In October we posted about a shameful smear at The Irish Times – by a socialist activist, former Trotskyite and occasional ‘Comment is Free’ contributor named Eamonn McCann – with the following headline:
McCann’s piece included fantastical anecdotes such as this:
The late Mary Holland once explained to me why she had changed sides on the Israel-Palestine issue after spending just a few hours in the region.
[when you] walked out of the hotel, she recalled, you could see something was terribly wrong. Arabs shrinking back on the pavements to allow Jews to pass, being literally, physically pushed out of their way if they didn’t move fast enough, and, worst of all in her account, the Arabs’ heads-down acceptance of it all.
McCann added a few more alleged examples of racism before concluding that it’s such “settled hatred that lies at the heart of Israel’s official ideology“, and predicting that such Israeli hatred will be the “cause of its downfall in the end“.
Today, Jan 16, The Irish Times published another vicious attack on Israel by McCann, in a piece ostensibly comparing Ariel Sharon with Ian Paisley:
Ariel Sharon and Ian Paisley shared more than bulkiness and belligerence. Each based his ideology on books of the Bible – the fundamental reason neither could contemplate compromise or regard enemies as equals.
The first five books loomed large in each of their ideologies. (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy constitute the Torah.)
Sharon will have been mindful of: “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said: To your descendants I give this land . . . the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:18-21).
McCann further contextualizes the passage from Genesis, thus:
Sharon’s ruthless determination to cleanse the land of Israel of Palestinians was not rooted in analysis of contemporary reality – he didn’t see it primarily as a necessary response to anti-Semitism in the wider world, or to the Holocaust – but in the first instance as a duty conferred on the Jewish people by Yahweh.
The massacre [in the Palestinian village of Qibya in 1953] was undertaken [by Sharon] as retaliation for the killing by Palestinians of a Jewish mother and her two children. Sharon will have believed as he went about his work that he was wielding the sword of God – and will have had the same sense of righteousness when supervising the Phalangists’ pitiless butchery of more than 2,000 Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon in 1982.
First, McCann’s charge that Sharon tried to “cleanse the land of Israel of Palestinians” is a libel “not rooted in reality”, and of course nothing but ahistorical anti-Zionist agitprop.
Additionally, his claim that Sharon “supervised” the Christian Arabs who massacred Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila in 1982 is of course demonstrably untrue. The Israeli commission on the incident found Sharon “responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge when he approved the entry of the Phalangists into the camps”, and nowhere is there any suggestion that he “supervised” the killing. Indeed, the commission explicitly criticized IDF leaders for NOT supervising (their word) the Phlangists’ activities.
But, most importantly, McCann is suggesting that the recently deceased (and decidedly secular) Israeli leader initiated such supposed acts of “ethnic cleansing” because he felt, by virtue of the words written in the Torah, that Jews are “chosen” by God, rendering non-Jews expendable.
As we observed following Deborah Orr’s ‘chosen people‘ slur at the Guardian in 2011, the antisemitic use of the idea of Jewish “chosenness” – which most Jews understand as a requirement to fulfill an elevated ethical purpose – has a long and dark history.
In 1973, the Soviet Union actually initiated a debate at the UN on the subject of Jews as the chosen people, which they argued was evidence of the Jewish religion’s inherent racism.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the most widely distributed antisemitic forgery in history – a book still quite popular in much of the Arab world – is premised partly on the distorted idea of Jews’ “chosenness”, and represents a widely used theme at one of the more popular antisemitic sites on the web Jew Watch, a clearinghouse of Judeophobic conspiracy theories replete with quotes such as these:
“The Jewish conception of the Jews as the Chosen People who must eventually rule the world forms indeed the basis of Rabbinical Judaism.”
The most well-known white supremacist in the U.S., David Duke, uses the theme of Jews’ “chosenness” to prove that Jews are the most racist people on the planet, and has argued the following in his book ‘Jewish Surpemacism‘:
“Israelites are a “chosen people,” chosen by God above all the other peoples of the world…[which] is a blatant expression of ethnic supremacism.”
The odious notion that Jews are religiously programmed to conquer, rule and murder non-Jews due to a sense of superiority has a undeniably racist pedigree and, at the very least, shouldn’t be legitimized by the editors at the Irish Times, or any other “respectable”, putatively “progressive” media outlet.