In late January, during the height of the “Palestine Papers”, the Guardian went through their inbox of letter submissions and decided to publish one by Ted Honderich which morally sanctioned acts of terrorism by Palestinians against innocent Israeli men, women, and children.
Thus, the Guardian’s vast audience (over 30 million unique visitors per month) was implicitly informed – by their decision to post that particular brief polemic over the countless others which were submitted – that such acts of murder could, at the very least, reasonably be justified from a respectable liberal perspective.
The key words here are “respectable” and “liberal”, as the Guardian represents, in the view of the UK opinion elite and those who are influenced by, and abide by, such judgments, the gatekeepers of the liberal left journalistic establishment and, therefore, what their editors choose to publish (and not to publish) carries an enormous amount of influence and ideological weight.
This is the context by which today’s letter published in the sister paper of the Guardian, The Observer, (which Akus adeptly replied to earlier) by W. Williamson must be viewed.
Williamson – in responding to Nick Cohen’s essay “Our absurd obsession with Israel is laid bare” – posited the following:
[Israel] denies human rights and democratic choices in Gaza
To even have to fisk this charge gives it more credibility than it deserves, but since the Guardian deemed it worthy of such credibility, it must be noted how utterly fantastical such a sentence actually is. It evidently really does need reminding that Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza, that they are the power which denies Palestinians within their territory basic human rights, that they brutally expelled the only real opposition (Fatah) in a coup in 2007, and they – not Israel – has made the decision not to hold elections since.
West Bank settlers are among the most incorrigible and dangerous racist bigots of our times.
This vile invective, just dripping with contempt – this insidious moral inversion – should not require reply but, as the editorial gatekeepers at the Guardian chose to grant it license, respond I must.
As even the most cursory survey of the Middle East would demonstrate, the region (over 99% of which is not governed by Jews) is simply awash with anti-Semitic extremism: literature and commentary which is pervasive (indeed normative) in Arab and Muslim newspapers, journals, magazines, caricatures, websites, Middle Eastern radio and TV news, documentaries, films, and educational materials – which has been credibly characterized as comparable, in degree and scale, to that of Nazi Germany at its worst. Yet, it is the Jews in a society which is the most pluralistic, the most diverse, and the most tolerant, who are characterized by this writer – cruelly mirroring the very Judeophobic invectives which intoxicates the Arab world – as the most “incorrigible”, the most “racist” and the most “dangerous”.
And, for his finale, Williamson says:
“Israel prides itself as the only democracy in the Middle East. In Gaza and on the West Bank it acts like a fascist state. Europe should now, as Cohen argues, demand democratisation not only throughout the Arab world but also in Israel.
So, Williamson would have us believe – and the Guardian chose to sanction – a narrative which argues that even Israel’s democracy (its independent judiciary, parliament, and routine free and fair elections) are merely an illusion, a chimera hiding its true, hidden, fascist nature.
In the eyes of Williamson – and what is at least debatable in the eyes of the Guardian – Israeli Jews are bigots, oppressors, fanatics, and fascists. They are a state which denies their own citizens and those who they don’t govern basic democratic and civil rights, and is populated by the most dangerous racists in the world today. In short, Israel is a scourge on all which is moral, all that is decent. They are a state beyond the pale.
Williamson’s letter – which the Guardian deemed worthy of discussion – went beyond the mere delegitimization of the Jewish state.
The intent of this vitriol was to demonize; its effect, to incite.
The Guardian judged it “respectable” or, at the very least, worthy of debate.