May 15, 2008

Johann Hari having one of his turns

Well he's very young is Johann. He supported the war on Iraq partly on the grounds that his Iraqi friends supported it. I don't what happened to his friends but he eventually came out against the war. I remember too when Hari called George Galloway antisemitic because, whilst he (GG) has said that he supports a two state solution in Palestine, he doesn't say it very often. I swear it was something like that. I'm guessing he has already criticised Israel before but now he is taking a swipe at the hasbara machine with an article titled "The loathsome smearing of Israel's critics"
My own case isn't especially important, but it illustrates how the wider process of intimidation works. I have worked undercover at both the Finsbury Park mosque and among neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers to expose the Jew-hatred there; when I went on the Islam Channel to challenge the anti-Semitism of Islamists, I received a rash of death threats calling me "a Jew-lover", "a Zionist-homo pig" and more.

Ah, but wait. I have also reported from Gaza and the West Bank. Last week, I wrote an article that described how untreated sewage was being pumped from illegal Israeli settlements on to Palestinian land, contaminating their reservoirs. This isn't controversial. It has been documented by Friends of the Earth, and I have seen it with my own eyes.

The response? There was little attempt to dispute the facts I offered. Instead, some of the most high profile "pro-Israel" writers and media monitoring groups – including Honest Reporting and Camera – said I an anti-Jewish bigot akin to Joseph Goebbels and Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh, while Melanie Phillips even linked the stabbing of two Jewish people in North London to articles like mine. Vast numbers of e-mails came flooding in calling for me to be sacked.

Any attempt to describe accurately the situation for Palestinians is met like this. If you recount the pumping of sewage onto Palestinian land, "Honest Reporting" claims you are reviving the anti-Semitic myth of Jews "poisoning the wells." If you interview a woman whose baby died in 2002 because she was detained – in labour – by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint within the West Bank, "Honest Reporting" will say you didn't explain "the real cause": the election of Hamas in, um, 2006. And on, and on.
Not bad but the real reason that I am posting this is that while I was reading Adrian Hamilton's flawed piece on why Israel should be treated like any other country I noticed that Hari's article, published on 8 May 2008 is still in the top ten popular reads on the Indie website. Not only that, he has generated over 300 comments some of which are even worth a look at.


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