Stunning moral failure of anti-Zionist left: Rachel Shabi compares Zionism to European fascism

Rachel Shabi

The comment (attributed to August Bebel) that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools can be extended to many other kinds of cheap and superficial errors which people make.

“The baffled, frustrated and the bewildered”, wrote Walter Russell Mead, “seeks a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.”

Since 2002 Rachel Shabi has published over 100 essays at ‘Comment is Free’ on the topic of Israel, and the themes and memes have been as predictable as they have been facile.

Not only are Israelis almost never the objects of Shabi’s  sympathetic imagination; it is as if she, born to Iraqi Jewish parents, has gone out of her way to express sympathy for the Palestinian other. She even, in a ‘Comment is Free’ essay, mocked Israel’s efforts to “label” Hamas a terrorist organization.

When covering the painful withdrawal of 8,000 Israelis from Gaza in 2005 she asked:

“As Jewish settlers were evacuated from the Gaza Strip in August, the media caught every tearful, defiant move on camera. But how much was real and how much stage-managed?” [emphasis added]

Even a story about Jewish refugees from Arab lands was remarkably callous towards the 870,000 or so Jews who were ethnically cleansed by Arab governments, employing the following maddening moral obfuscation:

“There are significant points to make about the Jewish experience in Arab lands, caught in the crossfire of both Zionism and Arab nationalism”

Shabi’s desired narrative was clear: Jews were expelled from lands they lived for often thousands of years not by systemic expulsion by antisemitic Muslim rulers, but twin abstractions.

Typically, not only does Shabi question Israeli policies but – adopting the tropes of an increasingly hysterical Israeli far left – she often frames such political phenomena as inconsistent with democracy itself.

So a story about gender injustice on Haredi buses is not, for Shabi, an issue of women’s rights which needs to be addressed, but rather a societal fissure so serious as to be fundamentally at odds with Israel’s “claim” to be a “democracy”: Israel’s treatment of women is hardly that of a democracy (December 23rd, 2011).

Similarly, in her work at ‘Comment is Free’, the word antisemitism is almost never used – which is truly remarkable when you consider that she’s reporting in a region awash in the most crude and endemic Jew hatred.  In fact the only time I could find an allusion to the term antisemitism was in the context of an attack on an unfair use of it.

In a piece defending those accused of antisemitism, Shabi wrote:

“The real danger in all this is that the rush to throw charges of antisemitism at people who criticise Israel will desensitize vigilance over the real thing.”

Strangely, Shabi never got around to telling us what “the real thing” is.  Nor was I able to find any essay she had written at ‘CiF’ (or in any other publication for that matter) where she elucidated on the dangers of “real” antisemtism in the Arab world – or anywhere else.

Shabi’s themes at ‘Comment is Free’ include:

  • Israelis oppressing Palestinians
  • Israelis oppressing its Arab citizens
  • Israelis oppressing its minorities
  • Narratives attempting to undermine Israel’s democratic advantages
  • Israelis oppressing foreign workers
  • Israel moving to the extreme right politically

Shabi’s latest post at ‘Comment is Free’ adheres to these last two bullet points and is titled “Far-right Europeans and Israel: this toxic alliance spells trouble“, June 6th.

Here are some of Shabi’s themes:

  • Israeli TV reported that Haifa’s council had warned local businesses that they risked losing their licences if they employed African refugees

In the U.S. it is quite common for companies to be fined for hiring illegal immigrants.

  • So far, Israel’s approach has been to build a steel fence on the Egyptian border and a giant detention centre in the south and to pass a law which allows the detention of migrants for up to three years. 

By point of comparison, in the U.S. (even under Obama) over 400,000 illegal immigrants still face likely deportation in the near future and more than 1.1 million people have been deported in the last three years.  Reasonable people can agree or disagree with immigration policy, but such border controls have nothing to do with fascism. (Also, the U.S. will eventually have 700 miles of security fences along its border with Mexico to deter illegal immigration.)

  • There have been racist remarks about the African migrants by a couple of politicians.

