The CiF Routine

CiF-veterans knew what to expect when the Guardian published Harold Evans’ critique of the Goldstone report, which Evans condemned as “A moral atrocity”. Obviously, this sound verdict could only elicit howls of protest by the assorted antisemites and Israel-bashers who are drawn to Cif for their daily fix of “down-with-Israel” delirium.

And it was equally obvious that CiF wouldn’t wait long to provide what the crowds were clamoring for: The next day, Michael Lerner – excuse me: RABBI Michael Lerner – dismissed Evans’ piece as a “screed” and opined that the “global choir of ethical cretins who condemn Goldstone’s Gaza report do Israel no favours.” If you are offended by the “ethical cretins”, you simply demonstrate your inability to appreciate political correctness a la GWV, and in any case, Georgina Henry herself made an appearance to assure everyone that it wasn’t meant “to offend”, it was just “colloquial” and “general”, and the “Guardian’s style guide” (oh-la-la) would ponder the question just how stylish Rabbi Lerner’s general colloquialism/colloquial generalism really truly was.

Naturally, the commentariat adored the good Rabbi’s pious pc-stylishness, but just to be on the safe side and to really make up for allowing Evans to call a spade a spade, CiF also wheeled in none other than Richard Goldstone himself.

True to form, Goldstone opened his piece with the bold claim: “Five weeks after the release of the report of the fact-finding mission on Gaza, there has been no attempt by any of its critics to come to grips with its substance.” Well, it’s not the first time Goldstone makes a claim that would be kind of difficult to support by facts: Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up a website that perhaps doesn’t quite “come to grips” with the “substance” of the Goldstone report, but it does show that there isn’t all that much “substance” to it, and a group of bloggers have set up a website that offers many detailed and devastating rebuttals of Goldstone’s report from a variety of sources.

And then there is of course this authoritative verdict about the Goldstone report: “If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.” Quite so.

Oh, you wonder who said this? Well, this is the eminently venerable (?) Judge Goldstone  judging the Goldstone report in a recent interview with the Forward…

And Goldstone was good enough to elaborate why his report wasn’t really worth all that much: referring to a similar report that had been prepared in the 1990s for Yugoslavia, Goldstone reminisced:

“We couldn’t use that report as evidence at all […] But it was a useful roadmap for our investigators, for me as chief prosecutor, to decide where we should investigate. And that’s the purpose of this sort of report. If there was an independent investigation in Israel, then I think the facts and allegations referred to in our report would be a useful road map. […] I wouldn’t consider it in any way embarrassing if many of the allegations turn out to be disproved.”

You see how simple it is: Richard Goldstone wouldn’t be embarrassed if it turned out that the outrageous accusations he leveled against Israel and the IDF were shown to be baseless. And you know what: Richard Goldstone is right. Frivolous accusations against Israel is all that it takes – they quickly take on the aura of “facts” and dominate the headlines for weeks and months on end, generating floods of enraged comments and talkbacks demonizing Israel, and when it turns out that there was no evidence to back up the allegations, it won’t be much more than an obscure news item placed in a not too conspicuous spot. We have been through this, and there is a good name for it: the “Jenin massacre syndrome”.

Remember Jenin? Back then, a Guardian editorial opined that “Israel’s actions in Jenin were every bit as repellent as Osama Bin Laden’s attack on New York on September 11.” That was in April 2002. But what do you know: it took just some six years, and presto, there was this follow-up – in the Jerusalem Post: “‘Guardian’ editor apologizes for Jenin editorial.”

This belated apology came during a session at the 2008 Jewish Book Week, where Alan Rusbridger even said that Israel is a “moral necessity” – which is obviously a view that would be news to most Guardian/CiF readers who come to the site because it can always be relied on to describe whatever Israel did and didn’t do as “repellent”. And whoever doesn’t agree can be dismissed as an “ethical cretin”.

