Cross posted from Cif Watch by its managing editor, Adam Levick.
“Every person has their own definition of terrorism.” –Glenn Greenwald.
Glenn Greenwald makes characteristically hysterical claims about Israel and the US in his latest ‘Comment is Free’ piece titled Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza‘:
Here are the most egregious examples:
1. He claims that “overwhelming Israeli force slaughters innocent Palestinians, including children”.
There’s nothing new here in Greenwald’s use of the most unserious hyperbole to impute the most violent and malevolent motives to Israel. Greenwald ignores the fact that Israel uses unprecedented restraint in targeting only Hamas leaders and terror targets, which would explain that the death toll in two days of fierce fighting is 19 Palestinians and 3 Israelis.
2. According to Greenwald, Israeli attacks on Palestinians “are preceded (and followed) by far more limited rocket attacks into Israel which kill a much smaller number, rocket attacks which are triggered by various forms of Israeli provocations.”
It’s unclear which Israeli provocations Greenwald is referring to, but Hamas’s main grievance against Israel, per the words of their leaders and their very founding charter (which, evidently Greenwald hasn’t bothered to read), has been the Jewish state’s stubborn desire to exist.
3. Greenwald claims that”most US media outlets are petrified of straying too far from pro-Israel orthodoxies….US criticism of Israel is impossible for all the usual domestic political reasons.”
I’ve documented numerous examples of Greenwald advancing the most bigoted rhetoric about US Jews’ supposed control of the US government and media, and this latest charge is nothing new. Indeed it is relatively mild compared to his previous smears, such as his warning about the “absolute”, “suffocating” “Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy” by the Jewish lobby.
4. Greenwald writes: “Provocations from the Israelis were geared toward disrupting an imminent peace deal with Hamas.”
Greenwald is referring to a temporary truce – which was being brokered in the days following an attack (with an anti-tank missile) which injured four Israelis – motivated by Hamas’s concern regarding the damage IDF attacks was inflicting on their military capacity. More broadly, however, it takes either extreme naiveté, a considerable degree of hostility towards Israel, or a cynical indifference to historical reality to make the serious argument that Hamas is, or could ever be, a peace seeking movement.
5. Greenwald argues that the Obama administration “supported the Israeli“ attack on Hamas terror chief Ahmed Jabari, as it represented the model of “extra-judicial assassination[s] – accompanied by the wanton killing of whatever civilians happen to be near the target, often including children – which is a staple of the Obama presidency.” ”Obama…could not possibly condemn Israeli actions in Gaza without indicting himself…Extra-judicial assassinations, once roundly condemned by US officials, are now a symbol of the Obama presidency”. ”There is now a virtually complete convergence between US and Israeli aggression”
This later paragraph is where the convergence between Greenwald’s anti-Americanism and his anti-Zionism is most clear.
Greenwald is defined by his opposition to the policy of killing Islamist terrorists (who are planning terror attacks against American civilians) in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but his commentary also suggests that President Obama is an enthusiastic supporter of killing innocent civilians in these regions. According to Greenwald, Obama is muted in his response to Israel’s violent acts because he lacks the moral authority to issue a credible condemnation.
To understand the extent of Greenwald’s obsession with “Obama’s” drone war, it would be helpful to review a piece he wrote before joining ‘Comment is Free’, published at Salon.com, titled “US again bombs mourners”.
If you find that title a bit overblown, or something out of PressTV, you need to also read the strap line.
The Obama policy of attacking rescuers and grieving rituals continues this weekend in Pakistan
Just the work of an editor, you think?
Here are some quotes from Greenwald’s essay on June 4, 2012.
“In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the U.S. kills people with drones in Pakistan, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals.” [emphasis added]
“On Sunday, June 3, the US targeted mourners gathered to grieve those killed in the first strike.”
“Killing family members of bombing targets is nothing new for this President.”
“The US is a country which targets rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn.”
“That tactic continues under President Obama, although it is now expanded to include the targeting of grieving rituals.”
However, the main source Greenwald provided to back up his claim is the discredited “Bureau of Investigative Journalism” (BIJ), the organization which fed the BBC information pertaining to the Newsnight story falsely alleging “a senior Thatcher-era Tory” was a paedophile.
Moreover, the specific link Greenwald cites as proof that the US targets innocent civilians in Muslim countries – rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn – does not back up his claim at all.
The link to a nearly 2500 word BIJ report (which cited a more detailed BIJ report) on the drone war in Pakistan includes a claim in the headline that the CIA “targets rescuers and funerals” but failed to support the dramatic claim in the subsequent story.
