Guardian publishes two anti-Jewish screeds by ‘ex-Jews’, but censors ‘ex-Muslims’

Over the last month, the Guardian has published two articles by self-professed “ex-Jews” – that is, Jews whose hatred of Israel – and the putative sins of Jews and Judaism – caused them to renounce their Jewish identity.  

As Richard Millett noted on these pages, the latest work by discredited historian Shlomo Sand was featured in the print and online editions of the Guardian in October – a lengthy book excerpt which vilified Israel, and suggested that Judaism itself was compromised by immutable – theologically based – racism. 

Here are a few passages from Sand’s article in the Guardian.

…having painfully become aware that I have undergone an adherence to Israel, been assimilated by law into a fictitious ethnos of persecutors and their supporters, and have appeared in the world as one of the exclusive club of the elect and their acolytes, I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew.

By my refusal to be a Jew, I represent a species in the course of disappearing. I know that by insisting that only my historical past was Jewish, while my everyday present (for better or worse) is Israeli, and finally that my future and that of my children (at least the future I wish for) must be guided by universal, open and generous principles, I run counter to the dominant fashion, which is oriented towards ethnocentrism.

Then, on Nov. 6th the Guardian somehow found another “ex-Jew”, Will Self, to review Sand’s book.  

His review vilified British Jews, beginning thusly:

In 2006, as the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) were undertaking their second major incursion into Lebanon, I resigned as a Jew. I did it publicly in an article for the London Evening Standard. My resignation wasn’t a protest against Israeli aggression – why would they care about such a gesture? – but aimed, I believed, against prominent leftwing English Jews, who, despite the complete contradiction between their espoused values and the undemocratic, apartheid and territorially expansionist policies of the so-called Jewish homeland, continued vociferously to support Israel

Though it’s disturbing that Guardian editors viewed such vicious attacks on Jews and Judaism itself to be within the realm of acceptable debate, a recent episode demonstrated the media group’s egregious double standards on the broader issue of such intra-religious critiques.

As the faith blog Patheos recently reported, among the comments below the line of a Nov. 5th column by Guardian religion blogger Andrew Brown, titled “Why I don’t believe people who say they loathe Islam but not Muslims,” was one very cogent, polite reply by members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

Here’s the comment:

As ex-Muslims, we critique Islam because there are many aspects of Islam that need to be critiqued. In particular, we seek to oppose Islam’s apostasy codes, which are oppressive and lead to persecution.

We have found it is quite difficult to get some people to listen to our stories because they fear that acknowledging these issues will contribute to a critical view towards Islam.

The idea is that particularly reactionary teachings and aspects of belief that lead to critical judgements of Islam are in and of themselves prejudiced. The resulting logic of this is that Islam should have special privileges, inasmuch as basic human conscience and ethical critical judgement of people living in a secular culture should not apply, or be expressed, towards Islam.

The fact that criticism exists is the offense.

Effectively, this is to propose a kind of proxy blasphemy code and apostasy code, wherein the liberal secular space defers to Islamic taboos. Dissenting Muslims and ex-Muslims have to conform to these proxy codes too. Everyone else is free to critique their own religion, and other faiths and ideas too. But Islam must be protected.

However, Muslims are free to critique all religions, belief systems and moralities, because evangelizing Islam, and proffering critique and judgment is not only a divine prerogative, but the closing down of ethical, critical judgment towards Islam is also a divine right.

As we can see, this is an ethical and moral mess.

This is an aspect of liberal relativism that is morally flawed and unsustainable without damaging basic principles of liberal secularism. It also means that aspects of Islam that need to be criticized, like Islam’s apostasy codes, remain unexamined, and with that authority unquestioned, their capacity to hurt people and cause harm increases.

Another fear is that being critical of aspects of Islam manifests in prejudice towards Muslims, and this is an understandable response given how parts of the far-right do project generalizing narratives of communal responsibility on Muslims. As ex-Muslims, we understand this, because being from ethnic minorities ourselves (apart from growing numbers of former white converts) we are also prone to be in the crosshairs of bigots who project their hostility onto anyone who ‘looks’ Muslim, whatever that is supposed to be.

The key to dealing with this is for the Left to take ownership of the issues that need to be critiqued, and do so through the prism of liberal secular values, so that they cannot be co-opted by the nationalist right, who have agendas that are not tolerant.

Sadly the instinct of relativism too often prevents this reckoning from occurring. The silencing of ex-Muslims’ voices is the norm, although we are trying to change this.

