General Antisemitism

Guardian reviews of ‘Homeland’ reveal failure to understand antisemitic motives of extremists


The U.S. drama ‘Homeland’, based on the Israeli series Hatufim, was the subject of a column by Peter Beaumont on Oct. 13.  The series stars Claire Danes as a CIA officer who believes that a U.S. Marine held captive by Al-Qaeda as a POW was turned by the enemy and now threatens the U.S.

Though the show has received much critical acclaim, Beaumont (foreign affairs editor of the Observer, sister publication of the Guardian) published a piece, ‘Homeland is brilliant drama but does it present a crude image of Muslims, expressing a dissenting view.

Beaumont found the show’s depictions of Muslims “crude, childish, offensive” and “Islamophobic” which he blamed in part on the fact that the show was “rooted in its genesis as an Israeli drama, where the view of the surrounding neighborhood is more paranoid and defensive.”

Similarly, the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, was also offended by the show. In ‘Homeland: does it give an accurate picture of Middle East politics?‘, Oct. 25, Black sums up his concerns, thus:

“Homeland purports to portray a nuanced version of the “war on terror” but the story is still told through a national security prism and (as Peter Beaumont pointed out recently in the Observer) with more than a touch of Islamophobia — from Brody’s badly pronounced “Allahu Akbar” while praying secretly in his garage, to the portrayal of all the Muslim characters as devious and cruel.

Strikingly, the cast has not (yet) included any Palestinians – important players in the contemporary Middle East. Like it or not their grievances are highly relevant to Arab/Muslim hostility to Israel and its US protectors. You don’t have to be Abu Nazir to observe that neither are simply the passive victims of evil and motiveless terrorists.”

In Beaumont’s narrative, Israelis possess a large degree of paranoia about Muslims, irrational hostility which arguably informs and influences the Islamophobia present in the American show.  And, for Black, the show’s failure stems from the absence of context which would instruct the viewer that Arab/Muslim violence can be explained, in large part, by legitimate Palestinian grievances against Israel.

Both Beaumont and Black illustrate the most glaring antisemitic habit present on the Guardian Left: the failure to take modern Jew hatred, manifested in Judeophobic propaganda throughout the Arab/Muslim world, or in terror attacks against Jewish targets, seriously as an unjustifiable form of racism.

The reason why the obscene, often demonic, portrayal of Jews – seen routinely in Arab and Muslim newspapers, caricatures, websites, TV news, films and educational materials – is almost never reported by the Guardian is arguably related to their belief that such hatred stems not from traditional antisemitism, but is merely a reaction to the politics of the Jewish state. 

The narrative which ties global antisemitism to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, which has its roots in the far left, has tragically found fertile ground within the mainstream left, and among Western policy makers.

Speaking at a Jewish conference on antisemitism organized by the European Jewish Union (EJU) last December, Howard Gutman, the US Ambassador to Belgium, argued that a distinction should be made between traditional antisemitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Gutman’s stunning moral logic – echoing narratives advanced in the Guardian – posits that the West must be careful not to impute Jew hatred to Muslims in the Middle East whose animosity towards Jews may be merely informed by anti-Zionism.

Such rationales would suggest that demonic depictions of Jews, the belief in Jewish global conspiracies, Holocaust denial and blood libels should not be condemned as dangerous signs of cultural pathogens which evoke the darkest periods in antisemitic history, but, rather, should be contextualized – their “root causes” understood and rationalized.  

It’s as if imputing antisemitism to Muslims who express hatred towards Jews either demonstrates a lack of political sophistication or could even itself suggest a form of ‘Islamophobia’. 

Nobody with a good understanding of the history of antisemitism should be surprised that, once again, antisemitism has found fertile ground.

What is surprising, however, is that many of the most highly educated Western elites fail to understand the most fundamental lesson of centuries of anti-Judaism and antisemitism (and indeed on all forms of racism): that such hatred is always a commentary on the haters – their moral and intellectual failures – and never on the object of such hate.

In every generation there are those who find new reasons to engage in antisemitism, and there are those who will invariably argue that, this time, such hostility towards Jews may be justified – insidiously asking the question, in one form or another, “What have Jews done to make people hate them so much”?

20 replies »

  1. I find Messrs. Beaumont’s and Black’s criticism of a TV show offensive, America-phobic and anti-Semitic, therefore it is.

  2. If Al-Guardian ever grasped the concepts of reseach and checking its so-called facts and if Al-Guardian and its {soon to be up to 100 less} journos ever read the quran Al-Guardian and its journos will realise that the only things that present islam and muslims in a crude image are islam and muslims themselves and have done so for the last 1400 odd years

  3. Ian Black: “Unbelievably, a scene showing Carrie being pursued down a Beirut alleyway featured ads and posters in Hebrew.”

    He might have wanted to explain why that is so unbelievable.

    • Ian Black: “Unbelievably, a scene showing Carrie being pursued down a Beirut alleyway featured ads and posters in Hebrew.”

      Maybe because the scene was actually filmed in Israel.

  4. His criticism is seriously there haven’t been any Pali’s on there? I don’t recall any Assyrians, Copts, Berbers, or Armenians either? What an idiot.

    It’s the same logic that a critic of israel wrote a few years ago that since Israeli soldiers don’t rape Arabs they must be racists. Total lack of logic.

    If the show did feature Pali’s he’d criticize it even more.

    • Can you avoid using the phrase ‘Pali’, Steve, as it is an offensive term for Palestinians.

      As for the ‘Graun’ piece in question, I’m pretty sure that Roya Hammad is a Palestinian character, so yet again it’s a basic research fail for the Faringdon Road mob.

      • Actually, I’m wrong about Hammad. She’s Pakistani, but was radicalised during her time living in Gaza.

  5. From Wikipedia: Antisemitism Speech Speaking at a legal conference on antisemitism organized by the European Jewish Union on November 30, 2011, Gutman talked about historic antisemitism, as well as a trend he described as “a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension…in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem”. He added that “an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.”[8] The comments were inaccurately quoted by a number of news outlets based on an initial account from newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, after which Gutman received high-profile criticism from a number of rival politicians, including Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.[9] Gutman issued a statement saying “I deeply regret if my comments were taken the wrong way”, highlighting his history of condemning and combating anti-semitism, and making reference to his background as the son of a Holocaust survivor.[10]

  6. It’s very revealing of their mindset, I mean that of Guardian readers, which will not allow them to praise any IsraeI product without a caveat – don’t forget the Palestinians. Israeli medicine is world-class, but don’t forget about the settlements. Israeli films are world-class but what about Gaza?
    And then again – Arab antisemitism is understandable given the occupation, isn’t it?
    You don’t agree – well the chosen people rejected their messiah and

    • Continued… Betrayed him, didn’t they?
      Such is the Guardian mindset. Ignorant,racist hypocrites who indeed say more about themselves than about the Arabs whom they suck up to.

  7. If Israel is to blame for Arab antisemitism, how would Beaumont and Black explain the Fez pogrom of 1912 in Morocco, the 1934 riots in Constantine, Algeria, the 1941 Farhud in Iraq, the 1945 pogrom in Libya – no doubt the Jews are to blame in every case.

    • Not part of their narrative, therefore not important to them.

      These are the sort of people who say the past is dreadfully important, unless it’s the part of the past they don’t understand, and therefore don’t care about.

  8. I’ve started watching Homeland. Anybody have any idea on what grounds Beaumont refers to Brody’s “badly pronounced “Allahu Akbar””?? And how that is supposed to constitute Islamophobia?

    And having seen the first few episodes, both his and Black’s articles seem all the sillier.

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