Exploiting Norway’s Terror

Mr. and Mrs. Sikorski’s War on “Dangerous Emotions”

By Maidhc Ó Cathail
August 29, 2011

In the wake of any major terrorist event, it’s generally worth noting who is especially quick off the mark to exploit the tragedy.

Within hours of planes striking the World Trade Center on 9/11, the then former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak was in the BBC’s London studios calling for a “war on terror” against “rogue states” which just happened to be enemies of Israel (none of whose agents, unlike Israel’s, were seen filming and celebrating as the twin towers collapsed into their own footprint). And two years ago, soon after ICTS International, an Israeli security firm established by former intelligence officers, allowed a young Nigerian without a passport to “slip through” Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to board Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, the son of a suspected Mossad operative, was on CNN touting one of his client’s full-body scanners as the answer to America’s airline security problems.

In the case of the July 22 twin terror attacks in Oslo and on Utøya Island, however, some of Israel’s more provocative propagandists appear to have been wrong-footed by Anders Behring Breivik’s apparent admiration for their Islamophobic rants. While the likes of Bat Ye’or, Daniel Pipes and Pamela Geller were seen scrambling to distance themselves from Breivik, Norway’s massacre has indeed been seized upon by others with their own, albeit less transparent, ties to the Jewish state.

During visits to two European capitals over the following week, Poland’s staunchly pro-Israel foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, appeared to be particularly exercised by the tragedy. While in London for discussions about the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the EU’s Eastern European policy, Sikorski took a swipe at some of his critics in Poland, where he claimed “there is no lack of people who think like Behring Breivik, a man who shot at his own people in order to bring down a government he believed had lost its political and legal right to govern.” The foreign minister, one of the highest-ranking Polish leaders not on board the plane that crashed killing much of Warsaw’s political and military leadership last year, said that his country also has “groups who believe that the democratically elected president and government are traitors who have no real interest in Poland or the Polish people. These are very dangerous emotions which, if stoked, could have unpredictable consequences.” As an example of such “dangerous emotions,” Sikorski cited an ongoing court case in which he is suing a couple of Polish newspapers for failing to remove readers’ anti-Semitic comments about his wife, Anne Applebaum.

Later in Brussels, before an emergency meeting of counter-terrorism officials on how to combat attacks such as Norway’s, the Polish foreign minister repeated his allegations during a press conference with his British counterpart, William Hague. Claiming that “certain political parties had expressed their approval of the terrorist,” Sikorski went on to cite the internet as “a potentially sinister tool for those bent on propagating agendas of hate.” Referring again to the remarks made online about his wife, he described the net as a “cesspool.”

The Polish foreign minister’s legal crusade against “dangerous emotions” had already received a significant endorsement in a May 11 op-ed piece in The Economist magazine from someone writing under the pseudonym “E.L.,” who described Sikorski as “an old friend of mine.” Reproducing one such comment in Polish which was considered “simply too unpleasant to translate,” E.L. cited “another rather milder one” which “merely accuses Mr Sikorski of being the ‘husband of an orthodox Jew, an enemy of Poland controlled by his father-in-law,’ bent on the ‘the destruction and destabilisation of Poland’ and a ‘hidden, ruthless traitor.’” Having disclosed that Sikorski was an “old friend,” E.L. somehow neglected to mention that the Polish foreign minister’s wife accused of betraying Poland to foreign interests is a former editor of The Economist. As for the op-ed writer’s own identity, it may be more than a coincidence that the name of the holding company owned by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and his wife, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, which manages its investments in The Economist Group, owner of The Economist magazine, is E.L. Rothschild.

Sikorski’s allegedly influential father-in-law, Harvey Applebaum, is a partner in Covington and Burling, an international law firm which advises multinational corporations on significant transactional, litigation, regulatory, and public policy matters. Among its more controversial clients are Chiquita, the first major U.S. corporation to be convicted of financing terrorism; and Halliburton and Xe Services (formerly Blackwater), two of the biggest beneficiaries of the “war on terror.” Its current and former attorneys include such proficient pro-Israeli warmongers as John Bolton, senior fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (a former employer of both Mr. and Mrs. Sikorski); Stuart Eizenstat, Special U.S. Envoy for Holocaust Issues during the Clinton administrations; and the aforementioned Michael Chertoff.

