It Should Have Been So Simple

It should (and could) have been so simple. All Matt Seaton had to do was to issue a statement along the following lines:

“CiF of course finds the comment made by ‘William Bapthorpe’ entirely unacceptable and this poster has been permanently banned from the CiF site as a result. CiF wishes to apologise for any distress caused in the time between the comment being posted and its deletion by our moderators. CiF will exercise additional vigilance in the future and wishes to make it clear that the posting of racist comments will result in an immediate and permanent ban from the site.”

But he didn’t. Instead, we got a rather mealy-mouthed and somewhat begrudging post on Robin Shepherd’s blog which concentrates upon the technicalities of banning and pre-moderation, but comes nowhere near to addressing the actual issue. Why is that?

I think it’s probably fair to say that Matt Seaton didn’t get to where he is today by being bad at his job, and the bottom line of that job is to attract as much traffic as possible to the CiF web site. How is that achieved? Well it seems to me that one possibility is that the Guardian has decided to try to carve its niche in the internet news market by being ‘cutting edge’ and somewhat unconventional, as is reflected in its choice of ‘above the line’ writers quite frequently. In order to be ‘unconventional’, however, one has to be aware of convention, and one accepted convention of modern society is that racism is contradictory to our ideas of a fair, just and healthy society. So if an editor wanted to be really provocative and unconventional, he could, for example, commission articles written by the leader of a racist, theology-based, violent organisation, outlawed in both Britain and the EU, which targets a specific group of people because of their ethnicity such as Khalid Mish’al.

Fortunately, the flouting of conventions in order to attract readers appears to have its limits; as far as I know we have not (thank goodness) been subjected to articles of CiF by advocates of the hanging of gay people in Africa or supporters of Combat 18. So why does the Guardian editorial team see nothing wrong in flouting this particular aspect of one convention alone? Why does a newspaper which most likely considers its readership to be educated people of a liberal left-wing persuasion think that they will be interested in reading articles which promote and excuse bigotry against one particular group of people when they would probably be horrified by bigotry of any other type?

That is because the Guardian is a part of a sub-section of British society in which political antisemitism – as opposed to social antisemitism – is perfectly normal. Whilst Mr. Seaton and many of his readers would no doubt be horrified by the thought that they could be accused of bigotry or racism, they still engage in the most dangerous kind of political antisemitism directed both at the State of Israel and Jews in general. The Guardian’s decision to show a video of the highly offensive and blatantly antisemitic play ‘Seven Jewish Children’, or its equally unfortunate decision to provide a platform for Peter Oborne to peddle his antisemitic conspiracy theories are just two of many examples of its embrace of one specific kind of bigotry and racism. In other words, the Guardian is consciously cultivating an environment in which political antisemitism thrives.

A poster such as ‘William Bapthorpe’ would not write the words he wrote in an environment which he perceived to be intolerant of such statements. Bapthorpe’s comment was particularly extreme, but it is merely the inevitable culmination of years of de-legitimisation of Israel and dehumanisation of Israelis on the CiF website.

One would expect that any true left-leaning liberal would be quite shocked to discover that a newspaper he or she read was attractive to anti-Semites and bigots and begin to ask some very pertinent questions as to how this came about. But Mr. Seaton, who does more than just read CiF, appears remarkably unperturbed by this fact. Indeed he seems quite keen to play along with the situation. Banning ‘William Bapthorpe’ outright would change the rules of the game on CiF; instead he gets a meaningless virtual tap on the wrist. Why? Because, just like governments which put health warnings on cigarettes and yet will never ban them because of the enormous revenue they generate, Matt Seaton knows that the anti-Israel bigotry on CiF is bread and butter, and without it his site would not be nearly as attractive to a certain sub-section of British society in which political antisemitism has become shockingly acceptable and indeed something of a badge of honour.

What is tragic in particular about the climate of opinion being cultivated at CiF, which is obviously deeply worrying both to most Jews and also many non-Jews who are truly anti-racist, is that once upon a time, the Guardian itself would have been at the forefront of efforts to eradicate such a dangerous trend in British society. Now it prefers to play to the gallery. It really is that simple.

27 replies »

  1. Good article, Israelinurse.

    A follow-on question: Why are any Jews still writing for, buying, readig, or advertising in such an anti-Semitic newspaper? In fact, why are any writers or advertisers of any reputation still associaed with the institution?

  2. Heavens no, Israelinurse!

    If CiF and Rustbucket and the Henry coven did that even once then who knows what might happen? (Remember how painful it was for Rustbucket to apologise at the Jerusalem book fair for Guardian antisemitism?) Having set that precedent this lot would have to apologise for anti-Jewish racist comments every day, (CiF being what it is) and the only way they could escape that would be by introducing premoderation. Then they’d have to employ intelligent moderators and lots of them so that the comments would not be too delayed.

    Oooh no no no, we can’t have that!

