Citing testimonials from such luminaries as Robert Fisk and Tim Llewellyn, the MCB accusses the BBC of profound pro-Israel bias. Among their complaints:
Israel has a stated policy of ensuring that its population retains a Jewish majority. By way of contrast with apartheid South Africa, reporters rarely question how Israel can claim to be a democracy and yet still pursue such a blatantly race-based policy.
[There's] a tendency among reporters to portray the Palestinians as initiating trouble and the Israelis are then presented as “responding” or “retaliating”. This is manifestly unfair and serves to reinforce the image of an embattled Israel defending itself from hostile foes instead of the actual situation in which it is a mightily armed US backed occupying power.
In the past, news organisations, including the BBC, used to attempt to convey how Israel was illegally occupying East Jerusalem (overrun in 1967) by having their reporters sign off by saying they were reporting from ‘Arab East Jerusalem.’ Today, no such effort is made and it has become routine for reporters to simply state that they are in ‘Jerusalem’ – thereby, unwittingly acquiescing in Israel’s plan to Judaize the Holy City in defiance of international law.
Well, that’s not too much to ask, is it? Surely, we’d have far more balanced media coverage if Israel were routinely described as a militant, U.S.-armed, apartheid state.
Still, I’ve got to wonder…Is the MCB talking about the same BBC that we all know? Because the BBC that I’m familiar with in my corner of the time-space continuum is the BBC that convened an “expert” panel questioning Israel’s right to exist; compared Israeli policies to King Herod’s slaughter of the innocents; hired correspondents who speak at Hamas rallies; commissioned essays that describe Israel as an “implant in the Middle East”; broadcasts poetry that compares Israelis to Nazis; eulogizes Yasser Arafar for his “ambivalence towards violence”; claimed that Israeli officers are under orders to shoot unarmed schoolchildren; describes Israel’s disengagement from Gaza as an part of its “current efforts to make itself more Jewish”; refers to Jerusalem as a “seat of government” instead of a capital; and justified the Palestinian burning of synagagoues in Gaza by noting “Israel stole thirty-eight years from them; today, many were ready to take back anything they could.”
I’d really like to see this parallel universe BBC that the MCB excoriates. It’s got to be an improvement over the current one.
The echoes of the Vatican’s previous views on Jews are unmistakable: gays/Jews as a destabilizing force in society, a threat to the family, danger to children, and so on. The pain inflicted by this pope on so many good and faithful people still shocks even me; and the radicalism of the new doctrine – demonizing gay people for who they are, not for anything they might do – still amazes. The notion that my relationship destabilizes society, and threatens my own family is impossible not to take as a vicious personal attack on people the hierarchy has no desire to understand, let alone love.
Amen. And here’s what Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, had to say about homophobia in a recent sermon:
We understand those who believe that the Bible opposes gay marriage, even though we read that text in a very different way…But we cannot understand why any two people who make a lifelong commitment to each other should be denied legal guarantees that protect them and their children and benefit the broader society. We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations. And today, we cannot feel anything but rage when we hear about gay men and women, some on the front lines, being hounded out of our armed services. Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry.
But wait, is that the calvary over the horizon? According to the Wall Street Journal: “Hanukkah doesn’t start until Dec. 25. That represents the likelihood of an especially large season-end surge.”
“And lo, the Children of Israel did shop for eight days and nights…”
Over at Slate, a skeptical Daniel Gross crunches the demographic numbers, and concludes “This year, as every year, the greatest Jewish contribution to the American Christmas season is likely to be Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.”
More sickening news from David Duke’s “goodwill” tour in Syria. The man himself reports (by way of Indymedia Argentina) that he’s just signed a book deal in Damascus:
“Many have been asking whether Jewish Supremacism is published in Arabic. Actually, the demand for it is so great that there have already been two pirate editions of the book already in the bookshops. Already it has grown to tens of thousands of copies printed.
I have just completed a simple contract here in Damascus for a fully authorized, excellent quality edition of the book to be published for the entire Arabic World. The book will have comments of praise from the most respected religious and political figures in the Mideast.
The leading Arabic scholars and political figures all say that my book Jewish Supremacism is the best book in the world for an understanding of the Zionist Threat.
Many Europeans will end up acquainted with the threat of Jewish Extremism to our own nations from the diffusion that will occur from the many people of business, religion, politics, education and science in this part of the world who will spread it to their many contacts in our Western World!”
For more on Duke’s “global outreach” efforts, see this article in the Nation.
