Thursday, August 02, 2007

Jonathan Cook's lies and bigotry

We've discussed Jonathan Cook before. This British journalist, based out of Nazareth and enjoying freedom of the press that just doesn't exist in the Arab nations he loves, consistently writes well-written and absurdly biased articles blaming Israel for all Middle East problems and praising Hamas.

His latest article, for Al-Ahram, is a thinly-veiled slander saying not only will Israel attack Jews in Iran to get them to leave, but that Arab bigotry against Jews is justified:

What is the basis for Israel's dire forecasts -- the ideological scaffolding being erected, presumably, to justify an attack on Iran? Helpfully, as George W Bush defended his Iraq policies last month, he reminded us yet again of the menace Iran supposedly poses: it is "threatening to wipe Israel off the map".

This myth has been endlessly recycled since a translation error was made of a speech Ahmadinejad delivered nearly two years ago. Farsi experts have verified that the Iranian president, far from threatening to destroy Israel, was quoting from an earlier speech by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in which he reassured supporters of the Palestinians that "the Zionist regime in Jerusalem" would "vanish from the page of time".

Ahmadinejad was not threatening to exterminate Jews or even Israel. He was comparing Israel's occupation of the Palestinians with other illegitimate systems of rule whose time had passed, including the shahs who once ruled Iran, apartheid South Africa and the Soviet empire. Nonetheless, this erroneous translation has survived and prospered because Israel and her supporters have exploited it for their own crude propaganda purposes.

This is an often heard leftist lie. While the literal translation may indeed have meant "vanish from the page of time," the official Iranian translation was "wipe off the face of the Earth." Even more dishonest is Cook's ignoring of Ahmadinejad's many, many other statements threatening Israel and declaring Islamist supremacy. He undoubtedly knows better and chooses to ignore anything that contradicts his tendentious arguments.
In the meantime, the 25,000-strong Iranian Jewish community is the largest in the Middle East outside Israel and traces its roots back 3,000 years. As one of several non-Muslim minorities in Iran, Jews there suffer discrimination, but they are certainly no worse off than the one million Palestinian citizens of Israel -- and far better off than Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.
When there is a Jewish consul representing Iran in other countries, or a temporary Jewish president of Iran, or a Jewish supreme court judge in Iran, perhaps Cook would have a point. As it is, he is stating his own unsupported opinion as fact.
To step up these efforts -- and presumably to avoid the embarrassing incongruence of claiming Iran's genocidal intent while thousands of Jews live happily in Tehran -- Israel is now backing a move by Jewish donors to guarantee every Iranian Jewish family $60,000 to settle in Israel, in addition to a host of existing financial incentives that are offered to Jewish immigrants, including loans and cheap mortgages. The announcement was met with scorn by the Society of Iranian Jews, which issued a statement that their national identity was not for sale. "The identity of Iranian Jews is not tradeable for any amount of money. Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians. Iran's Jews love their Iranian identity and their culture, so threats and this immature political enticement will not achieve their aim of wiping out the identity of Iranian Jews."
Somehow, Cook fails to mention that fully three quarters of Iranian Jewry emigrated after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Somehow, he fails to mention the 13 Jews arrested as spies in 1999 - including a rabbi - on trumped up charges of spying for Israel.

Somehow he fails to mention the 13 Jews executed since the Iranian revolution.

He also displays a remarkable lack of skepticism about what a Iranian Jewish group might want to say publicly in the land of the mullahs where Jews can be arrested arbitrarily or executed. I guess that journalists are not trained to be skeptical when the absurd statements they can quote fit their agendas.

However, this unwelcome financial gesture may not be as innocuous as it seems. Israel introduced a similar scheme a few years ago, when Argentina's economy plunged into deep recession, broadcasting an offer of $20,000 to every Argentinean Jew who settled in Israel. Months later the Israeli media reported a rise in anti- Semitic attacks in Argentina, only adding to the pressure on Jews there to leave. Of course, there was no mention of a possible causal connection between the attacks and Israel's generous offer to Jews to abandon their homeland as other Argentineans sank into poverty.
Can you spot the bigotry? Cook is justifying Argentine anti-semitism on the grounds that since the Jews were offered money they would of course become targets on basis of their religion!

