Glenn Greenwald’s column at ‘CiF’: A safe space for antisemitic commenters?

A guest post by AKUS

Antisemitic commenters at the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ have discovered that Glenn Greenwald’s columns provide a useful forum in which to post racist commentary below the line – many of which have not been deleted by CiF moderators. 

In a post by Greenwald on April 7, Bradley Manning is off-limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced, which didn’t mention Jews or Israel, this comment popped up in response to another commenter who mentioned the widely used term “Pallywood” to describe the faked and discredited film clips and photographs which Palestinians have sometimes distributed:


This opened the doors to a bit of antisemitic jollity by “bilejones” and others based on the well-known antisemitic meme that Jews control Hollywood.

On most ‘CiF’ threads the following comments would have been deleted by moderators, but thanks to Greenwald’s unique policy regarding comment moderation, they remain in all their smart-alecky racism. Notice that the pretense that “Israelis” or “Zionists” are the people opposed to Palestinians immediately gives way to the underlying animosity towards Jews usually hidden by those terms in the following pejorative exchanges:


Now the Pavlovian dogs had been let loose, and even MonaHol may have realized they had gone too far – or, perhaps, was just being a little coy:

newThe approval of such comments make you wonder how long a comment that proposed characterizing movies which are made by African–Americans by using a variation of the ‘n-word’ would be allowed to stay up.  Would the commenter engaging in such shamefully racist “wordplay” still be permitted to post at the Guardian? 

Lest the gentle reader think these are isolated examples, here is another recent set.

In another column by Greenwald, ‘The same motive for anti-US ‘terrorism’ is cited over and over, he mentioned the excuse given by some recent high profile Muslim terrorists – such as the Fort Hood shooter and the ‘Underwear Bomber’ – that they were attacking America due, in part, to its support of Israel.  A commenter then drags in Judaism as a counterbalance to criticism of Islam, and MonaHol offers to post selections from the Talmud in defense of Islam:


The  comment by “westeastnorth” was in response to several well-known invented citations purporting to come from the Talmud provided on antisemitic websites that MonaHol repeats here:


Given that someone like MonaHol likely cannot read Hebrew, Aramaic, or Rashi script, and it takes a lifetime of study in the original languages to learn and understand the Talmud, the question must be asked: “From where does she get her information”?


The answer is that that she gleans the citations from the numerous antisemitic websites that have trolled selectively through an English version and then circulate the very citations MonaHol presents, without the context of rabbinic disputation. Only an obsessive anti-Semite would in turn troll through such sites to find them, and only an ignoramus would present them as representing the full range of Jewish thought on those subjects. Googling “Talmud” and any of the so-called Talmudic references MonaHol quoted will give you dozens if not hundreds of such sites.

It is the equivalent of presenting a list of straw man legal arguments that have been given to students at law school to argue over as representing exact examples of a country’s laws

Refutations can be found at this site, which painstakingly fisks the many fabrications about the Talmud that circulate on the internet, listing them one antisemitic “Claim” at a time, including the ones that MonaHol uses. The antisemitic websites provided as sources have mostly been taken down since this website was set up, but Stormfront (one of the purveyors of such gross distortions of Judaism) is still active.

I have edited the lengthy list of refutations down to the claims that MonaHol made, and further reduced the number of responses to each claim for the sake of (relative) brevity:

CLAIM (23) Jews May Steal from Non-Jews Baba Mezia 24a. If a Jew finds an object lost by a Gentile (“heathen”) it does not have to be returned. (Affirmed also in Baba Kamma 113b).

Found objects do not have to be returned when they are lost under circumstances that make the owner impossible to identify. This also applies to objects lost by Jews in crowded areas — as you would know had you actually read the passage in question instead of pasting it in from a National Socialist website.

CLAIM (25) Jews May Rob and Kill Non-Jews Sanhedrin 57a. When a Jew murders a Gentile (“Cuthean”), there will be no death penalty. What a Jew steals from a Gentile he may keep.

Misquote. That’s a theoretical point that is being raised and subsequently rejected. Naturally, [the quote] “forgets” to mention the latter part.

CLAIM (27) Jews May Lie to Non-Jews Baba Kamma 113a. Jews may use lies (“subterfuges”) to circumvent a Gentile.

This is one of the most obvious pieces of out-of-context blather it has ever been my pleasure to refute. The context is evading a thief. Yes, you are permitted to lie to a robber — in particular a crooked tax collector.

Further down the same page, it not only says that robbing gentiles is prohibited, it even discusses the derivation of the prohibition.

Here, we have gone beyond going out of context and have entered the realm of deliberate falsification.

Refers to whether a Jew may deceive a Roman tax collector, IIRC (note that Romans were the occupying force at that time, literally playing the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham).
From Usenet message

The passage discusses robbers (such as tax collectors who acted beyond their legal authority) who have stolen property. The question that arises is whether it is permitted to use subterfuge to circumvent their thievery. In a long legal discussion, the entire thrust of which is that any form of stealing from heathens is forbidden, the following statement is brought forward for consideration: “we use subterfuges to circumvent him [a heathen; this is one opinion] … but Rabbi Akiva said that we should not attempt to circumvent him on account of the sanctification of the Name”. The Talmud continues and notes that Rabbi Akiva forbids subterfuges not only on account of desecration of G-d’s name, but also because theft from a non-Jew is absolutely forbidden by biblical law. The Talmud continues to explain that even the opinion which is rejected does not condone outright theft which is absolutely forbidden according to all opinions.

The Talmudic passage here is a well-known one which makes the point that the “law of the land is the law”, that is, the civil and commercial law of the nations in which Jews reside is binding on them. 

Obsessive anti-Semites like “bilejones”, “MonaHol”, “axenicely” and others congregate under Greenwald’s columns – and are left there to create an environment which extremist sites might envy.

The Guardian has banned supporters of Israel for far less, and one would think that such name-calling by “bilejones” and “axenicely” would elicit corrective action by their team of professional moderators – which begs serious questions about the Guardian and the extent of their commitment to maintaining high ‘community standards‘. 

Silence by ‘CiF’ moderators in the face of such hate speaks volumes.  

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