Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden and their ilk carry on like the motivation of their campaign against government snooping is the ideal of privacy and individual rights. But the longer things go on the more it seems that is, among other things, a cover for hostility to Israel.
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What else is one to make of the fact that Assange’s father, John Shipton, fetched up last month at Damascus and met with Bashar Assad on a “solidarity mission.” Newspaper reports say he was on an official delegation of the latest newcomer to Australian politics, the “WikiLeaks Party,” which, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, is preparing to open an office in the Syrian capital.
“Pretty eccentric” is the phrase Australia’s premier, Tony Abbott, a member of the Liberal Party, uses to describe how Australians consider the WikiLeaks group. According to The Australian newspaper, Abbot called the WikiLeaks mission to Damascus “an extraordinary error of judgment.” That’s putting it charitably — particularly given what the WikiLeaks party claims it stands for.
That, according to the WikiLeaks party’s own website, is “civic courage nourished by understanding and truthfulness and the free flow of information.” The party boasts it will do “what WikiLeaks has done in the field of information by standing up to the powerful and shining a light on injustice and corruption.”
So what in the world is it doing sending a solidarity mission to Syria? The Assad regime runs one of the most closed, dictatorial, and corrupt societies in the world. The idea of a Fourth Amendment or First Amendment, to which Julian Assange and his defenders are always feigning fealty, would be laughable.
Then again, Syria is one of the countries most hostile to Israel and the Jews (only about 50 Jews remain in the country, the rest having emigrated or been killed or expelled). The WikiLeaks Party website is filled with the most lurid propaganda against Israel and in favor of the Palestinian Arabs.
Glenn Greenwald, who has collaborated with Edward Snowden worked in distributing the stolen NSA documents, has been in the news promising more disclosures about Israel. The NSA leaks so far have disclosed that America monitored some email accounts of some top Israeli officials (that seemed to surprise no one).
In an interview with Israeli television, Greenwald was being coy about what else he has in the pipeline. But he has his own long track record of hostility to the Zionist cause. After Israel stopped a protest ship attempting to run the blockade of Gaza, Greenwald, in an interview with Eliot Spitzer (of all people) went on tirade in defense of the Hamas rule in Gaza.
Greenwald launched his tirade when he was asked whether Hamas are terrorists: “Hamas is the democratically elected leadership in Gaza,” he claimed. Later he called Hamas the “democratically elected government of the Gaza strip” and justified his views by asserting, “The entire world outside of the United States is condemning Israel.”
Here in New York, Tablet Magazine covered the contretemps under the headline “Glenn Greenwald’s Sick Brew of NSA Leaks and Anti-Israel Hysteria.” It described Greenwald’s worldview as a “bizarre ideology” that “sees America and Israel in active cahoots to destroy the freedoms of the entire world.” Whatever one can say about Snowden, he had to have comprehended to whom he was going to when he famously chose Greenwald to publish the NSA documents.
No one suggests that animus toward Israel is the only, or even, primary motive of the global campaign against the NSA and the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act. Just this week, two members of the Intelligence Committee in the House offered Americans a glimpse of a new report finding that the vast sweep of metadata was but a part of what Snowden exposed.
“Most of the stolen documents concern and potentially compromise ongoing military operations,” is the way the Wall Street Journal, in an important editorial, summarized the finding.
The solidarity mission to Syria of Julian Assange’s father, though, does underscore the anti-Zionism that eddies through this whole campaign. Snowden himself was recently reported to have lodged a request for asylum in Brazil, the same country from which Greenwald operates. Whether Brazil will take Snowden in isn’t yet clear. But if it gives him a cold shoulder, there’s always Syria. Maybe he could get a job working there in the office of the WikiLeaks Party.
The writer is editor of The New York Sun. He was a foreign editor and a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, founding editor of The Forward and editor from 1990 to 2000.