Independent Idiocy (& another Livingstone Formulation) – Mark Gardner

Adrian Hamilton’s dreadful article in the Independent’s 23rd April edition is worth noting, even by that newspaper’s standards.

The article is an attack on the walkout at the UN Geneva anti-racism conference by Western ambassadors during Iranian President Ahmedinejad’s speech. Hamilton quotes the UK ambassador saying that Ahmedinejad’s first mention of Israel was his cue to exit. Hamilton then asks:

“But what basically was our representative trying to say here? That any mention of the word Israel is barred from international discussions? That the mere mention of it is enough to have the Western governments combine to still it?”

Hamilton is aware of Ahmedinejad’s track record, but thinks the President wasn’t so bad in front of the UN. After all, he even remembered to say “Zionist” instead of “Jew”:

“In fact, Ahmadinejad’s speech was not anti-Semitic, not in the strict sense of the word. Nowhere in his speech did he mention his oft-quoted suggestion that Israel be expunged from the map of the world. At no point did he mention the word “Jews”, only “Zionists”, and then specifically in an Israeli context. Nor did he repeat his infamous Holocaust denials, although he did reportedly refer to it slightingly as “ambiguous” in its evidence”.

Next, Hamilton contextualises Ahmedinejad’s narrative (including “Zionist take-over of  Western politics”) as standard stuff in that part of the world:

“Instead, he launched the time-honoured Middle Eastern accusation that Israel was an alien country imposed on the local population by the West, out of its own guilt for the genocide; that it was supported by a Zionist take-over of Western politics and that it pursued racist policies towards the Palestinians.”

Then, Hamilton has his cake and eats it – if there is a “Zionist world conspiracy”, it is a rubbish one; although Western academics are now agreeing with the Muslim world that the American branch of the conspiracy (suddenly recast as “pro-Israel lobby”) is apparently doing brilliantly:

“Now you may find these calls offensive or far-fetched (if there is a Zionist world conspiracy, it is making a singularly bad job of it) but it is pretty much the standard view in the Muslim world. Western support of Israel is seen as a conspiracy, and it is not just prejudice. There are now books by Western academics arguing that the pro-Israeli lobby wields an influence in the US out of all proportion to its numbers. If the Western walkout in Geneva did nothing else, it rather proved the point.”

You can read the whole article on-line, where the sub-heading is the same Livingstone Formulation that the Independent’s headline team plucked out to put in bold letters in the print edition. Namely:

“What are we trying to say? That any mention of Israel is now barred?”

We are sadly used to the Independent and others alleging that anti-Israel “criticism” is branded as antisemitic – but “any mention is now barred?” goes much, much further.

The shift from mere “criticism” to “any mention” is bad enough, but in the context of Hamilton’s article it implies that the supposed antisemitism accusation conspiracy has now ensnared the highest levels of Western diplomacy. Yes, there is still a question mark hanging at the end of the sentence, so it remains more of a barbed rhetorical question rather than a statement of fact. Nevertheless, what is more likely to remain with Independent readers: the narrative, or the question mark?

Mark Gardner, Communications Director, CST

11 Responses to “Independent Idiocy (& another Livingstone Formulation) – Mark Gardner”

  1. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Adrian Hamilton in the online version of his Independent article: “The UK’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Peter Gooderham, rather gave the game away when he said afterwards: “As soon as President Ahmadinejad started talking about Israel, that was the cue for us to walk out. We agreed in advance that if there was any such rhetoric there would be no tolerance for it.” The Iranian leader, he went on to say, was guilty of anti-Semitisim.

    Just how you can accuse a man of anti-Semitisim when you haven’t stayed to hear him talk…”

    Clearly, Hamilton is one “broadsheet” journalist who doesn’t (or doesn’t feel the need to) do his research. A short trawl through his own paper’s archive would have turned up all the antisemitic references he could possibly want. Of course, this would rather have undermined his pre-determined stance on this whole issue.

    It also follows that Hamilton hasn’t bothered (or doesn’t care) to read the background papers for Durban II, which would have told him everything he _really_ needs to know about the political intent of the members of the UN Human Rights Council and their plans for the conference. I also understand that Ahmedinejad’s pre- released version of the speech contained everything that one might expect (even if the delivered version of it was, in Hamilton’s clearly unbiased view, totally unexceptional), and this was what the western diplomats had read. They didn’t need to wait to have their noses rubbed in it.

    Or is Hamilton one of those whose motto should read “my mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts”?

