Thursday, June 09, 2011

Counterpunch is, er, controversial

I am continuing my edit wrangle at Wikipedia on the Counterpunch article, where a couple of editors who believe that Israel harvests Palestinian organs exercise a very high degree of "ownership" over the article, deleting any possible suggestion that Counterpunch is anything other than on the side of the angels. To that end, I am just pasting here a sentence that was deleted from the article, and the sources cited, for the record. In a while, I will return to the article and try another way of saying this and see what happens.


Counterpunch has been the focus of considerable controversy, receiving criticism, for example, for publishing texts by writers alleged to be Holocaust deniers such as Atzmon and Shamir, for publishing an article alleging organ thefts by Israelis that has been widely described as perpetuating the antisemitic blood libel, and for articles alleging that a plaintiff in a rape charge against Julian Assange is a CIA agent.


Sources cited: Michael C. Moynihan "Olbermann, Assange, and the Holocaust Denier: When you want to believe, you'll believe anythingReason December 7, 2010; Kate Harding "Accusations against Assange's accuserAustralian Broadcasting Company 9 December 2010; Adam Levick "Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism in Progressive U.S. Blogs/News Websites: Influential and Poorly Monitored" PHAS No. 92, 1 January 2010 / 15 Teveth 5770 Jerusalem Center for Public AffairsDavid Leigh and Luke Harding "Holocaust denier in charge of handling Moscow cablesThe Guardian 31 January 2011; Anti-Defamation League "Alison Weir: Expressions of Antisemitism" ADL.org 2008


I've extracted many of these sources in the past, so I will just extract the ones I haven't.

ADL on Alison Weir
Alison Weir’s criticism of Israel has, at times, crossed the line into distortions customarily found in the literature of anti-Semites. 
In response to a controversial article advancing theories about alleged Israeli organ harvesting, published in August 2009 in a Swedish daily newspaper, Weir penned multiple articles in which she highlighted a series of organ harvesting accusations that have been made against Israel, dating back to Israel’s first heart transplant in 1968.[...] 
Weir’s articles, titled “The New ‘Blood Libel’? Israeli Organ Harvesting” and “Israeli Organ Trafficking and Theft: From Moldova to Palestine,” appeared respectively in CounterPunch, a radical anti-Zionist newsletter, in August, and in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, an anti-Israel publication that frequently serves as an apologist for Muslim American groups advocating anti-Semitism and support for terrorism, in October.[...] 
Weir has previously described Israeli power in language traditionally used by anti-Semites. In her 2003 letter to Israel and Israel’s “frenzied defenders,” published in CounterPunch, Weir claimed that Israel imposed its “uni-cultural nation, ridding yourself of hundreds of thousands of human beings who did not fit your national vision of purity.” Weir added, “In this country…you’ve killed careers. You’ve killed businesses. You’ve killed hope. You’ve weeded out sprigs of integrity from our Congress, journalists of principle from our press.” 
In characterizing Israel as such a powerful oppressor, Weir has also drawn upon Holocaust imagery and compares Israel to Nazi Germany.
The Guardian on Israel Shamir
Shamir claims to be a renegade Russian Jew, born in Novosibirsk, but currently adhering to the Greek Orthodox church. He is notorious for Holocaust denial and publishing a string of antisemitic articles. He caused controversy in the UK in 2005, at a parliamentary book launch hosted by Lord Ahmed, by claiming: "Jews … own, control and edit a big share of mass media." Internal WikiLeaks documents, seen by the Guardian, show Shamir was not only given cables, but he also invoiced WikiLeaks for €2,000 (£1,700), to be deposited in a Tallinn bank account, in thanks for "services rendered - journalism". What services? He says: "What I did for WikiLeaks was to read and analyse the cables from Moscow."
Shamir's byline is on two previous articles pillorying the Swedish women who complained about Assange. On 27 August, in Counterpunch, a small radical US publication, Shamir said Assange was framed by "spies" and "crazy feminists". He alleged there had been a "honeytrap". On 14 September, Shamir then attacked "castrating feminists and secret services", writing that one of the women involved, whom he deliberately named, had once discussed the Cuban opposition to Castro in a Swedish academic publication "connected with" someone with "CIA ties". 
Subsequently, Shamir appeared in Moscow. According to a reporter on Russian paper Kommersant, he was offering to sell articles based on the cables for $10,000 (£6,300). He had already passed some to the state-backed publication Russian Reporter. He travelled on to Belarus, ruled by the Soviet-style dictator Alexander Lukashenko, where he met regime officials. The Russian Interfax news agency reported that Shamir was WikiLeaks' "Russian representative", and had "confirmed the existence of the Belarus dossier". 
According to him, WikiLeaks had several thousand "interesting" secret documents. Shamir then wrote a piece of grovelling pro-Lukashenko propaganda in Counterpunch, claiming "the people were happy, fully employed, and satisfied with their government". 
Assange subsequently maintained he had only a "brief interaction" with Shamir: "WikiLeaks works with hundreds of journalists from different regions of the world. All are required to sign non-disclosure agreements and are generally only given limited review access to material relating to their region." 
One can only speculate about whose interests Shamir was serving by his various wild publications. Perhaps his own personal interests were always to the fore. But while the newspapers hammered out a deal to handle the cables in a responsible fashion, Shamir's backstairs antics certainly made WikiLeaks look rather less so.
Adam Levick on Counterpunch's contributors
Jumal Juma:[57] Coordinator of the Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, which supports boycotting Israeli goods, Juma occasionally writes for the radical anti-Zionist newsletter/blog Counterpunch.[58] Going even further than the article in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that charged Israelis with harvesting the organs of Palestinians, Counterpunch recently made news by claiming that the blood libel - the notion that Jews ritually murdered gentiles - is true and is related to such organ thefts.
[57] www.huffingtonpost.com/jamal-juma [58] www.counterpunch.org/juma11092006.html
In addition, here are some extracts from Bill Weinberg's World War 4 Report from the last five years or so, in more or less chronological order. Apologies for lack of re-formatting. All titles link to sources.


