Why does the Guardian get Middle East analysis wrong?

On June 17th the Guardian discovered that Iran was behind the bomb attacks in Thailand, Georgia and India four months ago, during which the wife of an Israeli diplomat was badly injured in Delhi, along with her driver. This news was brought to us by the Guardian’s correspondent in south Asia, Jason Burke, who also produced another two articles on the same subject. 

In light of this, it is interesting to remind ourselves of how the Guardian covered the events at the time. 

Harriet Sherwood was quick off the mark with an opening sentence claiming with startling certainty that the attacks were linked to the anniversary of the death of Imad Mughniyeh

“Israeli diplomatic missions in India and Georgia have been targeted in bomb attacks linked to the anniversary of the assassination of a Hezbollah militant in Lebanon four years ago.”

Ian Black appeared to chastise the Israeli Prime Minister for blaming Iran for the attacks and was also keen to advance the Mughniyeh theory:

“It came as little surprise that Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, blamed Iran and Hezbollah for Monday’s twin attacks – though he did so extremely swiftly and without any sign of hesitation.”

“Hezbollah also has a clear motive for revenge against Israel: Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the assassination of its operations chief, Imad Mughniyeh, in a highly professional car bombing in Damascus in 2008 that was widely blamed on the Mossad secret service. Israel has never admitted responsibility but it did little to hide its satisfaction at Mughniyeh’s violent demise and the chilling message it sent about its own long reach and deterrent power.”

In stark contrast to the Guardian’s apparent reluctance to accept Iranian involvement in the attacks, Black had no qualms about pointing evidence-free fingers elsewhere, with the possibility that a similar modus operandi in two cases might indicate the same perpetrator seemingly never occurring to him. 

“The use in Delhi of a sticky bomb attached to an Israeli embassy vehicle by a man riding a motorbike seemed to mimic the modus operandi used by Israel’s agents in Tehran. Hints, surely, do not come much heavier than that?”

Black’s disingenuous attempt to portray Israel as permanently spoiling for a fight is revealed in his penultimate paragraph: [emphasis added]

“Nor could the stakes be higher. In June 1982 an assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador to London by the renegade Palestinian faction led by the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal provided the pretext for war against Yasser Arafat’s PLO in Lebanon, despite a ceasefire that had held for nearly a year.” 

In fact, repeated violations of the 1981 US-brokered cease-fire (which was 11 months old by the time Operation ‘Peace for the Galilee’ began on June 6th 1982) resulted in the deaths of 29 Israelis and the wounding of some 300 others in 270 terror attacks staged by the PLO. On the day of May 9th, 1982 alone, for example, some 100 rockets were fired over a period of 24 hours by PLO terrorists in Lebanon at villages in the Galilee region of the north of Israel. But that, according to the Guardian’s Middle East Editor Ian Black, did not break the ceasefire. 

However, by far the most egregious article of all in the Guardian coverage of the February 2012 attacks was the piece it ran on ‘Comment is Free’ on February 15th by Arshin Adib-Moghaddan, entitled “Iran seems an unlikely culprit for the attacks on Israeli diplomats“. 

Adib-Moghaddan’s somewhat pitiful attempts to blame anyone and everyone except Iran for the attacks in India, Thailand and Georgia were addressed at the time here, here and, very comprehensively by an Iranian writer, here

So why did the Guardian get it so wrong? Why did it engage in these contortions, trying to shoe-horn the facts into its own existing narrative? And why did it publish the risible Adib-Moghaddan article which was bound to raise howls of disdainful laughter from anyone who is not a shill for the Iranian regime?  

Well, somehow, Adib-Moghaddan’s Guardian profile neglects to mention that in addition to his day job at the SOAS, he is also active in  the Iranian regime’s puppet organization known as CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran). 

