‘CiF’ contributor Patrick Seale accuses Israel of “provoking” the US to war in Syria


Patrick Seale

Whilst even before the state of Israel was reborn antisemitic demagogues like Henry Ford and Father Charles Coughlin characterized American Jews as disloyal “fifth columnists” who were pushing the U.S. to war for financial reasons, even after the war any temporary post-Holocaust taboos on the imputation of such malevolence to Jews soon were eroded. 

Paul Findley, a former U.S. Congressman whose book They Dare to Speak Out, an attack on the ‘pernicious’ influence of the “Israel lobby,” became a bestseller in 1985.  And, a couple of decades later academics considered to be foreign policy “realists”, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, became popular within anti-Zionist circles after their publication of ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’.  The book warned of the “stranglehold” which the Israel “Lobby” exercises over Congress; of their “manipulation of the media” and efforts to “squelch debate”.  They also argued that the 2003 Iraq war wouldn’t have been possible without the influence of Israel and the American Israel lobby.

While paleoconservative commentators in the mid to late 2000s have unsurprisingly also championed this narrative – Pat Buchanan wrote in 2008 that “Israel and its Fifth Column in [Washington , DC] seek to stampede us into war with Iran” – some liberal columnists have engaged in similar rhetoric.  For instance, columnist Joe Klein asserted in his TIME blog that Jewish neoconservatives “plumped” for the war in Iraq and are now doing the same for “an even more foolish assault on Iran” with the goal of making the world “safe for Israel.”  

Additionally, Guardian contributors have advanced the specious claim that Israel, or the Israel lobby, are primarily responsible for US sanctions against Iran, and represent a powerful and dangerous force pushing the US to outright war against the Islamic Republic. Such narratives, with varying degrees of explicitness, have been advanced by, among other CiF contributors, veteran Guardian journalists Simon Tisdall and Simon Jenkins, and the paper’s associate editor, Seumas Milne.  And, of course, Glenn Greenwald has been the most explicit promoter of the ‘Jewish necon’ cabal to take the country to war against Iran’ meme, arguing the following at his previous blog at in 2007.

It is simply true that there are large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups which are agitating for a U.S. war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests and they perceive it to be in Israel’s interests for the U.S. to militarily confront Iran.

Turning to the crisis in Syria, whilst we recently commented on suggestions made by Robert Fisk at the Indy that recent Israeli strikes on weapons in Syria intended for Hezbollah was an act which would recklessly push ‘the West’ into the Syrian war, a recent commentary by occasional Guardian contributor Patrick Seale, writing in ‘Middle East Online‘, takes Fisk’s hysterical claim a few steps further.

He writes:

On April 23, a senior Israeli officer, Brig Gen Utai Brun, head of research at army intelligence, made a serious accusation against Syria. In a lecture at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, he declared: “To the best of our professional understanding, the Syrian regime has used lethal chemical weapons against gunmen in a series of incidents in recent months…” General Brun gave no evidence for his accusation and produced no physical proof, but he added that the Israel Defence Forces believed Syria had used the nerve agent sarin on several occasions, including a specific attack on March 19.

In addition to Seale’s erroneous suggestion that it was Israel alone which charged Syria with using chemical weapons – French and British intelligence claimed on April  18 (several days before the Israeli claims cited by Seale) that “there is credible evidence that Syria has fired chemical weapons”  – his argument that such charges are without “proof” is contradicted by recent statements by the Obama Administration  charging Assad with using such weapons.

Seale’s commentary continues: 

As it happened, [Israeli] General Brun made his accusation against Syria during a three-day visit to Israel by America’s new Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel — a man whose appointment Israel’s supporters in the United States had sought to prevent. Some Jewish organisations had come close to calling him anti-Semitic. Only by eating humble pie did Hagel manage to have his appointment confirmed. He now clearly hopes to put an end to his quarrel with America’s pro-Israeli lobby.