Ward Churchill Strikes Back


[On the "chickens coming home to roost" issue:] And isn't it interesting that all the people running to Churchill's defense seem to be white lefties like the folks at Counterpunch. Are any Native Americans rallying around Churchill?

Zundel goes home


Submitted by David Bloom on Mon, 02/28/2005 - 16:49.
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel is being deported by Canada back to his German homeland, where he is expected to be arrested for inciting racial hatred. Zundel, who has been sitting in a jail cell in Canada for the last two years, is the author of "The Hitler We Loved and Why." Though the title seems to have come from a Mel Brooks movie, Zundel was ruled to be a security threat in Canada. The famed Zundelsite is a locus on the web for white supremacists, holocaust deniers and neo and not-so-neo Nazis. The cause of the irregularities surrounding his imprisonment has been taken up by Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch. Perhaps there were irregularities in Zundel's imprisonment, but it seems Cockburn could find more noble causes to fight.

Telling trolls

[...]I am all for analyzing splits within the elites, and if that was how the issue was presented I would have no problem with it. Instead, it is too often presented in terms of American sovereignty being undermined by sinister foreigners: always Semites (Israel for the Judeophobes, the Saudis for the Arabophobes). When you have a (yes) supposed lefty like Alex Cockburn talking about "Vichy Congress" and "occupied Washington" (actually one "George Sunderland", but given top billing in Cockburn's Counterpunch), it is clear that this grave error and essentially right-wing position has become the dominant one on the supposed "left." And nobody is talking about that. Anyone who dares bring it up is relentlessly Zionist-baited, as I was on this blog not too long ago. Have you noticed how the popular anti-war websites (Counterpunch, Antiwar) have become breeding grounds for this slimy little cross-fertilization between the supposed "left" and xenophobe right?

