Guardian

Conspiracy theory about Jewish donors funding anti-Islam film is variation on ancient theme.


A version of this essay, written by Joseph Weissman, was published at The JC.


On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, the American diplomat to Libya Chris Stevens was murdered by Islamists in Libya. Coincidentally, protests flared throughout many Muslim-majority states in protest at a film trailer “The Innocence of Muslims” which insulted Mohammed and the Muslim faith, casting both in a negative light. 

The murder of Mr Stevens has since been shown to have been pre-planned, and therefore separate from the protests surrounding the fourteen-minute-long YouTube video. Yet this past week, many within the mainstream media and within social media apportioned heavy blame for the murder of Ambassador Stevens, to the apparent provocation of The Innocence of Muslims.

Attention turned from the motives, background and identity of the murderers, to the motives, background and identity of the filmmaker. The YouTube user had uploaded his video using the name “sambacile”.

Hours after the murder in Libya, “Sam Bacile” identified himself to reporters as an Israeli Jew, claiming that his film project had been enabled by one hundred Jewish donors, who had contributed five million dollars to the film collectively. The Wall Street Journal – a usually balanced and trustworthy news source on the Middle East – first presented Bacile as an Israeli Jew.

The assertion that the director and his benefactors were rich Jews, rapidly spread across the internet. There were many obvious problems with this theory. The trailer began depicting a slaughter of Christians. Crosses featured prominently throughout the film.

A huge wooden cross was used as a backdrop, to a key scene involving an actor portraying Mohammed. It was not possible that the film should have cost five million dollars to make, given the obvious use of cheap backdrops, the poor acting, and the farcical dubbing. The trailer consisted of key parts of different scenes linked together, without any voiceover, textual effects or music which would really make it look like an actual trailer.

All this prompted a Channel 4 reporter to quip that the film was so poor, that if they existed, the Jewish donors might want their money back.

Whilst these mysterious donors – always alleged and never confirmed – continued to be mentioned amongst the images of burning effigies, the angry rioters, and obituarial clips of Ambassador Stevens, it became evermore unsettling to see how readily Bacile’s lie was believed.

It seems incredible, now, that people could possibly have thought that the film project and its  director were Jewish, and that rich Jews would spend so much money-making this film, which seemingly led to so much chaos. Why would news outlets as lofty as the BBC, repeat Bacile’s unsubstantiated claims? There were so many clear signs that the Jewish link was untrue.

The film looked like it cost a few thousand dollars to make, at most. Yet people believed that it cost millions, because of the added detail of the Jewish donors. Unfortunately, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, if you removed the Jewish donors, no-one would believe it cost five million dollars. This is because there is an unsettling assumption lurking in some parts of Western society, which casts Jews as rich, politically powerful, and highly motivated to push their own agendas, to the detriment of others. Jewish avarice and obsession with money can be a casual topic of humour in Britain.

Through these jokes, we get an insight into how some people perceive Jews.

If we hear such a joke, we might be tempted to think nothing of it. But when we see people readily believing that Jews could spend thousands of pounds on pamphlets, or millions on amateur Youtube films, we realise that we are dealing with an issue that goes way beyond humour. We should remember that antisemitic ideas about Jews being rich or obsessed with money, have existed for centuries. It would be dangerous to assume they have disappeared suddenly.

To do so would be to ignore a mountain of concerning evidence.

For its part, The Guardian carried a headline labelling Bacile an “Israeli director”, again mentioning the omnipresent “Jewish donors” within its article. When Bacile was shown to have Coptic rather than Jewish connections, The Guardian did not alter its headline.  Why would The Guardian hold to a false idea, even when it has been proven to be false?

Just days earlier, The Guardian had made claims about Jewish donors in a different setting. In a news piece about the Democratic convention re-affirming its support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, published on September 6th, you could read matter-of-factly: “Jewish donors, particularly in New York, and pro-Israeli lobby groups are generous supporters not only to Obama but to individual senators and members of the House, who are also facing election in November.”

There are donors of all colours and creed to American politicians, so it is remarkable that The Guardian should choose to focus on the Jews. If unaware of political donors of other ethnic and religious backgrounds, readers might conclude from this article that rich Jews act as a hidden hand behind American politics.

So when “Sam Bacile” began to spin yarns of a hundred rich Jewish donors financing his project, the idea struck a chord with those who tacitly accept theories about rich Jewish money leading to unrest in the Middle East.

