Thursday, March 31, 2011

Counterpunch: for the record

As regular readers know, I hate Counterpunch. Read my post about its editor, Alexander Cockburn, or the indictment made by Bill Weinberg of the radical anti-capitalist World War 4 Report, to find out why. I have the Wikipedia page on Counterpunch on my watchlist, but I don't edit there as much as I used to, and checked in today to find that the criticism section has been removed, and that a more moderate "reception" section, with positive and negative evaluations, is also missing. These sections are likely to be fought over fiercely, and come and go, so for the record I am posting extracts from the material linked to here, below the fold. I have also added some material from the liberal anti-fascist blogger Adam Holland. As a blog, Holland's site would not be a "reliable source" for Wikipedia to cite, but his posts are extremely well researched and thoroughly referenced. I have also added an extract from an article at reason.com by Michael Moynihan, which concisely summarises the case against Counterpunch's Israel Shamir.

This material is relevant to our recent debate about the racist Gilad Atzmon, who Counterpunch publish and support, to Bill Weinberg's recent expulsion from Pacifica station WBAI, and to the whole sorry WikiLeaks saga. More broadly and more importantly, it is relevant to the spread of irrational, magical, paranoid, conspirationist thought on the left, which is always reactionary. Antisemitism, as in the the case of the blood libel Counterpunch has promoted, is often a good indicator of this sort of right-wing thought and its growing influence on the left.



Franklin Foer: The Devil You Know The New Republic April 2002

Anyone who visits Cockburn's left-wing newsletter, CounterPunch, however, will learn that Cockburn isn't immune from spreading--if not quite explicitly endorsing--such vile sentiments himself. Take his March 12 piece (partially reprinted in The Seattle Times) on the newly released tapes of conversations between Richard Nixon and the Reverend Billy Graham in which the good reverend gripes about Jewish control of the media. [...] Cockburn follows with this:
Certainly, there are a number of stories sloshing around the news now that have raised discussions of Israel and of the posture of American Jews to an acrid level. The purveyor of anthrax may have been a former government scientist, Jewish, with a record of baiting a colleague of Arab origins, and with the intent to blame the anthrax on Muslim terrorists. Rocketing around the web and spilling into the press are many stories about Israeli spies in America at the time of 9/11. On various accounts, they were trailing [Mohammed] Atta and his associates, knew what was going to happen but did nothing about it, or were simply spying on US facilities. Some, posing as art students have been expelled, according to AP.
To be fair, Cockburn doesn't exactly endorse these theories. Rather, by noting that all of these Jewish conspiracy stories are "sloshing around the news," Cockburn seems merely to be pointing out that, hey, anti-Semitic ideas are still out there today--so why the shock that Graham endorsed them 30 years ago? Indeed, when I reached Cockburn to ask him about these conspiracies, he insisted he was just reporting what was already in circulation. "I don't think I said they are true. I don't know there's enough exterior evidence to determine whether they are true or not."

But, of course, that last sentence is the giveaway. There most certainly is enough exterior evidence to determine whether the stories are true or not. The answer is that they are not. They are wild rumors circulating, if at all, in some of the least credible corners of the Internet. No respectable media outlet has given these stories credence. Merely by stating that these ideas are in circulation, merely by saying it's impossible to judge their veracity, Cockburn confers these ideas with legitimacy.

Consider, for example, the story about the mad Jew scientists out to ruin the Muslims. I searched for it on the Lexis-Nexis news database but came up with nothing--not one single mention of the story in a mainstream news outlet. And I only found it on the Web at an obscure, far-far left site that refers to the United States as "gringoland" and accuses Daniel Pearl of working for Mossad. (Note the similarity of the Jewish anthrax rumor to the Nation of Islam creation myth about the wicked chemist Yacub.)

Then there's Cockburn's talk about Mossad's complicity in 9/11. Of course, this version of events can also be found in the self-exculpatory pages of the Arab press. But to my knowledge, Cockburn is the only prominent Western journalist to give these slanderous stories any credence.

And what about the Associated Press (AP) story he cites? It quotes from a 61-page Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report suggesting the Israeli art students' travels through the United States "may well be an organized intelligence-gathering." But the AP also quotes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as saying "the bureau also has investigated and is satisfied that the young people were not involved in espionage or intelligence gathering." The FBI insists that the Israelis were deported merely for selling over-priced paintings door-to-door in violation of their visas. And even if you accepted the DEA's vague intimations of espionage, there's nothing to suggest the Israeli connection to 9/11 that Cockburn posits. The linkage is the product of Cockburn's imagination.

Cockburn's column goes way beyond legitimate criticism of Israel. It's akin to the rantings of pitchfork Pat Buchanan, whose anti-Semitism The Nation has condemned. So you would expect the magazine to take a tough stance on the anti-Semitism in its own backyard. But when I asked The Nation's editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, about Cockburn, she could only lamely distance herself from the piece: "This didn't appear in The Nation. I don't read CounterPunch.... It's been our experience that we've had differences with our writers. It's a strength of the magazine that it accommodates a range of perspectives." True enough. But there are some perspectives that shouldn't be accommodated.

