated to hate Israel, Jews and the West

  5. Finkelstein, to his credit, took the high road with his last tweet, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be out to dinner with White any time soon.

  6. Morning all, for the third day running.

    I plan to make this my last visit for a while. The Leveson press regulation controversy is important, the budget looms, we can at least see movement and make progress on these issues.

    Cif Watch has now launched three offended posts against me over mt Twitter exchange with Danny Finkelstein which those who have not read them will find nearby. If I am deft enough I plan to cut and paste this comment on all three for the sake of completeness.

    My top line this morning is that with technical advice from a chum I deployed Twitter Search yesterday and found the “missing Tweet” which I protested had been omitted from CiF W’s first two posts and from the version sent to the Guardian and, I assume, elsewhere.

    Having received a civil email from Adam who appears to be part of the brains behind Cif W – Hi there, Adam – I managed to cut and paste it for him to see. To his credit he seems to have decided it was worth acknowledging that all those mocking claims that “ it couldn’t happen” and “White’s a liar” were not quite correct.

    Here ( I hope) it is:

    MichaelWhite ‏@MichaelWhite
    @Dannythefink Now, now Dan. You must know Ahmed/Urdu/Jewish story is legally tricky for all media until checked, BBC lawyers not at work yet
    In reply to Daniel Finkelstein
    View conversation

    I realise this won’t change much for many of my critics on this site. I’m sorry about that, though they might ponder the speed and enthusiasm with which they called me a liar (etc). Among more substantial charges I am accused of being “ preoccupied with Israel” ( is there a lurking pun there? Stop it. Mike !) which I am not, and of being “disingenuous” about the BBC not quickly picking up on the Ahmed story.

    As the “missing Tweet” shows, I was concerned to stress only that ALL media – not just the BBC – would have had a legal problem confirming the original Times story, a good one I thought when I read it, in the middle of the night. The evidence was in Urdu, the risk of libel real. I suspected that DF, who should have known all this though he’s never ( I think) been a news reporter, was taking a little prod at the BBC for its sins against Israel. HENCE MY REFERENCE to the settlements. Tit for tat, you might say, though you probably wouldn’t.

    Am I sorry for causing such trouble ? At one level, yes. What a waste of all our time, this chasing of phantoms. At another level no. I wasn’t much troubled by the abusive posts either, many so OTT, so ridiculous, so much designed to be offensive ( whoops, missed again!). Critics ask why I could be “cruel” about Bob Maxwell and yet disapprove of SBC’s style of humour?

    Well, I had long regarded Maxwell as a bad man who had come to a sticky end and was perfectly happy to make private comments of a cheerful nature on hearing he had fallen off a yacht in improbable circumstances. Bad taste you may feel, most people did at the time, I felt quite isolated/ unrepentant, but less so when they discovered the hole in the Mirror pension fund. Let’s not go there on this occasion.

    As for SBC’s Borat, “surely” I must have seen it and its mockery of whatever ? Well, no, I didn’t see it because I went off SBC’s style of humour long ago. It makes me uncomfortable in ways that abuse on Cif Watch doesn’t. You may think this is nit-picking but it isn’t entirely so because it underlines the self-referential nature of so many posts. The posters KNOW what I think and why I say what I do, it’s ALL ABOUT THEM. I think I know why this may be so, but let’s leave it at that for now. There are points I could make, but they may only re-ignite tempers.

    I haven’t read them all, but there’s a samey quality to so many. One more thoughtful posters asks me if I am not aware of “ Israel’s strategic predicament,” a small country surrounded by unstable and autocratic neighbours ? Indeed I am aware of it, though I think of it less than some posters imagine. When I do it troubles me greatly for Israel’s future which I would wish to be prosperous and peaceful. Like many people who wish Israel well I doubt the wisdom of an expansionary settlement policy. I put it no stronger.

    What I hope it is common ground between us that it is OK to criticise particular policies of a particular government of Israel with risking the charge of anti-semitism. It’s a dilemma for British and other non-Israeli Jews, more acute than for the rest of us, I can see that, knowing everything that has gone before.

    Best wishes.

    • Michael.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to come on this site (again) and respond, in a relatively measured way.