It is tempting to feel incredulous, and to laugh and mock the absurdity of educated people so readily believing a lie about Jews. Yet there is a clear enough pattern emerging, which ought to concern us more than it amuses us. 

Earlier this year, the Anglican Church voted at their annual Synod to support the anti-Israel religious and political group Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), which is run by the World Council of Churches. Duly, Jewish deputies and community leaders expressed their concerns to the Synod.

In doing so, they were met with accusations from vicars, of “powerful lobbies” seeking to influence the Synod. Significantly, the proposer of the pro-EAPPI motion John Dinnen, claimed that an unremarkable A4 protest leaflet “must have cost £1,000”. The unspoken assumption was clear. The fingerprints of collective Jewish financial and political efforts were evidence that the case against the EAPPI motion was corrupted in its origin. Clearly the leaflet did not cost a thousand pounds, just as the Innocence of Muslims film trailer did not cost five million dollars.

When Ken Livingstone campaigned to become London mayor back in May, he expressed his belief that Jews would not vote for him because they are rich, and the rich vote for the Tories.

In the end, Livingstone lost by just over 60,000 votes. In the aftermath, some gleefully suggested that if Ken had not alienated so many with his unfair comments about Jews being rich, he might have run Boris Johnson far closer. However, it seemed unfathomable as to why Livingstone would deliberately risk upsetting voters, just to make his point about Jewish money.

In a documentary commissioned by Channel 4, Peter Oborne asked who funded the website CiF Watch, which holds the Guardian to account over its coverage on Israel. CiF Watch is a blog about a specialist subject, and to that extent, it is unremarkable. Bloggers set up blogs on all sorts of specialist subjects, from football teams, to musicians they like, to political causes. 

Set to sinister music, Oborne imagined CiF Watch to be part of an organised Israel lobby exercises “financial muscle” that holds sway over the BBC and Parliament. It was not enough that a few “mysterious” bloggers could just be people with a particular interest, but Oborne had to tell us that one of the CiF Watch bloggers lived in New York, and that he had upset a Guardian journalist by explaining what he thought was anti-Semitism.

When free-to-run blogs are seen as part of a collective financial project to undermine British politics, it is clear how absurd the lie about rich Jews really is.

In the wrong hands, the lie can prove fatal. 24-year-old Ilan Halimi was kidnapped in 2006, in France. Halimi’s kidnappers tried to extort money from his family. They thought that the young Jew was rich, as he was from a Moroccan Jewish family. However, Halimi’s family was of the same wealth as the families of kidnappers. When no ransom money could be provided, he was tortured to death and murdered.

The infamous Hamas charter asserts that the Jews, “with their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press […] they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein […] they formed secret societies [..]for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests.”

When we see Westerners march in solidarity with Hamas, we should not assume that they do so whilst ignoring these unsavoury parts of the Hamas charter. It is far more likely, that Hamas accusations about Jewish money chime with something about Jews that many educated people quite readily believe.

In this context, surely the media has a responsibility not to sustain prejudices, but rather to challenge them. Yet in recent years, we have seen a more subtle version of this concept, slowly creeping into mainstream political thinking.

The respectable version of the theory that Jews are rich and that their influence poisons politics, is that there is an “Israel lobby”, which seeks to sway leaders in the USA into taking pro-Israel positions.

This was the theory of American academics Mearsheimer and Walt, which quickly became popular amongst many left-wing British academics. So when John Mearsheimer expressed support for Gilad Atzmon by endorsing his book, and then defending his decision on Stephen Walt’s blog, it seemed shocking. Atzmon’s writings were overtly anti-Semitic.

He had claimed that modern Jews were the living embodiment of Fagin and Shylock, and that the Jews had effectively caused the Second World War by declaring war on Nazi Germany and seeking to boycott Nazi products. Mearsheimer had supported Atzmon’s writings, as if they were respectable. All of a sudden, the gap between intellectual Leftist anti-Zionism, and crude, aggressive antisemitism seemed infinitesimally small.

We will have to come to terms with the uncomfortable and distressing fact that in the twenty-first century, ludicrous claims about Jewish money and influence are a fact of life. The conspiracy theory about a hundred Jewish donors is the latest variation on this theme.

 Media outlets are only tempted to publish wild ideas about Jewish money, because they are readily believed within wider society. The longer this vicious circle continues, the more Jews will be forced into a corner, bound and trapped by the stereotypes which are readily thrust upon them.

