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False news: a prior Muslim controversy involving Jyllands-Posten

Social Democracy Now | 11.02.2006 14:40 | Analysis | Anti-racism | Repression

A little-known story from 2002 helps fill in some to the background to the current Danish cartoons controversy

The right-wing Jyllands-Posten, the paper at the centre of the Danish cartoons affair, is an organ with a somewhat unsavoury past. Not only was it a forthright supporter of fascism during the interwar period, actually calling for the imposition of a dictatorship in Denmark in 1933, it is one of the main organs in an increasingly irrational Denmark for the dissemination of Islamophobia.
That the furore over caricatures of Mohammed centres on Jyllands-Posten (by the way, the name means 'The Jutland Post') is no accident. There is evidence that, unbeknownst to the English-speaking world, the paper has been engaged in cranking up the 'clash of civilizations' for some years now. What's more, the impunity with which it has been allowed to do so is tantamount to proof that Denmark, at least in matters of the mind, is now Zionist-controlled territory.
Back on August 11, 2002, Jyllands-Posten published a story written by a contracted freelancer, Stig Matthiesen, claiming that a militant Muslim group had launched an 'intifada' against Denmark by announcing a few days earlier that it would offer a 250,000 Danish kroner bounty for the murder of several prominent Danish Jews. A Danish blogger who read the story - which appears to have been pulled from Jyllands-Posten's website - points out that Matthiesen neither revealed his sources, nor the names of any of the individuals allegedly threatened by this unnamed Muslim organization. (SOURCE)
To my knowledge, this story was scarcely noticed outside Denmark; it appeared in English only in a single version, "Islamic group in Denmark targets Jewish leaders" by Nina Gilbert, which ran on page 3 of the Jerusalem Post on August 20, 2002. (SOURCE)
In this report, Gilbert stated that an extremist Islamic group thought to be Hizb-Ut-Tahrir (HT, 'the Islamic Party of Liberation'), had created a hit list of 15 prominent Danish Jews, including Rabbi Bent Melchior, a leading Danish rabbi and father of Israel's then Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior, and Oslo accords-architect Dr. Ron Pundak, Director-General of the Peres Center for Peace in Israel, who is son of Herbert Pundak, a former chief editor of the Danish daily newspaper Politiken, a paper which is politically at the other end of the spectrum from Jyllands-Posten.
The Jerusalem Post is a leading Israeli propaganda sheet whose board of directors includes the neocon pope, Daniel Pipes. It is no surprise, therefore, that Pipes helped insinuate this story in the American media, using it as the departure point for an article he co-wrote with a Danish anti-Muslim crusader Lars Hedegaard on Danish-Muslim tensions that was published in the New York Post on August 27, 2002. (SOURCE)
In an effort to find out more about this overlooked story, which would help fill in some of the background to Jyllands-Posten's role in the Prophet Muhammed cartoons affair, I emailed Nina Gilbert, and, while she proved reluctant to talk about the story in any detail (sign of a guilty conscience?), she revealed that her source had been Michael Melchior, not the original Danish publication. What's more, when I pressed her on the content of the story, she stated that she has no doubt that the story is true, because Melchior is a credible source.
Ms. Gilbert's response has certainly opened my eyes to the way the Zionist media machine works. She did not bother to obtain a copy of the original Jyllands-Posten story and made no independent effort to verify the information contained in it before writing her own report. Nor did she ask herself any questions about the inherent implausibility of the story. It was apparently enough for her that Michael Melchior had told her about it.
Whether Michael Melchior is a credible source is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps to an Israeli reporter, Israel's deputy foreign minister is a credible source, but for those of us with no respect for the Zionist regime something called evidence is required. At the very least, the story ought to have been evaluated in terms of its overall plausibility.
So let's ask the difficult questions that Nina Gilbert never saw fit to ask. The one circumstance in the story's favour is that HT, the Islamist group Gilbert implicates in the story, actually exists - indeed, it is an international organization with a reasonably large membership. Its aim is the restoration of the Islamic caliphate, a programme which is treated by most commentators as so incredibly radical that it's insane, but is really no more radical than the project for the restoration of the Jews to Palestine that was started by English Christian Zionists like Lord Shaftesbury back in the 1840s.
HT's Danish branch got into trouble after handing out leaflets on the streets of Copenhagen in March and April 2002 in which a verse from the Koran was cited in such a way that it could be construed as a call to kill Jews. (SOURCE)
By August 2002, Danish HT was embroiled in legal action over the leaflets and it is highly doubtful that it would have risked even greater unpopularity and perhaps also a total ban by launching an assassination campaign. There is, in fact, no evidence that HT or any other Danish Islamist organization issued death threats at this time.
Its vagueness is only the first problem of the story. It's also highly implausible. Matthiessen claimed that he had learned about the list through obscure 'Muslim connections.' The very idea that a radical Islamist group would prepare a 'hit list' that would just happen to get passed on to the most virulently anti-Muslim newspaper in the country is so preposterous that it is sufficient in itself to prove that the story was a hoax. After all, if they were convinced that there was a real threat, these mysterious 'Muslim connections' would have gone to the police rather than to a journalist. You'd only go to a journalist if your priority was to publicize the threat not prevent the commission of a crime.
Isn't it odd, moreover, that Matthiessen's 'Muslim connections' were in a position to convince him that a Muslim group had prepared a hit list against Danish Jews but unable to tell him exactly which organization they were referring to? For if they had identified the group by name, and he was convinced that their story was true, he had no reason to withhold the information from Jyllands-Posten's readers. It looks like the paper's readers were simply meant to assume that HT was the organization being referred to on account of the ongoing legal action over the controversial leaflets. In other words, this was a case of the manipulation of the public mind through innuendo.
For the record, HT denies the allegations to this day. HT's London office informed me this week, 'Hizb ut-Tahrir has never called for assassinations nor has it ever issued any hit lists. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party which ... does not adopt violence as part of its work. The reason why did not find anything on the internet about it [i.e., HT's reaction to the story], is simply because it is totally unfounded.'
However, what interests me is less what HT has to say about the matter now than the fact that there is no indication that back in August 2002 anybody even tried asking HT for its response to the story. A working assumption of the journalistic profession these days seems to be that you can accuse Muslim groups of absolutely anything you like and there's no obligation to provide them with the slightest opportunity to give their side of the story. You don't want to give the public the impression that there could be two sides to an anti-Muslim story now, do you?
As I implied above, no one involved in diffusing the story seems to have been concerned by its inherent implausibility. If Melchior was telling Nina Gilbert the truth when he told her that his father's name and that of Dr Ron Pundak were on the HT hit list, HT's choice of targets is unlikely in the extreme. Of the 15 Danish Jews allegedly featuring on the list, the names of only two have ever been made public, those of Melchior and Pundak. Since none of the other 13 names were ever made public, they might as well not have been on it at all; so for all practical purposes the list was directed at just two people.
But why Melchior and Pundak? According to Gilbert, the pair attracted attention 'when they joined forces to raise money for Palestinians.' This is a reference to a campaign launched by Dr. Pundak's father Herbert 'to support the purchase of a new ambulance for the Palestinian Red Crescent ... and support an organization known as Tayoush ... which is supplying equipment and support for Palestinian communities.' Pundak senior said that his aim was to 'do something to activate readers in support of Palestinian civil society after Jenin.' (SOURCE)
It is obviously straining credibility that the only two names on the HT hit list that were ever made public just happened to be those of Jews involved in an apparently sincere effort to help relieve the suffering of Israel's Palestinian community. But no Islamist group would target sympathetic Jews like the Pundaks, nor would a Danish Islamist group then undergoing legal action over another matter court additional negative publicity by threatening two of Denmark's most well-regarded liberal Jews with assassination. This would be sufficient not only to get the organization banned, but would also lead to the expulsion from the country of all members of the group involved in making the threats. I tend to suspect, therefore, that we are looking at an attempt to intimidate these two prominent pro-peace Jews.
It's not hard to find out who really hates Melchior and Pundak, and it's not Islamists - it's fanatical Zionists. The news that these two prominent Danish Jews were doing something to help Palestinians was greeted with considerable vitriol by many on the Zionist far right, which absolutely loathes the Peres Center for Peace, the Pundaks, and anyone even vaguely interested in giving peace a chance in the Middle East. Indeed, a Zionist hate site has placed both Pundaks, father and son, on its so-called 'SHITLIST' of alleged 'self-hating' and/or Israel-threatening' Jews. It scarcely seems a coincidence, therefore, that not too long after this particular website published it, Dr Pundak graduated from the 'shitlist' to a 'hit list.' (SOURCE)
BELOW: Dr Pundak's entry on the Masada SHITLIST.

