Guardian

Democracy deficits & moral deficits: The mindless anti-Zionism of CiF contributor Mark Weisbrot


An exquisite convergence of anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism appeared in ‘Comment is Free’ today, written by Mark Weisbrot, perhaps the most prolific among CiF’s core of extreme left commentators.

Weisbrot’s sophistication and erudition, when expounding upon the U.S war against sadistic Taliban terrorists, was on display in his previous CiF entry, where he thriftily and pithily summed up the US campaign as “soldiers pissing on corpses [and] drones slaughtering civilians”.

He characterized the U.S. war against terrorism more broadly as arguably indicative of “a crusade against the Muslim world” – agitprop which seems to slip off Weisbrot’s tongue with the ease of someone schooled in the Noam Chomsky school of tyranny apologetics.    

And, as I noted previously, Weisbrot quite explicitly accused the U.S. of committing a “Holocaust” in Iraq, accusing critics of such a characterization as guilty of “Holocaust Denial”.

Naturally, as part of his broader anti-American ideological package, Weisbrot is necessarily as hostile to Israel as he is sympathetic to Arab despots.

Weisbrot – whose output of anti-Zionist and (mostly) anti-American vitriol, at Znet and CiF, is quite impressive – today published “Why American ‘democracy’ promotion rings hollow“, Jan. 31.

While the broader narrative, mocking American democracy promotion in the Arab world is itself a work of political sophistry worthy of scrutiny, the following passage about Israel is a much repeated, if banal, narrative within Guardian-Left circles, and  represents yet another casual assault on the Jewish state’s legitimacy.

Write’s Weisbrot:

Nowhere is [the hypocritical U.S. claim to promote democracy] more obvious than in the Middle East, where the US government’s policy of collaboration with Israel’s denial of Palestinian national rights has put it at odds with populations throughout the region. As a result, Washington fears democracy in many countries because it will inevitably lead to more governments taking the side of the Palestinians, 

The notion that the Arab world, which continues to be defined by increasing intolerance towards religious and ethnic minorities, extreme antisemitism, and the denial of basic human rights – in stark contrast with Israel’s unique and enduring democratic prowess – possesses any moral credibility in denouncing the U.S. is a political inversion of the first order.

Arabs of Palestinian origin, whose rights are systematically denied throughout the (non-Jewish) Middle East, have become the propaganda tool of choice for far left ideologues such as Weisbrot – activists who similarly fail to mention the absence of such democratic values in Palestinian ruled territory.

The reason why Western liberals fear the upheavals in the Arab world is the increasingly clear slouch towards Islamist political movements which are, by definition, decidedly reactionary and illiberal, and at odds with true democratic values.

The romaticization of the Arab Spring, the edifice of a “democratic” revolution, is becoming increasingly difficult for those who claim intellectual integrity to maintain.  

The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists in Egypt, the Enhada Party in Tunisia, or major parties vying for power in Libya, can largely be defined (or may likely, one day, be defined) by a greater adherence to (in spirit or letter) Sharia law, and an atavistic, ideological antisemitism which bears little if any connection to the plight of the Palestinians.

As a report on antisemitism in the Arab world in the context of the ‘Arab Spring”, written by scholars at the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, noted:

[While] the popular uprisings in the Arab world do not represent a general change in attitude towards Israel, Zionism and the Jews it seems the anti-Semitic discourse and incitement have become more extreme and violent,”

Charges of an international Jewish conspiracy have been a central motif in the anti-Semitic propaganda that has accompanied the Arab Spring uprisings. This motif has been emphasized in each of the countries especially by way of pointing a blaming finger towards Israel, Zionism and Jews conspiring against Arabs and Muslims

Of course, the continuing Arab antipathy towards Jews is not at all surprising to those who study the politics of the region, and the habitual denial of this endemic Judeophobic dynamic by Guardian reporters and commentators is documented continually on the pages of this blog. 

