The Keene Sentinel Repeatedly Publishes Opinion Columns Defaming Israel and Jews
When residents of southern New Hampshire open their local newspaper, The Keene Sentinel, not infrequently they find letters or columns written by conspiracy cranks alleging such things as Mossad involvement in the 9-11-2001 attack on the World Trade Center, Israeli army involvement in illegal organ trafficking, or a nefarious Jewish influence on American foreign policy.
A frequent contributor to this thinly veiled anti-Jewish vitriol is former Keene State history professor, James Smart, who alleges conspiracies implicating Israel and its Jewish-American supporters. Smart denies he is anti-Semitic, although in publications that routinely publish anti-Israel and anti-Semitic stories like Veterans Today and Veterans News Now (despite their names, neither is associated with the Armed Forces), he has written of the “Zionist controlled American media” and defamed Jewish Americans in public service as disloyal Americans working for the benefit of Israel and not the United States. That the former history professor would not hesitate to cast aspersions on the patriotism of Jewish Americans, who count among their numbers hundreds of thousands of war veterans, is offensive; that a newspaper which traces its roots back to the early days of the American republic would lend its prestige to spreading such malice is irresponsible.
As is routinely the case among hoax disseminators, Bostrom offered lots of innuendo, but few specifics that could be independently verified. He did, however, allege that organs were taken from a young man named Bilal Ghanem, who had been shot and killed by the Israelis in a confrontation. CAMERA inquired into the incident with noted Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who looked into the matter. Abu Toameh spoke with the family of Bilal Ghanem and found no one who knew anything about the allegation made by Bostrom. Abu Toameh wrote in the Jerusalem Post,
“The mother [Sadeeka Ghanem] denied that she had told any foreign journalist that her son’s organs had been stolen…Ibrahim Ghanem, a relative of Bilal, said that the family never told the Swedish photographer that Israel had stolen organs from the dead man’s body.”
Three years later on November 14, 2012, the Sentinel published Smart’s enthusiastic review of a book by “investigative reporter” Christopher Bollyn alleging that the 9-11-2001 attacks were an “Israeli false-flag” operation.
Recounting Bollyn’s claim that five Israeli Mossad agents were arrested after being seen celebrating the event, Smart wrote,
… two hours before the first plane hit, the Mossad-owned messaging system, called “Odigo,” advised its subscribers of the attack “to the precise minute.”
“My hypothesis,” Bollyn writes, is “that 9/11 was an act of false-flag terrorism carried out by Israeli military intelligence and Zionist fifth columnists. Israeli nationals or dedicated Zionist (can be found) at every key point of the 9/11 matrix.”
In the wake of the extensive revelations of the Al-Qaeda plot, stories of “Mossad” or “Zionist” involvement could be dismissed as the ruminations of minds with an unhealthy fixation on Jews. Such spurious conspiracy stories often reveal a common deceptive technique involving the insertion of subtle alterations into the story, which opens the door to wild speculation. Regarding the story of the five Israelis, for example, it is frequently alleged that they had set up the camera before the attack, raising suspicion of forehand knowledge. But there was no credible evidence to support this contention. Rather, like many others watch
ing events unfold from the New Jersey side of the river after hearing the news, the young Israelis decided to film what was happening.
On August 1, 2013, The Sentinel published another Smart column “We must look inward for the truth” reviewing another 9-11 conspiracy book, “Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11,” by Elias Davidsson. Again Smart held up unsubstantiated threads and anecdotes as firm evidence, while brushing past the preponderance of evidence and solid science that render such theories as absurd fantasies. Smart arrived at his pre-determined conclusion:
It is, however, further evidence to begin to treat 9/11 as a false flag operation — likely planned by dark forces in our secret agencies working with counterparts in the Mossad — and not as an attack by bin Laden and al-Qaida.
Smart is obsessed with alleged Jewish malfeasance. On July 24, 2012, after former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir passed away at the age of 96, the Sentinel published Smart’s mean-spirited denunciation of Shamir as a bloodthirsty killer who had succeeded in “converting” Israel to his ways. One can debate Shamir’s activities in the Jewish underground in the context of the Holocaust occurring in Europe and calls throughout the Arab world to slaughter Palestine’s Jews. But Smart’s depiction of Shamir as a blood-lusting villain recalls classic anti-Semitic imagery. Not surprisingly, Smart played fast and loose with the facts.
He claimed, for example, that an attack by Jewish forces on the Arab town of Deir Yassin in 1948 resulted in “Three-hundred were murdered including 30 infants.” In fact, the events of Deir Yassin involved a battle and its aftermath. A study by Palestinian Bir Zeit University arrived at the figure of 107 Arab casualties, mostly men, many of whom were combatants. Ironically, in his radio interview on Empire Watch, Smart held up his new figures as an example of his willingness to correct mistakes. He originally claimed thousands had been massacred.
He condemned Israel for “assassinating two Iranian scientists” while favorably contrasting Iran’s nuclear program with that of Israel’s alleged program. He wrote,
“Iran has a good record for telling the truth in this regard. Israel’s good record is in exaggerating the threats to itself.”
Smart defies worldwide consensus over Iran’s deceit in concealing its nuclear weapons program, its denial of the Holocaust and repeated threats to wipe Israel out.
Smart cast Israel as the aggressor and blamed it for failing to make peace with the Arabs in a Sentinel piece on Oct. 2, 2011. In his telling, the Arab League proposed a peace plan; Israel responded by invading the West Bank city of Jenin. The Quartet then proposed a Road Map; Israel undermined it and then bombed Lebanon and Gaza.
The former history professor omitted some important historical fact. Each Israeli military operation was a direct response to terrorist attacks on Israel. One only need have read newspapers or watched televised news at the time to have known the sequence of events.
• The Israeli operation in Jenin in April 2002 struck a terrorist stronghold responsible for a series of suicide bombings in Israel in the preceding weeks.
• Israel’s operation in South Lebanon in July-August 2006 was an immediate response to simultaneous rocket attacks on Israeli towns and a cross-border raid by Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah was more forthright than Smart when he admitted that had he known the Israeli response he would not have ordered the attack.
• Israel’s operation against Hamas in Gaza on December 27, 2008 followed escalating rocket attacks onto Israeli towns.
In another letter on September 12, 2007, Smart claims the Bush administration’s war in Iraq was to “please the Israeli lobby.” In fact, Israeli leaders advised the Bush administration against going to war in Iraq because they believed such a war would divert American attention away from their principal adversary, Iran. Smart also bizarrely blamed the war in Afghanistan on the “Israeli lobby.” In reality, Afghanistan is a thousand miles from Israel and has never been an adversary of the Jewish state.