For someone with the title of “Global Opinions Editor” at a major newspaper, Karen Attiah of the Washington Post holds many opinions that ought to stupefy serious opinion leaders across the globe, if they were to bother wasting their time reading her. For my sins, I have and did, and now I will tell you about them, so you will be prepared if you ever see her byline. Her column appears regularly in the Washington Post, one of the many reasons it has ceased being a great newspaper and has now become at best a mediocre bird-cage liner.
A week after the Hamas slaughter and wounding of thousands of Israelis, President Biden announced the United States’ strong support for Israel and its right to defend itself. Attiah’s response on X? “I will never forgive Biden for this.” When she was criticized on social media for her cavalier attitude about the atrocities committed by Hamas, she responded with snark: “*twenty years from now* ‘Mom, dad…what did y’all do in 2023 when Palestinians were being ethnically cleansed? ‘Well honey, we served the cause of justice…we volunteered to scold angry ethnic minorities for criticizing Biden.”
No one who has followed Attiah’s career is surprised by any of this. She is, after all, the editor who, in 2018, published an opinion piece by the leader of the terrorist Houthi militia, and justified doing so by claiming that all sides in Middle East debates needed to be heard. The Houthi motto is certainly straightforward about what it wants the world to hear: “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam.”
Her tough-mindedness extends only so far, however. A few years later, Attiah, like many of her ilk in elite mainstream-media institutions, was so threatened by Senator Tom Cotton’s suggestion in the New York Times that cities should consider calling in the National Guard to quell riots in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, she actually demanded that the Times issue a retraction.
Death to Jews? No problem. Ending riots in America’s cities? That’s a bridge too far for Attiah.
Attiah also defended Marc Lamont Hill, who lost his job as a CNN contributor after he used the Israel-eliminationist phrase “from the river to the sea” in a pro-Palestinian speech. Hill also frequently offers his support for Palestinian terrorist Ali Jiddah and on his Facebook page posts anti-Semitic statements about “Satanic Jews” by Louis Farrakhan. And yet Attiah chose him as her prime example of how “Black people can be discredited as antisemitic and punished simply for advocating justice for Palestinians.”
She also frequently defends anti-Semitic members of the so-called Squad in Congress—Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Cori Bush—claiming they are being attacked only because they are women of color. For someone who is frequently fêted with awards for her journalism, Attiah is astonishingly ignorant in the face of clear facts: that people who frequently make anti-Semitic remarks are anti-Semites.
But seeing what’s right in front of her is not Attiah’s strong suit. Before she was an enthusiast of terrorists and anti-Semites, Attiah was known for being the Washington Post’s point person for Jamal Khashoggi, a foreign national who laundered talking points for the government of Qatar in columns that Attiah published without disclosing the foreign influence behind them. Khashoggi was murdered at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government in 2018. A book that Attiah was writing about Khashoggi for Harper Collins was recently pulled by the publisher with little explanation.
Attiah’s simplistic approach to complicated global issues—viewing every conflict through the radicalized undergraduate lens of oppressor and oppressed, colonizer and colonized—extends to domestic matters as well. She gained visibility during the summer of 2020 by presenting herself as a voice for the Black Lives Matter–inspired racial reckoning the country was supposed to undergo in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Attiah embraced the issue of race with the same ideologically blinkered zeal that has long marked her writing on foreign affairs.
A typical 2021 column claimed, “If America were another country, we would be talking about how post-Civil War America is still in desperate need of a U.N.-sponsored Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program for white supremacists and segregations.”
The previous year, she appeared on writer Ian Bremmer’s show to proclaim, “Anti-blackness in this country is pervasive. It’s like oxygen. It’s in the air. You don’t even notice it but we’re all breathing it” and called the U.S. a “developing country” regarding race.
It’s thus no surprise that Attiah’s views on foreign terrorism are clearly aligned with those of Black Lives Matter supporters here at home. In the immediate aftermath of the October 7 attack by Hamas, BLM chapters in the U.S. posted praiseworthy memes hailing the terrorists, including reproducing the image of paragliders who invaded Israel to rape and slaughter women and children. As now-discredited BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors once said, “Palestine is our generation’s South Africa, and if we don’t step up boldly and courageously to end the imperialist project that’s called Israel, we’re doomed.”
Attiah also seems eager to serve up morally equivocating statements in the service of ending the “imperialist project” of Israel. Consider this recent gem: “Many of us were horrified at the initial attack and hostage-taking by Hamas,” she wrote, “while also feeling as though we are currently watching the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in real time.”
As she offers no evidence of ethnic cleansing by Israel—well, there is none, but when has that stopped her before—Attiah has proven to be a reliable tool for Hamas propagandists to spread their lies. In an October 18 column, she uncritically cited death-toll figures provided by the Gaza Health Ministry, an arm of Hamas notorious for making up large slaughter numbers to sway public opinion.
As Israeli families continued to bury their dead; as Americans counted up the many hostages seized by Hamas; as the Jewish community worldwide reeled from an unprecedented spike in often-violent anti-Semitic attacks, Attiah thought the world’s focus should instead be solely on the Palestinians: “As Israelis and Jewish people express their terror, shock and grief, Palestinians are (rightfully) pointing out that their own pain and deaths under the actions of the Israeli state have been ignored for years,” she wrote.
After the IDF took out a Hamas command center that had been placed deliberately among civilian populations, a practice the organization has long engaged in, Attiah took to social media to express her disapproval: “Absolutely NOTHING justifies this reckless slaughter,” she posted on X. “This is beyond, beyond atrocious,” another post said, calling for an immediate cease-fire. She accused Israeli officials of having “genocidal intent” toward residents of Gaza, even as the Israeli army was making every effort to warn civilians of impending attacks. She has written nothing about the fact that Hamas regularly uses its own people as human shields and steals international aid to fuel its war machine while its people starve. Instead, she put the phrase that correctly describes the state of Israel—the only democracy in the Middle East—in scare quotes.
Attiah’s colleagues don’t have this problem. Post columnist Charles Lane, for example, actually viewed the footage provided to journalists of the atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel. In a recent, harrowing column describing what he saw, Lane wrote, “What was revelatory—what you really do have to see and hear to believe—is the attitude of the terrorists. They are having the time of their lives. Some whoop with delight over dead civilians lying on a highway.… a terrorist calling home to tell his parents that he is in Israel and killing Jews—10, he boasts, including a woman whose phone he is using. ‘Their blood is on my hands,’ he cries, joyously. ‘Your son’s a hero.’…”
These are the people Attiah would have readers sympathize with because of their supposedly oppressed status.
Democracy might die in darkness, as the Washington Post’s self-aggrandizing motto proclaims, but journalism suffers when despicable apologists for terrorism like Karen Attiah are given powerful platforms to spread propaganda and rationalize hate. Birds themselves might shy away in disgust from using the pages with her work on them to relieve themselves.
Photo: New America
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