Deborah Orr’s Disgusting Excuse For an “Apology”

This is a cross post by Simon Plosker of Honest Reporting

Deborah Orr

Deborah Orr’s obscene abuse of the concept of the “chosen people” in a Guardian commentary deriding Israel’s efforts to bring back Gilad Shalit as motivated by Jewish racism rightly upset many people.

Such language is regularly employed by anti-Semites to falsely assert that Jews claim to be superior to non-Jews not only in a theological sense but also in a racial one and it was no surprise that Orr found herself in the eye of a storm of criticism.

This and the deluge of emails from HonestReporting subscribers and other concerned parties to The Guardian has had some effect. The October 27 print edition contains a response from none other than Deborah Orr herself:

Last week, I upset a lot of people by suggesting Zionists saw themselves as “chosen”. My words were badly chosen and poorly used, and I’m sorry for it. But accusations of antisemitism have also been intemperate. One can accept the right of Israel to exist, while still believing that the manner in which the nation was created – against the wishes of many of the people already living there, hundreds of thousands of whom became refugees – was problematic and made a contribution to Israel’s subsequent and terrible troubles. (This, in turn, does not imply that the violence against Israel has been either justified or deserved. It has done the Palestinian cause much damage, and rightly so.)

Nevertheless, it would be absurd to believe that Jewish people are any more or less capable of making geo-political miscalculations than anybody else, or any more or less likely to be called to account for them. Evidence from every corner of the world, throughout the ages, attests to the fact that such behaviour is all too typical of humans, as is reluctance to accept that such actions are bound to have their critics.

Deborah Orr’s response is revealing. Does she even know what she has been accused of?

Addressing charges of anti-Semitism, she says that “one can accept the right of Israel to exist.” Orr’s use of the third person leaves us wondering whether or not she does actually does accept Israel’s right to exist. In any case, this was never the issue and it is incredibly disturbing that Orr’s best defense against the charges against her is to concede that Israel may have the right to exist as if this lame concession should immunize her against the criticism she is facing.

Orr offers the sort of explanation given by those who accuse Israel and Jews of “playing the anti-Semitism card” to shut down debate over Israel’s policies. Indeed, it is legitimate to criticize Israel and not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. But Orr went beyond legitimate criticism and attributed Israeli policies to some racist characteristic of Jewish people themselves.

That she concludes by saying that Jews and others are reluctant to accept that their actions are bound to have their critics shows that Orr is addressing not her disgusting usage and abuse of the “chosen” concept but the very fact that she was criticized at all.

In the final analysis, Orr is clearly not sorry for what she said but how she said it. It’s certainly not an apology but a confirmation that Deborah Orr is one nasty piece of work.

36 replies »

    • You do know that she is married to a Jew, the writer Will Self. So i doubt that she is an anti-semite!

  1. This woman now shows she IS an antisemite and she should be labeled as such.

    She must be a drinking buddy of Jostein Gaarder.

  2. She doesn’t even address the actual issue, that she accused the Jews (not just Israel) of racism for releasing over 1000 terrorists in exchange for one hostage. She tries to explain how the creation of Israel caused so much trouble for the Palestinians, but she still does not explain how a lopsided prisoner exchange to Israel’s detriment makes Israel racist.

    Not only has she produced a mealy-mouthed self-justification, but she still has not explained the logic, or rather the lack of logic, in her ridiculous claim. She turned reason on its head in her original article and does nothing to address, explain or rectify it in this non-apology.

  3. The discredited Deborah Orr has beshat herself again.

    She displays all the hubris of the self-righteous Jew hater and as such is a typical product of a certain English mindset prevalent among the chattering classes since Edward, Hammer of the Scots.

  4. Orr generously suggests that her statement “does not imply that violence against Israel has been either justified or deserved (which, by the way is far short of saying that such violence IS unjustified and undeserved) – but not because the indiscriminate targetting of civilians is wrong. No – the only reason she can think of to criticize decades of terrorist attrocity is because it has “done the Palestinian cause much damage”.

    • the only reason she can think of to criticize decades of terrorist attrocity is because it has “done the Palestinian cause much damage”.

      That was exactly what jumped out at me, from the entire disgusting thing.

  5. Agree with anneinpt.

    And what has the second paragraph – ‘Nevertheless’ – got to do with the criticism of her piece of dinner-party wisdom?

