On Western Media in Cultures of Intimidation: BBC vs WSJ on Alan Johnston

Tom Gross has assembled a fascinating dossier well worthy of consideration and comment. First, Bret Stevens in the Wall Street Journal comments on the BBC’s attitude towards its reporter Alan Johnston:

THE BBC HELD HOSTAGE IN GAZA

A Reporter’s Fate
The BBC held hostage in Gaza
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
May 22, 2007

Dozens of hostages were released in Gaza over the weekend, in the wake of a truce called between the warring factions of Hamas and Fatah. The BBC’s Alan Johnston, now in his 11th week of captivity, was not among them.

I last saw Mr. Johnston in January 2005, the day before Mahmoud Abbas was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Johnston was by then the only Western correspondent living and working full time in Gaza, although the Strip was still considered a safe destination for day-tripping foreign journalists. He kindly lent me his office to interview Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, and asked whether I was still editing the Jerusalem Post. He seemed genuinely oblivious to the notion that my by-then former association with an Israeli newspaper was not the sort of information I wanted broadcast to a roomful of Palestinian stringers.

Or, he wanted to decenter Stevens. Can he be that much of a fool?

January 2005 was also the last time one could feel remotely optimistic about an independent Palestinian future. Mr. Abbas had campaigned for office promising “clean legal institutions so we can be considered a civilized society.” He won by an overwhelming margin in an election Hamas refused to contest. There had been a sharp decline in Israeli-Palestinian violence, thanks mainly to Israeli counterterrorism measures and the security fence. A Benetton outlet had opened in Ramallah, signaling better times ahead.

In other words, either Abbas is also deluded, or he’s a demopath who knows how to play on Westerner’s desire to believe that there is a “vibrant Palestinian civil society” just waiting to emerge. But in Gaza things were different, however, and Mr. Johnston was prescient in reporting on the potential for internecine strife: “This internal conflict between police and the militants cannot happen,” one of his stories quotes a Palestinian police chief as saying. “It is forbidden. We are a single nation.” Yet in 2005 more Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians than by Israelis. It got worse in 2006, following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Hamas’s victory in parliamentary elections. “The occupation was not as bad as the lawlessness and corruption that we are facing now,” Palestinian editor Hafiz Barghouti admitted to Mr. Johnston in a widely cited remark.

When Mr. Johnston was kidnapped by persons unknown on March 12 – apparently dragged at gunpoint from his car while on his way home – he became at least the 23rd Western journalist to have been held hostage in Gaza. In most cases the kidnappings rarely lasted more than a day. Yet in August FOXNews’s Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig were held for two weeks, physically abused and forced to convert to Islam. Plainly matters were getting progressively worse for foreigners. So why did the BBC keep Mr. Johnston in place?

One answer is journalistic fidelity. Mr. Johnston had been the BBC’s man in Kabul during the Taliban era; he was used to hard places. His dispatches about the travails of ordinary Gazans brimmed with humane sympathy. And any news organization would prefer to have its own reporter on the scene than to rely on stringers.

Yet the BBC also seemed to operate in the Palestinian Authority with a sense of political impunity. Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti described Mr. Johnston as someone who “has done a lot for our cause” – not the sort of endorsement one imagines the BBC welcoming from an equivalent figure on the Israeli side. Other BBC correspondents were notorious for making their politics known to their viewers: Barbara Plett confessed to breaking into tears when Arafat was airlifted to a Parisian hospital in October 2004; Orla Guerin treated Israel’s capture of a living, wired teenage suicide bomber that March as nothing more than a PR stunt – “a picture that Israel wants the world to see.”

And, one might add, not one she’d be likely to let the world see, were it up to her.

Though doubtlessly sincere, these views also conferred institutional advantages for the BBC in terms of access and protection, one reason why the broadcaster might have felt relatively comfortable posting Mr. Johnston in a place no other news agency dared to go.

This is stated perhaps a bit too subtly. This is the core of journalism in honor-shame cultures where how you make the people appear in the eyes of others is more important than anything to do with accuracy or truth. Only when you show them they way they want, are you, as a journalist, going to get anyting remotely resembling cooperation. And if you show them negatively, then you can expect reprisals, as Stephens notes.