  2. Bill Says:

    “Just how you can accuse a man of anti-Semitisim when you haven’t stayed to hear him talk…”

    Apparently when you’ve forgotten everything he’s said before that. Of course the real scandal of D2 was that people showed up in the first place knowing that Ahmadinejad was going to be one of the first-ups. If anything “gave the game away” that was it.

  3. Saul Says:

    “There are now books by Western academics arguing that the pro-Israeli lobby wields an influence in the US out of all proportion to its numbers. If the Western walkout in Geneva did nothing else, it rather proved the point.”

    There are now books proving that aliens landed. It seems that the change in the weather rather proves that point.

    I guess that the Lobby controls the PA as well (who also walked out – on the grounds that Iran’s proxies is executing their members over in Gaza)

    I also find the idea that the Arab/Muslim world is essentially now antisemitic and racist disgusting. Should that really be the case then, surely, Hamilton would have to argue for its exclusion for “civilised” society, just as he would no doubt call for Israel’s exclusion; unless, of course, the racism of the “victim” is better then the racism of the “oppressor”. But, as Jacqueline Rose has showed, re: Israel, that ain’t the case either.

    And does Hamilton really believe that the walkout was only about Israel? Is really he that naive or stupid? Of course, once you fall for the Lobby fantasy, then, as with all conspiracy theories, empirical reality (i.e. realpolitik) recedes into the background.

    Long the the Puppet Masters!!

  4. Curious Says:

    “There are now books by Western academics arguing that the pro-Israeli lobby wields an influence in the US out of all proportion to its numbers. If the Western walkout in Geneva did nothing else, it rather proved the point.”

    Apologies, but I would like to know how this view differs from the antisemitic idea that Jews have an excessive influence in business and on the politics of a given state that has been a staple of the far-right for decades and against which the left and left-liberals (used to) oppose?


  5. Saul Says:

    “Just how you can accuse a man of anti-Semitisim when you haven’t stayed to hear him talk…”

    Or, you could read the speech given out before hand. But, apparently, for Hamilton, statements like “the ambiguous and dubious question of the Holocaust” does not count as antisemitism.

    I believe too that Hitler (and yes, I am making the comparison in this context) stopped publicly mentioning the Jews for a short while in his speeches post-1933.

    Maybe Hamilton should dig out (and dig) his copy of “Who’s Next”.

  6. Saul (again) Says:

    Oh, and here’s another hint………….

    “Among the excised sections was a claim that Zionists “have been able to deeply penetrate [western] political and economic structures, including their legislation, mass media, companies, financial systems, and their security and intelligence agencies”.”
    [from The Guardian]

  7. Saul (again and again) Says:

    It doesn’t. Only this time (like every other time) some/many people think it is true. It is only “after” that some/many people claim that only others believed it, but not them. (See the history of the left 1945- 2000)

  8. Gil Says:

    Well, the British ambassador’s ‘explanation’ sounds a bit like a red herring. It’s like he’s shrugging his shoulders and saying ‘..we had no choice’ and his heart is not in it.

    Hamilton’s article is contemptible in its attempt to rationalise what was, in context, hypocrisy of the first order.

    By the way, what DID the Swiss president and Ahmadinejad talk about? did the Swiss president advise the Iranian pres to tone down the speech? Or did they slap each other on the back?

  9. James Mendelsohn Says:

    very good analysis Mark

  10. amicus Says:

    According to Tom Gross:
    On the day after Ahmadinejad gave his speech, the official Iranian news agency IRNA ran a long piece explicitly denying the Holocaust.

    It stated: “Many linguists believe that the word holocaust, which is a Greek word – holo means all and caust meaning ‘to burn to ashes’, was originally coined to refer to a criminal incident in ancient Yemen committed by Jews who burnt alive a large group of chained and handcuffed men, women and children for their adherence to teachings the Jesus Christ.

    “The bitter historical irony is that the word was later exploited by Zionists to establish a regime by building on the false claim that over six million Jews had been killed. The world-famous historian Professor Robert Faurisson has exposed these Zionist lies…”

  11. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    I hope that “Independent” will print Mark Gardner’s excellent article.
    Here in Austria [1] and in Germany [2] the German Historian Rudolf Walther published this week an article denying that Iran’s president has ever said that “Israel must be wiped off the map”. Walther claimed that the translation was wrong.
    However IRIB the Website of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting News Network
    has published on 26.10.2005 news under the title “Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off the map”. [3]


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