Barry Rubin on the Corruption of the Information Professionals

Barry Rubin has written another valuable contribution to the discussion of how far off the MSNM and academia have drifted over the last years, to the point of destroying their own credibility. He doesn’t do much on academia. For that, see the article by Brendan Goldman, Middle East Studies Profs Usurp New Roles to Censure Israel over Gaza Flotilla.

Media, Academia Destroying Themselves Over Israel

Institutions are crumbling as the lies needed to uphold the Israel narrative become too much to bear.

June 15, 2010 – by Barry Rubin

The irrational slander and hatred of Israel is not destroying Israel. It is destroying the institutions — media and academic, especially — being driven to madness by this obsessive irrationality and decline from their own proper standards.

Like an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, the number of lies, logical fallacies, concealments, and strategic misconceptions necessary to make Israel look bad has grown so large that it threatens the health of the media and intelligentsia.

I’d say this has been happening for a decade, and begins with the enormous “oil-spill” of toxic contents into our information circulation systems represented by Al Durah, the Icon of Hatred.

For in their assaults on Israel, these particular news media — of course, not in all they do nor in the work of all who report for them — have left behind professional ethics, rationality, and their own credibility. Political correctness has eclipsed factual correctness, and the purpose of some newspapers has been redefined from reporting the news to merely reporting the news that furthers the political agenda of editors and journalists.

The above, of course, is strenuously denied by those who embody such behavior, though it is of no surprise to those who are reading these words. And in this growing gap, the former lose credibility and the latter lose respect for what should be one of the main pillars of Western democracy and defense against the ideologies of dictatorship.

Read the essay by George Orwell, “Pacifism and War,” (1942) in which he accuses the pacifists (appeasers) of being “objectively pro-fascist.”

There is no institution that is more clearly typical of this malady than the once-respected and now justly often-ridiculed New York Times. Only the Times could donate a huge space to Tony Judt, a man without qualification to discuss the Middle East, claiming that the idea Israel is being delegitimized was a propaganda myth created by the Netanyahu government … while Judt daily delegitimizes Israel.

For my fisking of Judt’s 2003 essay, “Israel: The Alternative” – one of the more astonishingly fatuous pieces on the conflict by an otherwise serious historian, written at the height of the anti-Israel hysteria provoked by – of all things – the suicide terror campaign against Israel.

The Times apparently views any statement made by Israel or its supporters to be false until proven true beyond its ability to think up some excuse for not accepting it.

I remember when I came to Israel during the second intifada, someone in the IDF Spokesman’s unit told me that they have storerooms of material they had put out for journalists who wouldn’t touch them because, as far as they were concerned, Israeli government information was hopelessly biased. Instead they believed what Palestinian stringers told them. As Shmuel Trigano said at the height of the wave of anti-Semitism in France around the same time, “Jews are not allowed to bear witness.” Indeed, one French group called it “the Glass Ghetto.” What good is it if you put your canary in a sound-proof cage?

After Israel released several videos showing Israeli soldiers arriving on the deck of the Mavi Marmara and being beaten by a large mob, it dismissed the footage as … “lacking context. Were they [the images] shot before or after the boarding party started using force?”

Yet one can clearly see on the video that the militants on the ship’s deck are calmly standing there, obviously not being fired upon, and the soldiers are holding onto the rope, with their guns slung over their shoulders.

Forced to retreat a bit — but never acknowledging its error — the Times editorialized: “The Israelis claim that Insani Yardim Vakfi is a dangerous organization with terrorist links. They have yet to offer any evidence to support that charge.”

But, of course, a vast amount of evidence had been released, including: documents showing the organization had been declared to have such links by, among other entities, the Danish government, France’s leading counterterrorism magistrate, a previous Turkish government, and the U.S. government.

All documents are easily available on the internet, but beyond the reach of the Times, apparently.

There is, of course, one obvious point that proves the group has terrorist links: its open support for Hamas, a terrorist organization, in terms of financing, supplying, strategy (trying to break the blockade against it), and political aims. On virtually any other topic, this would have been sufficient to prove the point.

While governments of Israel, like all governments, have told lies, what is amazing is how good that government’s record is — especially compared to other Western democracies. Israel and its supporters know that their every word will be scrutinized and must be backed up by facts and documentation. Yet the Times and other mass media often treat Israel as less credible than dictatorships and terrorists whose record for veracity is minimal.