John McCaslin: Inside the Beltway: Deadly metaphor Washington Times January 2004

Has an antiwar screed by a Beverly Hills sex therapist inflamed anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world -- even inspiring terrorism? Yes, according to the Boston Globe.

Susan Block, a California sex therapist who hosts a syndicated radio show and HBO's "Radio Sex TV," wrote an April 15 column titled "The Rape of Iraq" for the antiwar Web site Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org).

The column used rather elaborate metaphorical language to compare the conquest of Baghdad to rape.
Televised expressions of gratitude by the Iraqi people were being used to justify "the Anglo-American rape of Iraq," Miss Block wrote: "As the rapist would say, 'I gave her what she really wanted.' She needed to be raped. She wanted to be violated." Such metaphors apparently don't translate well.

On Oct. 22, Yeni Safak, an Islamic journal in Turkey, published an article that said "thousands of Iraqi women are being raped by American soldiers. There are more than 4,000 rape events on the record."
The journal cited "Dr. Susan Block" as its source.

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey responded by condemning the Turkish journal for publishing "outrageous allegations based on a U.S. 'source' best known for her pornographic Web sites and erotic television program," according to the Globe.

Whatever the source, Ilyas Kuncak of Istanbul was enraged by the reports, according to his son, Nurullah Kuncak. "Didn't you see? The American soldiers raped Iraqi women," the son told the Globe's correspondent in Istanbul. "My father talked to me about it. Thousands of rapes are in the records. Can you imagine how many are still secret?" On Nov. 19, Ilyas Kuncak drove a car bomb into the Istanbul headquarters of the British bank HSBC, his suicide attack part of four separate al Qaeda-planned car bombings that also destroyed the British Consulate and two synagogues in Istanbul, killing 27 and wounding more than 400.

For her part, Miss Block says she is horrified and tells the Globe she never meant her charge of an American "rape" of Iraq to be taken literally: "I am appalled to be misquoted and even more appalled that the story inspired someone to such violence."

Tony Greenstein (Jews Against Zionism): Open Letter to Counterpunch: Who’s Afraid of Gilad Atzmon and the Holocaust Deniers? or Why Alex Cockburn Refuses to Print a Reply to Mary Rizzo What Next 2005

In Britain, even the most right-wing of the quality capitalist press normally accept that if you malign someone, they should grant the right of reply. No doubt the situation is different in the USA, though one would expect that the radical press would not take their lead from Fox and the Washington Post.

On 17 June Counterpunch, which styles itself "America’s Best Political Newsletter", printed an article, ‘Who's Afraid of Gilad Atzmon?’ by one Mary Rizzo. It was a strange article, since it consisted primarily of an ad hominem attack by Mary Rizzo upon someone, myself, whom 99.99% of Counterpunch readers had never heard of. But Rizzo was furious that Jews Against Zionism (JAZ) was organising an extremely successful picket of a talk by Gilad Atzmon at the Bookmarks bookshop of the Socialist Workers Party that very day. [...]

The spider in the web is Israel Shamir and what is most dishonest about Rizzo's article is that not once did he make an appearance in her article. Shamir runs his own web site www.israelshamir.net. His web pages are a veritable gold mine of anti-Semitic calumnies. You would have to plumb the depths of the worst neo-Nazi publications to find a defence of the Easter Blood Libel accusation (that Jews slaughtered non-Jewish children to make the Passover bread at Easter). Shamir however disagrees: "The frequent and tendentious use of the horrifying label (together with ‘antisemitism’ and ‘protocols of the Elders of Zion’) brought a certain depreciation of its value, but it is still going strong. You can’t ever-ever consider that there might be some truth to the Blood Libel, the accusation of ritual murder of children. Or can you?"[...]

It was in the context of the outing of Shamir and co. that Ms Rizzo wrote her article for Counterpunch. On the JustPeaceUK list, Mary was the only defender of Shamir. "I know Gilad to be completely anti racist. I don't know Paul, but my opinion is that he is not racist." (Just Peace UK, 11 June 2005)  Not only is Gilad Atzmon "completely anti-racist" but so is Paul Eisen. When some of us criticised Israel Shamir and asked Mary for her opinion, she shot back: "Why should I be obligated to join in on the smear campaign [against Shamir]? ... I am convinced that there are indeed attempts made at ritutal defamation both against Shamir..." (Just Peace UK, 18 April 2005) [...]
 
So maybe Counterpunch, the radical voice of the American Left, can answer a few questions? How is it that it can publish, uncritically, an article by Mary Rizzo, an ardent supporter of the anti-Semites, fascists and Holocaust Deniers around Deir Yassin Remembered and yet refuse to take a response to her article? Counterpunch’s editor, Alex Cockburn, whose father Claude must be spinning in his grave, refused even to acknowledge my correspondence. Maybe others will have greater success in eliciting a response.

