The Canary Ate My Hamster

To know what an inflammatory issue the Arab-Israeli conflict is, is to know that there are those who have already dismissed these words because of my use of the word ‘conflict’. That’s where we are. 
 The policing on both sides of this issue is so fiercely enforced that I have always been wary of entering into it with either side, and most of all this includes my parents who are pro-Israel to the point where discussing it could ruin yet another Christmas:

‘You cannot say ‘we made the desert bloom’ anymore. THIS IS 2016!.’


‘Pass the stuffing.’

However, that is not what this is about but seeing as this discussion involves Israel — and my surname is a tad semitic — I better lay my ideological cards on the table. So for what it’s worth *deep breath* I passionately support the Palestinian right to self-determination; I stand for a peace that includes security for both Palestinian and Jewish people alike. I stand against Israeli right-wing expansionist policy, The Likud Party and heavy-handed military reprisals. I also stand against Hamas who do not have the best interests of their suffering people at heart, have a devout and stated wish to kill all Jews (even non-Israeli ones, hi) and have The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion in their manifesto. As Hitler used this fabricated document as his warrant for genocide, I’m not really into that myself. And exhale.

That’s an extremely simplified position but that’s where I stand on Israel/Palestine — in the wishy-washy middle — so what’s the point in entering into the debate when all I can offer is an unwanted lecture on tolerance and a two-state solution?

Pass the sprouts.

Recently I began to feel the need to become more involved as a few ‘items’ started appearing on my facebook feed which were overtly or covertly antisemitic. I needed to know why. As you can see I’m no polemicist, nor am I a journalist, I’m just genuinely disturbed by the whole thing. 
 Having been on facebook for nine years I had never seen anything apart from legitimate criticism of Israel so it came as something as a shock. Antisemitism is often hidden and sometimes unknowingly propagated thus the cause can require a little excavating to get to the nub. Most of the routes in seem to revolve around conspiracy theories but there are other less travelled roads and thsu a few days ago I found myself reading The Canary.

The Canary is an alternative online news publication. It was founded by Kerry-Anne Mendoza who is on the radical left and was an activist in the Occupy movement. The Canary was originally a blog called Scriptonite Daily which had nearly 10000 subscribers. It morphed into a news website after Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the opposition in order to put some positive spin on the man who was getting flayed alive by The Mainstream Media (MSM). All fair enough.

Whatever anyone’s feeling about Jeremy Corbyn there is no doubt that he was overly stigmatised by an extremely hostile media — particularly in those first few months. Thus it is rational that his supporters should look elsewhere for the news. However that is where my diplomacy ends. After reading a disturbing story in Private Eye a few days ago and doing a little research I found The Canary to be nothing better than what I would expect from a Paul Dacre rag. There is no political point scoring here, this not about Jeremy Corbyn or the Labour Party. That is not what this is about.

To sum up the Private Eye article: it condemns The Canary for using ‘clickbait’ to lure people from tabloid newspapers to their own site. Basically using the same deceitful tactics employed by the publications they profess to be against. It goes on to say that journalists on The Canary ‘turn tricks for clicks’ so employees get paid in direct correlation to how much traffic their article receives. Not how truthful, insightful or accurate their reporting is. The Eye goes to mention one of the Canary’s leading journalists posted a series of anti-Jewish tweets and — as has become almost a daily ritual — I perform an epically long sigh.

The tweets come from one The Canary’s own ‘firebrand’ journalists’ — Steve Topple.
 Here are two of his greatest hits:

‘I apologise in advance, but is @BBCNews “Witness” purposely showing a terrible story from a holocaust survivor? Subliminal propaganda?’

@PPFOB Silly me. The “closet Jew masturbates in a turkey baster, so the millionaires daughter can have 2nd lobotomy” story. Rump Parly NOW!

Over a series of three years 2013–2015 he posted tweets that are obscenely antisemitic. As a committed conspiracy theorist he found himself hobnobbing with Neo-Nazis and far right idiots.
 As all antisemites on the left quickly find out they end up having more in common with the far right than they do with their own. You can find out more about him and his twitter mates here but that is only for those with strong stomachs. After three years of racism Mr. Topple apologised. I believe his apology, just a shame it came at around the same time his journalistic career took off. And refereeing to his tweets he opines that they ‘appeared’ to be antisemtic. Not that they ‘were’ antisemitic. I don’t believe that needs any further comment.