There are three main layers of silencing of apostates’ voices. The first layer is the hardcore religious silencing, which includes notions that we deserve to be killed and harmed. Underneath that is a second layer of some Muslims who may not agree we should be persecuted, but don’t want to have these problematic aspects or religion talked about, because of feelings of embarrassment, fear of the consequences, or cognitive dissonance regarding apostasy/blasphemy codes. The third layer underneath this is the relativism of white liberals who are often in concordance with silencing instincts over these issues, including silencing of ex-Muslims, for the reasons we outlined earlier. Often, relativist liberals simply pretend we don’t exist.

But silencing never works, and it only increases the problems.

It is important to understand that anti-Muslim bigotry is real. At the same time, the reality of the need for Islam to be critiqued has to be acknowledged by the Left, and by Muslims who live in liberal secular democracies too.

Do you see anything racist in this comment? We sure don’t.  However, the Guardian evidently found the views morally offensive, as the comment was deleted by their professional moderators.


To recap:  Whilst Jews are clearly free – in the spirit of free and open debate – to use the pages of the Guardian to smear Judaism as an inherently racist faith, a respectful and intelligent comment (below the line) by former Muslims critical of Islam is inconsistent with their community standards. 

In addition to the egregious double standards at play, the deleted comment simply gives more credence to the ExMuslimForum’s critique of the moral relativism of some “white liberals”, who, in silencing such dissenting voices, seem to believe that “everyone else is free to critique their own religion, and other faiths and ideas too….but Islam must be protected.”

58 replies »

  1. Perhaps you don’t have Self and Sand in mind in your penultimate paragraph, but they go beyond criticising Judaism (which one should be able to do just as one should be able to criticise, and of course leave, Islam). CEMB Forum’s is not anti-Muslim (it acknowledges that Muslims view apostasy in a range of ways) nor is it racist. However Self and Sand’s rejection, not just of their religion or indeed of Zionism, but of Jewishness, seems much more open to a charge of racism.

    • I don’t believe their rejection of Jewishness per se is open to a charge of racism: it’s the arguments they use, which often resort to classic antisemitic memes.

    • I’m with Leah on this.
      For me their choice to leave the Jewish faith is a personal matter and nothing more.
      But writing an article about it using warped ideologies they devised is somewhat pushing an agenda by the paper publishing their view point as a valid and a normal one, which of course is not.

    • The Guardian did eventually reinstate the Council of Ex-Muslims comment, after they complained.

      I have to say I have had critical comments about Islamism censored on Comment is Free on four or five occasions – and I am an academic teaching and lecturing in the field.

      The Guardian is clearly working to an agenda. The real story here is not that they have bad politics or views on the Middle East some disagree with, it is that they are offering deliberately skewed ‘debate’ on a whole series of issues pertaining to the second biggest religion in the country.

      In the long run, that is bad news for democracy.

    • Adam,

      Are you finally willing to concede that The Guardian under the leadership of Alan Rusbridger is an anti-Semitic newspaper?

      • You cannot say that The Guardian is anti-Semitic when it employs quite a lot of Jews. But, only the ‘right kind’ of Jews. Anti Israel Jews.

        One could better describe it and Alan Rustbridger as obsessively diligent in their disparaging of Israel in any way they can to the point of sheer mental illness. All the time trying to ‘not notice’ Palestinian/Arab/Muslim human rights ‘transgressions’ that have true lefties in a knicker twist.

        • Nobbly Stick writes:

          “You cannot say that The Guardian is anti-Semitic when it employs quite a lot of Jews. But, only the ‘right kind’ of Jews. Anti Israel Jews.”

          Even the Nazis had a certain number of Jews in their ranks. As Karl Lueger, the notorious Austrian anti-Semite who had such a profound effect on Hitler, put it, “It is up to me to decide who is a Jew.”

          How could the Guardian not be anti-Semitic given its track record is the question that should be asked.

          The one item missing from The Guardian’s masthead, the thing that would let the world know explicitly how it really feels, is a Swastika.

        • “You cannot say that The Guardian is anti-Semitic when it employs quite a lot of Jews” – what nonsense. Ever heard the phrase “Some of my best friends are Jews”?

        • It was and is not a contradiction employing Jews and being antisemite, if we disregard the times of the NS. The many communist Jews in service of communist parties whether stalinist, trotskyst ot whatever who denounced Jewish religion, Jewishness, Israel and capitalist Jews serve as a quite good example.

  2. I have had and seen comments removed from Guardian pages for not abiding by “community standards” often enough to ascertain that these ‘community standards” are double standards and without ethical integrity. I don’t believe that those running the show are so stupid or ill-informed that they are unaware of this. This makes this censorship even worse, even scarier.