CASMII is of course much beloved by the Stop the War Coalition and its founder Abbas Edalat spoke at the StWC conference in 2012. In 2010 (and not for the first time) the StWC adopted a CASMII-proposed resolution at its annual conference (at which the Guardian’s Seumas Milne was a speaker) and the two organisations frequently work together, with CASMII having a representative on the StWC steering committee.   Seumas Milne of course makes regular appearances on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition at its rallies, events and conferences

What Guardian editors and journalists do in their spare time is no doubt their own affair, but nevertheless it seems highly likely that the fact that so many of them seem to hang around on the extremist fringes of political opinion has an effect upon the paper’s ability to get things right and its editorial decisions, as this particular case indicates. 

It is therefore perhaps little wonder that increasing numbers of the British public perceive the Guardian’s Middle East analysis and reporting as being virtually indistinguishable from the kind of propaganda put out on the websites of extremist organisations such as CASMII, StWC or the PSC. 


26 replies »

  1. How deeply embarrassing and blush-making for the
    Guardian that it has the formidable Hadar Sela watching it. All that scurrying to present someone’s lying version was somehow undone today. It was not as if cifwatch hadn’t explicitly pointed out the facts then, it’s that the Guardian is contradicting itself today. Has it apologised for getting it wrong then? If so I haven’t seen it.

    Do they not remember, do they think that nobody else remembers? Do they actually believe that this is an Evelyn Waugh novel and that they have a SCOOP?

  2. ” It is therefore perhaps little wonder that increasing numbers of the British public perceive the Guardian’s Middle East analysis and reporting as being virtually indistinguishable from the kind of propaganda put out on the websites of extremist organisations such as CASMII, StWC or the PSC ”

    You just made that up. You know this how ?.

      • The Guardian’s circulation has declined because….

        “increasing numbers of the British public perceive the Guardian’s Middle East analysis and reporting as being virtually indistinguishable from the kind of propaganda put out on the websites of extremist organisations such as CASMII, StWC or the PSC ”

        You know this how ?

        • Very simple; the disproportionate amount of articles on CiF devoted to the harbingers of the above:
          Ben White, Seumas(Seamus) Milne, Salma Yaqoob, well, you get my drift.(Oh, and we recently had Ismail Haniyeh).
          Hence, the showcasing of these propagandists as legitimate, prime columnists scared a great deal many away.

          • “Hence, the showcasing of these propagandists as legitimate, prime columnists scared a great deal many away”

            You know this how ?.

            • What makes people divest themselves from a newspaper(and I mean, subscribers, not occasional purchasers)?
              The Guardian’s readership, based on their stance, and general orientation, is mostly upper-middle-class, so it’s unlucky that financial pestilence caused them to disown their once-favourite publication.
              We can only surmise, therefore, that the content featured therein was complicit in the act. Since the move coincided with a large shift to the left, by CiF contributors(by the number of appearances of the aforementioned), we can also correlate these factors.
              Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

        • To be fair, the Guardian’s circulation isn’t only declining because their ME coverage is crap.
          Its declining because everything in the Guardian is crap

            • Millions? Nat, if you’re going to prevaricate like that, why stop there?
              Why not say “billions upon billions”, like Pravda used to claim?
              Anyway the G.’s circulation was roughly, 250,000 in feb. 2012.
              Add to that the online base, and maybe you could scratch 900K. That’s it;
              Nat, ask your comrade Goebbles on more efficient lying tactics; you’re getting sloppy.

  3. Brilliant monitoring of the Guardian’s agitprop contortions to fit the Guardian World View, Hadar.

    Why does the Guardian consistently err on the side of antisemitism? Duvidl’s mnemonic answer – SHeer Malevolent Ugly Contortionism, or “SHMUC” for short.

  4. As bad as this is, what is worse is to see the way many of those commenting below the line actually believe the Guardian nonsense. Any reference to the responsible people being Iranians was immediately countered with demands for proof, the usual nonsense about how Iran hasn’t attacked anyone in 2,000 years, etc. etc.

  5. Given the pernicious obsession of the Gardian with Israel do we need to wonder why there is still no reporting in the Guardian online of the unprovoked Hamas attack of 44 rockets and grad missiles that have landed all over the south of Israel today.