But the mere ubiquity of voices like Weisbrot, at ‘Comment is Free’, who are willfully blind to the most malign anti-Jewish racism, makes it no less deserving of critical scrutiny, nor, especially, any less morally repugnant.

16 replies »

  1. But he didn’t characterize the U.S. war against terrorism more broadly as arguably indicative of “a crusade against the Muslim world”, did he?

    This is the original quote:
    “To a huge part of the Muslim world, it looks like the United States is carrying out a modern-day crusade against them, despite President Obama’s assertions to contrary Sunday night.”

  2. It’s impossible not to read the entire passage, in context, as indicative of Weisbrot’s sympathy to such a view. The idea that the West or US is engaged in a crusade against Islam is only leveled by Islamists or their apologists. And, clearly, based on his body of work, Weisbrot is of the latter category.

    • It’s impossible not to read the entire passage, in context, as indicative of Weisbrot’s sympathy to such a view.

      Don’t say “impossible”. In doing so it looks like you are merely trying to discredit those – like me – who disagree with you.
      It’s “impossible” only if you’re consciously trying to plug that line and smear Weisbrot.

      It would indeed appear that a huge part of the Muslim world sees the US as carrying out a modern-day crusade against them. Frankly I think that’s crazy.

      But nowhere do I see Weisbrot trying to affirm that opinion.

      • Pretz, do you think Weisbrot disagrees with claims by Islamists that the West is engaged in a crusade against Islam? My point is that the context indicates that he, at the very least, believes that such views have merit.

        • Adam: do you not believe that a huge part of the Muslim world believes the US is carrying out a modern-day crusade against them?

          • I don’t know percentages but I think those who hold such beliefs are deluded. Do you think Weisbrot shares my view that they’re deluded?

            • Why not answer my question?

              Well, surveys suggest that a huge part of the Muslim world do see the U.S. war against terrorism as “a crusade against the Muslim world”.

              Does that mean that I “characterize” said war as “arguably indicative” of being a crusade?

          • Pretz,
            Do you know the difference b/w a Muslim and an Islamist? Also tell me what your fellow Leftists are doing to oppose (extremely far rightwing) Islamists and empower and support Muslims who are far to their left (liberals, seculars, gays, etc.).

            • What are YOU doing to oppose Islamists?

              … and empower and support Muslims who are far to their left (liberals, seculars, gays, etc.).

              What on earth does that last bit mean?

  3. Weisbrot is looking for scapegoats to explain the failure of the over-hyped Arab Spring. He’s determined to blame anybody but the Egyptians, and Israel is the fall-guy as usual. Despicable.

  4. Mr. Weisbrot has a history of supporting tyrannical regimes.
    He is known to be a supporter of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and spoken in his favour.
    From the ‘New York Times’ of May 18th 2008;
    “Mark Weisbrot, a Washington-based economist who is broadly supportive of Mr. Chávez’s economic policies, estimates that the public sector accounts for less than a third of the economy even after the latest nationalization wave. “The present government is so far mainly just reversing some of the privatization that took place in the 1990s,” Mr. Weisbrot said. ”

    It is not a surprise that a camp follower of Hugo Chavez would be against the US and Israel.

  5. It’s instructive to read the comment made on Weisbrot’s article by ThisIsPropaganda at 11:41pm on 31st January. Her comments on brainwashing in Saudi schools apply throughout most of the ummah.

  6. ‘Nowhere is [the hypocritical U.S. claim to promote democracy] more obvious than in the Middle East, where the US government’s policy of collaboration with Israel’s denial of Palestinian national rights ‘

    For me, it’s got to the point that whenever I now read words such as this, I find myself saying ‘Oh, F**k off’. It’s like the ‘Go-compare’ advert or the effing Meercats, or that bloody awful Moneysupermarket advert. The more the socialists and the muslims spout their crap, the more nauseated I become to the extent that I just can’t bear to see it, hear it or read it. You’d think that they’d be tired of writing it. But there you are, there’s no accounting for the socialist taste. They just can’t wean themselves from the the teat of bile.