Monomania and inconsistency

This is a guest post from modernityblog

CiF’s fixation with Israel is noticeable, you only have to put “Israel” in the search box to see some 2596 results, whereas “Darfur” elicits 684 and “Tibet” a mere 189.

After reading Comment is Free for a while it becomes apparent that CiF and its authors almost have an obsession with Israel and Israelis. But this is strange to tell whilst the controversy concerning the “Offal libel” was doing the rounds there was little or no critical comment on it from CiF authors.

Now whatever you think of the “Offal libel” it is indisputable that it was critical of Israelis and Jews in particular. So you might have reasonably expected some counter arguments from the Guardian or its on-line vehicle, but instead CIF was pushing Neve Gordon’s call to boycott Israel.

What a disparity.

Israelis are accused of harvesting the organs of Palestinians, on the basis of no factual evidence and even the author of the piece, Donald Boström, says “But whether it’s true or not – I have no idea, I have no clue.” yet the Guardian and CiF can’t be bothered to question this conspicuous racism.

Still, we must thank Benjamin Pogrund for redressing the balance and answering Neve Gordon’s arguments.

37 replies »

  1. Thanks Modernity. There’s a saying in Israel “Prove you don’t have a sister”. People have been using it a lot recently.

    For us CIF Watchers it is clear that Georgina Henry, Rusbridger, Blincoe and Whitaker have the upper hand. Seaton just does what he’s told. With the Observer on the point of collapse and the Left taking over the Labour Party – and the bath Guardian Media took on wrongly shorting $/£ – the anti-Israel ‘Forces of Darkness’ are rampant at CIF.

    We expect to be busy so thanks for your support

  2. I believe I said in the last thread, dealing with reality in the post-modern world makes upholding the truth a very difficult proposition. That is how we run into absurdities as there are two sides to every story even though that is not true. The human intelligence gets insulted by the notion that in every situation, two claims have equal validity. For those who believe in truth capital T, it means a lot of overtime work.

  3. ““But whether it’s true or not – I have no idea, I have no clue.” yet the Guardian and CiF can’t be bothered to question this conspicuous racism.”

    That is nothing new! Look at some of the other rubbish published above the line, ill-researched and blatantly so and without even a nodding acquaintance with ethical journalism.

    And it would not serve the Guardian or CiF to question this racism:

    (1) Because they have been engaged in it for so long that they are innured to it and no longer notice when it is happening;

    (2) It goes against their editorial policy which is not racist except to Jews/Israelis.

    Pogrund’s article was measured and intelligent but I don’t think that it went far enough. It might not have been published had it done so.

  4. Roland

    You wonder (correctly) if Pogrund’s article would have been published if it went further.

    It reminds me: Do you know why Petra Marquardt-Bigman has had nothing on CIF since 5 June?

    I can’t believe it is because she has not submitted anything. She has published in the Jerusalem Post and Harrys Place.

    I wonder if it is because her articles are not sufficiently anti-Israel for them anymore?

  5. Could you start a Spectator Watch? A search of that newspaper finds Israel mentioned about three times as much as Darfur/Tibet?

  6. Thanks Louise,

    I used to read the Guardian 20+ years back but gave up.

    Nowadays I find even scanning CiF a real problem, the low level racism, scapegoating and along with their cackhanded moderation does not make it a pleasant experience, but I’ll try to keep an eye on them a bit more.

  7. James

    “Spectator Watch” would be a bit of a tautology but even so if the Spectator is propagating antisemitic discourse you can count us in!

  8. Good idea James,

    If you want to monitor other parts of the media that push anti-Jewish racism then I am sure people will applaud your efforts 🙂

  9. Modernity

    The Pogrund article: On the CIF scale it was good, but on any normal scale was it so great?

    “some Jews misuse and manipulate antisemitism and the Holocaust to stoke up fears for their own purposes”

    Shades of Norman Finklestein ……

  10. Would you say this sentence was anti-semitic?

    “The state of Israel came into existence after a campaign of terror from various groups inspired by Zionism – an ideology which stated that the persecution of the Jewish people would end if they had their own homeland in Palestine.”