    If and when Israel retaliates to stop the rocket crews another dead Palestinian child will be pulled out of the mortuary, having died from a totally unrelated cause, and shown in all its bloody martyred glory to the gulliible Western media.

    The Guardian will be the first to bay for Israeli blood.

    Guardian hacks, whether Jewish or Israeli aethist self haters will be there on cue to give the Guardian its jack boot stamp of authortity, by blaming the very Jews themsleves for anti-Semitsm by their support of their Jewish state in the first place.

    • “The Guardian will be the first to bay for Israeli blood.”

      The Guardian bayed for Israeli blood when ?

      • Why? Because the Guardian does not report Palestinian war crimes, that have the intention of indiscriminately killing as many Israelis as possible, but at the same time invents and supports false stories in the style of Palywood to paint the Israelis as the war criminals.

        By fully supporting and often elaborating the lying Palestinian narrative that does bay for Israeli blood – the Guardian is giving its tacit approval, and is just as guilty as the Palestinians by the act of commission (giving its supporting authority)

  6. From what I’ve read of Jason Burke’s work (notably ‘The Road to Kandahar’) I’m a bit surprised that his report includes the sentence ‘illustrating the risks to the west if it fails to reach detente with Tehran over its nuclear weapons programme’. It wouldn’t surprise me if that was inserted by an editor.

    And as for this …

    ‘Israeli diplomatic missions in India and Georgia have been targeted in bomb attacks linked to the anniversary of the assassination of a Hezbollah militant in Lebanon four years ago’.

    Well done, Harriet. Mugniyah was actually killed in Damascus, which – according to my atlas – is in Syria. That just about goes to show how well informed you are about the region you’re supposed to be covering.

    • Not to mention that his assasination/work accident was not linked to Israel by any definit means.
      Judge, jury and executioner.

  7. In general, the Guardian’s “analyses” on foreign affairs are as askew as its approach to Israel. At the first rumblings of the Greek financial crisis, I recall one CiF contributor claiming that Greek debt wasn’t so bad and blithely asserting that neither it nor the rest of the world need worry too much about it. The Guardian’s take on Chavez in Venezuela is often adulatory, despite all the evidence of his megalomanic populist mismanagement there.

  8. Ian Black accuses Bibi of putting blame “extremely swiftly and without any sign of hesitation”

    This is exactly what this dirty rag does when it comes to writing anything about Israel.

    Reacting extremely swiftly,facts are ignored all without any sign of hesitation…………..

  9. If and when the ragged Guardian pulls it’s feet out of it’s mouth and out of it’s other orifices,then perhaps we should start taking them seriously……Till then stick it to them……..

  10. Your headline assumes that they are rational and neutral. The Guardian doesn’t just get it wrong because they’re bad they get it wrong because they are Marxist propagandists.

  11. The Guardian does not get its Middle East analysis wrong.

    The Guardian does not do Middle East “analysis” at all. It does anti-Israel propaganda. Don’t confuse the Guardian with a newspaper.

  12. There should also be a blog that analyzes The New Statesman’s comments about Israel. They are equally antisemitic.

    Even when writing about a non Israel subject, and even when the writer, Linda Grant, is an anti-Zionist (which she alludes to in her column) commentators still manage to attack her as a “Zionist.”

    She writes about British Jews and the antisemitic commenters write about ‘Palestinians.”

    Even when the comments get their facts wrong, Grant, because of her own anti-Zionism, can’t even answer her critics except to say that she is against all boycotts.

    How sad.

    Grant proves with her responses that British Jews are indeed a timid lot.

    • Thanks Jacob for that link and reference. You are right that Linda Grant (about whom I know nothing) fails utterly to contradict Samtheman’s bilious outpourings, but it is a little unfair to conclude that this proves that British Jews are a timid lot.

      Some are, of course, and are fully paid-up members of the very British “Shh Bernard, don’t complain, you’re making a scene” attitude, but others clearly are not. We have our fair share of activists defending Judaism and Israel here in Britain.