Category Archives: journalism

“O wad some power…” Fisking Michael Sfard

Israel’s Human Rights Activists Aren’t Traitors

By MICHAEL SFARD JAN. 5, 2016

In March 1968, my father was a member of the Warsaw University students’ committee that helped lead the enormous protests demanding reform from the Communist Polish government. The government responded with a smear campaign to try to delegitimize the protests’ leaders, claiming they were acting in the interest of Western powers, or — exploiting widespread anti-Semitic sentiments — of a Jewish-Zionist plot against the Polish People’s Republic.

In other words, the government labeled my father and his friends foreign agents. Traitors.

My father was detained for three months and expelled from the university. After his release, he left with his family for Israel, where I was born. Unlike my father, I grew up in an environment that welcomed free political discussion and allowed people like me to become human rights activists and criticize our government. When I claimed a few years ago, after yet another right-wing attack on Israeli human rights organizations, that we had reached “the bottom of the pit,” my father gave me a knowing smile. “The pit is much deeper than you think,” he said.

Precisely.

My father was right. Over the past month, I have begun to see its true depth.

No you haven’t. You do not have a clue. Nothing in Israel comes near what was going on in your father’s Poland, nothing near what the most mundane authoritarian regimes do to their own citizens, not even close to what Israel does to their enemies. It is precisely this rhetorical exaggeration that has people like you calling the IDF “war criminals” and Israel a “racist, apartheid, fascist, state.” You have no historical depth-perception, so you’re easy dupes for moral equivalence.

And the problem is, outsiders will mistake your “prophetic” rhetoric as an insight into the actual situation here in the Middle East, rather than into the fevered brains of those Jews stricken with MOS. Outsiders understandably have difficulty figuring out how to “read” these hyper-critics: are they sober and honest assessments of reality? or prophetic rhetoric uttered where no ancient prophet would have delivered his rebuke of his people, in the lingua franca of the larger world, and in the courtyards of their powerful ones?

On Dec. 15, an Israeli ultranationalist group

Ultranationalist is a term largely reserved for brown-shirt-type organizations, fascist in their principled resort to violence in their targeting of enemies: “defending one’s country even when it is committing horrific acts to its own citizens.”

Im Tirzu shares nothing in these matters with real “ultra-nationalist” groups, and the use of the term to lump the group with the worst of the far right is characteristic of this publicly self-accusing pseudo-prophetic rhetoric: our (Israel’s) smallest crimes (i.e., deviation from the strictest “progressive” values) are of such magnitude that they compare with what’s nastiest out there (ultra-nationalists, racists, fascists, Nazis). By your standards of inciteful rhetoric, this is a robust example of smearing.

NB: I’ll bet the store that you would never compare Palestinian political culture to “ultra-nationalists,” even though the parallels to the most violent type of that phenomenon are close. On the contrary, some of you revel in your contempt for evidence.

released a video portraying four Israeli human rights defenders as moles planted by foreign states to assist terrorists. The 68-second video, which rapidly made its way across Israeli social media, shows four mug shots and claims that “While we fight terror, they fight us.”

Here’s the video:

As for the accusations, knowing some of the background, and while not quite the way I would have chosen to put it, the video does nonetheless expresses a legitimate opinion. You may not agree, because it questions you and your fellow activists’ behavior, but I don’t see where calling groups that take money from hostile foreign governments to defend and protect avowed enemies of the state, a “plant” or even a “traitor,” is in any way worse than the ones they are so accusing, that is no worse than you and your colleagues calling Israel and its soldiers “war criminals,” “facists,” “nazis,” and “racists.”

You may think that the PLO is an institution that deserves your active support in avoiding responsibility for committing acts of terror against Israeli citizens. But surely you can understand that others, convinced by the same evidence that you are presumably aware of, see the PLO/PA as a devoted enemy of Israel’s very existence, think they should not receive the help of Israelis to carry out their plans for our destruction, and that anyone who does is dangerous.

The video is outright slander and an outrageous incitement.

Amazing. As the great poet Robert Burns once put it:

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!

Borderlife: Who in the Education Ministry ever put this book on the list in the first place?

I’m on a listserv that recently circulated an article from Ha-aretz entitled:

This is available in Polish, translated by Malgorzata Koraszewska.

By Banning Book, Israel Maintains Purity of Blood

My comments don’t address the article much, but more broadly the role of the controversy in the larger framework of the media’s unhealthy obsession with Israeli misdeeds.

This is a classic:

  • Haaretz features a “journalist” who misrepresents the situation to make Israel look as bad as possible,
  • that hatchet job is then avidly taken up by the Western press, written by and for people who apparently can’t get enough of stories about Israel behaving badly.
  • “Good,” “liberal,” “anti-racist” Jews feel they have to distance themselves from this disgusting Israeli behavior.

The Haaretz headline about “purity of blood” is grotesque, and not just picked up by neo-Nazis (Stormfront), but other papers who mistranslated “fear of assimilation” with “fear of miscegenation.” The author, Alon Idan, has the characteristic contemptuous tone for those Israelis he dislikes so brilliantly discussed by Edward Alexander in Jews Against Themselves. Idan takes a delicate, difficult, deeply personal subject and reduces it repeatedly to race, as if what has parents hoping their children marry one of “their own” – with its enormous cultural, religious, and social dimensions – is essentially an expression of dark hatreds that echo the Nazis. 

Israel did not ban the book, a message Haaretz so diligently tried to convey, and which so many in the British MSNM immediately and tendentiously trumpeted, starring, among others, the BBC’s Lyse Doucet. In fact, as the article entitled so negatively above, explains the situation is as follows: Several teachers had asked to include the book in the national curriculum for advanced literature. Their request went to the academic advisory committee which voted to recommend including the book. The recommendation went to the Ministry officials who actually have the legal authority set the curriculum. They decided not to accept the recommendation. The academic committee appealed to the Ministry officials to reconsider their decision (there is a formal appeals process for this). After reconsideration, the Ministry officials stood by their initial decision.

Bottom line: The book was never included in the curriculum at any time. Its proposed inclusion in the curriculum was never cancelled, because the only people with authority to set the curriculum never included it. It was not removed from the curriculum, because it was never in it. No decision was ever made by anyone in the Israeli government to forbid the teaching of the text. No order forbidding teaching the text was ever issued. I believe this is what one might call a tempest in a teapot.

But let us, for a moment, consider why the book, at whatever level of opposition, might have been negatively evaluated by the education ministers. In addition to being, in the queer theory meaning of the word, deeply transgressive in for its depiction of the love affair (which plenty of Israeli parents, Jewish, Christian and Muslim don’t want their children to be exposed to at so early an age), but it also depicts the IDF as sadistic war criminals. 

In a country where the IDF makes constant and valiant efforts, not only to avoid the sadism so prominent among our neighbors, but to raise the level of concern for enemy civilians to unheard of heights in the annals of warfare, such depictions, however artistically compelling, demean a genuinely noble national spirit, in particular by accusing us of things our neighbors do all the time, and as a matter of (their) principle. As for the racism charge, Israel is, given the circumstances, one of the least racist countries in the world (come to our hospitals, our universities). To stretch and distort the story in order to level charges against us, while ignoring the far more terrifying stuff our neighbors do, is pretty mean spirited, to say the least.

Whatever its literary and conceptual merits, there is no reason on earth why a national school curriculum would want to require, or even encourage its youth to read the book. Indeed, the real question any sound journalist should be asking is: “Who on the academic advisory committee in Israel thought this book was appropriate for high schoolers in the first place?” 