      2. You will see that the “missing” tweet does appear on this site (CifWatch) above).

      3. It is not apparent why this “missing” tweet helps to establish a link between the Ahmed story and the settlements (or Israel at all). The first mention of anything to do with Israel in the conversation is your tweet “Pity about the illegal settlements”.

      4. Your assumption that DF was having a prod at the BBC “for its sins against Israel” is just that – an assumption. There is nothing – NOTHING – in DF’s timeline on this that makes any link between the BBC’s failure (at the time) to broadcast the Ahmed story and any perception DF may have of the Beeb’s record on Israel. YOU are the one that established that link. The only explanation a disinterested observer could come to is that the link existed ONLY in your mind. This is why some have now accused you of being “obsessed” with Israel.

      5. Sites like CifWatch and supporters of Israel in general dream of the day when broadcasters and print media check their facts about a story to ensure its truth before they comment. The fact is – they don’t. Israel has been the victim of countless smears and lies printed as fact – not least by the BBC (see the recent furore over the BBC employee’s baby killed in Gaza) – that later turn out to be dubious or downright fabrication (Jenin, fauxtography, Dura etc). Your presumption that the BBC hadn’t run the Ahmed story because “the lawyers weren’t in yet” is in this context somewhat … strained.

    • The piece at the end is of course common ground. Annoying but common.
      The suggestion that you cannot criticise particular policies of a particular Israeli government without risking the charge of antisemitism is tired, lame and offensive. This is one of the great unshakeable fallacies of a controversy that teems with them. Please stop saying that.. Its a myth trotted out to close down thought. There would not be a single example of someone serious seriously saying that criticism of Israeli government policy is of itself antisemitism. By that standard the entire population of Israel is antisemitic.

      It is true however that a lot of “criticism ” of Israel is informed by antisemitism or antisemitic notions sometimes in their most vile forms. That cannot be honestly denied. The world is dripping with it and that has to be a crucial factor in the equation. One has to wonder why so many people do deny or overlook it.even while they ring on about the “expansionary” (which it isn’t) settlement policy out of one side of the mouth while pre-emptively denying antisemitism out of the other.

      It is also true that one cannot defend Israel and in particular its right to exist in peace as the Jewish state without sooner or later being accused of racism. It always happens. Always. There’s an example of it on the other thread.

    • Thanks so much for your thorough reply, Michael. At the very least I think we’ve both had the opportunity to adequately explain ourselves.

    • I suspected that DF, who should have known all this though he’s never ( I think) been a news reporter, was taking a little prod at the BBC for its sins against Israel. HENCE MY REFERENCE to the settlements. Tit for tat, you might say, though you probably wouldn’t.

      Why “tit for tat”? Is DF responsible for the settlements?

      Unlike many others here I see no reason to scream “anti-Semite!” at you (although most of those who have are mentally unstable anyway).

      I would, however, charge you with being an utter child in said interchanges.

  7. Reading your claim of risk (poor boy, what will Al Guardian do to you?) when criticising Israel I change from ‘preoccupied with’ to ‘mind occupied by Israel’, short of saying obsessed, as you deliver the proof for that.
    ” I suspected that DF, who should have known all this though he’s never ( I think) been a news reporter, was taking a little prod at the BBC for its sins against Israel. HENCE MY REFERENCE to the settlements. Tit for tat, you might say, though you probably wouldn’t.”
    Obviously you felt obliged to defend the common sins of BBC and Al Guardian against Israel by attacking Israel, especially when Anti-Semitism is the issue. Quite normal proceeding for people whose minds are occupied by Israel.
    In German this sort of attacking defence is called “Frechheit siegt”.

    • Amendment:
      Typical is the reversing of who follows whom.
      People obsessed with, let`s say, critic of Israel and who follow every move of Israel feel followed by Jews and threatened by the terrible risk of being charged of Anti-Semitism.

      Till now this risk is something Al Guardian and its contributors can live with quite happily as long as ‘only’ Jews or Israel protest.

      This can and will be ignored by the oh so critical when it comes to Israel
      “When we talk about antisemitism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ on this blog we’re not claiming to possess some sort of political mentalism – a piercing moral intuition which grants us access to the souls of their journalists and contributors. Similarly, we’re not suggesting that we can ever tell with any degree of certainty that, when we argue that criticism of Israel crosses the line to antisemitism, the writer who’s the focus of our ire is necessarily haunted by dark Judeophobic thoughts.
      Rather, many of us who talk seriously about antisemitism are skilled at identifying common tropes, narratives and graphic depictions of Jews which are based on prejudices, stereotypes and mythology and which have historically been employed by those who have engaged in cognitive or physical war against Jews.”

