The United Nations is an infamous hotbed of antisemitism and disinformation. Sometimes, as is the case with an October 2nd article by Barbara Crossette, that antisemitism and disinformation extends to those journalists who cover the UN.
Barbara Crossette is the UN correspondent for The Nation, having previously served as the New York Times bureau chief at the UN. She also happens to be the senior consulting editor for PassBlue a specialized news outlet focused on the United Nations, typically read by UN staff, foreign affairs specialists, diplomats, and academics.
The article at issue was published at PassBlue, perhaps suggesting it was too offensive and inaccurate even for The Nation, known for its “Palestine correspondent,” the notoriously antisemitic Mohammed El-Kurd.
Crossette’s story focuses on the canceling of an event in Germany that was meant to honor Navi Pillay, chair of a highly controversial UN commission of inquiry targeting Israel. The article works to cast Pillay as a victim of a devious Israeli machinations, and in doing so, Crossette combines classic conspiracy theories about Jews with blatant disinformation.
Start with the open antisemitism. Crossette’s piece claims the event was canceled because of “an Israeli campaign.” That “Israel lobbying campaign” began, according to Crossette, “with an article in the pro-Israeli German tabloid Bild.” The Bild article in question was authored by Filipp Piatov, a German Jew and head of opinion at Bild. No evidence is proffered to suggest that Piatov was acting at the direction of the State of Israel.
Labeling an opinion article by a German Jew as part of an “Israel lobbying campaign” is a straightforward example of the dual loyalty trope. It is to suggest that when a Jewish person of any nationality has an opinion favorable to Israel, they must be acting as agents of the State of Israel.
Crossette then goes on to conceal the antisemitism of Pillay and her fellow commissioner, Miloon Kothari.
Crossette claims Pillay has been “accused by the Israelis, without evidence, of being part of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement (BDS).”
Without evidence? Pillay has openly signed on to BDS statements. Here she is on video expressing her support for the BDS movement. This has all been repeatedly and publicly documented by the most prominent critics of Pillay, Anne Bayefsky and UN Watch, including in a letter calling on Pillay to resign. As documented by another report from 21 non-governmental organizations, Pillay also called the UN’s blacklist of Israeli companies “a huge victory.”
Either Crossette didn’t bother to look, which would cast serious doubt as to her professionalism as a journalist, or she intentionally lied to her audience.
Crossette deceives her audience elsewhere, too, in ways that suggest she is knowingly trying to hide information. This is how she describes the controversy surrounding remarks made by Pillay’s fellow commissioner, Miloon Kothari, in July:
“‘I would go as far as to raise the question of why [Israel is] even a member of the United Nations . . . the Israeli government does not respect its own obligations as a UN member state [because] they, in fact, consistently, either directly or through the United States, try to undermine UN mechanisms.’ He referred to a ‘Jewish lobby’ and unspecified nongovernmental organizations as overseers of pro-Israeli views.” (Emphasis added)
Kothari didn’t refer to the “Jewish lobby” as “overseers of pro-Israeli views.” He accused the “Jewish lobby” of controlling social media. His exact words:
“And also, I think that it’s not only governments, but we are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by whether it’s the Jewish Lobby or it’s the specific NGOs. A lot of money is being thrown in to trying to discredit us.”
Crossette’s description is a blatant lie, one that hides the fact that Kothari openly promoted classic antisemitic conspiracy theories of the “monied Jew” controlling the levers of power. As another UN expert once explained, “[a]ssertions that Jews…constitute a ‘powerful, global cabal’ that manipulates governments, the media, banks, the entertainment industry and other institutions for malevolent purposes, are also expressions of antisemitic attitudes.”
She also describes Kothari’s remarks as “harsh remarks about Israel,” apparently conflating the “Jewish lobby” (whatever that is supposed to be) with the State of Israel, suggesting again a belief on her part in the dual loyalty trope, that she views Jews and Israel as one in the same.
There’s no way to describe Crossette’s revision of the nature of Kothari’s remarks as anything other than a blatant attempt at covering up antisemitism.
Other bizarre statements are peppered throughout the article, too. She claims the UN Human Rights Council (“HRC”), which created Pillay’s commission of inquiry, is “not…an integral part of the UN organization” and was created as an “independent body.”
The HRC was explicitly created as a “subsidiary organ of the [UN] General Assembly.” Its members are elected by the General Assembly, and it is mandated to report to the General Assembly. In what way is the HRC independent? One begins to wonder if The Nation’s UN correspondent understands what she’s supposed to be covering.
Crossette’s piece is a rather shocking example of antisemitism and disinformation in the media. Still, PassBlue chose to publish the hateful, inaccurate drivel, creating an antisemitic echo chamber of UN actors and UN correspondents.
Once you boil away the antisemitism and false claims, Crossette’s article comes down to the fact that a Jewish opinion editor and an Israeli ambassador separately expressed opposition to a bigot being honored with an award, and the only conclusion Crossette can find is that there is an “Israel lobbying campaign,” instead of two Jews having an understandable problem with antisemites being honored in Germany in 2022.