(Original posted April 16, 2007, archived here.)
"The Palestinians were the party with absolutely nothing to gain and much to lose from Alan's permanent removal from the scene ... He was, in short, the best and most informed provider of news about the Palestinian side of the story; a story which, in many of its details, is an embarrassment to Israel ... (A)nd if he has been murdered, Alan's death, if it could be blamed on a Palestinian or a pro-Palestinian Arab and/or other Islamist group, would be a huge political setback for the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle and the present leadership of it."
Hart started with the conclusion that best fit his bias, then determined that the facts simply had to support that conclusion. To Hart, this constituted proof positive. His post understandably elicited a deluge of criticism in the form of posted comments condemning Hart's absurd "logic" and accusing him of anti-Semitism. Hart responded by moderating his blog comments and the criticism ceased.
In fact, as became clear over the ensuing months, Alan Johnston had been kidnapped and held for a huge ransom by an Islamist group styling itself the "Army of God" or "Tawhid and Jihad Brigades" -- an "army" which, it was later discovered, was one of Gaza's crime families , the Doğmuş. (Read here.) It is unclear whether the Islamist jihadi cause was merely a cover for the Doğmuş, or if the distinction between jihadi and criminal is one imposed by outside observers -- a distinction without a difference.
On July 4, 2007, Johnston was released by his Palestinian captors. None of what Hart had written had been true. His allegations were merely a conspiracy woven by a mind consumed with hatred for everything Israeli and blinded to any evil without an Israeli behind it.
Well...everyone makes mistakes. Under the circumstances, one would hope that Hart would apologize, post a correction, or at least let the subject drop. But he hasn't done this. In fact, a few days ago, Hart posted this:
"...re Alan Johnston... We still do not know, and may never know, if his kidnappers were proxies - by design or default - for another party..."
The Delphic pronouncement "proxies by design or default" is a puzzle. Hart seems to be intimating through this ineffable koan that he believes Israel responsible for the kidnapping "by default" even if they were not directly involved. We must meditate upon this then consult the bepompadoured oracle.
It's pretty clear that Hart seems unconcerned when the facts don't live up to his idea of what they should be; he simply invents his own. He's also not worried about seeming a bigot. For the sheer absurdity of it, you gotta love Hart's catch-all permanent defense against charges of anti-Semitism (read here):
"One of my favourite souvenirs from my television reporting days for ITN and then the BBC's Panorama programme is a signed photograph of Prime Minister Golda Meir. The inscription in her own hand is: "To a good friend, Alan Hart. Golda Meir." Question: Do you think that old lady, Mother Israel, was so stupid that she could not have seen through me if I was ... a 'Jew hater'?"Hart, who may be prone to what psychologists describe as "magical thinking", seems to think that Golda Meir was clairvoyant on these matters. He also seems to think that, by inscribing that photo "good friend", she was granting him some sort of continuous absolution.
Hart's magical thinking sometimes takes the form of prophetic narcissism -- a sort of Jerusalem syndrome where he sees himself as Jeremiah speaking truth to power. The following excerpts from a rambling bio were apparently written by Hart about himself in the third person. He features the full length self-promo both on the main page of his blog and attaches it to his postings on other websites (read here and here):
"Alan has long believed that what peacemaking needs above all else is some TRUTH-TELLING, about many things but, especially, the difference between Zionist mythology and real history, and, the difference between Jews and Judaism on the one hand and Zionists and Zionism on the other. (The Zionism of the title and substance of Alan's latest book is, of course, political Zionism or Jewish nationalism as the creating and sustaining force of the Zionist state, not what could be called the spiritual Zionism of Judaism).and
"* Alan Hart, author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, is indicting mainstream media complicity in suppression of truth!"
"Alan is a fiercely independent thinker. He hates all labels and isms and has never been a member of any political party or group. He prefers to judge issues on their merits. When asked what drives him, he used to say: “I have three children and, when the world falls apart, I want to be able to look them in the eye and say, ‘Don’t blame me. I tried.’” ... Alan ... has to be able to live with himself. He believes that heaven and hell are states of mind."
On the website for his book entitled ZIONISM THE REAL ENEMY OF THE JEWS A Book for Peace, he refers to his own book as:
"the first ever informed and honest debate about who must do what and why if there's to be a peaceful resolution of the Palestine problem."
He also claims (in the video embedded below) that he "could have stopped" the 1967 Six Day War.
If you think his vanity, unreliability and absurd grandiosity would discredit Hart in the eyes of other anti-Israel zealots, forget about it. He fits right in.
Counterpunch publishes Hart's calls for an end to the state of Israel (read here). MPACUK (Muslim Political Action Committee U.K.) promotes his books with online interviews (read here).
Britain's Islam Channel tapped Hart to chair a 2006 anti-Israel conference. A glowing account of his participation is featured on the conspiracy website Rense.com (read here). The Jerusalem Post account is online here. Hart's fellow participants at that conference included Ilan Pappe (to his right in the photo below), and one of the oft-photographed Naturei Karta guys in full charedi regalia.
[As an aside, the Rense website amusingly describes the charedi guy as "Rabbi Ahron Cohen, whose house had been bombarded with 1,000 eggs, presumably by Zionists, (a) few weeks ago". (Please post your punchlines to the comments section of this post.) An explanation for this high cholesterol barrage may be found in the the Jerusalem Post report. It says Cohen "was a member of the delegation that went to Iran to offer support to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in March following his comments that Israel should be wiped off the map."]
There's a danger in my pointing out just how absurd Alan Hart is. You may not take his potential impact seriously. That would be a mistake. Hart's first book, a laudatory biography of Yassir Arafat, is very widely read and cited. Hart also continues to be featured as a speaker at international conferences. In 2007, Hart delivered the keynote address at the Empower India Conference in Banagalore, which was sponsored by the Muslim political organization Popular Front for India . (Read here and here and here.) Not surprisingly, Hart's prescription for empowering India focused on India opposing Israel and resisting America's
"imperial project to have India as their Israel in this part of the world".
In spite of his monomaniacal focus on Israel and Jews, his pomposity and his long-windedness, Hart knows how to communicate his message effectively. He made a career as a television journalist and his skills as a public speaker are well-honed. An audience which is either naive or receptive to his message might well be convinced that what he says is true. That's why it needs to be pointed out that his unfounded accusation that Israel's hidden hand was behind Alan Johnston's kidnapping is not an anomaly. It's entirely consistent with Hart's worldview of fantastic conspiracy theories with Israel at their center.
Plausible sounding conspiracy theories presented by articulate, seemingly reliable figures present a real threat and need to be exposed.