Has the Guardian backtracked on Josh Trevino?

The Guardian’s August 15th announcement of Joshua Trevino’s joining its US politics team provoked a rather tedious, if predictable, rash of faux outrage (considering that Trevino has been writing for the paper since February 2011) from several of the internet’s prime anti-Israel campaigners. 

One of the first out of the blocks was every ‘one-stater’ racist’s favourite; Ali Abunimah – who took to the pages of the non-democratic, human-rights-abusing Qatari regime’s pet media outlet Al Jazeera, as well as his own electronic Intifada site, to protest Trevino’s new post. 

Not far behind was MJ Rosenberg, with other eccentrics such as Tony Greenstein, Richard Silverstein and ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ (JfJfP) quickly jumping on the band-wagon. 

The main gripe of all of the above is the now famous flotilla-related Tweet by Trevino in June 2011 – one hundred and six characters which, according to Abunimah & co. represent “incitement to murder”.

Whilst one may certainly be able accommodate the notion (given his track record) that Richard Silverstein would believe that the IDF devises policy based on unsolicited advice from Twitter pundits, clearly anyone aspiring to be perceived as a serious commentator on the Middle East would not be making much of the issue if he did not have a much bigger axe to grind. 

Of course none of the above holier than thou ‘anti-racists’ ever put finger to keyboard when the Guardian provided column space for Azzam Tamimi – a man who really does support the indiscriminate murder of civilians by suicide bombing. Neither have any of the above seen fit to object to the fact that the Guardian has repeatedly published articles by senior members of Hamas – who, whilst their social media skills may be lacking, actually do engage in mass murder. 

The only reasonable conclusion, therefore, is that the objection of Abunimah and friends to Trevino’s appointment at the Guardian is in fact a product of their anti-Zionism – which of course so often goes hand in hand with selective anti-racism and curious definitions of ‘free speech’ – and their in-built knee-jerk antipathy to anyone perceived as ‘pro-Israel’.  

So what has been the Guardian’s reaction to this minor squall in a tea-cup cooked up by known (and in some cases, professional) anti-Israel campaigners? Well, if Ali Abunimah is to be believed, it seems that they may have succumbed to pressures from those who wish it to remain an unchallenged, homogenous, echo-chamber of anti-Zionism. 

According to an August 18th post by Abunimah, the Guardian has now downgraded Trevino from member of their editorial team to member of its commentary team.   

“If you look at the Guardian’s 15 August press release as it appears now it begins:

Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to its commentary team in the United States. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest commentator for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column On Politics & Persuasion which launches on Monday 20 August.

But that is not what it said on 15 August, when I quoted it. Here is how it began then (emphasis added):

Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest Correspondent for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column “On Politics & Persuasion” which launches on Monday, August 20.

Note the disappearance of the terms “editorial team” and “correspondent.” The Guardian also changed the headline from “The Guardian adds Josh Treviño to growing editorial team” to “The Guardian adds Josh Treviño to growing US team.” “

If correct, Abunimah’s claim has interesting implications. Trevino was appointed, according to Matt Seaton, to write about US domestic politics – not the Middle East. His opinions on Israel should, therefore, have nothing to do with his ability to do the job to which he was hired.

Despite that, it now seems that the Guardian may be susceptible to pressures from what it apparently perceives as being opinion-shapers among a large enough portion of its readership to matter. In other words, the Guardian apparently considers it prudent to appease some punters of particular ideological bent – even at the expense of diversity of opinion and expertise on its pages. 

The test of that theory, of course, would be to see what happened if four or five bloggers wrote articles protesting the Guardian’s also recent addition of author and anti-Zionist blogger Glenn Greenwald to its stable of writers. 

My money would be on a response resembling a collective yawn from Guardian HQ – perhaps accompanied by some anodyne statement about ‘representation of a diversity of views’  – just as protestations regarding the repeated provision of a platform for terrorists and their supporters have been greeted in the past. 

The bottom line of the as yet still cloudy ‘affair Trevino’ certainly seems to going in the direction of confirming that as far as the Guardian is concerned, whilst all opinions are equal, some opinions are more equal than others. 

 

 

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