General Antisemitism

Will Jonathan Freedland stand with Jews & oppose those, like Mehdi Hasan, rationalizing antisemitism?


In my post on Mehdi Hasan’s ‘Comment is Free’ essay (We mustn’t allow Muslims in public life to be silenced, July 9th) I focused on his claim that the UK is infested with “Islamophobia”, that Muslims are being cowed into silence as a result, and his broader suggestion that the media tolerates racism towards Islam to a degree that it would never allow towards any other group.

I pointed to the fact that, for instance, the largest media institution in the UK – the BBC – contrary to Hasan’s contention, admits to treating Islam more sensitively than other faiths.

However, there was another component of Hasan’s essay which I did not address: his complaint that he is often personally subjected to abusive, racist commentary beneath the line of his polemics for ‘Comment is Free’, The New Statesman and other publications.  

While such attacks are never justifiable, I did not address that issue because here at CiF Watch we spend a lot of energy combating the unending stream of Jew hatred below the line at ‘Comment is Free’ and because Hasan, by shamefully offering a rationalization for antisemitism (and opposing the very existence of the Jewish state), has forfeited the moral high ground on the issue of racism.

Yesterday (July 10th), the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland came to Hasan’s defense, in a passionate polemic titled, “I stand with Mehdi Hasan against the torrent of Islamophobic abuse“.

 Freedland wrote:

“Mehdi…focused on the abuse he and other prominent Muslims regularly endure when they enter the public square, with insults often hurled via the medium of the online comment. Sure enough, many of those who disagreed with Hasan’s essay piled on to the discussion below the line to use language and imagery so vile it instantly confirmed the very case he had been making.”

Freedland, after proceeding to cite examples of anti-Muslim commentary beneath the line of Hasan’s essay which, he argued, vindicated Hasan’s argument, acknowledged the following:

“I and other Jewish writers have had more than a taste of the treatment Mehdi describes…And I recognise his lament that the tiniest thing can set off the haters…I’ve also grown used to a variant of that progressives’ prejudice, by which “card-carrying liberal lefties”, as Mehdi calls them, in their rush to defend Palestinian rights end up banging out the old, nasty tunes about the Jews.”

Though it is refreshing that Freedland acknowledges the vicious rhetorical assaults on Jews below the line at ‘Comment is Free’, it is quite dispiriting that he fails to hold Hasan, the protagonist in his tale, responsible for his own record of indifference towards Judeophobia.

While Freedland states his disagreement with Hasan’s defense of Lord Nazir Ahmed who, he noted, “has an awkward record of inviting known antisemites to the House of Lords” and writes that he felt “uneasy” when Hasan “…describe[d] non-Muslims as ‘people of no intelligence’ and as ‘cattle'”, he nonetheless fails to confront the elephant in the room: The following 2009 essay by Hasan.

Here’s the money quote from the piece:

“I do find it both tragic and ironic that the state of Israel – created ostensibly to protect Jews from across the world from hatred, prejudice and violence – through its actions today, and through its self-proclaimed role as the leader and home of world Jewry, provokes such awful anti-Semitic attacks against diaspora Jews.”

Interestingly, Freedland revealed the following in his CiF essay regarding his sympathy towards Hasan:

 “Each time I come across the kind of abuse he cites I mentally replace the word “Islam” with “Judaism” and “Muslim” with “Jew”.”

So, I think it’s fair to read Hasan’s passage about Israel “provoking” antisemitism and ask if Freedland would ever tolerate a commentator who argued that the actions of Muslims in the Middle East justify or provoke anti-Muslim racism in the UK?  Similarly, would he give credence to those who rationalize attacks on Muslims in the U.S. as merely a natural response to the attack by Islamist terrorists on 9/11?

Of course he wouldn’t!

Surely Freedland must know that Hasan’s apologia for antisemitism – blaming Jews for provoking others to hate them – represents a narrative with a long and tragic history for the Jewish people.  As Tablet reported recently about the increase of antisemitism in Malmo, Sweden:

“On Dec. 27, 2008, as the IDF launched Operation Cast Lead, the Jewish community of Malmö held a demonstration in the city’s main square to express sympathy for “all civilian victims” in Gaza and the Jewish state. They were soon confronted by a much larger counter-demonstration, consisting mainly of immigrants from the Middle East. The Jews were singing hine ma tov, but was their song was overwhelmed by chants of “damn Jews” and “Hitler, Hitler, Hitler!” A glass bottle flew through the air and hit a Jewish girl in the back. When a homemade bomb was fired straight into the Jewish group, the police decided to evacuate them. The Jews fled from the square but were followed by kids who used cellphones to report back to the counter-demonstration with which direction “the Jews” were heading. 