    Far better (moneywise) would be to appeal to the lowest common denominator racists, apologists or bystanders or useful idiots like Berchmans, Moron and Papalagi by throwing open what passes for “discussion” into a free for all with Jew-bashing as its centre piece, and then refuse to acknowledge that that is what they are doing.

    Throw in some Theobald Jews and what do you get?

    A three ring circus with the deluded Henry coven as its ringmasters and silly little Matt Seaton as its rent a gob.


    And believe me, they are.

  3. to attract as much traffic as possible to the CiF web site

    But haven’t financial gain, ideology (whether religious or social), and power politics been the drivers of virulent anti-Semitism throughout history?

  4. pretzelberg- you’re being disengenuous. While the use of the word “racist” by Israelnurse in the context of Bapthorpe’s post is incorrect, inasmuch as the settlers that Bapthorpe wished would die are not a “race,” you know what she meant. Perhaps “bigoted comments” or something along those lines would have more precise. Any commenter who wants people killed is behind the pale, and it shouldn’t matter who they are.

  5. Excellent IN

    I really think that you the nail on the head with this article. Its that simple. All’s you have to do is read the comments to get an idea of the hatred directed at the state of Israel. For example, this from a typical Guardian leftist today;

    “………I suspect I’ll have no luck getting someone such as yourself to appreciate that the blockade and starvation of the people of Gaza – broken intermittently by murders and massacres such as last year’s Operation Cast Lead – just might contribute to the image of Israel as a state with a propensity for oppressing and killing Arabs……..”

    Propensity: an often intense natural inclination or preference


    Premoderation allows the Guardian moderators to control the political discussion even more. Can you envision BellaM moderating pro Israel posts? It might scare me even more, yet the positive is that many hate driven comments would not see the light of day (uh, maybe).

  6. TomWonacott – just once – once – I’d like a picture of a starving Gazan published by one of these concerned citizens so that I could share the feelings they love to publish on CiF and change my opinions about gaza, “peace activists”, “human rights workers”, UNRWA and the whole lying lot of them.

    Something that looks like this to bring home the full horror of starvation in Gaza:

    Vulture waiting for Child to Die

    But what we actually see is:

    Candy in Gaza


    Starving Gazan Schoolgirls Eating Israeli Bananas


    Malnourished Gazan Shoolkids Forced to Eat Pita

    They are even forced to survive on a few peanuts a day:

    Surviving in Gaza on Peanuts a Day

  7. Israelinurse:

    “The Guardian’s decision to show a video of the highly offensive and blatantly antisemitic play ‘Seven Jewish Children’,”

    This vile bit of anti-Semitic video was not shown once – it is repeatedly made available for the Guardian’s readers in the “related material” section of the CiF articles dealing with Israel – because, quite simply, for the Guardian’s editors, it actually is related, and should be shown over and over till it becomes part of the readers beliefs about Israel and Jews.

  8. Let’s not be silly, Pretzelberg; you know as well as I do that the settlers in Bapthorpe’s comment belong to both a particular ethnic group.

  9. AKUS

    Thanks. Lying is very much a part of the strategy of the war on Israel – from the “starvation” in Gaza to the comparison of Israel with South Africa.

  10. Tom

    The appalling post by Bagthorpe could have forced the Guardian to consider banning all posts calling for violence but CIFwatch overwound the clock by claiming he was calling for the “slaughter of the Jews.” The Guardian could just dismiss this as paranoia and they would have a point.

    I believe Bagthorpe should have been banned but CIFwatch’s intervention was poorly handled.

    Also , of course there were other posts encouraging violence if you remember, clouding the issue.

  11. Berchmans/abandon hope, I am really very disappointed in you! You always used to have such an itchy “trigger finger” and would boast that you got posts deleted almost a whim. Are you losing your grip? Why couldn’t you use your influence to get Seaton to apologise unreservedly to Jewish readers and contributors to CiF and Jews in general for allowing such incitement to murder even to make the page?

    Seaton’s excuse is that it was deleted “promptly” but evidently not promptly enough if CiFWatch was able to reproduce it. It’s easy to incite Islamist violence towards Israelis and we often hear from the Guardianistas that Jews all over the world are attacked because of their support for Israel.

    Who’s to say that CiF will not be complicit in violence against religious Jews here because some over-zealous Islamist might think them fair game because incitement to murder them has been endorsed by CiF?

    And do you think that the post would have been removed if it had not been complained about?

    Off-topic but nevertheless – I heard this morning that Israel has sent a 220-strong team to Haiti to aid in the disaster relief there:

    From Ha’aretz:

    “…The Israeli Foreign Ministry has prepared a 220-member rescue team for departure to the disaster-stricken country, including elite army corps engineers and a field hospital.

    “The military has leased two Boeing 747s from El Al airlines to transport the team and equipment.