Adam Holland: Blood Libel promoted by Counterpunch September 2009

The blog Counterpunch, which is edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, has published an article which alleges that the blood libel is true and is related to purported Israeli thefts of human organs from Palestinians. The blood libel, the charge that Jews ritually murdered gentiles and used their blood to cast spells, was a mainstay of medieval European anti-Semitism. In Europe, the blood libel led to pogroms, mass slayings and expulsions. The Counterpunch article may be the first instance of an American leftist media outlet promoting the blood libel.

The Counterpunch article (read here) supports and elaborates on spurious allegations concerning Israeli theft of body parts from Palestinians -- charges originally appearing in an article by Donald Bostrom which was published in the Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet. The controversy concerning that article has received extensive coverage internationally (read here). Medical experts have unanimously stated that the theft of organs from the dead for use in transplants, as alleged in the story, is medically impossible (read here). Bostrom's article claims that Israeli soldiers hunted down a Palestinian youth, shooting him in the chest and abdomen at close range in order to steal his organs. The alleged witnesses to the events described in his article, including the families of the purported victims, have completely disavowed the story (read here). Counterpunch alleges not only that such murders and thefts of organs in fact truly occur, but that they are part of a campaign which is sanctioned by the Israeli government and other Israeli institutions and that it is connected to religious traditions allowing the ritual murder of gentiles.

The Counterpunch coverage of these allegations was written by Alison Weir, the head of an anti-Israel organization called If Americans Knew. Weir's Counterpunch article derives in large part from articles written about the controversy by a notorious anti-Semite who goes by the assumed name "Israel Shamir". Weir deceptively identifies Shamir in her footnotes as an "Israeli writer" in spite of widely reported revelations that Shamir is actually a Swede of Russian descent and that he is associated with Russian ultra-nationalists. Shamir has been disavowed by many on the left and in the pro-Palestinian movement as the result of his overtly anti-Semitic writings and his connections to the far-right. Research into his real background has revealed that he began his journalism career under his assumed name working for a prominent far-right, Russian nationalist anti-Semite, Aleksandr Prokhanov, chief editor of the newspaper Zavtra. Even as he presents himself to the west as a leftist, anti-Zionist, "Shamir" has continued to publish explicitly right-wing articles in Russia and Eastern Europe. Shamir's original article in support of the spurious organ theft allegations is posted here. His advocacy of the blood libel can be read here. Shamir writes in the latter article that "'Blood libel' is the Jewish battle cry", thus claiming not only that the libel is in fact true, but that to say otherwise is an act of aggression.[...]

Where is Counterpunch headed? It is bad enough that Counterpunch, in the name of defending human rights, would publish such patently false charges as true. It is outrageous that they would present the anti-Semitism of the middle ages as a progressive response to the Jewish people, whom they portray as intrinsically reactionary and criminal. In doing this, Counterpunch has turned the definitions of "progressive" and "reactionary" on their heads. In fact, they have completely turned logic on its head. What will they support next? The Spanish Inquisition?
NOTE: Counterpunch is publishing other articles supporting the spurious charges from Aftonbladet. One, entitled "Israeli Bodysnatchers", was authored by Bouthaina Shaaban, chief spokesperson for President Assad of Syria and a former Syrian "Minister of Expatriates". Shaaban describes herself as "a Nobel Peace Prize nominee". (I love when people claim that as a credential. Literally anyone can be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, so those who cite it as an honor always do so fraudulently.) In addition to repeating the absurd organ trafficking charges, her article also baselessly blames Israel for the assassination of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

Adam Holland: Truthers to mark 9/11 with NYC rallies, conspiracy theory conferences September 2010

[This post is about the 9/11 Truth cult outfit, We Are Change, and its planned commemoration of the September 2001 terror attacks in New York. A number of the speakers are Counterpunch contributors, including Gaddafi supporter Cynthia McKinney, Mike Gravel (a politician heavily endorsed by Counterpunch as well as a contributor), Britain's George Galloway, and others.]

Cynthia McKinney has in recent years gone from being a U.S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, to devoting herself to campaigning against Israel and promoting absurd conspiracy theories, sometimes making common cause with the racist far-right to do so.  (Read here and here and here.)  She has, in recent years, argued that the United States government is completely under the control of "Zionist agents", and that it deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen.  She has also endorsed the conspiracy theories of Matthias Chang who claims that a conspiracy of Zionist "shadow money-lenders" is destabilizing the world both via false flags attacks and economic crashes in order to take it over.

Wayne Madsen is an internet journalist and conspiracy fabulist who runs a website called the Wayne Madsen Report, where he promotes conspiracy theories blaming Israel, "neo-cons" and "Zionists" for 9/11.  Read here for examples.  He somehow connects his Mossad 9/11 conspiracy to everything from Israelis working at shopping mall kiosks (read here) to alleged Pakistani intelligence involvement in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto (read here) to the influence of "Jewish mobsters"  (read here).  Madsen routinely writes columns without any indication of sources, making outlandish and unsupportable claims without any provenance, such as that he made in a 2009 column alleging that Israel is secretly colonizing Iraq (read here and here).  The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan reported that Madsen's anti-Israel columns were translated into Arabic and published in Iraq and other Arab countries, where they actually had their desired effect (read here.)  Those who fail to take the lunatic fringe seriously should take note of this dangerous real world impact of throwing rumors into an already smoldering conflict.  On a more comical note, one of Madsen's most recent conspiracy theories claims that Obama is literally a "CIA creation".  Madsen writes that, not only was Obama groomed for the presidency by the CIA, but that this grooming started with his actual conception, which Madsen comically claims was a CIA covert op.

