Among the numerous anti-American and anti-Israel scribes polluting the Canadian media, few can match Eric Margolis–corresponding foreign editor for the Leftist tabloid the Toronto Sun–for vitriol, duplicity or twisting the facts.
Margolis’ most recent paean to Middle Eastern despots and Islamo-fascists appeared in the March 28 issue of Pat Buchanan’s paleoconservative magazine, The American Conservative. Margolis’ piece, titled “Syria in the Sights?” was notable for his trademark America and Israel-bashing rhetoric (which frequently echoes the “reporting” of Al-Jazeera) as well as for his shameless Syrian apologia. For instance, Margolis calls Lebanon a “creation of European colonialism” that was “detached” from “historic Syria” and credits Syria with bringing back order and stability to Lebanon. Given that Lebanon is currently locked in a struggle to free itself from years of Syrian occupation, Margolis’ justification of the Assad regime’s iron-fisted rule there is particularly repugnant.
But Margolis doesn’t stop there. In the same article, he characterizes Hamas and Islamic Jihad as “Palestinian resistance groups” whose sole objective is to resist Israeli occupation, not menace America. This despite the fact that Margolis is undoubtedly well aware that the stated goal of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad is the total destruction of Israel and its replacement with a radical Muslim theocracy. Under this genocidal scenario, Israeli Jews would be slaughtered and their survivors forced to live under the brutal rule of their new Islamist overlords.
Margolis’ claim that these two terrorist groups pose no threat to Americans is equally untenable. Terrorist attacks in Israel carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad have taken the lives of dozens of American citizens, both Jews and non-Jews. In addition, FBI agents have expressed concern that Hamas operatives in America currently have the capability to carry out terrorist attacks on American soil; in fact, an FBI affidavit filed last year warned that Al Qaeda has been enlisting Hamas members to conduct surveillance of American targets. Furthermore, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are thought to be behind the bombing of a U.S. diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip in October 2003 that murdered three American security guards.
Margolis’ whitewashing of Hamas and Islamic Jihad is par for the course. Consider the glowing tribute Margolis penned to arch-terrorist Yasir Arafat in the Toronto Sun after the dictator’s death. Sounding more like an Iranian government press release than a “respected” Western journalist, Margolis stated that Arafat “may have been murdered by an untraceable toxin brought to Israel from KGB’s Moscow labs.” In the same article, Margolis showered Arafat with hyperbolic praise, commending the arch-murderer for waging “a four-decade struggle to right the injustices his people have suffered.” According to Margolis, Yasser Arafat “met and overcame more daunting obstacles than any other modern leader.” Margolis wrote off the murderous terrorist attacks for which Arafat and his cronies were responsible as “the only way the weak can fight the strong” and once again accused Israel of “relentlessly oppress[ing]” the Palestinians. And in a stunning display of anti-Israel guile, Margolis even asserted that, “In spite of his tough talk, Arafat sought peace with Israel on numerous occasions.”
It’s common knowledge that had Israel really wanted to kill Arafat, it could have done so on numerous occasions. Moreover, it strains credibility that the Russian security establishment, a bastion of pro-Arab and anti-Western ideologues, would provide a toxin to Israel. Indeed, only an anti-Israel zealot like Eric Margolis could entertain the possibility that Russia’s security apparatus is made up of closet Zionists.
Margolis has also circulated rumors accusing Israel of manufacturing biological weapons that are specifically designed to attack the cells of victims with “distinctive Arab genes.” According to a November 1998 Margolis article, “Does Israel Have Smart Germs?” Israel was developing this hideous weapon in the Nes Ziona [sic] plant outside of Tel Aviv with the full compliance of “at least one of Israel’s world-renowned scientific Institutes.” Margolis reported that the “smart germs” were obtained by Israel from South Africa’s Afrikaner government, with additional biological warfare technology supplied by émigré Russian scientists. Margolis even called Israeli scientists “little Dr Mengeles.”
Another journalist would have been fired after publishing an article that even remotely resembled the abovementioned one. Margolis, on the other hand, was allowed to keep his lucrative editorial position while continuing to make other equally wild allegations.