49 replies »

  1. Brilliant article by Joseph Weissman.
    I’m convinced the Guardian would have gotten away with the lies that
    Sam Bacile was an Israeli Jew and that his film had been financed by 100 Jewish financiers.
    It was only because of the brilliant reporting by CIFWATCH that exposed this lie and it showed the Guaridan for the liars they are.
    Why is Peter Oborne not documenting this lie by the Guardian about Sam Bacile being an Israeli Jew.
    Is it because the Arab lobby has Osborne bought and paid for?
    Channel 4 needs to do an investigation into this.

    This is the most telling part of the article.
    In the wrong hands, the lie can prove fatal. 24-year-old Ilan Halimi was kidnapped in 2006, in France. Halimi’s kidnappers tried to extort money from his family. They thought that the young Jew was rich, as he was from a Moroccan Jewish family. However, Halimi’s family was of the same wealth as the families of kidnappers. When no ransom money could be provided, he was tortured to death and murdered.

    • Er, Ed, I think you may be overstating CifWatch’s part in this. I am sure Adam will correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think he had any part in discovering that “Sam Becile” was actually an Egyptian Coptic Christian, rather than an Israeli Jew, he simply reported it and pointed out the fact that the Guardian and others continued to rely on the lie long after it had been proven as such.

    • The film crew included ‘Jimmy Israel’, Alan Roberts, and Steve Goldberg/Goldenberg, and produced at Media for Christ, linked to geller-Spencer Jeiwsh hate groups denounced by the ADL.

      Now Zbig Brezinski, former carter national Security Advisor, is calling for an investigation of a possible conspiracy in production of the film, clearly Nakoula did not write the script, organize israel and Goldenberg, or pay for its production.

      http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2012/10/04/getting-away-with-murder-2/

        • Rich A, well who is paying you to be here? There must be conspiratorial trail of filthy lucre that has corrupted your mind and turned it into a sewer filled with anti-Semitic tropes and fantasies, motivating your cheeky dig at what you perceive to be Adam’s nefarious financial machinations. Either that or you are just an unattractive visceral bigot.

          • We’re asking a legitimate question: who’s funding CIF Watch?

            Any reputable organization indicates where its funding comes from on its website. I was not able to find this information on CIF Watch website, but I may have missed it.

            Can Mr Levick let us know who are the donors funding his website?

    • Let us extend Rich A’s question. Who funds WordPress and all the free blogs it runs? Isn’t such generosity suspicious? What is the name of the organisation behind the internet? Such design could not have happened accidentally and without a huge investment.

      I am sure that a little bit of research by the ever-interested Rich will uncover an interplanetary force that opened up a channel to allow all the different factions to express their thoughts and tell the aliens where Earth’s weak spots are.

      • Mr Levick, who’s funding CIF Watch?

        From your previous posts, I assume that you share the principles of transparency and accountability, so why not disclose here the identity of your donors?

    • Oh FFS. Who cares? And it’s not as if it’s a multi-million-dollar undertaking with a staff of hundreds and offices on all contintents anyway, is it?

  2. I think, facing the likes of Butler, Atzmon and the other Jewish anti-Semites who think they can escape whatever destiny they imagine by disguising as cosmopolitan dhimmis, one of our noblest achievement after and due to the Holocaust is the solidarity with Israel, without identifying ourselves as Zionist, Jew or anything else, that is.

    • It must be the Worldmedia Section of the Elders of Zyion Rich. Didn’t you know that they keep the world media, the US government even the sharks of Sharm-el-Sheikh in their hands?

    • I need to know who funds mondoscheiss ?
      We know that a large chunk of 972mag’s funding comes from the German Left ( The Greens ) which I find rather creepy, considering the majority of bloggers call for the OSS.

  3. I mean Adam obviously doesnt have a job. He devotes all of his days to spewing out garbage. So who pays his bills ? Is that not a fair question ?

      • The UK taxpayer probably funds him and if so, being one of them, I resent deeply that my hard-earned money is being spent on the likes of him

        • Snigger please, if you must resent or blame anyone blame the Government who brought in the ‘Care in the Community’ policy.
          What did you think would happen when the Asylums were closed down and the likes of poor Rich A were turned loose on the streets?

      • Why doesn’t Adam answer the question: who funds CIF Watch?

        I mean, if this is a respectable website, why would his donors want to remain anonymous?