On this his first visit to Israel as Defence Secretary, he announced that Israel was to receive a rich haul of advanced U.S. weapons — air refuelling tankers, cutting-edge radar and the V-22 Osprey ‘tiltrotor’ aircraft, an advanced plane so far denied to all other US allies. But Hagel’s generous gesture was to no avail.

Seale’s facile logic assumes that the decision by the US Defense Department to sell Israel advanced weaponry – which was part of a broader Middle East arms package which included weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – must be the result, not of deliberations by the national security apparatus of the Obama administration, but of Secretary Hagel’s wish to mollify the pro-Israel lobby.

Seale then jumps to his broader conclusion:

Although Israel was evidently delighted with the weapons, this did not inhibit it from accusing Syria of using chemical weapons — clearly in the hope of provoking a U.S. attack on that country.

Hagel was angry that Israel was putting pressure on the United States to intervene in Syria. The Israeli authorities may well have thought that Hagel, still recovering from the beating pro-Israelis had given him in Washington, would not dare dispute Israel’s assessment

Finally, Seale makes this extraordinary leap:

By insisting that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, General Brun’s aim seems to have been to persuade the United States to destroy both the Syrian regime and its Hezbollah ally

Interestingly, however, while some anti-Zionists have indeed accused Israel of siding with the rebels, many others have made the opposite claim – that Israel is siding with Assad and against the revolution in order to maintain relative peace on their northern border.  The failure of anti-Israel propagandists to stay on message aside, Israel has continually made it clear both in word and in deed that it is not at war with Syria, but primarily concerned with the threat posed by Hezbollah – an Iranian backed heavily armed Shiite Islamist terror group occupying large swaths of Lebanon.

Moreover, you’d be hard pressed to find a commentator or analyst other than Seale who has seriously argued that Israel is deviously trying to provoke the US into a Middle East war against its will. Seal’s accusation that Israel is “provoking” the US to “destroy” both the Syrian regime and Hezbollah is pure fantasy, concocted by a lazy and easily suggestible mind mired in historically based conspiratorial notions imputing enormous power to both the Jewish state and its supporters in the US.

19 replies »

  1. Patrick Seale in his biography of Assad (the senior Hafez):
    … an outstanding ruler of modern Syria….a man who seems to abhor violent confrontations.
    In Seale’s book being an outstanding ruler and abhorring violence means that he slaughtered only 30000 Syrian civilians in Homs. Taking into account the actions of his son this is really a serious underperformance.
    Seems to me the Guardian is scraping the barrel when commissions obvious pens for hire “journalists”.

    • Fair-minded people will take estimates of the number of Syrians killed when we’re told how how many Palestinians died in the Nakba.

      I make it 300,000 missing, and Israeli estimates would presumably go up to c. 550,000. Or does that particular death toll have to be hushed up?

      PS – why can’t we see the Israeli pictures and account of the Deir Yassin massacre, 65 years after the event?

      Might it because they show even more than the 254 bodies counted by the one observer to get in there, and not the 107 that Israel insists on? Even 107 dead is nearly three times more than the number of Jews ever killed by a criminal Palestinian!

      Surely Israel doesn’t cover things up? Or maybe Israel does cover things up – where is the Deir Yassin memorial? Why can’t people even visit the site of the massacre, just 800 yards from Yad Vashem, screened by trees?

      • Not even the most ruthless anti-Semites, or the foulest pro-Palestinian propagandists claim that “Hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians died during Israel’s war of independence.
        So congratulate yourself on being “creative”, and inventing yet ANOTHER libel against Israeli Jews.
        The current death toll stands at ~15,000 on both sides.These are UN figures. DEAL WITH IT; it also makes this conflict(I/P) one of the least deadly in recent history.
        Oh, and piss off, you loathsome Neo-Nazi moron…

        • What you mean is, you’re pleased that Israel is still covering up for (and many Israelis still in denial of) the massacre of Deir Yassin.

          And for sure you don’t want to know about the huge numbers of babies and the old who must have died around the same time.