Meanwhile, the International Herald Tribune runs an op-ed by Alistair Crooke, who has also been warmly received by the Times and other media. Crooke is openly a lobbyist for Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Los Angeles Times, whose record is just as bad, ran an op-ed by a UCLA professor and anti-Israel activist named Saree Makdisi entitled: “Don’t single out Helen Thomas.” Makdisi used long-discredited false quotes from Alan Dershowitz and Israeli leaders to claim they are also racist purveyors of hate speech.

Yet while the Los Angeles Times permits the publication of false quotations — as the New York Times did a few months ago with a Rashid Khalidi misquote — such media almost never quote the documented daily incitement and hate preached throughout the Middle East in mosques, government speeches, and mass media.

Here’s the rub. They combine mainstreaming the dishonest rhetoric of allegedly “leftist” commentators, while falling silent about the genocidal madness of the post-colonial subalterns whose cause they take up. If there’s a cropping scandal in the media, it’s the cropping of the genocidal hatreds of the Palestino-Islamist world.

Media reactions to the latest revelations about Reuters’ use of doctored photographs (removing a knife from a flotilla jihadi’s hand, so it can be argued the Islamists were merely victims) have been a yawn.

When Rosie O’Donnell defended Helen Thomas and argued that the Jews should go back to Germany and Poland because there were no more death camps in those countries, it brought no criticism.

Yet what of all the things we aren’t hearing about? I know from an impeccable source that when a book of mine was discussed at an editorial board meeting of the Harvard University Press, it was rejected after someone said: “We can’t have an Israeli writing about Arab politics.” And Princeton University Press, considered the absolute best for academic publishing on the Middle East, put out a book by a leading British anti-Israel activist — without notable academic argumentation in it — claiming that Zionism is a mental illness.

The reasons why such things happen are complex. They include the identification of Israel as evil and aggressive, which then permits it to be treated as inevitably dishonest and in the wrong. But this is only possible because it is accompanied by the ideological corruption of academia, media, publishing, and intellectual life in general.

Many journalists believe that the highest priority for media is to further their own causes and to tell the public what is “good” for it to hear. If, for example, negative things are reported about Muslims, third-world countries, or enemies of the United States — the reasoning goes — Americans might go into the streets and massacre Muslims or advocate wars.

I think this is a critical issue. I think both academics and journalists believe they are promoting peace by blinding the public to any cause to favor war. Thus, the more vicious our enemies, the more important to disguise their nature. In so doing, they become “objectively pro-fascist.” But as long as, in the short term, they keep the lid on violence, they think they’re doing their job.

Thus, censoring out large aspects of the news and distorting others has become virtuous. And there are many other manifestations: Christian groups come to the defense of those who expel Christians and won’t let churches be built; gay groups support those who murder gays; feminist groups endorse those who repress women.

It is no accident that there are so many sayings warning against the dangers when perceived wisdom becomes nonsense. And they all agree that this mistake leads to the destruction of those who refuse to see reality accurately.

Sophocles, the ancient Greek playwright, noted: “Evil sometimes seems good to a man whose mind a god leads to destruction.”

The Jewish Bible warns: “For the waywardness of the thoughtless shall slay them, and the confidence of fools shall destroy them.”

And what form does that madness take? The German Socialist leader, August Bebel, explained it: “Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools.” But, claim those who purvey its most modern form, we are against anti-Semitism.

Such arguments are merely propaganda for Israel. What is happening at most, however, is that all the traditional anti-Semitic themes are being introduced with merely the change of one word: “Jew” becomes “Israeli.” The implications often leak into “Jew” anyway.

Especially any Jew with the nerve to defend Israel. The only acceptable Jews in the 21st century – if the current trends continue – will be dhimmis.

Rather than teaching democracy to the Arab or Muslim-majority world, the “teaching” has been in the opposite direction.

The leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reports that in the city of Anne Frank, those who appear to be Jews are spat on and harassed in the streets. In one neighborhood a secret synagogue exists, since if the mostly Muslim population found out it would come under violent attack.

When a single Palestinian, who was not even known to reporters, claimed that there had been an Israeli massacre in Jenin, the world media trumpeted that fact, despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever.

It is not merely that Israel is presumed guilty until proven innocent. The problem is that many institutions are making it impossible for Israel to be proven innocent, and will ignore that verdict if at all possible. How else can one explain how a planned violent assault on soldiers by a radical jihadist group — that included their kidnapping (bragged about by the participants) — for the purpose of making the world hate Israel, did in fact lead to worldwide condemnation of Israel?

