Why Jonathan Freedland Isn’t Fit to be the New Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian

Should Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian’s Executive Editor, Opinion, take over the editor-in-chief’s post from Alan Rusbridger? Freedland’s instalment is rumoured to be a condition set by the New York Times if the two enlightened North Atlantic papers are to merge, but even without this his chances seem good.

A central topic for both papers, as for the world in general, is Palestine, Israel, the Middle East. The topic is said by Freedland himself to have been his specialty for some twenty years. I have read through 100 of hiswritings on the subject in the Guardian, the Jewish Chronicle and theNew York Review of Books and conclude that their content should worry the Guardian staff, its readers and his employer The Scott Trust. His support for Israel is unbalanced, violates the Guardian’s commitment to liberalism and is rooted in an ethnocentricity that enables him to alternatively ignore Palestinians and justify their forced transfer out of Palestine.

In order of decreasing importance:

* He justifies the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

* His writing is Israel-centric and biased towards Israel.

* His Mideast world is largely free of Palestinians.

* He conflates criticism of Israel with ‘anti-semitism’.

* His narrative is largely that of Israeli hasbara.

* Ethnic cleansing condoned

Freedland’s friend and Ha’aretz journalist Ari Shavit made a stir in 2013 with his portrayal of Israel’s ethnic cleansing, by murder and expulsion, of the Arab-Palestinian town of Lydda in July 1948. In one of his reviews of Shavit’s story Freedland correctly writes that Shavit “meticulously reconstructs events in the mainly [sic] Arab town of Lydda in July 1948, when soldiers of the embryonic [sic] Israeli army emptied the place [sic] of its Palestinian inhabitants and… killed more than 300 civilians”. He confirms Shavit’s admission that “Zionism carried out a massacre”; it resolved that the Arabs of Lydda be “expelled quickly”: “if a Jewish state was to exist in Palestine an Arab Lydda could not exist…”

In another review of Shavit his claim is incorrect, however, that Shavit only “touches on the question of justification too” and “avoids a direct answer”. Shavit’s ‘shoot and weep’ approval is very clear. He writes that “the choice is stark: either reject Zionism because of Lydda or accept Zionism along with Lydda… I will not damn the brigade commander and the military governor and the 3rd Battalion soldiers. On the contrary, if need be, I’ll stand by the damned, because I know that if not for them the State of Israel would not have been born… They did the dirty, filthy work that enables my people, myself, my daughter, and my sons to live.” Shavit harbours righteous anger towards the “critics of later years who condemn what they did in Lydda but enjoy the fruits of their deed.” His final solution is the status quo: “Do I wash my hands of Zionism? Do I turn my back on the Jewish national movement that carried out the destruction of Lydda? No.”

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