When [Malmo’s mayor] Ilmar Reepalu was questioned about these events, he chose to criticize the Jews of his city for not taking a firm stand against the policies of the state of Israel.”

Finally, a video at an event I attended last year in Jerusalem, to mark the 19th year since former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s death, included a conversation Begin had with interviewer David Frost.  Begin, strongly objected to Frost’s description of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem as “provocative”, and noted that during his youth in Poland, he asked a group of Poles why they felt a need to beat up Jews, and they responded that the very presence of Jews was a “provocation.” 

No doubt Jonathan Freedland would agree, broadly, that acts of racism are never a commentary on the behavior of victims of such bigotry but rather on the hate in the soul of the perpetrator.

If so, consistency (and moral integrity) would demand that he hold Mehdi Hasan accountable to this intuitive anti-racist principle.

44 replies »

  1. “Freedland states his disagreement with Hasan’s defense of Lord Nazir Ahmed who, he noted, “has an awkward record of inviting known antisemites to the House of Lords” and writes that he felt “uneasy” when Hasan “…describe[d] non-Muslims as ‘people of no intelligence’ and as ‘cattle’”

    You forgot that he also said he had been satisfied by Hasan’s explaination of this speech.

    I wasn’t aware he’d ever explained it.
    He said something foul, got caught and said he’d been misinterpreted.
    I don’t think he’s ever explained why he used a different accent!

    So which was it really?
    You pays your Jizza and taqiyya your choice I guess.

  2. Freedland is a dhimmi par excellence. I wonder what was threatened in order to get him to be the token Jew who condemns an Islamist-supporting fool?

    Who cares what he disagreed with? The fact is he is on record as supporting this Islamist-supporting thug’s cloying self-pity.

  3. “Muslims are being cowed into silence as a result,”

    What a joke.

    The typical whining by someone like Mehdi. The media is absolutely saturated here in the US and I see in the UK with articles about Islam, by and about Moslems, and so on, with editors bending over backwards to show Islam in a positive light even though it requires an amazing ability to overlook suicide bombings, the xenophobic descriptions of those of other or no religion, the attitudes to women, gays, etc.etc.

    Its like the endless complaints one sees on the blogs “Why does no-one ever speak up/stand up for the Palestinians?”, when they are obviously the most pampered group on the planet and hardly a day goes by without a supportive article in the Guardian, the NY, LA Times, various European papers about the Palestinians.

    • AKUS, doesn’t this “cowed into silence” rubbish remind you of the equally nonsensical arguments put out by Independent Jewish Voices (who were hardly backward in coming forward) that their views were being “strangled”?

    • It is appalling to see so many mainstream sites coddling Islam so as not to be labelled Islamophobic.

      Thank goodness the Guardian, as the voice of ‘true progressives’, doesn’t participate in this kind of farce. (Cough cough).

      Cough again.

  4. Almost a year ago I wrote an open letter to Jonathan Freedland after his rude awakening to the depth of Israel/Jew hatred by the opposition in a BDS debate at the South Bank Centre in London, see http://cifwatch.com/2011/07/17/an-open-letter-to-jonathan-freedland/

    In it I wrote:

    “.. But the opposition’s poisonous agenda outflanked and bested you. The Jewish Chronicle article says that you were gloomy and “visibly shaken” about the success of the pro-boycotters. If that is true, then we hope you will forgive us for being heartily glad of it. We hope that what must have been the considerable discomfort of that experience changes your perspective permanently, that its effects stay with you and are translated by you into appropriate action:

    “For example, what might you write to convince the Israeli public (the most decisive factor in any peace settlement) that there is a chance for peace with the Barghoutis of this world, given that he had no compunction about lying in the debate about what he called the “genocidal tendencies” having overtaken Israeli society? What could you do, as a well-known Guardian columnist, to undermine the mindless Israel-hatred which all too often spills into antisemitism on CiF? …”

    Given his lamentable attempt to support the insupportable in Mehdi Hasan, I think we have the answer to that final question

  5. “…If so, consistency (and moral integrity) would demand that he hold Mehdi Hasan accountable to this intuitive anti-racist principle.”

    I have always had Jonathan Freedland down as a fairly honest, if weak, person, but, like Snigger above, I really do wonder why he let himself be the token Jew to be wheeled out in support of a fellow-traveller of Islamism and all it bodes for Jews?

    And @Medusa, yes, Freedland has let himself down, particularly in the light of the shock you described.

