The Guardian: Fuelling Denials of Antisemitism

This is a cross post by Mark Gardner of The CST Blog

Today’s Guardian editorial, concerning the detention by UK Border Agency of Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, typifies the bias with which most Israel-related antisemitism is treated by large swathes of the liberal-left and far-left. It is no surprise: after all, the Guardian is the single most influential purveyor and reflector of such attitudes.

The editorial is summed up by its 2nd paragraph:

What has made our government so agitated by his presence? Is it the fact that the sheikh was accused in some British newspapers and one website of making antisemitic statements, which he says were fabricated, and for which he has started libel proceedings? If so, the home secretary is applying a higher threshold for the public good in Britain than Israel itself applies to a man it has not been shy of prosecuting on other issues. Repeated attempts to outlaw the Islamic Movement for incitement have failed in Israel’s high court. Mr Salah has not been convicted of antisemitism, and spoke recently on a platform in Tel Aviv University.

The editorial ends, for good measure, with a snide swipe at Israeli Jewish racists, casually conflating them with Israel as a whole:

In a separate celebration, Jerusalem Day, rightwing Israeli activists marched into the Arab Old City shouting slogans such as “Muhammad is dead”, “May your village burn”, and “Butcher the Arabs”. This is racist incitement for which no action is being taken. Should Britain be taking lessons from Israel on incitement?

A reference to the antisemitism that is fairly endemic in many Muslim majority countries and utterly embedded in Islamist movements would surely have been more relevant when discussing (and so readily dismissing) whether or not Salah has a record of making antisemitic statements. Or, indeed, as to whether or not British Jews, and the British Government should be expressing concern about him.

This Guardian editorial, however, like the constituency it educates and reflects, clearly cares far, far more with bashing Israel than it does with seriously contemplating anything to do with Islamist antisemitism; why Jews have every right to fear it; why British Jews have every right to request Government protection from it; and why the British Government has every right to deny people entry on the back of this.

The Guardian editorial also reinforces and mirrors another aspect of the anti-Israel left’s response to the specific furore over Sheikh Salah: its gushing acceptance of his assurance that he is no antisemite; its ready belief that the widely quoted allegations regarding “Blood Libel” are somehow a fabrication;  and in believing that all charges relating to this alleged speech have been dropped.

We cannot be sure which of the antisemitic allegations the Guardian is aware of (the “Blood Libel” is not the only one), so we cannot really know which of the denials it accepts: but time will tell if the Guardian’s sources are as accurate as it (and Salah’s other defenders) obviously believes them to be.

Nevertheless, the symmetry between the instinct that this Guardian editorial displays, and that of the formal anti-Israel lobby is profound. Jewish concerns are essentially ignored. There is no serious attempt to contemplate them, nor to ask for their sources. Alan Rusbridger’s dismissal of anti-Israel media impact on antisemitism epitomises the attuitude.

Would other minority groups’ concerns be so readily ignored? No.

Would a far right activist facing antisemitism allegations be presumed the victim of a fabricated smear campaign? No.

Would a far right activist denying such allegations be simply believed at his, and his lawyer’s insistence? No.

When Sarah Palin mentions the “Blood Libel”, cue screaming Guardian articles. The contrast with their editorial on Salah, and their previous news reporting on it, tells you all that you need to know about the selective and predetermined outrage of the paper (and much of its constituency) when it comes to antisemitism.

Yesterday, CST Blog noted the unprecedented call by Communities & Local Govt Secretary, Eric Pickles, for the Equalities & Human Rights Commission to investigate the University and College Union for institutional antisemitism. Our article concluded:

…this is a potentially crucial moment in the struggle against the institutional antisemitism of UCU and similar bastions of far Left anti-Zionism.

The Guardian is certainly not the UCU, but some (perhaps most) of its staff clearly need to learn many of the same key lessons about treating antisemitism seriously.

The actual facts relating to why Salah was banned (the supposed subject of the Guardian editorial), was also covered this week on CST Blog.

We emphasised that the banning was clearly the consequence of Government having very recently tightened up its definitions of “extremist” in the review of Prevent counter-extremism strategy, including its disparaging mentions of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami circles in UK. Had Salah made his UK Brotherhood facilitated visit earlier in the year, perhaps he would have been admitted: but he did not. Our article included:

Jewish communities have every right to fear the antisemitism that permeates pan-Islamist politics. It should (but will not) shame those supposed anti-racists who offer unconditional support to Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat types here in the UK and around the world, and who consistently lie that Jewish concerns about antisemitism are a fake cover for Israel.

The Guardian editorial makes one solitary mention of the Prevent review, sneeringly stating:

If the home secretary is unwise enough to start applying her “prevent” policy to all Palestinian activists Israel has a problem with, Britain will face abacklash in the Arab world.

And there it is. Essentially, where Jewish communal concerns have been expressed as being about antisemitism: those are casually transformed into “all Palestinian activists Israel has a problem with”. The transition is so seamless, you have to wonder if the leader writer even realises what he or she has done. Which says it all, really…except, the clue lay in the title of the editorial all along:

Palestinian activists: unwelcome guests?

Not “Alleged antisemitic activists: unwelcome guests?”, nor “Muslim Brotherhood activists: unwelcome guests?”.

The editorial fuels and reflects all of the antisemitism denials of the anti-Israel movement. It is the same mind-set. Really, this has nothing to do with antisemitism, nor with a serious review of Prevent. Really, its all about Israel calling the shots over our Government; and what Israel wants, Israel gets. Israeli lies and Israeli control, all aided and abetted by its UK surrogates. “Antisemitic? Impossible, I hate racism, especially antisemitism. Nope, not me, guv. Oh, and by the way, not him either.”