General UK Media

When is racism news? Judy Mozes’s tweet and egregious media double standards

What factors determine whether a racist comment is reported by the British media?  Certainly, the stature of the person uttering the offensive comment would seem relevant. That’s why we often see media outlets report bigoted remarks by celebrities, politicians and other public figures. But, what about when family members of public figures engage in such behavior? 

When news first broke that Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, the wife of the Israel’s interior minister Silvan Shalom, tweeted (and later deleted) a comment deemed racist, it seemed at first glance to represent the kind of story which would only gain traction in the Israeli media.


After all, Nir-Mozes, the former head of UNICEF Israel and popular radio show host, is not an elected official and holds no position within the Israeli government.  

Yet, the story was covered by the Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and Times of London.

guardian pic

Guardian, June 21st

indy pic

Independent, June 22

telegraph pic

Telegraph, June 22

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Times of London, June 21

So, given the weight attached, by British news editors, to one tweet by a spouse of a government minister in the Middle East, you’d certainly think that extreme racist comments by a President in the region would have similarly been covered. Yet, when Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of an international Jewish conspiracy, the media was silent.

In a December 2014 speech, Erdogan said this:

“I am emphasizing this: Do not think that these are operations that target me personally. Do not think that these operations are against our government or any [political] party. My friends, the target of these operations and initiatives is Turkey, Turkey’s existence, her unity, peace, and stability. They are especially against Turkey’s economy and its independence. As I have said before, behind all these there is a Mastermind, which has now become part of our national conversation. Some ask me, ‘Who is this mastermind?’ and I say, ‘It is for you to research this. And you do know what it is, you know who it is.'”

Just in case anyone was unsure who precisely he was referring to when he accused a “Mastermind” of conspiring against Turkey, a pro-Erdogan news channel aired the documentary “The Mastermind” a couple of months later. The film “opens with images of the Star of David and images of a replica of the Temple in Jerusalem,” showed an excerpt of Erdogan’s December 12, 2014 speech and then ‘explored’ 3,500-years of “Jewish domination of the world.”


MEMRI explains:

In the film, Islamist journalists and writers from the pro-AKP Islamist media, among them Yusuf Kaplan, Hasan Karakaya, Aydin Unal, Alper Tan, Prof. Hayrettin Karaman, Avni Ozgurel and others, in addition to government (AKP) officials, are shown giving their views of “the Mastermind” – whom they identify as “the Jews” as well as “the U.S.” (the latter of which the film earlier claims is dominated by the Jews). They blame them for both the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and for the coups in modern Turkey aimed at ousting Islamist leaders and parties.

Some of the journalists and officials depict the U.S. as a Zionist entity, while others claim that the U.S. is yet another country that is being controlled by a “Mastermind” lobby.

Advisor to Turkish Prime Minster Ahmet Davutoglu says in the film that what Erdogan is doing is bringing this entire story to people’s attention, and urging them to see the big picture. Erdogan, he says, wants recent events (the “operations” mentioned in his December 2014 speech) to be placed in this context – and for them to be seen as attempts by “a Mastermind” to bring down Turkey and its government.

The accusation by Turkey’s president that Jews have been conspiring for thousands of years to control the world was ignored by major British media outlets.  A Lexis-Nexis search of the Guardian, Independent, Telegraph and Times of London turned up nothing on either Erdogan’s speech or the subsequent Mastermind film.

Can a serious argument be made that one racially offensive tweet by Nir-Mozes was more newsworthy than a Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style antisemitic conspiracy theory peddled by Turkey’s president?

As we have argued on numerous occasions, you simply can’t fully understand the Arab-Israeli or Palestinian-Israeli conflicts if you don’t appreciate the continuing epidemic of extreme antisemitism within Arab and Muslim culture. The dynamic whereby the media obssessively focuses on every conceivable instance of Israeli racism while ignoring the far more prevalent – and far more extreme – racism of its neighbors profoundly distorts news consumers’ views on the region.

h/t Jennifer



17 replies »

  1. I would argue that you can’t understand the Arab-Israeli conflict (there is no “Palestinian”-Israeli conflict) AT ALL without appreciating the extreme antisemitism of the Arab world.
    Since much of the British, indeed Western, media share in this antisemitism and approve of it, they are unable to grasp the conflict: they sympathise with the antisemites in the Arab world, and cheer them on.
    They can’t grasp, also, the brass neck of the Jews who after all those centuries of meekness suddenly have decided to stand up to antisemitism and hit back. “It doesn’t compute”.

