Friday, March 19, 2010

Anti-Semitic Myths Alive and Well on the Huffington Post

I recently wrote an article that has been crossposted on CifWatch. If you haven't checked out their website yet, you definitely should. The article itself is a recap of the Michael Carmichael incident from December, with some intriguing new information. Click below the line to read it.

The internet newspaper the Huffington Post has long had the reputation of a breeding ground for anti-Semitic attitudes. Though I have only been "watching" it for a few months now, I have already seen a lifetime's worth of anti-Semitic hatred and anti-Israel slander on the talkback threads. Although the multiple bloggers who write for the Huffington Post are almost all critical of Israel, few have crossed the line into unvarnished anti-Semitism. That is, until December of last year.

Michael Carmichael is a Huffington Post blogger, who according to his bio is a "senior political consultant, historian, author and broadcaster" based in Oxford, England. He normally writes about such topics as American politics, business, Karl Rove, and Avatar. Which only made his column on December 16, 2009 even more shocking.

Carmichael wrote a story about healthcare reform with the inflammatory title, "Kill the Bill." To those who follow the healthcare reform debate, Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) is not in favor of healthcare reform as it currently stands. He doesn't want a public option and said that he will help to filibuster any bill that included it. This has led to one of the most prominent Jewish senators losing even more popularity from the Democrats, and from the American people in general. All this is background, though, because Carmichael's article isn't really about healthcare reform, it's about Israel, and how Israel controls America.

Carmichael takes two parts of Joe Lieberman's political views (namely, that is he is an advocate of Israel and is against the current healthcare bill) and combines them. He concludes that because Joe Lieberman is an Israel advocate he must be acting in Israel's interests. Carmichael's only evidence for this classic accusation of Jewish dual-loyalty is that Prime Minister Netanyahu "threatened" to "undermine Obama's presidency." But even this supposed "evidence" is faulty, the Ha'aretz story used by Carmichael said only that, "Senior officials in the Obama administration also accused Netanyahu of suggesting that he had the power to pressure Obama with various lobbies within the U.S. political arena." The word "threatened" was not used, nor was Obama's presidency ever discussed.

Things only became more interesting from there. When Carmichael wrote the article, and in the original Huffington Post publication, the article contained the following sentence:

"Netanyahu’s agent, Senator Joseph Lieberman, provides the poison to the chalice of health care reform and – at the same time – accomplishes the mission of his ultimate master:  the Prime Minister of a government of a foreign nation whose relations have proven to be more than burdensome for the American people. "

Accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to Jews worldwide than their own countries is a staple of anti-Semitic literature, and can be lifted right out of the definition. It even stretches back to the Dreyfus Trial. This sentence by itself shows that this article's key point is one of blatant anti-Semitism, even ignoring the other attacks on Israel contained within the article.

Carmichael concludes with a call for America to remove all ties with Israel based on his manufactured conspiracy theory:

"It is time to sever the umbilicals of nation, state, government and military ties between the USA and Israel that protract the crises in: the Middle East, the global economy; the US Congress; the clinics, surgeries and hospitals of America and the promised lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza."

The story doesn't end there, however. The Huffington Post reacted to this story in a number of ways. While the article was in the spotlight, so to speak, the moderation on it was increased twentyfold. Comments like, "This article is anti-Semitic," or "Easier just to blame the Jews, eh Mr. Carmichael?" were not cleared by the moderators to be posted, though they did not violate any terms of use. If you look at the article now, you will see that there are only four comments. No comments pointing out the blatantly anti-Semitic nature of the content remained for very long, if they ever were able to make it through moderation in the first place.

The Huffington Post staff followed this by attempting to restrict access to the article. Carmichael's page and article archive does not include "Kill the Bill," nor does the Huffington Post's "World" page. It can still be found with a Google search, however. Some might consider this to be a positive sign; the Huffington Post staff realized that the article was anti-Semitic and tried to limit its exposure. But if that's the case, why didn't they just simply delete it? The actions of the Huffington Post staff might be an attempt to remove a clearly inflammatory article from their readership, but it might also simply be a coverup.

This would seem to be confirmed by the fact that, if you look at the article as it currently reads, you might notice a subtle difference. The sentence quoted above about Lieberman as Netanyahu's "agent," the "icing on the cake" of the anti-Semitism in the article, is no longer there. Compare it with a reprint of the article in the "Center for Global Research," and you will see that Carmichael's words were changed from what they were. Probably by the Huffington Post's editors. And yes, when the article was originally posted it was included in full.

To conclude, here we have the best (though not the only) example of anti-Semitism on the Huffington Post so far. The Huffington Post staff reacted to this in a half-hearted attempt to cover it up, including changing the author's words, though they fell short of taking the final step and removing the article itself. Michael Carmichael is still on the Huffington Post blogroll, though he has not published an article since January. The Huffington Post has often come under fire for a encouraging and even endorsing anti-Semitic attitudes, and this story is unlikely to help them shake this image.

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