Mike Gravel, a former U.S. Senator from Alaska and a quirky pro-peace candidate in the 2008 Democratic primaries, only made my list for one reason.  In 2003, he participated in a Holocaust denial conference featuring neo-Nazi participants.  (Read here.)  He subsequently claimed that he didn't notice the goose-stepping going on all around him.  He said that he thought that it was just a quirky pro-peace group.  That seems consistent with his attendance at the truthers' conference.

George Galloway, as readers here undoubtedly already know, is a former Member of Parliament who had extensive ties to Sadaam Hussein's Ba'athist regime, with whom he is said to have had a profitable business relationship, and to Hamas, to whom he has provided material support via his Viva Palestina group.  He currently works for PressTV, an English-language propaganda television station owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and under the control of the mullahs.  In a relatively brief period of time, Galloway seems to have gone from a 9/11 conspiracy theory doubter who warned the left not to discredit itself by associating with nuts (watch here) to a truther who is willing to throw at Israel and the U.S. any accusation his constituency will buy (listen here).

Paul Craig Roberts has had the most dramatic transformation of anyone on this list, having gone from being an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration and an editor at the Wall Street Journal to a being a far-right, conspiracy-bedeviled internet columnist with a penchant for prophecies which fail to come true.  His columns are widely posted on the websites of that fringe beyond the mainstream left and right, including the white supremacist website VDARE, Willis Carto's American Free Press, Pat Buchanan's American Conservative, Antiwar.com, Lew Rockwell, Information Clearing House and Counterpunch, -- places where resume gravitas is sometimes in short supply.  Roberts not only believes that 9/11 was an inside job, carried out with planted explosives, not planes (read here and here), in 2006, he also stated that George W. Bush was planning another such attack, a warning which was obviously not worth the bandwidth it was written on.  (Read here.)  That the extremely paleo-conservative Roberts' anti-Israel extremism is central to his world view can be gauged by his habit of referring to the U.S. government as a puppet of Israel (read here), and decrying Jewish influence on the news media (read here).  Roberts blames precisely that influence for concealing what he sees as the true story of 9/11.

Max Boot: The Fringe Fires at Bush on Iraq LA Times March 2010

Equally biased are the former CIA officers who call themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity -- a name that implies the administration, which they oppose, is insane. Ray Close, David MacMichael and Ray McGovern, who make up VIPS' steering committee, have many decades of intelligence experience among them, which is why they are often cited as sources by news organizations like the New York Times when they write stories about how the Bush team has run roughshod over "objective" CIA analysts.

What is seldom mentioned is where the VIPS-ters publish most of their anti-Bush screeds: on Counterpunch.org, a conspiracy-mongering website run by Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn. VIPS even has an e-mail address at Counterpunch, which is so extreme that it has run an article suggesting that the only major difference between George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler is that "Bush simply is not the orator that Hitler was." But then, that wouldn't bother someone like VIPS' McGovern, who in an interview equated the administration's selling of the Iraq war with the techniques employed by "Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels [who] said, if you repeat something often enough, the people will believe it."

Kate Harding: Accusations against Assange's accuser ABC December 2010

OK, so maybe the charges [against Julian Assange] really are for rape-rape, but still - the woman has CIA ties! I've read that on at least a dozen blogs! Keith Olbermann tweeted it and everything! That's got to be coming from a highly credible source, right?

Actually, as far as I can tell, the only source for that claim is an August Counterpunch article by Assange fanboys (seriously, they recast him as Neo of "The Matrix") Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett. Here's the most damning evidence Shamir and Bennett have compiled against Assange's accuser:

1) She's published "anti-Castro diatribes" in a Swedish-language publication that, according to an Oslo professor, Michael Seltzer (who?), is "connected with Union Liberal Cubana led by Carlos Alberto Montaner," who reportedly has CIA ties. Let me repeat that: She has been published in a journal that is connected with a group that is led by a guy with CIA ties. Says this one guy.

2) "In Cuba she interacted with the feminist anti-Castro group Las damas de blanco (the Ladies in White). This group receives US government funds and the convicted anti-communist terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is a friend and supporter." That link goes to an English translation of a Spanish article noting that at a march last spring, Posada "wander[ed] unleashed and un-vaccinated along Calle Ocho in Miami, marching alongside" - wait for it - "Gloria Estefan in support of the so-called Ladies in White." Apparently, it's "an established fact" that Posada and the Ladies also share a shady benefactor, which means he should clearly be called a "friend" of the organisation, and this is totally relevant to the rape charges against Julian Assange, because the accuser once interacted with them in some manner.