Policy Perspectives from the World of Apocalyptic Honor-Shame

I recently received a challenge from one of my less avid fans on a list-serv that I participate in. He challenged me to answer a series of policy questions from the perspective I irritatingly espouse – namely current Western policy concerning the Middle East and Islamic nations is useless at best, self-defeating, even suicidal, at worst because it ignores what I call the HSJ paradigm that focuses on honor-shame dynamics and their current vehicle, apocalyptic Jihad.

I post here my answers.

Dealing with Islam:

Right now in the West, the reigning prime directive reads: “Don’t piss them off.” We think it’s the “vast majority of Muslims” that we thus soothe, but we also encourage the triumphalists, especially with the extent of our placation, our appeasement.

Instead of thus empowering triumphalist aggression, we should pick our fights and target triumphalism. There are so many places the cultural Maginot Line of a robust civil society have crumbled, so many places to start getting serious about what Muslims ask of us and we ask of Muslims. (For a good view of one of the early collapse see, alas, France after 2ooo in The Lost Territories of the Republic.) We need to arm progressive Muslims in their fight with the forces of triumphalism, not concede repeatedly (often with a post-colonial objective) to triumphalist aggression.

Without reciprocal relations, free societies cannot exist, much less aspire to the near utopian hopes of global progressives.

Educate about Islam, not just the masses but the policy folks. I’ve spoken to an audience of 400 people in homeland security and only 1/10 of them claimed they knew what dar al Islam and dar al Harb is. If you don’t know that, you’re historically and religiously illiterate about a crucial element of our current predicament. And 15 years after 9-11, and 26 years after Khoumeini’s fatwah against Rushdie extended Shari’a to the West?! We can’t afford that ignorance.

Right now, we are babes in the woods. As much as I want to believe what you [another list member] say about this administration [being fully aware of the problem], everything I see and hear indicates the opposite: it is overprotective of the “99.9%” of Muslims who, they tell us on their behalf, “reject the extremists.” Where does Obama come up with this stuff? How on earth can serious people take this seriously? Unless of course, they’re in such denial about the problem we face that they’ll take the pablum.

But part of our predicament has been we believed that these indulgences in moral posturing (PC) – Moral and Tolerant Europe Triumphant, The Passionate “cause” of the Palestinian Underdog – were somehow cost free. (If “tout flatteur vit aux dépens de celui qui l’ecoute,” then how damaging is self-flattery, which can be endless?)

On the contrary, these moral postures have allowed the Jihadis to maneuver the progressives into suicidal positions, into a proleptic dhimmitude where the GPL sees itself salvific warriors bringing world peace through self-abnegation, even as it submits to Muslim triumphalist demands that they not only dare not criticize (triumphalist) Muslims, but, rather, they must adopt the Muslim enemy (Israel).

Syria

(Let’s just hope it’s better than criticizing the Obama Administration for not giving enough aid to the Free-Syrian Army).  American troops?  How about Israeli troops  (no, that wouldn’t work); Turks?  (strike that);  Iran (Never, never).

Syria is a symptom of a breakdown of a political culture. The Arab “Spring” was actually a quake that hit a very weak political culture – Lee Smith’s Strong Horse. Those political dynamics reflect a broader, heavily authoritarian (patriarchal honor-murders) culture, and these social dynamics make it virtually impossible to launch and sustain a democratic political culture.

Instead it was springtime for Jihad and tribal warfare.

As for policy, our our journalists and academics and talking heads, systematically misinformed us about the situation beforehand, as well as during. With foolish expectations borne of the “post-colonial” paradigm, we thought – and were encouraged to foresee – a wave, from Tunisia to Syria of more democratic, vibrant, civil societies. Muslim Brotherhood? “Moderate,” and “almost secular.”  So whether we intervene (Libya) or don’t (Syria), it works to the advantage of the Jihadis because they are the most brutal in a brutal culture, and we are clueless. And when they fail, as all such brutal efforts do, they – at least under current conditions – just prepare more wretched chaos to fuel the next round of violence.

To think differently about this means having an appreciation of the impact our behavior has on others (allegedly a Western specialty).

In 2003, when the GPL and European countries (led by Chirac) had such a grand time turning Bush into the Antichrist, I got an email from a medievalist who was in Tunisia. “The Arabs think the French are weak. They side with their enemies and humiliate their friends.” By that logic, I can assure you that triumphalist Muslims think the Left is weak.

I’m not saying, “don’t oppose the Iraq War just because you don’t want to look like a wuss,” but rather “be cognizant of the impact of what you’re doing in terms of how your enemy (triumphalist Islam) perceives you.” The public mutual contempt the Left and Right have expressed for each other has done terrible damage.

In the 11th century, it was emperor and pope attacking each other publicly for fifty years that loosened revolutionary forces; and among the beneficiaries of that open hostility, were the free towns, the urban communes of the later 11th and 12th centuries. In the 21st cn, however, by far the greatest benefactor of public hostilities between twin poles of public discourse (in this case right-left, rather than royal-papal) has been the Jihadis… by comparison with a progressive 11th cn, the 21st cn looks alarmingly regressive.

We can’t even begin to think strategy much less tactics as long as we can’t talk about this larger massive politico-cultural failure/dysfunction in the Arab and Muslim world. And yet, thru some alchemical process operated by a particularly irresponsible branch of post-modernism, it has become “racist” to address cultural and religious problems.

Iran –Let’s hear the deal/threats or  bombing policy that you recommend and why?

I’d go very strong on rallying collective hostility to Iranian claims, use every kind of pressure to get them to stand down. i wd have been blown away if you had told me in the 1980s that the nuclear disarmament crowd would not say a word in the 21st century about re-starting a nuclear arms race, this time in the highly volatile Muslim world, i’d have said, “don’t be absurd.”

Of course, if you told a signer of the Hamas Charter, with its genocidal paranoid participation in a movement for global Islamic dominion, that within twenty years, infidels would be marching in the streets with their banners, shouting “we are Hamas!” he would have responded, “Only Allah can make infidels that stupid.”

Iraq  (Can’t be working with Iranian, Shi’a militias, right?)

What Explains Own-Goal War Journalism? Response to Jon Dyson

Jon Dyson who blogs at Arguement4Israel recently posted a long response to my BBC and Own-Goal Lethal Journalism piece. It is very important, and disagrees with me in valuable ways. So I’m posting it as a separate post, with commentary and response interspersed. (This is not a fisking.)

Lethal journalism undoubtedly threatens to disarm society in the face of lethal threats. But I fear that the explanation of lethal journalism provided in your text (and your speech at the recent meeting in London on the BBC) regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is misleading.

For sure, the dangerous anti-Israel bias and outrageous misreporting of the BBC and much of the international media presents the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a Palestinian-David-victim vs Israeli-Goliath-oppressor battle. And as a result, the ‘news’ they broadcast systematically promotes material that is bad about Israel and little that is good – and the reverse about the Palestinians – along with Palestinian propaganda presented as news, scandalous omissions, etc.

And let’s not leave out the self-destructive nature of the actions – the BBC, by taking on the Palestinian “narrative” as news, pumps Jihadi propaganda into its own public sphere, encouraging Jihadi hatreds both directly (BBC lethal journalism used as recruiting device for Jihad), and indirectly (promoting among Westerners hatred of a civilizational ally and friend whom the Jihadis hate).

Several reasons have been suggested to account for this, such as antisemitism or feelings of post-colonial guilt. But your article/speech suggests that these are inadequate to explain the pack mentality shown by the preponderance of pro-Palestinian views in the mass media. Instead, the main weight of the suggested explanation is placed elsewhere: on ‘the pervasive culture of intimidation’. Firstly, there is intimidation by the Palestinians, such as against the press-corps by Hamas in the war in Gaza last year. Secondly, there is peer pressure among reporters (and, presumably, corporate pressure from news organizations?) to ensure conformity to a pro-Palestinian narrative.

