Guardian’s Chris McGreal accuses former US President of “slavishly” succumbing to pro-Israel pressure

We previously commented (here,here), as did CST, on an appalling Comment is Free piece by John Whitbeck, On Palestine, the US is a rogue state, Dec. 29, 2010, which represented another appalling example of the Guardian’s sanctioning of commentators who openly call for Israel’s demise.  

Whitbeck, we noted, prior to his CiF piece, in an essay for CounterPunch in 2009, had characterized Zionism as a “racial supremacist settle colonial experiment” inconsistent with “human decency”.

Whitbeck’s CiF piece, however, went beyond mere anti-Zionism and advanced the classic antisemitic narrative of a dangerously powerful American Jewish community controlling the reigns of government.

Specifically, Whitbeck characterized the U.S. as submitting to a slave-like (“slavish”) subservience” to Israel. 

Sometime after Whitbeck’s vitriol was published, the CST’s Mark Gardner wrote to the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, and asked the following:

“Can you please explain to me how this notion that the USA is subservient / slavishly subservient to Israel is any different in its rationale to the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians, finance and media?

In response to Gardner’s exchange with the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, the word “slavish” was removed from “slavish subservience to Israel”.

The new piece is here and carries this at its end:

“This article was amended on 17 January 2011. Language that is inconsistent with the Guardian’s editorial policy has been removed.”

Chris McGreal’s latest piece in the Guardian, “Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian promise“, Sept. 16, similarly propagates tropes about the injurious effects of Jewish power on U.S. foreign policy, and used the very language which the Guardian, back in January, acknowledged was inconsistent with their editorial standards.

Wrote McGreal:

Obama followed that up by telling American Jewish leaders that he would put some “daylight” between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation. [emphasis mine]

Not that the meaning of the word in question is in any way obscure, it still should be noted that McGreal is in effect saying that the President of United States’ relationship with Israel (and/or the organized, pro-Israel, American Jewish community) was similar to that of a slave to his master.  

McGreal’s piece is also filled with grossly misleading and simply dishonest passages meant to buttress his broader narrative of Israeli villainy, such as when he opined:

Barack Obama has good reason to ask what the present Israeli government has ever done for him.

When the White House asked it to halt construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories to give peace talks a chance, the building went on.

Really, is it even possible that, while writing this, McGreal was truly not aware of the 10 month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank, which Netanyahu agreed to after pressure from President Obama to engage in a good faith effort to restart the peace talks – an act which still didn’t bring Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table?

Further, McGreal’s polemic also included the implicit specter of the corrosive effects of pro-Israel lobby on the U.S. Senate.

The pro-Israel lobby has sought to ensure that Congressional support remains solid by sending 81 members of the House of Representatives on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Jewish state this summer to “gather information”.

But, beyond the specifics of McGreal’s attack on Israel and her Jewish supporters, and his rhetoric about America’s slave-like behavior towards Jews or the Jewish state, the broader problem still remains – that the Guardian Left continues to advance narratives about the injurious effects of organized Jews which is almost indistinguishable from that of the far right.

In 1990, the most well-know U.S. paleoconservative, Pat Buchanan, was widely criticized by the mainstream media and major American Jewish organizations when he referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli occupied territory”.  The Anti-Defamation League challenged Buchanan’s remarks as “reminiscent of scurrilous charges made during WWII” questioning the loyalty of American Jews.  The liberal New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal wrote, “we are not dealing with country club antisemitism” but with the “libel that Jews are not like us…but are others with alien loyalties.”

One of the most disturbing political changes since that time, however, is that such historical calumnies about the corrosive effects of Jews on the body politic – once strictly within the domain of the far right – have become more fashionable within large segments of the left.

Of course, it is not bigoted to simply note that organized Jewry is often politically effective at advancing their interests.  But where it crosses the line into antisemitism is when pro-Israel American Jews (legally exercising their democratic rights) are characterized as a dangerously powerful group whose influence on the U.S. political system is uniquely pernicious or corrupting, and distorts U.S. foreign policy.

McGreal’s rhetoric crosses the line by leaps and bounds and, yet, represents a Judeophobic narrative not all unique among Guardian journalists and commentators.

The insidious narrative that organized American Jewry and, often, the Jewish state, is powerful enough to prevent the President of the most powerful nation on the earth from carrying out policies in the Middle East which would lead to peace represents something approaching conventional wisdom within modern Guardian Left thought.    

Genuine progressives would, it seems, run screaming from even the hint of a suggestion that Jews are controlling the world through domination of politicians, and immediately disassociate themselves from such views – which clearly speaks volumes about how far the Guardian has strayed from anything even resembling principled liberal thought. 

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