Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Rising anti-Semitism at the Sunday Times?

Cartoon by Gerald Scarfe, depicting Israeli PM
Benjamin Netanyahu building a brick wall over
the bodies of bloodied Palestinian-Arabs

On January 27th, the Sunday Times published a cartoon by Gerald Scarfe, which is widely thought to have libelled both Israel and the Jewish people, due to apparent anti-Semitic imagery. Scarfe is a well-known English cartoonist who illustrated The Wall, the self-pitying magnum opus by ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters. Water’s live performances of the album also stirred controversy by linking the Star of David with greed.

Rupert Murdock, owner of News International which owns the Sunday Times, has apologised for the cartoon. Whilst the Sunday Times denies that the cartoon is anti-Semitic, claiming that it merely attacks Netanyahu and Israeli policies, the illustration nonetheless displays classic anti-Semitic motifs to the extent that it has been compared with an infamous cartoon featured on the cover of a 1934 edition of the Nazi tabloid newspaper, Der Sturmer, in terms of both its depiction of Jews and thematic content.

Anti-Semitic cartoon featured on a 1934 cover of Der Sturmer.

Furthermore, the offensive cartoon was published by the Sunday Times on Holocaust Memorial Day, which if intentional would display a rather warped mindset. Scarfe has since said he regrets the date of publication, claiming that he had not been aware it was Holocaust Memorial Day!

Yet an intent for Mr. Scarfe, and/or the Sunday Times, to incite hate and/or cause distress to the paper’s Jewish readers, is a distinct probability since pro-Palestinians have made sustained attempts to hijack the Memorial Day and the Holocaust more broadly, to push propagandistic messages, e.g. comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, Gaza with the Warsaw Ghetto etc.

And yet any decline at the Sunday Times didn’t start with a cartoon. For example, a large 4th of March 2012 article (taking up two pages), concerning the use of private information in relation to phone apps, carried the headline “In a flash, your details are sent to Israel”, despite the fact that Israel played a very minor part in the story!

Andrew Sullivan’s Apologia

During the same month (March 25th), the paper featured a prominent op-ed by well-known Israeli-basher Andrew Sullivan, opposite the editorial page, entitled: “The gag of loyalty destroying Israel”. The piece defended a book by another arch Israeli-basher called Peter Beinart, with such an intensity that one came away with the feeling that Sullivan felt no one was or is entitled to criticise his cherished Beinart!

Extract of "The gag of loyalty destroying Israel" by Andrew Sullivan,
Sunday Times, 25 of March 2012

The piece condensed such a remarkable miasma of primitive pro-Palestinian propaganda aimed at defaming Israel, and the pro-Israel American lobby, that one came away with the distinct feeling this American blogger, well-known for his controversial views, was wheeled in due to an agenda.

The piece stands out for intensively regurgitating quite an astonishing number of lies about settlements, the inability to criticise Israel in the US, and the situation of Arab-Palestinians in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), that it would be more suited for a propaganda site like Electronic Intifada. Sullivan refers to the growth of Jewish settler numbers in the West Bank but then fails to mention the dramatic jump in the Arab-Palestinian populace.

Sullivan starts and ends the article by predicting dire consequences for Beinart as if the dark shadowy lobby will destroy this poor truth teller. He also crosses a line by referring to the dangers of “Jewish power” in relation to the Jewish lobby, and even raised the old anti-Semitic Jewish-dual-loyalty charge:
What Beinart has done is not just illustrated (sic) this crisis and challenged a blinkered view of how it came to pass; he has blamed its relentless deepening on a complacent, out-of-touch and defensive American-Jewish establishment. He believes it remains so trapped in the post-Holocaust paradigm of Jewish victimhood that it cannot see, as earlier Zionists did, the danger of Jewish power.
While Sullivan relates these ideas to Peter Beinart’s rather unoriginal thesis, Sullivan still advances and adopts the same notions himself, in a stout uncritical defence of Beinart, an individual who has defamed Israel by recycling many pro-Palestinian falsehoods, whilst simultaneously pretending to be its friend!