So next I wanted to take a look at yer actual Canary. First article was about Israel.

It’s headline read

Israel is paying Facebook to spread a cruel lie about the Palestinians

I was vaguely aware of this story.

You can read the Canary article here but to summarise:
 Israel have arrested Waheed Borsh who works for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) The Israeli’s claim that Borsh has been subverting money from a vital aid programme and giving it to Hamas to make weapons instead of rebuilding houses.

The article moves on to mention Israel itself; mainly the killing of 2000 people (including 500 children) during the conflict in Gaza two years ago. Just for sake of clarity I have no issue with that whatsoever — again, this is not what this is about — I want to discuss the substance of the article, its tone and its headline.

From what I already knew about this story, coupled with a little research from such unfashionable sources as The Independent I pieced together what we actually know for sure:

We know the guy has been arrested. We know the Israeli’s say there is evidence to show that he’s guilty. We know that Hamas says it’s a lie. We know the UN demands a fair trial. We know the UNDP is concerned but have doubts that as much as $22 million has been syphoned. That’s all we know, so how do we come to an informed decision?

Well we can’t. That’s the point. Unless we see the evidence and come to an informed decision.

The reason I am so interested in this article is that it actually seems quite a unifying story in a sense. Let’s say the man in question is guilty; it would be in the best interests of the Palestinian people to find out where their aid has gone and it’s in the best interests of Israel to stop Hamas arming itself. Palestinians and Israelis sharing a common interest? Sounds good to me. But tragically not for the Canary. They claim the guy is innocent and the Israeli’s are lying. How do they know? They don’t. So The Canary are lying and in the process they have taken a potentially unifying cause and used it drive people further apart on what is already the most polarised issue on planet Earth. I think that’s pretty despicable. The Canary is not a solution to the problem it is a perpetuation of it.

Or maybe not, because the Canary article goes on to say: 
 ‘But despite the Israeli authorities’ assertive language, ‘indicted’ does not mean ‘convicted’. It means he is accused of the deed, but it is still to be proven that the deed was done.’
Well that’s alright then. Until you remember the headline… ‘It’s a cruel lie.’ Like I said, they stink of shit.

The UN have demanded an open and transparent fair trial. The Independent reported:

‘Responding on Monday to the Israeli indictment against Mr Halabi, the U.N. Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Robert Piper, called for a fair and transparent trial.

“If proven by a due legal process, these actions deserve unreserved condemnation; Gaza’s demoralized and vulnerable citizens deserve so much better,” he said in a statement.

Well can’t we all at least agree on that?

Also The Canary only wants to discuss the issue of ‘rubble’ stolen but doesn’t mention any of the money that has allegedly been pilfered. Why?

I find it quite amusing that The Canary article has numerous hyperlinks in it which keep going back to the same two publications… The Guardian and The Independent. I do not expect folk to feel sorry for Israel because of a smear, far from it. But that’s not what this is about. 
 I think we can assume that some Canary readers take it all with a huge pinch of salt but clearly many use it as replacement for and a reaction against MSM. This may be understandable because of the Corbyn-bashing but is nevertheless not without its dangers.

So back we’ve deconstructed the article to a point where we know what’s true, what’s conjecture and what’s a lie. Next question. What is the cruel lie being spread about The Palestinian ‘people’? One man has been arrested and charged with an offence. How is that a lie about an entire people as the headline suggests? Talk about inciting hatred…

But sadly it’s far worse than that. The most damning indictment of the whole enchilada is summed up by the opening four words of the headline which I want to take another look at…

Israel is paying Facebook to spread a cruel lie about the Palestinians

So I clicked on the hyperlink on the Canary article and found myself on the Facebook homepage of The Israeli Ministry of Home Affairs. Well, that was a first. 
 Firstly, large professional institutions spend money on social media to get their information in the public domain. Political institutions spend money on social media to get information into the public domain. My band pays money to social media to promote our next gig. What is the story here?