Having covered the demise of the Soviet Union as a Warsaw-based correspondent for The Economist during the late 1980s,
Anne Applebaum has long been one of the most prominent anti-Russian advocates of economic and political “liberalisation” in the former Soviet Bloc and beyond. In a 2004 op-ed in The Washington Post, she dismissed as “Freedom Haters” those who saw “insidious neocon plots” behind the supposedly disinterested “democracy promotion” of George Soros and what she sarcastically referred to as “the evil triumvirate” of the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House, which she praised for “diligently training judges, helping election monitors and funding human rights groups around the world for decades, much of the time without getting much attention for it.” Prefiguring her husband’s current concerns, Applebaum bemoaned “the international echo chamber that the Internet has become” in which such cynical ideas “have traction.”

In the wake of Norway’s terror, Anne Applebaum’s response was as swift as it was revealing. Within 48 hours, she had an op-ed piece in The Washington Post entitled “Norway massacre and anti-government obsession.” Sounding a similar note to Sikorski, she opined that Breivik’s obsessions “sprang from an insane conviction that his own government was illegitimate.” Applebaum, however, seemed more concerned about Americans who might think like Breivik. Coining the term “illegitimists” to describe Breivik’s supposed American analogues, she cited Birthers, who claim that Barack Obama isn’t American-born, as the contemporary right-wing manifestation. “It is not accidental,” Applebaum observed, “that the one note of sympathy for Breivik in the U.S. media came from the birtherist and illegitimist Glenn Beck, who helpfully compared the young Norwegians murdered by Breivik to Hitler youth. Presumably if they are Hitler youth, then they deserved to die?”

It is hardly accidental either that Applebaum, who has lauded Daniel Pipes as “one of the best” American analysts of the Middle East, omitted to mention that the Birther movement is spearheaded by Orly Taitz, a Soviet Jewish emigré and pro-Israel activist who had lived in Israel for years prior to her inciting Americans against their president; or that Glenn Beck — whose over-the-top exposés of influential figures such as George Soros conveniently serve to discredit more measured critiques — is engaged in a mutual love affair with the Israeli right-wing, whose backing has been crucial to his lucrative career of demagoguery.

After the Norway massacre, of course, it’s going be even harder for genuine critics of government to publicly express their displeasure. From now on, anyone who questions the bona fides of such avid “freedom lovers” as the Sikorskis and their powerful transnational associates risks being labelled a potential “Breivik” whose “dangerous emotions” need to be kept in check.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst.

Update: At the time of writing “Exploiting Norway’s Terror”, not being aware of the “famous” Edward Lucas, or that he opines in The Economist under the initials “E.L.”, I thought that it was likely that Mr. Sikorski’s “old friend” might have been the magazine’s owners, Evelyn and Lynn de Rothschild (or someone writing on their behalf), so I merely suggested that “it may be more than a coincidence” that the op-ed writer’s initials coincided with those of the owners’ holding company, E.L. Rothschild.

However, a blogger who writes under the revealing pseudonym, La Russophobe, finds this “an amazingly bizarre error”, “unpardonable”, and urges at least one editor who republished the article to “retract and apologize”. I think it’s a bit rich for someone who still claims that Russia was the unprovoked aggressor in Georgia’s 2008 invasion of South Ossetia to upbraid me for my honest, and relatively harmless, mistake.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Exploiting Norway’s Terror

  1. “In the wake of any major terrorist event, it’s generally worth noting who is especially quick off the mark to exploit the tragedy.”
    A wise observation as your essay graphically demonstrates.
    I had to read this twice to get the org chart straight in my head. Wow.
    I feel bad for the peoples of Poland.
    Everything you write is absolutely fascinating and I love reading it.

  2. Michael Kenny

    I think you nedd to distinguish between the reactions in Europe and in the US. The US reaction could very well be as you describe. Here in Europe, Sikorski will be listened to politely and then ignored. If anything, Brevik will provide a reason to strengthen Europe’s already strong hate speech laws, adopted, ironically, to prevent villification of the Jews. Since the people you mention have always criticised those laws for forcing them to post their nasty comments about Muslims on American websites and are constantly calling for their repeal (which, of course, begs the question of what business it is of theirs what we Europeans do in our own countries!), Breivik is in fact a double defeat for the US Israel Lobby in Europe. It’s an ill wind …

  3. Pingback: Poland’s Model for Arab Democracy « The Passionate Attachment

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