The Guardian’s Ewan MacAskill and Jewish money

Walter Russell Mead, in an essay at his blog, cited the following quote:

“American Presidents have long been criticized for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. The American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s unwavering support for Israel.”

He then posed the question: “Who made this statement? (a) A disgruntled fringe neo-Nazi (b) Some poor soul ranting on their Facebook page (c) The BBC?”

Mead then wrote:

Sadly, as you can see in [this] clip…the answer is C. This ugly assertion is the host’s opening line in an episode of this past week’s BBC HARDtalk program. This vicious garbage isn’t “sort of” or “almost” anti-Semitic; it is the real thing: vivid, unapologetic, odious and wrong.

Explicitly antisemitic commentators often complain that Jewish money distorts U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and warn of the broader danger posed by Jewish influence in politics.

Such narratives can be found on the extreme left, the Jewish far left, the extreme right, and Islamic /Arab sites. 

And the Guardian is certainly no slouch when it comes to employing such corrosive rhetoric in their attempt to explain the U.S. political process. 

In two separate Guardian reports (both published on January 28th, 2012), Paul Harris and Arun Kundnani evoked the injurious effects of (Zionist) Jewish money on the American body politic.

Harris’s “The Secrets of the billionaire bankrolling Gingrich’s shot at the White House and Arun’s piece, ”Newt Gingrich’s agenda-setting big donor, both took aim at the political activities of a Jewish pro-Israel billionaire named Sheldon Adelson – warning of his nefarious influence on the American political process.

The Guardian’s new U.S. correspondent Glenn Greenwald has gone even further, complaining (in a post at his former blog) of the “Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy [and] the US Government.”

However, Greenwald represents an especially egregious example and most commentators do not employ such tropes so explicitly. 

Ewen MacAskill, the Guardian’s Washington DC bureau chiefwriting on January 25th about Obama’s State of the Union address, argued thus:

“On foreign policy, a president who has been at loggerheads with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, over a Middle East peace process promised unflinching support for the state.With an election looming and in need of votes and funds from American Jews, some of whom have been unhappy over his approach to Israel, Obama referred to “our iron-clad, and I mean iron-clad, commitment to Israel’s security”. “

More recently, MacAskill posted a story about the Democrats’ decision to reinsert language into their party platform – which appeared in 2008 – supporting Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, in ‘Democratic convention erupts over reinstatement of Jerusalem to policy‘, September 6th.

MacAskill writes:

” Barack Obama intervened personally to try and head off a mounting clamour from Jewish donors and pro-Israel groups who objected to the dropping of a line supporting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel from the Democratic policy platform.

Jewish donors, particularly in New York, and pro-Israeli lobby groups are generous supporters not only to Obama but to individual senators and members of the House, who are also facing election in November. The changes were pushed through after Obama contacted party leaders asking for their reinstatement.” [emphasis added]

MacAskill would have us believe that Obama feared money from Jews might dry up over the language in the Democratic Party platform, failing to explain why such Jews, inclined to vote for Obama anyway, would suddenly – after 4 years of his presidency – abandon ship over text which has no effect on policy decisions of the government.

But, moreover, it is difficult to understand why evoking the specter of ‘New York Jewish money’ now often passes for respectable liberal opinion.  

When you watch the following clip of liberal journalist Seymour Hersch explaining to Amy Goodman why so many Democrats have expressed grave concern about the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, please consider what, in your mind, stands out.


Here’s the text:

“Money. A lot of the Jewish money from New York. Come on, let’s not kid about it. A significant percentage of Jewish money, and many leading American Jews support the Israeli position that Iran is an existential threat. And I think it’s as simple as that. When you’re from New York and from New York City, you take the view of — right now, when you’re running a campaign, you follow that line. And there’s no other explanation for it, because she’s smart enough to know the downside.”

Antisemitic reasoning, broadly speaking, is often the product of lazy minds attempting to find simple answers to complex questions.

However you couch it, a narrative which warns that ‘Jews deploy extraordinary wealth with almost superhuman cunning in support of the Jewish agenda’ is necessarily inconsistent with the liberal values of tolerance and anti-racism.

Walter Russell Mead, further along in the essay cited above, wrote:

“anti-Semitism is both a cause and a consequence of a basic failure to comprehend the way pluralistic and liberal societies behave. As a result, nations and political establishments warped by this hatred tend to make one dumb decision after another — starting at shadows, warding off imaginary dangers, misunderstanding the nature of the problems they face.

Failing societies and weak minds, on the other hand, are easily seduced by attractive but empty generalizations. The comment attributed to August Bebel that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools can be extended to many other kinds of cheap and superficial errors that people make. The baffled, frustrated and the bewildered seek a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world; anti-Semitism is one of the glittering frauds that attract the overwhelmed and the uncomprehending.” [emphasis added]

Such grand, simplifying and bigoted hypotheses – on the root causes of political phenomena –  are what routinely pass for sophisticated, liberal thought at the Guardian Left.

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