Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I have Andy Robinson, anti-Yank British correspondent for La Vanguardia, dead to rights for at best gross incompetence and at worst anti-Semitism. Here's his story in today's Vanguardia.

Andy Robinson

NEW YORK--In his second honorific appearance in six months before the highest representatives of the powerful Jewish business community in the US, Jose Maria Aznar received the World Statesman Prize from one of the principal foundations in New York, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. The prize was given to the Prime Minister, according to the director of the foundation, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, for "his courageous leadership and as an indefatigable advocate for democracy, liberty, and tolerance."

In his speech, Aznar mentioned the neccesity for a solid relationship between the United States and the European Union and the need to continue working together in the struggle against terrorism. Some 800 people--among them leaders of different religious organizations, although there were no Muslim leaders--attended a banquet in homage to Aznar at the luxurious Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, for which they paid between $1000 and $100,000 per table. It is an example of the generalized practice on the part of political pressure groups in the United States of raising funds through the celebration of gala dinners to which important political or business personalities are invited. The president of the German bank Deutschebank, Josef Ackermann, also received the prize. Phil Condit, the president of Boeing, John Negroponte, US ambassador to the UN, and the ex-head of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, among others, attended.

[PHOTO OF AZNAR RECEIVING AWARD FROM SCHNEIER; CAPTION: Aznar receives his prize from the hands of Rabbi Arthur Schneier]

Aznar was invited in May to give the keynote speech at the general assembly of the Jewish American Committee (AJC), another important pro-Israeli lobby. "To us Spain is a good friend of the US and of Israel," said Ken Bandler, spokesman for that committee.

The Jewish associations "are giving out invitations to all the leaders who support Israel and the war in Iraq," said Norman Finkelstein, the Jewish author of "The Holocaust Industry" (Siglo XXI, 2002), which denounces alleged acts of corruption on the part of Jewish associations in the redistribution of the indemnizations for Nazi genocide, to La Vanguardia.

Two weeks ago there was a major controversy after the decision of another pro-Israeli group, the Anti-Defamation League, to award a prize to Silvio Berlusconi at another gala fund-raising dinner at the Plaza hotel in Manhattan, weeks after he spoke about Mussolini in favorable terms. The Nobel Prize-winning Jewish economist Paul Samuelson criticized the decision as "frightening for anyone who knows Berlusconi's personal history."

You read whatever you want to into Andy's article, but what I'm reading into it is that he's saying that rich Jews are giving out bribes to their international supporters, as they use those supporters for their own political purposes.

There are a couple of factual errors in Andy's story; he could have avoided the most significant by Googling the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and its president, Arthur Schneier. If he'd done so, he'd have found this as its mission statement:

The Appeal of Conscience Foundation, founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier in 1965, has worked on behalf of religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. This interfaith coalition of business and religious leaders promotes peace, tolerance and ethnic conflict resolution. The Foundation believes that freedom, democracy and human rights are the fundamental values that give nations of the world their best hope for peace, security and shared prosperity.

Appeal of Conscience delegations have met with religious and government leaders in Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Bulgaria, People's Republic of China, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Cuba, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Holy See, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Morocco, Panama, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the former Yugoslavia. The Foundation also hosts delegations from abroad to acquaint them with the diversity of American religious life and its contribution to a civil society.

The Appeal of Conscience Foundation has long held that "a crime committed in the name of religion is the greatest crime against religion." The struggle for human rights is ongoing and tolerance can be achieved by promoting open dialogue and mutual understanding. After September 11th, the foundation has rallied religious leaders worldwide to take a stand against terrorism and to use their influence to halt violence and promote tolerance.

Note two things, Andy:

1) The Appeal of Conscience Foundation is NOT a Jewish organization. Look at word two, sentence two, paragraph one: "interfaith". It happens to have a Jewish leader, which is pretty logical since he's the guy who founded it.

2) The Appeal of Conscience Foundation is NOT a pro-Israeli organization. It is a pro-peace and tolerance and, especially, religious freedom organization. If you check some of the other sites you turn up through Google related to this group, you'll learn that the foundation has been spending most of its time on issues related to the former Yugoslavia (Schneier seems to have spent all his time betwenn 1993 and 1999 bringing ecumenical pressure, along with Catholic, Orthodox, and Muslim leaders, against the war), religious freedom in countries like China and Cuba, serious involvement with Romania, I'm not sure why, and its annual awards. Last year's World Statesman prize went to, of all people, Jean Chretien. If you're awarding a 2002 prize to antiwar and anti-American Chretien, you must be a real lackey to the Israeli lobby.

Also, I would suggest that Andy stay well away from Norman Finkelstein unless he would like to be tarred by association. My feeling is that since Andy cites Mr. Finkelstein approvingly, he's aready tarred. Anyway, all you need to know about Mr. Finkelstein is summed up in this interview with him from Counterpunch (of course). He indicts himself repeatedly in his own words. If you want some more info on him, there's plenty of it right here at a site maintained by David Irving. If that's not damning I don't know what is.

UPDATE: I watched the afternoon news on TV Catalunya, TV3, at 2:30 this afternoon and then went over to Television Espanola, TV1, at 3 PM. Both channels covered the story. Both referred to the Foundation as "ecumenical". TV3 did not mention the word "Jew", though they perfectly reasonably noted that the president of the organization and the presenter of the award was a rabbi. TV1 did mention the word "Jew", when they gave examples of how ecumenical the Foundation is--they pointed out there were Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim leaders in the organization, and they showed a guy who looked pretty Muslim to me up on the dais. (TV1 went so far as to give the Foundation a nice puff, saying that they were an important interfaith NGO that had worked for peace and freedom since 1965.) This gives the lie to Andy Robinson again, as he specifically stated that there were no Muslims in attendance at the banquet. He's either blind, stupid, or lying, none of which are qualities you want in a newspaper reporter (hey, I'm not dissing blind people here, there just ain't too many blind reporters. I don't see why a blind person couldn't be an editor. It sure seems like La Vanguardia's copyeditors are blind sometimes.)

I would suggest that Andy Robinson's usefulness as a La Vanguardia reporter has reached its expiration date, unless La Vanguardia likes being known as a newspaper which hires reporters that are at best just incompetent or, more likely, both incompetent and anti-Semitic, and which doesn't have editors with enough sense to just never publish crap such as Mr. Robinson's article today.

How can we believe anything this guy writes now that we know he's made such grievous errors in his reporting and that he considers Mr. Finkelstein a legitimate source?

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