Nicely put. Can’t complain with your summary.

Such intimidation undoubtedly exists. But the issue is whether or not its presence is sufficient to explain the pro-Palestinian stance of so much of the international media. Unfortunately, the example used in the article/speech, BBC reports of a supposed IDF attack on Shiffa hospital,

Actually, Shati refugee camp, but they were both part of the same set of Hamas rockets gone astray.

did not demonstrate coercion at all. Instead, it was another demonstration of BBC misreporting that needs to be explained.

Not clear here. My explanation is that their “misreporting” was actually fully compliant with Palestinian demands. (Preparing something on this right now.) That compliance reflects a pervasive surrender to Palestinian demands, which in turn reflects an unstated fear of retaliation.

Compliant Journalists Live in a Land of Few Facts

I recently got an announcement about a talk that Jodi Rudoren is giving in Boston entitled, “Journalism in a land of few facts.” I’d love to go to hear how she develops the theme of dueling narratives. (NB. I have not had a chance to imbed all the remarks below as they deserve. Hope to do so later.)

Tamar Sternthal at CAMERA once again revealed how critical sources outside the mainstream can and do make invaluable contributions to a serious and reasoned public discussion. Paying attention to these voices (narrated by their critics as “right-wing”) offers at least a serious possibility of OODA rather than IDAD.

In a closer look at two cases, Sternthal shows how when the “facts” get in the way of “he-said, she-said,” they get dropped from the narrative. The pattern is a classic of compliance with the Palestinian prime directive: Palestinians must be presented as victims, never aggressors; Israelis never victims, always aggressors.

Indeed, how does one comply with this Palestinian imposition when the evidence, the facts, don’t support the Palestinian narrative? How does one report the story, when part of the story is that the Palestinians were caught lying about their innocence?

By and large, compliant journalists avoid dealing with these stories as much as possible, and when circumstances force them to report it, they go “he said, she said,” equally plausible narratives.

What of the evidence, the “facts” that contradict? Drop them from the report, and when challenged, declare them unworthy of space. So dismissive attitude towards facts that a good journalist would consider the most relevant in sorting out what happened, prepares us to understand the title of her speaking tour talk:

Reporting from the Land of Few Facts.

Not the basically honest:

Reporting from a Land where I cannot talk about relevant facts

Certainly not the self-critical:

Reporting from the Augean Stables of a Palestinian Compliant Media

Rudoren on Intimidation: The Fully Compliant Tweet

It’s worth, in this context, recalling Rudoren’s response to the FPA protest of Palestinian media.

The BBC and Own-Goal War Journalism

This is the text of a talk I gave on Tuesday, November 10, in a London synagogue for UK Media Watch to discuss the BBC’s record of reporting from the Middle East in anticipation of Parliament’s Renewal of the BBC’s Charter.

How the BBC Has Poisoned the Global Public Sphere with its Own-Goal War Journalism

It’s always hard to know what to say when talking about the current situation without sounding alarmist, or, as Ben White claimed, sounding like a paranoid Eurabia conspiracy theorist. European elites have been in denial for so long and at such a cost… and trying to wake them up, such a thankless task. I take this large crowd, however, as a sign of an awakening, and address those of you who have come to the conclusion that our leaders – our politicians, our journalists, our pundits, our policy makers, our community leaders, don’t really know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to dealing with the waxing population of triumphalist Muslims in Europe. And in this widespread disorientation, these leaders have put the Jewish communities of Europe – England’s among them – in real peril.

Now no one in 2000, would have anticipated that in 15 years, the Prime Ministers of both France and England would openly express their fears that they might lose their Jews. Who, in those heady days of global civil society, would have imagined such a turn? When I spoke with Rabbi Sacks in 1997 about my fears of a returning anti-Semitism at the turn of the millennium, he, like almost everyone I spoke to back then, found it absurd. But even I didn’t imagine that it would take the form of European sovereign nations allowing – or not being able to stop – triumphalist Muslims from chasing out the Jews from their midst.

My remaining remarks will be addressed to two points:

How it happened

Why it happened

I will leave it to my fellow panelists to document the sad tale of journalistic malfeasance, and suggest where to go from here. My goal is to place this tale in a larger framework and understand how self-destructive it is for journalists to so behave.

Psychotic Palestine: Bret Stephens Nails it, alas!

Recently, in an interview with Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mark Regev, a BBC journalist asked the following question:

“What we’re seeing is people who are born in this century, people born post Oslo accord now taking the view that Israelis should be killed. One wonders how they got those views, I don’t know how they got those views other than from watching Israeli behavior if you like being provoked by that or feeling they’ve been provoked by that what they observed from the community they oppose.”

The amount of ignorance that underlies such a question (malevolence aside) is truly staggering. Obviously the BBC, like so many other news outlets, keeps its viewers and readers ignorant to the massive campaign of hatred and incitement to genocidal violence that occurs in the Palestinian public sphere on a constant basis. As one response, below, I’ve posted and commented on an excellent article by Bret Stephens.

Palestine: The Psychotic Stage

The truth about why Palestinians have been seized by their present blood lust.

 

Israeli security forces and emergency services next to the body of a Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack in the old city of Jerusalem on Oct. 3. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

By  BRET STEPHENS

Wall Street Journal

Oct. 12, 2015 7:34 p.m. ET

321 COMMENTS

If you’ve been following the news from Israel, you might have the impression that “violence” is killing a lot of people. As in this headline: “Palestinian Killed As Violence Continues.” Or this first paragraph: “Violence and bloodshed radiating outward from flash points in Jerusalem and the West Bank appear to be shifting gears and expanding, with Gaza increasingly drawn in.”

Or the NYT headline, Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt his Car in West Bank, which they later amended to leave out the mistake of “West Bank” but clung fervently to their reification of stones, which, in their language “pelted the road the man was driving on.” Thet  basic principle from the Palestinian Media Protocols with which they are fully compliant insists that Palestinians are innocent victims. Saying that Palestinians pelted his car with stones would violate those Protocols.

Read further, and you might also get a sense of who, according to Western media, is perpetrating “violence.” As in: “Two Palestinian Teenagers Shot by Israeli Police,” according to one headline. Or: “Israeli Retaliatory Strike in Gaza Kills Woman and Child, Palestinians Say,” according to another.

Such was the media’s way of describing two weeks of Palestinian assaults that began when Hamas killed a Jewish couple as they were driving with their four children in the northern West Bank. Two days later, a Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem’s Old City, and also slashed a woman and a 2-year-old boy. Hours later, another knife-wielding Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli police after he slashed a 15-year-old Israeli boy in the chest and back.

 Or, when two Palestinians attacked a synagogue in Har Nof and butchered four men at their morning prayers, CNN ran the headline:

CNN jerusalem mosque

The Answer to Hisham Milhelm’s Searing Question on Arab Cultural Failure

For Malgorzata Koraszewska’s Polish translation, see here.

I have often lamented the lack of Arab self-criticism (and the surfeit of Jewish self-criticism). About a year ago, Lebanese journalist Hisham Melhem wrote a devastating piece about the current state (meltdown) of Arab culture across the boards. He repeatedly insists that this cannot be explained by any one factor. Below, I go through his article and attempt to show how honor-shame dynamics, in the peculiarly pathological form they have taken in the Arab world since the victories of Israel against the Arab onslaught have led to this nadir.

NB: I do not, by this post, mean to insult Arabs – although I realize that much of what both Melhem and I have to say will strike some Arabs as insulting. But in the spirit of self-criticism, I offer these reflections as sober appraisals of an undoubtedly painful reality that we all – Arabs above all – need to think about. The learning curve begins when one dives into self-criticism, rather than violently flees it.