    “… The airport in Port-au-Prince has been closed since the quake hit on Tuesday evening, but Israel decided to send the team with the hope that they would be able to land by the time they arrive.

    “Israeli ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Amos Radian, was scheduled to join the rescue team whose purpose is to gauge the best way Israel can assist with the crisis and decide on the most immediate needs.

    “IsraAID also planned to send a 12-man search-and-rescue team, which includes emergency medical staff…..

  12. Thanks for the info about the Israeli contribution to the Haiti disaster relief. I would imagine that Israeli doctors and medics etc would be well-versed in dealing with the sort of trauma which would result from an earthquake.

  13. AKUS@ 8.34 on 14/1

    Quite agree with you and if it’s shown often enough then the offence it causes ceases to register.

    Someone on another thread (was it GaryO?) talked about the ease of CiF’s vilification of Israel and Jews and suggested that it was because CiF objectifies them and therefore what passes for their consciences don’t register the offence they cause. I agree and would go even further – that in effect CiF deliberately turns Israel/Jews into the untermenschen in much the same way as the Nazis did so that it could obliterate whole communities whilst scarcely batting an eyelid.

    In Nazi Germany films of rats and other vermin were juxtaposed with the worst sort of photographs of Jews in order to sway public opinion so that they would not object when Jews disappeared. (Similar use of media happens in Gaza and on the West Bank).

    So it is with the repeated showing of “Seven Jewish Childen” as described in your post and Steve Bell’s cartoons and the steady “drip, drip, drip” of one-sided and ill-informed rhetoric against Israel. We know that below the line, antiIsrael comment is often linked with antisemitic discourse, so there is no mileage any longer in the excuse that CiF is anti-Zionist rather than antisemitic.

    I believe that the Henry coven, having lost all semblance of humanity or creature feeling for Jews/Israelis will soon lose it for themselves. They are deliberately setting out to create a similar hate-filled link to demonise Jews as the Nazis did. Their failure to apologise for, or even register the offensiveness of WilliamBapthorpe’s incitement to murder Jews until they were kicked into doing so, is proof positive of that.

    It’s the thin end of the wedge, though, for CiF. Before long they will be turning on each other.

  14. It seems to me there is a deliberate elision here.

    The comment under discussion does not call for “the killing of Jews” *as Jews* but, rather, as

    1. Settlers
    2. Settlers who have refused voluntary transfer
    3. Settlers who have resisted forcible transfer

    The comment is extremely distasteful – albeit one that touches on a definite reality (what will Israel do if such people will not move? sanction a minority veto on peace?) – but it is by no means honest to say it calls for the killing of Jews as Jews.

    One finds, in right wing Israeli discourse, similar calls to kill Jews who are refuseniks, leftists, anti-occupation activists, etc.

    This comment is of the same order and no more or no less anti-semitic.

  15. David

    He talks about “religious maniacs.”

    I don’t think that he’s talking about the shooting of Islamist religious maniacs, do you?

    And as for what Israel will do – well we can be sure about that they won’t do – they certainly won’t round up those who refuse to move and shoot them as WilliamBapthorpe would wish.

    And your final sentence is by the by given the climate engendered on Comment is Free

  16. Demeter

    incitement to murder them has been endorsed by CiF?

    Don’t be ridiculous. CiF has done no such thing.

  17. @ terry malloy / israelinurse

    You have both for some reason misinterpreted my comment. Anti-Semitism certainly comes under “racism” in my book.

  18. Herzl’s Daughter

    Why are any Jews still writing for, buying, readig, or advertising in such an anti-Semitic newspaper?

    Well, one obvious reason would be that it’s not an anti-Semitic newspaper.


  19. David:
    You are correct their is a deliberate elision.

    The comment in question refers to Jews living in Judea and Samaria as “settlers”, with the inference that they do not belong there and that in fact they are squatters.

    The comment in question is based on opinion, desire and manipulation of world events and contrives to delegitimize Israel’s claim to the area.

    One can imagin the hue and cry, not to mention how quickly a post would be deleted if there was a suggestion that the Arab squatters building illegal homes should be shot, every last man woman and child if they refuse to be removed and transferred.

  20. David the comment is indeed distasteful.

    You down-graded the full horror of the concept
    WB called for slaughter of the settlers, not ‘killing’. In his eyes they are no more than animals.

  21. peter1

    One can imagin the hue and cry, not to mention how quickly a post would be deleted if there was a suggestion that the Arab squatters building illegal homes should be shot

    Such a post on CiF would have been deleted – just as the one in question was.

    But I doubt there would have been such a hue and cry about it, i.e. afterwards.

  22. OK pretzel – I dare you to perform a little experiment. You’d have to do it because I am not registered on CiF:

    I dare you to post a similar post to WilliamBapthorpe’s to CiF but this time calling for the shooting of all the religious maniacs in Gaza.

    Then come back here and tell us how long it lasts and whether you are able to post after it.

    Go on. I dare you.