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Friday, February 24th

Halkin on "Israel's Media Problem" - The Problem of Hasbara

Palestinians regularly bewail their treatment in the media. Ray Hanania wrote a column about the lack of pro-Palestinian columnists in US newspapers recently. CNN has been dubbed ZNN (Zionist News Network) by anti-Zionists. Equally, Israeli partisans are disappointed by media coverage from our point of view. Everyone is no doubt right to some extent, and there are egregious examples to prove it.

On the Israeli side we may note at least the following:

  • Palestinians who blow themselves in Israeli hotels are invariably "militants," while Muslims who blow themselves up in London subways are just as inevitably terrorists

  • During an interview with Ariel Sharon, and without his knowledge, the CNN News ticker continuously flashed a message saying something like "UN highest human rights body condemns Israeli war crimes and human rights violations"

  • BBC online regularly accompanied articles about the Israeli security fence with an incorrect and outdated map of the fence published by Palestinian sources, that makes it seem as though the fence will swallow half of Palestine.

  • Media uncritically swallowed the Palestinian myth concerning the "massacre" that supposedly took place in Jenin in 2002, and some were very slow to retract. Retractions never get as much attention as headlines anyhow

  • At a media workshop, a BBC journalist insisted that every story about Israel should be accompanied by lengthy excoriation of the occupation and other Israeli misdeeds, real or imaginary. This policy has never been applied by professional media to any state or regime, including Nazi Germany, USSR or China.

Hillel Halkin reviews a new book by Stephanie Gutmann about treatment of Israel in the media, but he gives us much more than a book review.

Tellingly, Halkin points us to the 1927 work of Julien Benda.

The intellectual who no longer asked “Is this so?” but rather “What effect does saying this have?”—or, to put it more crassly, “Whose interests does saying this serve?”--was the intellectual, Benda wrote, who had betrayed his calling.

Is this not precisely what people like Ilan Pappe tell us they are doing, when they say that the facts and figures of history do not matter. Facts and figures are for pedants. The important thing is to support their beliefs. In fact, of course, people have been writing such "edifying" histories and accounts of events since rosy-fingered dawn illumined the battlements of Troy. They are hardly a creation of the last century or modern media.

Halkin writes:

In that sense, unless hasbara is conceived of as truly explaining, and not just as PR, Israel will continue to lose the war for public opinion. In the long run, the truth is its most reliable weapon, even if it is one that can only be wielded effectively by those willing to risk self-inflicted wounds.


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Moderator on 02.24.06 @ 01:16 AM CST [link]

Thursday, February 23rd

Apartheid and anti-Zionism - Again

An old standby of the anti-Zionist movement is the attempt to insist that Israel has imposed an "apartheid" regime. The logic of this argument is devastating, for the only "just" solution that suggests itself is the dissolution of the state of the Jewish people, to be replaced by a "Secular Democratic" regime along the lines of the paradigmatic models offered by Syria and Egypt. The apartheid argument automatically converts everyone fighting for the destruction of the Jewish state into a saint in the holy struggle against Apartheid. From Osama Bin-Laden and President Ahmedinejad to the last Trotskyite and the degenerate skinheads of the NSDAP.AO (Nazional-Sozialist Arbeiter Partei Auslander Organization - American Nazi Party) - all become saints in the tradition of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The argument has been refuted time and again, (see for example "Don't Treat Israel Like Apartheid South Africa" by Ian Buruma, which appeared in the Guardian in the summer of 2002). However, like blood libel accusations and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the apartheid accusation springs to life after each defeat, stronger than ever, supported by the a hatred so strong that it can overcome the most specious logic.


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Moderator on 02.23.06 @ 10:51 PM CST [link]

Monday, February 20th

Iraq war was revenge on Nebuchadnezar - The Zionist plot thickens

An article in Al-Jazeera caught my attention because of its intriguing title. "Was the Iraq war religiously motivated?" asks Ahmed Janabi and he answers, "debate still rages over whether ideological or religious concerns were the real motives." Maybe debate is not raging in your part of the world, but in the Middle East, such ideas are taken seriously.

Janabi quotes Dr Muhammad al-Sammak, an "expert on Christian Zionist affairs" who says, according to Jannabi:

Christian Zionists believe they can bring about the Second Coming by influencing critical current events.

"They believe that the Christ will not descend to Earth unless Greater Israel is achieved and all Jews in the world gather in it. They think they should work to pave the way for that to happen," he said.

So far so good. There are people like that. But then he continues:

"Helping in creating Greater Israel was one of the main reasons why Iraq was under 13 years of sanctions which ended by launching a devastating war that wiped out the Iraqi government and army, which did not accept any peace terms with Israel."

The invasion of Kuwait apparently had nothing to do with the sanctions imposed on Iraq. Presumably, in the period before 1991, Saddam Hussein was a big supporter of the ZOA, Mrs. Saddam belonged to the Hadassah and Uday was a fan of Maccabi Tel-Aviv. That explains why the US supported the Iraqi regime throughout the 80s. Suddenly, in 1991, Saddam changed his mind and decided not to support Israel. That explains the sanctions, right?


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Moderator on 02.20.06 @ 10:54 AM CST [link]

Sunday, February 19th

Avram Burg on the future of Religious Zionism

Since 1967, religious Zionism had been coopted by Greater Israel ideology. Those who followed that ideology virtually made support of settlements a religious duty. It wasn't always like that. Many readers would be surprised to know that National Religious Party (Mafdal) cabinet ministers in Levi Eshkol's government were quite persistent in their attempts to avert war in 1967. Avraham Burg, son of the late NRP minister Yosef Burg, continues in this older tradition of religious Zionism. Burg reviews a small book about the evacuaton of Gaza, "Yamim Ketumim" - Orange Days.

The evacuation of the Gaza settlements produced a great crisis in that part of the religious Zionist movement that had totally confounded religion, Zionism and settlements. They refused to admit that it is possible to be a Zionist and yet oppose settlements. They represented themselves as the majority of religious Zionists, which might be true. especially in the USA, though perhaps less so in Israel. More than that, they represented their brand of religious Zionism as the only real Zionism, which is patently false. Israel was not built by these fanatics. Herzl and Ben Gurion were not religious to say the least, and religious Zionist leaders such as Yoseph Burg and Zerah Warhaftig were not chauvinists and advocates of a Jewish "one state solution." They also implied that they are the only 'real Jews' by labeling oponents as "Helenizers' and 'self-hating Jews.'


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Moderator on 02.19.06 @ 01:10 PM CST [link]


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