So finally we have arrived — well we never really left — at the most vile and despicable trope of all. ‘Israel Is Paying Facebook’ Well of course it pays facebook! Who doesn’t? 
 It is a sponsored post. Whalley Range Liberal Democrats have a ‘sponsored’ post. So what is the problem here? 
 The problem is that it is purposefully pandering to the most pernicious form of antisemitism. The Jews control the media… that strain again. The Jews control the media, the Jews control the banks, The Jews control my bum.

It recently hit home to me that quite a few people I know actually believe or half-believe some of the most deeply racist conspiracy theories in existence. Sadly there is a prevalence of these beliefs with people who have become disenfranchised with MSM and thus are looking for information in dark, dangerous and often intensely Antisemitic virtual avenues. If you don’t know, pretty much all conspiracy theories end up at Jew. Jews did 9/11, ISIS stands for Israel Secret Intelligence Service and the mother of them all… The Protocols of The Elders of Zion — a fabricated document published by counter revolutionaries in Russia in 1919. It was part of the reason why Jews were driven out of their homes and undoubtedly part of the reason why my family arrived in Manchester from Lithuania in 1919. 
 The document is the minutes of a meeting (which they mislaid — oops) between the most powerful Jews in the world in 1897 whereby they set out their vision for world domination and control of the banks and the media. It was used by Hitler as his warrant for genocide and belief in this gross fabrication is once again on the rise. (It was proven a fabrication beyond all doubt by The Times in 1921) And people really believe this shit. As an example; yesterday I confronted the worst offender I know — he believes that 1.25 million Jews died in The Holocaust and that American Jewry orchestrated the whole thing and wanted it to happen. Really. That’s where conspiracy theories end up folks, there’s no way around it. Jew, Jew, Jew.

Back to The Canary. Until last year one of their leading journalists Steve Topple was a ‘truther’ who believed all kinds of racist and crazy conspiracy theories involving Jews. The Canary knows that people who paddle in the pool of Alternative History do so outside The Mainstream Media . The Canary knows what it is doing when it’s first four words are ‘Israel Is Paying Facebook’ because remember, that is not what the story is about!

The Canary knows that it is clickbait for people who believe what it’s own ‘firebrand’ journalist Steve Topper believes/used to believe.


They stink of shit.

I want to take one last look at the headline:

Israel is paying Facebook to spread a cruel lie about the Palestinians

For those who are still not sure if there is anything in this I have these questions…

How is that headline relevant to the story of an aid worker who has been arrested for allegedly syphoning funds?

Why does the issue of Israel paying Facebook feature in this headline?

Why does it say ‘it’s a cruel lie’ when it then goes on to say it doesn’t know if the guy is guilty or not?

The author of the piece, Carlyn Harvey says she is attracted to The Canary because she… ‘has been struck by the mainstream media’s ability to be as creative with their reporting as she is in her fiction.’

I am not saying Carlyn Harvey’s headline is antisemitic. I am saying it panders to Antisemitic tropes and it does it knowingly, wilfully and deceitfully. That is what this is about. 
 My message to her is simply that I am exactly the kind of person who sits in the middle of this issue and someone that presumably she wants on her side. Writing something like that will not win people like me over, it is in fact likely to have the opposite effect which is the darkest irony of all.

Remember this is not about the Israel/Palestine, it is about her gutter gutter journalism and the sewer of a publication she represents.

Former Canary writers interviewed by Buzzfeed said… 
 ‘“You can earn anything from £100 to £4,000 month depending on how viral you go.”

He was also “uneasy about some of the hyperbolic headlines the editors were asking us to come up with for our articles”, which he found “a little embarrassing” and called The Canary’s business model “hyper-capitalistic.”’

Perhaps The Canary is actually pretty good and this is just one dodgy article? Well maybe you’re right. Thing is, I only looked at the first one I came to which was at the very top. And then I wrote this. So maybe I’ll have a look at the rest and get back to you on that.

And also, so what if this article is a bit over the top, Israel still does loads of bad stuff so its not really of much consequence to all the suffering Palestinian people? Well on that, I quite agree. So let’s have an honest conversation about that and resist the temptation to make the situation even graver than it already is.

The Canary is the answer to The Mainstream Media if the question is: can you find an alternative news stream that is more dangerous and corrupt than The Mainstream Media?