Negroponte gives CIA new powers; Jew-haters make hay

[On conspiracy theories about John Negroponte:] Unfortunately, this sinister crap is not confined to marginal sites like AlJazeerah.com. Counterpunch, which all us lefties are supposed to love and which modestly bills itself as "America's Best Political Newsletter," ran a story in June 2004, when Negroponte was serving as ambassador to occupied Iraq, by Ghali Hassan, which—before mentioning a word about the death sqauds, the torture, the "disappearances," the massacres—zeroes in like a laser beam on the cardinal sin of Jewish origins. In his lead paragraph, Hassan quotes a "friend" (without any distancing or criticism) saying "to appoint a Jew as ambassador to the Arab country that has been devastated because of the will of a cabal of Jewish neocons headed by Wolfowitz Bush is just an accessory -, is like trying to put off a fire using buckets of gasoline." (Sic)

Keep digging on Google and you will find plenty more such gems. Sorcha Faal, writing on the poorly-named Educate Yourself, actually goes one better, stating that Negroponte is an "Israeli national."
And of course this stuff is eagerly lapped up by Israel's apologists who wish to potray all opposition to the "war on terrorism" as Jew-hatred. Edward Olshaker, writing on the conservative Crisis: Israel, makes note of Ghali Hassan's Counterpunch screed in a piece entitled "Radical Left's Anti-Semites No Longer Pretend It's 'Zionism' They Hate." You know, it would be a hell of a lot easier to counter this propaganda if it weren't true!



Counterpunch prints "fraudulent" Nasrallah interview




Lebanese scholar Gilbert Achcar writes via e-mail: "Many of you have certainly seen an interview allegedly done with [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah by a Turkish radical left newpsaper... I have enquired about it, and a source in Beirut in close touch with Hezbollah has confirmed to me that it is a forgery." However,Counterpunch has seen fit to keep the evident forgery on its website, despite growing questions about its authenticity (albeit, with a note at the end acknowledging the controversy). The pseudo-interview is interesting because of what it reveals about the willful illusions the radical left cultivates about radical Islam.


Arrest in Elie Wiesel attack


The rad left (e.g. the ever-predictable Counterpunch) loves to hate Elie Wiesel, and actually makes some strong arguments about his double standards on human suffering. But we would trust their intentions a lot more if they weren't so intent on dismissing the reality of anti-Semitism. After his attack, Wiesel told Italy's Corriere della Sera that Jew-haters and Holocaust deniers are increasing worldwide and getting bolder: "Until today they used words; now they have switched to violence. Their numbers are growing by the day." (AP, Feb. 13). The evidence for this has been mounting for some time, whatever the morally equivocal position of Wiesel and however much Jew-haters are abetted by Israel's atrocious actions. When are supposedly "progressive" anti-Semitism-deniers going to start eating crow?

"Vermont neo-Confederate movement"?

Submitted by Bill Weinberg on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 18:54.
[...]The Plainfield-based Green Mountain Daily also calls out the sleazy politics of the self-appointed secessionist "leadership"... Good for Green Mountain Daily for calling out these opportunist rascals—and leave it to the reliably execrable Counterpunch to give them an uncritical soapbox.


Internet conspiranoids betray Iran (left and right)


