Katharine Viner nails her colors to the mast (head)

This is a guest post by AKUS (Update below)

In April, Israeli Nurse wrote of the impending changes at the Guardian, following the departure of Georgina Henry to the “Culture” section of the Guardian, which apparently was in need of extra clicks that can only be ensured by posting the anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian articles that are so successful in bringing out the Israel-bashers on CiF’s Middle East section.

Although Georgina Henry was a hard act to follow for sheer malice and double-talk, the Guardian appears to have scored a home-run with the idea of bringing in  a feminist Jewish editor to replace Georgina – Katharina Viner (see also ‘She never hated men’ – “But the death at the age of 58 of ‘the most maligned feminist on the planet’ has deprived feminism of its last truly challenging voice, says Katharine Viner”).

We now have a female as-a-Jew leading the charge for endless articles intended to delegitimize and denigrate Israel. Viner sees herself as the torchbearer for Rachel Corrie, the American inadvertently killed  as she tried to protect an arms-smuggling tunnel with her body in Gaza.

Viner has quickly equipped herself with a stable of equally biased, fringe female Jewish contributors. There is the deplorably uninformed Mizrachi Shabi. Viner introduced us to new face on the block (see the parrot on Viner’s shoulder), Florida native Guarnieri,(“a Tel Aviv  based journalist”), an ultra-leftist new arrival in Israel thoroughly disgraced in her CiF debut by chortling CiFers when she revealed a total lack of understanding of the issue of global foreign worker regulations – and Israel’s adherence to widely accepted policies. A  US native, and now, apparently, Israeli immigrant taking advantage of the right-of-return to condemn her new country, as-a-Jew  Guernieri performed the remarkable feat of avoiding any mention of what is happening to Mexicans back home in Arizona in her eagerness to condemn Israel for proposing to implement the same rules applied across the Western world.

Viner added in  a little mélange of “Arabic doesn’t translate well into English” by Marie Dhumières (“a freelance journalist based in Damascus, Syria”) to excuse the excesses of Arab invective against Israel, the whole ably backed up by the main pages’ Harriet Sherwood providing a relentlessly anti-Israeli drumbeat. None of these people can, apparently, speak Hebrew, and all operate on the extreme fringes of Israeli society – presented to the reader as if their politics represent a significant voice within the Israeli political spectrum.

To provide some male coverage, even disgraced “gone-native” Seth Freedman has been allowed back into the fold, provided he writes suitably negative articles, and, of course, there is  the endless (and much derided) rubbish provided by Tony Lerman in a vain attempt to provide some “local” (i.e., Britain-based) Jewish talent. Viner even dragged David Cronin out of the woodshed to protest about a punk rocker daring to perform in Israel. Put it all together and you have pretty good idea of the sort of unbalanced view of Israel this editor intends to have published on CiF.

You may think this is a bit extreme. Not at all. Viner came to the notice of some  (not this writer) when she co-authored a play titled “My Name is Rachel Corrie” – a story  about the unfortunate Oregonian who  sacrificed her life in an attempt to defend a Hamas arms-smuggling tunnel, apparently under the mistaken impression that war in the Middle East is like protesting against logging companies in the American Northwest. In an interview Viner revealed the reason that she was asked to co-author the play:

It goes back to Viner’s twenties when, because of her fascination with the Middle East, she spent most of her holidays in places like Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the West Bank, to the point where her brother jokingly dubbed her a “trauma tourist”.

A fascination with Arab trauma that is so typical of the young Jew who turns against her own people who “should know better”, completely ignoring the trauma of life for many in Israel living for decades in an almost permanent state of war and siege.  I have not read nor seen the play, but in a review at All About Jewish Theatre we also get revealing insights into Viner’s evasion of the truth, so typical of the Guardian’s Israel-bashing staff:

[Yet] Viner and Rickman have produced a manipulative play that attempts to delegitimize Israel under the pretense of exposure to “accessible writing.” And the audience at the Royal Court Theatre is bombarded with descriptions of alleged IDF actions devoid of context.

That paragraph could be applied to the articles we have seen recently by Shabi, Guarnieri,  Freedman (and Sherwood, though the latter is the Guardian’s “woman in Jerusalem”, not a CiF contributor per se) and reflect the tone and content of CiF remarkably closely.

Another review shows careful editing of Corrie’s actual writings by Viner and Rickman designed to create an imaginary Rachel Corrie – just as we see in article after article by anti-Israeli CiF contributors who create a country called Israel that is so remote from the reality as to be largely unrecognizable to anyone who actually has lived here:

For in cobbling together a script drawn from Corrie’s extensive writings, actor Alan Rickman and British journalist Katharine Viner haven’t so much presented Corrie onstage; rather, they have cut-and-pasted together a character who is named Rachel Corrie….

