The new blog, CiFwatch, is doing a valuable service exposing antisemitism and distortions in Middle East coverage on the Guardian website, Comment is Free. Today it gives the floor to Point of No Return. Please visit CiFwatch and leave a comment:
It’s easier to condemn Comment is Free for what it does than for its sins of omission. And for a site that focuses disproportionately on Middle Eastern issues, CiF is remarkably coy about the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
There were more Jewish refugees fleeing from Arab countries after 1948 than Palestinian Arabs from Israel. There were more of them, they lost more and suffered more.
But only rarely have Jewish refugees been the subject of attention at Comment is Free. Coinciding with a conference in London in June 2008, Matt Seaton allowed Lyn Julius to put the case for Jewish refugees. But he also got David Cesarani, an academic not known for his expertise in this field, bizarrely to argue that Jews who fled Arab countries should not have their suffering compared to ‘the misery of the Palestinians’. Rachel Shabi, the Guardian’s pet Mizrahi, was then wheeled out to deny that Jewish refugees were refugees at all – in fact most were Zionists who left of their own free will – an argument which she contradicts in some of her other writings. It’s a classic CiF strategy: obscure, confuse, and de-construct historical fact.
The denial of what is being increasingly becoming known as the ‘Jewish naqba’ is central to the Guardian’s agenda.
On no account must the ‘de facto’ exchange between roughly equal numbers of Arab and Jewish refugees be permitted to challenge the Palestinians’ exclusive claim to victimhood.
On no account must the successful integration of the majority of Jewish refugees in Israel and elsewhere be mentioned. This would undermine the ‘sacred’ right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. It would be disastrous if the reader twigged that Palestinian refugees could just as easily be resettled – if not more easily – in Arab host countries.
On no account must the idea that the Jews in Israel are anything other than ‘white’ interlopers from Europe, engaged in a colonial adventure in Palestine, be challenged. The whole edifice of Guardian groupthink crumbles once you introduce the notion that around half the population of Israeli Jews come from ‘indigenous’ communities in the ‘Arab’ world predating Islam by 1,000 years.