3) The accuser is a known feminist who once wrote a blog post about getting revenge on men, and "was involved in Gender Studies in Uppsala University, in charge of gender equality in the Students' Union, a junior inquisitor of sorts."

Are you kidding me? That's what we're basing the "CIA ties" meme on? An article that reads like a screenplay treatment by a college freshman who's terrified of women? Actual quote: "[T]he Matrix plays dirty and lets loose a sex bomb upon our intrepid Neo. When you can't contest the message, you smear the messenger. Sweden is tailor-made for sending a young man into a honey trap."

Look, for all I know, Assange's primary accuser does have CIA ties. Perhaps it was all a setup from the beginning. Perhaps she is lying through her teeth about the rape. Anything is possible. But in the absence of any real evidence one way or another, we're choosing to believe these guys?

Michael C Moynihan: Olbermann, Assange and the Holocaust denier reason.com December 2010

So who is Israel Shamir, Counterpunch's resident intelligence correspondent? Alternately known as Jöran Jermas and Adam Ermash, Shamir is a fringe writer who has devoted his professional life to exposing the supposed criminality of “Jewish power," a paranoid anti-Semite who curates a website full of links to Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi sites, defenses of blood libel myths, and references to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Ali Abunimah, Hussein Ibish, and Nigel Parry have warned their fellow Palestinian activists to avoid contact with Shamir, citing his frequent forays into the sewers of Jew-hatred. The British anti-fascist magazine Searchlight (along with its Swedish sister magazine Expo)showed that Shamir is a “Swedish anti-Semite” who has repeatedly lied about his past, not a truth-telling Israeli dissident.

***

Further information from Modernity, Contested TerrainHP, Judeosphere, ZWord, Adam Holland.

24 comments:

Rosie said...

I can't believe any website with any credibility would publish something by Mary Rizzo. I remember a piece by her that was quoted on HP. She came over to defend it and was a crazed, frothing, anti-Semitic loon. She's totally disgusting.

goodwin sands said...

A year ago it would have been marginally possible to excuse publishing Shamir as merely a very, very bad idea. But in the interim his Holocaust denial was exposed with considerable fanfare in Guardian headlines &c, although his most recent article up on Counterpunch is only two weeks old, and the editors continue to defend Shamir as being merely 'controversial'.

A decade ago Cockburn and St Clair put together an anthology called 'The politics of anti-Semitism', including essays from Kurt Nimmo (who thinks the gas chambers of Auschwitz are 'discredited'), Jeffrey Blankfort (who thinks the Nazis had no plan to kill Jews), and troofers Bill and Kathy Christison. Atzmon hadn't yet made a notorious arse of himself 2003, so he isn't included.

Re Mary Rizzo: merciful heavens, what a bottle of crazy that one is. And, like Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon, a full-blown Jewish anti-Semite; see this thread on Socialist Unity to see her justification for the Holocaust (hint: it involves rich Jews, 'authentic Prada handbags', and Ferraris; she posts as 'thecutter').

It almost goes without saying that Atzmon and Rizzo are comrades of the regrettable Shamirite Roy Bard, as the same thread reveals.

goodwin sands said...

(My computer confusion seems to have sent my previous attempt to reply into the ozone. Sorry if this is a duplicate.)

It's marginally possible to have excused publishing Israel Shamir a year ago, but now that his Holocaust denial has been the subject of headlines, it takes a special perversity to continue to do so. Yet Shamir's latest Counterpunch entry is only two weeks old.

Re Mary Rizzo: yes, mad as a bag of snakes with muscle cramps. There is an astonishing thread on Socialist Unity from a few years back in which she attempted to justify the Holocaust with reference to rich Jews, Ferraris, and Prada bags.

goodwin sands said...

Let me also add that Cockburn and St Clair published in 2003 an anthology called 'The politics of Anti-semitism', including essays from Kurt Nimmo (who calls the gas chambers of Auschwitz 'discredited'), Jeffrey Blankfort (who thinks the Nazis didn't have a plan to kill Jews), and the troofers Bill and Kathy Christison.

It seems their title was rather more descriptive than they intended.

ModernityBlog said...

Bob,

Excellent post, the censorship of the criticism of CounterPunch by Wiki is really silly.

There is a copy of it on the way back machine.

I have extracted the pertinent text, as a matter of public record and put it together as a post.

Rebecca said...

Counterpunch is also noted for publishing the Holocaust denier Daniel A. McGowan, who published a disgusting attack on Elie Wiesel there. Another venue for this kind of antisemitism is Dissident Voice.

Rebecca said...

Just looking at Dissident Voice again, there's an article by Gilad Atzmon on Deborah Lipstadt's latest book on the Eichmann trial.

Levi9909 said...

I am surprised that there is no mention, in a long and detailed post, of the fact that Uri Avnery is a Counterpunch regular. Here's his 2002 article "Manufacturing Anti-Semites".