For example, in a December 1998 column titled “Villains 1998,” he smeared former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “Class B Villain” and put him in the same category as Saddam Hussein and the oppressive Chinese communists. In the same column, Margolis accused Netanyahu of sabotaging the Middle East peace process and said that the “Israeli far right” was just as bad as the Hamas terrorists: “Israel’s far right is as much a threat as Hamas extremists and their human bombs.”
In the fall of 2000, at the outset of the Palestinian orgy of violence against Israel, Margolis characterized the fighting as “a giant prison riot by Palestinians” and claimed that a Palestinian boy and his father were “slowly” shot by Israeli soldiers. The boy (Mohammed Al-Durrah who was shot to death by Palestinian gunmen during a battle with Israeli soldiers) was then compared to a Jewish victim of the Holocaust. Margolis also berated the Israelis for not ceding Jerusalem–Israel’s rightful capital and Judaism’s spiritual center–to Arafat and his thugs and for not allowing the descendants of millions of Palestinian “refugees” (according to Margolis “1.1 million Palestinians were driven from their homes and land [by Israel]”) to flood the Jewish state. Margolis thinks that this Israeli refusal to commit national suicide was the cause of the Second Intifada. He warns that “there will be no lasting regional peace until millions of Palestinian refugees are somehow made whole and convinced they have a future.” In other words, Margolis is saying that until Israel allows itself to be flooded with a huge amount of hostile foreigners, there is no chance for peace in the Middle East.
Margolis’ view of the current situation in the Middle East reflects his equally warped and biased view of the region’s history. He claimed in his May 22, 1999, column “Light at the End of the Middle East Tunnel?” that Arab countries invaded Israel in 1948 in response to “Israeli ethnic cleansing” and “a few, selective massacres” of the Palestinian Arabs. This is historical revisionism in its lowest and most disgusting form.
Margolis’ Islamist-coddling mindset is further evidenced in the choice of people he nominated as “the century’s greatest heroes” in a January 2, 2000, Toronto Sun column. Ayatollah Khomeini and Gamal Abdel Nasser—brutal dictators who were responsible for starting numerous wars, giving support and cover to dozens of terrorist groups and leaving thousands of corpses in their wake—were characterized as “heroes” by Margolis.
He wrote that Khomeini possessed “enormous moral stature” and praised the savage theocrat for inspiring “Islamic revolutionaries” and showing the world that “ideas and faith were more powerful than police states.” And according to Margolis, Gamal Abdel Nasser, a corrupt, aggressive, and wicked Nazi-sympathizer, was a “titan among Middle East leaders” who instilled a sense of “pride and manhood” in the Arabs.
Libyan tyrant Muammar Qaddafi has also been the object of Margolis’ empathy. In a 2001 column, Margolis bragged about visiting Qaddafi and having lunch with one of his chief henchmen, the terror master Abdullah Senoussi, who Margolis described as a “charming and intelligent man.” Margolis has claimed that Qaddafi was brought to power by the United States (“The Americans had elbowed out of oil-rich Libya in 1969 and put a Bedouin officer, Col. Qadafii [sic] in power.”) and that Libyan terrorist attacks, like 1986 bombing of a Berlin discotheque, were in reality perpetrated by the Israelis in order to discredit Qaddafi (“...Israel decided to mount a false-flag operation to further discredit Libya and, provoke the U.S. to attack an Arab nation.”)
Margolis argues that Israeli agents have planted a transmitter with fake pre-recorded messages in Tripoli, Libya, that gave false information about “Libyan-authored bombings and planned attacks” to U.S. intelligence. According to Margolis, the hideous bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie in which almost two hundred people perished was either perpetrated by the Iranians (as was suggested by Margolis’ friend Senoussi, who said it was Iran’s “revenge for the downing of an Iranian civilian airliner by the U.S. cruiser ‘Vincennes’”) or was righteous revenge for the “illegal” bombing of Libya by the United States in 1986. In Margolis’ eyes, Qaddafi and his regime are innocent victims of Israeli guile and American aggression and America has “lots of embarrassing skeletons in their Libyan closet they’d prefer to keep hidden.”
