Hari’s Formulation – Mark Gardner

The Livingstone Formulation had another outing in today’s Independent. This time, courtesy of Johann Hari.  The paper’s front and second pages covered the dreadful testimonies that have emerged from IDF troops who served in Gaza. Hari followed this up by telling Independent readers that:

“For months, the opponents of Operation Cast Lead – the assault on Gaza that killed 1,434 Palestinians – have been told we are “dupes for Islamic fundamentalists”, or even anti-Semitic. The defenders of Israel’s war claimed you could only believe the reports that Israeli troops were deliberately firing on civilians, scrawling “death to Arabs” on the walls, and trashing olive groves, or using the chemical weapon white phosphorus that burns to the bone, if you were infected with the old European virus of Jew-hatred.”

Further on in his ‘Comment’ piece, Hari clarified that there are still some decent Israelis. He didn’t, however, make any such clarification about who did and didn’t scream antisemitism over the reports that emerged during the Gaza war.

Let me be clear. I think its very likely that Hari and/or his Independent colleagues will have received some disgusting emails, threats and insults during the Gaza conflict from some “defenders of Israel’s war”. There is absolutely no excuse for such despicable behaviour; but plenty of people such as David Hirsh at Engage receive such abuse from the other side of the fence, and they do not write articles in national newspapers blaming it upon such all embracing terms as ‘the defenders of Palestine’.
Hari’s particular Livinsgtone Formulation (“The defenders of Israel’s war claimed you could only believe the reports…if you were infected with the old European virus of Jew-hatred”) is so indiscriminate it could even include the Independent’s own editorial about the soldiers’ testimonies, which states in part:

“Nor does the conduct of Israeli troops invalidate the overall objective of Operation Cast Lead, namely to stop Hamas firing rockets into towns in Southern Israel”.

Ironically, this part of the editorial probably sums up what many of those who basically back Israel felt during the Gaza war. It most certainly does not mean that they were lambasting Hari et al as infected with Jew-hatred for simply believing reports of IDF wrongdoing that emerged during the conflict.
For arguments sake, perhaps Hari would have been closer to the truth if he had written that Israel’s defenders are concerned that the “old European virus of Jew-hatred” plays a role in the unique obsessions and emotions that are stirred by Israel today. However, he didn’t.

Mark Gardner, Director of Communications, CST

8 Responses to “Hari’s Formulation – Mark Gardner”

  1. PetraMB Says:

    Well, it’s no surprise that the Haaretz report of some soldiers’ stories is presented by British media (and others) as undoubtable, well-established facts — as is the still controversial figure of 1,434 dead Palestinians. However, in the Israeli media, much doubt has been cast on what Haaretz reports, by other soldiers, and also by those whom Haaretz quotes: one soldier apparently acknowledged that he hadn’t really witnessed the incidents he described, but just “heard” that it happened…

    However, there is no doubt that in a 3 week-long military operation, particularly when it involves fighting in densely populated urban areas, mistakes are made and there are cases of abuse — whether it’s the IDF that is doing the fighting or some other army.

    But it is telling that here in this piece, the Palestinian figure of 1,434 dead is taken as correct, even though this claim (particularly the break-down of civilian-fighter casualties) has been shown to be doubtful, because people who are listed as “civilians” can be shown to have been praised on militant websites as heroic martyrs who went down fighting…

  2. Ryan Stokes Says:

    its unbelievable – you will look for any excuse to divert attention from the facts – Israeli soldiers admit to atrocities and yet that is not even enough. Are you blinded by your pride? Its interesting how you say that this kind of thing happens in war without, it seems, any remorse whatsoever.

    what happened is wrong – stop trying to defend it or make excuses or call anyone that points out these atrocities an anti semite.

    Lets wait and see if anymore comes to light – perhaps then you might come round to believing that some of the thousands of reports of brutality are true. But it doesnt look very likely – it seems that you will accept no criticism – no matter what comes to light or who admits to it – you are convinced it is all propaganda against Jews.

  3. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Ryan: “its unbelievable – you will look for any excuse to divert attention from the facts – Israeli soldiers admit to atrocities and yet that is not even enough. Are you blinded by your pride?”
    “Lets wait and see if anymore comes to light – perhaps then you might come round to believing that some of the thousands of reports of brutality are true. But it doesnt look very likely”

    Interesting, that. A day before he posted, Jacob provided the following link:
    http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2009/03/idf-being-smeared-over-cast-lead.html.
    In fairness, it is on another thread on the next page down, hidden among 67 or more other comments. Nevertheless, for someone who claims to be more sinned against than sinning, this is a bit sloppy.

