Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Recycling standard anti-semitic propaganda is OK if you say "Zionists" instead of "Jews", right?

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A tip from David Hirsh refers us to a good piece by Mark Gardner on the CST blog. I'm really not sure why borderline (and sometimes not so borderline) anti-semitic discourse is so prevalent and acceptable in so many sectors of British society that consider themselves "progressive", sometimes thinly disguised as anti-Zionism and sometimes just treated as respectable or "understandable" because of anti-Zionist hysteria. But it is.

(By "anti-Zionism" I mean, like Gardner, not disagreement with actual Zionism or criticism of Israel and Israeli policies, but systematic bias against Israel, Israelis, and supporters of Israel's right to exist, shading off into obsessive hatred, demonization, and paranoid conspiracy theorizing about real or imagined "Zionists".  That's analytically distinct from anti-semitism, but in practice the two are often connected—and, at all events, anti-Zionist bigotry is morally reprehensible and politically pernicious in itself, whether or not it is caused by, or a coded euphemism for, anti-semitism.)

These phenomena are so routine and pervasive, in fact, that it may seem tiresome and redundant to keep pointing them out. But occasional reminders are useful, if only to spell out how different varieties of this game work.

—Jeff Weintraub

CST blog
June 12, 2013
Anti-Zionism: the frontline.
by Mark Gardner

Tonight, Ibrahim Hewitt (pro-Palestinian Islamist), David Hearst (senior Guardian writer) and Tim Llewellyn (ex-BBC Middle East correspondent), will be critiquing the media’s approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict”. The venue is London journalist haunt, the Frontline Club. It will be chaired by Mark McDonald, a founder of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.

Hewitt is central to this meeting. He is senior editor of Islamist news outfit, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and runs Interpal, a pro-Palestinian charity. In 2010, CST stated that MEMO’s beliefs about “Zionist” control of media and politicians, made it “unsuitable for Labour MPs and senior Guardian personnel to work with”.

CST could equally have said that no senior Labour or Guardian figures ought to work with Tim Llewellyn, who perhaps even surpasses MEMO in his anti-Zionist conspiracy theorising. At the Frontline Club, we can expect Hewitt and Llewellyn to fervently claim that the media runs to a Zionist agenda. Whether Hearst and McDonald endorse this, do a bystander act, or intervene with the occasional “hold on, you’ve taken that a bit far” remains to be seen.

‘Jews run the media’ is intrinsic to any ‘Jews and Jewish money run the world’ way of thinking. Neither Hewitt or Llewellyn would be so crass, or so racist, as to actually expound a full-on antisemitic conspiracy, run by Jews, for Jews. Nevertheless, with anti-Zionists such as these, who really needs stupid antisemites?

By contrast, there is Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party (BNP). Griffin is not attending the Frontline Club meeting, because his “anti-Zionism” is the wrong type for such company; and he is currently in Damascus. (Perhaps seeking other “anti-Zionist” allies?).

One of Griffin’s explicitly antisemitic BNP ventures was his publication, in 1997, of the infamous "MIND-BENDERS". Its full title:
Who are the MIND-BENDERS? The people who rule Britain through control of the mass media
Surprise, surprise:
…very few people in Britain are aware of the huge influence over the mass media exercised by a certain ethnic minority, namely the Jews.
Griffin goes on to stress, “We in the British National Party do nowhere advocate ill-treatment of Jews”. He explains how to distinguish good Jews from bad Jews:
Those Jews who are loyal to Britain, observe the laws of Britain and play no part in poisoning the minds of the people of Britain have absolutely nothing to fear from us…those who are disloyal, break the law and/or play a part in poisoning the public mind – whether by means of the press, TV or any other medium – Gentiles are equally guilty as Jews and should be treated equally.  
One presumes that there is simply no way that the Guardian’s David Hearst, or Mark McDonald would dream of sharing a stage with Nick Griffin. So, they should compare the above, with this below, including the “Jewish” mentions, by Tim Llewellyn (from 2006):
No alien polity has so successfully penetrated the British government and British institutions during the past ninety years as the Zionist movement and its manifestation as the state of Israel…the Zionists have manipulated British systems as expertly as maestros, here a massive major chord, there a minor refrain, the audience, for the most part, spellbound.

…this cuckoo in the nest of British politics…

… Israel had worked its spells well, with a lot of help from its friends: these lined the benches of parliament, wrote the news stories and editorials, framed the way we saw and heard almost everything about the Middle East on TV, radio and in the press. History, the Bible, Nazi Germany’s slaughter of the Jews, Russian pogroms, the Jewish narrative relayed and parlayed through a thousand books, films, TV plays and series, radio programmes, the skills of Jewish writers, diarists, memoirists, artists and musicians, people like us and among us, all had played their part.