The Independent‘s Johann Hari reviews Paul Berman’s book, Power and the Idealists, which looks at the emergence of the New Left in the late 1960s and their legacy.
Liberal democracy (and capitalism, and Zionism) became, to them, cunning veils for a new Hitler. So when, during the Munich Olympics of 1972, the Palestinian Black September cell murdered 11 Israeli athletes, Ulrike Meinhof (along with much of the radical left) declared herself thrilled. And the deformations of morality multiplied. In 1976, a group called the Revolutionary Cells hijacked a plane, flew it to Entebbe in Uganda, and separated the passengers: Jews and non-Jews. The Jews–”capitalists” and “Zionists”–were selected for death.
Conservative critics would argue that Entebbe was the logical endpoint for 1968. A movement that they say began by waving images of the murderous Che Guevara concludes by desiring the slaughter of innocent Jews. As Berman’s argument (and his disgust) builds, it seems as though he too will reach this bleak, self-lacerating conclusion. But Berman carefully identifies another afterlife for the spirit of ’68. The New Left’s great insight – that fascism is an enduring human temptation – did not lead only to a death-plane to Entebbe. It also, he argues, created a European generation determined to resist real fascism.
This antitotalitarian ’68 went on to shape the actions of European governments at a turning point for the continent. In the 1990′s, it was the soixante-huitards – now close to the chancelleries and palaces of much of Europe – who led the fight against the New Left’s old fascist enemy when it emerged in the form of Serbian ultranationalism. When a program of ethnic extermination began just two days’ drive from Auschwitz, it was the old barricadier Joschka Fischer who made Germany’s wrenching involvement – its first lurch into postpacificism – possible, explaining to a shocked audience of fellow Greens, “I learned not only ‘No more war’ but also ‘No more Auschwitz.’ ” In Europe at least, Kosovo was the New Left’s war – the street fight against fascism now directed against a target worthy of the name.
Also, see this previous post, Confessions of a German Leftist, which excerpts an interview with the brother of Albert Fichter, a German urban guerilla who was involved in a 1969 plot to bomb Berlin’s Jewish Community Center to protest Israel in the aftermath of the Six Day War.
Like everyone else, when the news trickled out that Lewis Libby is Jewish (Scooter? Who knew?), I suspected that it was only a matter of time before this became fodder for the conspiracy hacks. And sure enough, within nanoseconds, we saw Web sites such as David Duke hailing the indictment of “One more Jewish Neocon Traitor.”
But, I’m disturbed to see how mainstream elements of the blogosphere are beginning to spin this story. Case in point: Over at Just One Minute, prominent conservative blogger Tom Maguire—in a post titled “The Secret Life of Lewis Libby”—relies on circumstantial evidence and self-described “wild speculation” to suggest that Libby went on a rampage against Joseph Wilson because he perceived the former ambassador to be anti-semitic.
Citing Mickey Kaus over at Slate, Maguire notes that that Libby complained to NBC’s Tim Russert that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was animated by anti-Semitism–presumably because Matthews talked a lot about “neoconservative” Bush aides and war supporters and interviewed guests who did too. From there, Maguire quotes numerous statements by Wilson about the neocons and Israel that, he speculates, might have driven Libby into a frenzied effort to discredit Wilson. (One blogger has already tagged this theory as the Jewish “insanity defense” plea.)
Maguire makes it a point to say he his “NOT endorsing the ‘Anti-neocon = anti-Semite’ reasoning…However, if the anti-neocon argument resonated with Libby, let’s see where it takes us.”
Here’s why I’m troubled by Maguire’s write-up:
First, Maguire is 100 percent correct that those who attack the neocons for being too close to Israel are not necessarily anti-semitic conspiracy hacks. But, he fails to acknowledge that quite a few people who make this connection do fall into that category. (If you need evidence, take a troll through Indymedia. Or just type “Jews” and “neocons” into Technorati and see some of the fun-filled posts that pop-up.)
Abe Foxman at the Anti-Defamation League (who I admit is often quite shrill) nevertheless offered a rather nuanced view of this matter in an interview with the Forward:
The first point, [Foxman] said, is to accept as legitimate questions concerning the pro-Israel leanings of administration officials — so long as such criticisms recognize that the hawkish camp includes significant Jewish and non-Jewish players. And, Foxman said, while it is certainly legitimate to question where the Sharon government or American Jewish groups stand on the war, the thin line is crossed by those who portray these entities as a shadowy Jewish conspiracy that controls American foreign policy.
