Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post website
TEL AVIV – The Huffington Post is serving as an Internet meeting place for the spread of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda, including wild conspiracy theories and vicious slurs, according to a new report.
The Committee for Middle East Reporting in America, or CAMERA, monitored the Huffington Post for a brief period in March and May, finding the talkback threads that accompany the site’s news articles and opinion columns routinely contained an alarming amount of hate material.
The report said that while such talkbacks can also be found at other sites, such as Britain’s Guardian and the Independent newspaper websites, CAMERA focused on the Huffington Post “due to its large audience and because of the steady volume of hostile sentiment directed towards the Jewish state and its supporters.”
CAMERA found the overwhelming majority of talkbacks it monitored on Jewish or Israel-related material at the Huffington Post contained anti-Israel propaganda, including easily disprovable lies.
The report found a popular theme on site was the steady repetition of conspiracy theories claiming excessive Jewish influence in America.
“American Jews who support Israel are derided as disloyal citizens or agents of Israel. Unsubstantiated accusations that Jews control the media, American foreign policy and the Congress abound,” the report stated.
A typical comment appeared on a thread discussing the meeting three weeks ago between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
“The only reason Israel has been able to get by with this is because American Jews have bought off Congress in a number of ways – all real,” read that comment.
Other comment threads revealed widespread ignorance about basic facts about America’s Mideast policies.
“American financial support for Israel is routinely exaggerated, often to the point of absurdity,” stated the report.
A Huffington Post article from May 20, discussing tensions between Obama and Netanyahu, for example, generated a series of comments reciting false figures:
- 30 billion a year goes to that country [Israel] …
- Israel stole 2.3 trillion dollars from the Pentagon when Dov Zackheim was controller of the Pentagon under Rumsfeld.
Another piece critical of Israeli settlers on June 1, 2009 elicited the comment:
- money given to Israel by the U.S. comes out to approximately $55,000 annually per person in that country.
Atual U.S. aid to Israel is less than three billion dollars, amounting to about $400 per Israeli citizen. Nearly all U.S. support to Israel comes in the form of military aid, and usually involves the purchase of American-made supplies and equipment.
Continued the CAMERA report: Alongside complaints about American aid with Israel are the denials that Israel has ever provided anything to America in return. Israeli software expertise, medical innovations, water conservation methods and shared intelligence are not acknowledged by these detractors.
“Nor is there any attempt to inject a balanced perspective. Aid to Israel is only a minor component of American foreign commitments to the defense of its allies, yet the far more costly commitments to the defense of Europe, Japan and South Korea receive no consideration.”
‘Move all Jews to Texas’
Other typical threats misrepresent Israeli society to tar Israel as a racist and exclusionary state, according to the report’s findings.
Some typical talkbacks, followed by facts provided by CAMERA:
Talkback: “You have to be Jewish to hold office in Israel.”
Fact: There are Arab and Druse members of Parliament, judges, government ministers and military commanders.
Talkback: “Most Israelis are of European origin. Today there are six million Europeans and Americans who happen to be Jewish occupying land that was peacefully occupied by Palestinians before 1948… “
Fact: Over half of all Israelis are of Middle Eastern and African origin. Jewish settlement prior to 1948 drew in Arabs from surrounding regions into what had previously been mostly depopulated areas.
Talkback: The Palestinians are fighting for survival against Israeli extermination.
Fact: The population of Gaza and the West Bank is ten times what it was in 1948. Since Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the average Palestinian life span has increased from 48 to 72 years. All measures of health and well-being improved steadily from 1967 to 2001. Despite intensified conflict since 2001, this has not been reversed. (Refer to data collected by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Palestinian Authority’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
Other monitored talkbacks contained anti-Semitic material following articles about Iran or about Jews in the U.S.
Following one May 20 one commenter proposed forcibly removing Jews from their homes. Another agreed, adding:
- Good suggestion. I would give them Texas so they can bring in all the Jews from all over the world. Then, the world will take a deep breath of relief.
Another piece from May 21 reporting on the testing of an Iranian missile prompted one commenter to suggest that the “commotion over the missile launch” was an Israeli ploy to incite the world against Iran. Nine of the first 10 comments expressed sympathy for the Iranian regime whose leader has openly vowed to erase the Jewish state.
The CAMERA report concluded by recommending more stringent monitoring of talkbacks by the Huffington Post and other sites.
“While CAMERA does not support limiting the opinions expressed on talkback threads, insufficient filtering of slanderous accusations and the absence of fact-checking encourages the spread of misinformation about Israel and the Middle East conflict.”