The Guardian, Khaled Diab and the Gilad Atzmon antisemitism test

Khaled Diab’s essay at CiF, “Hacking away at Arab and Israeli stereotypes“, is quite misleading. His objective isn’t to tear down stereotypes about Israelis, but to highlight and promote them. 

Diab, commenting on recent reports of Saudi hackers who “scaled up their cyber offensive against Israel by paralysing the websites of El Al airline and the Tel Aviv stock exchange”, quoted an Israeli journalist observing that such Arab tech prowess shattered the “feeling that Israel is a technological ‘superpower’ and a hi-tech nation”.  And, later, Diab saw Israeli surprise at the adeptness of the hackers as evidence that Israelis “apparently do regard their nearest [Arab] neighbours as being backward.”

While Diab, later in the essay, acknowledges (albeit in a perfunctory manner) Arab stereotypes of Israelis (which he suggests has nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism), it’s in the following passage where his polemical veneer of  ’peace and reconciliation’ vanishes.

Commenting further on the Israeli reaction to the apparent Saudi hacking, Diab writes.

Some commentators went even further. “The Jewish state is pretty devastated by the idea that a bunch of ‘indigenous Arabs’ are far more technologically advanced than its own chosen cyber pirates,” Israeli jazz musician Gilad Atzmon observed wryly on his blog.

The “Israeli jazz musician”, Gilad Atzmon, whose blog Diab evidently reads, is the author of a book, The Wandering Who?, which the Community Security Trust characterized as “probably the most antisemitic book published in this country in recent years.”

But, as I noted in a previous post, merely characterizing Atzmon as antisemitic doesn’t do him justice.  Atzmon advances crude, hateful, and demonizing rhetoric about Jews which is on par with the most vile Judeophobic charges ever leveled.

In that one video I linked to earlier, Atzmon leveled charges against Jews he has similarly advanced on the blog which Diab refers to.

They include:

  • The explicit charge that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world, and an endorsement of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Gilad Atzmon’s antisemitism, quite simply, is as odious as anything you can find on a white supremacist or neo-Nazi website.

So, here’s a friendly suggestion to Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott, on how (per his mea culpa in Nov.) he can “avert accusations of antisemitism“, at his paper:

Don’t publish essays which approvingly cite the wisdom of one of the most notorious antisemites of our day!

I’m not really interested in arguing any point beyond the hack/tech/cultural issue. The fact that there is one lone hacker in Saudi Arabia is not a sign that the culture is advanced. It isn’t like the Israelis can go and arrest a hacker working in Saudi Arabia… and it isn’t like as if the Saudis don’t have the money to pay for expertise. The Israeli cultural is more then just one hacker. The Israeli culture is a culture of intelligence and the free exchange of information. Information can be bought, but it must be bought out of the incubating tech culture that it grew. A hacker who incubated in a Tech culture and then went rogue would be industrious to hide behind a third world regime so that the other hackers who share his knowledge can’t get to him. It is not however a sign that Saudi Arabia is a place that is fertile for thinking.

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