Obviously, even one racist remark is one too many. But what democratic country in the world can claim that no such bigoted comments have at times been expressed by its political leaders?

  • Far-right Israeli ministers are basically repeating the anti-immigration, anti-Muslim sentiments of rising far-right parties in Europe. 

Here, Shabi’s moral inversion is simply stunning. Israel is, by nature, a state with a Jewish character: one which fosters Jewish immigration. That is and will always be its raison d’être.

Evidently Shabi hasn’t noticed that the Muslim Middle East has not been too hospitable to the Jews in the region – a hatred which continues to this very day and often manifests as an antisemitism without Jews even in nations such as Jordan and Egypt where there exists a cold peace.  

The most ominous cognitive dynamic of our times is – as scholar Robert Wistrich has written in his book ‘A Lethal Obsession‘ – that antisemitism in the Muslim world today is equal to that which existed in Nazi Germany at its worst. It is a sad fact that so many lack the courage to confront the modern manifestation of  such lethal Judeophobia.  

But, here is where Shabi’s most hideous moral pivot begins:

“The sight of Jewish Israelis – sons and daughters of refugees – echoing, pretty much window-smashing act by act and racist line by line, scenes from historic anti-Jewish pogroms in Europe, isn’t an easy one”

Not an easy sight, perhaps, because it is an utterly preposterous proposition.  

The analogy between anti-Jewish pogroms in Europe and a recent spate of anti immigrant hostility is as ahistorical as Nazi analogies.  The word “pogrom” refers to massive (typically government organized) violent attacks against Jews which date back at least to the Crusades such as the Pogrom of 1096 in France and Germany, as well as the massacres of Jews at London and York in 1189–1190. Pogroms against Jewish communities in Europe and N. Africa killed tens of thousands in the 19th and 20th centuries. [Elon, Amos (2002). The Pity of It All: A History of the Jews in Germany, 1743-1933. Metropolitan Books. pp. 102–105.]

To say that nothing even remotely on this scale occurred in Tel Aviv recently is an understatement of immense proportions.

But Shabi is merely following the playbook of committed anti-Zionists. It is never enough to criticize Israel or to propose solutions to social problems or inequities. She must completely delegitimize, demonize and characterize the modern Jewish state as morally beyond the pale – even on par with the 20th century’s other odious ‘ism’s’.  Israel’s sins are too immense to be merely atoned for; the state itself is irredeemable. Zionism itself must be overcome.  

The suggestion that the Jewish state is lurching towards fascism is, according to Shabi, a dovetailing agenda between European fascists and far-right Israeli nationalists. This toxic arrangement represents a near perfect example of the cognitive warfare in which we are currently engaged: dupes such as Shabi demonizing and delegitmizing Zionism as an organic obstacle to progress whilst ignoring the true danger of fascism, in its Islamist guise – a movement by definition hostile to liberal values on women, gays, democracy and religious tolerance.  

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi – the spiritual leader of perhaps the most popular Islamist movement in the Middle East – per a recently released WikiLeaks cable, called on Allah to literally kill every last Jew on earth.

The silence of Shabi and her political fellow travelers in the face of such chilling, fascist, extreme right, annihilationist antisemitism gives lie to the cliche of ‘never again’, as well as the anti-racism mantle they claim.  

CiF Watch is not merely a blog which aims to combat antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian.  

Our broader mission is to elucidate on the intellectual battles which rage below the surface of the debate. We’re engaged in a fight for intellectual clarity against enemies of the Jewish state which often veer wildly from even the broadest rules of decency.

Shabi’s latest broadside on the Jewish state is more than an attack on one nation. It represents an assault on political and moral sobriety.

The nation I love is engaged in a multi-front war: one physical and one cognitive. My hope is that my counter attack on Shabi’s latest assault (representing the latter) inspires you to continue doing the same in battles yet to come. 

54 replies »

  1. Shabi has become an ugly and menacing presence in the blogosphere.

    There is something dark and sinister about her poisonous pieces. I think she must be a deeply damaged individual.