  11. The sentence is meaningless in that it doesn’t define how Zionism is connected to terror and what the campaign was. No Zionist as far as I’m aware has ever claimed anti-Semitism would disappear with the establishment of a Jewish State.

  12. Louise – I’m going to try to put things into context for you…. I think your reaction at 5.41 is knee jerk, which to me says you haven’t thought the facts through….

    I agree with Pogrund when he says… there ARE Jews who misuse and manipulate the Holocaust to stoke up fears for their own purposes.

    Look at this without blinkers, Louise. Look on the Net, look at the Israeli papers – and you’ll see that the few remaining Holocaust survivors say the same as Pogrund. Israel itself is guilty of leaving many of these people in poverty, and we have large Holocaust industries whose main purpose seems to me to be to build Holocaust Museums and not only do these NOT keep the memories of that terrible time alive, because there are far too many of them, and it’s a case of overkill – they also keep anti-Semitism in the public eye (which in itself is no bad thing) but they use the fear of it to manipulate and get more money out of people. I’ve been on the receiving end of such “begging letters” with the undercurrent of “You should give to our organisation to stave off anti-Semitism”. You surely must remember the scandal some time ago involving the powers that be from the World Jewish Congress – and missing millions – which thanks to some clever footwork and intimidation by the WJC wasn’t taken any further.

    I’m a Jew and I’m proud of it – maybe you might see my comments as anti-Semitic – I’m sure you’ll tell me if you do, but it doesn’t change the facts. I’ve lived in the UK all my life and apart from one or two incidents when I was a child, I have never come across anti-Semitism in the way some people here describe it. That’s not to say I wouldn’t know it if I saw or experienced it, but I don’t see it everywhere, and I certainly wouldn’t adopt an attitude of “we’d better be scared of it, just in case.”

    On a slightly different issue I’d just like to say that one of the most vile posters on Comment is Free is LaRitournelle. It’s just a pity that you’ve only got so much room for commentators’ bios, because I can remember reading far worse than those from her.

    It’s all very well that some people defend Comment is Free, but as others have said – why have they never banned her?

  13. Bartle

    Thanks. We’ll have to agree to disagree. Just look at the ignorance among schoolkids about the Holocaust. if it’s an ‘industry’ as you claim then it is not doing very well.

    You will find a bio of LaRit in our ‘Commenters’ section. She was ‘outed’ recently on CIF then on Harrys Place as Siobhan Mooney, a singer who has sung with Deborah Fink at anti-Israel concerts. Here I can agree with you. Her posts are medievally revolting as well as hypocritical.

  14. Of course the Darfur issues has only been relevant for approximately 5 years, whereas the Israel-Palestine conflict has been ongoing closer to 60. It’s not quite a like-by-like comparrison.

    If you enter Iraq into CiF’s search facility you get 6474 entries. Use Britain and you get 11029. For England, the United States, France and Iran, you get 4115, 3004, 2593 and 2752.

  15. Louise by all means let’s disagree, but you’re talking about Holocaust education in schools, and I’m talking about people earning six figure salaries who were involved in the WJC scandal, all named in Israeli and US newspapers for everybody to see. Two entirely different things, aren’t they?

    Yes, I know all about Mooney.

  16. Tim.

    Of course the Darfur issues has only been relevant for approximately 5 years, whereas the Israel-Palestine conflict has been ongoing closer to 60. It’s not quite a like-by-like comparison.

    Yet the BBC, not completely impartial, estimates that upwards of 350,000 people have died in Darfur over the last 5 years. Compare the last five years of the ongoing I/P conflict and 5,000 would probably be an exaggeration.

    Yet, for more than a month, no article on CI(F) which in anyway mentions Muslim killing Muslim in Darfur.

    CI(F) is negatively obsessed with Israel. Whatever which/way you approach the constant flow of articles about Israel.

    The present Guardian management is conducting a crusade against the one liberal western democracy in the Middle East. I don’t remember a single article examining why the Palestinians cannot get their act together and come up with practical peace proposals.

    By the way. Practical means without ROR.

  17. Bartle: I agree that there are schnorrers who use the fact of the Holocaust to collect donations for Jewish organisations. This is an indication of bad taste and lack of delicacy.