  6. One of the least endearing character traits of the Islamist on the back foot is that he never knows when to stop. Inayat the Bungler has now jumped aboard, which has to be the worst possible news for “poor Mehdi” if he is the best they can do.

    When will these CiF idiots realise that when they are in a hole they should stop digging?

  7. Two comments from Harry’s Place say everyting what need to know about the Freedland and the Guardian:

    Lamia:
    Freedland is perhaps not, as was thought, merely cowardly and mercenary, he’s also a malicious creep who is a disgrace to liberal-left values.

    Flaming Fairy:
    Freedland isn’t just stating a personal opinion in his ridiculous babble, he is outlining Graun moderation policy – any criticism of Islam or Muslims is racist and must be thoroughly destroyed like a Timbuktu shrine

    • – Freedland is a “malicious creep”?
      I dread to think what that makes you, then.

      Do you even know what malicious means?

      – “any criticism of Islam or Muslims is racist and must be thoroughly destroyed like a Timbuktu shrine”
      Ha ha ha! What planet are you living on?

      CiF threads constantly have off-topic BTL criticism of Islam or Muslims that is most definitely not removed.

      • You only see what remains after moderation. TRy discussing Aisha on a Guardian thread and see how quickly your comment disappears.

      • Tut tut pretzelberg….
        Will remember this the next time you squeal about ad hominem attacks….

    • O’Neill’s article is certainly worth reading (unlike Medusa’s embarrassing effort here today), plus I thought Hassan’s piece was OTT (and let’s not even get on to Bunglawala!) – but does Freedland really make an “explicit conflation of racial prejudice and political opinion”?

      • You are such a joyless and mirthless individual pretzelberg! You must be the only one who is embarrassed for Medusa. Myself, if I cared about them at all I’d be much more embarrassed for “poor Mehdi”, Freedland and Bunglawala, but I don’t.

        Supposing I explain how Medusa’s article works at the levels it does?

        I believe that she is using a narrative to illustrate the being-in-the-world of an ultra-defensive Islamist supporter like Hasan and as an excellent way to bring him down a peg or two. Apart from the belligerent self-pity he showed in his article, his strongest personality traits are that he takes himself far too seriously and cannot abide having jokes made at his expense.

        Narratives are very potent ways of putting ideas across.

        Hasan, being typical of the Islamist supporting genre, probably would not be able to recognise irony at all, even if it came from a friendly source, so threatened does he feel as a rule. Therefore he reacts to all irony as if it is literally meant. I believe that Jonathan Freedland’s and Bunglawala’s misguided attempts to mop up his tears have deprived him of a valuable corrective experience – that he is not the centre of his own universe but merely ordinary and not at all special, except perhaps to his mother.

        Hasan’s personality is woefully truncated and he is handicapped by his total lack of sense of humour.

        So, when someone like Medusa dares to poke fun at such a precious, overblown fool, when the bubble of his pomposity is pricked and he is made to look as ridiculous as he actually is in public – this has the opposite effect of the dubious support given to shore up his gigantic ego by Freedland and Bunglawala and moreover it makes them look foolish too. Medusa is voicing what many others feel, and probably have tried to write below Hasan’s article but have been deleted. This is what makes this article so strong.

        Satire and irony are the best ways to deal with the Islamists CiF serves
        up, and let’s face it Hasan provided a heaven-sent opportunity for Medusa to show us how it is done.

        And Medusa did it very well. Well done she!

  8. Certain people discover and use their Jewishness only when defending Muslims, anti-Zionists etc. against the reproach of anti-Semitism and denouncing Israel and other Jews as racist, supremacist and worse. A very instrumental and one sided relationship.
    Thinking of Hessel who never showed any interest in his Jewish origins but since his success claims his Jewish ancestry for the right to denounce Israel.

      • “Each time I come across the kind of abuse he cites I mentally replace the word “Islam” with “Judaism” and “Muslim” with “Jew”. I know how I would feel if I was bombarded with long screeds denouncing Jewish faith and customs as sinister, alien, backward or bonkers, just as I know how I would feel if I were told Jews need to change their ways if they are to be accepted into polite society.”
        Strange enough as Jews are still told that, in Israel, in Great Britain, in Austria, in Germany, in France, ..
        And often by the clients he defend.
        He should get his head clear of self invented mythology and victimology, Muslims count 1,2 billion people and have a lot of influential states behind their back, not so Jews. Or does he believe that?

