Sunday, 29 July 2018

Why Does Jonathan Freedland Feel the Need to Lie to The Guardian's Readers?

The Guardian's 'Antisemitism' Campaign Against Corbyn Continues Unabated

The latest Freedland anti-semitism nonsense

I’ve long since lost count of the number of anti-Corbyn articles concerning ‘anti-Semitism’ that the Guardian has run in the past 3 years. Five filters have done a remarkable job in collating some of the more tedious attacks by Guardian columnists on Jeremy Corbyn. I have added a couple more on the ‘anti-Semitism’ nonsense. The Guardian and Jonathan Freedland's tedious Campaign against Corbyn. Prominent amongst Jeremy’s critics has been Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian’s Zionist gatekeeper and a senior Guardian editor
Freedland’s latest effort is Yes, Jews are angry – because Labour hasn’t listened or shown any empathy.  You might have thought in the year of the Windrush scandal, when at least 70 Black people who came to this country 70 years ago, who the moment they landed were citizens of the UK and Colonies.  Despite this at least 70 people were deported to the West Indies.

Some of Jonathan Freedland's anti-Corbyn articles

Jonathan Freedland and a few of his articles on Corbyn and the Labour left and antisemitism

Contrast that with Britain’s Jewish community.  Not one of them have been deported.  They are on average considerably better off than the average white person, there is no police violence against Jews or economic discrimination. The only section of the Jewish community that has suffered racist attacks is the Orthodox Jewish community who are visibly different. Physical attacks on Jews as Jews are extremely rare compared to Muslims and Black people  In short there is no evidence of institutionalised anti-Semitism in Britain compared to the endemic racism against Black and Asian people.  Yet the media is deluged with rubbish articles, of which Freedland’s is one, about anti-Semitism.  You would be hard put to find a Freedland article on Windrush or anti-Roma prejudice.
It is because Jews in Britain today are a comfortably off sub-section of the White population that Britain’s racist tabloids, two of whom employed the poisonous Katie Hopkins, are so concerned about ‘anti-Semitism’.  The very same papers who demonise asylum seekers.
Freedland’s article yesterday fits into this.  Erroneous, self-centred, dishonest.  You name it then Freedland has managed it. The only Opinion piece in The Guardian which has a balance of contributors is here.

Tony Greenstein 

Nigel Wilmott
Letters Editor
The Guardian
Kings Place,
90 York Way
London N1 9GU,
This is just a few of the Guardian and Jonathan Freedland's attacks on Corbyn

Jonathan Freedland speaking at Chatham House, where the great and the good meet to discuss foreign policy on a non-attributable basis