By contrast, reporters who displeased Palestinian authorities could be made to pay a price. In one notorious case in October 2000, Italian reporter Riccardo Cristiano of RAI published a letter in a Palestinian newspaper insisting he had not been the one who had broadcast images of two Israeli soldiers being lynched in Ramallah. “We respect the journalistic regulations of the Palestinian Authority,” he wrote, blaming rival Mediaset for the transgression. I had a similar experience when I quoted a Palestinian journalist describing as “riff-raff” those of his neighbors celebrating the attacks of Sept. 11. Within a day, the journalist was chided and threatened by Palestinian officials for having spoken to me. They were keeping close tabs.

Cristiano’s letter is worth citing full because not only its content but its cloying tone are so revealing:

    Special Clarification by the Italian Representative of RAI, the Official Italian Television Station

    My dear friends in Palestine. We congratulate you and think that it is our duty to put you in the picture (of the events) of what happened on October 12 in Ramallah. One of the private Italian television stations which competes with us (and not the official Italian television station RAI) filmed the events; that station filmed the events. Afterwards Israeli Television broadcast the pictures, as taken from one of the Italian stations, and thus the public impression was created as if we (RAI) took these pictures.

    We emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect (will continue to respect) the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for (journalistic) work in Palestine and we are credible in our precise work.

    We thank you for your trust, and you can be sure that this is not our way of acting. We do not (will not) do such a thing.

    Please accept our dear blessings.

    Signed,
    Ricardo Christiano
    Representative of RAI in the Palestinian Authority
    (the official Italian station)

Nothing better illustrates the (normally) unspoken rules that dominate PA coverage. Indeed, the obsequiousness was so out of place for a Western news media outfit that the other news agencies distanced themselves, and even the normally very cautious Israelis disciplined the station for its breach of professional standards.

The power of this combination of access journalism and intimidation underlies the whole tissue of misrepresentation that plagues our understanding of what’s going on in this conflict.

Still, whatever the benefits of staying on the right side of the Palestinian powers-that-be, they have begun to wane. For years, the BBC had invariably covered Palestinian affairs within the context of Israel’s occupation – the core truth from which all manifestations of conflict supposedly derived.

In other words, they framed all their coverage in the paradigm of something ranging from the Politically Correct to the Post-Colonial. Viewers did not have access to any alternative framework.

Developments within Gaza following Israel’s withdrawal showed the hollowness of that analysis. Domestic Palestinian politics, it turned out, were shot through with their own discontents, contradictions and divisions, not just between Hamas and Fatah but between scores of clans, gangs, factions and personalities. Opposition to Israel helped in some ways to mute this reality, but it could not suppress it.

In other words, to those paying attention, the withdrawal from Gaza could (and should) have operated as a wake-up call (as if 2000 were not enough). The PCP did not explain what was going on… unless, of course, one resorted more and more to the view that Israel’s behavior continued to control Palestinians, so that they had no choice but to kill each other (and innocent civilians including children). Essentially this reflects a profoundly corrupted view of the Palestinians in which they have no agency… they can only act as a reaction.

This is the situation – not a new one, but one the foreign media had for years mostly ignored – in which the drama of Mr. Johnston’s captivity is playing out. Initial reports suggested he had been kidnapped by the so-called Popular Resistance Committee; later an al Qaeda affiliate called the Army of Islam claimed to have killed him. More recently, evidence has come to light suggesting he’s alive and being held by a criminal gang based in the southern town of Rafah. The British government is reportedly in talks with a radical Islamist cleric in their custody, Abu Qatada, whose release the Army of Islam has demanded for Mr. Johnston’s freedom. What the British will do, and what effect that might have, remains to be seen.

For now, one can only pray for Mr. Johnston’s safe release. Later, the BBC might ask itself whether its own failures of prudence and judgment put its reporter’s life in jeopardy. The BBC’s Paul Adams has said of his colleague that it was “his job to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament.” For that act of solidarity one hopes a terrible price will not be paid.

Again, Stephens is being understated. He’s saying that the BBC, assuming that because Johnston was so pro-Palestinian, they didn’t have to worry about him, and because they believed Johnston’s own reporting — that the Israelis are the source of all woes and evil — they never thought that the culture of violence that chased away any “even-handed” reporters who were not fully pro-Palestinian, would hurt their man.

