Anti-Zionist propaganda as literary criticism: How the Guardian demonizes Israel without really trying

Anti-Israel bias at the Guardian can turn up in the strangest places.

A case in point is Guardian literary critic Ben Child’s story (in the Culture section of the paper) on the Iranian film, A Separation.

The story’s headline seemed innocuousness enough: Israeli audiences flock to Iran’s Oscar-winning A Separation.

Child’s report was based on the fact that a relatively large number of Israelis have been attending the Iranian film.

Considering the Iranian regime’s continuing calls for their state’s destruction, sponsorship of terrorist groups (Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad) engaged in proxy wars against them, and their responsibility for an attack against Jews in Argentina, such a dynamic should reasonably been framed as a story about Israeli tolerance – Jews who don’t hold Iranian citizens responsible for the malevolent antisemitism of their leaders.

Child, however, had a different agenda, and begins:

When Oscar-winning Iranian film-maker Asghar Farhadi spoke of the importance of recognising his country’s glorious and essentially peaceful culture at a time of “war, intimidation and aggression” he might have wondered if anyone in Israel was listening. At the very least, film buffs in the Jewish nation seem to have got the message, because they are turning out in large numbers to watch Farhadi’s best foreign film Academy Award winner A Separation at cinemas.

We’re to assume, it seems, that the “war, intimidation, and aggression” is of the Israeli variety, in contrast to Iran’s “peaceful” culture.

Child continues.

The film’s fledgling box-office success in a country whose leaders are currently considering a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is all the more remarkable…

Yair Raveh, a leading Israeli film critic who writes for the Pnai Plus entertainment magazine, said his countrymen were often surprised to note that Iranians did not seem all that different from themselves.

“The judge, the police, everyone behaves as if they are in a western country.” Rivka Cohen, who left Iran at age 15 and is now 78, said she was surprised to note that “everyone had a fridge and a washing machine”.

Yes, those ignorant, bigoted Israelis, believing the worst about the nation which seeks their annihilation and denies the Holocaust.

Whatever would leave Israelis with the impression that Iran is illiberal and unenlightened? 

  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are part of the anti-Semitic literature published in Iran, and was issued during the early stages of the Islamic revolution as a weapon against the Shah, Israel and the Jews. In 1985 a new edition was published and widely distributed by the Department of International Relations of the Association for the Spread of Islam in Teheran.
  • A Iranian Student News Agency – ISNA , a “reformist” group, published “research” under the heading “One of the biggest lies in history: the truths that cast doubt on the murder of 6 million Jews by Hitler.” The main results of the “research” were: “the question of the murder and cremation of Jews by Nazi Germany is an issue the Zionists have been exploiting for years to represent themselves as unfortunate.”
  • An edition of the popular Iranian newspaper Jomhouri Eslami , publishedin the “For Your Information” column, an article which claimed that to prepare matzohs for Passover the Jews needed the blood of non-Jewish children .
  • A popular Iranian television series titled, “Zahra’s Blue Eyes,” or “For You, Palestine” carried, on Sahar-1 T-V, depicts the career of an Israeli political candidate who supports the harvesting of the organs of Palestinian children by Israeli doctors.
  • From the Iranian state-run Iranian Times: “The nucleus of the Zionist mindset, the energy source that drives those who think in this manner to behave like the inhuman monsters that they are, is Jewish supremacism; the need to destroy all that it is not Jewish, the goyim, in order for the Jewish people to survive.”

Finally, Among Iran’s censorship rules is a ban on films depicting women without headscarves.

There are no such restrictions on films in Israel.

The narrative not advanced by Guardian journalists such as Child is the truly remarkable fact that a film shown, and wildly popular, in Israel, was produced in a nation which seeks the Jews’ destruction.

The Guardian may not have official censorship rules but their ideological orientation serves as an impenetrable barrier to acknowledging even the most intuitive evidence regarding Israel’s liberal prowess in a region awash with totalitarian and racist values.

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