Guardian

Our reply to Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman’s charge that Israel ‘appeases’ anti-Semites.


Accusations by Western commentators that Israel has betrayed its noble founding principles are ubiquitous and often serve one end: to allow the writer to demonise the world’s only Jewish state whilst maintaining a posture of moral purity.  They love what a nation-state of the Jewish people created after the Holocaust represents as an ideal, but not what it has become in reality. Though such commentators typically explain their ‘lost’ love of Israel as a natural result of the nation’s putative ‘move right’, the ‘what it has become’ narrative often reflects, in the accuser, a kind of petulance over Israel’s stubborn insistence over seven decades to use statecraft as others have, both militarily and diplomatically, to defend it’s very existence.

Thus, Benjamin Netanyahu’s allegedly ‘delayed’ and ‘muted’ response to antisemitism at the Charlottesville hate rally has been contextualised by many as another example of Israel’s flight from moral decency, and betrayal of its mission.

Unsurprisingly, the Guardian has – more than any other media group – exploited the row to impute maximum malevolence to Israel. As we noted last week, their long-time columnist Giles Fraser went beyond merely criticising Netanyahu for his response. He actually suggested it was a derivative of certain ideological similarities which exist between white supremacism and ‘right-wing Zionism’ – an odious comparison which comes close to falling within the widely accepted definition of antisemitism. 

Fellow columnist Hadley Freeman, in her recent Guardian column (My great-uncle was alienated in postwar France. Now Americans know how he felt, Aug. 26), leveled a similarly loaded charge.

Hadley set up her piece by evoking the memory of her great-uncle, Alex Maguy, who lost a brother in Auschwitz.  Maguy was sent to the camps himself, but somehow escaped and joined the underground French resistance.  Hadley notes that Maguy described Israel, in his unpublished memoirs, as “the realisation of all of my dreams”.  

Hadley then pivots to Charlottesville:

I wish I’d had longer to get to know Alex, but I’m glad he is not alive now to see how the realisation of his dreams has betrayed its roots. Last week, Israel’s communications minister, Ayoub Kara, who calls Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “close friend”told the Jerusalem Post that staying on the right side of President Trump was more important than condemning the neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, Virginia. In other words, for Israel, Trump trumps Nazis, because that’s where we are in 2017.

“Due to terrific relations with the US, we need to put the declarations about the Nazis in the proper proportion,” Kara told the Post. “We need to condemn antisemitism and any trace of Nazism… but Trump is the best US leader Israel has ever had… and we must not accept anyone harming him.”

Hadley then adds:

So Israel will do what it can to stop the spread of Nazism, except criticise a man who insisted there were some “very fine people” marching with neo-Nazis earlier this month. Whoa, don’t strain a muscle, Israel, you’re doing some pretty extreme backwards bends there!

Then, after criticising Americans who defend Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville rally, Hadley turns again to Israel:

There is a word for people who support and normalise Nazis and Nazi defenders, and that word is “appeasers”, and that now includes, shockingly, Israel, as well as the conservative Jews in Trump’s circle such as Jared Kushner – like me, a grandchild of a Holocaust survivor. But a heads up to those groups: this tactic generally does not work out well for you.

Let’s be clear: Whatever one thinks of Trump and his reaction to Charlottesville, Israel’s close relationship with the US – as Karo and others, such as famed Nazi hunter and Holocaust historian Efraim Zuroff, have stressed – represents one of the key pillars of its defensive strategy.  For Israel to continue defending millions of Jews in the Jewish state, and continue to serve as a safe haven for Jews fleeing antisemitic persecution around the world, requires close political, diplomatic and military ties with the world’s only superpower.  Israel’s unbreakable alliance with the US is good for Israel, good for Jews and bad for anti-Semites. 

Of course, if American Jews were really in serious danger, Hadley would have a point. However, despite the presence of a relatively small number of active white supremacists and Muslim extremists in the US, nobody can seriously deny that, outside of Israel, Jews in the US today are safer and more prosperous than at any time and place in Jewish history.  The safety of American Jews after Charlottesville, thankfully, didn’t hinge on the words or deeds of Israel’s prime minister.

Maintaining Israel’s strategic alliances – vital to projecting the soft and hard power necessary to protect its own citizens and serve as a refuge of last resort to world Jewry – often requires careful and measured statements from Jerusalem – rhetoric driven by a sober analysis of its likely real-world impact. Israel’s fealty to its founding mission – as ‘Guardian of the Jews‘ – is best demonstrated not by vacuous virtue signalling, but by wisely and judiciously employing diplomacy and, when necessary, force to defend its interests.

Though reasonable people can of course disagree with Netanyahu’s response to Charlottesville, to characterise the prime minister of the Jewish state as an “appeaser” of anti-Semites who needs lessons in courage from a Guardian journalist is a breathtaking display of hubris.

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29 replies »

  1. Hadley flourishes her credentials as a descendent of a Holocaust survivor, as many Israelis are, and goes on to damn all of Israel by quoting the statement of an Israeli politician who is not a Jew himself and attributing his hearsay statement about Netanyahu to all of us.

    She tried too hard.

  2. However Netanjahu gave a teudat kashrut to Viktor Orbán and his regime. Netanjahu’s hatred against George Soros motivated him to neglect the fact, that the Orbán regime made a vicious antisemitic poster campaign against Soros.

