Guardian

Backsliding and Backbiting at the Guardian


This is a guest post by AKUS

Some people just cannot get a break.

Consider, for example, the Guardian’s one time golden boy, Seth Freedman.

For a couple or three years he reliably churned out one anti-Israeli article after another. There wasn’t a taxi-driver, pizza vendor or orthodox Jew, real or imaginary, he couldn’t or wouldn’t cite as examples of Israeli intransigence. Not a celebration could be held in Israel without him pointing out that the glass, apparently half-full to the Jewish Israelis, was really three quarters empty when viewed from the Guardian’s website. Not a charitable effort could be carried out (except by a Freedman-approved NGO) without demonstrating that this was, in fact, yet another example of Israel’s futile attempt to cover up its transgressions against its Arab minority or Arab neighbors.

For example, when Israel sent the best field hospital to Haiti, we got a charming piece from Freedman headlined Israel’s double standards over Haiti . The subeditors reliably added the necessary extra drop of poison: “The Israeli relief effort in Haiti is laudable, but it underlines the state’s indifference to those suffering on its own doorstep”.

In one paragraph in the article Freedman ignores almost 100 years of attacks by Arabs against their Jewish neighbors and the Jewish State including, recently, 8,000 rockets from Gaza, to make sure we understand that this and other humanitarian efforts do not let Israel off the hook:

However, for all that Israel’s sterling work overseas deserves to be praised, it highlights the lack of compassion shown by the country’s leaders to those suffering on its own doorstep. Israel’s insistence on doing next to nothing to alleviate the suffering in Gaza while rushing to Haiti’s aid exposes just how far they are prepared to stray from the religious teachings to which they claim to adhere. Likewise, when Zionist movements such as Bnei Akiva trumpet the achievements of Israel’s relief teams as representative of the entire Jewish people, they inadvertently tar all Jews with the same brush when Israel’s frequent violations of international law are brought to light.

This is the sort of red meat the Guardian is looking for, and why those supporting Israel find the Guardian (and Freedman) so biased and basically disgusting. This is the contract that Freedman is supposed to deliver against.

But sometimes something funny happens – Freedman seems to let slip that he actually sees a glimmer of goodness in the evil country he has, for reasons I cannot comprehend, decided to call his own. You have to also understand that although Freedman has, apparently, no background in economics, his “training” as a stockbroker in London in the Internet bubble has in his own mind qualified him to comment on economic matters. So, on April 12, 2010, we got: Israel’s peace dividend.

This was a real shock to the system – the CiFers’ system. Far from celebrating the success of the much vaunted BDS movement, which may or may not have got some Israeli avocados removed from some supermarkets, or demanding that the US stop propping up Israel’s economy with its $3B annual aid, about 80% of which actually subsidizes the US arms industry and which in total represents about 1% of GDP, we were treated to Freedman celebrating Israel’s extraordinary economic accomplishments:

The TA-25 has now more than doubled since November 2008, when the global credit crisis was at its height. While the rebound on the Israeli exchange is in line with a general trend of recovery on bourses around the world, what sets Israel apart from its peers is the minimal effect the credit crunch had on the state’s economy.

Thanks to a culture of low risk-taking among Israel bankers and investors, both individuals and institutions were far less exposed to asset bubbles and speculative purchases than their counterparts in other developed countries. Consequently, no bailouts were required of Israeli banks, nor did the economy implode in anything like as spectacular a fashion as occurred in the US, the UK and mainland Europe. …

Foreign investors continue to pour money into Israel, buoyed by the stellar performance of its stock market as well as unwavering confidence in the stewardship of those at the helm of the finance ministry.

This is not the sort of thing the “punters”, as they are known in Britain, are paying Internet access fees for, nor is it what the Guardian has put Freedman on contract to deliver. The response was quick to come. Posted at 9:00 am, within 13 minutes the first comment arrived:

“Shallow analysis” indeed … but not quite as shallow as the next comment – G-d forbid the Palestinians should agree to peace just for the benefit of their own economic well being …

Another commentator is shocked by Freedman’s crassness in proposing the use of “venal” economic incentives to reach a peace agreement:

This later drew a sharp retort from Freedman (see a few comments later, below).

While we are about it, why not compare Israel to Iraq under Saddam Hussein?

But it was this comment that got the blood flowing in the streets ….

and which drew a snarky response from Freedman, drawn to defend what seems to be becoming his country, obviously dismayed at the partisan response to his “good idea”:

Did I read this correctly? “An incredible amount of good in Israel”?? This is not in the contract, Seth old chap. You are going native, old sport.