The poisonous atmosphere that is thus created is not unique to the Guardian or CiF, but it is of course their editorial choice to endorse and reinforce this kind of atmosphere through a relentlessly negative coverage of all things Israeli and, by inevitable extension, of many things Jewish. As Mark Gardner emphasized in a recent post on the CTS blog:

“It is plain that if the Jewish state is regarded as a pariah, a compulsive serial abuser of human rights, then Jews everywhere will suffer by (real or imaginary) association.”

Mark Gardner makes this point in his analysis of the undignified reaction of Human Rights Watch (HRW) to the criticism of the organization by its founder and long-time chairman, Robert Bernstein, who recently wrote in the New York Times:

“Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

HRW is for sure not the only organization that “has lost critical perspective” when it comes to Israel, and the evasions and distortions that Mark Gardner highlights in HRW’s response to Bernstein’s criticism will be familiar to anyone who has followed a few debates on CiF’s Israel-related threads. Indeed, as Mark Gardner points out:

“There has long been an instinctive reaction from groups such as HRW to savage their critics as being antagonistic pro-Israel lobbyists. There is no way that Robert Bernstein fits that ugly ethnic profiling, and yet HRW’s public reaction effectively treats him as just another pro-Israel snake in the grass. This suggests that HRW’s public reaction to Bernstein reflects an institutionalised inability to deal fairly and squarely with any concerns that are raised by Jews who don’t spend half their lives condemning Israel. The suspicion is strengthened when you contemplate the behaviour of the many groups, politicians and media that share HRW’s milieu. It is as if the constant drip, drip, drip, of their attitude to Israel has gradually eroded all of the sense and sensibility that such parties ever had towards the mainstream of the Jewish community.”

CiF is certainly among the “media that share HRW’s milieu”: on CiF, the “antagonistic pro-Israel lobbyists” are dismissed as the GIYUS brigade, or the paid-per-comment Hasbara rent-a-crowd; the “pro-Israel snake in the grass” is easily translated into something “colloquial” and “general” like the “global choir of ethical cretins”; and if “Jews who don’t spend half their lives condemning Israel” want to raise any concerns about this kind of atmosphere – well, tough luck: they will find out that Jews who don’t spend half their lives condemning Israel are not entitled to have any valid concerns when it comes to anything even remotely related to Israel.

19 replies »


    Seems that like Neturei Karta’s Aharon Cohen, Lerner falsely calls himself a “Rabbi”…………

    “In each appearance, as a way of legitimating his anti-Israel message, Lerner is introduced as a “rabbi.” In fact, his ordination ceremony took place within the context of the “Jewish Renewal” movement — a sort of “New Age” Judaism whose origins trace back to the counter-culture of the late Sixties and early Seventies, and whose ordinations are recognized by virtually no one outside the movement.”

    “In the chorus of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic voices that pollute the minds of young university students from coast to coast, the voice of Michael Lerner ranks among the most strident.”

  2. Michael Lerner should have been disqualified as an “expert” on anything after his dedication in one of his books to “victims of the Nazi holocaust and the “VietNamese victims” of the “United States armed forces”. Lerner does not talk about that despicable comparison much these days. He can run but he can’t hide from his own words. When Lerner likened the men who fought and bled in VietNam with the Nazi murderers, Lerner showed himself to be a man of no personal honor. There is not one person who survived the holocaust who believes that the United States of America and its soldiers, sailors and airmen are comparable to the Nazis and Gestapo and Einstazgrupen who murdered ove six million Jews. The only person in the world who believes that there is no real difference between the Nazi murderers and American soldiers is Michael Lerner. His only claim to fame is that he is a Jew who disdains Israel and even more so disdains the idea of the Israel Defense Force. Lerner loathes the idea of Jews defending themselves. But is Lerner’s very loathing of the Israel Defense Forces and the United States Army that makes him so endearing to the editors of the Guardian. I thought Lerman was enough for them. Yet they found someone even worse.