What Trigano calls a media pogrom.

Even when the truth was documented on video?

Can the whole world be wrong?” asked Kofi Annan in April 2002, talking about Israel. Annan has no idea that a century earlier the Jewish essayist and Zionist Ahad ha-Am asked that question in precisely the same words. Yes, answered Ahad Ha-Am, the whole world can be wrong, because we know that we don’t use the blood of little Christian children to make matzos.

Only when the “best and brightest,” including many Jews among them, recognize that they are perpetrating the modern version of such historical arguments and reclaim their own professional ethics and Enlightenment methods of reasoning will there be hope for them to do better.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition, Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth about Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

23 Responses to Barry Rubin on the Corruption of the Information Professionals

  1. Eliyahu says:

    Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools

    I have updated August Bebel as above.

    The academic and media worlds overlap to a great extent with “peace movements”. Here is a skeptical view.

    http://www.netanyahu.org/peacmovthena.html

  2. [...] post: Augean Stables » Barry Rubin on the Corruption of the Information … Share and [...]

  3. [...] to contemplate, most liberals prefer to believe their demopathic pretences to moderation. As Barry Rubin points out, in some ways, the media tells us things that will pacify us, and keeps the bad news – news that [...]

  4. Eliyahu says:

    To illustrate both the mad decline of academia plus the Euro willingness to buy Judeophobic lies and fancies, I spoke with a Belgian professor about a month or two ago.

    I told him in our discussion of Arab-Israeli affairs that he really ought to study the history of the region, of the Jews, of the conflict more thoroughly. He told me that, yes, he was doing that. What are you reading, I asked. Shlomo Sand, he answered.

    So here is a professor taking a tendentious, fraudulent pamphlet seriously as a source of authoritative information on Jews, on Israel, on the Middle East, etc. Referring back to the earlier post on Euro prejudices against Israel, this example that I supply fits there too.

  5. incognito says:

    Eliyahu,

    The academics have been self-destructing much earlier than their current anti-zionist posture. They are no longer intellectuals, but rather indoctrinators into crap.

    They are a product of a collapsed education system which does no longer impart critical thinking and ability to reason, but does just the opposite: it inhibits them.
    I have watched the start of this collapse as early as the early 1980′s and is the reason I left academia.

  6. JD says:

    I don’t know Sand much, but a quick look shows he is regurgitating right wing, blood obsessed anti-Semitism, triggered by Koestler’s book on Khazars. The first big obvious problem for the thesis is that Yiddish is an Indo- and Western- European language, not Turkic.

    It seems the looney left in Israel is filling their minds now empty of the errors but discipline of Marx with anti-Semitisms of Western Europe, esp. France. The French (I bet the Belgian prof. is Francophone) are not the only people who think they think like “the world” and seem to have no intention to examine their anti-Semitism as a product of being French.

  7. Eliyahu says:

    JD, the prof spoke both French and Flemish and he was knowledgeable about his own country, I believe. But I was stunned by his arrogance and superficiality, thinking that a dose of Sand was a dose of knowledge or a suitable introduction to the subject.

    As to Sand himself, he was raised as a Communist. I see him trying to vindicate Stalin’s dictum of 1913 that the Jews of that time were not a nation, although Stalin did not deny that ancient Jews were a nation. Of course, in order to vindicate Stalin’s dictum about modern Jews, itself vitiated by the very existence of the State of Israel, Sand has to go farther than Stalin. I see Sand’s position as a Communist position, loyal to good old Uncle Joe, the Sun of the Peoples. What I have said about Sand above does not rule the possibility that somebody paid him to write such a book. Maybe it was written on assignment, just as Ed Said’s books may have written on assignment, that is, they were commissioned.

    As to “right-wing” blood and soil theories, “leftists” too can share such theories and also view Jews as excluded from their particular blood and soil community.

    I wonder what our Belgian professor would have said about the question of whether Belgium is a nation or people deserving its own national state.

  8. incognito says:

    I don’t know Sand much, but a quick look shows he is regurgitating right wing, blood obsessed anti-Semitism, triggered by Koestler’s book on Khazars.

    There is no reason to know Sand much except that he wrote a crappy book that tries to undermine jewish identity — the only reason he was promoted in the world.

    His thory was already proven wrong both historically and recently genetically. But who cares about facts.

    It seems the looney left in Israel is filling their minds now empty of the errors but discipline of Marx with anti-Semitisms of Western Europe, esp. France.