Who brought the Arabs to this nadir?

In recent weeks and months I tried in this space to critique an Arab political culture that continues to reproduce the values of patriarchy, mythmaking, conspiracy theoriessectarianism, autocracy and apolitical/cultural discourse that denies human agency and tolerates the persistence of the old order.

Note the importance in this description of the Arab world, of denying human agency, which is something that Western liberals comply with on a regular basis, treating Arabs and the Muslims  as forces of nature that have no moral agency: Sharon visits the Temple Mount, of course they start an Intifada; say Islam inherently violent, of course they riot in protest. It’s our fault for provoking them, not theirs for having no self-control. Have a thousands of Muslim citizens of Western democracies take off to join savage jihadi armies? It’s the fault of Western racism and Islamophobia.

Of course, this is merely the adoption by Westerners of the logic of the very Arab world Hashem is criticizing: if attractive women make testosteronic men horny, then cover the woman, don’t tell the men to learn self control. News headlines regularly adopt this principle of not attributing agency to Arabs, especially in describing the conflict of Israel with her neighbors: Stones pelt Israelis; Israelis shoot Palestinians.

The article in which I said that the ailing Arab body politic had created the ISIS cancer, and subsequent article published in Politico Magazine generated huge response and sparked debates on Twitter and the blogosphere.

The overwhelming response was positive, even though my analysis of Arab reality was bleak and my prognosis of the immediate future was negative. Yet, these articles were not call for despair, far from it; they are acris de Coeur for Arabs, particularly intellectuals, activists and opinion makers, to first recognize that they are in the main responsible for their tragic conditions, that they have to own their problems before they rely on their human agency to make the painful decisions needed to transcend their predicament.

Yael Lavie Interviews Tuvia Tenenbom on B’tselem’s Holocaust-Denying “Top” Researcher

I’m preparing a post on an interview with Tuvia Tenenbom by I24 reporter Yael Lavie that took place October 8, 2014. Even though it’s old, it illustrates a key dimension of the cogwar against Israel and how even Israeli journalists participate. Below, for further reference, is a transcript of the interview with some brief notes (h/t Sarah Chin).

I welcome any further information or thoughts on what I think is a transcript immensely revealing of current Israeli journalism’s dysfunctions.

Reporter: Welcome back, it is still Wednesday October 8, 2014, this is still the morning edition on i24, where you should be and I am still Yael Lavie last I checked, thank you for staying with us and onto our next topic. Now our next story combines 2 of the core narratives of Israel and the Jewish people, the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As research for his new book, Catch a Jew, author and German journalist Tuvia Tenenbom interviewed Attaf abu a-Rub, field researcher for Israeli human rights NGO B’tselem.  Abu a-Rub has denied the Holocaust. First let’s take this, let’s take a look at this controversial bit and then meet the author himself.

[Clip showing Arab interviewees denying holocaust]

Reporter: Tuvia Tenenbom is with us in studio, first of all thank you so much for joining us.

Tenenbom: thank you for having me, morning

Reporter: Good morning good morning to you, first of all I have a question to you. You actually walk around the West Bank you know and you speak to Palestinians, but yknow the man you spoke with, the B’tselem volunteer [sic] did not know what you were really doing there right?

the implication here is that the revelation is illegitimate because Nutch-al-Rub doesn’t know that it will be reported because Tenenbom is “on the other side.”

Tenenbom: all he knows is this, I was working on this book, that came out in Israel now,

Reporter: To Catch a Jew

Tenenbom: To Catch a Jew, tfoos haeyhudi which means to catch a Jew, and I asked B’tselem at the time if they can, I said I wanted to see as they do an operation from beginning all the way to the end, as they do research, as they collect data and all that stuff. And I spoke to Sarit Michaeli who is the spokesperson of…

Reporter: right

Tenenbom: (continuing) of Btselem and Sarit said to me she’s gonna give me the best, her top researcher and his name is Attif,

Reporter: ok

Tenenbom: I went to meet Attif, we went to Jenin, and we drove to Jordan valley, and then we met people and then he says what he says, he says a lot of things, this is one of them, you know for example if we are to

interruption here at point where more of Attif’s problematic attitudes were about to come out.

Reporter: what did you say to Sarit Michaeli and B’tselem people when you said that you want to join them from the beginning, that you were doing this what for? Did you explain what…

Sorry TT interrupts here, but she was about to accuse him of illegitimately failing to inform B’tselem that he was not sympathetic to them. Implication of such an accusation: B’tselem has a right to keep secrets from the public. Enderlin took precisely the same approach with his tapes of Talal.

Tenenbom: I explained everything, I said I am writing for the German media, I am writing for a paper called Die Zeit, I am writing and the purpose of this one is I’m writing a book for the publishing company in Germany called Suhrkamp, it’s one of the best in Germany and I’m writing about the issues here and I would like to meet and I would like to see, everybody knows B’tselem, I would like to see how it happens

Reporter: but when you set out to start writing the book the premise was actually, that the Palestinian people are anti-Semitic, that was your premise to begin with

in other words you found what you were looking for?

Tenenbom: never ever, this is one of the lies that you have all over, never ever. Actually when I came here

here’s a clash of narratives. YL is here articulating the “word” from the “left” aimed at discrediting the contents of TT’s book. TT’s response – lies – is a sign of how widespread the campaign. whether it’s lies or just misinformation, conjecture presented as facts, is another matter.

Reporter: it’s not the lies, I mean I’m asking you straightforward

protect the conjecture.

Tenenbom: I did not come here because you know I’ve seen it somewhere, I did not come here with any agenda, political, I didn’t even know where I’m going. My commission was, the basic idea was go to Israel because I did already a book a year before that yknow..

Reporter: called?

Tenenbom: I slept in Hitler’s room, says name in Hebrew, I don’t have it here,

Reporter: but that was also…

Tenenbom: it was the same thing, you go to Germany, for 6 months, talk to people and then come up with what it is, what I found out was…

Reporter: the premise of that book was also about anti-Semitism..

Tenenbom: it came out that to be antisemitism, but this was not the idea before,

Reporter: mmm hhhmm

Tenenbom: when I started the subject you have to understand, first of all the two books, were not my ideas. It’s not like I had a guide, a reason, I was chasing something I tried to find something out, no, in both cases there were German companies, publishers, who asked me to do it because they read my articles in Zeit,

Reporter: there’s something you know, the German um uh the German you know editors ask you to write the book, there’s so many things I can say about that

as an interviewer shouldn’t it be “i could ask about that”? Instead, she’s out for bear and passing up moose.

but here’s my question to you, you know you though and I’m just wondering you claim actually your claim is that the Palestinian people are, what, are anti-Semitic?

has she read the book? I think not. Framing telling: are they or aren’t they anti-semitic? a frame only someone in denial might make. Real question based on extensive evidence: how far has the officially sanctioned anti-semitism permeated the society… an answer TT is far more empirically equipped to answer than YL.

Tenenbom: this is not what I claim, this is not this is not what the book is about, the book is about what happens here. One of the things that happens here what the book is exposing is

Reporter: yes

Tenenbom: is things I did not know when I started it, what the book is exposing is there are 1000s upon 1000s and millions upon millions of euros invested by Europeans. I thought when I came here there were two people here, the Arabs and the Jews, and this is the conflict between them, during my travels here, and you have to understand, 7 days a week 14 hours a day,

Reporter: no I understand but (unintelligible)

Tenenbom: everywhere I go I see especially in the Palestinian areas you know I see European NGOs, operating NGOs, and Israeli NGOs FINANCED by Europeans, and some Americans but mostly Europeans, some of it by European governments for the most part

Reporter: I get but the NGO thought Btselem that you interviewed, Btselem had a response, I’m gonna read it out to you:

Btselem Response

this is an interesting moment, since the statement essentially acknowledges the seriousness of the allegation and promises to investigate. Strangely YL doesn’t read the part of the statement that includes B’tselem’s firing of Abu-a-Rub for both saying it, and lying about it. 