A major problem with countering antisemitism expressed as Palestine solidarity is that the charge of antisemitism has been neutered by overuse and bad faith allegations as Avnery says in the article I've linked to.

Even issues like the "gas chambers of Auschwitz are 'discredited'" and "the Nazis had no plan to kill Jews" in the third reich, aren't straightforward. I know nothing of Kurt Nimmo but the numbers said to have been killed at Auschwitz were revised to take account of more than had been known of being killed by Einsatzgruppen. Also, the question of when the nazis planned to kill the Jews is still debated among serious historians. Is Blankfort saying that there was never a plan? If he is, then he is wrong and I know he is antisemitic but to blithely hurl allegations around with no acknowledgement of the harm that bad faith allegations of antisemitism have done is itself harmful.

Levi9909 said...

woops, forgot to tick the email box again

Bob said...

Bad faith accusation of antisemitism exist, but these do not for one second excuse actual antisemitism, nor give anyone just cause to relax their vigilance or even assume bad faith, as would be the case for all other forms of racism too, and bad faith accusations have not been absent in relation to anti-black racism or Islamophobia either.

Rizzo, Blankfort and Nimmo cannot be defended by anyone with an ounce of moral sense. The "gas chambers of Auschwitz are 'discredited'" IS straightforward. That is not a grey area. There are legitimate areas of debate around numbers and dates and so on, but there is no credible historian who has "discredited" the fact of gas chambers, and of well over a million people industrially slaughtered in them. Even suggesting this is a grey area is disgusting.

Counterpunch also publishes a number of fine writers. The antsemitism, the conspiracy theory, the climate change denialism, the ex-Reaganite cranks, the 9/11 Truthers, the Holocaust deniers, etc are probably a minority of the output. But they crop up again and again. This post only mentions a tiny percentage of the filth that Counterpunch has published; I could have mentioned plenty of others.

On publishing Shamir a year ago being merely a very, very bad idea. This would be the case in other outlets, but Counterpunch cannot claim ignorance. Shamir was exposed
a long time ago. Ibish's letter about him was written in 2001, and surely reached Counterpunch editors. Tony Greenstein wrote to Cockburn about Shamir in 2005, when Counterpunch was publishing Atzmon and Rizzo. Counterpunch had all the facts to hand long before the Wikileaks thing has made Shamir's vileness mainstream knowledge. Yet they continued to publish him. They either don't care, or actually endorse this. How someone like Uri Avnery can bear to be in that company, I have no idea. Shame on him for not parting ways, and shame on Vijay Prashad, Boris Kagarlitsky, Peter Linebaugh, and other otherwise apparently sane writers who ought to know better.

Finally, re Mod on Wikipedia censorship. Thanks for the extract on your blog, but I disagree with your characterisation here of this as "censorship". Wikipedia does not censor anything; editors make good and bad decisions, for good and bad reasons, and those get reversed, for better or worse, and amended again. I recommend people learn how to work with Wikipedia to be vigilant against the acts of the bad editors. Wikipedia also maintains the history of every revision of every page, easily trackable and attributable, so we don't need to rely on waybackmachine - this is one of the things that keeps it transparent and accountable, despite the problems.

Bob said...

God, just looking at Counterpunch now. I didn't realise how frequently they publish Shamir. Among his recent sribbles is http://www.counterpunch.org/shamir03142011.html which uses WikiLeaks to claim that antisemitism is declining in Russia and the Putin government is doing its best to eradicate it. We can argue about whether this chimes with reality or not. Shamir says it contradicts what the mainstream US media sez, coz 'Journalists in Moscow are catering to the prejudices of their employers'. Hmm. In relation to the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which, as Cockburn puts it, 'forbids the US government to extend "Most Favored Nation” status to countries with poor human rights records, particularly in the area of emigration'. Cockburn inserts this editorial comment: 'Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson authored the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Reform Act in 1974, as part of his vain quest for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976. Jackson was chasing the Jewish vote.'

In another post, Shamir continues to retail his nonsense about the Assange case, claiming that Karl Rove is responsible for the rape claims. He continues, along with cockburn, to press the baseless allegation that Anna Ardin is a CIA agent, based on the fact that she associated with Cuban dissidents, as if only a CIA agent could want to see Castro fall. (Castro, incidentally, is regularly published by Counterpunch, including his recent ranting claim that NATO is "fascist".)

Not to mention crackpot Diana Johnstone, among whose latest offerings are claiming that Bernard-Henri Levy is the shadowy instigator of the war in Libya, and rather obscenely equates him to Gaddafi. In another set of inappropriate comparisons, she writes this: 'As “the new Hitler”, the man you love to hate and need to destroy, Slobodan Milosevic was a neophyte in 1999 compared to Muammar Qaddafi today. The media had less than a decade to turn Milosevic into a monster, whereas with Qaddafi, they’ve been at it for several decades. And Qaddafi is more exotic, speaking less English and coming before the public in outfits that could have been created by John Galliano (another recently outed monster).' In other words, Hitler, Milosovic, Gaddafi, Galliano - not bad people, just demonised by, you know, Them.