Dear Nigel,
I realise that this letter, a response to Jonathan Freedland’s latest propaganda blast, is over the normal word limit for a letter, but as the saying goes, a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.  If you feel that it is too long it can always be referred to the Comment Editor or is that Mr Freedland?
We seem to be in the midst of a full spectrum, all guns blazing, PR offensive on behalf of the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism. This week all three Zionist papers carried the same hysterical front page that even Freedland labels ‘over the top’. [Yes, Jews are angry – because Labour hasn’t listened or shown any empathy]
What I find surprising is that Jonathan Freedland, a senior Guardian Editor, whose views on Israel are allowed to dominate the Opinion pages without let or hindrance, feels the need to emulate the principle that if you repeat a lie long enough it is likely to be believed. To deal with a few of Freedland’s points.
i.                   Yes Zion is an integral part of the Jewish religion. However it has never had, until the late colonial period, any political significance. That was why when Zionism arose in the late 19th Century its fiercest opponents were Orthodox Jews.
ii.                If the idea of Israel/Zion had more than a spiritual significance why was it when the great emigration of two and a half million Jews from Czarist Russia occurred from the mid 19th century to 1914, barely one percent went to Palestine?  There were no borders stopping them. The religious significance of Zion is not and never has been a justification for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.  Palestine was not a land without a people for a people without a land.  That is a colonial myth.
iii.             Jews in Britain are not an ethnic minority, they are a religious minority and part of white British society.  They are not in any way an oppressed group.
iv.             Nowhere does Freedland explain why the Oxford English Dictionary definition of anti-Semitism, ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews’ is not sufficient to deal with genuine 24 carat anti-Semites. This six word definition is more than adequate to deal with those who talk about a ‘hook-nosed, bloodthirsty Jew’. There is also the definition drawn up by Brian Klug of Oxford University, in his lecture ‘What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Antisemitsm’? Echoes of shattering glass at the Jewish Museum in Berlin on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.  Klug’s defined anti-Semitism as ‘a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.’  Is 21 words.
v.                Nowhere does Freedland explain why the IHRA definition, 500+ words, including 11 ‘examples’ of anti-Semitism, 7 related to Israel, is necessary.
vi.             Freedland says that the IHRA definition is near universally accepted’. This is untrue. The IHRA definition is rejected by anti-racist, Muslim, Palestinian and civil society groups such as Liberty and the University College Union. It is though universally accepted by state bodies and governments, including the anti-Semitic governments of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria. Yes, anti-Semites have no problems with a definition of anti-Semitism that is based on support for Israel. Today the favourite refrain of anti-Semites and neo-Nazis such as the founder of the Alt-Right Richard Spencer, who defines himself as a White Zionist, is that however much they dislike Jews they love Israel.
vii.          Surely Freedland cannot be unaware that the Trump administration, which combines anti-Semitism and ultra-Zionism, also supports the IHRA?  An administration that contained anti-Semites such as Steve Bannon, who objected to his children attending school with whiny Jewish brats’ and Sebastian Gorka with his membership of the neo-Nazi Vitezi Rend?
viii.       Even leaving the aforementioned aside, why does Freedland feels the need to insult the intelligence of Guardian’s readers?  Does Freedland really have such contempt for their intelligence that he treats them like the Daily Mail treats their readership? Leaving aside Freedland’s cheap reference to Thereisienstadt concentration camp or the gauche picture of the Warsaw Ghetto, although we know that comparisons with Nazi Germany, when made by Israel’s critics, even if they are Jewish, are ‘anti-Semitic’ according to the IHRA.
ix.             Freedland states that ‘the IHRA text explicitly says that if you criticise Israel the way you criticise other countries, it “cannot be regarded as antisemitic”. Most readers will not check the IHRA’s wording and will trust that what Freedland says is accurate. After all senior editors of the Guardian don’t lie, or do they?
x.                In fact the IHRA contains two references to criticism of Israel. The first states that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’. The only problem is that Israel is a unique ethno nationalist state which is a state of the ‘Jewish people’ wherever they may reside but not of its own citizens. This is entrenched in the Jewish Nation State Bill.
xi.             The second reference states that anti-Semitism consists of ‘Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.’ I fail to understand why, even if someone did expect higher standards of Israel (e.g. because it claims the Holocaust as its moral legacy) that that would be anti-Semitic. Racism is about people not states.