Reporter: I mean what is your claim then about Btselem, that one guy, one of their researchers, yknow which by the way a Holocaust Denier, I feel again, I can say this, I come from a family of Holocaust victims, of you know most of, I’m a German Jew, most of my family perished in the holocaust, you know that guy, really doesn’t is not gonna take away anything of my existence, I have to say and I don’t think it projects on the organization itself….

Possibly the most astonishing statement in the interview. Would her ancestors who died in the H agree with her dismissal of the significance of TT’s identifying a denier of the Holocaust. 

The man is a major conduit of information about the behavior of Israelis and the suffering of Palestinians on the West Bank, and his denial of the Holocaust (ie his inability to analyze evidence) doesn’t matter? and shouldn’t reflect on B’tselem? Even B’tselem disagreed.

Tenenbom: no no no this is where you are wrong, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, most Palestinians think there was no Holocaust, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, Attaf is entitled, entitled to his opinion, and I don’t care what Attaf thinks…

interrupts.

Reporter: and many Israelis don’t think there was ever a Palestine or there should be a Palestine…

?!!! comparing denying there ever was a [presumably Arab] Palestine – there never was – or there should be a Palestine – political position – to Holocaust denial. Every side has their “narrative”, same-same, he-said-she-said. YL’s comment reveals a massive disorder in the ability to handle empirical information.

Tenenbom: but..let’s not mix the issues here, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, he’s entitled to his opinion, he’s a nice guy, what I care about, is a (Hebrew) he’s a researcher for Btselem, he’s the guy who’s supposed to come out

Reporter: a researcher for B’tselem is someone who walks around, who walks around with a camera (Tenenbom trying to speak)

Tenenbom: all what B’tselem is what is B’tselem, they have 11 researchers, what is the big issue with B’tselem, they have 11 researchers, all of them Palestinians, ok, all the names you have around it, its nothing to do

in other words, just as happened at Netzarim junction on Sept. 30, 2000, no westerners, israelis are around to cover what goes on in B’tselem’s “information” (really “narrative” acquisition.

Reporter: because that is at the core what btselem does,…

Tenenbom: what I think now if you have a researcher who thinks that there was no holocaust, this is what his own research came up with, you know, how can you rely on other research that he says, when the first time that the clip came out, on channel 2 of Israel, btselem claimed that channel 2 added to the video, they claim that I am lying, that Btselem is lying, when the first time

interruption regularly when TT starts hitting hard.

Reporter: again I have to read I have to read the response they claim (Tenenbom trying to talk) that the btselem employee did in fact make the statement of his own volition

he lied. got caught when more tape made available.

Tenenbom: just a second, let me get there, when the Lech, the Facebook, by a woman named Milach, put the whole, video that you see here, the first response of Btselem was this proves…

Reporter: but you know what we are doing right now, we are doing the same thing that yknow that maybe I think people that have an axe to grind (Tenenbom goes to speak, points finger in his face) let me finish, you know are doing, let’s say you know he’s a holocaust denier this this and that, what does it help, seriously, what does it help, you know, in the agenda of trying to progress a peace process because this is now a battle between you and an NGO, I don’t think he necessarily represents all of the Palestinian people

complete loss of any pretension to be a journalist. and here we see the real framework in which TT’s evidence is ground to dust: what (do i, and my friends) think leads to peace, and what (do i etc) thinks will impede peace. B’tselem, against settlements for peace. You battle B’tselem. Your evidence means nothing in the bigger picture, it doesn’t “represent all of the Palestinian people.”

Tenenbom: this is not a battle between me and an NGO, these are the facts, they know, they denied it, they denied and denied and denied, and after Haaretz said this is what he said, you know they came out, B’tselem finally said

Reporter: but what does it mean, what do you think it means?

Tenenbom: what it means is that they employ people who hate the Jews, who thinks of the Jews…

Reporter: you know there are Israelis who hate Arabs as well

another interruption just as he gets to the point YL has been trying to undermine.

Tenenbom: no of course but you know what, if they had an attack on Iran, and a researcher, a researcher who said that all the Arabs are bad people, or something like that there is no Palestine, never was, B’tselem would have fired that guy or that lady in a second

Reporter: no but the thing is…

Tenenbom: it shows you the mindset of Btselem, you have a mindset and this is what I find, not just B’tselem, I find Shalom Achshav, peace now, I find it in many other left-wing organizations,

Reporter: (trying to interrupt) but that’s because they oppose you opinions,

in other words, whatever you say about the left is just because they don’t share your opinion. hermeneutic seal.

Tenenbom: they are so much with self-haters

Reporter: but to call people whose opinions differ from you that they are self-hating Jews is somewhat doing the same thing as denying their opinion or denying any…

master of narrative relativism. anything but consider the problem TT’s pointing to, which is the zealous masochism of some Israelis leads them to poison the world they think they’re helping.

Tenenbom: they are, everybody is entitled to their opinions, I’m not saying they are not entitled to their opinion, they are entitled to their opinions

Reporter: but they are self-hating Jews

Tenenbom: they are self-hating Jews, if they have the facts, look if you employ these people, and you call them researcher you have a problem with this, and again I have no problem with Attaf, I have no problem with Tamar who goes around paid by the EU, paid by the EU, goes around to….

Reporter: I’m going to stop you right there only because we have a completely different segment coming up. And again I’m glad you joined me because I respect your opinion

not.

Tenenbom: thank you very much and I respect yours

Reporter: even though I might be a self-hating Jew

Tenenbom: no you are nice person

Reporter: thank you, ok we’ll be moving on

Tenenbom: thank you

Pessin Archive: Farewell Remarks from Zuraw-Friedland, Editor of Connecticut College’s Newspaper

In her final piece in The College Voice, Ayla Zuraw-Friedland vaguely allusions to the ethical problems surrounding her tenure, with no mention of her controversial issue of March 2, in which she published three letters attacking Pessin and neither warned him, nor offered him the opportunity to respond. She also mentions her faculty mentor, Jim Downs.

I Guess This is It: Signing Off

Posted on May 5, 2015 by Ayla Zuraw-Friedland in Editorials

After 11 issues in print and one online of The College Voice as Editor in Chief and nearly 60 as a staff writer, section editor and senior editor over the past three years, it has all boiled down to an editorial that I am supposed to use to sum up everything that this one extra-curricular has done for me. It is an editorial that I have both dreamed and dreaded writing. I’m supposed to say something important, but I cannot quite grasp what that is.

I only had two goals when I started this year: 1) Do NOT go into debt. 2) Just keep things floating. No waves, just twelve passable issues. Finish your thesis. Pass it along. I never identified as much of a journalist, anyways.

Even looking back from this moment, I thank goodness that I only met one of those goals. I realize now how ridiculous that goal was and that it was reflective of my unwillingness to recognize what I now consider to be an undeniable fact about the newspaper; despite my best efforts, it has become a mirror of my own spirit.

It has become my way of asking: How can we leave this space better than when we found it?

Maybe that carries baggage that begs the question as to whether I have violated standards of journalistic integrity. But maybe it’s a question that I’m happy to ask and be asked anyways. Who am I to answer that on my own? The simplest answer is, that I never intended to. I believe that The College Voice is and should be a conversation space for everyone. If this year has taught our community anything, it is that words and language are powerful tools to wield.

