Guardian writer claims he was let go for ‘joke’ tweet against US aid to Israel

Columnist Nathan Robinson says the comment was decried by paper’s US editor as misleading, leading him to be blacklisted; paper insists it welcomes his future submissions

Illustrative: Britain's daily newspaper The Guardian is seen at a mini market in London, Sept. 12, 2005 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Illustrative: Britain's daily newspaper The Guardian is seen at a mini market in London, Sept. 12, 2005 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

A longtime contributor to The Guardian said the newspaper has stopped publishing his op-eds because of a tweet in which he joked that the US Congress is legally obligated to make “buying weapons for Israel” a part of any spending.

Nathan Robinson, 30, wrote Wednesday on his website Current Affairs that the British daily’s US edition had let him know it had decided not to use his pieces anymore following two tweets that Robinson posted in December.

A Guardian spokesperson denied the claim, saying the paper would “welcome” future submissions.

In his tweets on Israel, Robinson wrote: “Did you know that the US Congress is not actually permitted to authorize any new spending unless a portion of it is directed toward buying weapons for Israel? It’s the law.” Also, “or if not actually the written law, then so ingrained in political custom as to functionally be indistinguishable from law.”

On Current Affairs, Robinson wrote that he was “appalled and depressed to see new funding for Israeli missiles being passed at the same time as pitifully small COVID-19 relief.” The tweet on spending was clearly a joke, he wrote, in which “I relieved my anger.”

Robinson said some on Twitter began accusing him of making anti-Semitic comments. He shared a screenshot of an email from Guardian editor John Mulholland, who wrote to him to complain about the tweet being misleading and inappropriate for a Guardian columnist “given the reckless talk over the last year — and beyond — of how mythical ‘Jewish groups/alliances’ yield power over all forms of US public life.”

Mulholland, according to the email, decried his propagation of “fake news” on the matter.

Robinson said he then deleted the tweet and apologized to Mulholland if he had written anything that could be misconstrued. He said he had never written of Israel in the past and had feared jeopardizing his income of approximately $15,000 a year from the Guardian.

But in the time since, Robinson said all his columns had been rejected by the paper, and it had eventually been made clear to him that his tweet had led Mulholland to oppose accepting further work from him,

A Guardian spokesperson said that Robinson “has written regularly for Guardian US but was neither a staff employee nor on contract. It is not true therefore that he was ‘fired.’”

The spokesperson added that the newspaper “would welcome further contributions from him in the future.”

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