In studying and posting about UK media coverage of the summer war between Israel and Hamas, we concluded that the Independent arguably surpassed the Guardian in the level of malice and vitriol directed towards Israel and its ‘Zionist’ supporters in articles and op-eds.
Over a the course of a few days in mid-July, the Indy published an article by Adam Withnall seemingly characterizing a few dozen Sderot residents applauding attacks on Hamas targets as an act of almost unparalleled human cruelty; one op-ed by Robert Fisk which actually blamed the Western media for being too soft on Israeli “blood-letting”, and another op-ed by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown which accused Israel of engaging in a policy of ethnic cleansing.
But, perhaps the most egregious example of unrestrained anti-Zionist malice during that period was provided by Mira Bar-Hillel, in an op-ed on July 11th titled ‘Why I’m on the brink of burning my Israeli passport‘, which suggested that the views towards Palestinians by some Israeli leaders were arguably on par with the genocidal rhetoric espoused by the Nazis.
Well, on Dec. 30th, the Indy published the paper’s 10 Most Read Articles for 2014.
Topping their list (with 2.4 million page views) was the ‘Nazi-Israel’ op-ed by Bar-Hillel.
Another op-ed by Bar-Hillel, Israel has discovered that it’s no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media, came in 8th on the Indy’s list.
For those unfamiliar with Mira Bar-Hillel, here are a few facts about her views on Jews and Israel:
- She complained that Jews smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.
- She accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.
- She bizarrely argued that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community. (She later admitted that she had no evidence to back this claim up.)
- She has admitted to being “prejudiced against Jews”. (See her exact words)
- She believes that “the message” of Jews controlling America is “entirely true” and “increasingly so”, and that Jewish lobbyists appear to be picking up some of the ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and using them.
- She evidently believed (and retweeted) an absurd hoax tweet which purported to show the IDF bragging about the murder of 20 Palestinian children
It’s important to contextualize this Indy approved anti-Israel vitriol by taking seriously reports by The Community Security Trust (CST), the British charity tasked with protecting Jews and Jewish institutions, and monitoring antisemitism. CST has noted that a “record number of antisemitic incidents” occurred in the UK during the summer (314 in July alone), and that the community had never before expressed such a widespread fears – fears only heightened by “the worsening nature of anti-Israel rhetoric”.
The UK Office of Communities and Local Governments, in their new report on the upsurge in antisemitism this year, warned of the “impact of language and imagery in current discourse on Judaism, anti-Zionism and Israel”, and called upon the media “to …recognise that the way in which they report the news has significant consequences” for the Jewish community.
So, how do Indy editors feel about such reports? The truth is that we don’t really know.
However, it’s quite interesting that in Oct. 2013 the Indy actually published an official editorial strongly refuting accusations that the paper “demonised” Jews or Israel. The Indy claimed that the charges were “false”, “myopic” and “willfully ignorant” – words, we feel, quite aptly characterize some of the vicious smears directed against Israel published by the Indy during the 2014 summer war.
If the Indy truly does take its reputation on the issue of racism seriously, their editors need to think seriously about the injurious impact on British Jews when they publish such incendiary attacks on Israel by a columnist who has openly admitted to possessing antipathy towards the Jewish community.
- How we define antisemitism (cifwatch.com)