I will never deny that this has been a year of mistakes and learning. I will never claim what I did was “correct,” but I will always stand by the fact that I was doing what I thought was right. But, despite all the media attention, positive and negative, this community was bombarded with from the outside, the world at large is not our audience. It is here. The College Voice is not called a “campus newspaper” for nothing.

I am lucky to have a team with me that have been equally consistent in asking similar questions. This staff rests on a long tradition of Strong Female Role Models (and also Dave Shanfield) that have shown me what it means to take risks, to take deep breaths through caffeine induced panic attacks and to take a second look at the “Final” edition of the paper, because it can always be better.

I thank Dana and Luca for being the most wonderful team. You’ve already picked up the baton and I can’t wait to see you run with it. Dana, you have been with me every step of the way, in every office meeting with the Deans that I thought would end in a fight, and involved in every late night food run I can remember. Thank you to our adviser, Jim Downs, for convincing me that gut feelings are the truest form of intelligence, and also that it is okay for some emails to go unanswered.

I thank my intrepid staff of editors, writers and designers for putting up with my disorganization and lack of direct eye contact or precise instructions. You’ve been through a hell of a ride. Thank you to the senior staff, Matthew Whiman, Ellie Storck, Dakota Peschel, Eleanor Hardy and Annie Rusk. You can all go into the world knowing that you have a beautiful, shiny title on your resume, and hopefully a few fond memories of broken computers and an abundance of chairs to go along with it.

I could write more. But what I want to close this with, in classic fashion, is a question. Where do we go from here?

At this point, support for the newspaper has come from within a network of dedicated students and faculty members. In a letter to campus last month, The College Voice was referred to as “our campus newspaper.” That was the first example I could remember of the campus at large or any administrator taking responsibility or ownership over this organization. As more and more media stories came out attacking specific members of the newspaper staff and the newspaper as a whole, it became clear that it would also be the last.

That means that, somewhere along the lines of “shared governance” and “accountability,” something got lost. How can the campus claim us as their own without offering support, whether that be by writing articles or in efforts to educate the staff as to what it means to have journalistic integrity? We want desperately to belong to you, to be a space you can trust, but that cannot be done without help. We need conferences and guidance and acknowledgment of the basic reality that we have been doing this on our own. We have a long way to go.

I am glad though, to have been along for at least the beginning of what I hope is a long run. I look forward to looking back. The shifting staffs and families are the most consistent home I have known at this school. Perhaps this editorial is so long because I know that the second that it ends, it is my last goodbye.

Signing off,

Ayla

The “New” 21st Century Anti-Semitism: A Brief Bibliography

I list here all the earliest works that identified a new wave of Western Anti-Semitic sentiments that literally exploded on the scene in the wake of the reporting on the Second Intifada (aka Al Aqsa Intifada, the Oslo Jihad) in October 2000. If anyone has others to suggest, please recommend them.

Shmuel Trigano, ed., Observatoire du Monde Juif (November 2000-2004)

Pierre-André Taguieff, La nouvelle judéophobie (Mille et une nuits, Paris, January 2002); English tr. Rising From the Muck: The New Anti-Semitism in Europe (Ivan R. Dee, NY, 2004).

Emmanuel Brenner et al., Les territoires perdus de la République: antisémitisme, racisme et sexisme en milieu scolaire (Mille et une nuits, Paris, 2002; English: The Lost Territories of the Republic (American Jewish Committee, New York, 2006).

Phyllis Chesler, The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It (Jossey Bass, NY, July 2003, revised edition, Gefen, Jerusalem, 2015)

Manfred Gerstenfeld, Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem, 2003)

A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st Century Britain, ed. Iganski and Kosmin (Profile Books, London, 2003);

Gabriel Schonfeld, The Return of Antisemitism (Encounter Books, NY 2004);

Paul Giniewski, Antisionisme: le nouvel antisémitisme (Cheminements, Angers, 2005)

Fiamma Nierenstein, Terror: The New Anti-Semitism and the War against the West (Smith and Kraus, Hanover NH, 2005

Old Demons, New Debates: Anti-Semitism in the West, ed. David Kerzer (Holmes and Meier, Teaneck NJ, 2005).

Jewish anti-Zionism: The proxy honor-killing

Available in Polish, translated by Malgorzata Koraszewska here.

The recent stunning performance of Marcia Freedman at the J-Street conference, calling for a one-state solution (almost surely not called Israel), in which an Arab majority would fiercely defend the rights of a protected Jewish minority, heartily applauded by an audience of alleged “pro-Israel, pro-Peace” attendees, has once again raised the question sent to me by someone who saw The J-Street Challenge:

WHY do J Street activists take these positions that they know are destructive to Israel’s chances for survival? 

Obviously, the easy way to answer is to claim they don’t realize the destructive nature of their “plan for peace.” Certainly this would hold for Ms. Freedman, who apparently believes that once Israel becomes a “true democracy [applause]” (whatever that means), that Jews won’t need to maintain control of the levers of power, since that now truly democratic “state” would secure the rights of the Jews no matter who was in power (e.g., an Arab majority).

Only someone struck with terminal cecity could not notice that beyond Israel’s borders, Arab majorities rarely protect the rights of minorities, especially those they feel threaten them. The notion that 2000 years of determined victimization of Jews without sovereignty means nothing, and that somehow an Arab majority would “fiercely defend the rights of the Jewish minority,” such ideas defy the reality-based social and political imagination. Freedman’s speech, so totally divorced from the all-too-human reality of this part of the world, gives us a sterling example of the vapid moral angélisme that animates so many anti-Zionist Jews.

[For those not convinced that J-Street pursues suicidal policies for the polity it professes to “love” – withdraw to ’67 borders as an unreciprocated concession – I’ve written about this elsewhere.]

Here I’d like to address my correspondent’s well-posed question by slightly rephrasing it:

Why do Jews identify with and promote Palestinian lethal narratives about Israel, and ally with, encourage, and promote groups who openly desire the destruction of Israel, even as they assure us (M.F. style) that we have nothing to fear from them?

In a word, I think they’re engaged in a long-term, proxy, honor-killing.

Fatal Attraction: The shared antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

The following is the text of a talk I gave at ISGAP last week.

Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)

And now,

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Something to kill and die for

And one religion too

Imagine all the people

Living under our peace…

You may say we’re dreamers

But we’re not the only ones… (Jihadi Joe, 2000)

Welcome to the 21st century.

The Jihadi Apocalyptic Narrative: World Conquest and the Great and Little Satan

Despite the spectacular attacks on the West, most Westerners have little familiarity[1] with the Jihadi narrative, a narrative first revealed in Khoumeini’s Iran.[2] It varies significantly in some ways from traditional Muslim apocalyptic thought, which focused on a Last Judgment at the end of the world. Instead, this apocalyptic scenario focuses on a this-wordly messianic era, envisioned as the global victory of Islam: when all of Dar al Harb becomes Dar al Islam.[3] Those who join this movement fight in an apocalyptic battle in which the Jews will be slaughtered, and the rest of the harbi, would convert, accept the dhimma contract of submission (religions of the book), or become slaves (pagans), or being put to death[4]: a “Second Global Islamic Kingdom,”[5] only this time, really encompassing the whole world. In the battle, no mercy should be shown to those who resist Islam’s dominion. Everything to kill and die for: suicide martyrs goes straight to heaven; their victims, straight to hell.

Lethal Journalism, Middle East Style

The practice of lethal journalism participates in the larger category of passing off war propaganda as news, has a long history, and a long future. Lethal journalists take the stories that belligerents create to demonize the enemy – especially the accusation of deliberately killing innocent civilians even children – and present them as news.

