Following an essay by John Whitbeck published at CiF on Dec. 29, 2010, the CST’s Mark Gardner wrote to object to Whitbeck’s accusation that the USA is “slavishly subservient” to Israel.
“Can you please explain to me how this notion that the USA is subservient / slavishly subservient to Israel is any different in its rationale to the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians, finance and media?…I do not mean this as a joke, although it does read like a sick joke when it appears upon the website of a publication such as yours.”
In response, the Guardian removed the word “slavish” from the sentence, “slavish subservience to Israel”.
The revised essay at CiF carried this at the end:
“This article was amended on 17 January 2011. Language that is inconsistent with the Guardian’s editorial policy has been removed.”
However, on Sept. 16th, 2011 the Guardian published a report by Chris McGreal, “Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian promise“, (See our post on the essay, here), which included the following passage:
“Obama followed that up by telling American Jewish leaders that he would put some “daylight” between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation.” [emphasis mine]
We then contacted the Guardian to ask – as the word and context was quite similar to Whitbeck’s original language (which they eventually amended) – that they similarly revise the language McGreal used suggesting that a U.S. President behaved in a slave-like manner to Israel.
Recently, the Guardian notified us that they had decided to indeed revise the language. The passage now reads:
“Obama followed that up by telling American Jewish leaders that he would put some “daylight” between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush consistently refusing to pressure the Jewish state.” [emphasis mine]
In the Guardian’s “Corrections and Clarifications” section, the change was noted thusly:
Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian ‘promise’ was amended to clarify the intended political meaning of this sentence: “Obama [told] American Jewish leaders that he would put some ‘daylight’ between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation.” [emphasis mine]
Note that revision of John Whitbeck’s piece in January acknowledged the the term “slavish” was inconsistent with “Guardian editorial policy”, while the current revision merely characterizes the change as motivated by a desire to ”clarify the intended political meaning of the sentence”.
But, of course, the most important question is not whether the Guardian decides to revise, or not to revise, offensive text in a particular CiF commentary or Guardian report after the fact.
Rather, the overriding issue is a Guardian political culture where reporters like Chris McGreal see nothing wrong with characterizing US support for Israel as “slave like” – an ugly trope which, as the CST’s Mark Gardner observed, hauntingly resembles, ”in its rationale”, “the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians…”.
Such narratives of Jewish control are not merely uncontroversial at the Guardian, but, rather, appear to be something approaching the accepted truth.