Revisiting Daily Mail journo Max Hasting's Guardian-inspired take on antisemitism

Over the past year or so, we’ve been exposing anti-Israel bias, and the legitimization of antisemitism, at UK news sites other than the Guardian – examining coverage at The Independent, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Financial Times and the Economist.  So, when interest was expressed by some concerned readers about the Daily Mail (the most popular newspaper in the UK), specifically an article published by Max Hastings examining the role Western policy has played in the extreme violence taking place in the Middle East, we decided to take a look.

Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings

Though, in fairness, his conclusion – save one throw-away line about the alleged injurious impact of Israel’s birth – is measured, and admirably avoids the Guardian Left narrative by holding Arabs responsible for their own political dysfunction, in briefly examining Hastings’ past writings we encountered a decidedly ‘Guardianesque’ op-ed on antisemitism published at the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’ in 2004.
Indeed, his conclusions about the root cause of the rising tide of antisemitism which plagued Europe in the early to mid-2000s overlapped perfectly with an op-ed by the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont which we fisked recently at this blog.  
Our post last month, titled Why the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent won’t take Palestinian antisemitism seriously‘, highlighted an op-ed he wrote for the Observer (sister site of the Guardian) in 2002 titled ‘The new anti-Semitism?’ which suggested that Israel’s “heavy-handed” response to the al-Aqsa intifada fomented anti-Jewish racism across the continent.
So, it was quite interesting to read Hastings own 2004 Guardian op-ed titled ‘A grotesque choice‘, which included a strap line (“Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people is fueling a resurgence of antisemitism”) that perfectly comports with Beaumont’s view. In addition to arguing that the “Israeli government’s behaviour to the Palestinians breeds a despair that finds its only outlet in terrorism” and accusing some in the Jewish community of cynically using the charge of antisemitism to silence critics of Israeli policy (The Livingstone Formulation), which he blasts as a form of “moral blackmail”, he makes the following argument:

If Israel persists with its current policies, and Jewish lobbies around the world continue to express solidarity with repression of the Palestinians, then genuine anti-semitism is bound to increase.

This chilling line perfectly embodies the moral calculus which has been employed by defenders of antisemitism for ages, one which grotesquely assigns blame for antisemitic attacks not on the perpetrators of such racist violence, but on the behavior of Jews themselves – an insidious example of blaming the victim which overlaps with Ben White’s notorious 2001 CounterPunch essay titled ‘Is it possible to understand the rise in antisemitism?“.
We have only just begun to monitor the Daily Mail’s coverage of the Middle East, but as we do so, we will – consistent with our posts on the Guardian – avoid looking at their reports and op-eds in a vacuum.  Instead, as this expose of Hastings’ shameful justification of antisemitism demonstrates, we believe it is far more instructive to contextualize their reports and op-eds by attempting to explain how their often pronounced ideological biases color their coverage of Israel and the Jewish people. 

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