Others have noted that many Jewish hawks with ties to the administration, including [Richard] Perle, have advocated aggressive American action in defense of democracy far beyond the Middle East, from Latin America to Southeast Asia.
In the end, Foxman said, while American Jews are sometimes too quick to assume that antisemitism is at play, history has offered plenty of reasons to be wary of debates over their influence on foreign policy.
“It is an old canard that Jews control America and American foreign policy,” Foxman said. “During both world wars, antisemites said that Jews manipulated America into war. So when you being to hear it again, there is good reason for us to be aware of it and sensitive to it.”
In addition, consider what William F. Buckley had to say on this matter. Back in the early 1990s, during the Gulf War, Pat Buchanan went on an anti-neocon warpath, complaining that “There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East — the Israeli defense ministry and its ‘amen corner’ in the United States.” At first, Buckley defended Buchanan’s comments against charges of anti-semitism. But then, Buchanan singled out Jewish commentators urging military intervention in Iraq, naming Abe Rosenthal, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthamer and Henry Kissinger and followed up with the observation: “If it comes to war, it will not be the ‘civilized world’ humping up that bloody road to Baghdad; it will be American kids with names like McAllister, Murphy, Gonzales, and Leroy Brown.” Buckley reluctantly concluded: “There is no way to read that sentence without concluding that Pat Buchanan was suggesting that American Jews manage to avoid personal military exposure even while advancing military policies they (uniquely?) engender.”
Now, compare Buchanan’s statements with those of Joseph Wilson at a 2004 conference:
“My fear is that when it becomes increasingly apparent that this was all done to make Sharon’s life easier and that American soldiers are dying in order to enable Sharon to impose his terms upon the Palestinians that people will wonder why it is American boys and girls are dying for Israel and that will undercut a strategic relationship and a moral obligation that we’ve had towards Israel for 55 years. I think it’s a terribly flawed strategy.”
Maguire cites this as an example of statements “that might have struck a sensitive neo-con as being anti-Semitic.” In other words, Maguire trots out the old cliche of the “hypersensitive Jew” overreacting to reasoned political commentary. Is Wilson anti-semitic? I have no idea. But given the long, ugly history of anti-Jewish rhetoric on this score, I do take issue with Maguire’s casual dismissal of such comments. You don’t need to be a “sensitive neo-con” to raise an eyebrow when a public figure suggests that American kids are being sent to die predominately to benefit Ariel Sharon.
My second problem with Maguire is this comment:
“…maybe there was no conspiracy, and this Plame leak story is just Libby trying too hard to put Joe Wilson in his place. Or… I scarcely dare suggest it, but if this was a conspiracy led by a fellow out to quash the anti-Semites, is there any particular ethnic characteristic we might look for in Libby’s co-conspirators? Maybe David Wurmser is a more likely suspect than Karl Rove.”
Well, that’s a new one: An anti-anti-semitic cabal in the White House. Does the world really need another conspiracy theory, particularly one that Maguire himself describes as a product of “wild speculation”? Again, I’m reminded of a comment that appeared in the Forward, noting that legitimate writers who defend speculation about the Israel-neocon connection “could just as easily be faulted for failing to address adequately the potential damage done by pundits, intellectually sloppy even if well meaning, who rush to break down longstanding taboos on bigotry even as antisemitic conspiracy theories run rampant across the Internet and the Muslim world.”
Maguire is entitled to his opinions…even his wild speculations. (Hey, that’s what blogging is all about.) But he’s a respected, mainstream voice in the blogosphere–and I would prefer that he stick with “informed speculations” rather than “wild speculations” that will only add more pollutants to an already toxic atmosphere.
Wow. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any weirder, I see that that the Paris-based Voltaire Network has just wrapped up its international conference “against world domination.”
The Axis for Peace 2005 international conference was held in Brussels on Nov. 17-18 and claims to have hosted 150 personalities from 37 countries. According to the conference Web site: “Axis for Peace is similar to Davos meetings because of the audience, which is made of political leaders, diplomats, military officers and opinion leaders.”
Yeah, it’s alot like Davos…assuming the World Economic Forum decided to invite every prominent conspiracy nut in the Western world. But, what can you expect, given that the Voltaire Network is run by Thierry Meyssan, who wrote a bestselling book, L’effroyable imposture (The Frightening Fraud), claiming that the Pentagon was struck by a carefully planned truck bombing set up by the U.S. government to look like a plane crash.