Punter “iamid”, for example will have none of it, and despite being informed by Freedman that Israel’s economy is one of the best-performing in the world due to its high-tech industry, he clings hopelessly to the idea that Israelis’ high standard of living is somehow all due to Israelis taking over barren hilltops on the WB while living off the Palestinians’ $10/day typical “livelihood”, and to his BDS life raft:

Then, we have the pro-Iranian faction chiming in, wagging a disapproving finger at a hint that Iran may have nuclear weapons programs under way and attempting to kick the stool out from under Freedman’s thesis. This commenter thinks that since things are going so well for Israel (how unfortunate is that!) the idea of peace dividend would be meaningless to Israeli policy-makers.


“zatar” seems to be unfamiliar with the concept of “more is better”. Well, this is getting too much for Freedman. He fires back –this time accusing the commenter called “kurdi” (a moniker, by the way, that would have the average Israeli rolling on the floor laughing for reasons that are too complicated to explain here) – wait for it – of making a “racist slur” against Israel. Shocking!!


Clearly Freedman has lost the GWV*-approved plot – the point of these articles is precisely to allow slurs like these – Israel must daily be called a racist, fascist, militarist, apartheid state that carries out ethnic cleansing. Nasty, back-biting, snarky comments like “i can see you’re another excitable bds baton twirler from your previous comment” directed at a commenter so deeply embedded in the GWV is surely not what Georgina had in mind when she signed Freedman up.

For example, this deleted (“disappeared”) comment expresses the punters’ real feelings – note the approvals before the moderators “vanished” it:

Shockingly, Freedman doesn’t approve:


I’m wondering if CiF Watch is having an effect – not only are comments like “thegreatfatsby”’s deleted – in fact, “disappeared in the approved Stalinist fashion, without a trace” – but perhaps Freedman has been lurking here or getting reports from Alex Stein and starting to rethink his positions.

These sorts of backsliding, backbiting (might I say – “bitchy”?) responses apparently led to this observation I noticed on another thread:


So – it may be a case of “King Freedman is Dead – Long Live the More Reliable Queen Shabi” for CiFers. We’ll have to wait and see. Until Shabi also falls under the spell of the beautiful, vibrant, democratic, joyous country called Israel, surrounded by enemies and hatred, and still living life to the full.

L’Chaim. Happy 62nd Independence Day

(*) GWV – Guardian World View.

Categories: Guardian

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37 replies »

  1. Full of your usual fierce fire, Akus.

    Welcome home, Seth Freedman to “the beautiful, vibrant, democratic, joyous country called Israel, surrounded by enemies and hatred, and still living life to the full.”

  2. Both insightful and amusing at the same time – that’s a wining combination, Akus.

    Hag Sameach to all.

  3. Israel is the modern world’s No.1 miracle.

    What we have achieved in 62 years is nothing short of a miracle.

  4. Must be absolutely horrific for the Guardian resident Bigots Brigade to contemplate the thriving Israeli economy.

    After all their efforts, this is what they get.

  5. Maybe it is off topic but this uncensored post from the Prosor thread is an illustration about the Guardian fairness and balanced moderation policy:

    • iamid
    20 Apr 2010, 8:54AM
    my father and grandfather were forced to flee Nazi Germany to strive for freedom in their homeland
    Two wrongs do not a right make. You make their striving for freedom sound so innocent. The creation of the state of Israel wasn’t innocent, was it ? Maintaining a state of Israel is not innocent, is it ?
    Why do I say this ?
    Deir Yassin 1948
    Tantura 1948
    Dawayma 1948
    Qibya 1953
    Khan Yunis 1956
    Gaza 1956
    Sabra and Shatila, 1970’s and 1980s
    Gaza 2009/10
    All those villages razed in 1948
    All those people driven into refugee camps in 1948
    The children of all those refugees, still living in refugee camps sixty years later, still demonised.
    How much blood has been spilt to create a “nation state of the Jewish people” on someone else’s land ?
    This post is dedicated to all the innocents killed in the name of nation building for a chosen people.

  6. AKUS

    “For a couple or three years he reliably churned out one anti-Israeli article after another. ”

    This is wrong AKUS. Seth grew into his stance. He was a pained pro Israelis liberal to begin with and gradually changed . He still has bursts of difficulty arising.. in my opinion.. from his thoroughly capitalist outlook and upbringing.

    I saw his transformation into his present pro Palestinian stance as something any clever and caring person would achieve. I was.. as a 17 year old.. totally pro Israel.. but grew up. Seth has simply done the same.

  7. It’s nice that SF isn’t as pathological in his views on Israel as a lot of the people who comment at CiF…but there’s no point in wasting sympathy on him when those commenters lash out at him for being balanced. A mob can’t be led, a smart and nuanced analysis of Israel-related issues isn’t CiF’s stock in trade and isn’t likely to become one, and frankly? People who sleep with diseased dogs wake up with fleas. SF seems surprised that he’s been prostrating himself to win the favor of arseholes. He shouldn’t be.

