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The hypocrisy of ‘The Independent’

The British online daily doesn’t hesitate to take Donald Trump to task for alleged anti-Semitic dog-whistle at the United Nations, but isn’t concerned about its own journalists’ blatant anti-Semitic language.

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 24, 2019. Credit: Screenshot.
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 24, 2019. Credit: Screenshot.
Adam Levick
Adam Levick has served as managing editor of UK Media Watch, a CAMERA affiliate, since 2010.

An article in The Independent yesterday (“Trump accused of using antisemitic trope during UN speech”) centered on U.S. President Donald Trump’s use of the term “globalists” in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly.‘’

“The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to strong, independent nations,” said Trump, while discussing international trade.

The Indy contextualized Trump’s remark thusly: “While it has been suggested the term ‘globalist’ is not necessarily antisemitic when juxtaposed with ‘nationalist’—or ‘patriot’—many on social media interpreted the president’s deployment as offensive.”

While the term can be problematic depending on the context, particularly striking here was the Indy’s double standard in its putative concern for the use of anti-Semitic tropes.

Readers may recall an article from earlier this by the Independent‘s long-time Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk that used explicitly anti-Semitic language. The original headline for the March 26 piece, which was about U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, was like something out of Strormfront:

Though following complaints the Independent toned down the headline to something slightly less offensive, it refused, even after repeated communications with our office, to revise equally offensive sentences in the article itself, such as Fisk’s characterization of what he called the media’s “grovelling, cowardly, craven obeisance to Israel.”

There was more.

Despite condemnation by the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity dedicated to the security of the British Jewish community, Independent editors also refused to revise the last paragraph, where Fisk attacked those who fail to “complain about the dual loyalties of their countrymen,” who “grovel” and are “in thrall” to the Jewish state. Nor did the editors see anything problematic with Fisk’s conclusion, echoing the raw venom of far-right extremists, that Israel has “annexed America.”

It’s not an exaggeration to say that in our 10 years of monitoring the British media (including the Guardian), we’ve never seen such explicitly anti-Semitic language in an article or op-ed.

As the CST aptly put it at the time:

“Such overblown and catch-all rhetoric, with its echoes of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, should have no place in a respectable newspaper.”

So if the Independent wants to be taken seriously as a respectable, anti-racist publication, it needs to consistently call out anti-Semitic tropes, whether advanced by extremists, world leaders or even their own journalists.

Adam Levick has served as managing editor of UK Media Watch, a CAMERA affiliate, since 2010.

This article first appeared on the U.K. Media Watch website.

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