  3. I see peterthehungarian already posted about Lerner’s fraudulent claim to be a Rabbi, on the ‘Shit The Guardian Is Burning” thread:

    October 21, 2009 at 7:09 am

  4. Well said, Maimon !

    ‘Their daily fix of “down-with-Israel” delirium’ – and the ‘Jenin massacre syndrome’ are very apposite. Only ‘moral cretins’ who flock to the Guardian would fail to be moved by your arguments.

    We can only watch, and warn while they wallow in their cesspit of slime.

  5. Fairplay, you sum up what the Guardianista’s problem is. They are addicted to the rush they get from Israel/Jew-hatred. The worst of them have nothing else in their lives and merely exist from fix to fix.

    And CiF authors and editors are the equivalent of those who peddle harmful drugs. They also benefit from these people’s addiction to hatred in a similar way to drug pushers. In the civilised countries of the world, drug pushers are punished by the law with long jail sentences.

    I dearly wish that there was a penalty in law for the CiF equivalent of pushers of this inveterate hatred.

  6. Excellent article.

    Has the “internationally respected” Judge Goldstone found anywhere except CiF, the cesspool of anti-Israeli, not to mention anti-Semitic, comments by its readers, to plead his case before the international public?

    It is interesting that this is not the first tme that a “pro-Israel” article is miraculously followed up on CIF with one or two typical Israel-bashing articles.

    I can only assume that they “store them up” in advance before requesting a pro-Israel article, or publishing one submitted by someone hoping (naively, given the forum) to support Israel to whip up the usual hate-fest by Moron, papalagi, arkasha, etc..

    They can then restore the GWV (im)balance with a couple of pieces of red meat for the howling jackals – sorry – ethical cretins- to slaver over.

  7. Actually, Goldstone has found a few other antiIsrael outlets to plead the Arab side of the MidEast conflict. First, one day after the report came out, Goldstone was published in the New York Times. In that oped, Goldstone was trying to damage control before the American Jewsish readership and the American public. He made statements in the Times oped that he would not repeat in his subsequent appearances before the antiIsrael audience that so adores him. Goldstone went on CNN where he was interviewed by one of CNN fervently antiIsrael “reporters”. It might have been Christine Amanpour, who hates Israel with every fiber in her body. It might have been Fareed Zakariah, who has demanded that Israel remove its security barrier. Zakariah calls it “the wall”. Then Goldstone did his big television appearance in Al Jazeera. The interview is truly sickening. The questioner never asks Goldstone about the Arabs. There are no questions about years of Hamas rocket fire, kidnappings of soldiers, the murders by Hamas of Fatah members, the use of hospitals for storing weapons. It is all a gangup on Israel. And incredibly, Al Jazeera is far fairer to Israel than Goldstone. Whenever the questioner asks an open question, Goldstone steers it to Israel. Moyers than went on Bill Moyers. That is the same Bill Moyers who said that Jews are “genetically predisposed to violence”.

  8. How long can this single issue website go on for? Aren’t you guys tired of going over the same old crap?

  9. deadly

    For how long will the Guardian and its likes keep on it’s disgusting half-legal libel, brainwash, incitement to violence, and hosting of holocaust denial?

  10. Last night I saw the interview with GoldStone in English-language Al Jazeera, done last week.
    Boy, let me tell you- if you’re planning on seeing it around bedtime…

    It went like this: the interviewer, rather than asking questions, made statements along the lines of: “Israel has become a pariah state that has dehumanized its Arab population. What do you feel about that?” (These are almost precise words, I’m really not exaggerating.)

    To which the honorable judge Goldstone answered, unflinching, that he is very sad by it.

    Then the interviewer “asked” what did he feel about the “shooting of children at point blank” in his report. These were the EXACT words. (There were no real questions in this GOEBBLES-Q-and-A-Hour, only long ant-semitic libels followed by a question mark.)

    To which the honorable judge Goldstone answered, unflinching, that he is very sad and disappointed by it.

    HE DID NOT CORRECT THE INTERVIEWER about the “point-blank shooting” allegation that DID NOT EXIST IN THE REPORT. Has the man actually read his own report?