      What can be stated is that Al Guardian is in a cognitive war against Israel, that is, the Jewish state, by this, consciously or not, inciting hate against Jews.
      And the twittering of White fits the picture.

      Thanks that the British parliament, at least, is sensible for what is really going on, beyond settlements and Ahmeds

  8. When out on walk yesterday, it suddenly struck me what MW meant when he said to DF “I know what you’re doing”. The theory goes something like this (and please bear with me):

    To the BBC/Guardian type lefty progressives (any anti-Semite fascists), any bad news concerning Islam or Muslims is automatically thought of as good news for Jews and Israel and therefore also not good the Palestinian cause. Conversely, any bad news for Jews and Israel is automatically good for Islam, Muslims and the Palestinian cause. This explains BBC/Guardian’s obsession with digging up minutiae of Israeli actions that could be twisted to bring the tiny Jewish state into disrepute, this has become for someone like Harriet Sherwood, or for people at sites like Stormfront, their sole purpose in life.

    So when MW said “I know what you’re doing” to DF, he obviously was looking at what he would do in similar circumstance if, instead of Ahmed/Muslim, it was a Jewish person mouthing off Islamophobia: he (MW, and other BBC/Guardian types) would use the carelessness of the bigot to the hilt in order to rubbish the Jews and Israel and thereby, help their Islamists cause. MW thought DF was doing a similar thing, only in reverse, i.e. using Ahmed’s anti-Semitic rant in order to favour Jews and Israel.

    So for BBC/Guardian, any good news for Israel and any bad news involving Muslims should be suppressed at all costs because the resultant publicity would only assist Israel.

    Now I’m no psychologist, but there is a making of a paper in this theory.

    • To the BBC/Guardian type lefty progressives (any anti-Semite fascists), any bad news concerning Islam or Muslims is automatically thought of as good news for Jews and Israel and therefore also not good the Palestinian cause. Conversely, any bad news for Jews and Israel is automatically good for Islam, Muslims and the Palestinian cause.

      What absolute deranged nonsense. The disturbing thing is: you actually believe this paranoid BS, don’t you?

      • I disagree, Pretz. My enemy’s enemy is my friend is a time-honoured phenomenon that has many historical examples. That is why, for instance, the US supported the Mujahideen in Afghanistan – because they were giving the Soviets a kicking, and the US hated the USSR more than it worried about some tribal Islamists. How times change, eh?

        By the same token, those who (for whatever reason) campaign against Israel blatantly and consistently overlook the actions and shortcomings of others who are “on their side” of this argument and latch on to anything that seems to support their arguments, whether there is any objective moral or logical reason to do so.

  9. 1. I agree that the “missing tweet” does nothing to improve MW’s situation.
    2. What struck me most forcefully, reinforced by the missing tweet, is MW’s patronizing tone (“Now, now, Dan”).

  10. White claims to “wish Israel well” yet attacks it at every opportunity. His actions have helped to create a climate in which Israel is more hated North Korea in Europe because of the continuous and unrelenting demonisation and double standards in the media about Israel.

    It’s also funny how he accuses defenders of Israel of using the charge of anti-semitism to justify any action by Israel yet it is he himself that links Jews (as a collective) with Israel’s policies. In other words it is he, and not defenders of Israel, that link Ahmed’s anti-semitism with Israeli policies.

    He is typical of ALL BBC and Guardian journalists. They have done so much to antagonise Muslim (and broader societies) hatred against Jews and Israel that it is no surprise UK Muslims have commited suicide bombings inside Israel (eg “Mike’s Place” Tel Aviv 2003; the murderers were Asif Muhammad Hanif, 22, from London and Omar Khan Sharif, 27, from Derby). Plots to attack Jews INSIDE the UK by British Muslims were discovered by Police in 2012 and already in 2013 to name but two.

    I don’t know why this blog (wonderful as it is) even bothers to have a rational debate with an ideologue like White. He even literally uses the “some of my best friends are Jewish” excuse.