…the fervent Zionist Labour MPs, some of them little better than bully-boys, Richard Crossman (not a Jew), Ian Mikardo, Maurice Edelman, Emmanuel “Manny” Shinwell, Sidney Silverman, Konni Zilliacus et al, are, mercifully, not only no longer with us but have not been replaced, not in such virulent form.

… the Union of Jewish Students, which elbows and induces Zionistically inclined undergraduates towards influential positions in British public life, especially the media, the banking sector and information technology.
In all seriousness, with such “anti-Zionism” from an ex-BBC man, is there really any need for BNP antisemitism?

Next, consider Ibrahim Hewitt. His MEMO outfit has featured many times previously on CST blog. For example, here, asking if David Cameron had appointed a British Jewish ambassador to Israel for the benefit of Britain, or of Israel. Or, here, running an article that included “the long, poisonous tentacles of Zionism”.  Or, here, Hewitt’s take on George Osborne MP addressing the 250th anniversary dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. And, here, on their use of this graphic:

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MEMO also loomed large in the Sheikh Ra’ed Salah controversy (2011-2012). CST had supported the Home Secretary’s banning of Salah and provided information towards this end. Salah was supported to the hilt by the Guardian and UK Islamist groups, primarily MEMO, who had invited him to Britain. (Again, CST Blog covered this on numerous occasions, including MEMO’s various shifting stories, for example, here and here.)

The case was complex. Salah lost an appeal, then won another appeal and left the UK. Throughout, the Guardian acted as little more than an outrider for Salah and his MEMO hosts. The paper carried extensive coverage, but failed to adequately explain Jewish communal fears; never admitted that Salah had been due to meet with senior Guardian staff (as revealed by MEMO); and did not even tell its readers that the last judicial ruling in Salah’s favour had, nevertheless, dismissed the Sheikh’s denial of having made a blood libel speech. (Yes, that blood libel, the one about Jews needing non-Jewish blood for matzos.)

As a lengthy case study in why the Guardian attracts such singular criticism from those who care about antisemitism, the entire episode was hard to beat.

David Hearst concluded the paper’s disgraceful and extensive coverage of the affair with an article that praised CST’s “expertise” on antisemitic hate crime, but then attacked CST’s role. Crucially, he failed to state that the judge had not found against CST’s central concern, Salah’s use of the blood libel. He then wrongly claimed:
As the CST makes clear in its reports, there is a world of difference between antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and criticism of the actions of the Israeli state. All three discourses have their own dynamic. There are grave dangers in conflating the three.
Actually, CST’s reports usually say the opposite, because most antisemitic controversies in the mainstream are in some kind of Israel-related context. CST is constantly trying to explain the porous nature of antisemitic arguments, impacts and actions in these ostensibly anti-Zionist or anti-Israel settings. Yes, there is grave and dangerous conflation of “the three” issues, but it is done by those who run with wild anti-Zionist conspiracy theories: not by CST.

Hearst ended with:
The home secretary and the police should continue to consult organisations like the CST on all matters which pertain to antisemitism. But the CST should also examine its conscience. Was it wise to allow itself to stray from its natural terrain, the legitimate and necessary pursuit of antisemites, and be drawn into the snake pit of the Arab-Israeli conflict?
The Arab-Israel conflict is, indeed, a “snake pit”, but Hearst is very wrong to imply a disconnect with local antisemitism. In Britain, and even more obviously in France and elsewhere, the overseas conflict contributes greatly to local antisemitic attitudes and hate crimes, causing Jews to fear for their future well-being. (This will be better understood after a forthcoming EU report on Jewish perceptions is published later this year.)

One way of limiting the Arab-Israel conflict’s impact upon British Jews is to limit the importation of sheer hatred into this country. That is why CST opposed Sheikh Salah’s entry. It is also why we condemn the kind of anti-Zionist hysteria that we fear will characterise this meeting in the trendy heart of Britain’s media establishment.

Further reading:

Pages 18-22 of CST’s 2011 Antisemitic Discourse Report (full pdf here) explain the Salah controversy and the roles of MEMO and the Guardian.

Tim Llewellyn, on how Israelis cunningly speak differently accented forms of English; and on how Dennis Ross, American Middle East ambassador “is not just a Jew, he is a Zionist”. See MEMO website here (May 2013) for Llewellyn alleging that “The BBC is now culturally and socially stuck in the Zionist frame”.

Tim Llewellyn, at another MEMO meeting, saying “Zionists are scattered at strategic points throughout British business”. This meeting was also attended by David Hearst’s colleague Seumas Milne (Guardian associate editor) and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Independent columnist).