Before turning to the latest example of a Guardian contributor accusing Jews or Israel of controlling Western foreign policy, here’s a brief review of such problematic language over the past few years which was addressed by Guardian editors.
1. Following an essay by John Whitbeck published in the Guardian in Dec. 2010, the CST’s Mark Gardner wrote to the paper’s editors to object to Whitbeck’s accusation that the US is “slavishly subservient” to Israel.
“Can you please explain to me how this notion that the USA is subservient / slavishly subservient to Israel is any different in its rationale to the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians, finance and media?…I do not mean this as a joke, although it does read like a sick joke when it appears upon the website of a publication such as yours.”
In response, the Guardian removed the word “slavish” from the sentence “slavish subservience to Israel”.
The revised Guardian op-ed included this addendum:
“This article was amended on 17 January 2011. Language that is inconsistent with the Guardian’s editorial policy has been removed.”
2. In Sept. 2011, the Guardian published a report by Chris McGreal (Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian promise) which included the following passage:
“Obama followed that up by telling American Jewish leaders that he would put some “daylight” between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation.”
We then contacted the Guardian to ask – as the word and context were both quite similar to Whitbeck’s original language – that they similarly address McGreal’s suggestion that the US President behaved in a slave-like manner to Israel. The Guardian responded by removing the word “slavish”. They also noted the change in their Corrections section.
3. In Dec. 2012, Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott criticized (but didn’t remove) a cartoon by Steve Bell depicting Tony Blair and William Hague as puppets being controlled by Binyamin Netanyahu, in the context of expressions of support for Israel from both British leaders during Operation Pillar Of Defense. Elliott warned that the “image of Jews having a disproportionate influence over the US and British governments has often been replicated by anti-Jewish cartoonists in the Middle East since the end of the second world war”. He cautioned the paper’s cartoonists against employing such antisemitic motifs.
4. In March 2014, we posted about an extremely gratuitous (and pejorative) reference to powerful Jews in a Guardian column by Ian Black and Martin Chulov (Israeli forces seize rockets ‘destined for Gaza’ in raid on Iranian ship in Red Sea, March 6).
Here’s the original passage which we highlighted in our post:
The seizure follows a visit this week by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to Washington, where he used a meeting with Barack Obama and a stump speech to the powerful Jewish lobby AIPAC to underscore his reservations about a nuclear deal with Iran.
The Guardian subsequently amended the passage in question, changing “powerful Jewish lobby” to “powerful pro-Israel lobby”, and acknowledged that the original language was “inconsistent with their editorial guidelines”.
Here’s the most recent example.
On Feb. 26th, 2015, Guardian editor Simon Tisdall wrote the following in an op-ed titled ‘Is Obama out to foment war with Iran.“
There is bad blood between Netanyahu and Obama, two very different characters. One is a former special forces commando, the other an urbane intellectual. Maybe the Israeli leader figures he could be dealing with a like-minded Republican president such as Jeb Bush, if he can hold out until January 2017. Netanyahu knows that, however abrasive his exchanges with the Obama administration, the politically influential Jewish-American community will never allow any US government to cast Israel adrift.
Tisdall’s argument is clear. He’s suggesting that powerful American Jews in effect control US foreign policy regarding Israel.
Of course, even beyond the antisemitic pedigree of such an argument, Tisdall is grossly misunderstanding American political support for Israel. As polls have clearly demonstrated over the course of several decades, Israel remains extremely popular in America within all segments of the population. The country’s foreign policy merely reflects this clear pro-Israel consensus.
It’s a sad commentary on the influence of radical left thinking in the UK that such bigoted explanations for America’s largely pro-Israel foreign policy represent something akin to conventional thinking among so many elite opinion leaders in the country.