    When I lived in Israel I remember the labeling of the Israeli left as “fin Herzl a leck und fin Marx a schmeck”, which for those who dk yidish means ” from Herzl a lick and from Marx a sniff”.

  9. incognito says:

    I wonder what our Belgian professor would have said about the question of whether Belgium is a nation or people deserving its own national state.

    Probably depends on whether he is Flemish or Waloon.

  10. Eliyahu says:

    to #9, he wanted to keep Belgium together.

    But visiting Israel, he visited “al-Quds University” run by PLO operative Sari Nusseibeh.

    Your comment about Israeli leftists, a bit of Herzl and a bit of Marx, means that their knowledge of theories and ideologies was very shallow. But that’s typical of “leftists” today. Utter ignorance, of history, of theory, of geography, of true current events, etc. That’s why they can be so easily manipulated. And those who would manipulate want them that way.

    By the way, incog, I see that you speak the southeastern dialect of Yiddish, comme moi et mon pere et ses peres. My father’s family came from the formerly Tartar territories of southern Ukraine taken by Russia about 1780. As much as the Russia of that time hated Jews, they wanted to settle those new territories –from which most of the Tartars had emigrated– more. Settlers in what is now southern Ukraine were given land to till and cultivate. Even Jews, including my Dad’s family, were given land to farm in that zone, plus exemptions from some of the harsh anti-Jewish laws prevailing in other Russian-held areas.

    So I am descended on my father’s side from settlers in a formerly Muslim land, in a former part of Dar al-Islam. Likewise, all or nearly all non-Muslims in southern Ukraine today ought to be considered colonialist settlers robbing deserving Muslims of their precious land. The fact that the Tartars used to raid the lands north of that zone for slaves who were sold in the Ottoman Empire is of no consequence whatever. Those captives were mere Kufar.

  11. incognito says:

    to #9, he wanted to keep Belgium together.

    So he must have been a Waloon.

    Elegy for Wesleyan
    http://www.academia.org/elegy-for-wesleyan/

    Your comment about Israeli leftists, a bit of Herzl and a bit of Marx, means that their knowledge of theories and ideologies was very shallow.

    Leftism tends to inhibit variation and critical thinking (except for bashing non-leftism) and induce conformism with the dogma. It is a product of indoctrination not education.

    At least the old lefties built Israel and fought for it, so I forgive them the dogma. Today’s leftists would not know what real left is if it bit them on the ass.

    I see that you speak the southeastern dialect of Yiddish

    Eastern Europe. I don’t speak it, my family from my mother’s side did (my father went through german education and spoke german). So I understand much of it and new some expressions.

  12. incognito says:

    The Elegy for Wesleyan is evidence for how bad even the good schools are today. Here’s a comment that caught my eye:

    I assure you, anyone who isn’t already armed with the ability to think critically will have swung at least ten miles to the Left.

    Now, where did you hear this before around here?

  13. Eliyahu says:

    re # 11, the thing about “leftist” dogma is that, unlike let’s say Roman Catholic dogam, “leftist” dogma is subject to change, both slow and fast changes. This happened back in the 1930s when the true believers in the wisdom of Iosif Vissarionovich Djugashvili went very quickly from being anti-Nazi, enemies of Hitler, suspicious of the Nazis, to pro-peace with Hitler and Nazi Germany, believers in Hitler’s peaceful intentions, etc.

    That’s why “leftists” are so ideal for the mindbenders, they can be manipulated so easily.

  14. incognito says:

    The Catholic dogma is also changeable, except perhaps for some core aspects — it is not today the same as it was at its inception.

    And the leftist dogma usually does not always bend, it often is being reinterpred to respond to reality. For example, the alliance with jihadis is an extension of the dogma to include new oppressed by capitalists.

  15. Eliyahu says:

    re #14,
    If the excuse is that the Arabs/Muslims are “new oppressed by the capitalists,” then they are incapable of perception or reality or brainwashed or very well indoctrinated 0r insane or what have you. In fact the rich Arabs of the Persian Gulf and saudi arabia are the new capitalists, the new imperialists in Marxist-Leninist terms. Recall that those rich Arabs own not only resources in their own countries but huge assets in Western lands, real estate, stocks in manufacturing firms and media firms [Newscorp, UPI, Economist], state bonds, etc etc. These same rich Arabs finance Hamas and Fatah and other terrorist, jihadist gangs. The theory that you say they use to justify their pro-Arab, pro-Muslim policy does not fit the facts on the ground, the reality of hundreds if not thousands of billionaires, millionaires, etc. Using that argument –which I’m sure some Commies and Trots and other do– is a kind of madness impervious to reality.