    However the existence of the Museums and the institutions which remind us of the past serve a real purpose because we are faced with a human wall of people who have a motive when they deny that it happened. We do not want to be considered a nation of martyrs or a nation of victims but we also do not wish to be considered a nation of liars: and the purpose of the deniers is to paint us as all those, in order to rob us of all integrity and make us vulnerable once more.

  18. Tim,

    You will, of course, remember that Tibet was taken over by the Chinese military over 50 years ago?

    And the Chinese state has an appalling human rights record, detention without trial, arbitrary arrests and shootings, news blackouts, etc

    Surely that is worthy of comment too?

  19. Mita – I doubt Bartle is saying we should not have Holocaust Museums but why do we need so many new ones? One Museum can represent what needs to be represented – so why the surfeit?

    There is also the question that is increasingly being asked – why are some organisations still pushing for reparations for victims of the Holocaust when there are less and less survivors left?

  20. CifWatcher

    You know how ridiculous your comment is don’t you ….

    Should the world only have one art gallery or one science museum?

    No-one is ‘pushing for reparations’. The representations are purely to get the money that is there to the right people.

    There are sites on the Internet for Holocaust Deniers – unfortunately – but this is most definitely not one of them.

  21. Someone should have commented on the lastest article at CIF:

    “Peace plans come and go. Obama may have to try a wholly new approachUnless talks address the core, existential issues of 1948, optimism about a new Middle East effort is likely to fade fast” by

    Jonathan Freedland

    Plenty here to criticise as does normblog:

    looks like Freedland is ready to abolish Israel for the sake of Peace.

  22. The word “Peace” in the last sentence should have been in quotes.

    looks like Freedland is ready to abolish Israel for the sake of “Peace.”

  23. taking up Jacob’s point, here is Jonathan Freedland:

    “It will mean Israelis finally acknowledging the plight of the refugees created by the birth of the state of Israel, and Palestinians finally deciding whether they can accept a Jewish state.”

    The plight of the Palestinians was created by the invading Arab armies in 1948 and their desire for a military, not political solution.

    It is a pity that Freedland hasn’t read Benny Morris’s letter to the Irish Times and re-familiarize himself with the history of the period:

    “Madam, – Israel-haters are fond of citing – and more often, mis-citing – my work in support of their arguments. Let me offer some corrections.

    The Palestinian Arabs were not responsible “in some bizarre way” (David Norris, January 31st) for what befell them in 1948. Their responsibility was very direct and simple.

    In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29th, 1947 (No. 181), they launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.

    It is true, as Erskine Childers pointed out long ago, that there were no Arab radio broadcasts urging the Arabs to flee en masse; indeed, there were broadcasts by several Arab radio stations urging them to stay put. But, on the local level, in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948. And Haifa’s Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, did, on April 22nd, plead with them to stay, to no avail.

    Most of Palestine’s 700,000 “refugees” fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders). But it is also true that there were several dozen sites, including Lydda and Ramla, from which Arab communities were expelled by Jewish troops.

    The displacement of the 700,000 Arabs who became “refugees” – and I put the term in inverted commas, as two-thirds of them were displaced from one part of Palestine to another and not from their country (which is the usual definition of a refugee) – was not a “racist crime” (David Landy, January 24th) but the result of a national conflict and a war, with religious overtones, from the Muslim perspective, launched by the Arabs themselves.

    There was no Zionist “plan” or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of “ethnic cleansing”. Plan Dalet (Plan D), of March 10th, 1948 (it is open and available for all to read in the IDF Archive and in various publications), was the master plan of the Haganah – the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) – to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state. That’s what it explicitly states and that’s what it was. And the invasion of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq duly occurred, on May 15th.

    It is true that Plan D gave the regional commanders carte blanche to occupy and garrison or expel and destroy the Arab villages along and behind the front lines and the anticipated Arab armies’ invasion routes. And it is also true that mid-way in the 1948 war the Israeli leaders decided to bar the return of the “refugees” (those “refugees” who had just assaulted the Jewish community), viewing them as a potential fifth column and threat to the Jewish state’s existence. I for one cannot fault their fears or logic.

    The demonisation of Israel is largely based on lies – much as the demonisation of the Jews during the past 2,000 years has been based on lies. And there is a connection between the two.

