I don’t suppose too many people who read Broowaha have ever come across a copy of Der Stürmer – literally The Stormer -, the notorious Nazi paper edited by Julius Streicher, later hanged at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity. I have. I looked at copies in London’s Wiener Library when I was an undergraduate, part of a study into anti-Semitism and modern German history.
It’s difficult for me to describe just how repellent it is, how obsessive, how relentless in its hatred and monomania. Each edition carries a vicious anti-Semitic cartoon on the front page, the usual awful Jewish caricatures. This is a publication about as far removed from toleration and liberal values as is possible to imagine.
But it’s not. Anti-Semitism used to be associated with the far right, but one is now just as likely to find it on the left, usually masquerading in a hypocritical and deeply dishonest fashion as anti-Zionism. Anti-Semitic rhetoric makes a regular appearance in the Guardian newspaper, the main liberal daily in England, our equivalent of the New York Times.
Last week it excelled itself. As part of it’s coverage of the present crisis in the Middle East, it published a cartoon by one Steve Bell, a softer-edged version of the sort of thing that used to appear in Der Stürmer. I can’t publish it here for obvious copyright reasons but it’s possible to view the image elsewhere online. Over a heading of Vote Likud, it depicts a threatening-looking Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, as a puppet master, with William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, in one hand and Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, in the other.
The Jew as the international puppet master; it’s a caricature that regularly features as a trope of modern anti-Semitism, from Der Stürmer to the press in such places as Saudi Arabia. In fact Bell’s cartoon is highly reminiscent of one published in the Saudi paper al-Watan during the presidential campaign of 2008, which showed a Jew holding up puppets of John McCain and Barack Obama. A formal complaint has now been lodged against Bell with the Press Complaints Commission, the industry’s regulatory body.
But Bell’s cartoon is no more than a symptom of a deeper malaise. The paper has a long history of biased anti-Israeli reporting that carries strong overtones of anti-Semitism. Chris Elliot, one of the paper’s editors, partially admitted as much last year. But acknowledging a problem has done nothing to eradicate it.
For decades the Guardian has maximised the alleged crimes of the Israelis while ignoring or minimising those of their Arab neighbours. The Israeli cabinet has been described as ‘proto-Fascist’ and the Prime Minister has been accused of using ‘Nazi language.’ One headline trumpeted “Israel simply has no right to exist.”
In their 2009 obituary of Nizar Rayan, a leading member of Hamas, they said of him that he was ‘highly regarded’ and ‘considered a hero.’ This ‘hero’, who directed suicide bombers, including his own son, described the Jews as a “cursed people” whom Allah changed into “apes and pigs.”
By their friends shall you know them, and the Guardian has some rather peculiar friends. This summer the paper praised CounterPunch, the bi-weekly American news letter edited by Alexander Cockburn, as ‘progressive.’ I know little of this publication but it describes its approach as “muckraking with a radical attitude.”
Muckraking, certainly, for it repeatedly runs articles by noted anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. Gilad Atzmon, one contributor, with bizarre logic questioned whether the Holocaust happened, before proceeding to say that if did it was partially justified by the Jews ‘villainous behaviour’ He has also endorsed The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, saying of this notorious forgery that it is “impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities.”
It would seem to be a view shared by Alexander Cockburn himself who, despite or perhaps because of his left-wing credentials, has said that the Jews have a stranglehold on the US media. Not CounterPunch, obviously.
Liberal shall speak unto Liberal; the Guardian shall speak unto CounterPunch, an axis of misinformation and outright lies, of propaganda masquerading as news. The words ‘progressive’ and ‘reactionary’, left and right, clearly no longer have any precise meaning. Julius Streicher, it might be said, has a new home.