A few months ago I posted a couple of comments about Rime Allaf, a Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs) fellow and frequent media commentator on the Middle East. I had appeared with Mrs Allaf on a CNN panel discussion in February, and was concerned about the arguments she made then and, more particularly, on her web site. My posts are here and here. My concern, in summary, was that:
Mrs Allaf uses the Chatham House imprimatur to promote a personal web site that comprises in its entirety inflammatory op-ed columns, media citations, a web log and reader comments such as “It is horrible how the Jews have treated the Palestinian people.”
I joined Chatham House not long after this, and took the opportunity of writing to the organisation's director. This is what I said:
Having consulted the Institute's Directory of Expertise, I should like to draw your attention to one aspect of the writings of your colleague Rime Allaf.
I met Mrs Allaf a couple of months ago when we took part in a panel discussion on CNN about President Bush's State of the Union address. It would be fair to say that, while we conversed amicably for what was a very long session, our views on international politics were not in accord. I stress, however, that my comments here have nothing to do with political disagreements with her, but relate to a specific issue. (I apologise, incidentally, for putting this information in an email rather than a letter. As the issue is a convoluted one, I have to provide detailed supporting references; and as the relevant material is published solely on the Internet, it is easier to refer to by email rather than on paper.)
Mrs Allaf's own page in the Chatham House Directory of Expertise refers the inquirer to her personal site for further information, on which she keeps a web log. Her latest entry [9 April - it's still there, if you scroll down] begins:
"On April 9, 1948, members of the Jewish terrorist groups Irgun and Stern Gang massacred over 200 Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin. Right after the crime, they began broadcasting the details of their actions to other Palestinian villages, whose terrified inhabitants fled in haste. Israel Shamir writes that the massacre of Deir Yassin is special for three reasons ...."
The post provides a link to the article by Israel Shamir, and concludes: "Palestine's victims must never be forgotten."
I make no comment here on the rights and wrongs of the Israeli-Arab conflict, or the appalling historical episode of which Mrs Allaf writes; I merely refer you to the source whose judgement Mrs Allaf proffers. "Israel Shamir" is the nom de plume of a writer whose real name is Jöran Jermas. So far from being, as he claims, a leading Israeli intellectual and translator, Shamir is of Russian origin, and has lived in Sweden for the past 20 years. His writings, which are widely circulated on the Internet, are unambiguously antisemitic.
1. In his article "Christmas Greetings to Hellenes" Shamir, apparently a recent convert to the Greek Orthodox Church, maintains that peace in the Middle East cannot come about till the Jews convert to Christianity: "The Jews are forever fighting Christ and the Church; there is no chance for peace in the Holy Land unless the position of the Synagogue is undermined and the Jews saved by the Church."
2. In "Blood Libel: Fact, Fiction or Spook Story", Shamir claims a rational basis for the mediaeval blood libel that Jews ritually murder Christian children, and holds the Dreyfus case to have been the normal workings of justice: "Indeed, the philosemites of [Times columnist David] Aaronovitch ilk brought incredible calamities to mankind and to Jews. They excluded a priori the possible guilt of Captain Dreyfus or Beyliss. Instead of standing aside and allowing the justice to take its due course, they created mass hysteria in France and Russia, thus obtaining acquittals but also undermining popular belief in the judicial system. After Dreyfus and Beyliss trials, Jews rose above the law. This caused the backlash of the 1930s, and the back-backlash of our days, and will probably cause a back-back-backlash of tomorrow [i.e. the Jews have only themselves to blame for the Nuremberg laws and other modern persecutions]."
3. In "The Shadow of Zog" (the title is an approving allusion to the conceit of American neo-Nazis that their country is under a 'Zionist-Occupied-Government'), Shamir maintains that the Iraq War was a Jewish conspiracy: "For a while, the Jewish establishment tried to deny its direct involvement in the Third World War. They furiously rejected references to high and mighty Jews pushing for war as, (you guessed it) "antisemitism". But eventually the denial wall was broken, and in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the culprits, a "band of 20-30 Jewish intellectuals", the Neo-Cons, admitted they did it."
4. In "Rock of Dissent", Shamir declares his affinity with the American neo-Nazi organisation the National Alliance. He welcomes the Alliance as an ally in the struggle against Israel, making clear that his differences with them are matters of semantics only: "It does not mean that one should run forward and endorse the NA get-together. But these people should be worked with, not rejected out of hand. Some of their erroneous ideas could be corrected. If they would just say "affirmation of European legacy" instead of "white supremacy" you would discover that the arguments against them collapse. It is like saying "let us make love" instead of 'fuck you' - the meaning is quite similar, but wording is important."
[The National Alliance is discussed in a recent scholarly work by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, of Lampeter University, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity (New York University Press, 2002, Chapter 1). The late leader of the Alliance, William Pierce, was the author of a notorious cult novel The Turner Diaries, which depicts a forthcoming race war in the United States. The heroes of the story, called collectively 'The Organization', manage to liberate a part of California from Jewish control, whereupon they triumphantly lynch 60,000 anti-racist politicians, journalists and other opinion-formers in a single day. Friends of the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh, recall his having read this book.]
In summary, Shamir is an antisemite, racist and pro-Nazi apologist. You should be aware of the apparent endorsement (and I think it is reasonable to interpret the words "Further information can be found on www.rimeallaf.com" as an endorsement and not merely an extraneous link) in the RIIA's Directory of Expertise of a site that promotes his views. I am sure I do not need to spell out the grounds of my concern that one of your designated experts on the Arab-Israeli conflict should be reproducing Shamir's material.
It is, unfortunately, inconceivable that Mrs Allaf is unaware of the character of Shamir's writings. She is an energetic advocate of various pro-Palestinian campaigning organisations, and those groups have for several years, as a warning to their supporters, themselves publicised the fact that Shamir is a purveyor of antisemitic propaganda. For example, Mrs Allaf lists on her site the 'Electronic Intifada' web site; the founder of that site, Nigel Parry, has written that "an increasing amount of the tone and content [of Shamir's writings] was observed by more than a few to fall into what could -- if this hadn't been an Israeli Jew writing it -- best be described as a classic anti-Semitic repertoire".
Nor is this information limited to obscure publications. Only last week, The Times carried a column by Stephen Pollard on the case of Shamir, which noted: "[I]t takes only a quick Google to discover his views and background. He has worked for Zavtra, Russia’s most anti-Semitic publication, and is allied with the Vanguard News Network, set up by an American, Alex Linder — a man so extreme that he was even ostracised by the US neo-Nazi National Alliance."
Two days after Stephen Pollard's column appeared, Rime Allaf reproduced Shamir's anti-Israel writings on her web log.
I concluded by saying that, as I was writing purely in my capacity as a member of Chatham House, I wouldn't be making any public reference to the issue till the Director had had a chance to consider the matter. So he now has, and while (as I did not ask, and do not have, his permission for this) I am not able to quote his reply, I will give him credit that he said he would raise the matter with Mrs Allaf, and was clearly as good as his word. In her next blog entry on returning from sabbatical Mrs Allaf wrote mysteriously:
Things are still busy, but I will make an effort to get back to speed, especially to keep up with those who apparently have way too much time on their own hands, and who are rather fixated on what others write and say.
Perhaps I am not the most assiduous of workers, but even if I were less easily distracted by fripperies, I should still regard the respectful citation of a down-the-line antisemite by a Chatham House Associate as a matter of public interest. Next time you hear Mrs Allaf cited in the press as an authority on Middle East affairs, just remember where she's coming from.