    I would recommend that the likes of Norris and Landy read some history books and become acquainted with the facts, not recycle shopworn Arab propaganda. They might then learn, for example, that the “Palestine War” of 1948 (the “War of Independence,” as Israelis call it) began in November 1947, not in May 1948. By May 14th close to 2,000 Israelis had died – of the 5,800 dead suffered by Israel in the whole war (ie almost 1 per cent of the Jewish population of Palestine/Israel, which was about 650,000). – Yours, etc,

    Prof Benny Morris, Li-On, Israel.”

  24. Jacob

    “Someone should have commented on the latest article at CIF”

    Remember we welcome guest posts – if ever you see anything on CIF and want to write something in the spirit of this blog, we will always look at it

  25. Two posters who tend to the melodramatic picked up on a phrase of Freedland’s that had escaped my eye

    “Palestinians forced to become a refugee nation so that Jews can have a state of their own.”

    Individuals are refugees until they find a home. Jews did not force them not to find a home for themselves and successive generations. That was part of a Macchiavellian plan. Jews did not have a home for two thousand years but were not a “refugee nation”. Most refugees find homes quickly and settle down to work or they starve. This is the first professional refugee nation in history and Freedland should have had more sense than to fall into that trap.

  26. Tibet is indeed worthy of comment too, as is Sierra Leonne, Angola, Congo, Ivory Coast, Chechnya, Ache and Columbia, to name a few.

    But of course there are historic and political reasons why British people are more mindful of some conflicts than others, such as the legacy of British colonial rule or strategic relationships with neighbours.

    Iraq will generate 6474 articles for obvious reasons — a current conflict in which Britain is directly involved and a historic legacy of British involvement in the region. The conflict in Congo, however, generates little interest, though no less brutal or troubling.

  27. Tim you wrote:

    “there are historic and political reasons why British people are more mindful of some conflicts than others,”

    Then again as the British had a hand in Tibet and about 1/3 of the global we should not become prisoners of parochialism.

    You would be hard put to find places on the Earth where the British did not go, conquer or rule in one way or another.

    Therefore, the British themselves should be mindful of their own contribution to history.

  28. I understood the British weren’t very successful there, despite its invasion from 1904. It never colonised Tibet as far as I know. It’s not like our involvement in Mesopotamia, or the Indian sub-continent. Still, I certainly agree with your last point.

  29. Indeed, I rather think that’s my point. If we compare BBC headline coverage of Zimbabwe and Angola, there’s a clear mismatch, but we understand why all the same. Portugese coverage of the world has a completely different slant. The present is shaped by the past and we’re lumped with it.

    On the other hand, were it not for British rule in Mesopotamia there would have been no declaration favouring the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Can you not comprehend how the world might have looked had France, or indeed Germany, hold sway of the region?

  30. Historically speaking, were it not for the Great War many things might have been different.

  31. modernityblog

    I think the Great War is something that the Israel-haters, possibly taking their lead from Arabs, are in denial about.

    The Ottoman Empire still seems to exist for them. I see around the posts here some suggestion that antisemites are none too bright. It is certainly difficult to try to envisage the contents of their minds and thoughts. A void from 1914-1964 into which Jews erupt in order to annihilate Arab immigrants.

  32. Ariadne,

    Ahh yes, I would agree many Jew haters and baiters are not too bright, but we mustn’t forget that the Ottoman empire was weak by the 19th century, and let us not forget the various restrictions that it placed on Jews entering the region of Palestine even around that time.

  33. modernityblog

    I’d be interested to see some information on those restrictions. I don’t think Jew-haters consider the real Ottoman Empire. They just swallow whole whatever Arab propaganda says.

    When I come across references to how equally Arabs treated Jews there always springs to mind an illustration from nineteenth-century Jerusalem showing the Jewish secretary of an Ottoman bigwig who had had his nose and lips amputated for “spying”. He was still his secretary…

  34. Ariadne,

    Re: Ottoman restrictions, sadly I can’t give you chapter and verse, read about them years back and my mind none too sharp nowadays.

    But I am sure that any good book relating to Jews, Palestine and Ottoman attitudes would probably have a piece on them.