The media are helping to normalize antisemitism

The only thing necessary for the triumph of antisemitism is for journalists to do nothing, to say nothing – unless its politically convenient.

The Washington Post (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Washington Post
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The only thing necessary for the triumph of antisemitism is for journalists to do nothing, to say nothing – unless its politically convenient. Regrettably, many major Western news outlets are doing precisely that.
Take, for example, The Washington Post. On December 1, 2019, the newspaper ran a glowing 2,849-word profile of Valerie Plame, a former CIA employee who is now running for a congressional seat in New Mexico. Plame, the Post tells readers, was but a “soccer mom who volunteered for local nonprofits” before being implored to run for office. She had a “national name” thanks to her being accidentally outed by Richard Armitage, George W. Bush’s first deputy secretary of state, as a CIA employee after her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, opposed the second Iraq War – an occurrence which inspired a 2010 movie, Fair Game, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn
The Post’s article, complete with several photographs of Plame hobnobbing with Hollywood celebrities and testifying before the US Congress, reads and looks more like a campaign advertisement. Indeed, it even features photographs from a campaign ad of her driving a car backward on a dirt road.
Valerie Plame may be a glamorous “soccer mom,” but she also thinks “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars.” That was the title of an Unz Review article that she shared on Twitter on September 21, 2017. Plame initially defended the article, calling it “very provocative, but thoughtful.” After mounting criticism, she changed her story, apologizing and claiming that she hadn’t read the article and, as a result, missed the “gross undercurrents” of a piece whose very title makes its antisemitism clear.
As the Anti-Defamation League documented in an October 4, 2018 report that the Unz Review publishes “racist and antisemitic content” and its founder, Ron Unz, “has denied the Holocaust, endorsed the claim that Jews consume the blood of non-Jews, and has claimed that Jews control the media, hate non-Jews, and worship Satan.” Plame was obviously a fan, having shared several other articles from the website on a number of occasions.
Indeed, she might still be a fan. We don’t know. The Washington Post’s puff piece didn’t even mention the controversy, much less ask the congressional candidate if she’s still reading and sharing antisemitic material.
There is no justification for the Post’s glaring failure. In a nearly 3,000-word piece, the newspaper certainly had the room to address Plame’s history of propagating antisemitic material. Nor can the newspaper claim that it was unaware; on September 22, 2017 – before Plame chose to run as a Democrat for national office – the Post published an article titled “Why people care about Valerie Plame and her antisemitic tweet.”
REGRETTABLY, THIS isn’t the only recent instance of the Post covering for left-leaning antisemites. A November 26, 2019, Post report on British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis calling out UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn for his failure to address growing rank antisemitism in his political party included the misleading description of Corbyn and as being a “strong supporter of Palestinian rights and a fierce critic of Israel’s right-wing government,” along with “many in the left-wing of his party.”
This is demonstrably false. As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), among others, has documented, UK Labour Party members and activists have praised terrorists, engaged in Holocaust denial, compared Israelis to Nazis, and stated that Israel shouldn’t exist.
A recently leaked report by the Jewish Labor Movement to the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the official regulatory body devoted to promoting equality and human rights, included sworn statements by 70 current and former members of the party. They charge Corbyn with “making the party a welcoming refuge for antisemites.” The report noted that there is “an acute problem of abuse directed at Jewish members, simply because they are Jewish.”
As of this writing, The Washington Post has yet to note the leaked EHRC report. Indeed, the tweet accompanying the Post’s November 26 story initially asserted that the British Labour Party has “been hit by claims of antisemitism because of strong statements on Palestinian rights.” Following contact from CAMERA, the Post issued a correction, noting, “Labour members have been accused of making anti-Jewish statements, which should not have been conflated with statements on Palestinian rights.”
But the newspaper isn’t alone in whitewashing antisemitism from the Left.
Many media outlets devoted considerable coverage to Israel’s decision to bar entry to US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan). Both members of Congress support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which, per its co-founder Omar Barghouti, seeks the destruction of the Jewish state. BDS links to terrorist groups have been noted in April 19, 2016 Congressional testimony and elsewhere.
Yet, most major news outlets, including the Post, USA Today and, failed to note that Miftah, an organization that has praised suicide bombers and accused Jews of consuming Christian blood, sponsored Omar and Tlaib’s planned trip. USA Today was even provided with documents from NGO Monitor, an organization that tracks non-profits, revealing Miftah’s sordid history – but declined to include that information in an update to an August 15, 2019 dispatch on Omar and Tlaib’s planned trip.
By all counts, it should be newsworthy that two members of Congress planned to go on a trip sponsored by an organization that traffics in blood libels. But when it comes to antisemitism, what “qualifies” as newsworthy is being selectively defined by a fourth estate that is unwilling to detail, much less confront, a virus that has, in living memory, murdered millions.
History will long remember what they’re covering up. And it won’t be forgiving.
The writer is a senior research analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.