    My efforts to engage Guardian reader friends almost always go the same way. There doesn’t even seem a middle ground of those who like the paper but at least can admit there’s something very wrong here. They just fall silent which means they must support anti-semiticism or cravenly submit to a prevalent anti-semitic status quo rather than speak out against it. It fills with disgust and despair.

    • I have, unlike you, explained the Guardian’s antisemitism to several people, including two ex-partners, and while continuing to read it they have accepted my argument in full. Some of them are Jewish, some are not.

  3. Not sure what you mean by ‘professional’ moderators. These people are not ‘professional’ by any rational definition of this term. Often, they exhibit breathtaking racism and bigotry.

    • “Professional” means only one thing; that the person doing the job is paid to do it. If you earn money doing your job, you are a professional. If you do not earn money for the job in question you are not a professional. That’s it. So, while some may assign extra expectations to “professionals,” those expectations are more about whether the person is worth the money or should be a professional rather than whether the person *is* a professional. If he gets paid, he is a professional.

    • That is their professionalism. They are professional political players, censoring the message. It is a form of self censorship. Also terribly popular at say The Young Turks in the USA with their main man Cenk. Moderation now means staying on message. A supposedly “open” discussion is hijacked and is turned into a propaganda vehicle. It becomes part of the wallpaper. Like shopping mall music.
      Edward Snowden also professionally self censored when he stole all the wrong documents. He should have stolen the transcripts of the Islamists plotting mass murder.
      Al Guardian is morphing into a central antisemitic organ under the guise of academic freedom. The ghosts they have called are now running the show. Ben White and Pape etc are creating a narrative which would have given Goebbels a semi.
      It is a logical and simple continuation of an acid monologue which gets cooked up in universities and is then mainstreamed. All this with tax payer money.
      For those who remember, the Nazi’s also were champions in pseudo academic discourse about various Untermenschen. The wrote it all down. It is not as if it was lost for ever.

      • “Al Guardian is morphing into a central antisemitic organ” – it completed the morphing at least 25 years ago.

        • No it didn’t. The Guardian has only been morphing into a genuinely anti-Semitic paper since the late 1990s. I used to read it and can’t remember it giving much attention to Muslims until around 9/11. The real rot began with Comment is Free going on line. It opened a Pandora’s Box and the Guardian realized which way the wind was blowing.
          The first time I began reading CiF BTL comments about a month after it started I rubbed my eyes with disbelief at the anti-Israel comments which have since increasingly and insidiously become genuinely anti-Semitic.
          BTL comments I made ten years ago (still in the archives under my log-in ID) show that I was able to make very critical comments about articles and posters hostile to Israel, Zionism or Jewish matters. As the noughties progressed the sort of comments I used to make were increasingly censored until today I assume I am going to be deleted so rarely bother to respond to anything hostile. The first time I had a post BTL deleted was one in which I criticized Seamus Milne.
          In fact there used to be a page or two called ‘Guardian Women’ (sounds a bit sexist now) run by women journos, including Polly Toynbee, and they gave white female converts to Islam short shrift for trying to enlist Guardian Women in supporting their demands for the right to wear hijabs and other Islamic female attire as a right, something not guaranteed in those days..

          That seems unimaginable now.

          • Excellent observation.
            On the upside we can now read this crap in real time and are more aware of what is going on.
            Sunlight is the best disinfectant. I had no idea to what extent this has penetrated academia in certain countries. The internet pools these people and we can read their thoughts. A market place of ideas being shouted across the common.

          • Well, you are wrong. I discussed this with my then partner (a left-winger of the old school) in 1992, providing examples of the Guardian’s strident antisemitism. After some discussion, my partner conceded the point in full.

          • And it had nothing to do with “giving much attention to Muslims”. The Guardian simply hated Israel with virulent passion, exhibiting a complete lack of even-handedness, and pouring poisonous criticism on Israel for daring to defend herself – while giving a complete free pass to her genocidal neighbours.

  4. How can criticism from within or outside of (with a focus toward those who claim themselves to have left the religion) one religion be alright while the other is bad? On the one hand, the writer claims that criticism of Judaism and/or Israel from ex-Jews is bad but on the other hand, that same writer says that s/he does not see anything wrong with the criticism against Islam, as a whole, and against all who are Muslims. That writer takes issue with the news source censoring the one side but not the other for doing the same thing (which I also think is very hypocritical) but the writer does the same in reverse in his own comments.

    That makes no sense.

    Emotions are bad leaders since they drive us into rashness, hypocrisy and irrationality a lot of the time.

  5. I didn’t state the above clearly enough, in my opinion. Basically, I like the concept of criticizing a system which disallows commentary and/or criticism against itself while allowing such against others which means that while I agree that the Guardian was being *strange* to the max to censor the commentary against the Muslim religion while not censoring the same from the other two. However, I take issue here at what the writer and commenters claim is racism when it is aimed at Judaism but not when it is aimed at the Muslim people and religion. The writer and commenters do the same thing each is criticizing.