    • No, it’s not fair to say “he devotes his days to spewing out garbage,”
      (Rich, that’s your job), and then state it’s a fair question to ask where his funding comes from. You’re not required to read his “garbage.”
      If Adam wishes to disclose that information to you, then that’s his business, although I can’t imagine why he, or for that matter you, would think you’re entitled to it.
      I think what’s fair to say is that CiF’s funding is none of your business.

  4. This week Al Jazeera is running a documentary on modern Greek history in Egypt. Besides omissions and other one interviewee states that the US’s failure to negotiate with Nasser over his (illegal but Al Jazeera presents as legal and moral) nationalization of the Suez canal as being because of “Jewish pressure” in Washington. No evidence is offered nor a contradictory view. Clear cut judeophobic conspiracy theories on are now acceptable it seems to be broadcast in the West.

    • It seems that the worm may be turning. As a result of Muslim reaction to “insult” (as well as their insistence that they alone should have the right to insult everyone else) the bloodletting and violence by Islamic barbarians seems to have had the opposite effect to the one they intended. Among my friends and acquaintance at least people are sick and tired of it and them, so perhaps alJaz’ perversion of fact will elicit a similar response.

    • Nasser of course deported the entire Greek-Egyptian Elite which was mostly carrying the Egyptian economy.
      Nasser the National Socialist decapitated his nations mercantile class causing massive economic damage from which Egypt will never recover. He stole/”nationalized” the Greeks property. Similar to what the Jews left behind in Germany, so did the Greeks leave behind Opera houses, schools, villas, factories, banks, indeed an entire civilization which had been built over hundreds of years. Profiting the Egyptian nation in too many ways to mention. Nasser pulled of another classic emasculation in the region in the name of Arab nationalism. Oy Vey. Cluster f*^#.

  5. Hi Adam
    Don’t allow the troll Rich to louse up the blog as he does on the JC and Richard Milletts .
    Just cut him out quickly and cleanly .

    • Harvey let me disagree.
      Rich, Avram, Nat, Sanity, Sencar et co must be allowed to spew here their hate of Israel, their contempt of Western democracies, their lies and their moronic BS (attn Nat) showing the moral and intellectual qualities of the so called “I’m not an antisemite but an anti-Zionist” trash.

  6. It’s sad to read the caption below that Stürmer antisemitic cartoon:
    “Money is the god of the Jews” – because this is a commonly-held prejudice by many ordinary people today.

    As if to suggest that non-Jews are somehow nobler or more refined than Jews. When they see how well Jews have succeeded in medicine, the legal profession or academia, it’s very hypocritical of them to suggest only the basest motives to Jews.

  7. And how your crap is connected to the subject of the article?

    But all of your Jew-hating pals who laughed their biggest laugh of the day have successfully demonstrated their amazing ignorance. and complete inability to implement simplest data research and mathematical operations.

    The number of Jewish Nobel-prize winners is 29 according to Wikipedia

    The number of all winners is 69.according to the same source

    I know that this division is way above of your capabilities but anyway
    29/69 = 0.42029..azaz more than 42 % – Sack really used a faulty number.

    Rich your repeated insulting and moronic trolling is a gift to Cifwatch. Please keep it up….

    • Peter, I am not Rich A(rmbach?). You’ve just done a blue-on-blue! The point of my posting was to show that the sort of antisemitism that made the Re:Think audience laugh at a connection between Jews and money is so embedded in (post)-Christian culture that it’s unthinking, automatic and unconscious. I am a Zionist and support Adam (and Richard Millett) and oppose ‘Rich A’, Roger and similar trolls. I think you owe me an apology.

      • No problem, I apologise but maybe you should have expressed your thoughts more clearly especially with a moniker so close to a well known troll. That the connection between money and Jews lost on me shows only that I need some more lesson regarding the anatomy of antisemitism.

        • Thanks, Peter! Have you read ‘Why the Jews?’ by Dennis Prager or ‘Trials of the Diaspora’ by Anthony Julius?

          • Sadly not, though I heard from friends that both are very good describing and analysing the history and development of antisemitism and the different spiritual and political forces feeding it’s flames. I don’t have any doubts about the importance of understanding the phenomenon, but on the other side I’m a big fan of the perennial wisdom of Jorge Semprun writing in his unforgettable book – The Long Voyage about the ultimate representatives of antisemitism the SS guards in the camps: “…we don’t need to understand these people but to shoot them.