Gross comments:

    Stephens’s view, however, is widely accepted among reporters covering the Middle East, including myself. It is common knowledge that Johnston, who was abducted in Gaza on March 12, was one of the most pro-Palestinian reporters in the region. However, sources tell me that some in Hamas may have felt that his reporting had become too pro-Fatah, which is one possible factor in his abduction by a Hamas-connected group, and also a possible reason why (despite the BBC’s repeated claims that the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority is doing everything in its power to secure Johnston’s release) in fact the Palestinian Authority has been doing next to nothing to help release the kidnapped BBC man.

In other words, the BBC didn’t and still doesn’t understand how bad it is in Gaza, and how little — ultimately — their avowed embrace of the Palestinian cause is worth when the Israeli scapegoat disappears and the pervasive violence of the culture shines through. Johnston is pro-Palestinian for “progressive” reasons. He believes the Palestinian police chief who says:

    “This internal conflict between police and the militants cannot happen,” one of his stories quotes a Palestinian police chief as saying. “It is forbidden. We are a single nation.”

And when that violence happens, he can no longer combine his ideological commitments with the demands of reporting from civil-war Gaza, where no one who speaks publicly is safe from someone’s anger.

Writing on the BBC website’s editors’ blog, the BBC head of newsgathering, Fran Unsworth objected to Stephen’s analysis.

“A SCURRILOUS PIECE OF JOURNALISM”

Weighing the risks
By Fran Unsworth
BBC editors’ blog
May 27, 2007

A scurrilous piece of journalism appeared in the Wall Street Journal this week regarding Alan Johnston’s kidnapping. An article by Bret Stephens criticises BBC management for our failures of “prudence and judgment which put our reporter, Alan Johnston’s life in jeopardy.” Fair enough. It is not as though all of us responsible for Alan’s safety have not asked ourselves the same question many times over the course of the past 11 weeks.

But the article goes on to propose that our reasons for this complacency were as a result of our institutional pro-Palestinian views which meant we felt able to operate in the Palestinian authority with “political impunity”. He would appear to be suggesting that Alan was a Palestinian sympathiser and therefore we felt he would be protected by that. The author throws in the few other BBC correspondent names to stack up his case – saying Barbara Plett and Orla Guerin had also made their views known to the public.

He alleges we believed this stance gave us “institutional advantages in terms of access and protection” and that is why “we felt comfortable posting Alan in a place no other news agency dared to go”.

Aside from the lack of sympathy shown by the Wall Street Journal, who must have asked themselves a few questions over the appalling tragedy of Daniel Pearl, it also happens to be totally unfounded. I would have thought the writer would have attempted to establish some facts before committing to the page. Had he put a call into the BBC he might have discovered that we had been by no means complacent about Alan’s safety.

Alan was highly alert to the possibility of kidnap. He had come out of Gaza on several occasions in the months before he was taken; we had drawn up plans to avoid it happening and even a plan of what we would do if it should. He had spent the previous three years in Gaza during which time the security situation had progressively deteriorated. He had been due to come out two weeks before he was kidnapped, and the BBC was assessing whether Gaza was safe enough for western journalists in the immediate future.

Obviously none of this prevented the desperate situation in which Alan is now in. We, as his managers, have repeatedly asked ourselves what more we could and should have done to protect him, including the issue of whether he should have been there at all. But we do think very carefully about putting our staff into dangerous parts of the world and take every measure we can to minimise the risks. We continually talk to our correspondents on the ground, as we did with Alan, about how to do this. However, newsgathering is not, and can never be, an entirely risk free business.http://www.tomgrossmedia.com/BBC.htm

So far this sounds a lot like Katha Pollitt defending feminists. “We did so do a lot.” That’s not the point. The point is that a) the best thing you can do for a reporter who lives in an area where violence and intimidation are rife is to make sure he doesn’t offend the locals. The fact that long after everyone else go the hell out of there, Johnston was still there, and there because he was so pro-Palestinian.

But I am surprised that one of the US’s leading newspapers with a great tradition appears to think that a desire to provide first hand reporting for our audiences, on a key news story of major significance, was an enterprise to be regarded as foolish and complacent, rather than what journalism is supposed to be for.

Wow. Talk about “not getting it.” The point is not the value of “on the ground reporting…” but the value of on-the-ground reporting that is fatally compromised by the pervasive need to curry favor in order to avoid getting killed — like CNN in Iraq. Maybe the BBC should send in reporters who are not identified as journalists, who report anonymously so they can’t get hit up, who get out fast so they can’t be systematically shaped into a propagandist.