As any reading of his work makes clear, Margolis is willing to go to great lengths to issue apologies for Islamist terrorism. In late 1999, Margolis called on the West to join the cause of Chechen separatism and to demand that Russia “set free the peoples of the Caucasus.” One of his recent articles, titled “What about Freedom for Chechnya?” offered a strikingly sanitized account of the Russian-Chechen conflict. Margolis asserted that Russian military forces were perpetrating “some of the world’s vilest atrocities and violations of human rights” in Chechnya. He also claimed that “Russian forces have killed from 125,000 to 200,000 Chechen civilians and fighters, razed cities and villages, and committed wide-scale murder, rape, pillage, and hostage-taking.”
Margolis neglected to mention that while Russian forces in Chechnya are certainly responsible for brutalizing and killing Chechen civilians, Chechen terrorists are responsible for far bigger and bloodier acts of violence and terror, such as the takeover of Moscow’s Dubrovka theater and the horrific massacre at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia that shocked the world. This is not to mention the numerous Chechen-perpetrated subway, airplane, market, and apartment building bombings that left hundreds of dead and wounded.
But rather than condemn the Chechen terrorists who are responsible for some of the biggest atrocities of the 1990s, Margolis is one of their most vehement defenders, which is hardly surprising given his background. He is affiliated with the Institute for Regional Studies (Islamabad, Pakistan)–a barely existent “think tank” that is a front group for the Musharraf regime. Margolis also has considerable links to Afghani Islamists. Worse, Margolis has referred to the vehemently anti-American Afghani warlord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar—an ally of both the Iranians and Al Qaeda—“my old acquaintance.” In fact, Margolis was so vehement in the defense of Hekmatyar that he even accused the Bush administration of behaving “like Murder Inc.” in Afghanistan in an article that was published on May 13, 2002.
When he isn’t whitewashing atrocities committed by terrorists, Margolis is attributing them to those he dislikes. His accounts of Serb “atrocities” are a case in point. In a January 1999 article, for instance, Margolis made the malicious claim that “to mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Serb paramilitary police slaughtered 45 elderly Albanian Muslims [sic] villagers, in Kosovo, even taking the time to mutilate the bodies and gouge out eyes.” There’s one major problem with Margolis’ sensationalist account: no such “atrocity” took place, as evidenced by its conspicuous absence from official inquiries into the conflict in Kosovo.
Indeed, Margolis’ articles during the bombing of Yugoslavia were one long explosion of Serbophobic rage. He accused the Serbs of every imaginable atrocity and even called them “Europe’s New Nazis.” (the title of his March 28, 1999, article). He accused the Serbian Diaspora “from Macedonia to Toronto” of being puppets of the Milosevic regime and called for a Croatian attack on north Yugoslavia. Margolis also compared the Serbs to SS soldiers who were leading Jews from the “burning ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto” and accused Serbia of conducting “industrialized atrocities”–a clear and typically inappropriate reference to the Holocaust–and perpetrating a “second coming of Nazism.”
Predictably, given Margolis’ frequent verbal bouquets to Islamists, the Bush administration is another target of his vitriol. Margolis has praised Michael Moore for doing a “smashing job” of exposing the “fear-mongering of the Bush administration that terrorized unworldly Americans.” Margolis even concluded a July 2004 column by commending the America-hating filmmaker for bringing “bright light into the propaganda darkness.”
Margolis—writing from the cozy, socialist environs of the Great White North—has managed to become a darling of both the far Left and far Right by viciously attacking Israel and U.S. foreign policy and apologizing for Islamo-fascists. Yet, as the media watchdog group Honest Reporting Canada has stated, “Margolis stands out among his colleagues by presenting outlandish conspiracy theories that have no basis in reality.” At the very least, his troubling track record of sensationalism, factual inaccuracies and open support for our Islamist enemies should serve to place Margolis on the fringes of political discourse. Then again, since he’s primarily published in the Toronto Sun, one could say he’s already there.
Contact Eugene Girin at firstname.lastname@example.org.