    We haven’t all immediately either blindly accepted or rejected the original Ha’aretz article and its contents. Indeed many of us waited for the other shoe to drop. Oddly enough, the original shoe appears to be in the process of being picked up to see if it is a shoe, a boot, or a red herring. Evidence is appearing that maybe (note that: _maybe_) the original story may not be all it’s claimed to be, even, heaven forfend, based on hearsay, supposition and wishful thinking. Or, to use Ryan’s own words, “Lets wait and see if anymore comes to light”, and lo, more _has_ come to light. A miracle! Just what Ryan urged us to wait for.

    So what does Ryan do? He accuses _us_ of wishing to divert attention away from the original tale – which is beginning to look like it might be just that: a tale. What we are actually doing, Ryan, is drawing attention to extra evidence that is emerging, albeit later, and saying, “wait a minute, what if _this_ evidence is the real McCoy?”.

    If you are so gung ho for truth as you claim to be, Ryan, why does the possibility of new evidence so bother you? Perhaps you are less interested in truth than you claim to be.

    Just what _is_ your agenda? You know what ours is.

  4. Mira Vogel Says:

    Ryan, it is not true, this point of yours, that we try to present honest criticism of Israel as propaganda against Jews. Do you remember that list of links that I gave you on the Cafe Crema thread? They were only a tiny fraction. The organisations in that list exist to criticise Israeli government policy, and they have achieved a lot.

    And the pieces that are covered on Engage are only a tiny fraction of the published pieces about Israel. There are plenty of critical pieces about Israel to which we have no need to draw attention because they have no antisemitic content.

  5. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    And, further to Mira’s comment, Ryan shouldn’t need to be reminded (but apparently _does_ need to be reminded) that David Hirsh, Founding Editor of Engage, has frequently criticised Israeli actions, both those carried out by government agents and those by non-government agents. He has also criticised policy proposals of Israeli governments.

    No-one has yet criticised him of presenting this criticism as propoganda against Israel.

    Perhaps this is because the vast majority of “engageniks” are equally critical of these things, without being anti-the existence of Israel.

    Why do you find this so hard to accept, Ryan? Is it because it upsets your “taken-for-granted” (what the late Alvin W. Gouldner called “domain assumptions”) assumptions about Israel, zionist Jews and all other (far from uncritical) supporters of the right of Israel to exist (eg, Jon Pike, John Strawson, along with lots of other non-Jews, so no religious bias there)?

    I think you should do us the service of telling us…without name-calling or other signs of unwillingness to engage with us.

  6. richard millett Says:

    I think it was 4 or 5 Israeli soldiers who were killed in friendly fire at the beginning of the Gaza invasion. This is an occurence that you would think the IDF would take total caution against happening. I mean 4 or 5 soldiers killed by your own army for god’s sake! If that can happen in war then mistakes will certainly happen when Palestinian citizens are involved. If an IDF soldier has intentionally killed civilians when he was feeling under no threat he should go to prison forever and huge compensation paid to the families but let’s see an investigation first. Hari and Ryan are wrong to jump to conclusions. Hari and Ryan are being totally contrary to the principles of law and natural justice. Their kangaroo courts are not welcome in democratic society.

  7. juliantheprostate Says:

    Take a report of a few incidents which backs up what you want to hear and reinforces your own preconceived ideas – and hey presto, you have the justification you need for vilifying a whole people, or its armed forces. The Independent should be ashamed of itself for repeating a death toll which has been called into question by Palestinians themselves. I’ve little doubt there will be a full investigation by the Israelis of the soldiers’ reports – but, as we see from comments on this blog, it appears that these very accounts are being brought into question. Is this simply a case of “well, they would say that, wouldn’t they”?

  8. Jacob Says:

    Yes -The only reason why they criticise Israeli oppression of Palestinians is because they must hate the jewish people, even if those critics happen to be jewish themselves?

    If they only stopped hating the jews then Palestinian oppression would end?

    David Hirsh formulated the pathetic “Livingstone Formulation” as a gimmick to stop criticism of Israel and nothing more.


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