        • Rethinking the whole argument I must state how stupid one can be to insert Muslims in the place of Jews. There exists no level of reference or of equation, after the Holocaust, Freedland is simply stupid.
          My impression is that many of left leaning Jews never read books on or really get involved with Holocaust research, they just accept it somehow as reference. The family experience is strangely transformed into an international one and not really accepted as Jewish experience. Perhaps due to communist heritage accepting the political harassement of the elders, but not the antisemtic annihilation and the whole implications, the context. Therefore they misunderstand completly what was and what is going on.

          • Maybe explaining it with my experience and development, it was not until Waldheim came that I could bridge the Holocaust and israel. Till then these were two very different items, strangely enough.

    • And exactly the same could be applied to Jon Snow and Stephen Fry and all these other As-A-Jews whose total contribution the Jewish life is the criticise and condemn Israel. They may have been born Jews and be halachically Jewish, but that’s as far as it goes. They and Neturei Karta make fine bed-fellows.

  9. This is Islamic supremacy at work:

    A Muslim insults all non muslims, calls them animals etc…..He also blames Jews for antisemitism.

    When he is called on it, he claims racism, islamphobia and discrimination.

    Up to here this is normal Muslim behavior.

    Now comes the punchline : The G re-enforces his supremacy by handing a platform to his lies and posture. Thus the G becomes the vehicle for Islamic supremacy.

    Freedland is the dhimmi Jew who lives under the Guardian caliphate. He must submit to its rules as a second class being, protected by his master so long as he plays (and speaks) by the rules set out to him by his master (in t his case represented by Hasan)

    • 10 out of 10 thumbs up for “this is normal Muslim behavior”.

      Imagine if there were a CiF BTL comment about “typical Jewish victimhood”. There’d be outrage here – and rightly so.

      A shame this website is infested by so many bigots.

  10. Up to here this is normal Muslim behavior.
    Wow. Let’s see how long it takes for the mods to take down this filth.

    Thus the G becomes the vehicle for Islamic supremacy.
    Leave that standing for comedy value, mind.

    • You talkin to me?

      Yes indeed. The whole thing about letting Hasan get away with this BS is a sign of PC gone mad at the G…which is the vehicle for Islamic supremacists like Hasan to ride in…. And to top it off to have JF come to defence of a false victim seeing his own Jewishness in the situation is one of those..

      …Oh Pluuuuease……..moments….In other words, would be a joke if it weren’t so serious. Speaking of comic value, Freedland has delivered the joke…

      • He hasn’t got away with it, armaros!

        That article will not be forgotten and will count against him among the few intelligent people who can bear to read it, and neither will it be forgotten that the Groan had the consummate bad taste and lack of judgement to wheel out Freedland and the Bungler to support him because Hasan couldn’t make his points in a grown-up fashion and got mired in self-pity.

        The man is a card holding hypocrite who refused to apologise for egregiously offensive remarks about non-Muslims that he made in public, and he was recorded making them. Then, worse, he lied about them and tried to pull the old, “taken out of context” trick, to try to wriggle off the hook because he couldn’t bear to be shown to be wrong.

        His reaction is the sort of fury which comes from narcissistic injury.

  11. Love the website but as I’ve pointed out before many writers here err in expecting logicical and rational behavior from self-hating Westerners, traitors and Kapos.

    Freedland, although slightly better than most of the Guardians “as a Jew(ish)” writers is still oh their to add token respectability to, and to guard against charges of, anti-Zionism and anti-semitism.

  12. Freedland, although slightly better than most of the Guardians “as a Jew(ish)” writers is still only there to add token respectability to, and to guard against charges of, anti-Zionism and anti-semitism*

    (I sometimes hate iphone autocorrect)

  13. I still can’t believe people are surprised that;

    1. Some Muslim hate Jews due to Islamic teachings (which surprise surprise teach hatred of Jews and Christians)
    2. Some Muslims are violent (out of all proportion to any other religious groups) and inspired by the violent actions of Muhammed (who was by their own admission a murdering, slave owning, raping, bigamist, pedophilic anti-semitic double-crossing bandit)
    3. Some Muslim leaders justify violence against others
    4. Some Muslims find inspiration in their leaders sermons justifying violence against others
    5. The Guardian hates Jews and Israel
    6.The Guardian loves Muslims no matter how violent and antisemitic
    7. Jews that work for the Guardian are literally the Kapo’s of today sacrificing their peoples common good for their own prestige and monatary reward.
    8. Kapo’s and their modern equivalent are often illogical and irrational

    I think Islam is a little like the English holding thiefs like Robin Hood, Australian’s Ned Kelly, Americans Jesse James and modern “Gansta” culture in repute. It would be like worshiping one of these and justifying all of their horrible actions. Two wrongs never make a right though.

