General Antisemitism

Guardian “reporter” Chris McGreal & the socially acceptable antisemitism of the Left

Guardian “reporter” Chris McGreal has finally answered the question I posed after his Tweet while covering the AIPAC convention.

My question:

My Tweet to McGreal was just one in a long exchange with him, in response to a series of Tweets by the paper’s Washington correspondent simply dripping with contempt for Israel, and the Israel lobby – whose convention he was “objectively” covering as a “journalist” for the Guardian.

Among his opinions, suggested by his Tweets, are that Israel is “psychotic”, and the charge that Israel’s supporters at the AIPAC convention are adolescent, “testosterone-soaked”, dim-witted teenage boys.

Well, on March 9, McGreal – whose characterization of the U.S. (in a Nov. piece) as “subservient” to Israel was even deemed antisemitic by the Guardian  (and later removed by editors) published, “Obama emerges from Israel talks with precious commodity“, which clarifies his view of the Israel lobby.

Regarding Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu, McGreal writes:

Obama…established a position his critics may find hard to assail. He forced those many members of Congress and beyond who have conflated America’s interests with Israel’s on to the back foot by saying that on Iran there are differences – and he will serve US interests first.

Graphic from Guardian partner blog, The Arabist

This is truly a remarkable passage. A Guardian Leftist like McGreal, an ideology which typically holds American nationalism in contempt, is accusing members of Congress of putting the interest of a foreign nation (the Jewish state) over that of the United States – implicitly questioning the patriotism and national loyalty of Congressional supporters of Israel.

McGreal also adds:

Netanyahu was confident. At his back was the US’s most influential pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), which had been instrumental in whipping up demands in Congress for stronger sanctions against Iran and resolutions that looked mighty close to authorisations for war.

Another graphic on site of Guardian partner blog, The Arabist

For McGreal, democratically elected U.S. Congress and Senate members are being manipulated to support policies by the unimaginable political and financial power of the Israel lobby.

Such conspiratorial narratives about the power of the Israel lobby to shape public policy – which fly in the face of polls demonstrating that Israel is wildly popular among the American public – have taken on an almost religious intensity within McGreal’s Guardian-Left style of politics.

Such commentators, a few years ago, were convinced that non-Jewish leaders (President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, etc.) of the most powerful nation on earth invaded Iraq due, not on what they believed to be the national interest, but in service of Israel – a policy dictated by the sinister dealings of Jewish (Israel-Firster) “neocon” under-secretaries like Richard Pearl and Paul Wolfowitz.

Such classically antisemitic arguments about Jewish power, and its injurious effects on the U.S. body politic, typically associated with the far right, and conspiratorial far left, at first took root on the extreme fringes of the American media.  But, eventually it became something approaching conventional wisdom, especially after publication of the best-selling book on “The Israel Lobby” by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer (which contends that Israel’s American supporters are powerful enough to subvert the U.S. national interest).  Such arguments can be found both below the line at ‘Comment is Free’, as well as above the line, often by veteran Guardian journalists.

Other mainstream “Left” proponents of this charge include MJ Rosenberg (of Media Matters), and bloggers associated with Center for American Progress. Mainstream liberal Journalist Seymor Hersch goes even further, contending that “Jewish money” is driving the war against Iran.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asserted that the standing ovation Israeli PM Netanyahu received from Congress in February was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby”. Time columnist Joe Klein weighed in against sending “American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel’s national security.”

Writes Ben Cohen in his masterful diagnosis of the mainstreaming of the new antisemitism on the Left:

Bistro anti-Semitism [as opposed to a cruder, often fascist inspired Jew hatred] sits in a higher and outwardly more civilized realm, providing what left-wing activists would call a “safe space” to critically assess the global impact of Jewish cabals from Washington, D.C., to Jerusalem. Anyone who enters the bistro will encounter common themes. These include the depiction of Palestinians as the victims of a second Holocaust, the breaking of the silence supposedly imposed upon honest discussions of Jewish political and economic power, and the contention—offered by, among others, Mearsheimer’s co-author, Stephen Walt, of Harvard—that American Jewish government officials are more suspect than others because of a potential second loyalty to Israel.

The Guardian’s Washington correspondent, Chris McGreal, to be clear, has essentially argued that US policy towards Iran, including possible military action, is being driven in large measure by a Congress which is subservient to an all-powerful lobby – one which puts interests of Jews, and the Jewish state, ahead of the national interest.

A Left which can’t agree that McGreal’s conspiratorial assertions about the dangers of Jewish power represents antisemitism is a movement simply no longer worthy of its progressive, anti-racist mantle.

5 replies »

  1. I don’t know Chris McGreal, but given the way he relates to Americans and Israelis I would consider him a casual bigot. He’s the kind of child in your class at school who doesn’t have many friends or much to contribute and so attempts to curry favour by bullying those the popular ones reject, to prevent the same fate befalling him.

    Why do I say this? Well, his criticisms are seldom completely relevant to the issue at hand or the people discussed. He doesn’t pick out a really salient characteristic and give you that gotcha feeling when the description matches your own visceral reaction. His nonsense about testosterone is rather like his usual type of árticle’ that consists of lists he’s gathered where he ticks off the items, point by point.

  2. Sometimes I am a little slow on the uptake, and I must confess that it took me YEARS before I finally twigged that “neocon” was a code-word for dirty, disloyal, perfidious jew.

    I must admit that I am somewhat confused by the idea (which seems to be extremely prevalent) that it is somehow weird, extreme or partial to be opposed to fascistic, theocratic, racist nutjobs getting their hands on big fat nuclear weapons. It would seem to me that such a position (not wanting crazy fascists to get nukes) is pretty unremarkable, and associated more with very basic common sense than with any abstract conceptions of “right” or “left” wing. I mean, when you’re trying to stop the paranoid schizophrenic with the loaded rifle from getting to the top of the clock-tower, I wouldn’t say that you are engaging in particularly “political” behaviour.

    Also, it continues to astound me that anybody still thinks that what starts in the Middle East will end in the Middle East. Even if you don’t give the first purple shit about Israel, it must surely be becoming obvious that Israel is merely the canary in the mineshaft, not the Alpha and bloody Omega (or Aleph & Tav!) of the whole issue of international Islamism. What was 9/11? What was 7/7? What was Spain? Bali? Mumbai (x2)? How can anyone still be thinking that this is all just a little “local trouble” between “jews” and “arabs”, rather than a global problem with ideology at its heart?

  3. “… a global problem with ideology at its heart”
    That is exactly what it is.Totally agree with you Katya. This is a conflict between a free thinking world against a totalitarian world. Guess which side Mr McGreal is on?

  4. Joshua – EXACTLY. It is precisely about rigid totalitarianism vs everyone-who-refuses-to-be-ruled-by-rigid-totalitarianism. It is not about “east” and “west”, race, ethnicity or nationality. It’s about Coptic Christians who want to go to Midnight Mass, Jews who refuse to die and disappear off the face of the earth, Hindus who want to ride their bicycles to Temple or work without being blown up, random women – black, brown, beige and pink – who want to walk unescorted to the library and read books of their own choosing. It’s even about those Muslims who simply don’t interpret their faith in the same narrow, hateful way as the fascists. All of us are scum who must be either converted or crushed under. Anybody who doesn’t see this as “their problem” at this point in time must be burying their head in the proverbial sand.

  5. I tweeted a simple question to McGreal a number of times. Asking him whether he believed Iran was building nukes.

    No response. I guess he believed such a response would mean manipulation by Jews