My conclusion is that Jyllands-Posten wanted to implicate HT, perhaps as a means of pressing the Danish government to ban it outright, but was shrewd enough to do so in a way that spared it the risk of receiving a libel suit from HT. Jyllands-Posten therefore published a deliberately vague version of the story, leaving the details to be filled in later by a gullible hack at the Jerusalem Post.
I strongly doubt that Melchior and Pundak failed to discern the real message that Zionist extremists were sending them: raise money for Israel, not Palestine. If you persist in fundraising activities on behalf of Palestinian causes, you are gambling with your lives. Masada's SHITLIST - which implies that 'shitty' Jews deserve to be eliminated - is a far more real threat to pro-peace Jews like Melchior and Pundak than a thousand hit lists conjured up by Jyllands-Posten.
This story therefore tells us more about the modus operandi of radical Zionism than that of radical Islam. Its real point was to convey coded death threats to pro-Palestinian Danish Jews while making it look to the Danish public like Islamists are so fanatical that they even target Jews who want peace. Never go after one target when there's an opportunity to hit two at the same time!
One of the striking features of the Matthiessen affair is the way media organizations closed ranks to forestall the exposure of his tawdry little hoax. Despite some six interviews with the Danish Police Intelligence Unit (PET), he adamantly refused to divulge the sources for his improbable revelations. PET then began secretly tapping his phone and launched legal proceedings in an effort to learn what he was refusing to disclose voluntarily.
When PET's activities were revealed in late August 2002, a minor furore erupted within the media establishment, which passionately insisted on a journalist's right to protect the confidentiality of his sources. On August 28, 2002 Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters without Borders (RSF), wrote a letter of protest to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. 'The significance of this development cannot be understated,' he declared pompously. 'Denmark, which was formerly the most liberal European country in matters of the press, is now having recourse to the worst methods to force a journalist to reveal his sources: telephone tapping, intimidation and the threat of a prison sentence.' Ménard urged the prime minister to intervene to stop such forms of pressure and restore respect for the confidentiality of journalistic sources, 'the only guarantee of independent investigative journalism.' (SOURCE)
BELOW: Neocon whore Robert Ménard, who recently admitted that RSF is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the vehicle created by the Reagan administration in the 1980s for overthrowing governments the U.S. doesn't like. (SOURCE)