Note that the BBC editor never questions the claim that Johnston — and the BBC — are biased, and decidely pro-Palestinian. Indeed they paid good money to quash a report documenting their anti-Israel bias. It’s as if the part of modern journalism that has to do with accurate, fair, multi-dimensional, independent, got lost in the need for color, human interest and advocacy. Maybe that’s not what the world needs to inform it intelligently about “a key news story of major significance.”

Gross finds the BBC’s nasty swipe at the WSJ over Daniel Pearl “a cheap shot.” And it is. Pearl was the first journalist to be kidnapped and executed on video, an explicitly anti-semitic act — Pearl was executed because he was Jewish — that no one except the most astute observers of the HJP would have detected. Johnston was the last hold-out of the journalists who continued to think that if they were sufficiently obsequious to local demands, they would survive. And now, with this whimper, the lights go out on even the semblance of independent journalism in Gaza.

20 Responses to On Western Media in Cultures of Intimidation: BBC vs WSJ on Alan Johnston

  1. Joanne says:

    “Aside from the lack of sympathy shown by the Wall Street Journal, who must have asked themselves a few questions over the appalling tragedy of Daniel Pearl.”

    Yes, that was a nasty swipe. Moreover, I didn’t understand the parallel between Johnston and Pearl.

    What was she trying to say? What were the questions that she thought the WSJ editors should’ve been asking themselves? If I understood this post correctly, the WSJ was saying that the BBC reporter felt too much at home among the Palestinians because he had been practically embedded with them, friendly with leaders, and doing the kind of reporting that the Palestinians approved of. What was she trying to imply in Pearl’s case? That he also was overly friendly? That he wasn’t friendly enough? Pearl didn’t feel overly confident because he had continually kow-towed to anyone. The two situations are apples and oranges.

    It seems to me that she just threw out this comment for whatever points she could score, and then quickly moved on to other points, rather than delving deeper into her meaning.

    And, yes, it does seem, at least from this posting, that she cast the WSJ as opposing reporting on the ground when in fact the WSJ was criticizing biased reporting.

    Her tone was scathing, but the actual content of what she said was feeble. This reminds me of an old saying: “When you’re wrong, pound the table.”

  2. Cynic says:

    Joanne,
    the BBC employees are an arogant bunch and will never own up to anything ‘humiliating’ to their egos. Maybe part of the Honour/Shame culture they so assiduously defend has rubbed off on them?
    Remember the incident, a few years back, of BBC behaviour which led to the suicide of a person who supplied intel on Iraq to Blair’s govt?

  3. Richard Landes says:

    to joanne,

    like that last comment a lot. pound the table when you’re feeble.

    the parallel she was fishing for was that the WSJ lost a reporter so they shdn’t be so quick to accuse the BBC of being reckless. i think the basic issue either went over her head. as someone told me in china, the chinese understand what they want to understand.

  4. Richard Landes says:

    honor-shame is always a concern. it’s the ability to rise above its demands that is the mark of integrity. having lacked intellectual integrity for so long and dominated public discourse nonetheless, how can the BBC possibly resist the demands of face?

  5. Sophia says:

    I stumbled across this the other day – it appears outrageously biased to me – again, it’s the dear BBC:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/78601.stm

    British bias against Israel has been there from day 1 – long before that actually.

    Why are we surprised that their reporting reflects this?

    Maybe it is surprising because we Americans think of Britain as one of our “parents”, we generally hold them in high esteem – in fact I think Britain is one of the most highly regarded nations in the world according to a recent poll here.

    Thus their treatment of Israel is shocking. This extends beyond bias in the press to these boycotts. Before Israel was a state it took much more violent forms. Chamberlain – Bevin – the White Papers – the blockades – it seems shocking -

    But if we study British history vis a vis the Jewish people maybe it shouldn’t be.

  6. Eliyahu says:

    Following in Sophia’s vein of thought, here are the findings of Barbara Rogers, a British historian, about BBC reporting policy during the Holocaust. Note the contrast between BBC hesitation to report the Holocaust at all, and then its efforts to minimize reporting of it.
    Also bear in mind that the BBC during WW2 and the Holocaust was subject not only to UK govt censorship, but was subject to Foreign Office policy, specifically that of Anthony Eden, foreign secretary at the time.

