Pro-Palestinians slam 'Guardian' hiring of Treviño

Activists express "shock" in letter to paper's editor, cite Twitter comment as proof of author's alleged "incitement to murder."

August 20, 2012 11:34
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A group of pro-Palestinian activists expressed "shock and dismay" Sunday at the addition of journalist and board member of Act for Israel Joshua Treviño to the British daily The Guardian's US commentary team.

In a letter to the Guardian's editor, signed by Sarah Colborne, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, along with other heads of pro-Palestinian organizations and individuals ranging from academics to actors, the activists accused Treviño of urging the Israeli army to murder US citizens, citing a message Treviño posted on Twitter in 2011: "Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me."

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The activists then denounced Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of the paper's US operation, for allowing Treviño to bring "his one-sided political views to the Guardian and using it as a platform for his propaganda."

The hiring, which raised a firestorm among anti-Israel proponents, although Trevino will only be writing on US politics and not on Israel, also drew the ire of Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, who criticized the Guardian's decision in an op-ed published on Al Jazeera's English-language website.

Abunimah claimed that "Treviño is a Republican party operative, paid political consultant and ideologue for hire," who in the past has given a stamp of approval to the murder of unarmed civilians. He intimated that the journalist's addition to the Guardian was the result of an alleged rightward shift by the traditionally left-leaning paper because of the need to augment advertizing revenue by appealing to a larger audience.

He also implied that the Guardian had initially added Treviño to its editorial staff but later downgraded him to the commentary team due to backlash. It was not clear if a press release announcing his hiring had been amended to reflect the change.

Treviño's column, On Politics & Persuasion, was set to launch Monday. In a statement, he wrote that "joining the Guardian as a US politics commentator is a tremendous honor, and I genuinely look forward to engaging with the savvy, informed, and active global community of Guardian readers."

He also took the opportunity to qualify his controversial 2011 post on Twitter, denying he called on the IDF to shoot Americans and attributing the subsequent reaction to a "widespread misapprehension of meaning."

He wrote that "the Gaza flotillas sought to render aid to a known terrorist group – and, in my view, its participants were morally complicit in that." Therefore, he continued, "US citizens on the Gaza flotilla of 2011 were responsible for their own fate, and that Americans utterly out of sympathy with their de facto assistance to a terror group would not be moved if the worst befell them."

He cryptically admitted, however, that he failed to convey his intended meaning.

Last month, the Guardian announced that left-leaning writer Glenn Greenwald of Salon would also be joining its US commentary team.

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