And I have no idea what to make of porn queen Susan Block's alt. purimshpiel:
http://www.counterpunch.org/block03182011.html
'But the 8-letter word is “genocide”. Sorry, this part of the story isn’t so sexy, but sometimes life isn’t just a barrel of orgasms. This wouldn’t be the first, nor would it be the last, time the “Jewish people” have been threatened with extinction, but it might be one of the most melodramatic…

Mordecai stages a protest outside the harem. He puts on “sackcloth and ashes” and roams by Esther’s window wailing, “Oy gevalt! They’re gonna kill us all! AND they’re gonna clean out our bank accounts!” Esther’s eunuch comes out to see what the racket’s about. Mordecai gives him the bad news, adding that it’s up to the new Queen Esther to change her king’s mind.'

bob said...

Dissident Voice: yes, I put them in pretty much the same category as Counterpunch. They publish moonbat anti-imperialist antisemite James Petras, for example. It regularly publishes material from the 9/11 Truth Cult (although not its wackiest fringes), e.g. Jeremy R. Hammond, Anthony Lawson, etc. Look at this appalling example: http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/04/who%E2%80%99s-afraid-of-911-conspiracy-theories/

skidmarx said...

Talking of wkipedia, it's nice to note that Emma Brockes entry now has the mddle paragraph restored that for some reason vanished for a while:

In 2005, a profile by Brockes of Noam Chomsky published in The Guardian sparked controversy over Chomsky's comments on Bosnian war crimes. Chomsky described his treatment by Brockes and the Guardian as "one of the most dishonest and cowardly performances I recall ever having seen in the media."[1]. The Guardian later published a partial apology to Chomsky.

goodwin sands said...

The new Atzmon essay on Lipstadt is simply grotesque. Atzmon couldn't make it plainer that given a choice between the deniers and Lipstadt, his sympathies are completely for the former over the latter. David Irving could have written the piece. You'd have to be either a first-order ninny to defend it, or be Roy Bard.

Levi9909 said...

Bob - anyone coming to your comment cold would think that you were responding to someone who was trying to justify antisemitism in Counterpunch. It is indefensible on the part of intellectuals, journos and academics. I simply don't know Nimmo and I don't know the complete sentence that the "Auschwitz" comment comes from, do you? I told you I know Blankfort is antisemitic and I suspect you know that I have been the target of antisemitic abuse from Mary Rizzo, Israel Shamir, Gilad Atzmon, Sarah Gillespie and Roy Bard because I have complained of their antisemitism.

My point is the persistence and prominence of the bad faith allegation of antisemitism has given the real thing traction that it otherwise wouldn't have and that has made it difficult to oppose. That is, we are in a boy who cried wolf situation and it is not helped by the many blogs that lay out lists of incidents, articles and individuals that deliberately mix genuine instances of antisemitismm with genuine examples of principled criticism of Israel and its official ideology.

It does not compare to bad faith allegations of other forms of racism or even islamophobia because there are no states that claim to represent the whole of an identity group targeted by racists in the way the State of Israel purports to represent all of the world's Jews. And there are no states with an army of propagandists who, bereft of a case for the state, smear the opponents.

Remember the bogus working definition of antisemitism is the only definition, emanating from the EUMCXR/FRA or to my knowledge from anywhere else, of any form of racism that claims that a form of racism COULD, SUBJECT TO CONTEXT manifest itself with regard to queries and comments about the behaviour or ethno-religious structure of a state.

As it happens, just so you know, I noticed and blogged about antisemitism in Counterpunch back in 2004. It was about one of the articles in the book, The Politics of Antisemitism, by the Christisons. In fact, I'm surprised you say that most of their stuff is sound. I agree with the literal interpretation of what Skidmarx said of Counterpunch, ie, a curate's egg, which I understand to be good in parts but where the bad is so bad as to spoil the whole thing.

bob said...

I am aware that you, Mark, and Tony Greenstein were hip to Counterpunch from relatively early on, as should be clear from my quotation from Tony's JAZ open letter in the post. Indeed, Tony has also written specifically against Kurt Nimmo at, I think, Socialist Unity, when Bard was promoting Nimmo. This was why I was flabbergastered to see you appear to be defending Nimmo, which is what angered me into semi-retracting my semi-retraction on the other thread.

I can't remember the whole Nimmo quote, and I can't find it from a quick google now, but I know I read it in the past, I think in a longer quote in one of Tony's posts. Surely the phrase "the discredited camps" is enough to know he is beyond the pale?

I totally disagree that the trigger-happy antisemitism accusations of the likes of the ADL "neuter" the antisemitism claim. It is about what we chose to take seriously. CAIR and MCB are trigger-happy with accusations of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism, but I take it seriously when I hear the accusation. The Lee Jaspers of this world ditto with anti-black racism, but I take it seriously when I hear the accusation. That is how anti-racists behave. You take the charge seriously. (Just as anyone with moral sense takes a charge of rape seriously, regardless of whether it is against someone who appears to be a free speech hero or is made by someone someone else said is a CIA agent.) To not take it seriously is the moral failing of the one who doesn't take it seriously. Counterpunch, and arguably huge swathes of the anti-Zionist milieu, always presume the charge is false. (See the Atzmon debate, and the refusal by certain anti-Zionists to take that seriously.)

