General Antisemitism

Glenn Greenwald and the ‘anti-imperialist’ inspired indifference to antisemitism

As Charles Krauthammer argued recently about information from the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s nuclear pursuits, in the context of Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive”:

It takes about 250 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in August that Iran already has 186 kilograms. That leaves the Iranians on the threshold of going nuclear. They are adding 3,000 new high-speed centrifuges. They need just a bit more talking, stalling, smiling and stringing along of a gullible West.

Of course, the term “gullible”, which suggests a degree of good intentions, doesn’t accurately characterize the politics of Glenn Greenwald.  If Greenwald was born in a previous era, he’d no doubt be parroting Soviet propaganda – not because he would have necessarily been a supporter Soviet communism (any more than he is currently a supporter of Islamism), but because his political orientation demands that he take a position sympathetic to America’s adversaries.

Glenn Greenwald addresses 2013 Socialism Conference via Skype

James Kirchick – whose recent courageous battle against Russia’s institutionalized anti-gay bigotry evidently failed to evoke Greenwood’s sympathy – has argued that the Guardian journalist “subscribes to a modernized version of the old trope attributing all that is wrong in the world to the behavior of the United States.”  And, if you think Kirchick is overstating the case, then all you have to do is look at Greenwald’s support for such odious figures as al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awaki, traitors such as Bradley Manning and, seemingly, any malicious political actor who ever opposed U.S. “hegemony”. 

Additionally, whilst murderous despots such as Bashar al-Assad never quite seem to inspire Greenwald’s liberal, “humanitarian” passions, he hasn’t hesitated in unleashing his full fury on Jewish, pro-Israel journalists who run afoul of his political sensibilities.

He has accused Michael Goldfarb of The Weekly Standard and Martin Peretz of The New Republic of “psychopathic derangement” and “sociopathic indifference” and “celebration” over their alleged insensitivity toward civilian deaths in Iraq. Goldfarb and Peretz, he wrote, seem to get a “blood-pumping excitement” from the suffering of the weakest members of society.  Greenwald has also characterized Charles Krauthammer as “bloodthirsty”, and asserted: “It is difficult to find someone with a more psychopathic indifference to the slaughter of innocent people in pursuit of shadowy, unstated political goals than Charles Krauthammer.”

Though his latest Guardian column doesn’t employ such incendiary rhetoric against the journalistic object of his rage, his post (Brian Williams’ Iran Propaganda, Sept. 28), takes aim at the NBC News Anchor for making the ‘audacious’ claim that the new leadership in Iran is “suddenly claiming they don’t want nuclear weapons”, to which Greenwald sarcastically replies:

Yes, Iran’s claim that they don’t want nuclear weapons sure is “sudden” – if you pretend that virtually everything that they’ve said on that question for the past ten years does not exist.

Greenwald then quotes the firm denials of paradigms of honesty and moral clarity such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who, per Greenwald, “issued a 2005 religious edict banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

However, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published in April, there is no evidence that such a fatwa was ever issued. MEMRI demonstrates that the mysterious fatwa – cited by Iran apologists to attest to the “peaceful” designs of their nuclear program – is a fiction. MEMRI’s report included the following:

“An exhaustive search of the various official websites of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei turned up no such fatwa, either on his fatwa website or on his personal website….MEMRI’s investigation reveals that no such fatwa ever existed or was ever issued or published, and that media reports about it are nothing more than a propaganda ruse on the part of the Iranian regime apparatuses – in an attempt to deceive top U.S. administration officials…”

Was Greenwald – whose investigative skills are so highly touted by his supporters – truly unable to locate the MEMRI report contradicting his contention, one which was issued more than five months before his post?

Interestingly, MEMRI’s report also included details on the likely existence of a genuine fatwa issued by the Supreme Leader in 2006 “which states that shari’a does not forbid the use of nuclear weapons.”  

Moreover, as we reported in February, a website with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly outlined why it would be religiously acceptable to kill all Jews in Israel – a doctrine which details why the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of all its people would be legally and morally justified, and in accordance to Islamic doctrine.  

Whilst a throwaway line by one American journalist inspires Greenwald to outrage, multiple, extremely well-documented examples – mirroring the article cited above – of Iranian leaders engaging in incitement to genocide seem to leave him unmoved. Here are a few illustrations, from an extensive report by the JCPA:





Whilst the silence of many leftist intellectuals in the face of such malice represents a stunning indictment on the devolution of a once proudly humanitarian movement, it’s important to stress that – though Greenwald and his fellow travelers certainly aren’t beyond employing antisemitic tropes – it would be inaccurate to infer that silence on the Iranian threat necessarily suggests malice towards Jews as such.  

