"Bad taste" & "Wrong on so many levels" - Guardian Comment is Free

30 Jul 2012 by CST

Few things are guaranteed to upset the Guardian like a US Republican presidential candidate's visit to Jerusalem: on a fund-rasier no less! 

If bookies took bets on such things, you could put your house on the paper writing a poorly worded article that risks sounding like a modern version of old antisemitic conspiracy myths. Remember this Guardian editorial from 2008?

When a presumptive US presidential candidate arrives in Jerusalem, he willingly dons a jacket designed by Israeli tailors.

And that was for Barack Obama, a black Democrat! 

Indeed, right on cue, here comes Comment is Free with an article by Juan Cole concerning Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel, entitled:

Ten reasons Mitt Romney's Israel visit is in bad taste

The "bad taste" begins in the article's sub-title:

The Republican presidential hopeful is holding a fundraiser and playing war enabler in Israel – it's wrong on so many levels

Did you catch that? "Presidential hopeful...fundraiser...playing war enabler in Israel".

The article is reasonably straightforward, consisting of ten points against Romney's visit. Unlike many other articles on this risk-strewn subject, it at least stresses (in its very 1st point) that Romney is reaching out to Christian Zionists "and the minority of American Jews who would be willing to vote Republican". So, this is no crass antisemitic slur, but it still risks hitting those nerves, particularly with its 7th point, which states:

7. Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran. When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, destabilised the Gulf for some time, cost over 4,000 American soldiers' lives and damaged American power and credibility and the economy. As Nancy Reagan said of drugs, so US politicians must say to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf: "Just say no." Instead, Romney is playing war enabler, and that abroad.

Of the 10 points in the article, this was the "war enabler" one that made the sub-title, obviously having caught the attention of the Comment is Free sub-editor. Consider, however, exactly what this 7th point actually states. It says "Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran". Nothing more and nothing less. A war that could make Iraq look like a picnic, promised by a Presidential candidate to "his donors in Jerusalem"

If the Guardian has proof of such a conspiracy and such a dangerous promise, then surely it should be on the front page, not buried on the CiF website with all the other dross. If the Guardian has no such proof, then this allegation should be removed immediately. The author does, however, provide a link. It is here and goes to an Associated Press report that shows differing nuanced statements made by Romney and on his behalf concerning whether or not America would back an Israeli strike upon Iran. It ends with:

He [Romney] later clarified his comments in a written statement, saying that the candidate "believes we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course and it is his fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded."

This hardly meets the burden of proof that "promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran" should require from the Guardian: even upon its journalistically subnormal CiF site.

But there's worse than this. Double it, in fact, because the promised Iran war is immediately followed by:

When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed...cost over 4,000 American soldiers' lives...US politicians must say [no] to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf

So, the Iraq war was all Israel's fault. Well, not exactly...it was the fault of President Bush's "pro-Israel supporters" to whom he had "promised...a war on Iraq". No link is provided for this colossal claim, nor for the even bigger succeeding one, that American wars for Israel is standard operating procedure.

Perhaps the author feels that no proof is required, perhaps this is what simply passes for received wisdom at the Guardian these days. It certainly feels that way: an impression that is not helped by senior figure, Brian Whitaker, recommending the article under the title "best blogs and analysis from the Middle East".   


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