In which other liberal democracy would you have demonstrations against minority ethnic groups buying a house in an ethnically pure city
xii.          Israel is not a democratic nation, indeed it is not a nation. There is no Israeli nationality. It maintains a military dictatorship over 5+ million Palestinians and when they protest it guns them down. Israel is a state that uses torture, imprisons and abuses young children and locks people up without trial. Arabs are effectively tolerated guests not even second class citizens of Israel. A situation where Arab Israelis do not have access to 93% of the land, where Israeli Jews demonstrate against an Arab family moving into the Jewish city of Afula is not a democracy. 
Saying Israel is a racist endeavour is antisemitic
xiii.        The IHRA has, according to Hugh Tomlinson QC, a ‘potential chilling effect’ on freedom of speech . No less a person that Kenneth Stern, the author of the IHRA, in a written deposition to the House of Representatives in November 2017 described how the IHRA had been used to ‘restrict academic freedom and punish political speech’ and that it had ‘chilled pro-Palestinian expression.’ How strange that Freedland omitted the above in is heart wrenching tale of Jewish suburbia.
Once again Freedland abuses his editorial position in order to wage a propaganda war against opponents of Zionism and Palestine solidarity campaigners. Not once has the Guardian granted a right of reply to Freedland’s critics.
Freedland repeatedly suggests that the IHRA is the only safeguard against anti-Semitism. He knows that this is a lie but he still repeats it in an article high on verbal flatulence. You don’t need a definition of anti-Semitism to recognise the beast. Kenneth Stern described how a group of Jewish students were subject to anti-Semitic harassment on a US campus which included verbal abuse, chants of “Heil Hitler” and being kicked on a “Kick a Jew Day.” Action was happily taken against the perpetrators. Stern notes that ‘there was no need to consult a definition to make this determination.’
Where someone is attacked because they are Jewish there is no need to study a 500 word definition before taking action. Jonathan Freedland knows this very well yet he continues to treat the Guardian’s readers as if they were idiots. The IHRA is about curtailing free speech.
Hundreds dmonstrate in Afula recently against the sale of a house to an Arab in a town which is wholly Jewish
If Jonathan Freedland were to come clean for once he would confirm that this is not about anti-Semitism. It is about removing Jeremy Corbyn. That has been the Guardian’s aim for the past 3 years. See The Guardian and Jonathan Freedland's tedious Campaign against Corbyn
Like all too many of his fellows, Jonathan Freedland no longer understands the difference between journalism and political propaganda and mendacious prse. We know that diplomats are sent to lie abroad for their country but does that have to be of Guardian journalists?
Tony Greenstein
Yes, Jews are angry – because Labour hasn’t listened or shown any empathy | Jonathan Freedland
Jonathan FreedlandFri 27 Jul 2018 17.37 BST
The row over how to define antisemitism is not just about nuances of phrasing. Failure to consult Jewish opinion has destroyed all goodwill
This week I was in a house of mourning for an evening of prayers for the dead, part of what Jews call a shiva. We were there to remember a woman who had come to this country as a child refugee, having survived the Nazi concentration camp at Terezín, in what is now the Czech Republic. But I was struck by the words of the ancient prayers themselves, wondering what an outsider might make of them. For certain words kept recurring, as the holy texts invoked “the people of Israel” and asked that those grieving be comforted “among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”.
I found myself thinking that it would be useful for those following the ongoing, apparently neverending row about antisemitism and the Labour party to see what I was seeing. For they would have learned two relevant things. First, that if Jews are hyper-alert to threats, with a radar acutely sensitive to the early signs of danger, that is partly because the Holocaust, the murder of 6 million Jews, is, for us, a very recent memory: part of our own lived experience, barely one generation away. Second, that while so many may wish to draw a clear, bright line between Jews and Israel so that you can hate the latter while showing no hostility to the former, it is a bit fuzzier than that. Because the idea of Israel – not the concrete reality, but the idea of Israel and Zion and Jerusalem – is so deeply woven into Jewish tradition and culture that it’s there in the very words we utter at the most intimate moments of our lives.
The other thing they’d have heard if they had been at that shiva is a room full of Labour-supporting Jews sharing their fears about the party they, their parents and grandparents once called home. It’s the same conversation that Jews are now used to hearing, around synagogues and sabbath dinner tables, and which found expression in recent days in both Margaret Hodge’s outburst against Jeremy Corbyn, in which she called the party leader an antisemite to his face, and in an unprecedented shared front-page editorial published in three leading British Jewish newspapers, declaring that a Corbyn-led government would pose “an existential threat to Jewish life in this country”.