But if financial enticements fail to move Iranian Jews, there is every reason to fear that Israel may resort to other, more dubious ways of encouraging them to emigrate. That is certainly a path Israel has chosen before with other communities of Arab Jews, whom it has regarded either as a pool of potential spies and agents provocateurs to be used when needed, or as "human dust", in the words of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, to be recruited to Israel's "demographic battle" against the Palestinians.

In "Operation Susannah" of 1954, for example, Israel recklessly recruited a group of Egyptian Jews to stage a series of explosions in Egypt in a bid to discourage Britain from withdrawing from the Suez Canal zone. When the plot came to light, it naturally cast suspicion of disloyalty over Egypt's wider Jewish community. Following Israel's invasion and occupation of Sinai two years later, the government of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser expelled some 25,000 Egyptian Jews and, after others were imprisoned on suspicion of spying, the rest soon left.

Can you spot the bigotry? While the Lavon affair was not a great chapter of Israeli history, Cook uses it to justify Egyptian anti-semitism. Would he argue that Americans and Europeans can justifiably hate Arabs because of the much deadlier and rampant terrorism done by Arabs in their countries?
Even more notoriously, Israel went to greater lengths to ensure the exit of the Arab world's largest Jewish population, in Iraq. In 1950 a series of bombs targeting Jews in Baghdad forced a rapid exodus of some 130,000 to Israel, convinced that Arab extremists were behind the attacks. Only later did it emerge that the bombs had been planted by members of the Zionist underground, supported by the Israeli government.
Sorry, Jonathan, but this just ain't true either. The major deadly synagogue bomb was thrown by Islamists, and the others were done by a Jew to prove that the Jew falsely arrested for the other bomb couldn't have done it. The idea that Zionists launched that campaign was a lie based on a British embassy assessment at the time that had no basis in reality. This was discovered by Tom Segev, a "new historian" who would not whitewash Israeli acts under any circumstances.
Now, Iran's Jews may find themselves treated in much the same manner -- simply as human fodder. Stories are growing of Israel exploiting the free movement between Iran and Israel enjoyed by Iranian Jews and their Israeli relatives to carry out spying operations on Iran's nuclear programme. Such reports have come from reliable sources such as the American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, citing US government officials.

The fallout from such actions is not difficult to predict. Besieged by the US and the international community, Tehran is cracking down on dissent and minority groups, fearful that its own grip on power is shaky and that the well-publicised subversion being carried out by US and Israeli agents is likely only to be stepped up. So far most officials in Tehran have been careful to avoid suggesting that Iran's Jews have dual loyalties, as has the local Jewish community itself, both of them aware of Israel's interests in provoking such a confrontation. But as the strains increase, and Israel's need to prove Tehran's genocidal intent grows ever stronger, that policy may end up being forfeited, and with it the future of Iran's Jews.

More important than the welfare of Iranian Jewish families, it seems, is the value of Iranian Jews as a propaganda tool in Israel's battle to persuade the world that coexistence with the Muslim world is impossible. For those who want to engineer a clash of civilisations, the 3,000- year-old Jewish legacy in Iran is not something to be treasured, but is merely an obstacle to war.
As usual, Cook bases his predictions on nothing but lies and his own fantasies, all coming to the conclusion that Israel is inherently evil and hates the Iranian Jews who it is trying to get out of Iran. And he neatly avoids blaming Iran for any future mistreatment of Jews - in classic Israel-bashing manner, the only one respinsible for anyone else's actions is Israel.

Way to go, Jonathan! Your quasi-historic writings may play well in Egypt and in the usual leftist rags that publish you, but it exposes you to being a hack when put up against any real analysis.