Though the Guardian has implicitly alluded to our presence on one or two occasions, they seem to have an unwritten policy of never explicitly referring to us by name. Indeed, even the most benign references to ‘CiF Watch’ in the comment section of ‘Comment is Free’ (‘CiF’) are still routinely deleted by their moderators, and, in 2012, this writer had his commenting privileges below the line at ‘CiF’ permanently suspended for some still unknown violation of their ‘community standards’.
So, we were a bit surprised – to put it mildly – when a column written by the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in the print and online editions of the paper (The many pitfalls when covering Israel/Palestine issues, Oct. 27th) devoted some space to addressing one of our recent complaints concerning a truly reprehensible column in the Guardian by discredited anti-Zionist historian Shlomo Sand titled ‘I wish to resign from being a Jew‘.
Specifically, we objected to Sand’s use of the term ‘chosen people’ to suggest that Jews treat Palestinians poorly due to a belief in their own racial superiority, and noted that Elliott himself had previously acknowledged (in upholding a CiF Watch complaint in 2011 against an article by Deborah Orr) that such pejorative references to the “chosen people” – widely understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold high standards of moral behavior – are typically used by antisemites as code for ‘Jewish supremacism‘.
Here’s the passage from Sand:
By my everyday life and my basic culture I am an Israeli. I am not especially proud of this, just as I have no reason to take pride in being a man with brown eyes and of average height. I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.
Elliott’s reply can be found in the highlighted section of his article below (Click Image to Enlarge):
Interestingly, the online version of Elliott’s article included a shameful response by Sand, who defended his anti-Jewish smear.
Sand was unapologetic when an editor put the complaint to him: “I don’t think I should apologise. I put the term in quotation because it is not my own.
“This concept served during hundred of years as a means by which my ancestors continued to stick to their beliefs in face of the more powerful Christian beliefs that oppressed them. It was important to the existence of this minority in the face of the persecution.
“In modern times, many secular nationalists, descendants like me of this religion, continue to believe that they belong to a ‘chosen people’. If the reader doesn’t believe me I invite him to come to visit us in Israel.
“I am sorry, but far too many people in Israel believe and behave as if they have indeed been ‘chosen’.”
Whilst it was helpful of Elliott to explain that, thus far, the “pressure group” called CiF Watch has filed 38 complaints to his office in reference to what we believe have been false or misleading claims in content relating to Israel or Jews, it’s even more satisfying to see that he agrees with the substance of our recent complaint against Sand’s ‘chosen people’ reference.
Though, in fairness, Elliott has been quite responsive in the past when we’ve complained of racist content at the Guardian, we hope that their contributors, reporters and editors take note of his guidance on the necessity of avoiding such toxic antisemitic tropes.
The suggestion that Israel is a racist nation because Judaism itself is racist by design is a morally odious, Judeophobic canard – and one which truly liberal voices would never advance or legitimise.