… The two editors also sanitized Corrie’s writing. They excised potentially incendiary words, like genocide. When Corrie reports on Israeli soldiers detonating a nearby explosive, the editors dropped the back half of her sentence, “one that appears to have been planted by Palestinian resistance.” It’s as if Rickman and Viner felt a need to protect Corrie rather than expose her unvarnished.

The same lack of context and bias that we see daily in CiF is apparent in the play to those who have the discernment to see it for what it truly is: Clive Davis gave a short assessment of the play for The Times in April 2005:

As for the scenes set in Israel — brilliantly evoked by Hildegard Bechtler’s bullet-pocked concrete set — an element of unvarnished propaganda comes to the fore. With no attempt made to set the violence in context, we are left with the impression of unarmed civilians being crushed by faceless militarists. Early on, Corrie makes a point of informing us that more Israelis have been killed in road accidents than in all the country’s wars put together. As she jots down thoughts in her notebook and fires off e-mails to her parents, she declares that “the vast majority of Palestinians right now, as far as I can tell, are engaging in Gandhian non-violent resistance”. Even the late Yassir Arafat might have blushed at that one.

But this is not all. Israeli Nurse pointed out that Viner interviewed the terrorist Leila Khaled, opening her article with words which can only be categorized as glorifying terrorism.

“In a way, the whole story is in the ring. The iconic photograph of Leila Khaled, the picture which made her the symbol of Palestinian resistance and female power, is extraordinary in many ways: the gun held in fragile hands, the shiny hair wrapped in a keffiah , the delicate Audrey Hepburn face refusing to meet your eye. But it’s the ring, resting delicately on her third finger. To fuse an object of feminine adornment, of frivolity, with a bullet: that is Khaled’s story, the reason behind her image’s enduring power. Beauty mixed with violence.

And the ring? “I made it from the pin of a hand grenade – from the first grenade I ever used in training,” she says. “I just wrapped it around a bullet.”

We may well ponder this adulatory paragraph and what this interview reveals about Viner’s admiration for this evil “ring-bearer” the articles she will commission and permit to be published on CiF.

Viner’s fascination and admiration for Palestinian terrorists was also revealed when she – who else?  – interviewed Hamas member Ghazi Hamad at the Guardian’s  Hay Literary Festival. But there is also Viner’s naiveté and ignorance or refusal to face up to the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which more than anything make her identify with Corrie, well captured in this review by Cynthia Ozick :

… The longer the play was absent from local scrutiny, the more romantically its faraway halo might glow: a visionary young woman on the barricades, part heroic Joan of Arc, part victimized Anne Frank, mercilessly cut down in the very act of defying brute injustice.

To have the play actually in hand — the naked script itself — is a down-to-earth corrective.

…[Corrie’s] training — she accepts the term willingly — takes place in Jerusalem. Escorted by Palestinians while waiting “to get to Rafah to join the other internationals trying to prevent the demolition of civilian homes,” she observes “blue stars of David spray-painted on doors in the Arab section of the old city.” She concludes, “I am used to seeing the cross used in a colonialist way.” Once in Rafah, she is under military orders. “The neighborhoods that have asked us for some form of presence are Yibna, Tel El Sultan, Hi Salaam, Brazil, Block J, Zorob, and Block O.” The new recruits are called on to stand as human shields before arms caches or shooter hideouts. If through some mishap a young foreigner should be hit, all the better: fuel for international outrage. She imagines “the difficulties the Israeli army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen.

… She has come as a determined tabula rasa. Absent are the Arab annihilationist wars of 1948, 1967, 1973. Absent are the repeated Palestinian refusals of statehood, beginning in 1948, when the United Nations proposed a partition of the land, and emerging again in 2000, when yet another Israeli (and American) appeal for Palestinians to accept statehood was answered by Yasir Arafat’s murderous second intifada. “A largely unarmed people”? The English-speaking pharmacist in whose house Rachel Corrie is billeted admits to the culpable Palestinian origins of the current fighting: “Before intifada — no tanks, no bulldozers, no noise. After intifada, daily.” But even this close-at-hand testimony of cause-and-effect cannot sway her. The believer is cognizant only of her belief.

In the initial months of her efforts at CiF Viner, who has closely identified with the mystique of Corrie, the human shield, and Khalid, the female “freedom fighter”,  has clearly made a determined effort to use CiF as a platform for carrying on their missions.

The selection of CiF articles we have seen make it clear that Viner has nailed her anti-Israeli colors to the mast. Bringing to the fore equally shrill, and quite marginal, female contributors (“determined tabulae rosa”), it appears she is trying to do what she can to resurrect an imaginary Rachel Corrie for her readers – a female freedom fighter determined to reveal the evils of Israeli society .

We can expect a continuing steam of context-less, negative, demonizing articles about Israel, where Palestinians fire harmless rocket in “self defense” (against what?) or act as a suicide bombers justifiably killing Israelis for “the cause”, where against all evidence to the contrary millions are claimed to be starving in Gaza, and where we are told that Israeli Arabs, who have equal rights inside Israel, are treated even worse than we are expected to believe is the situation of Mizrachi Israelis – whose marginalized status now exists almost entirely in the minds of Rachel Shabi and Mya Guarnieri.