And what of Jewish victimhood? Is it not legitimate to be concerned about anti-Semitism when Holocaust denial is such a popular sport today, and appears to be increasingly derived from the Middle East conflict itself?

Is it not legitimate to be concerned when Jews in the US suffer the greatest level of faith based violence of any group, which is especially worrying since religion is the greatest motivating factor for hate crime? In 2010, some 65.4% of hate crimes were against Jews, standing in stark contrast to 13.2% against Muslims, an oddity considering the oft-covered media nightmares concerning Islamophobia, which of course in the US ought to be taken in the context of 9/11 and its protracted terrorist concerns.
He [Beinart] has exposed how the Israel lobby in America, far from trying to support its president in restraining new settlements in the West Bank, and found every excuse to let the Israeli’s off the hook, engaged in character assassinations of people who tried to argue back, all but sided with a foreign minister over its own government in the clash between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, and is now beating the drum for war against Iran.
Need it be added that Israel has not established any official settlements since the mid to late 1990’s, during the Oslo II process, and they can be found not infrequently pulling down illegal Jewish outposts? In a prior passage, Sullivan misrepresents the areas where settlement construction typically take place, claiming they are places Israel will have to give up in a two-state solution. Rather, settlement construction in fact focuses on areas marked for retention in all prior peace talks on a two-state solution.

Does Andrew Sullivan also need to be reminded that the Israel Lobby is entitled to criticise the policy of a given US administration, if it thinks it is wrong, without actually being disloyal or treasonous to the United States? Sullivan has made very similar assertions concerning Jewish disloyalty in the past to the extent that he thought Netanyahu and the Israeli lobby would dispose of Obama in a “lethal” fashion!

Contrary to what Sullivan asserts, there is in fact prolific criticism of the Jewish State in America, and his "character assassination" claim is actually the standard response by critics of Israel whenever there is any objection to a political appointment, regardless of how well founded those criticisms are.

Perhaps the thematic relationship between Scarfe’s cartoon, which invokes classical anti-Semitism, and Sullivan’s article dismissing it, echoes a certain stance contained within the Sunday Times editorship.


It should be pointed out that the examples above were found by a very occasional reader of the Sunday Times. There are likely to be other examples that have escaped any substantive notice, assuming such material would not have paralleled the intensity of Scarfe’s cartoon. Last year the paper published a photograph that had been known to be an Iranian propaganda fake for years, and its weekday sister publication has also published problematic pieces. However, other than infrequent reports, there’s insufficient material to judge the paper’s output.

Worryingly, the Sunday Times, has shown signs of indulging the most virulent pro-Palestinianism, à la its UK competitor the Guardian. The Guardian, and its cousin the Independent, have long displayed an animosity toward Israel that frequently crossed a line by displaying a rather naked anti-Semitism. In 2003 the Independent featured an infamous cartoon by Dan Brown of ex-PM Ariel Sharon eating an Arab-Palestinian child’s head.

Both the Guardian and the Independent have a somewhat more modest circulation in comparison to the London Times and its Sunday equivalent. They are distinctly left-leaning broadsheet papers, which have a by now traditional leftist animus toward Israel.

By contrast, the Times is a more mainstream centre-right British publication. The portents are indeed worrying when it shows signs of acting with such prejudice. It can be deemed another indicator of the declining situation for British Jews, in what was once something of a haven during times of persecution elsewhere. More is the shame since the Times is the same paper that exposed the Protocols of Ziyon as fraudulent.

Also published at Crethi Plethi.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Anti-Israeli NGO funding - The European Union and its divergent diplomacy

Spot the difference! Source: the Excellent Dry Bones blog.

News came at the end of 2012 that the European Court of Justice threw out a three year lawsuit against the European Union, which had attempted to force the release of details on EU funding to non-governmental organisations. The lawsuit was brought by NGO Monitor, a group critical of EU funding to prejudicial NGOs that seek to defame Israel.