In reading Greenwald, what most stands out is an adversarial dynamic, exhibited by such ideologues, explained by Anthony Julius:

Truth is to be arrived at by inverting the “us = good” and “other = bad” binarism.” [They] find virtue in opposing [their] own community.”

Or, as James Kirchick wrote about Greenwald in the Commentary essay noted above:

In his capacity as a legally minded pontificator of the far left, Greenwald might be called the Leonard Boudin of the interactive age. Boudin was the go-to lawyer for America’s most prominent Communists, left-wing radicals, and terrorists, not to mention the post-revolutionary Cuban government of Fidel Castro. Like Boudin, Greenwald can always be relied upon to provide a defense for those who wish to do America and its allies harm. Greenwald has ranked his perverse sense of “anti-imperialism” ahead of any and all other considerations, including what many would expect to be his own self-interest. After all, how else could a gay Jew become the world’s most verbose Western apologist for homophobic, anti-Semitic fanatics and murderers?

Greenwald isn’t antisemitic, any more than he’s homophobic. It’s just that his anti-American, anti-Zionist, “anti-imperialist” ideological package demands continued fealty to those who are. 

18 replies »

  1. Greenwald once admitted on Cif that he only ever criticizes the US (and Israel, natch). He said it is easy to criticize other countries, but requires more honesty and courage to criticize one’s own.

    No, it didn’t ring true with me either. And I don’t remember hearing him criticize Brazil for anything, despite the fact that’s where he actually lives.

    I have had my doubts about Greenwald ever since I found out he was the legal representative for the neo-Nazi Matt Hale for many years.

    • Yeah – I read that too, but I actually think he has it exactly wrong. It takes much more courage to criticize your country if you live in a totalitarian country which doesn’t allow dissent than it does to criticize the US, EU countries or Israel, where there is freedom of speech. The true patriots are the political dissidents in places like Iran and the Arab world where they could be imprisoned or killed for “speaking truth to power”.

      • When left and right extremists are united, you know what`s constituting the basis for that alliance.

    • Everyone has the right to representation, but in Greenwald’s case, his actions went beyond providing legal counsel to Matt Hale. During the run-up to the trial, he chose to viciously attack hate crime victims and their civil rights lawyers in the press. Why? I’ll let Glenn explain:

      “All they can say Matt Hale did is express the view that Jews and blacks are inferior, he said. “There’s just no question that expressing those views is a core First Amendment activity.”

      Further, Greenwald said, “I find that the people behind these lawsuits are truly so odious and repugnant, that creates its own motivation for me.”

      I’ve come to the conclusion that Greenwald’s behavior is about as serious a case of projection as one will find.

      Odious and repugnant, indeed.

      • “Odious and repugnant” yes, and with a “sociopathic indifference” for victims he doesn’t approve of.

        • If only Rev. Anderson hadn’t been black and shot for doing something as odious and repugnant as standing in his driveway.

  2. Maybe a list is wanted of who`s the biggest f.o. head of the antiimperialistic other world of relief.

  3. The tragedy of course is that we must divert our attention to deal with the ravings of a Glenn Greenwald, a real nutter, because there are those who would give such an unbalanced mind a platform to spew forth from to begin with. It’s a lowering of standards and really pisses me off.

  4. “Greenwald isn’t antisemitic, any more than he’s homophobic. It’s just that his anti-American, anti-Zionist, “anti-imperialist” ideological package demands continued fealty to those who are. ”
    Although Jeff pointed out what a loss of energy it is I doubt that.
    The self righteousness of such people allows them to be antisemitic and homophobe as they believe in their imagined power to be able to define what is the right position for homosexuals and Jews and what not. So they can be rightly perceived and judged as homophobe and antisemitic despite being Jews and homosexuals as in their dialectic, idiosyncratic world they are the only rightfully heirs, defenders and impersonators of Jewishness and Homosexuality. See?

    • It`s something I encountered during my voyage through the far left when arguing f.e. with trotskysts, partly of Jewish origin, who maintained that Trotsky and Mandel were Jews therefore their extreme critic of the Jewish state as western colonialistic Enterprise to suppress the Arab worker and the Arab world revolution couldn`t be antisemitic although they completely ignored the Holocaust and glorified the Soviet/communist dead in the resistance/ fight against Nationalsocialism.
      After this adventure with complete nutters you are healed.

      • Amendment:
        Eric Hobsbawm dedicated only little space to the Holocaust in his much acclaimed work The Age of Extremes, a big failure due to the his misinterpretation of Antisemitism..

  5. Greenwald is indeed full of shit.

    But CiFWatch is losing further credibility by taking a partisan stance on issues that are not related to Israel or anti-Semitism, i.e. calling Bradley Manning a “traitor.”

    • pretz, Manning was found guilty of espionage in a US court. there’s nothing partisan about mentioning this fact.