I give Thierry credit…he managed to attract some prominent names to his conference, including Boutros Boutros-Ghali. But here are some of the other speakers in attendance–
Andreas Von Bulow: Former German Minister for Research and Technology and a long-time member of German parliament, who wrote a book (Die CIA und der 11. September) alleging that 9/11 was a covert operation in which the CIA and the Israeli Mossad played a role. He believes that the planes were directed to their targets by remote control; that the Twin Towers collapsed due to explosives; that no planes crashed into the Pentagon or in Pennsylvania; and that the CIA faked mobile phone calls from Flight 93 passengers.
Raymond McGovern: Former CIA member who helped found a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Last June, he embarassed Howard Dean at a forum organized by the Democratic National Committee to discuss the Downing Street Memos when he declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration “neocons” so “the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world.” He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
James Petras: Full-time professor of sociology at Binghamton University and part-time anti-imperialist author and moonbat. Among his most popular works is an article “Treason in high places: Pentagon zionists, AIPAC and Israel.” (Selected quote: “Israel has for decades subverted US foreign policy to serve its interests through the organized power of major Jewish organizations in the US…The Pentagon offices of Feith and Wolfowitz appeared to be an upscale bordello for high ranking Israeli officials. Judging from the subsequent policies it is clear that Pentagon Zionists took their cues from their Israeli counterparts…Meantime US intelligence and military officials were marginalized, their objections to Israeli positions blown away, their very presence seen as obstacles to realizing Sharon’s vision of a Greater Israel sharing domination over the Middle East.”)
Axis of Peace issued a Final Declaration, proclaiming that:
A military coalition has launched itself into an unbridled exploitation of the world’s resources and energy reserves. Fuelled by neo-conservatives, it has increased its attacks, practicing all forms of interference, from forcing changes in regimes to colonial-style expansionism…To justify their thirst for conquest, they form terrorist groups with the aim of manipulating them, create pretexts for military action, propagate theories of an international Muslim plot and fuel conflicts between civilizations. They seize power for themselves and contribute to pushing humanity toward ruin and disorder.
I confess that I would have loved to have been at this conference, just to hear these guys compare notes. (“Really? The Zionists have infiltrated Starbucks?”) I guess I’ll just have to settle for reading Indymedia.
A crucial factor in this readership disparity is the vast difference between British and American media. The U.S. media’s obsession with objectivity and impartiality has left fertile ground open for the partisan plowing of bloggers like Daily Kos, Power Line and Talking Points Memo. It’s an opportunity that simply does not present itself to U.K. bloggers, who have to compete with a spectrum of media views, from the right-wing Sun to the left-leaning Guardian.
Neil McIntosh, assistant editor of Guardian Unlimited, which runs a popular Newsblog, says British readers are used to partisan reporting, even finding a mixture of voices competing for attention within the pages of the same newspaper.
“In this country we have an enormously diverse media,” McIntosh says. “You can be offended by Richard Littlejohn on the right and George Monbiot on the left. You can find [right wing] Max Hastings and [left wing] Polly Toynbee in the pages of the Guardian. So where is the ground into which blogs can successfully move?”
But, Berger adds, the one area where British bloggers have found their unique niche is among the pro-war Left. “It’s one of the big arguments that is going on in blogs but that is not taking place in the national press,” says Tim Worstall.
Quite so. But I would add that British blogs are filling a void in the United States as well: The debate over leftwing anti-semitism.
Sure, it’s discussed in the United States, but mostly it’s the conservative media beating up on the Left. There’s no real debate within the Left itself. What I find most troubling is not that the Left denies this is a problem. Rather, what truly concerns me is that the Left refuses to even entertain the possibility that it could be a problem. (“By definition we’re anti-racist, so how could there be anti-semitism in our ranks?”)
It’s ironic, since the progressive press (justifiably) prides itself on exposing the undercurrents of racism that pervade public policy issues, be it the dealth penalty, minimum wage, immigration, or U.S. policies toward Africa, Asia, and the Arab world. But, miraculously, anti-Israelism is the one topic in the public square where the Left proclaims that accusations of racism are out of bounds. So, we get magazines such as the Nation publishing cover stories like “The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism.” What I’ve really wanted to see is the Left confront its own demons, much as the conservatives did a decade ago when William F. Buckley wrote an essay (later a book) entitled “In Search of Anti-Semitism.” (And yes…he found some.)
Confronted with an entrenched leftist establishment that includes the Guardian, the BBC, Ken Livingstone, and the AUT, the British bloggers representing the “muscular Left” are providing a forum for debating leftist anti-semitism that is far more eloquent and relentless than much of what I’ve seen stateside.