The EU stance on Israel has long been highly critical, and can be deemed prejudicial for good reason. For example, the EU has displayed an oddly disinterested attitude toward reports that their financial aid, derived from the unknowing EU tax payer, is used to fund anti-Israeli incitement in the Palestinian education system, and covertly assist terrorism.

Similarly, the EU has failed to proscribe Hizbullah as a terrorist entity, which allows the group to raise funds and political support in Europe. Their failure is all more bizarre considering Hizbullah’s links with the Assad regime, and the numerous rounds of EU sanctions against Assad.

Obsessive secrecy

This month Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor addressed the bizarre secrecy at the core of EU NGO funding.
On 29 September 1999, a small committee of the European Commission met to allocate €5 million for "Middle East Peace Projects" to what are ostensibly non-governmental organizations (NGOs). No protocol or record was published for the public, in contrast to most meetings involving EU allocations… The only reason that we have this information is due to a leaked protocol from this single meeting. In the thirteen years that have followed, all documents related to EU funding for dozens of Israeli and Palestinian political NGOs have been labeled top secret - reminiscent of the most highly classified military plans and nuclear weapons designs. As a result, even members of the European Parliament are also denied substantive information.
NGO Monitor have been attempting to obtain such information on NGOs from the EU for years. It should have already been in the public domain but has been censored supposedly over security concerns. The information is apparently so secretive that NGO Monitor claim it has prevented those working on behalf of the EU from evaluating the effectiveness of the EU's own spending! Steinberg continues:
While the EU funds a few political advocacy NGOs in other democracies (three in the U.S., a handful in Canada, for example – and not in secret), there is nothing comparable to the scale of its involvement in Israeli civil society... European officials understandably fear public criticism of their role in alienating millions of Israelis who reject the neo-colonialist effort to use groups like Peace Now to manipulate Israeli democracy. €600 million from European taxpayers allows their well-compensated lawyers and public relations firms to flood the courts with frivolous political lawsuits, and to travel around the world campaigning against Israel.
Steinberg asserts that approximately sixty million Euro goes to anti-Israeli NGOs each year. The figure is loosely based on fund disclosures by NGOs themselves. However, the figure may be substantially larger considering the secrecy of the endeavour, and indeed Steinberg goes on to question the judicial process adopted by the European Court of Justice, suggesting perhaps that a level of intervention occurred:
in an extraordinary violation of the ECJ’s rules of judicial procedures, we were prevented from presenting the case. To protect the EU's most important secrets, the ECJ handed down a decision without even hearing oral arguments. It blindly accepted EU assertions that public disclosure of the details of funding decisions would lead to violence, and no attempt was made to examine the record and the implausibility of such scenarios. The identities of the NGO recipients are known – many boast about their European funding; but the EU decision making has been kept secret. The ruling - for a change, a public document - is filled with inconsistencies, and also avoids the core issues regarding due process and the public's right to know.

A divergent economic motivation

The EEC (EU) signed its first free trade area deal with Israel in 1975. However, Europe's one-sided criticism of the Jewish State is just as old. Despite the development of further trade deals between the EU and Israel, European criticism of the Jewish State intensified. In the aftermath of the 1973 OPEC crisis, the EEC took an increasingly vocal role in support of the Palestinian position because its oil security, and financial stability, was subject to blackmail. 

Why would the EU attempt to appease the oil-rich Arab world whilst maintaining close trade relations with Israel? Perhaps because Israel increasingly constitutes something of a technology-based economic super-power, regardless of its tiny geographic area and populace. It has almost half the number of companies listed on the NASDAQ financial index as the totality of all twenty seven nations of which the entire European Union community comprises! Even Russia, Israel's old diplomatic foe, is showing an interest in improving relations. It would seem that strategically the EU seeks the best of both worlds.

Ultimately, Europe’s highly secretive efforts to fund anti-Israeli NGOs, its failure to properly regulate funding to the Palestinian Authority, its continued reluctance to censure Hizbullah, and its prolific criticism of the Jewish State, can justly be seen as a sustained semi-covert propagandistic assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

For further information on the EU’s conduct please see "The EU at war with Israel".