    • Jews that work for the Guardian are literally the Kapo’s of today sacrificing their peoples common good for their own prestige and monatary reward.

      Let me disagree Steve. Almost every kapos were ordinary persons having weak characters and did what they did under extreme conditions, most of them would have lived an ordinary life without putting them in situations where many other normal person would break too. I’m not for excusing them but we have to understand the context when condemning their behaviour.

      Freedland, Lerner and co are a totally different category, they are doing their dirty work for a pat on their heads from their Jew hating masters, for being invited to some exclusive dinner parties and functions (where their comrades are trying to not make any openly anti-semitic comments in their presence – only when they were not invited – they are a cultured, polite bunch naturally), and for some small change they are letting to exploit their Jewishness by outright Jew-haters inciting against their own people.
      To make a long story short this band is much worse than most of the wretches called kapo.

      • Got it in one, Peter about Freedland, Lerner et al, and I agree with what you wrote about the kapos.

  14. Robert Spencer takes down Freedland here….a perfect deconstruction of that idiot’s urge to censor blasphemy against the Guardians fav religion

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/07/guardian-publishes-a-see-through-attempt-to-demonise-certain-political-ideas-by-branding-them-racist.html

    “Freedland says Muslim journalists are frequently subjected to vile racist abuse by some of the crankier commenters who lurk on the world wide web, including being branded “goatf**kers”. But there are also “subtler” forms of racism, he says, such as when trolls “dress up in progressive, Guardian-friendly garb… slamming Islam as oppressive of gay and women’s rights, for example”. “Call it progressives’ prejudice”, says Freedland.
    What is extraordinary about this is that it represents an explicit conflation of racial prejudice and political opinion, a mashing together of what we can all agree is irrational hatred of Muslims with what is surely just criticism of Islam. Now, you may agree or disagree with the idea that Islam is repressive of women and gays, but it is an idea nonetheless, a view some individuals have arrived at after thinking about various issues. To lump such an outlook together with abusive terms like “goatf**ker”, as if they both come from the same spectrum of racial hatred, is a see-through attempt to demonise certain political ideas by branding them racist.”

    • Actually these are not Robert Spencer’s words. He is quite clearly quoting Brendan O’Neill in the Telegraph, Just thought I’d clear that one up.

    • How can any reasonable person disagree with the statement that Islam is repressive of women, gays and let’s not forget ANY OTHER non-Muslim religion!

  15. Give me a break. Jews like Freedland him who reflexively defend Muslims and WHATEVER they do, yet have a MUCH different threshold for criticizing Israel and Jews, are in general pathetic self-haters.

    These people are so insecure and desperate to be accepted and loved by a largely non-Jewish world that they’ll say or do ANYTHING to show how “un-Jewish” they are–which for some like Freedland means supporting the unsupportable, i.e. Islamofascist rhetoric and even the associated murderous terrorism.
    If you look up “phobia” in the dictionary, the definition is “an unreasonable or unfounded fear of a person, place, or thing”. There have been over 10,000 innocent civilians murdered by Islamofascist terrorism SINCE 9/11! And while certainly not all Muslims are terrorists, it’s undeniable that the great majority of terrorists are Muslim
    So i’m not sure why being fearful of say, getting on an airplane with young Muslim males qualifies as a “phobia”. And in fact much of the Western “mainstream” media both in Britain and the States go overboard in the other direction, i.e., to avoid saying ANYTHING negative about Muslims no matter what the context.W
    What would serve the Islamic community much better than their elaborate and regular dishonest self-pitying denials of jihad-minded violence would be explicit, public denunciations of terror acts and the twisted individuals who carry them out.
    However we rarely hear any such condemnations from anyone in the Muslim community–quite the contrary. In fact we regularly learn that the most violent and murderous of them are often honored with billboards, commemorative events, etc.!
    So i’m not sure the term “phobia” applies to a very legitimate concern about more of the same when it comes to terrorist murders, e.g. the infamous subway bombings in London. It may be instructive to brain-addled fuzzy thinkers and his co-conspiratorial bigots @ the Guardian that in the year 9/11 occurred, there were still more antiSemitic events documented in the U.S. than antiMuslim!.
    I like many other right-minded Jews and Christians have nothing but contempt for self-hating Jews like Freedland only too eager to be dishonest in service of some craved acceptance by the non-Jewish world while at the same time doing great disservice to his own people and culture.
    Truly pathetic.

  16. Ah, the self-hating Jew trope. You racists should be ashamed of yourselves. I doubt you will be, however.