In the annals of the long history of running war propaganda as news, rarely if ever, have journalists consistently over an extended period of time, passed off enemy war propaganda as news. And yet that behavior, a kind of “own-goal journalism” marks the dominant school of journalism during the period of the opening years of the 21st century. And although it eventually spread far beyond the Middle East, that lethal reporting began and took shape in covering the conflict between Israel and her neighbors.

This peculiar combination of base war propaganda persistently repeated as news by a target of that propaganda – I’d like to call DuraJournalismBut throughout this essay, when I use the more generic “lethal journalism” I make reference to this eccentric Levantine phenomenon.

Identifying and redressing this problem seems like a high value goal, especially in the cause of strengthening a free (hence accurate) news media at a critical moment in the history of those modern nations, “so conceived and so dedicated.”

The key to this journalism is the delivery as news of an implicit (preferably explicit) accusation of deliberate killing – murdering children,targeting  civilians, or, in the words of the Goldstone Report, deliberately “punishing” civilians with “disproportionate” response, possibly constituting “crimes against humanity.” Lethal narratives constitute the basest form of war propaganda, especially when the stories are largely invented. It seeks to arouse hatred and a desire for revenge by convincing the target audience (recruits, observers), that the designated enemy deserves the violence you wish to visit on him.

The term “lethal journalism” designates the practice of those journalists who take a systematically credulous stance towards Arab lethal narratives about Israel, which they then pass on to us, their readers and listeners, as “news,” or at least, as perfectly believable claims about what has happened. Maintaining such a discourse necessitates playing fast and loose with evidence, ignoring and dismissing anomalous details, playing up dubious ones. It leaves a distinct Augean trail where it passes.

Since all wars have their lethal narratives, and all war-makers want to enlist journalists in spreading theirs, examples of lethal journalism can be found throughout the history of the press in war. Indeed, it’s an obvious need for democracies founded on peaceful relations, to have a press that can accurately identify false evidence, especially in the service of lethal narratives, and report on that war propaganda, rather than become an instrument of that propaganda. The fact that Western media have done so badly for over fifteen years, suggests the extent of the media’s “credibility crisis.” The most trusted news source – Fox! – 29%. Democracies cannot survive such dysfunctional relations between the news media and their public.

Suicidal Mainstream News Media: Outsourcing Anti-Semitism to European Jihadis

The following is a (long version) of the paper I present at the European Union Studies Association, meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Boston, on Friday, March 5, 2015. An abbreviated version in Polish here by Malgorzata Koraszewska who posted it at her blog.

Suicidal Mainstream News Media:

Outsourcing Anti-Semitism to European Jihadis

An alarming development occurred this last summer, at least from the point of view of people who believe in the post-Holocaust consensus about human rights and free societies in a peaceful global community, for those who believe that Nie Wieder would the madness that generated World War II return to invade European culture. This summer, throughout Western Europe and Scandinavia, gangs of crudely armed rioters ran through the streets shouting “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!…”; “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This proliferation of sometimes deadly attacks on Jews has convinced some observers that at current rates of open hostility, Europe will have no more Jews in little more than a generation.

In 2000, when the European Union looked forward to a new period of global prominence – one book title read Why Europe will run the 21st centuryif you had told the leaders of the French, or any other Western European democracy, that in the opening decades of the 21st century, increasingly unrestrained Muslim Jew-hatred would drive Jews from Western Europe, they would have mocked your alarmism. Unthinkable! Impossible! Ridiculous. Islamophobic.

How did this happen? And what does it portend?

I can give you the five minute version and you can leave if you wish:

On the Corruption of the Media: Attkisson’s Testimony Helps Understand Mideast Coverage

If Matti Friedman tore off the veil from the AP’s modus operandi in covering the Arab-Israel conflict, then apparently, Sharyl Attkisson has done it for CBS’s modus operandi when it came to the White House over the past two decades. Apparently, Attkisson’s book is an update on Bernie Goldberg’s chronicling of a media militating for Obama with their coverage (A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media2009).

It’s still not out, but the following article by Kyle Smith offers some extensive examples of partisan corruption of the mainstream news media that we in Israel know intimately. Below I draw some (of many) parallels, in order to highlight the way the mainstream news media’s Augean Stables of encrusted bad practices has become a transnational phenomenon.

(H/T Amos Ben-Harav)

Ex-CBS reporter’s book reveals how liberal media protects Obama

Sharyl Attkisson is an unreasonable woman. Important people have told her so.

When the longtime CBS reporter asked for details about reinforcements sent to the Benghazi compound during the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, “I give up, Sharyl . . . I’ll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.”

Modal Trigger

Another White House flack, Eric Schultz, didn’t like being pressed for answers about the Fast and Furious scandal in which American agents directed guns into the arms of Mexican drug lords. “Goddammit, Sharyl!” he screamed at her. “The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You’re the only one who’s not reasonable!”

It’s natural for any stakeholder (political, corporate, personal) to want to protect itself from revelations that embarrass it. Anybody who can (i.e., has power), threatens with loss of access, hence access journalism. Nobody who can does not favor favorable journalists, and punish with exclusion (at the least) those who tend to reveal unpleasant information. The question is, how far will they go? How does the naturally self-protective agent respond to the failure of access journalism to control the situation?

The role of the journalists in a democracy is to fight against this disadvantage for reporters who need access, to resist the kinds of pressures that powerful and influential people can exercise. The remark by White House deputy press secretary Eric Shultz, enumerates some of the more prominent of the submissive journals: Wapo, LATimes, the Grey Lady. They all play nice (reasonable).

Sharyl, on the other hand, is doing her job as a professional journalist with a code. Her kind of journalist was once the pride of the profession. She has, however, become “unreasonable.” “Reasonable” here means someone who knows that, in order to stay in the game (that of access journalism, not real journalism), they will submit their work to a self-imposed censure.

For those trying to understand the Middle East conflict, if mere partisanship (liberal vs. conservative) in the West could produce such damage to the screens upon which we observe our world, imagine what kind of an impact the implicit, constant threat of sudden death, has on reporters working in Palestinian territories.

Le plus grand gagnant de l’opération perdante-perdante “Bordure Protectrice”

Le plus grand gagnant de l’opération perdante-perdante “Bordure Protectrice”

Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme un échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme un succès militaire. Alors, qui a gagné la guerre de Gaza ?

Traduction par Isabelle Sfez de l’article publié par American Interest le 04 septembre 2014

Une traduction polonaise par Malgorzata Koraszewska est aussi disponible.

Après des semaines passées à suivre les combats dans la bande de Gaza, les experts se posent maintenant la question : «Qui a gagné?”. Le Hamas revendique des points juste pour survivre, malgré le pilonnage massif que son leadership et ses structures ont subi, et certains experts disent qu’Israël (1), quels que soient ses gains sur le champ de bataille, a sérieusement perdu la “guerre cognitive”. Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme l’échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme le succès militaire.

Parmi les joueurs auxiliaires, il ya des perdants partout. La crédibilité de journalistes a été dangereusement endommagée. Le Conseil des droits de l’homme et les ONG des « droits de l’homme » ont été honteusement partisans; le secrétaire d’Etat des Etats-Unis John Kerry et le président Obama, étonnamment naïfs et maladroits; la gauche intellectuelle, honteusement d’extrême-droite (2), dans son adoption du discours antisémite. De nombreux analystes s’accordent pour dire que l’opération Bordure Protectrice (OPE) n’a produit que des perdants, et parmi eux de grands perdants (3).