  16. incognito says:

    If the excuse is that the Arabs/Muslims are “new oppressed by the capitalists,” then they are incapable of perception or reality or brainwashed or very well indoctrinated 0r insane or what have you.

    It does not mean that they insantly and always adapt.
    In this particular case it’s a relatively new distortion.
    And it was caused by their loss of the socio-economic
    conflict at home. To remain vested in their dogma — as
    they must — they had to stretch it in some way. When the alliance manages to win due to the west’s self-destruction, they will likely realize what they’ve done, but it’s not clear that they’ll be able to do much about it.

    In fact the rich Arabs of the Persian Gulf and saudi arabia are the new capitalists, the new imperialists in Marxist-Leninist terms.

    They are now in the stage where they are focused on bringing down the west, so they blind themselves to any such aspects. The dogma changes after long periods and they’ve just had a change.

  17. incognito says:

    After a change, the left is prone to certain blindness that a dogma always induces — that’s by definition.

  18. incognito says:

    David Frum: Death of a Jew-hater
    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/06/19/david-frum-death-of-a-jew-hater/

    See what I mean?

    Left-Wing Lobbyists Orchestrate Gaza Campaign
    http://www.newsmax.com/KenTimmerman/AlFakhoora-Gaza-blockade/2010/06/18/id/362396

    And here is an American case, which means that some money is also involved.

  19. incognito says:

    Obama Unmasked: A Review of THE MANCHURIAN PRESIDENT
    by Aaron Klein, with Brenda J. Elliott
    A review of the best-selling new book by Aaron Klein on Barack Obama’s ties to communists, socialists and other anti-Americans.
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Books/Book.aspx/134540

    Does this have any explanatory/predictive power, you think?

  20. incognito says:

    Apropos perception of reality:

    How We Fool Ourselves Over and Over
    In a new book “The Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us,” authors Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons show how little we know about our own knowledge.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=how-we-fool-ourselves-over-and-over-10-06-19

    Nothing really surprising. About the only way to attenuate the problem is to make people aware of these fallacies, which should be part of a proper education.

    And let me preempt any “this won’t solve the problem” by alerting to my use of the term “attenuate” and to the fact that NOT having such education will sink civilization. Which it already does.

  21. Eliyahu says:

    Talking about how easily the “Left” can be manipulated, as well as about how Arab money buys “leftist” movement:

    http://www.newsmax.com/KenTimmerman/AlFakhoora-Gaza-blockade/2010/06/18/id/362396

    This article is essential for even a partial understanding of the Turkish Armada in defense of Gaza.

  22. Eliyahu says:

    Incog, I see that in #18 you already picked up the article on creation of a “leftist” movement by Arab money and American “public relations” and advertising skills.

    You have to add to this story Jeremy ben Ami’s formerly working at Fenton Communications. Now he is Mr J Street. Also JStreet essentially is an arm of Obama’s anti-Israel foreign policy.

    Also add in the award by the Woodrow Wilson Center in DC to ahmet davutoglu, FM of Turkey. The head of the wilson center is Lee Hamilton, a mentor of Obama, in addition to Zbig bzzzzski.

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2009/04/obamas-mom-geithnerss-dad-and-durban-ii.html

    Then there was the story by Jerome Corsi on WorldNetDaily [ wnd.com ?] about how the Free Gaza movement was connected to John Brennan the White House pro-terrorism czar [counter-terrorism czar?]

  23. incognito says:

    You have to add to this story Jeremy ben Ami’s formerly working at Fenton Communications. Now he is Mr J Street. Also JStreet essentially is an arm of Obama’s anti-Israel foreign policy.

    It;s been already discussed here. I know where Jeremy comes from and what J-Street is all about. Somebody ought to publish an in-depth analysis of this whole story.

    Also add in the award by the Woodrow Wilson Center in DC to ahmet davutoglu, FM of Turkey. The head of the wilson center is Lee Hamilton, a mentor of Obama, in addition to Zbig bzzzzski.

    I’ve written about Wilson myself — it’s part of the corruption of information professionals (a) for islamic money as well as (b) kiss-ass attempts to ingratiate themselves with the future overlords and (c) bring down the capitalist democracies.

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