Category not assigned

Revisiting Daily Mail journo Max Hasting’s Guardian-inspired take on antisemitism


Over the past year or so, we’ve been exposing anti-Israel bias, and the legitimization of antisemitism, at UK news sites other than the Guardian – examining coverage at The Independent, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Financial Times and the Economist.  So, when interest was expressed by some concerned readers about the Daily Mail (the most popular newspaper in the UK), specifically an article published by Max Hastings examining the role Western policy has played in the extreme violence taking place in the Middle East, we decided to take a look.

mh

Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings

Though, in fairness, his conclusion – save one throw-away line about the alleged injurious impact of Israel’s birth – is measured, and admirably avoids the Guardian Left narrative by holding Arabs responsible for their own political dysfunction, in briefly examining Hastings’ past writings we encountered a decidedly ‘Guardianesque’ op-ed on antisemitism published at the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’ in 2004.

Indeed, his conclusions about the root cause of the rising tide of antisemitism which plagued Europe in the early to mid-2000s overlapped perfectly with an op-ed by the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont which we fisked recently at this blog.  

Our post last month, titled Why the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent won’t take Palestinian antisemitism seriously‘, highlighted an op-ed he wrote for the Observer (sister site of the Guardian) in 2002 titled ‘The new anti-Semitism?’ which suggested that Israel’s “heavy-handed” response to the al-Aqsa intifada fomented anti-Jewish racism across the continent.

So, it was quite interesting to read Hastings own 2004 Guardian op-ed titled ‘A grotesque choice‘, which included a strap line (“Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people is fueling a resurgence of antisemitism”) that perfectly comports with Beaumont’s view. In addition to arguing that the “Israeli government’s behaviour to the Palestinians breeds a despair that finds its only outlet in terrorism” and accusing some in the Jewish community of cynically using the charge of antisemitism to silence critics of Israeli policy (The Livingstone Formulation), which he blasts as a form of “moral blackmail”, he makes the following argument:

If Israel persists with its current policies, and Jewish lobbies around the world continue to express solidarity with repression of the Palestinians, then genuine anti-semitism is bound to increase.

This chilling line perfectly embodies the moral calculus which has been employed by defenders of antisemitism for ages, one which grotesquely assigns blame for antisemitic attacks not on the perpetrators of such racist violence, but on the behavior of Jews themselves – an insidious example of blaming the victim which overlaps with Ben White’s notorious 2001 CounterPunch essay titled ‘Is it possible to understand the rise in antisemitism?“.

We have only just begun to monitor the Daily Mail’s coverage of the Middle East, but as we do so, we will – consistent with our posts on the Guardian – avoid looking at their reports and op-eds in a vacuum.  Instead, as this expose of Hastings’ shameful justification of antisemitism demonstrates, we believe it is far more instructive to contextualize their reports and op-eds by attempting to explain how their often pronounced ideological biases color their coverage of Israel and the Jewish people. 

11 replies »

  1. I suppose that Sir Max has imbibed the cynical opportunistic journalism of our times.In this case his motto seems to be “when at the Guardian write like the Guardian.”

  2. Believe me, it’s not Hasting but the ‘Mail’ itself which is guilty of an insidious creeping antisemitism. The trouble is that its most senior Jewish staffmen – people like Alex Brummer and Geoffrey Levy for example – refuse to see or at least to admit to its growing anti-Jewish tendencies. This, so far as I’m concerned, is a far bigger threat than anything the the Guardian and The Independent may produce.

    • This, so far as I’m concerned, is a far bigger threat than anything the the Guardian and The Independent may produce.

      Not really. There is no umbilical cord connecting The Mail and the BBC.

  3. I entirely agree with Natalie on this. The Daily Mail is a populist, powerful paper which wields enormous influence, and which is begining to show slightly discernable traces of latent anti-Semitism. I’ve noticed since the superb Jewish columnist, Melanie Phillips, left the Mail a couple or so years ago and moved to The Times, that something within the Mail seems to have changed.
    I find Max Hastings’s articles that touch on the Middle East or military matters often follow a pattern. He loves to write that top generals or top politicians have told him something privately, usually at a dinner party or somewhere like that, and although he never identifies these tipsters they always confirm what he himself believes about a situation.
    When it comes to Israel, Hastings is openly hostile. Another Mail columnist, (although I am unsure if he still writes for the paper) is Andrew Alexander, who used to openly claim that AIPAC dictated US policy on just about everything, and who thinks that Iran needs nuclear weapons because Israel has them and is therefore a threat.
    A few weeks ago the Mail on Sunday (sister paper of the DM) ran an article complete with a diagram of a steer, inaccurately showing kosher cuts, in which a Muslim journalist wrote that the current campaign to end ritual slaughter was aimed at both halal and kosher meat but then crafted the whole article to attack kosher slaughter and suggested that the parts of a ritually slaughtered cow Jews won’t eat could be in ‘your’ high street burger.
    Other articles I have read in the DM on-line in the last two years have been unsympathetic to Jews, while BTLCs are as bad as anything you’ll see under CiF articles and which, while clearly breaching the Mail’s own posting guidelines, seem to go unmoderated. These are the voice of respectable ‘middle England’ and the more dangerous for that.

    • Spot on! Its this sort of policy which indirectly or not has caused incidents like the blatantly hate-filled trashing of the Jewish cemetery in Blackley, North Manchester. It’s at times like this that I’m relieved to be living in Israel.

  4. “If Israel persists with its current policies, and Jewish lobbies around the world continue to express solidarity with repression of the Palestinians, then genuine anti-semitism is bound to increase.”
    As we all know, this cannot be the case, because anti-Zionists (I swear) are not anti-Semitic. They’re always very careful to keep Zionism and Jews and Judaism completely separate. Just ask any left wing “progressive” Israel hater or any Arab politician, speaking in English, of course.

  5. Why do you think Melanie Phillips was severed from the Mail …. their anti-Israel tradition has deep historic roots

    • Moshe June 24, 2014 @ 6:21 pm
      i
      5 Votes
      Why do you think Melanie Phillips was severed from the Mail …. their anti-Israel tradition has deep historic roots

      —————————–

      This was not written by me — I am the moshe three posts above who responded to Natalie Irene Wood who comments about the Daily Mail.

      I know Moshe is a common name but I have a reasonable expectation after posting on here for sometime, that I am the only Moshe, otherwise anyone can post here using the name of regular commenters and write something readers will attribute to them.

      In fact I don’t happen to think the Daily Mail ‘severed’ Melanie Phillips: I believe she left because The Times offered her a far better opportunity, and in any case Melanie Phillips rarely wrote about Israel in the Mail.

      I don’t see why I should have to change my name. Even CiF posters are not allowed the same name as anyone else.

    • Moshe, please sign in again with a different user name to avoid being confused with the other Moshe on this thread. Thanks.

  6. After thirty years of back to The Thirties economics we now have back to The Thirties kick- the- cat- politics to divert from the resultant social discontents.
    Those who blame Israel for Antisemitism might as well be blaming Mugabe for anti – black feeling and Saddam Hussein for anti – Moslem sentiments.
    The historic irony is that these at least nominal Christians insisting that Israel turn the other cheek to sixty years of border raids and 10 000 rockets and other border incidents in plenty, would not themselves put up with even a dozen such incidents.