P.S. I strongly believe, by the way, that I have not ever presented examples of legitimate criticisms of Israel as antisemitic on this blog, and nor has Adam Holland, Contested Terrain, the CST, Engage or Greens Engage. (It is probable that Harry's Place has, but rarely. I know ZWord has, but rarely.)

P.P.S. "most of [Counterpunch's] stuff is sound" - I would phrase it as most of their stuff is not offensive! Some of it is sound. It genuinely pains me to see Paul Buhle or Peter Linebaugh in the company of Rizzo and Shamir.

sackcloth and ashes said...

The latest delight from 'Counterpunch' is this revolting piece by William Blum, who I last recall writing apologias for the Khalq regime in Afghanistan. Apparently, Qadafi is as innocent of crimes against humanity as Milosevic was:

http://www.counterpunch.org/blum03302011.html

I'm surprised Counterpunch don't give skidmark a column, given his support for Rwanda genocide denial.

goodwin sands said...

The Nimmo quote:

"Now that the “Notorious Holocaust Denier,” as the New York Times characterized David Irving, has pleaded guilty and faces three years in an Austrian prison for the crime of deviating from the official, Zionist-sanctioned and imposed history of the Second World War, we can expect triumphant ballyhoos from the Zionists, a screaming and obnoxious declaration of victory for the small outlaw nation of Israel and its endless blackmailing of millions of people who had nothing to do with Auschwitz and its discredited gas chambers."

There is a long sequence in some Socialist Unity thread where Roy Bard does whatever he can to avoid answering the question, 'Was Nimmo right to call the gas chambers "discredited"?' until his avoidance itself became creepily obvious.

And here is FTP on the Nimmo quote, as queried by someone quite angry who gets the name wrong and calls him 'Greg Nimmo' but expresses deep concern about the way Bard waves away Nimmo's Holocaust denial.

Levi9909 said...

Thank you for that Goodwin. There's quite a discrepancy between "Auschwitz and its discredited gas chambers" and "the gas chambers of Auschwitz are 'discredited'". The former allows for no ambiguity whereas the latter could be part of a statement by Raul Hilberg if he preceded the quote with "the original estimates of the number of people murdered in...."

We're in an area where mistrust on both sides is a major characteristic. Accuracy is all important, especially if you want to persuade people of the importance of what is being alleged. Paraphrasing has its place but only if it conveys the only the only possible meaning of what was originally said.

Sorry to sound so pious but I wouldn't want to defend a holocaust denier any more than I would want to falsely accuse someone of holocaust denial.

Levi9909 said...

Bob _ I hear what your saying. I might return to whether or not that list has made bad faith allegations of antisemitism. I'm fairly certain they have but possibly sensibly not in so many words. I think innuendo may be the favoured tactic but I'm tired now.

skidmarx said...

Here's a Counterpunch article that once again shows that opposing intervention doesn't mean backing Gadaffi {as long as to read the author's words , not those you might wish to say he's written).

Levi9909 said...

And here's an article on Counterpunch, specifically Alexander Cockburn, by Gabriel Ash that Bob et al might enjoy.

bob said...

I have to say, I did enjoy Gabriel Ash. I liked this: "Juan Cole is a liberal. I don't think he would disagree with that. He claims to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time. Maybe he can. The real questions that he hasn't addressed are, walking to where, and which gum to chew." And I liked this: "Fox News of the Left, a.k.a. Alexander Cockburn of Counterpunch".

Although I quite liked Cockburn's joust at liberal academics ("Liberal academics have not the slightest interest in the Constitution, since the document doesn’t address issues of tenure and preferment. They evince similar loathing for the jury, putting their faith in “good judges”."), Ash is right to point out the kinship between Cockburn and the tea party philosophy. (Cockburn is also a gun rights advocate, a climate change denier and sympathetic to the Militia movement. All of these positions come out of a common philosophical grounding with the tea party: I guess you'd call it classical liberalism, or Jacksonian republicanism or something. Which is not in itself a bad thing necessarily, but worth emphasising for leftists who think of him as One of Us.)

And Ash is of course right that Cockburn's mode of argument is ad hominem attacks over actual reasoned criticism - although Cockburn has at least elevated ad homs to a high artform.

bob said...

As for Pham Binh's article, recommended by Skid, I remain unconvinced. The point is not that those who oppose intervention are supporters of Gaddafi. Some are (Healeyites, McKinney, Galloway, etc) but many are critical. Rather, the point is that by opposing intervention without proposing any alternative, meaningful form of concrete solidarity, they are objectively abetting the slaughter of the rebels. This is the point I try to make in my more recent post ("The case against liberal interventionism") so I won't argue that point further in this thread. In relation to Counterpunch, it's also relevant to point out that they also publish people who are subjectively pro-Gaddafi.