General Antisemitism

CiF readers blast Jonathan Freedland’s critique of Guardian Left orthodoxies on Syria, Iran & Israel


Jonathan Freedland may be the closest thing the Guardian has to a sane, non-ideologically extreme, liberal voice on Israel.

Sure, his views on Israel are closer to the European Left brand of Zionism – convinced, it seems, that peace with the Palestinians would be at hand if not for the obstinate obstructionism of the leadership in Jerusalem, and buying into the leftist chimera of an Israeli democracy under siege – but, from what I’ve read, Freedland seems squarely in the Zionist tent.

Freedland has also not shied away from condemning antisemitism, seemed to acknowledge the malice which drives much anti-Zionist activism and, based on what I hear from those who know him, he is no AsaJew, and seems to identify genuinely, and unapologetically, with the British Jewish community. 

As such, Freedland’s quite heterodox polemic in CiF on Feb. 10, Syria is not Iraq. And, it is not always wrong to intervene, quite clearly bucked Associate Editor Seumas Milne’s “Straight Left” inspired concern for the survival of the Syria-Iran anti-imperial resistance, by arguing that the West should consider intervention to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

Moreover, Freedland launched a broadside on the belief among many on the left – terming it “nonsensical” – held with something approaching religious intensity, that true “progressives” must oppose the use of military force in every case.

Freedland also condemns “similarly blanket thinking on Iran…[which] refuses to recognise there might even be a problem, namely the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon”, and derides their myopic view which “dismisses all talk of the issue as neoconservative warmongering.’

Adds Freedland:

It is natural for Israel to feel threatened by the prospect, given Iran’s rejection of Israel’s right to exist as Israel, and the slogans reportedly daubed on Iranian missiles, promising to wipe the country off the map. Carne Ross says Israel’s security concerns are “entirely legitimate” and that were we in their position, we would be just as worried as they are.

The anti-war camp [which he argues is blinded by Iraq] needs at least to acknowledge the existence of a problem here, that while military action to thwart Iran would have terrifying consequences, so too would an Iranian nuclear weapon. Nor will it do to oppose not just force but every other step the west is taking to prevent a nuclear Iran, including sanctions and sabotage. If anything, the anti-war movement should be the loudest advocate of non-violent alternatives to military action

Of course, as Freedland may have guessed, his over 1000 word missive, so openly challenging Guardian orthodoxy, produced a fury of attacks beneath the line.

Thus far, Freedland’s piece has elicited 888 comments.

Here’s a quick accounting of the most frequently used words:

Israel: 782

Jew: 126

Zionist: 34

Total number of references to Jews , Zionism, or Israel: 942

Syria: 553

Iran: 467

Here is a brief sample of the comments posted below the line thus far:

Freedland is a war-monger (566 Recommends)

Bashar al-Assad inspired conspiracy theory (291 Recommends)

Freedland’s commentary represents a Trojan Horse to furtively advance his Zionist views. Israel would like to see the world destroyed.

Berchmans’: It’s obvious that Syrian rebels are being set up by the West, Saudis, and Israel (41 Recommends)

And, finally, a commenter using the moniker “aljabha”, whose profile includes a photo depicting the Soviet Hammer and Sickle in a Palestinian Flag (A Seumas Milne or PFLP production, no doubt), with the requisite “Zionism is Racism”.

One of my standard quips to folks who aren’t familiar with the degree of anti-Zionism at the Guardian is that the paper makes the New York Times look like  Arutz Sheva.

Similarly, I may have to add that Guardian readers increasingly make Jonathan Freedland look like Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

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20 replies »

  1. Abbas’s most recent pronouncements:

    In Egypt, to Arab League FMs.

    Did that worm its way into the talks on Syria?

    Ha’aretz managed to report on the “activities” on Syria alone.

    And if Syria can ignore the Arab League…

    The propaganda in the Groan is getting really threadbare.

  2. All of this begs the question of why Freedland continues to cast his pearls before these Guardian swine.

    And we all know that Berchmans is a real “hidden hand”-type paranoid

  3. More proof that those who deny Israel’s right to exist– thereby denying a reality that is more than 63 years old and getting oder by the minute– are absolute hatemongering dipsticks. How any liberal thinker can believe that supporting an anti-Israel philosophy as a peaceful reaction to war constantly leaves me befuddled. Hey, I’m technically for Palestine, too: I supported Oslo in so much as getting the Arab refugees who refuse to live peacefully in Israel their own destiny. I also vociferously supported the 1st of 3 state offers since 2000. But to these “thinkers” and “peace loving intellectuals” I’m a racist. Because, you see, I’m a Zionist, i.e. a believer of Jewish autonomy.

    It’s fascinating in the sense that the older I get, the more mystified I become when haters and violent loons are accepted with open arms by a so-called peace camp.

  4. Let me disagree with you Adam regarding Jonathan Freedland – if he is not a complete idiot (and he’s certainly not) then he should know that his belonging to the Guardian stable legitimizes the paper and serves the argument that it can’t be an antisemitic establishment if some of its staff members are Jews. If he had some cojones (and he certainly hasn’t any) he would have left the Guardian a long time ago.

  5. I disagree with Adam’s analysis of Freedland’s position, and agree in general with that of peterthehungarian.

    If Freedland were any kind of friend of Israel he would not be at the Guardian.

    And frankly, I think he comes across as an asaJew to me.

    • Dear cityca and peter. Much as we like to think so here on CifWatch, the Guardian is not solely an Israel-bashing organ. It does print articles and comment on other issues too.

      Freedland clearly identifies with the overall political/social viewpoint of the Guardian and therefore it is entirely fitting that he should write there. Now, based on the article that is the subject of this blog and much of his other published material, it is my supposition (and I think Adam agrees) that Freedland does not agree with the paper’s position on the I/P issue. Whether or not he believes that this dispute/difference of opinion is important enough for him to ditch all ties with the organ is a valid question, but to suggest that he is an asaJew or a traitor to his people for not doing so is, in my humble opinion, going too far.

      To put it another way – if we all had to resign from our job every time our bosses did or said something we disagree with, I estimate unemployment rates would be pushing 95%.

    • Hoffman, how do you get away with blogging during office hours when as an employee of the Greater London Authority your salary ius funded by Council Tax payers?

  6. I am trying to work out which kind of idiot sits around and counts the number of times a certain word is mentioned and then doesn’t say in which context the word was written.
    For instance, said idiot notes that Israel is mentioned: 782 times, while Syria gets 553 mentions and Iran 467. Does the idiot say whether the context of mentioning Syria and Iran might be that they are oppressive. Of course he doesn’t because that would fly in the face of his idiot theory.

    • That’s a fair point, GNS. Perhaps you’d like to be the kind of idiot that carries out a full statistical study of the context of each of these mentions?

      Rather, why not consider why it is that an article that is about Syria, Iran and Iraq should engender such a high number of responses (whatever their context) that talk about Israel, which was mentioned in a mere 2 of the article’s 14 paragraphs?

    • word counts take like one second. ctrl f. then enter the text. really, whatever you say about such results, it is certainly not a time waster.