How clever of the Guardian. Who can complain about this when the editor and almost all her principal contributors leading this jihad are Jewish?

Editors’ Update:

On Dec. 9, 2012, we received information questioning whether Katharine Viner is in fact Jewish – as our post claims.  Here are recent Tweets from Guardian colleagues suggesting that she is not Jewish.

We’ve contacted Ms. Viner in an attempt to confirm the new information, but she hasn’t responded to our query. 


15 replies »

  1. Do you label all Jews who are publicly more critical of Israel than you are “as-a-Jew” types?

    That’s sadly how it appears.

    You also insinuate that CiF writers on I/P refer to Hamas rockets as “self defense”. But that simply isn’t true, is it?

  2. AKUS, excellent work. Your emphasis on Viner’s overidentification with the hapless and foolish Corrie, as well as spelling out her bias, is very necessary and timely.

    Pretzel, I feel sure that AKUS would accept the sort of reasonable criticism of Israel’s actions which might be expected if another state were being criticised. As it is, Viner’s actions are not reasonable, they are emotion- rather than reason-led, they lack balance and evidence a lack of maturity and I, too, believe that it’s a cynical ploy on the part of the Guardian to put a Jewish woman in charge of CiF so that it will argue that it cannot be antisemitic.

    Her daft contribution to the Henry farewell site should have given us some sense that she is afflicted of the same delusions about CiF’s “greatness”



    18 May 2010, 11:23AM
    Staff Staff



    You can find out about me here

    Georgina has indeed created the most incredible site and fascinating community and I’m delighted to be part of it.

    What a friendly thread! No doubt it will all be like this from now on.

    “Friendly.” Well… unless you are pro-Israel

  3. Israel world’s 8th happiest country,it’s tied with Canada,Switzerland,and Australia,8th out of 155 countries surveyed,according to a Gallup World Poll,posted by Forbes.

    The US ranked 14th,ahead of Britain 17th.

    Freeman,Shabby,Guarienri,and the rest of the Israeli useful idiots,would disagree with this survey,but who cares.

    The Guardian can keep drowning in it’s own acrid venom,and we will keep surging ahead with a smile on our happy faces.

    And Katherine Viner can kiss my culo.

  4. AKUS,a good job very well done,now get back into the bear pit,you could add a bit of badly needed class to CiF.The standards there are so low,that they even made steve hill,and martyn in aspic as contributors.

    Now THAT is low.

  5. What has Martyn contributed besides many inappropriate LOLs and fulsome praise for Seth?

  6. Akus what a lovely image of the new cif piratical head and her talking parrot. There certainly seems to be a plethora of articles about Israel by those who barely qualify by being literate. It seems that no actual knowledge of the country is required now but that having read a book by one of the other ignoramuses is sufficient.

    I look forward to the next expert article on the Jewish heritage by papagallo who could fit on Viner’s shoulder as a parrot pair

  7. Pretzel:

    “Do you label all Jews who are publicly more critical of Israel than you are “as-a-Jew” types?”

    Not if they are writing in Hebrew in Israel instead of grandstanding on English-language blogs. Well, not all of thosw writing in Hebrew in Israel – I would make a few exceptions – Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Neve Gordon – in any language they are self-hating Jews.

  8. Gerald Kreeve – thanks – the juvenile Guerniei and terminally-ethnically challenged Shabi should each have a shoulder, really.

  9. If Katherine Viner should look in a mirror:

    Liar, liar with your pants on fire
    White spades hangin’ on the telephone wire
    Gamblers reevaluate along the dotted line
    You’ll never recognize yourself on Heartattack and Viner

  10. Ah, the new coven. Do they compete with Georgina’s “culture” coven? Duvidl has written a welcome incantation, as follows:

    Katherine Viner’s Band
    (to the tune of “Macnamara’s Band.”)
    (Hat tip: John J. Stamford and Bing Crosby)

    Her name is Katherine Viner; she’s the leader of a band
    Of ghastly Guardian witches shrieking ‘gainst The Promised Land.
    She is Satan incarnate and both her and Shabi play
    Mouth music making Schoenberg for forgiveness beg and pray.

    She bangs that old Rustbucket and she then bangs Whitt(-a cur).
    Doom-years and Guano-eri scream out one more Israel slur.
    Victoria scrapes her bow-hairs, while Bella M “F me” sings.
    Then squawks about blue babies and Rustbucket’s bell-end wrings.

    DS Al Coda

  11. A good way to describe Viner perhaps would be as an anti-democratic and strategically demented hack.

    Definition obtained via Glick’s blog who so describes a cluster of retired IDF generals.

  12. Great article AKUS.

    She deserves to be investigated with a fine comb as her and her pack do to Israel.