Chris McGreal story includes gratuitious reference to donations from ‘Jewish billionaires’

We have reported extensively on Guardian journalist Chris McGreal’s malign obsession with Israel, and his tendency on occasion to evoke antisemitic tropes about Jewish power. 

This blog has garnered multiple corrections to substantive errors in stories by McGreal.  In 2011, following complaints by UK Media Watch and others, Guardian editors revised language in a McGreal article suggesting the US was a slave to Israel.  The language was deemed “inconsistent with their editorial standards”.

McGreal’s latest Guardian report (Netanyahu’s alliance with Republicans risks further ire from Obama, April 6) ostensibly deals with the Israeli Prime Minister’s putative alliance with Republicans over opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal, but includes a characteristically gratuitous reference to Jews in the following passage:

Cotton, as the New York Times noted this week, is a major recipient of money from rightwing supporters of Israel. The hardline Emergency Committee for Israel spent nearly $1m to back Cotton’s election. A political action committee run by John Bolton, the hawkish former US ambassador to the UN, gave $825,000 to elect Cotton, its second largest donation of the most recent election. Hundreds of thousands of dollars also came from two Jewish American billionaires who strongly support Netanyahu.

McGreal is presumably referring to two Americans mentioned in a New York Times article linked to in the passage, Sheldon Adelson and Seth Klarman.

It’s important to note that nowhere else in the article is there any mention of anyone else’s religious affiliation, and that clause 12 of the Editor’s Code of Practice includes the following in a section titled ‘Discrimination’.

Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

So, the question for Guardian editors is this:  How precisely is the religion of Adelson and Klarman relevant to McGreal’s story?

Those concerned about the continuing tendency of radical left and liberal left media outlets to conjure toxic narratives about the injurious impact of “Jewish money” may wish to get answers from McGreal regarding his intent in the passage cited.


9 replies »

  1. I’m not saying McGreal is justified, but didn’t many people make a big fuss over Zionist Union’s alleged funding from Obama and alleged foreign millionaire investors? Didn’t Netanyahu make a fuss over alleged foreign ‘leftists’ funding the opposition and ‘bussing’ in Arab voters in droves?

    I don’t see how one can claim the right to adduce one lot of funding and then complain about the people adducing the other (I am not saying UKMW did this atl, but many right wing Zionists and pro-Likudists did make precisely this kind of ‘criticism’).

    The fact is that Netanyahu did depend on funding from at least one American Jewish billionaire, gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson. It’s a fact, it shouldn’t be protected. It can be mentioned. Netanyahu and his supporters were not shy about mentioning the alleged foreign funding of the opposition.

  2. You’re perhaps right, in a sense. The story could be told without mentioning Adelson’s ethnicity/religion. But it’s surely not strictly irrelevant, either. Adelson supports Netanyahu because he’s a right wing pro-Zionist, and his Zionism is surely not unconnected to his Jewishness. Prima facie, these a merely facts which partly explain Sheldon’s motivation and certainly the background to his actions.

  3. “Adelson supports Netanyahu because he’s a right wing pro-Zionist, and his Zionism is surely not unconnected to his Jewishness”.

    But, the article didn’t even remotely attempt to explore the topic of what precisely motivates pro-Israel donors, nor even name the two donors. (The NYT article named them). If that was what McGreal was writing about, the motivation of Americans who give money to pro-Israel candidates, then it would have arguably been justified to mention their Jewish background. Further, especially in the context of the section in the Editor’s Code I cited, it still seems quite gratuitious to mention that two mega donors were Jewish – even leaving aside McGreal’s history of advancing ‘Jewish power’ tropes.

  4. I see your point. Pace your cited guidelines, it is, as you say, somewhat gratuitous. It would be more apposite to call him e.g. ‘a right wing pro-Zionist’, although the same might be said of Bolton. It could be argued to be a nasty ‘outing’ of Sheldon’s ethnicity, for no very good reason, other than to expose an alleged vulnerability. McGreal doesn’t call Bolton a ‘WASP’.