    • I find it deeply disturbing to see that this site criticizes a Jewish woman for being of Iraqi decent. Iraq had long a thriving Jewish cvommunity which contributed a lot to Judaism. That some people would forget this is preoccupying.

      • The only person who has forgotten what her heritage means is Rachel Shabi herself. She has forgotten what the Iraqis did to their Jewish community in the 1940s. Did she ever document the Iraqi pogrom of 1941? Has she made mention of the Jews being expelled? Only as a result of “Zionism”, never as a result of Iraqi anti-semitism.

        That she would ignore this is preoccupying, to use your words.

        • Anne, you seem to have forgotten the heavy discrimination which targeted Mizrahi Jews, including Iraqi Jews, when they arrived to Israel. May I suggest you do research on the Israeli Black Panther movement?

          • Are you comparing discrimination – non-state sanctioned discrimination mind you – to pogroms, arrests, torture, murder and expulsion by a state actor, namely Iraq?

            you are one sick individual.

            Besides which, despite the initial discrimination, you will find Sephardim of all ethnicity – Iraqi, Moroccan, Algerian, Iranian etc. – in all positions of power and influence in the entire Israeli society today: in the judiciary, academia, business, politics, the list goes on.

            How many Jews live in Iraq today and how many have any influence? And how many are in hiding?

            Shabi makes no mention of any of that, and nor do you.

            • “How many Jews live in Iraq today”

              Touché. Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews voted with their feet — for Israel, France, Canada — anywhere but the Arab countries where some had resided for millennia.

          • It’s a shame that people like you and Shabi think that social discrimination – which exists in every western democracy – is a worse evil than to be arrested on trumped-up spying charges and even executed, to have money extorted from you, to be banned from travel, public service jobs and further education and to leave in permanent terror of rioters screaming ‘Itbach al-yahud’ – just for being a Jew.

    • Shabi is a journalist writing in the Guardian, while you post comments on a tiny website.

      • “Shabi is a journalist writing in the Guardian, while you post comments on a tiny website.” But she isn’t a good one.
        So if the website is so tiny and insignificant, why are you here, I mean, other than to dilute the vote on the other comments, you weak little man.
        I wonder, will your next comment be to tell us how Herzl would love Shabi?

          • “Oh my God do you children play the votes game ?”

            Of course we do ‘realzionist’.
            Now off you go and do what you normally do, play with yourself.

      • Nat yesterday at the thread about Wagner you made the following eccentric claim “The Guardian is the main source of information in British diplomatic and journalistic circles. It is read by decision-makers.”

        A couple of posters, myself included, asked you for the source and or factual basis for this claim.
        Are you now in a position to answer this simple request?
        Or, after making an unsubstantiated, and ludicrous, claim are you hoping people will forget it?

          • Nat, No you didn’t.
            Rehashing the same comment may be a reply but it clearly does not answer the questions you were asked.

              • Wow – we really are in pantomime territory here, aren’t we. Oh no you didn’t, Nat.

                As Gerald says, you simply restated your view, your opinion. You did not, as requested by both Gerald and me, provide any source for said opinion.

      • Benyamin your point is what exactly?

        Are you suggesting that if a journalist is also a woman then they should be above criticism because they are a woman?

        • My point is that Adam Levick keeps criticizinf women journalists writing for the Guardian: Hariett Sherwood, Phoebe Greenwood, now Rachel Shabi… This behaviour is not classy, at all.

    • Shabi is a reowned journalist who works for the Guardian in London. Mister Levick’s obsession makes me wonder whether he’s jealous of this successful woman who probably does not even know CIF Watch exists.

  2. Outstanding article! Once again you’ve hit the nail on the head, exposing this woman and the perverse double standards she represents.
    The trolls should be here soon.