  8. AKUS

    ” Israel must daily be called a racist, fascist, ”

    AKUS this is sloppy. Any post calling Israel “fascist” is obliterated. I used to ambush such posts myself during my” no to Islamophobia ” stage whenever the word “Islamofascist ” was used.I no longer have to do this as neither is permissible.

    ” Georgina had in mind when she signed Freedman up.”

    Say what you like about his politics ( and Seth and I have fallen out on several occasions) his descriptive and colourful prose is by far the most compelling on CIF. She got a bargain.

  9. OT, but there is much bafflement and glazing over of the eyes in the comments on Anthony Julius’s book excerpt at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/19/human-rights-new-secular-religion The poor dears can’t cope with the long words and have therefore decided it is all rubbish. A reflection on the quality of the readership. No wonder so many are resistant to all facts and ideas contrary to their own simple-minded views. To his credit, Matt Seaton stands up for Julius and his argument.

  10. Great article AKUS (on one of your favorite writers)

    “………Did I read this correctly? “An incredible amount of good in Israel”?? This is not in the contract, Seth old chap. You are going native, old sport……”

    Like most people on the far left who demean their own countries or the west, he couldn’t say that without the qualifier “(as with most countries)”. He didn’t want to be seen as too supportive of Israel. He didn’t want to throw all his other articles disparaging Israel in the trash – the racist Israel, the one he wants to boycott. None of that has changed. After all, there is an incredible amount of good in Iran as well.

    No way he could let the compliment go without the qualifier, AKUS.

  11. Abandon hope

    I saw his transformation into his present pro Palestinian stance as something any clever and caring person would achieve. I was.. as a 17 year old.. totally pro Israel.. but grew up. Seth has simply done the same.

    Berchmans. You lie and misrepresent yourself here and on CiF.

    Please go away and stop sullying this site

  12. I was.. as a 17 year old.. totally pro Israel.. but grew up.

    Not possible. Pickling prevents aging.

  13. Seth Freedman writes a billion anti-Israel articles in a row that always take a negative take on every aspect of Israel, then has the nerve to act surprised when he realizes he’s surrounded by people who literally want Israel and every Jew in it to blow up? He’s disgusting.

  14. To Abandon Hope,

    Please abandon life and go jump off a roof, and in doing so, please land on top of the Guardian writers who obsessively bash Israel every day.

    Thanks in advance

  15. Well, how unfortunate for Seth, taking exception to the very bigotry that he himself has helped to foster. Surely the Guardian needs to get back to what it does best; scouring the streets of Tel Aviv for dog shit, as evidence of the true nature of Zionism, instead of feeding their readers this sugar-coated bullshit that makes no attempt to paint Israelis as malevolent, warmongering, thieving racists. Economics, shmeconomics Mr Freedman!

  16. Good piece, AKUS – except for the obligatory OTT bits, of course.
    😉

    In fact the way certain CiF regulars turned on Seth reminds me of the dickheads claiming to be Gil Scott Heron fans but rounding on him in that recent thread.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/apr/17/gil-scott-heron-byng

    Otherwise …

    Did I read this correctly? “An incredible amount of good in Israel”?? This is not in the contract, Seth old chap. You are going native, old sport.

    That’s because he loves Israel, AKUS. Always has and probably always will, from what I can tell.

  17. pretzelberg: People like Seth Freedman, most Haaretz writers and various others who claim to “love Israel” have hurt it more than anyone on Earth, with the only exception being the people who actually physically attack it.

  18. @ peterthehungarian

    Hi there.

    Maybe it is off topic but this uncensored post from the Prosor thread is an illustration about the Guardian fairness and balanced moderation policy

    Said post has since been deleted.

  19. Reality

    People like Seth Freedman, most Haaretz writers and various others who claim to “love Israel” have hurt it more than anyone on Earth

    Yes, they will indirectly provide ammunition for the anti-Israel idiots.
    But personally I find they reaffirm Israel’s credentials. Pluralistic society and all that …

    Is e.g. Michael Moore a traitor to his country? Not in my eyes, at least.

  20. Pretzel, I agree, Michael Moore isn’t a traitor, but he is a sanctimonious twat who uses ‘journalism’ as vehicle to push a politicised agenda with a foregone conclusion.

  21. @ Jonny Moses

    Point taken. Moore’s tendency to boost his own image has certainly increased with the growing popularity of his films. You didn’t really see that kind of thing in Roger and Me.

    @ smtx01

    What’s your problem with Moore?

  22. Michael Moore is one stupid white man as well as being a sanctimonous twat with an agenda

    I take it you do not want to see more Moore? (I suppose you might riposte that there’s already plenty of him to see.)

    Moore’s tendency to boost his own image has certainly increased with the growing popularity of his films.