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/05/british-governmental-guidance-of.html

  7. Eliyahu says:

    I meant the contrast between BBC policy towards the Holocaust compared with its policy on Arab suffering at Israel’s hands, genuine or alleged.

  8. [...] opposition TV station and the BBC newsman, Alan Johnston, famous for his pro-Palestinians bias is being held hostage. [...]

  9. fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    i don’t know if anybody realizes it but we are back to 1938. blatant rabid anti-semitism is wide-spread and growing.

    the UK has a long tradition of it, so it’s hardly surprising, particularly with such a jihadi element in the british population.

    but consider this:
    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=25707_The_Protocols_of_the_Daily_Kos&only

    comment RL: I tried to track this one down and failed (LGF was too coy in not giving the URL). it turns out the statement comes from a Richard Bernstein, an American Jew who went to live in Israel. i’d like to find this if i could.

    right out of der sturmer. in the US!!!!

    and now as then, nobody sees or admits the dangers.

    as to the BBC, here it is in true form:
    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2007/05/the_bbc_blames_israel_for_unst.html

  10. [...] opposition TV station and the BBC newsman, Alan Johnston, famous for his pro-Palestinians bias is being held hostage. [...]

  11. Richard Landes says:

    Eliyahu had trouble posting, so I’m putting his comment up:

    Sophia,
    Here are some more articles on BBC policy during the Holocaust, its effects on Shmul Zigelboym, the Jewish Socialist [Jewish Labor Bund} delegate to the Polish govt-in-exile in London, and on general British policy towards the Holocaust. Most of these posts are based on Zigelboym’s letters at the time published in Yiddish.
    I think that Sophia was on to something.

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/04/bbc-holocaust-was-it-reported-or.html
    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/04/britain-bbc-holocaust-suicide-of-shmul.html
    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/04/in-despair-over-bbc-official-british.html
    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/04/warsaw-ghetto-uprising-zigelboyms.html
    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/05/more-on-bbc-and-holocaust.html

  12. Sophia says:

    As to The Return of the 1930′s – oh yes – people have noticed.

    A group of us on the Left started getting really scared about 3 years ago by what we were seeing on the leftwing blogosphere – way beyond anything one would have anticipated and not limited to Israel-bashing – but actual traditional antisemitism including but not limited to conspiracy theories, accusations of dual loyalty, undue influence, blood libels (Israel and or American Jews guilty of 9/11, Iraq, killing Hariri, suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, the tube bombings in London and Spain – you name it.) Attacks on Joe Lieberman are commonplace. AIPAC and or The Israel Lobby are responsible for all our foreign policy woes.

    We started a little site of our own, which we called Prosemite Undercover as a kind of take off on Democratic Underground, where most of us met in the process of trying to defend Jews and Israel, so we’d have a place to discuss politics and document antisemitism on the Left. We were also worried about Israel bashing in the media.

    Our fears, of course, are simple: at what point is internet incitement going to result in actual Jew-bashing? And where is this attempt to delegitimize Israel going to lead?

    We started PSU during the Hezbollah war and it was truly dreadful on the ‘net – but apparently, in California for example, has been getting worse and worse on US campuses for a few years now. ANSWER/ISM actually managed to hijack the peace movement. This in itself caused me, for one, to start rethinking my politics.

    Frankly I think this is frightening. I also think a lot of this new/old antisemitism is coming from non-traditional sources, i.e. not the usual KKK/neonazi types, but from some new kind of Left and also from overseas. Some of it I am sure is organized and directed against Israel per se. Of course people like to front their attacks on Israel by complaining that people accuse them of being antisemitic when all they want to do is “criticize Israel”.

    Increasingly the proPalestinian voice sounds like a “death to the Jews” voice and that is deeply alarming. When it’s combined with boycotts, like the Brits’, it appears that a form of state-sponsored antisemitism is returning, as those unions are often at least partially subsidized by the taxpayer.

    This short book on Left Wing antisemitism is worth reading, whether you agree with the author’s views of Zionism or not, because of its insights into the origin of Left Wing antisemitism, and being a British piece bears directly on our discussion.