Typical are passages like this:
“A team of local researchers…found credible, independently sourced evidence of civilians killed in ten of the reported attacks on rescuers.”
But, there was this one passages which claimed intent:
“More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”
However, there was nothing in piece, nor the longer report, which even attempts to corroborate the claim (largely anecdotal evidence by unidentified Pakistanis) that the strikes against innocent civilians represented deliberate US policy. Further, not considered by either BIJ or Greenwald is the possibility that the “mourners” weren’t actually mourners at all, but, rather, additional terrorists.
Most telling in the BIJ report was this passage:
“Often when the US attacks militants in Pakistan, the Taliban seals off the site and retrieves the dead. But an examination of thousands of credible reports relating to CIA drone strikes also shows frequent references to civilian rescuers.” [emphasis added]
It is unclear to whom these “credible reports” are attributed, but their admission would suggest that it is difficult, at best, for US drones to distinguish between Taliban terrorists and those unaffiliated with the murderous terror group.
The assertion by BIJ that there is a CIA “policy” of killing innocent mourners and rescuers is not supported by the reports cited. Greenwald’s even more unhinged claim that President Obama’s “policy” is to kill such innocent rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn” is not supported by the facts, and parrots the most unserious anti-American propaganda repeated by extremists on the ground in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Greenwald’s June post at Salon.com contained a hideous smear of the US President, suggesting that Obama personally is an advocate of killing innocent Muslims.
Interestingly, a New York Times report on February 5th, ‘U.S. Drone Strikes Are Said to Target Rescuers“, citing the same BIJ report, interestingly, was much more sober, and included the following:
“American officials have questioned the accuracy of such claims [that innocent civilians are targeted], asserting that accounts might be concocted by militants or falsely confirmed by residents who fear retaliation.”
“…most other studies of drone strikes have relied on sketchy and often contradictory news reports from Pakistan.”
“A senior American counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, questioned the report’s findings, saying “targeting decisions are the product of intensive intelligence collection and observation.” The official added: “One must wonder why an effort that has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has been subjected to so much misinformation.” [emphasis added]
Greenwald seems to really believe the most unserious, hateful anti-American propaganda – what you’d typically find in PressTV or Arab media outlets – about American and Israeli villainy.
In fact, in a Sept. 14 CiF piece, Greenwald summed it up clearly:
”…the US and Israel have continuously brought extreme amounts of violence to the Muslim world, routinely killing their innocent men, women and children.”
Finally, there’s this quote from Greenwald’s Salon.com post referenced above:
“If a Hollywood film featured a villainous King ordering lethal attacks on rescuers, funerals and mourners — those medically attending to or grieving his initial victims — any decent audience member would, by design, seethe with contempt for such an inhumane tyrant. But this is the standard policy and practice under President Obama and it continues through today.”
In Glenn Greenwald’s world, Hamas, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremists – reactionary, racist, antisemitic, misogynist and extremely homophobic political forces – seem to get a moral pass, but democratic Israel stands accused of slaughtering innocent Palestinians and Barack Obama is an inhumane and villainous figure who murders Muslim children.
The convergence of anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism is truly a work of art. For Greenwald, and his leftist followers, it is a given that Islamist terrorists are feared by the West not because they threaten the democratic world, but because of racism against Muslims.
For Greenwald, as with Guardian Associate Editor Seumas Milne and other Guardian Left commentators, Israel and the U.S. are the greatest imperialists threats to world peace, and so the reflexive anti-Zionist stance they take simply represents a logical extension of their broader anti-imperialist, post-colonialist politics.
Finally, supporters of Obama should pay close attention to Greenwald, as the leftist ideology which his views on Israel and the US inspire represent crude, ugly caricatures of the President which often go far beyond even those of the far right.
Glenn Greenwald would never, ever falsely “accuse” Obama of being a Muslim as some of his right wing opponents shamefully do.
Greenwald’s demonization of the President, however, is much worse, advancing the hysterical charge that he personally orders (or at least approves policies sanctioning) the murdering of innocent Muslims throughout the world.
The anti-Zionist, antisemitic and anti-American rhetoric advanced by Greenwald represents a classic example of Guardian Left ideology.
Those within the mainstream American Left who don’t succumb to the false moral equivalence between Islamist terrorists and Western democracies, and who don’t buy into the defamatory suggestion that Obama is engaged in a war against Islam, should begin to view him as, at the very least, a crank – a shrill and vitriolic anti-Obama extremist.