Recently we pointed out how Brian Whitaker – commissioning editor of CiF – slurs pro-Israel posters there.
Unfortunately this is not surprising. Whitaker is the Guardian’s leading Arabist. He was the author of the famous “Selected MEMRI” article in 2002.
In that piece, Whitaker attempted to demonstrate that MEMRI was not only guilty of faulty translation but was also a propaganda arm of Zionist interest colluding in the dusty back rooms of some Washington lobby. He tried to debunk a story about Saddam Hussein ordering the ears of deserters to be cut off. This has been related by a former Iraqi Army Medical officer.
Needless to say, soon after the article was published, the Guardian was forced to backtrack. Indeed Saddam had given orders for ears to be severed. The correction is at the bottom of the archived article.
“In an article headed Atrocity stories regain currency, page 13, August 8, and in an article headed Selective Memri on the Guardian website, we referred to Dr Adil Awadh, an Iraqi doctor who alleged that Saddam Hussein had ordered doctors to amputate the ears of soldiers who deserted. Dr Awadh has asked us to make it clear that he has no connection with Memri (Middle East Media Research Institute), and that he did not authorise its translation of parts of an article by him. He is no longer a member of the Iraqi National Accord (INA). He is an independent member of the Iraqi National Congress (INC). His reference to orders by Saddam Hussein to cut off the ears of deserters has been supported by evidence from other sources.”
It is a question in itself why Whitaker would want to research and dispel such a story to begin with. After all, it is one of hundreds evidencing the morbid brutality of Iraq’s former dictator. Perhaps Whitaker wanted to dispel the notion that Saddam was a maniacal sadist and thus should have been left to stay. Who knows. It is now history – as is Saddam Hussein.
Also in the article, Whitaker quotes Ibrahim Hooper, the executive director of CAIR, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was an unindicted co-conspirator with the Holy Land Foundation, a US local branch of Hamas which was shut down shortly after 9/11 for terror funding linked to the Gaza Islamist group.
So Whitaker parades Hooper to try to demonstrate the fallibility of MEMRI:
“Memri’s intent is to find the worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible.”
Those words become the thrust of the article.
The irony of quoting an individual from an organization which has refused to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, to denounce MEMRI, is only lost on the avid readers of CiF and perhaps of Whitaker’s other endeavour, Al-Bab
“Al-Bab aims to introduce non-Arabs to the Arabs and their culture. Western explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries portrayed the Arab world as a strange, exotic and sometimes terrifying place. Al-Bab seeks to portray the Arab world neither as an object of fear nor as a cultural curiosity – fascinating though it may be.”
Shooting the messenger is an old tactic, already well dealt with seven years ago here.
But shooting from such a frail glass house as Whitaker’s seems blatantly hypocritical, as outlined on Grasshoppa also in 2002 (near bottom, scroll down to August 13 2002).
It seems that Whitaker’s research into MEMRI is about as thorough as his research into pro-Israeli posters on CiF.
Last week Whitaker was back again, posting once more to denounce pro-Israeli posters. This time the issue was Human Rights Watch and whether they receive Saudi funding or not.
10 Sep 09, 1:54pm
Are you suggesting that HRW is not heavily biased against Israel?
Yes. HRW, by the nature of its work, gets complaints from all sides – which probably demonstrates that it is doing its job quite well. In the Arab countries people complain that HRW is a pro-Israel organisation.
True, that HRW doesn’t get funded by the Kingdom of SA. Also true they are not funded by the Nazis either, yet their head military expert deployed to investigate Gaza is a Nazi fetishist. Or politely, Nazi memorabilia collector, who doesn’t even shy away from wearing a sweatshirt sporting the Iron Cross.
Perhaps Arab countries still consider HRW to be “pro-Israeli” but I am not convinced anybody else would.
And then my MEMRI was once again refreshed, but this time by none other than the famous Jonathan Cook, CiF contributor and has featured on more than one occasion on David Duke’s website. [Warning: neo-fascist/neo-Nazi web site, racist filth, be warned]
Ironically it is through the prism of Jonathan Cook that we are allowed to peek into the coulisses of CiF Management.
It appears that Cook penned a piece for CiF furthering the blood libel allegations regarding the IDF trafficking in stolen Palestinian organs but was rejected by Georgina Henry for lack of verifiable facts.
So Cook published his correspondence with Henry alleging that she was acting under the fear of appearing antisemitic:
…”Baffled by the reasoning provided by Henry in her rejection email, I engaged her in correspondence. Her initial willingness to respond looks generous but actually is driven, I suspect, by the need to persuade me, a former Guardian journalist, and herself that she is doing a reasonable thing in refusing my article. My polite but irritating suggestions that her own words imply that she is rejecting the piece not on its merits but out of fear of the expected backlash, as well as my requests that she explain which facts in the story need “100% independent verification” (a very unusual demand of an opinion piece), quickly lead her to shut down the debate..
So was this an opinion piece?
Judge for yourselves here .
The interesting anecdote in Cook’s correspondence with Henry is Whitaker who, according to Cook, has supported running the piece in CiF:
…Brian Whitaker, who had first received the piece and is the paper’s former Middle East editor, clearly like it and told me “we’re minded to use it”. But suggesting doubts about whether his own judgment would accord with that of the site’s executives, he warned that the issue was “a hot potato” and a decision would have to wait because “a couple of people are on holiday”.
“Hot potato”. That’s one way of saying it for sure.
So let me get this.
Whitaker attempts to take apart posters for being speculative about HRW and attempts to discredit MEMRI for the same reason but has no problem publishing a piece which is not only pure speculation, or opinion, as Jonathan Cook calls it, but rides on the nastiest of conspiracy theories written about Israel in a long time. One which alleges that Israelis harvest and trade in organs of Palestinians.
On a side note: If one’s opinion is that Israel is trafficking in stolen organs from Palestinians they kill, what does that say of the opinion holder?
For an editor who came to the rescue of Saddam Hussein when it was alleged that he was mutilating Iraqis coming out to support a blood libel piece, which, even by the view of its author is speculative, is a bit rich.
It is also very telling of the mindset at the Guardian where the default position seems to be to debunk allegations about the likes of Saddam Hussein (or Ahmedinejad) and to support the most outlandish and hostile speculations about Israel at the highest corridors of the editorial board.
I never would have thought I would be commending Georgina Henry on CiF Watch but it seems this time she did the sensible thing. Though I am not sure whether she did this out of fear of criticism as Cook alleges or out of common decency and journalistic ethic.
“It’s a sensitive issue, because it requires 100 per cent satisfaction at our end that it will stand up to scrutiny. You will be the first to accept that anything you write will be combed through minutely by Israel supporters for evidence of bias and/or anti-semitism. For that reason, everything about this story would have to be independently checked by a Guardian reporter and I don’t have the resources on Cif to do that. I can, as I said, put you in touch with Rory McCarthy, our correspondent in Jerusalem, via the news desk. “
So I guess we await the News piece from the Guardian about the matter.
So far no story has surfaced, probably because no facts were uncovered to support the piece.
“Please don’t jump to other conclusions like the worst of the conspiracy theorists on the threads on the I/P articles we carry. I hardly think you can accuse the Guardian or Comment is free of shying away from controversy.”
Well, it looks like Henry is also aware of the swamp creatures surfacing regularly on CiF threads. But Whitaker, who posts semi-regularly on threads attacking pro-Israeli posters, seems to either like these nature expeditions or wants to feed the wildlife like the misguided tourists feeding animals despite the signs warning otherwise.
The problem though, is that he is supposed to be one of the game wardens.