Busy day so don’t have time to delve into this too deeply but important story—as Al Jazeera gets ready to move into US market in big way—so here it is in brief, with a bunch of links. Your move.
Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian been on the case since late last week and spent the weekend asking for comment for Al Jazeera English, to no avail, last I checked.
It seems that Joseph Massad, the Middle East scholar and Columbia University prof, wrote a column for AJE last Tuesday titled “The Last of the Semites.” I’ll let Greenwald summarize it:
Massad’s argument was obviously controversial: he highlighted the shared goal between the early Zionist movement and Europe’s anti-Jewish bigots (namely, the removal of Jews from the continent), detailed the cooperation between German Nazis and Zionists to facilitate the departure of Jews out of Europe (the existence of that cooperation is not in dispute, though the extent of it very much is), and highlighted the extensive disagreements among Jews themselves over the wisdom and justness of Zionism…
Of course, this drew wide online commentary and criticism—the usual. Then the stakes were raised. Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic tweeted: “Congratulations, al Jazeera: You’ve just posted one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory.” And John Podhoretz, even more pointedly: “Congratulations, donors to Columbia University, for paying this monstrous [Mossad’s] salary!”
On Saturday, Greenwald discovered that the op-ed had been removed from the AJE site, although it’s still around at other sites. He started sending e-mails to various AJE editors and spokespeople, with no response as of this morning.
Just go and read his piece today to catch up on what he thinks happened (who decided) and why. His working theory for the latter is that, about to launch AJ America—as a kind of challenge to CNN—their usually bold news service is going soft, not wishing to defend some of its prime and most influential American critics. Greenwald:
Although I condemned the original op-ed, I did not agree with the decision to delete it. For one thing, it’s a futile gesture: in the Internet age, everything published is permanent. For another, it’s contrary to the journalistic ethos: although it would have been appropriate to decide in the first instance not to publish it, once a decision is made to publish something, it should not be removed merely because it provokes controversy or even offense. Retractions should be reserved for serious factual errors.
He also quotes Massad’s reaction. Stay tuned for more.
Greg Mitchell’s current books are So Wrong for So Long (on media failures and Iraq war) and the wild tale of MGM and Harry Truman scuttling a 1947 anti-nuclear epic, Hollywood Bomb. His personal blog, updated several times day, is Pressing Issues.