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/ressources/funny/

    As far as the Holocaust links are concerned – thank you, gentlemen, for posting those. I had had no idea -

    Has anybody written a book about Britain, the Holocaust, the Mandate, and Israel?

  13. Sophia says:

    Now the Department of Truth says – oh go read I’m too mad to type:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6710289.stm

  14. fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    well, i think that the notion after the holocaust “never again” was pretty naive.

    bigotry is always due to ignorance and i already stated several times that the collapse of the educational system leaves the younger generations open to scapegoating, bigotry, manipulations, etc.

    add to this hijacking of the academia by left and palestinian activists masquerading as academics, and you get what you get.

    then you get useful jewish idiots like soros — somebody who felt no discomfort as a child (protected) helping take the assets of people sent to the concentration camps — funding anti-israeli/jewish agenda; or judt. or Finkelstein. They must be scared like hell.

    scary indeed, and i doubt that internet sites will have much of an effect.

  15. Richard Landes says:

    Comment from Joanne:

    Thanks, Sophia, for that Prosemite Undercover info. Is the site http://www.prosemiteundercover.com?

    I’m guessing they’re an American equivalent of the British Euston Manifesto crowd.

    It’s heartening to see that there are people like that around, people on the left or center-left who do not buy into the dogmatic culture of the left, especially the Israel-bashing. You see glimmers of hope here and there, most notably among the people connected with Dissent magazine (I still mourn the death of its editor, Irving Howe). But that occurs only too rarely.

    As a result, you get a lot of Jews who start calling themselves neoconservatives or right-of-center, not because that’s their real political ethic, but rather because that’s the only part of the political spectrum where they feel welcome.

    I’m not following that route. I don’t feel any tug toward neo-conservatism. I guess I would call myself more of a social democrat, but for decades I’ve felt like a political orphan. I belonged naturally on the democratic left, yet I couldn’t feel very comfortable there. That’s why this group you mention may be very interesting to me.

    On another note: Some people might feel that anti-Semitism on the left is something new. Actually, that’s not the case. In the 19th century, European socialist leaders were often anti-Semitic. Some examples I can think of are Eugen Duhring, Jules Guesde (the French socialist unsympathetic to Dreyfus), and of course Marx. Back then socialists associated the Jews with capitalism, and so had no sympathy for them. Actually, the left didn’t own anti-anti-Semitism until the Dreyfus case in France.

    And even then, anti-Semitism wasn’t gone from the left. I remember reading that, in the Austrian Socialist Party, it was common to shout “Jew” in Parliament as an insult (even among some members who were themselves Jews!). And later on, anti-Semitism was often rife in the Communist world, especially in the form of anti-Semitic purges in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and of course the USSR. Well, when it came to anti-Semitism, the USSR was in a class by itself.

  16. Sophia says:

    Hi Joanne, everybody!

    Here’s the link:

    http://prosemiteundercover.phpbbnow.com/index.php

    I hope you’ll come visit and maybe join us.

    Harry’s in England is good; probably you know about them already, they are much bigger and older but their format and focus is a bit different. They’re right in the midst of the British antizionist movements.

    http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/

    FP wonders, can websites do anything to help?

    Probably not in and of themselves but they are documenting history – and of course there are letters written, arguments presented, friendships created and cherished. Knowledge is precious in and of itself, isn’t it? And maybe we can raise consciousness in the right places.

    What else can we do? If the Brits succeed in mobilizing Europe against Israel – or the far left succeeds in damaging Democratic support for Israel and antisemitism thus becomes institutionalized once again – which is the goal I believe – history will repeat itself.

    The other aspect of our site is to try and increase tolerance and knowledge, not just of Jews but of the other people in the Middle East, and of course to keep up with current events and scholarship. That’s a pleasure in itself:)

  17. fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ says:

    richard,

    the jew is the pernnial hated.

    the left was antisemitic calling the jew capitalist; the right was antisemitic calling the jew communist.
    you name it, it hated the jew.

    and austria was, is and probably will be one of the most rabid.

  18. [...] 8217;s this about the Taliban? And why should the symbolic release of Johnston, himself an advocacy-journalist who h [...]

  19. [...] denunciation of Hamas, he gives real information while taking away even more important information. Palestinian intimidation is pervasive. Maybe Charles (and Alan Johnston the rest of the MSM) doesn’t notice because he never does [...]

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