No, just for the record, CiF Watchers DO NOT hack the Guardian’s website to insert irrational, uninformed passages about Israel into ‘Comment is Free’ essays which were not originally written by the author (the Platonic ideal of a troll, no?) just to give us something to write about. Such commentaries are the sole responsibility of CiF authors and their Guardian editors.
Indeed, in such a Zionist blogging fantasy scenario, the said troll would likely engage in another form of editing subterfuge: inserting gratuitously pro-Israel lines into CiF commentaries where they’re least expected.
Such a comical scenario came to mind when I read the recent essay by American feminist and civil liberties activist Naomi Wolf (The spectacle of terror and its vested interests, May 9th) and there was one passage which, let’s just say, was not like the other ones.
Briefly, to give you a sense of Wolf’s politics, she wrote a book in 2009 (later turned into a documentary) about the erosion of civil rights in America, which she claimed was not unlike the rise of 20th-century fascist movements. Wolfe previously wrote a CiF piece about American’s lurch into tyranny titled “Fascist America in 10 easy steps.“
Her latest CiF essay not only suggests that no serious terrorist threat exists in America, but implies that the U.S. prosecution of terror suspects is often nothing more than a cynical campaign of entrapment by the government against its poorest citizens – what Wolf refers to as a “cycle of hype and failed [terror] convictions”.
“The news stories, which quickly surface, long enough to cause scary headlines, then vanish before people can learn how often the cases are thrown out. These are stories about “bumbling fantasists”, hapless druggies, the aimless, even the virtually homeless and mentally ill, and other marginal characters with not the strongest grip on reality, who have been lured into discourses about violence against America only after assiduous courting, and in some cases outright payment, by undercoverFBI or police informants.”
Wolf continues her mockery of U.S. terrorism related prosecutions:
“…much-ballyhooed cases of “homegrown terrorism” show this creaky, effortful, farcical quality of people who, left to their own devices by the FBI or NYPD, would have remained harmlessly playing video games in their childhood bedrooms, smoking their doobies, or babbling gently to themselves, on their anti-psychotic meds, about geopolitical forces.”
Wolf even downplays the recent conviction of four Muslim Americans who were planning to bomb Bronx synagogues and shoot down U.S. military planes.
“The men [convicted of the crime] were low-income former convicts who could not read or write with literacy. They could not drive and had no passports. Shahid Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant who was an FBI employee, got them to say they were going to commit these crimes – paying them $100,000. Hussain presented the men with a fake stinger missile, and Hussain offered these poverty-stricken men cars and money in exchange for their promise to carry out the manufactured plot.”
Later in the essay Wolf writes:
“The sad truth is that we can no longer report and consume such stories as if there were no commercial vested interests involved in creating and sustaining such “terror theater”.”
And then there came this curious passage which I had to read over a couple of times to be sure I wasn’t missing some intended irony.
“You know we have “terror theater” in the US because nations such as Israel, which are genuinely focussed on deterring terrorism, downplay risk and threats rather than trumpeting them, as DHS does. If the threat is real, they don’t reveal all the details of the latest “planned attack” to the news media – because they are busy investigating real planned attacks, rather than doing corporate PR and product placement.”
Israel (yes Israel!) is characterized in a positive light in an otherwise ‘tour de force’ of extreme left discourse.
A bit of research into Wolf’s previous essays published at other publications in fact demonstrates that the hint of moral sympathy expressed for the Jewish state in her CiF post isn’t a “one-off”.
In a 2007 piece for The Huffington Post – a polemic which similarly mocked America’s fear of domestic terrorism – there was this passage:
“Let’s also compare the way this White House talks about the terror threat with the way other societies that have decades-long experience with terrorist attacks do. And let’s use our common sense. Anyone who has ever lived in Israel — a country where, since its very birth, sophisticated terrorists have been targeting the civilian population day and night — knows that you NEVER get the equivalent of broad-anxiety-inducing alerts in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem like the “red alert” or “orange alert” system here at home. At the most, in Israel, you get practical, low-key, usable information from the state — for example, “avoid the Machaneh Yehudah marketplace this Friday afternoon” — no matter who is in power. Israelis, consequently, experience, on the day-to-day level, the possibility of terror attacks as a specific, real danger — but not as a state-produced existential condition, a matrix of helpless fear.”
While I’m not expecting that Wolf will be making Aliyah anytime soon, it’s remarkable that she at least has a soft spot in her political soul for the Jewish state and, unlike so many of her ‘activist’ fellow travelers, takes Israel’s terrorist threats seriously.
I think, at the very least, someone desperately needs to warn her that the anti-Zionist clause in the Guardian left ideological package she’s subscribed to is quite firm and typically non-negotiable.
Finally, while we’re at it, someone should also advise Wolf that (per the Guardian’s Style Guide) her use of the loaded word terrorism is strongly discouraged, as it is subjective and judgmental. Perhaps, to get up to speed on the proper way of characterizing political events in the region, she can meet Harriet Sherwood for coffee in Israel’s capital, Tel Aviv.
- Is ‘OpenDemocracy” closed to Zionists? (cifwatch.com)
- CiF contributor suggests Obama administration’s sanctions against Iran are result of Israel lobby (cifwatch.com)
- ‘Comment is Free’ writer praises Hamas for limiting its acts of terror to ‘only’ Israeli Jews (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian “journalist” Style Guide related dilemmas: Palestinian “Terrorism” edition (cifwatch.com)
- The moral equivalence game: David Wearing’s CiF essay on human rights abuses in Israel & Bahrain (cifwatch.com)