    This was really sick stuff. Not recommended for the faint of heart.

  11. deadly
    AntiSemitism is a SINGLE issue. Racists have for milenia, SINGLED out Jews for persecution. It’s interesting that we are the SINGLE religion in the UK who needs to mount security at its places of worship and schools because of attacks by racists even in today’s supposedly enlightened world. We are the SINGLE religion whose religious state is constantly demonised and delegitimised.

    You might have noted that the SINGLE most prolific subject to appear on CiF is Israel and it’s hypercritical, forensic examination by legions of ‘unfriendly’ columnists.

    The persecution, attacks, demonisation and delegitimisation is to us the same old crap too, but what is your interest?

  12. deadly asks: “Aren’t you guys tired of going over the same old crap?”
    deadly, once you followed a few of Cif’s I/P threads, you will truly know the meaning of “the same old crap”. The Moron-minded are repeating “the same old crap” ever since Cif started a few years ago, and quite a bit has happened in the meantime. Admittedly, though, their real “grievance” hasn’t been resolved yet — Israel still exists, and to make matters worse for the Morons, it’s doing rather well.

    Louise, you point out that Lerner’s rabbinical credentials are questionable — true, but he seems to actually have a congregation. Well, I suppose, anything is possible in the Bay area. Unfortunately, he does get quite a bit of mileage out of the “Rabbi Lerner”. In the wake of the Gaza campaign, I argued with a friend of mine who is in many ways a good representative of “Old Europe”; so unsurprisingly, the argument got quite heated, and one of his favorite arguments was that his case was really above any criticism because he completely agreed with “Rabbi” Michael Lerner… I’m still furious about this one.

  13. Maimon, excellent.

    And to deadly – I guess that this blog will continue going over what you call the same old single issue crap and holding up a mirror to CiF for as long as CiF peddles the single-issue hatred it does, but with one very important difference. Your remark has not been deleted by a moderator. Had you made the same remark to a CiF Israel/Jew-hating thread it would not have been allowed to remain.

    As cityca says, Jew-hatred IS a single issue, and for CiF that, combined with Israel-hatred and often wilfully confused with it, is its single issue and obsession.

    I agree with MITNAGED, that the Guardianistas are hooked on the hate-filled drug which CiF under Georgina Henry has deliberately and cynically supplied to them.

  14. How strange it was for me to read that someone calling himself ”Rabbi” employed an expression such as global choir of ethical cretins It makes me wonder whether he had never heard of the expression ”lashon hara”. This is a great deal more inclusive in its meaning than the simple English translation of ”bad language”. It includes evil gossip and making sharply critical remarks: it includes an examination of the motivation in making the comment.

    I will not continue in case I fall into Lernér’s sin, but he should consider how he employs words in the pursuit of his goal. He needs to examine his motives and to advance proof in his discussion of the ethical cretinism of those he discusses and even more particularly in this case, those with whom he makes common cause. This last gives me reason to consider that ethics are not his goal.

  15. “…. he [ie Lerner] should consider how he employs words in the pursuit of his goal…”

    Margie, it seems to me that the authors of every twisted article published on CiF should consider how they employ words, but many of them employ deliberately incitatory words and arguments to incite the verbal equivalent of the lynch mob which they know will follow them.

    All of them lie, mostly by omission of vital facts (eg Seth Freedman) which, if they were presented, would not only undermine their wrong-headed arguments but alienate the baying wolves which are longing for the first taste of blood.

  16. Michael Lerner inists on being addressed as “Rabbi” Lerner. When anyone asks Lerner where he got his rabbinical degree he hems and haws and changes the subject. Nobody has ever seen the degree. When he is asked to name any congregation he has jead he talks about some commune in Berkeley, California in 1966. It is no surprise the Guardian found old Mr. Lerner to bash Israel. They could not find a real rabbi so they came up wioth someone who plays a rabbi on TV.