          • “Many Israelis are still in denial of…”; Funny that they should be “in denial”, when the events at Deir Yassin are part of the Israeli national education curriculum, taught to every Israeli highschooler.
            Tell us, are the events of the genocidal Hebron massacre, in the Palestinian curriculum?
            How about the 1936-1939 riots? Are we going to see some Palestinian introspection there?
            Or is it that you don’t want to know about the huge number of babies and the old who must have died — Jews — around the same time?

      • Fair-minded people think you are a typical british eurotrash Jew-hating retard. Get lost. And say hi to Aboladejo.

  2. Interestingly, however, while some anti-Zionists have indeed accused Israel of siding with the rebels, many others have made the opposite claim

    Sad but not surprising.

  3. From the Searle article:

    But Hagel’s generous gesture was to no avail. Although Israel was evidently delighted with the weapons, this did not inhibit it from accusing Syria of using chemical weapons — clearly in the hope of provoking a U.S. attack on that country.

    Clearly … as mud.

  4. Seale is a well known Arabist and apologist for Assad sr.
    Seale opposes a Kurdish state in Iraqi Kurdistan or Syrian Kurdistan, but wants a Palestinian state.
    Seale opposes a Kurdish state, because he see’s it as a step backwards for the Arabs.

    • ‘step backwards for the arabs’, great quote. any more ‘steps’ and we start climbing up the tree again.

  5. Camera had a good article about the liar Patrick Seale from 2006.
    July 5, 2006
    Steven Stotsky

    Guardian Publishes Seale’s Tirade Against Israel

    The Guardian has published a tirade against Israel by Patrick Seale, long time apologist for the Assad regime in Syria ( “Anything but negotiation: Palestinian moderates are Israel’s real enemies, so it deliberately drives them from the scene” July 3, 2006). Seale accuses Israel of conducting a ruthless operation in Gaza primarily aimed not at reducing the rocket attacks or freeing captured Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit but rather at squelching Palestinian moderates. The piece is riddled with unsubstantiated speculation, exaggerations, distorted language and false assertions.

    That Seale sees an Israeli conspiracy in recent events is no surprise. After the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Seale blamed the Israelis “of course,” (“Who killed Rafik Hariri?” Guardian,Feb 23, 2005), despite near universal consensus that the Syrians were behind it. Even for the Guardian’s low standards of accuracy when reporting on Israel, this piece stands out for its sheer mendacity. Among the more egregious errors appearing in the piece:

    – Seale condemns the Israeli operation and claims that as a result of it, Palestinians will naturally “seek revenge” including a “resort to terrorism.” In light of the fact that the operation was precipitated by a Palestinian attack on soldiers and the kidnapping of a civilian (an 18 year old man who was subsequently murdered), and in the context of unrelenting Palestinian terrorism of the past six years including hundreds of rocket attacks against the civilians of Sderot, this comment suggests a stunning blindness concerning Palestinian actions.If Israel had not responded to the rocket attacks, the hostage taking and terrorism, does Seale actually think the Palestinian terror would cease? Lack of a military response to violence against Israelis in the past has led to increased terror, not less.

    – Seale accuses Israel of using “vastly disproportionate force against Gaza” although one week into the Israeli operation only a handful of Gazans have been killed and not a single civilian among them.

    – He warns Israeli commander Dan Halutz that he may find himself a war criminal – a charge he never bandied about when writing of the Assad regime’s massacre of thousands of its own civilians in 1982.

    – Seale ludicrously denies the obvious, that the Israeli operation is intended to free Corporal Shalit and to deter future hostage taking.

    – He claims that Israel intends to “destroy the Hamas government by all possible means because it knows that Hamas’s terms for a settlement would be stiffer than it could possibly accept.”

    It strains credibility to believe that Seale is unaware that Hamas refuses to recognize the right of Israel to exist (see the Hamas Charter) and that no “settlement” short of Israel’s destruction would satisfy Hamas.

    – “It is no accident that its [Israel’s] assault followed immediately on the Palestinian accord.” This is a gross misrepresentation of cause and effect. The Palestinian attack occurred on June 26, two days prior to the Palestinian accord and amid rampant speculation that a faction of Hamas led by Khalid Mishal in Syria was opposed to it.

