Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Haters and Hoaxers

"EXTREMIST THREAT TO UK JEWS" said the the front-page story of the Sun (January 8). It said Islamic extremists had compiled a "hate hit list" of British Jews who were to be targeted in revenge for the Israeli attacks in Gaza. I did not bother reading further - it was the Sun after all. But with the Community Security Trust (CST) spokesman warning on Radio 4 of a new wave of antisemitism, it was worrying.

If the story was true it might mean terror attacks on innocent people. Our native UK bombers are not as politically aware or discriminating as the Palestinian movement. Even if those hit were not-so-innocent it would be a dangerous diversion. And if the story was made up, it might encourage misguided youths to follow the suggestion, and would certainly create tension between Muslim and Jewish communities, with the latter believing they were under siege and drawing back from criticism of Israel.

Thanks to the latest Private Eye, we can see how this story was made up, and make up our minds about the Murdoch-owned Sun and its school of journalism. It seems the basis of the Sun story was not any "terrorism" tip off from Special Branch, nor even the CST. It was all their own work.

The story was that someone calling himself Abuislam had posted a message on a Muslim website called asking "Have we got a list of top Jews we can target? Can someone post names and addresses?"

"anti-terrorism expert" Glen Jenvey warned "Those listed should treat it very seriously. Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs". If he had such detailed knowledge, one presumes he could have warned the people listed and tip the police off.

But was the posting on sufficient evidence? Another poster to the site suggested sending "polite letters" to prominent Israel supporters, but Abuislam would have none of it. "Polite will not work. Target them with demos outside their homes and businesses. Hit and run demos showing and exposing their war crimes in their support".

But according to the Eye, administrators at the site were curious as to just who this "Abuislam" was. They traced his postings to a computer also used by one Richard Tims. This Mr.Tims had previously posted to promote a website, now defunct, which offered cash for stories about Islam for world media use. And who was listed as the contact there? None other than Glen Jenvey, the Sun terror expert. Good, eh?
(How Extremism Works, Private Eye 1228)

Creative Journalism

While the Press Complaints Commission or whoever looks into this story of creative journalism, I am reminded of a story I once heard from an Aussie journalist chum about an episode many years ago, I think it was in Melbourne. There had been some clashes between different groups of immigrants from Yugoslavia, and a team of hacks and photographers was despatched to get the story.

When they came back to the office their boss was not satisfied with what they had to report. "Where's the swastikas?", he demanded. He had heard that one group of immigrants had painted swastikas on the homes of the other lot. The newsmen said they had seen no swastikas, but the boss was adamant. He wanted swastikas. So they sent out again and scoured the neighbourhood where the trouble had taken place, but still could not find any swastikas. When they returned, the boss was angry. "I won't tell you again! I want swastikas!" So back out they went. Only, this time, realising what was required of them, they did not just take a photographer, but a man with some paint.

I'm not sure I remember the name of that news boss. I bet he went far.

A different list

FRIENDS contacted me last year to tell me that my name had appeared on a couple of hate lists. First there was Masada2000's list of "Self-Hating Israel-Threatening" Jews, and then the fascists got hold of my picture for Redwatch. It helps my street cred, and so far nothing untoward has happened to me. But two other people I know have appeared with their pictures on a more threatening list, at an American-based Zionist website,, run by one Lee Kaplan. Dedicated to attacking the International Solidarity Movement whose brave volunteers have assisted Palestinian farmers with their olive harvest, and faced tear gas and rubber bullets when they joined peaceful demonstrations against Israel's annexation wall, this website incited action against them, and appealed for information on the whereabouts of one woman, who has worked for my union.

I could have told them, she was with an ambulance crew in Gaza, and facing enough danger without Mr.Kaplan calling for IDF snipers to target her. I say this was threatening, because unlike the Redwatch fascists who disclaim responsibility for any violence, Kaplan is open about it. And though people assure me that Lee Kaplan is just a 'nutter' who should not be taken seriously, ISM volunteers have already been killed, without any special incitement. Rachel Corrie was crushed by an IDF bulldozer, and cameraman Tom Hurndall shot in the head by an army sniper. I also don't think the Stop the ISM site was only wishing for a campaign against solidarity workers in the frontline.

Anyway, while I was writing to MPs and my union about this, I heard that the offending website has been closed. Whether it shall be able to reappear as the Massada2000 site has done, I don't know. Nor whether its clearly illegal incitement to violence could be prosecuted. Our authorities which always seem ready to extradite people to the United States for computer and other offences draw back from trying to do anything about US-hosted websites (this happened with Redwatch, and before that with child porn sites). Maybe some newspaper will treat Zionist and right-wing hate lists as evidence of a terror threat? But somehow I doubt it.

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