Tala Halawa and the progressive media’s anti-Semitism blindspot

24 May 2021

9:57 PM

24 May 2021

9:57 PM

The tale of Tala Halawa has an ever-mounting horror to it: each sentence is more disturbing than the last. First we learn that this BBC journalist proclaimed during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war that ‘Israel is more Nazi than Hitler’ and that ‘Hitler was right’. Then we encounter her assertion that ‘ur media is controlled by ur zionist government’ and her sharing on Facebook the same image that saw MP Naz Shah suspended from the Labour Party in 2016, an image that advocates the ‘transportation’ of Israel to the United States to end ‘foreign interference’ in the Middle East.

Next up is a graphic Halawa tweeted showing a child being burned on a menorah, the candelabrum used in Jewish religious rituals, in an apparent reference to the 2014 torture murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir by three Israelis. We might not need to hear any more by this point, but there is more nonetheless. Halawa, who is based in the Palestinian-run city of Ramallah, has declared that ‘Zionists can’t get enough of our blood’ and that ‘they’re are crying the holocaust every single moment but they’re practicing it every single moment as well’.

Somehow the horror doesn’t stop there. Halawa, it emerges, did not make these comments during her current employment with the BBC — she made them before being recruited. The BBC hired the ‘Hitler was right’ lady after she had stated publicly that ‘Hitler was right’. The awfulness isn’t even over, because what assignment did the BBC give the ‘Hitler was right’ lady? ‘Palestine specialist’ at BBC Monitoring. She has most recently produced a news video on model Bella Hadid ‘speaking out’ for the Palestinians and contributed to reporting on the deaths of children in the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas.

The BBC says it’s investigating and it has pretty serious questions to answer about how it came to hire a Hitler sympathiser and allow her to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But what about the rest of the mainstream and progressive media? In recent years, particularly after the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, there has been a surge in coverage of the far-right and, after the murder of George Floyd, of racism.

Some of this has produced stellar journalism on the nationalist breach of the political mainstream and the threat of white nationalist terrorism, but there have also been ideological efforts to cast mainstream people and ideas as racists and fascists. Consider the progressive media’s routine defamation of France as ‘Islamophobic’ for trying to tackle Islamism in the banlieues or of opponents of identity politics as ‘far-right’. Either way, there has been a prodigious amount of coverage of extremism and racism in the past few years.

Which is why, while the BBC has a lot of questions to answer, progressive media outlets have just one.

Since the start of the year, the Guardianhas published 154 articles about the far-right. As of 12 p.m. today, it carries not one word about Tala Halawa. Why?

The Huffington Post has dedicated itself to challenging what it sees as racism in the British media, with recent headlines including ‘Of Course There’s Bigotry In The Media. We Need Allies, Not Silence, To End It’; ‘Journalists Of Colour Reject Claim That “UK Media Is Not Bigoted”’; and ‘I’m A Black Journalist. The Media’s Inability To Tackle Its Racism Has Me Questioning My Future’. HuffPo has yet to mention that a BBC journalist said ‘Hitler was right’. Why?

The New York Times has spent the past several years presenting Britain to its readers as a racist backwater, yet it appears to be in no rush to bring them news of a racism scandal at one of the UK’s most important institutions. Why?

Why? Because when progressives talk about racism, anti-Semitism isn’t what they have in mind. When they talk about the far-right, they cannot conceive of a Palestinian as ‘far-right’, even when she is bigging up Hitler in between railing against Zionist control of the media. (If we can discern anything from the BBC’s hiring of Halawa and the progressive media’s radio silence on the matter, it’s that Zionists most definitely do not control the media.) And when a member of another ethnic minority engages in anti-Semitism, progressive minds deploy their own Iron Dome to deflect uncomfortable facts that threaten the catechisms of critical race theory and privilege. People who believe that their political views are a product of their superior sense of empathy display a profound lack of empathy when it comes to Jews.

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