    The bigger problem is that he is a great showman but unfortunately undermines his own credibility by not knowing where to stop. For example, has he simply compared the US healthcare fiasco to successful foreign systems (such as the French or German), he’d have made an excellent point – which he proceeded to undermine with his junket to Cuba.

    He concluded “Greed” with a wonderful jazz rendition of the Internationale. Gotta love a showman who manages to put the Internationale in every movie theatre in the USA (though it’s lkely most of the audience didn’t notice).

  23. @ Toko LeMoko

    I sense that we have similar sentiments re. Moore.

    Originally he had the right intentions, but he’s just gotten carried away with himself.
    I have yet to see “Greed”, but your brief appraisal has me fearing the worst.

    I particularly like your last paragraph.
    😉

  24. Slightly off topic, but if you look at Mike Moore’s financial statements you will see that he had holdings in Dick Cheney’s old company, Halliburton.

    Moore’s hypocrisy is further compounded by the fact that he’s made a very good living from supposedly attacking capitalism, which he directly benefits from….he’s loaded.

  25. Michael Moore does not DAMAGE America in the manner that anti-Israel writers from Haaretz, the Guardian, Independent, etc. TRULY DAMAGE Israel. Not even close.

  26. .

    TomWonacott
    …”

    “Like most people on the far left”

    Seth is a right winger…he writes on banking issues as well.Tom…no disrespect ..but every post you talk about ” extreme left wingers” .I always thought you hadn’t the faintest idea of what you are talking about now I know.

    I keep making the mistake of thinking this blog is British ..maybe that is why I keep getting surprised at the levels of comprehension.

  27. Someone who writes on banking issues must be a right winger — according to the sozzled Scot.

    Seth you might think that being for BDS and ISM make you left, Berchmans has you pinned as right wing because you write about money.
    —————————-
    I never knew that blogs had nationality. Berchmans considers this one not to be British because it is above his level of comprehension. I’d say that that just makes it international.

  28. Abandon:
    Now you are showing signs of backsliding. Must be the volcanic ash ….. (I’m surprised that nobody in racist and fascist Britain has called that a Zionist conspiracy)

  29. Moore finds his audience amongst the credulous, best exemplified by his reception at Cannes some years ago with his film Fahrenheit 9/11, where the brain dead celebrities warmed to this oafish cruel man who dresses as a child, and manufactures documentaries that feed their hopeless image of themselves as informed and compassionate. He is a master of deception and deceit for which, as we see in the I/P conflict, there is abundant profit. Should you have been in the slightest way impressed by Moore and his message, then you have failed the test of recognising your own careful manipulation.

  30. “Michael Moore is one stupid white man as well as being a sanctimonous twat with an agenda”

    I hate to disagree with all of you un-sactimonious and un-stupid people, but I can only infer that you have not seen “Roger and Me” or “Bowling for Columbine”. Those movies aren’t the work of a “stupid” man.

  31. Moore has his own agenda and they are not always honest. Clever? Stupid? that’s not relevant.

    But honest or dishonest is relevant It’s his attitude to his viewers and the way he manipulates facts that we should be looking at and whether it is called left or right wing is so irrelevant that it does not warrant discussion.

    His criticism of the disgraceful state of American medicine is mostly on target. However, he somewhat misrepresents the Canadian health care system, grievously misrepresents the British, and while he gets some aspects of the French system right, he completely fails to understand the context of the socially dysfunctional French welfare state
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-larner/michael-moore-and-nationa_b_59479.html.

  32. Michael Moore asks the right questions, although many (including me) often do not agree with his answers. Moore is not responsible for the American health system, gun laws, GM, 9/11, etc, but he is the convenient target for the un-sanctimonious amongst you that embrace the “shoot the messenger” philosophy. It’s so much easier than dealing with the questions that he asks.

  33. “However, he somewhat misrepresents the Canadian health care system, grievously misrepresents the British, and while he gets some aspects of the French system right, he completely fails to understand the context of the socially dysfunctional French welfare state”

    Nonsense.

    – Canada and the UK are not dismantling their health systems in order to revert to the USA’s dysfunctional status
    – French “welfare” is irrelevant to its well-functioning health system
    – German, Holland, and almost every other developed country have variations of mixed public-private systems which yield better results than the USA at tyically only 65% of the cost per capita
    – the byzantine US system is by far the most expensive in the world without the results to show for it.

    Check out both the expenditures per capita and as percentage of GDP. The US system is a failure on all counts.

  34. “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”

    There’s one thing you can bet on. If Seth starts writing positively about Israel, Cif will drop him like a hot brick. We’ll be forced-fed Richard Silverstein and the twats from JNews.

  35. Andy Gill – I had forgotten that JNEws even exists till you mentioned it … so I gave them a cheap hit, and see that their lead article is not “news” but “commentary” that could have been writtne by one of the Guardian’s Thobald Jews”.

    No JNews is good Jnews.