  3. Rachel Shabi’s views are the perfect instance of what Benjamin Kerstein wrote that all criticism of Israel today is inherently anti-Semitic in nature. You will have to look far and wide for balanced and fair criticism of the Jewish State. Ironically enough, its anti-Semites and Israel haters that have done much of the spadework to discredit genuine non anti-Semitic criticism of Israel. All we hear is a toxic and burning hatred of the Jewish people and their country.

    Nothing more need be said.

  4. Bad enough when you have non Jews smearing Israel.But when an Iraqi Jew does it then that Jew is either insane or just downright nasty.

    Iraqi Jews were murdered,their women were raped,all their possessions of these Iraqi Jews were confiscated,some Jewish women were forced to marry Muslim men.And this idiotic woman has the gall to smear Israel.

    Most of her friends are Arabs and Muslims,and the Guardian staff,she posts mainly on anti-Israeli websites.

    Iraqi Jews would be horrified to find out that she is an Iraqi Jew.

    • “Iraqi Jews were murdered,their women were raped,all their possessions of these Iraqi Jews were confiscated,some Jewish women were forced to marry Muslim men.”

      You’ve watched too many bad movies.

  5. She gave a platform to posters like this moron Berchmans the Toxic and Racist Guardians resident troll.

    How low can this woman go??????,how low is a snakes ass???????……….

  6. She would have to be really desperate (perhaps no one else would have her) to write for the Racist and Toxic Guardian smearing her her own people, though I myself disown her,I don’t consider her one of us……

  7. Should Israel revoke her citizenship,if someone spits into the plate that they eat from,that plate should be taken away from them………..

  8. Berchmans was on fine form in this article, as usual, but if you think this was bad, read this one

    The moderators are on high alert though.

    This was the first post

    8 June 2012 8:36AM

    As a people we have been historically wronged and subjected to dozens of massacres; tens of thousands of us have lost our children for no other reason than that we demand our rights as clearly stipulated under international laws.

    Lost your children like this?

    Gone in ninety seconds and Comment privildges disabled.

    • That was a damn fine comment from WotTyler.

      No wonder the Guardian took it down immediately. Any reference to Palestinian brutality on Cif is strictly verboten. They must be portrayed as blameless innocents or the anti-Israel campaign falls apart.

    • I see that on the latest Guardian CiF article this time one written by the leader of Hamas, Berchaman has just been put in his place by one of the other commentators:

      8 June 2012 10:01AM
      Response to Berchmans, 8 June 2012 9:37AM

      Your comment is ridiculous, as always your desire to absolve Hamas of its many faults radiates through your post. For you to have any credibility you need to start explicitly condemning the atrocities committed by both sides anything less and you are just an apologist for Hamas.

      And as far as I can see the population of Palestinian controlled areas do not live in rubble nor are their values treated like shit, if you think that condemning Hamas is a mugs game than you have some serious inner moral problems that need resolving.

      For years I have wondered how you manage to square your desire to attack the Israelis for any atrocity committed by their soldiers whilst attempting to portray the other side as being angelic, then it struck me that it can only be because you suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder.

    • Thinking of Judt, also their knowledge and skills for helping the careers of and integrating organisation and persons in institutional and media frameworks who oppose Israel.

  9. As soon as the tables get turned on this Toxic and Racist Rag called the Guardian,a wholesale deletion of pro-Israeli posters goes into action.Berchmans got clobbered,but guess what almost anyone that responded to him got deleted.This guy is definitely on something when he posts, but refuses to share.

    • “A wholesale deletion of pro-Israeli posters goes into action”

      The Guardian does not delete pro-Israeli comments on its website. However they do delete racist, hysterical comments.

      • Wrong Nat – The Guardian just pre-moderates pro-Israelis out of existance. Its a never ending battle for them!

      • I have read through all your little postings on this threadNat..Every single one of them is repulsive deliberately spiteful and intent to draw attention, but not make any interesting or reflective point – pro or anti..The more outrageous the more you delight in the offence you TRY to cause.You make it up as you go along. It’s like listening to a symphony orchestra, and Nat (who plays the Tuba of course) childishly blasts a raspberry in the quiet section. Hahahah. Well it aint

        • What is repulsive is to see so many people harm the Israeli democracy and Israel’s image in the world by spitting out far right wing, extremist comments that 90% of Israelis would reject with disgust. Israel is a democracy. Many extremist comments on this website betray the democratic spirit of Israel and show a total lack of awarness of what Israel is about – tolerance, not extremism.