Pourtant, un groupe sort gagnant de l’Opération Bordure Protectrice : les djihadistes européens. Pendant qu’Israël pilonnait un ennemi qui se cachait derrière des civils, des manifestants ont occasionné de graves débordements dans les rues, en Occident et des villes musulmanes dans le monde entier pour protester contre le “génocide des Palestiniens par Israël,” (4), ils ont même crié « Mort aux Juifs ! ” et “Juifs aux fours ! ” et utilisé sur Twitter le hashtag #Hitlerwasright. Des magasins juifs ont été saccagés, et il a été refusé des soins médicaux à des juifs (5), ils ont été agressés lors d’émeutes (6). Les commerces juifs ont été boycottés (7). En Allemagne, le cri se fit entendre : “Hamas! Hamas! Juifs au gaz! ” (8). En France, c’était “Mort aux Juifs! Égorgez les Juifs!” (9) Alors que les médias minimisent la violence et la haine, que la police et la justice résistent mollement, les Juifs européens font leurs valises (10).

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

A shorter version (edited for tone and length) is up at American Interest. If you leave comments here, I recommend you also leave them there.

After weeks of combat in Gaza, pundits sort out “Who won?” The weak side (Hamas) claims points for just surviving, despite the massive hammering its leadership and its constituents endured, while the strong side (Israel), whatever its battle-field gains, lost the “cognitive war” — big time. In the topsy-turvy universe of Middle East politics, nothing succeeds like failure on the battlefield and nothing fails like military success.

As for the ancillary players, more losers all around: journalists’ credibility dangerously damaged; UNHRC and UNRWA behavior, embarrassingly partisan; Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama, astonishingly clueless and blundering; intellectual left shamefully right-wing in its embrace of anti-Semitic discourse. Consensus assessment of many analysts: Operation Protective Edge (OPE) has produced only losers and bigger losers.

Only one group emerged from OPE a grand winner: European Jihadis. During the weeks of Israel pounding Hamas while Hamas hid behind civilians, demonstrators spilled out into the streets of Western and Muslim cities the world over to protest “Israeli genocide of the Palestinians,” even as they shouted “Death to Jews!” #Hitlerwasright, “Jews to the ovens!” Shops ransacked, Jews refused medical services, attacked in riots, Jewish businesses boycotted. For Jihadis, OPE offered a whole new, and possibly permanent, level of public violence. In Germany: “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!”; in France, “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This time, the chant has become a battle cry for bands of “youths,” armed with metal bars, running after Jews. And European Jews are packing their bags.

In the Jewish diaspora community and Israel, the alarm was palpable. “Time to go?” asked Shmuel Trigano rhetorically about France. Why? Not only because once again, people killed and sought to kill Jews in the streets of Europe, but because the news media continually played down the amplitude of the violence and hatred, and the authorities, both police and judiciary, resisted it half-heartedly. In France, as in England, anti-Semites no longer hide; unafraid of police, they roam the streets like the brown shirts of yore. Is this the “beginning of the end” of a two-millennia-long Jewish presence in Europe?

Jihadis, of course, delight in these new levels of both hatred and violence. For them, it’s a quadruple win: 1) depict Israel as the Dajjal (Antichrist) to Western audiences; 2) roam through the streets of Western cities yelling Jihadi slogans; 3) accelerate the expulsion of Jews from Europe as preparation for its conquest; and 4) keep the Europeans thinking this violence only targets Jews, and only because of Israel. For Jihadis, these past weeks confirm what they have long believed: that this is the Muslim century in which, among others, Europe joins Dar al Islam.

How did this happen? How did it get so bad before we noticed it? Are we observing changes of civilizational magnitude?

Global Consequences of Lethal Journalism: The Muslim Street

Honor Shame and the Media’s Adherence to Omertà

Omertà, or the code of silence, is a classic example of how honor-shame concerns (the term comes from “manliness”) can shape a discourse, even a formal or informal conspiracy of silence. One’s honor depends on adhering to a “code of silence,” and breaking it not only brings shame, but in cases where the stakes are high, deadly retaliation. The effects of omertà guarantee that not only does one not talk about the forbidden topic, but one also denies the existence of omertà itself.

The great moral challenge to honor-shame systems concerns the problem of what to do when one must choose between lying for the sake of public honor and keep guilt private, or telling the truth and receiving public opprobrium but maintaining integrity privately. (The classic paradigmatic narrative is when Judah renounces an “honor-killing” for the sake of his own integrity.) In some senses, the emergence of democracy depends on the ability of key players to prefer the painful truth to the face-saving lie, and key “honor-groups” to respect that decision rather than to view admission of fault as a weakness that invites aggression.

Right now the evidence is strong that our mainstream news media (MSNM) are operating within a system of intimidation that imposes on them a code of silence about both reporting on the shocking behavior of Hamas in deliberately maximizing its own civilians’ casualties (bona fide war crimes), and the intimidating violence and surveillance of journalists with which they enforce that silence. They are therefore caught in a classic formulation of the honor-shame dilemma:

1) accept public shame and discrediting in order to uphold the integrity of journalistic ethics by admitting that they have been so systematically intimidated, or

2) save face publicly and be guilty of preserving an illegitimate credibility by denying the intimidation to which they submit and do not have the courage to challenge.

The result of their unwillingness to admit what’s going on is a public secret. Anyone who pays attention knows it’s true, but no one will admit to it. On the contrary, rather than admit, some, in order to deal with the cognitive dissonance of lying to their primary audience (Western information consumers) and enabling war crimes (Jihadi practices), they lie to themselves and pretend that they willingly, proudly, embrace the positions dictated to them.

One of the characteristics of people with Stockholm Syndrome is, in fact, that they are so thankful to be spared the violence of their captors, that they become their captor’s most ardent ideologues. How much of the media vindictiveness towards Israel reflects this metabolizing of intimidation into advocacy: I’m not intimidated, why no one will intimidate me; I’m for the little guy. Possible explanation for the widespread popularity among journalists of Underdogma.

In any case, it’s apparent to me that not only do journalists suffer from the potentially violent retaliation of Jihadis for whom journalism is a weapon of war, and journalists are either on their side or on their enemy’s side, but also from fellow journos who enforce the code culturally by punishing and banishing any journalist who might break the silence or defy what one journalist in an unguarded moment called, “the procedures for reporting from Palestine”, or, what I’d call “the Hamas Media Protocols.”  Indeed, where are the journalists willing to “break the silence.” Or is it just the IDF that should have such self-critical members?

Tribal honor-shame solidarity anyone?

The Gruesome and the Grotesque: Gaza Hospitals, Hamas, and Western Useful Infidels

The Times of London, not normally a paper that favors Israel has a great political cartoon out:

Brookes, Gaza Hospital Cartoon

In part, it’s a response (finally) to a piece by a Palestinian French journalist who was interrogated by Hamas thugs inside Shiffa Hospital in Gaza City. The article, which was published by the French (very anti-Israeli) newspaper Liberation, has since been removed by the request of the author who apparently fears for his safety as long as it’s up. The Tablet has a copy of the article up. Elder of Zion published a translation, further discussed at the Algemeiner.

Hamas has threatened journalists not just for articles, but for tweets. One cannot underestimate the role of intimidation in shaping the news we read and hear. If one looks at the role that ideological advocacy plays among lethal journalists and their colleagues who tag along, it corresponds exactly to what one would expect from journalists for whom fear of Palestinian retaliation for publishing the truth about them, is only matched by lack of Israeli retaliation for telling lies of Israel.

The Times of London also published an excellent op-ed by Richard Kemp, British colonel who served with NATO forces in Afghanistan and has the nerve to call the Israeli army the most moral (by far) in the world.

Palestinian rockets are like the Nazi V1s. Civilian casualties were inevitable then and now

‘The Israelis are doing it all wrong. The RAF didn’t fly off to bomb Belfast in the troubles.” These words from a respected media commentator embody the extraordinary lack of understanding by so many in this country who think the Israelis’ fight with Hamas is like ours with the IRA and can be dealt with in the same way.