Conspiranoids and freedom-haters of the left and right alike are rushing to betray the Iranian protest movement. On the supposed "left," the retro-Stalinist Workers World and its International Action Center as well as (disappointingly) Monthly Review and the World Socialist Website have weighed in for Ahmadinejad and dissed the protesters as dupes or pawns of US imperialism. How interesting to see these supposed "leftists" making common cause with right-wing cheerleaders for authoritarian regimes...
It's all too telling that many of these right-wing conspiranoids are being promoted by the ostensible "left"—such as Reagan admin veteran Paul Craig Roberts onAlex Cockburn's Counterpunch. Echoing a familiar theme, Roberts asks "Are the Iranian Protests Another US Orchestrated 'Color Revolution?'" A typical sample of his incriminating evidence:
On May 23, 2007, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito reported on ABC News: "The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell ABC News."
In addition to not knowing how to use quotation marks correctly, Roberts commits the classic conspiranoid error of only believing those media accounts that fit the conspiracy theory. An ABC clip from two years ago under another administration—and attributed only to unverifiable, anonymous sources—is taken as evidence the current protest movement is "US-orchestrated." The overwhelming reality of hundreds of thousands taking to streets in defiance of the security forces in scenes reminiscent of the 1979 revolution is dismissed as a charade. As if a movement of this size and courage could be the product of a CIA op!


Ron Schiller, the Tea Party and the Jews: nobody gets it

The notion of a powerful Jewish elite controlling world affairs through its insidious conspiracies used to be a bugaboo of the right. When did it become a bugaboo of the left? And why do those who seemingly take the question of racism the most seriously think anti-Semitism (today coded as "anti-Zionism" or "criticism of Israel" much as conservatives veil anti-Black racism with code words like "tough on crime," "welfare cheats," "community organizer," etc.) is OK?

Let's be clear. Anti-Zionism—opposition to an ideology and system of Jewish colonization in historic Palestine—is, contrary to the claims of those who would conflate it with anti-Semitism, not necessarily anti-Semitic. Criticism of Israel for its real crimes—military aggressions, human rights abuses, ongoing theft and colonization of Palestinian lands—is absolutely legitimate. But the notion of "Zionist" (read: Jewish) control of Washington and the world media is an anti-Semitic trope, by any definition. Why doesn't anybody get it these days? We'd like to know.


Silence of the "left" on Shamir on Belarus

[...]Even better is the earlier self-penned piece Shamir links to at the link above, "The Minsk Election in a Wikileaks Mirror," in which he hails Lukashenko for defending "socialism," and says WikiLeaks has "proof positive" that the Belarussian protest movement was "orchestrated" by the State Department and George Soros. We heard similar abhorrent jive from the Internet conspiranoids after Ahmadinejad similarly stole Iran's elections and unleashed a reign of terror in 2009.

That CounterPunch is providing a platform for this fascist propaganda is predictable. That supposed "leftists" are so blithely unconcerned—either with the fact that WikiLeaks is working with a true crypto-Nazi like Shamir, or with WikiLeaks' increasingly evident collaboration with the Lukashenko dictatorship—is what is truly demoralizing. So much for all the empty prattle about "human rights" from Assange's defenders.

4 comments:

sackcloth and ashes said...

Bob, can you get around this effort to censor you on Wikipedia by producing a separate page called 'Criticisms of Counterpunch'?

Miles said...

Bob -

That talk page makes for some depressing reading.

I'm not really familiar with Wikipedia, but is there some recourse for dealing with an editor who appears to have an agenda?

kellie said...

The talk page is a nightmare. Bloody hell.

bob said...

I actually scheduled this post a few days ago, when things were at their worst. Since then, the talk page has loosened up again and the ball is in my court to propose an alternative bit of wording, with cast iron references. So, I might make it through in the next round.

Part of the problem is that a lot of the really useful material is from sources like WW4Report (cited in this post) and Adam Holland's excellent blog, that are not quite cast iron enough by Wikipedia "reliable source" criteria, and the mainstream media, with the important exception of the Guardian article extracted from in the post, has steered clear of these issues.

If my next attempt is blocked, I will bring it to the attention of other Wikipedia editors thru one of Wikipedia's noticeboard or request for comment processes, which should deal with an editor who appears to have an agenda.

Creating a new page is probly not a good move, because "Criticisms of Counterpunch" is not a notable enough topic (there is no "Criticisms of the Guardian" article for example) and also because the same thing would happen there.