The Guardian has published six pieces on Amnesty’s apartheid smear – all of which, to varying degrees, have been supportive of the report’s conclusions – in the last eight days. The latest is by their former Jerusalem correspondent Chris McGreal, whose piece defending Amnesty cites the “many” Israeli politicians who agree with their conclusions – echoing the talking-points in a Guardian editorial we commented on yesterday.
One flaw in McGreal’s op-ed (“Amnesty says Israel is an apartheid state: Many Israeli politicians agree”, Feb. 5) is that he names all of seven former Israeli officials who, to varying degrees, have legitimised the apartheid charge, a number which of course represents a minuscule percentage of the thousands of Israeli officials who haven’t made such a comparison. McGreal then uses this small group of Israeli politicians who have, at some point in their careers, made comments lending credibility to Amnesty’s charge, to discredit those in the US – Jewish groups and others – who’ve attacked the powerful NGO, suggesting that it’s these pro-Israel groups who are out of touch with reality.
Not for the first time, McGreal specifically attacks the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), deriding them as a “hardline” and “powerful right-wing lobby organisation” which has been “lashing out” at the Amnesty report.
In fairness, he’s much more tame this time than in previous years. In a 2012 Guardian piece, while covering the annual AIPAC convention, he evoked the dual loyalty charg in charging Israel’s supporters with “conflat[ing] America’s interests with Israel’s”, and retweeted anti-Zionist commentator Tony Karon accusing Israel of suffering from “war psychosis”.
This time, he writes that “Aipac and other US groups…have spent years shoring up support in America for rightwing Israeli governments“. However, as anyone familiar with AIPAC would know, they’ve supported left-wing Israeli governments as well, as CAMERA has documented:
…AIPAC generally supports the elected government of Israel. When that Israeli government is on the left, as during the Rabin-Peres years, which saw the beginning of the Oslo peace process, AIPAC supported that. Thus, as the Boston Globe reported in 1994, “AIPAC finds itself in the ironic role of backing American aid for Palestinian autonomy in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.”
And in 2007 AIPAC was criticized by the noted pro-Israel philanthropist Sheldon Adelson for supporting continued US aid to the Palestinians: Adelson raps AIPAC on aid letter.
Additionally, in 2019, AIPAC joined the left-wing advocacy group J Street in backing a bipartisan bill in the US Congress to restore funding to peace dialogue programming that the Trump Administration had cut – legislation which was seen as representing an endorsement of the two-state solution.
McGreal’s latest Guardian piece also repeats a variation of the charge CAMERA refuted when he first made it back in 2006, that Israel “created the South African arms industry”. Though this time around he’s, again, more reserved, criticising, more generally, “Israel’s military collaboration with South Africa’s white minority regime”, here’s what CAMERA wrote at the time:
Although Israel and South Africa did cooperate in some areas of defense, McGreal’s focus on this connection grossly distorts the larger picture and conveniently ignores the primary suppliers for South Africa’s military.
The following is a sampling of the detailed list of arms supplies to South Africa provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):
The SIPRI Yearbook for 1985 reports that France, West Germany and UK were the only countries listed as supplying SA with military equipment in 1984. Between 1963 and 1975 the largest suppliers of arms to South Africa was in order: France, UK, USA, West Germany. SIPRI’s yearbook describes Israel’s major contributions during that time period as limited to a dozen patrol boats.
Similar assessments have been provided by UNESCO and other sources.
While McGreal disregards the massive lethal weaponry supplied by European and Middle Eastern states (like Jordan) that was used to suppress resistance groups, he nonetheless deems it important to mention a kibbutz having sold anti-riot vehicles to South Africa.
It is far beyond the scope of this piece to delve into the complex web of companies and international subsidiaries that formed the South African arms industry, but it is clear that the majority of companies involved had European (especially British) and American connections.
Though McGeal has toned down his rhetoric in recent years, his record of smearing Israel, its US supporters and, at times, even diaspora Jews, dates back to the mid-2000s, and there’s no indication that his hostility towards the Jewish state and its allies has mellowed. There’s also certainly no evidence that his propensity to grossly distort facts in a way that affirms his profound biases has in any way waned.