    – Downplaying Palestinian provocation, he erroneously claims that the rockets launched from Gaza “have so far not killed anyone.” In fact, over the past 5 years, 13 have been killed by rockets from Gaza.

    June 28, 2004: Mordechai Yosepov, 49 and Afik Zahavi, 4

    Sept. 29, 2004: Yuval Abebeh, 4 and Dorit Benisian, 2

    Dec. 14, 2004: a female agricultural worker from Thailand

    Jan. 11, 2005: Nissim Arbiv

    Jan. 15, 2005: Ayala (Ella) Abukasis

    June 7, 2005: Salah Ayash Imran, 57, Muhammed Mahmoud Jaroun, and Bi Shude, 46

    July 14, 2005: Dana Galkowicz, 22

    March 28, 2006: Salam Ziadin and his 16-year-old son Khalid

    – Seale blusters about an alleged double standard the US applies in supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, while the “implicit corollary is that no one else has such a right.” Governments have the right to defend their citizens, but they do not have the right to engage in state-sponsored terrorism or to offer a safe haven for terrorists.Since Israel is willing to negotiate a reasonable two-state solution with a Palestinian government committed to a permanent peace Palestinian violence and terrorism is particularly unnecessary and counterproductive.

    – Seale misrepresents the recent Hamas-Fatah accord, claiming it implicitly recognises Israel, when Hamas officials have repeatedly denied this.

    “Israel will do everything to avoid a negotiation. Hence, it deliberately inflicts inhumane hardships on the Palestinians in order to radicalise them and drive the moderates from the scene.”

    Seale ignores the refusal of Hamas to accept any of the established conditions for meaningful negotiations – recognizing Israel’s right to exist, ending violence, and validating past agreements.

    One wonders why Seale doesn’t discuss Hamas’ role (or the role of the many other terror organizations) in intimidating potential Palestinian moderates. Afterall, threats of violence, hostage-taking and murder are tactics that Palestinian thugs use quite often on their own people, not just with Israel.

    – Seale’s description of the events is unbalanced. He describes the Hamas-led raid as a “cross-border operation by Palestinian guerillas against an Israeli military post” but describes Israel’s measured military response as a “destructive rampage in Gaza.”

    • Nobody in their right minds would take note of what CAMERA says about the situation viz-a-viz the Palestinians.

      Even Israeli newspapers treat their tirades as not worth responding to.

      Meanwhile, Hamas (the first leaders the Palestinians have ever been free to choose for themselves) are the moderates, attempting to have peace with Israel, as in 2008, smashed by Israeli in Nov and Dec.

      You can’t deny what even Zionist sources say, a 99.5% rocket reduction – to which Israel chose to repond with the biggest massacre yet, Cast Lead.

  6. More about Seale. Talk about an Arabist liar.

    Seale is more accurately be described as a Syrian propagandist who echoes even the most absurd claims by the nation’s rulers. (He alleges that Israel was behind Palestinian arch-terrorist Abu Nidal’s actions, and that Nizar al-Hindawi, who tried to blow up an El Al plane in 1986, was actually a double agent controlled by Israel.) The broadcast devoted almost four times as much time to Israel’s accusers as it did to its defender.

  7. Patrick Seale’s ‘biography’ of Abu Nidal also contains the claim that he committed his worst atrocities (e.g. Rome and Vienna airports, the ‘City of Poros’ attack) on behalf of Mossad, as part of a plot to discredit the PLO.

    Only the ‘Guardian’ would take him seriously.

    • Abu Nidal was explled from the PLO in 1973 (for attacking the Saudi in Paris).

      On June 3rd 1982 his gang attacked the Israeli ambassador in London, the bombers caught a day later. On one of them was a list of future targets – including the PLO representative in London.

      That did not stop Israel from attacking and occupying Lebanon for the next 18 years, while it mass-murdered the refugees it had forced there.