    The woman writes an article in which she regurgitates the well-worn Palestinian line that the prisoner exchange is ‘obscene’ as it indicates that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives. That this ‘obscene’ idea did not figure in Israeli or Jewish minds given that it was Hamas et alia that determined the numerical calculation – and Orr knows it – so it has to be rationalised. And to do so, Orr moves into what ‘many Zionists believe’ – ‘that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors’.

    Faced with a barrage of contemptuous criticism, Orr, completely out of her depth, skirts the issue and blusters on:

    Nevertheless, it would be absurd to believe that Jewish people are any more or less capable of making geo-political miscalculations than anybody else, or any more or less likely to be called to account for them.

    What is the geo-political miscalulation that ‘Jewish people’ have made? The establishment of Israel. Orr is merely criticising the establishment of Israel -the original sin (to use a Christian metaphor). And for this brave and uncommon stance she is being accused of being an idiot and an entry-level anti-semite! She knows she has dredged up the ‘chosen’ tag from her subconscious as a signifier of her contempt for Jews and Judaism – and she has been called on it – but that is what she believes and that (in all its complexity) is what drives her palpable loathing of Israel/Zionists/and Jews-who-aren’t-her-family-and-friends. So what to do? She gets out her violin and plays that old tune – “I am bravely criticising Israel and, while I am at it and why not?, the chosen and yet, for my pains, they call me an anti-semite”.

    With this latest missive, Orr shows that like the Bourbons she has learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

    • What is the geo-political miscalulation that ‘Jewish people’ have made?

      That’s where it gets really bizarre. Normally I’d be interested to see someone writing that explain what the hell they’re on about – but given the nature of this “apology” I think I’d rather pass.

  6. This a is the kind of apology that is trying very very hard not to sound like an apology………

    She just keeps stepping and drowning in it,right now it up to her nostrils,and it smells BAAD……..

  7. I don’t care or even know if she is anti-semitic. That is not the worst of it and I think the accusation should be put to rest. But she certainly is ignorant. Israel was created not so much against the wishes of the people living there as against the wishes of its neighbours, who did the local population no favours by declaring war. And why is Israel the only state that must answer for the difficult circumstances of its creation? Yet another smug, stupid liberal feeling good about herself by singling out Jews for sanctimonious disapproval.

  8. Orr’s “apology”:
    I was wrong to use poorly chosen words to describe Israel, but that doesn’t mean the country is above criticism

    She just can’t resist crowbarring in a dig at Israel! And god knows what that second paragraph is on about.

    But her original article/rant had no place being filed under World News in the first place.

  9. It is no apology. It is a lie which evades the challenge to her offensive remarks and implies her refusal to retract them. Who does she think she is kidding?

  10. The easiest thing would have been for Ms Orr to have admitted that she doesn’t know anything about Jews or the Middle East and therefore is not qualified to comment – but I suppose that would have been too simple.

  11. The main reason this “apology” is ultimately worthless is simple: it provides a cursory I’m-so-sorry nod to what the criticism was actually about (two sentences) and then talks at length about subjects that have fuck-all to do with why the original statement was both completely offensive and remarkably brain-dead (five sentences). There was nothing about these seven sentences that indicate the author gets that it was her theory, not her “poorly chosen/used” words, that was…well, it was based on a lie and expanded into a theory based on the worst parts of that falsehood. And much like Arun Gandhi in early 2008, I get the impression that the author is convinced she wrote the truth and is mostly annoyed that anyone would dare to point out that she wrote exactitude’s exact opposite.
    In short, the asinine original work keeps on giving.

  12. The JP has an article on Deborah Orr’s apology…………………….Cif Watch is mentioned there………

  13. If we look at this pygmy-intellect’s choice of wording we see “… my words were badly chosen and poorly used I am sorry for it…..” ie she is sorry she used the wording that she did, rather than for expressing the sentiments.

    Does this half-wit actually realise what is and is not antisemitic?

    And I’ll believe her rationale about the geopolitical mumbo jumbo, when I see her criticising Hamas/PA/Islamist governments’ “geopolitical miscalculations” in like terms.

  14. Hoi Polloi
    How is prezelberg coming to the rescue etc? He merely points out that Orr is moving from G2 to the Saturday print edition – a promotion I suspect.

    • What on earth would I have to do tshuvah for??

      I’ve never even seen your moniker before. So what do you know about me?

  15. a) I have no anti-Semitic friends.
    b) I have condemned Orr both on this and previous threads.
    c) The comment you cite was merely pointing out that Orr is not actually leaving the Guardian. Hardly “coming to the rescue”.
    d) How silly do you feel now?
    e) You are welcome to apologise – but I doubt that a complete coward like you has it in them.
    f) How silly do the clowns recommending your ridiculous post feel now?