    Personally, I think that the statement that you have on the right of your top banner is the only statement that makes total sense to me and some need to take note of how and where each practices that belief in the top banner and when he or she does not.

  6. It’s not quite clear, Barbara, that you know who it was that made that statement quoted in the top banner.

  7. “But silencing never works, and it only increases the problems.”

    Unfortunately there are people who believe that silencing does work to advance their goals. The Guardian is firmly in that camp.

  8. My question for Sand is why he bothers to write articles in the ethnocentric and wildly imperialistic, colonialist English language. I’ll look forward to all his future postings to be written in Esperanto. Schmuck!

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for the Guardian to publish an ex-Guardianista who has renounced their brand of degenerate liberalism because of its penchant for censorship and backdoor racism.

  9. Vat Der Guardian means is zat jooooos should selfDeport, eizer vrom ser own peeple ( Volk ) or straight to ze nearest selfDeportation Zenter. Joooos should at all times be contained within three or four north American metropolitan areas after selfDeportation from Israel. Sen the Kaliphate vil be Judenrein wance again.
    Also, All Britsh Jooos MUST assimilate. Sey MUST stop being ficken Joooish. Simple reely.

    • That funding idea is not that off. Looking at Al Jazeera and RT and the successes of Electronic Intifada and maybe even the importance of media narrative is plain to see.
      Financially supporting a going operation ( Al Guardian ) with a few million, or picking up certain running consists is well worth it in publicity. Giving the pseudo academic discourse a sphincter through which to exit into the wider environment is a must. Especially if you get access to tens of millions of readers for a few million $’s a year. And all of this on a near daily basis. Imagine what that would cost if you paid a PR company for that result.
      What I find shocking is that the Left is doing what it has always accused the Right of doing, getting into bed with the press.

      • The Left is doing what it has always accused the Right of doing, getting into bed with fascists and mass-murderers.

  10. Seamus Milne and some of his henchpersons attended a conference in one of the Gulf States a couple of years ago. This was a journalists’ conference at a time when the statelet’s own journalists were under attack. I’m not suggesting any money changed hands but what purpose would the liberal Western hacks have for attending such a useless get-together?

  11. How does one “resign” from Judaism? Is there a letter to be sent? Do you still get a severance pact?

    “Dear God, I wish to resign from Judaism, effective 20 working days from now. I thank you for the opportunity, although the money was not great to be honest. I would be pleased if you could send me a letter of recommendation to Allah (he’s not too fond of me at the moment)”

  12. Non-Jewish Jews are a penny a dozen in GB. Seems to be a peculiarly British disease this wanting to fit in so much that they must give up and deny their roots. Especially in Hampstead left-wing circles. As for me, I’m saving up to become Jewish.

  13. There’s something I don’t understand here.

    I followed the link you provided, which took me straight to the piece you quoted from ExMuslimsForum, on the Guardian’s website, and it had been selected as a “Guardian Pick” because, in their words, it contributed to the debate.

    Was I on a phantom website? Not only does this post seem not to have been deleted, it seems to have been selected for praise. By the Guardian. As I said, I’m confused.

    • It’s called pushback. They must have received so much for deleting the comment, including here, that it embarrassed them not only to put it back, but to select it as a Guardian Pick. Or do you believe the Guardian over CIF Watch?

  14. The name Will Self pinged my radar because beyond his (IMHO, completely fantastic and welcome) departure from Judaism, he’s actually made comments more asinine than the ones in his review of Sand’s shitty book.
    In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I believe Self and Melanie Phillips appeared on a British TV show to…well, in theory they were going to discuss the post-9/11 world, but in practice what occurred was the host giving Self free reign to blame Western nations, Israel and especially Western Jews for the attacks and the reaction to them (this was after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began). And at one point, Self had a “hypothetical” question for Ms. Phillips. He wondered, “If Britain and Israel end up going to war with each other, which side will you be fighting for?”
    In other words, not that long ago, Will Self not only saw a London-Jerusalem war as something between plausible and desirable, but he felt that a conservative supporter of Israel was going to be on the “wrong side” of that war. While Melanie Phillips responded strongly in a similar vein to my own thoughts–namely, that there would not be a war between England and Israel because the two countries had common characteristics that eliminated warfare as an avenue for even real disagreements–I always regretted that she didn’t say something along the lines of “I would be fighting against forces of evil and cheerleaders for mass murder, which meant that unfortunately, Mr. Self, at some point in the conflict I would end up having to shoot you to death.”