Although an enormous abyss yawns between 'independent investigative journalism' and the deliberate planting of a hoax, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) took the same line: 'This action by the police is not only an abuse of power, but it reflects the contempt that some senior officers have for the rights of journalists and media,' said the IFJ's General Secretary, Aidan White. (SOURCE)
Ditto for the Danish media magazine Journalisten ('The Journalist') in articles on the episode written by Annelise Mølvig and Mette Gert. Ditto for the Danish communist party paper, Kommunistisk Politik, which got so hot and bothered about the threat to Matthiessen's freedom to tell lies than that it was oblivious to the likelihood that he was refusing to divulge his sources because he didn't have any. (SOURCE)
In the end, therefore, the furore over police pressure on the violations of Matthiessen's journalistic rights completely overshadowed 1) the public's right to know whether any Danish Islamic group really had a hit list of Danish Jews, a piece of information which would possess considerable importance in the context of the often tense relations between Denmark's majority whites and its Muslim minorities, and 2) the police's right to know whether there was verifiable information behind the story that would have obliged it to take action to protect the persons on the list and to punish those making death threats.
Predictably, given the sanctimonious, self-aggrandizing verbal diarrhoea emanating from the media lobby, the High Court in Copenhagen handed neocon faux journalism a victory over the PET on September 12, 2002, relieving Matthiessen of all obligation to reveal his sources. And so a mighty blow was struck for the Freedom of the Press that surely set a precedent for the recent abuses in relation to the Prophet Muhammed cartoons affair.
The victory of Big Media in that Danish courtroom meant nothing less than the defeat of the public interest, which it seems no one in Denmark believes in defending any more. To be sure, the public interest is advanced by the existence of a free press. But what the public interest requires is that the press be free to tell the truth, not free to tell lies. As a result of their arrogant, absolute, automatic belief in journalists' privileges - in other words, their privileges - groups like RSF and IFJ effectively colluded to prevent Matthiessen's hoax from unravelling.
If Matthiessen had been forced to divulge his sources - and, perhaps, in the end he would have admitted having made the whole thing up - the cause of the truth would have been advanced and the discussion of the Muslim question in Denmark would have emerged on a sturdier footing. But instead, the image of Danish Muslims was unnecessarily tarnished and the Danish journalistic establishment emerged with carte blanche to publish most anything it likes. We can be sure that the future of Danish journalism will see the publication of more and more stories with no verifiable basis, a trend which is well advanced in the United States where newspapers like the New York Times routinely deceive the American public in order to foster compliance to U.S. government objectives.
By way of conclusion, it's necessary to point out that the above argument does not depend on this author's conviction that Matthiessen's story was bogus. Jyllands-Posten has actually admitted that it does not know whether the story was true or not. 'The newspaper says it would have contacted the police if it had "concrete evidence that could have hindered a serious crime," and added that it wasn't even certain whether such a list actually exists.' (SOURCE)
The paper's admission that it had never properly checked out Matthiessen's story - which was overlooked by virtually everybody in the rush to defend the author's journalistic rights - effectively brought to an end a sordid neocon intrigue which saw a mere abstraction elevated so high that it lost all touch with the public interest. In Canada, Matthiessen and Jyllands-Postens would probably have ended up being charged under section 181 of the Criminal Code which forbids spreading 'false news.' In Denmark today, it seems, publishing false news is now a fundamental right. So long as it's false news that casts Muslims in a bad light, of course.

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