  16. Oh yes, in the ‘geo-politics’ of it all, I forgot to look at the sunken, emaciated figure of Gilad Shalit and consider what it might take for a self-righteous English liberal to have sympathy for a nation where all its sons and daughters are considered fair game for kidnapping, extortion and murder.
    What’s particularly obscene about Orr is that she took the pathetic figure of Shalit and his family’s struggle to save him from the murderous hands of Hamas as an opportunity to measure her moral superiority to that of the Jews and their nation state. A real hero no doubt, at Islington dinner parties.

  17. And that’s without even addressing your pathetic references to “Herr Pretzelberg” and “Odiferous scum”.

    Your friends – should you have any – should consider you an utter embarrassment. And the scum who recommend your comments here – and who mindleslly vote down any comment I post here – never make themselves known. What a bunch of intellectually challenged cowards.

  18. I didn’t see HP’s comments, but I gather their tone and content from the response. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for commenters on Cif-Watch to sensationalise and to accuse all those who wish to demonstrate that there is more than one point-of-view of fascism, self-hate, anti-semitism or simply being an apologist for terrorists.

    I don’t agree with everything Pretzelberg writes, but if you take his comments as a whole, it is clear that he is “on Israel’s side”, but not blindly so. The fact that some on this site (and others) can’t recognise context and constructive comments when they see them puts them in the same camp as the above-the-line CiF contributors who close their eyes to facts or views that don’t line up 100% with their own.

    I for one would be grateful if everyone on this site would take a deep breath before posting personal criticism or jumping to false conclusions in future.


    • For example, I hope that people on here don’t now brand Jonathan Freedland as one of the “bad guys” because he made one (or even a few) injudicious or poorly researched comment. This is worthy of criticism, to be sure, and I don’t criticize Adam for highlighting it, but just because he writes in the Grauniad, that doesn’t make him the same as Atzmon, Orr, Sherman etc.

      Thanks again.

      • GoonerEll, it’s rather complicated to explain so please bear with me:

        After Jonathan Freedland’s Damascus moment, when in his debate with Omar Barghouti and others about BDS (see ) the reality dawned on him and the JC article reads as follows:

        “..No, not only was the simply odious charge that Israel possesses “genocidal tendencies” not offensive to the crowd, but , according to The JC, Freedland’s and Gould’s attempts to refute accusations that Israel is an “apartheid” state and that, therefore, BDS was a moral imperative were both repeatedly shouted down by pro-Palestinian activists, which led an evidently shaken Freedland to tell the audience:

        “Tonight has been hugely revealing. I thought my disagreement with the boycott movement was because I want to see the end of occupation and you want to see the end of occupation and it was an argument about tactics.

        “What has come through loud and clear is your motivation is not actually just the end of occupation but it’s with Israel itself – you have a fundamental problem with it.”

        The CiF Watch article continues: “Jonathan Freedland, it seems, like many leftist Zionist critics of Israel, was mugged by the reality of a BDS movement which is simply venomous – one which seeks nothing less than the end of the “Zionist entity.” ”

        OK, we see Freedland shocked at the virulent hatred around Israel’s existence rather than vehement opposition to occupation in that hall. Note that Freedland chooses to describe his opponents as having a “fundmental problem” with Israel’s existence and although he can’t bring himself to admit that this is blood and bone hatred, it has nevertheless registered with him, because the JC article describes him as having been “evidently shaken” by the audience’s reaction.

        My question is what happened to Freedland after that realisation? What prevented him from pursuing that realisation to the full and with all its ramifications, uncomfortable though it might have been for him, to write more honestly about it after that debate?

        The debate will have presented him with some hard truths, and, he being an intelligent man, he cannot have failed to realise that the Guardian is at the forefront of bedding in the very misconceptions about Palestinian motives that he had been labouring under until then. Was the cognitive dissonance so great that he sold out the truth he had realised for the proverbial thirty pieces of silver of his tenured position at the Guardian? Could he compartmentalise discomfort so utterly that he could hide that experience away in the recesses of his mind and forget all about it?

        In my opinion, Freedland was presented with a golden opportunity because of his experiences in that debate to undermine Guardian lies about Israel’s legitimacy at least. The deep hatred of Israel there took him by surprise and shocked him but his realisation that it existed should not have absolved him from acting subsequently to redress the wrongs done by the Guardian.

        That he did not makes him a moral coward at least, and therefore a bad guy so far as I am concerned.