  2. Racism is news in America. Nine blacks were murdered in their church by a white supremacist last week. Now, just because the news media diddled and daddled when five rabbis were shot, hacked and butchered to death by a couple of racist Palestinian shitwads breaking into their synagogue doesn’t mean the media should ignore some tweet that makes a weak, poorly guided attempt at cheap, racist humor when discussing the US President.

    People need to get over Obama’s skin color and name and just deal with the fact that America is a two-party system, and that one of the parties is run by abject nutballs and racists and warmongering douches, while the other party is weak at doing things like making health care affordable for the masses. No, the real story here is that as the world burns, we all worry about the very little things.

  3. Erm. I may be out of the mainstream here, but was Moses’ tweet actually racist? Ill-judged? Certainly. Funny? Not to me.

    But is calling a black man black racist?

    He is, as a matter of historical fact, the only black person to become POTUS (so far). This has been talked about far and wide since he first put his name forward for the Democratic nomination. Why is this one reference to his skin colour so offensive?

    Haven’t people been telling that joke from Airplane (“I take my coffee black and strong, like my men”) for years without offense? Isn’t this just a poor attempt at adapting that joke to criticise Obama as a weak leader? I don’t think she meant that he is weak BECAUSE he is black – that, clearly would be racist. But to say he is black and weak is surely just a statement of i) fact and ii) fact?

    • She’s associating a human with a cup of coffee. That’s part of the basis of the joke. The coffee isn’t just Black but Strong, too (except in this case the coffee is Disappointingly Weak — haha, what a twist!).

      Historically, there’s a great version of this joke in Airplane, which is a totally acceptable example in great bad taste humor.

      • My mother once got into a spot of bother in America. She ordered a “white coffee”. The black waitress took offence, thinking my mother only wanted a coffee prepared by a white person. It was only after a while that she managed to explain that, in the UK, a coffee with milk is called a “white coffee”.

        As the saying goes, we are two nations divided by a common language!

    • I don’t think it is racist at all.
      Moreover, I think that it is considered ‘racist’ only by racists, that is, the sort of people who shout “You are a racist!” as soon as you criticise The One. I mean to say, how can criticising a black man not be racist? A black man, to these people, is black first and a man second. What they see first is his skin colour, not any of his other attributes (such as, in Obama’s case, being a very poor president indeed in a great many ways that are empirically observable). I would say that if one sees the skin colour first and those other attributes second, one is a racist.
      These people can’t understand that not everyone else shares this racist attitude, and that others may be criticising him as a dreadful president, not as a black one.
      In even more general terms, the demand being made that black people should not be criticised is racist by definition, in treating one group differently based on skin colour.

      • The One, huh? You like it when Jew Haters talk about the Chosen People the way they do? What if these Jew Haters used Chosen People as a way to delegitimize the concerns of, say, Israel?

        You want to act like this is a one way street. It most surely is not.

        I will say the biggest disappointment I have witnessed in my fellow Jews and Israel supporters over these past 6 years is the overboard, disgusting, and yes RACIST perspective people have for Barack Obama.

        Oh, and just like I don’t excuse Israel for everything she does because I support her right to exist (a charge all of us have had thrown in our faces by BDSholes and Moronic Palestinian Apologists) I don’t consider Obama the Greatest President of All Time because he’s Black or that he’s a Democrat.

        I swear. Right wing assholes are right wing assholes. Who gives a shit if my elected officials make you want to plotz? Don’t use some simpleminded bullshit to blame folks like me for that.

        The One…. Take that and shove it where the sun don’t shine…..

  4. So, given the weight attached, by British news editors, to one tweet by a spouse of a government minister in the Middle East, you’d certainly think that extreme racist comments by a President in the region would have similarly been covered. Yet, when Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of an international Jewish conspiracy, the media was silent.
    I don`t see racism as identical with antisemitism, or antisemitism as part of racism. Therefore I couldn`t counter a reproach of racism the way you did, Adam. Nowadays the charge of racism is often used against Jews or Israel to cover up and deflect from the antisemitism the socalled victims of racism by Jews or Israel and their defenders share.
    It´s counterproductive according to me to equate or to conflate these two dimensions
    The singling out of Jews, the Jewisch religious community or Israel is in itself a structural and characteristic feature quite unique.

          • Antisemitism isn´t part, not even a particular part of racism.
            In its older form of Antijudaism it predates all forms of racism by far.
            Again, take your time, hate as common denominator is too simple as you can hate dogs, cars, etc. Racism implies a hierarchy of races whereas antisemitism turns this hierarchy upside down.
            The postmodern definition of racism is worthless as everything and nothing can be racism, an offense could be a hate crime, a hate crime a justified ‘reaction’, it all depends on the angle of interest.