    • Berchmans got clobbered,but guess what almost anyone that responded to him got deleted.

      All posts responding to a deleted comment are likewise removed.

      But you try to frame it as some anti-Zionist conspiracy.

      I pity you.

  10. Nat, You and I both know that what you just wrote is not true. The Guardian not only deleted pro-Israeli comments whilst leaving hysterical Pro-Palestinian unmoderated it also commissions multiple articles by biased authors who seem incapable of treating both sides equally

    Tell me Nat, how is it possible to post comments which could be construed as racist when discussing people who happen to be Jewish or Muslim?, surely the fact that Jews and Muslims are born in countries across the world and subsequently have various different skin tones means it is impossible to make a racist statement against either?.

    I imagine that in your haste to post something you forgot to engage your mental facilities.


    • I love this site. You people are nuts. And there is nothing more entertaining than nuts.

      • ‘real Zionist’ sorry to disagree with you
        But, your statement that “And there is nothing more entertaining than nuts.” is wrong.
        You are not entertaining at all, just nuts.

        • But, your statement that “And there is nothing more entertaining than nuts.” is wrong.

          Absolutely right.
          Beans, for example – far more comedy potential. There’s that scene from Blazing Saddles, for one.

      • And many of them are not even Israelis, which is a relief. Most of the views expressed here contradict the Israeli democracy.

  11. The first half of the article is irrelevant as it targets the journalist rather than the points she is making. A typical tactic of one who has no defence to the points raised.

    Now the defence-effort.

    “There have been racist remarks about the African migrants by a couple of politicians.” The fact that it is said by a senior politician gives the quote legitimacy. If a minister said that here what do you think would happen? Sacking and possibly a prosecution for racial hatred. Not in Israel apparently. Says a lot about Israel, not the journalist. Also, how would you feel if that was said here and the words “non-jew” instead of “white man” if “White man” or even worse aryan. I would have thought with the recent Jewish history, racism would have been the last thing on an Israeli’s mind. How often has the phrase never again been used? When the boot is on the other foot, I can produce hundreds of quotes from this site stating along the lines “it starts with racism and soon we’ll have another holocaust. Can’t anyone on this site see that prejudice is evil and universal? Jewish history must give more cause than anyone to understand that.

    “Israel is, by nature, a state with a Jewish character” Correct. An ethnocracy and a democracy are mutually exclusive.

    “But, here is where Shabi’s most hideous moral pivot begins:

    “The sight of Jewish Israelis – sons and daughters of refugees – echoing, pretty much window-smashing act by act and racist line by line, scenes from historic anti-Jewish pogroms in Europe, isn’t an easy one”

    Not an easy sight, perhaps, because it is an utterly preposterous proposition.

    The analogy between anti-Jewish pogroms in Europe and a recent spate of anti immigrant hostility is as ahistorical as Nazi analogies”

    Absolutely. I agree 100%. I can bring you dozens of examples of report in the jewish press using precisely this tactics. Two bakers in Brooklyn had their windows broken recently, and the Jewish press was screaming “crystalnacht”

    That’s enough to be going on with for now.

    Hypocrisy, hypocrisy all is hypocrisy!

    • “I can bring you dozens of examples of report in the jewish press using precisely this tactics.”

      Excuse me, are you really so dense? There is a tremendous difference between small Jewish press making the analogy – a peccadillo to which they earned the right in the barraccks of Birkenau – versus a gentile publication like the Guardian using a self-hating Jew to wage a war of demonisation against the world’s sole Jewish state.

      Blacks may call each other n—, yet that hardly gives whites the right to do the same.

  12. Shabi talks as if this is a new Kristallnacht – which is ridiculous, of course.