Another pejorative reference to Jews as “Chosen People” by a Guardian contributor

H/T Margie

Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott, in his quasi mea culpa, “On Averting Accusations of antisemitism“, wrote:

Three times in the last nine months I have upheld complaints against language within articles that I agreed could be read as antisemitic...Two weeks ago a columnist used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.

The columnist Elliott was referring to is Deborah Orr, who contemptuously referred to Jews’ supposed racist belief in their own superiority, in a bizarre missive which imputed bigotry to Israel in the context of the prisoner release deal to free Gilad Shalit.

Wrote Orr:

“…there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”

Though Orr’s “apology” was far from adequate or honest, the incident at least set a precedent at the Guardian regarding the antisemitic pedigree, and unacceptability, of such tropes.

More recently, the Guardian removed a passage from Khaled Diab’s CiF essay after we alerted them about a similarly pejorative characterization of Jews as ‘chosen people’ – a quote, included by Diab, in support of his broader narrative of Israeli bigotry, by none other than Gilad Atzmon.

Yesterday, Feb 15, in a characteristically ugly anti-American, anti-Zionist polemic by Noam Chomsky, The Imperial Way: The American Decline in Perspective, Part 2,  there was this passage:

Christian Zionism in Britain and the US long preceded Jewish Zionism, and has been a significant elite phenomenon with clear policy implications (including the Balfour Declaration, which drew from it). When General Allenby conquered Jerusalem during the first world war, he was hailed in the American press as Richard the Lion-Hearted, who had at last won the Crusades and driven the pagans out of the Holy Land.

The next step was for the Chosen People to return to the land promised to them by the Lord. Articulating a common elite view, President Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes, described Jewish colonization of Palestine as an achievement “without comparison in the history of the human race”. [emphasis added]

While it’s not surprising that Chomsky – an outspoken opponent of Israel’s existence who has likened Zionism to Nazism and expressed support for Hezbollah – would engage in such anti-Jewish vitriol, its instructive to note that the seemingly sincere call by Chris Elliott on how the Guardian can “avert accusations of antisemitism” evidently hasn’t been taken seriously by his paper’s contributors and editors.

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