How on earth has it come to this? How have we sunk to the point where the mainstream Jewish community sees Labour this way, and when a longtime anti-racist like Billy Bragg finds himself telling an ethnic minority that they have “work to do” if they are to win back Labour’s trust? Can it really be solely about Labour’s failure to adopt the full text of the near universally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, including all its illustrative examples, so that this is an argument about sub-clauses and paragraphs? Is that all this is about?
No. The definition row is the eruption, but the volcano itself goes much deeper. Churning inside are deep incomprehension and distrust, brewed over many years, if not decades.
Start with the incomprehension. Part of the problem is that, for many, all this has seemed rather abstract: people keep referring to antisemitism on the left, but are rarely shown what it actually looks like. For them, the IHRA definition must seem like a weapon to be used against a hypothetical threat. But some of us see daily the tweets and Facebook posts, whether it’s the caricature of a hook-nosed, bloodthirsty Jew posted by a Labour councillor in Derbyshire, the overt Holocaust denial – “Holo-brainwashing”, in the words of a former Labour council candidate in Kent – or the endless talk of Rothschilds, Jewish control of the media, money and all the old tunes played against Jews for centuries. We see it; we get used to it. But it’s not abstract.
The second level of incomprehension relates to Israel. Defenders of Labour’s code of conduct say it was necessary because the IHRA version conflates legitimate criticism of Israel with antisemitism. This makes plenty of Jews want to slam their heads on their desks in frustration, partly because the IHRA text explicitly says that if you criticise Israel the way you criticise other countries, it “cannot be regarded as antisemitic”, and partly because these Jews criticise Israel all the time themselves – never more so than in the week after Israel passed an appalling nation-state law which, in effect, officially confirms Arab-Israelis as second-class citizens.
Bragg worries that the IHRA will silence the pro-Palestinian voice. But the only pro-Palestinian who needs to fear the IHRA is the one who wants to say Jews are disloyal to their own countries, that Jews are Nazis and that the very idea of Jews having a homeland of their own is “a racist endeavour”. You can say all of those things more easily under Labour’s new code – the age-old accusation of disloyalty, for example, is no longer classified as antisemitic – which is one reason why the vast bulk of the Jewish community opposes it.
But the IHRA itself, properly applied, allows plenty of scope. You can, if you want, say everything the state of Israel has done since its birth has been racist. All it prohibits is branding as a racist endeavour “a state of Israel” – the principle that Jews, like every other people on Earth, should have a home and refuge of their own. And if you want to make a serious analogy with the historic past, you can do that too, because the IHRA allows for context. Given all that, when Jews hear that the IHRA is not good enough, so that Labour had to draw up a code of its own, they wonder: what exactly is it that Labour wants to say about us?
Still, as I say, this is not really about clauses and paragraphs. If there had been goodwill and trust, Labour could have sat down with the Jewish community and ironed out any wrinkles, perhaps by adopting the IHRA’s definition in full and then adding a couple of caveats explicitly protecting free speech. The trouble is, there is no such trust, and Labour attempted no such thing. Instead it drew up its code of conduct itself, without consulting the organised Jewish community at all.
This, not any particular form of words, is what doomed Labour’s code. It’s as if Labour unilaterally decided to rewrite a widely accepted set of guidelines on sexual harassment, in defiance of opposition from every women’s organisation and without consulting them, and delegating the task to a majority male sub-committee, and then expected women to applaud the new document. Every leftist, every Corbynite, would howl at the absurdity of the party thinking it knew best. (They’d keep howling even if a handful of women intellectuals sympathetic to the party leadership, but out of step with majority female opinion, insisted on talking up the new code as an improvement.)
Yet, when Jews express their disquiet, they are not greeted with empathy and solidarity from the army of self-described anti-racists. Instead, they face an online horde shouting in their faces, accusing them of dishonesty, of smears, of ulterior motives and hidden agendas, of shilling for an Israeli government many of them oppose. And it ends in the dispiriting sight of a good man like Bragg – no antisemite – taking up a position antagonistic to Jews, telling them they need to behave, just to defend the party and the leader.
So yes, maybe that editorial printed in the Jewish newspapers was over the top. But you know what? It reflects the anxiety that many, if not most, in the Jewish community feel. And given our history and the hyper-vigilance it has left us with, it might be an idea to stop wagging a finger and telling Jews, yet again, that they’re wrong – and just listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please submit your comments below