Oh God. No-one said defending WikiLeaks wasn’t a hardship posting.

Private Eye hit the UK streets today, with a long story detailing a rather bizarre conversation between Julian Assange, the grey blur, and the Eye‘s editor. The call follows a story in the previous issue of PE, about Israel Shamir, a Stockholm-based political activist with half-a-dozen names, who it is alleged claims to be WikiLeaks’ representative in Russia.

Shamir is widely accused of being an anti-semite and a holocaust denier — his easily available writings certainly do a lot of muttering about Jewish conspiracies and the like — though he is an Israeli Jew and IDF veteran, who later converted to Orthodox Christianity. Shamir had written often about WikiLeaks, and had already been “outed” twice before PE‘s article came along — they had leaked to them emails between Assange and Shamir, in which Assange expresses his opinion that Shamir’s writings aren’t anti-semitic, and confirming some sort of relationship.

According to the story in the current PE, Assange called up, demanding to know why the magazine was helping The Guardian in its attempt to smear, claiming there was a Jewish conspiracy centred around the paper with a few very tangential connections (the suggestion that the editor, gentile Alan Rusbridger, is part of it because his wife is Jewish, etc).

A few minutes in, Assange abandons the whole argument, saying “forget the Jewish thing” and goes onto other matters. Private Eye, unsurprisingly, ran an article based on the whole conversation.

Even the article notes that Assange sounded weary. But if the record of the conversation is accurate — and there’s no reason to believe it isn’t — it’s an idiotic thing to be falling into, for someone who has never been accused of anti-semitism, and has called others on it. WikiLeaks — that is, Assange — has released a statement via the Twitter feed, denying that Shamir has any official role.

All a bit ironic really, since Private Eye was frequently anti-semitic, well into the 80s, in a sniggering public schoolboy manner, and very keen on … Jewish conspiracy theories. Just fancy that! Shome mistake, surely. 

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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