    • Netanyahu didn’t give any teudat kashrut. Exactly the opposite – the Hungarian Jews have been offended because Netanyahu didn’t want to spoil a potential alliance in the hostile and antisemitic EU by protecting an influential enemy of Israel and Israel-hater George Soros. This game – my antisemite is better than yours is laughable.

  3. Uk media watch is far too pro-Netanyahu for this Israeli. I shall be unsubscribimg myself, while following Hadley Freean – until further notice.

    • We almost always avoid taking political sides in the US, UK or Israel. Though in the course of our work over the years we have defended the prime minister from inaccurate claims (consistent with our mission of promoting accurate coverage of Israel), I don’t know how you can read our posts day after day and characterise us as pro-Netanyahu.

    • Pointing out the grievous duplicity of Hadley Freeman’s position on Israel is scarcely to be considered approval of Netanyahu.

    • Congratulations – but remember that you are free to do this, whilst I don’t give much for the safety of any Peacenik in Gaza. However, by following Freeman (or any Guardian journalist) you will not have to confront any of the truth about life under Israel’s immediate enemies.

  4. As you link to the Camera Snapshot post, I will republish my comments here.

    1) The completely unjustified criticism of Netanyahu in this matter – Efraim Zuroff’s article says all that needs to be said – started as so often with dishonest commentary in the Israeli media.

    Please note the New Israel Fund connections of Haaretz contributor MK Shafir – http://www.nif.org/stories/human-rights-democracy/knesset-takes-steps-toward-greater-transparency/.

    2) The unique wickedness of Neo-Nazis and Nazi sympathisers means that Donald Trump was totally wrong on this occasion to “balance” criticism of violent right-wing extremists with criticism of violent left-wing ones. The protest at Charlottesville was dominated by KKK supporters and supporters of white supremacy and there is nothing to indicate that there was a significant number of people who were protesting legitimately against the wilful erasure of history at the behest of intellectually dishonest leftists and others(far better – in the case of public monuments commemorating Confederate leaders, military and non-military, to have signs educating passers-by about the historical context).

    One of the best articles I have read about this is by Ben Shapiro – http://www.dailywire.com/news/19782/group-got-ignored-charlottesville-ben-shapiro.

    For people who read French there is also this – https://www.causeur.fr/charlottesville-sudistes-raisons-memoire-amerique-146137

    I would also add that the involvement of the extreme left particularly in France in viciously anti-Israel “pro-Palestinian” demonstrations during which one regularly hears “death to the Jews” and similar pleasantries and the direct involvement of extreme left militants in acts of “anti-Zionist” intimidation and violence demonstrates that there are more than a few on the extreme left who are potentially as dangerous as Neo-Nazis would like to be.
    Add to this the latest developments in French official tolerance for violent and sometimes murderous anti-Jewish hatred. First there was the passive complicity of the armed policemen who did not intervene to save Sarah Halimi and then – which continues to be the case – attempts by many in the judicial establishment – including the juge d’instruction, who has dintinguished herself by her lack of sympathy, indeed contempt, for the family of sarah Halimi – to delay proceedings and then to ensure that the murderer goes unpunished by trying to have him judged not to be criminally responsible because of a supposed “altération du discernement”. (See http://www.desinfos.com/spip.php?page=reaction-2&id_article=58491 or http://www.jforum.fr/le-silence-couvre-la-non-assistance-a-sarah-halimi.html and – finally in the Jewish Chronicle –
    https://www.thejc.com/news/news-features/sarah-halimi-beaten-tortured-and-killed-yet-france-turned-a-blind-eye-1.443276

  5. Good job, Adam.

    I liked this:

    “Of course, if American Jews were really in serious danger, Hadley would have a point.”

    Even more, if Hadley, as an American Jew (I assume – even more as a french Jew, for example!) , was really in danger, there is only one place she could flee to . horrible, nasty, Israel.

  6. By Hadley Freeman’s own logic, by refusing to call out Islamic extremism and denounce the countries that shelter and nurture it, she too is an appeaser. But I’m sure she can conjure a rationale that erases this double standard while maintaining the binary Israel=bad, Arab=not responsible by reason of PC, their imperial past, unlike that of Britain and France, Spain and Portugal, forgiven and forgotten.
    I suspect that had her great-uncle been alive to see Israel in 2017, he would have far greater empathy for its evolution and recognize the miracle it represents. After all, he had first hand experience of evil and evil ideologies, where his grand-niece acts the bien-pensant poseur. It’s the gap between virtue and virtue-signaling. But then, to quote Sinclair Lewis, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it” and Freeman needs her Guardian gig it seems.

  7. There is no question about it, The Guardian is the Der Stürmer of 21st century Britain. No article is too low if it denounces the Jews. Just like national- (Germany) & international (Soviet) socialism The Guardian is closely allied to even the worst forms of Muslims like Hamas in its hatred towards the Jews.

  8. Firstly, Hadley looks like a kid. What the h___ does she know about anything?
    Secondly, she’s writing this blather for a newspaper that whitewashes Islamic and Arab extremism against the Jews, only with far, far more financial and political support than a small band of neo-Nazis who can’t even raise their ugly little heads without getting them smashed down again by the media, government, and almost everyone else in America. What the h___ is she talking about !? Take a long look in the mirror, sweetie.

  9. Hadley is a great supporter of Israel. By calling her out on something really low-level of this we’ll have no friends left.

  10. Stephen Bellamy, based on all your previous disgusting comments, I guess you would call NOTHING anti-Semitism. Tells us who you really are.

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