Sunday, July 13, 2008

British ignorance - refusal to know

I. This is pretty ridiculous:

Dr. Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya Israel, points out easily a few errors that any self-respecting journalist should not make, unless under pressure to conform to a general trend in British media that employs "a uniquely one-sided, wilfully ignorant approach to the coverage of Israel".

Lesley White starts as she means to go on. Lunch with Blair, we are told, takes place under parasols which overlook "east Jerusalem's temples and mosques." I have lived in Jerusalem for just under two decades. It does contain quite a large number of mosques. Temples, however, are conspicuous largely by their absence. The clue is that religions worshipping in temples - Hindus, Buddhists - have scant regard for Jerusalem, and hence don't bother to build facilities for worship in it.

Another reason is that religions not involving the worship of one deity have generally had a hard time of it building facilities in areas where Muslims have been in control for the best part of the last thousand years.

There was of course a quite important Temple in Jerusalem at one time. But this particular one, built by the Jews, was destroyed by the Romans in ad 70, and a rather large Mosque currently coincidentally stands where it once stood, so it's unlikely that Lesley White saw it, unless she was being unwittingly affected by a bout of the well-known "Jerusalem Syndrome." This syndrome causes visitors to Jerusalem to imagine themselves as Biblical figures, and experience visions and hallucinations.

...Lesley White mentions the "Palestinians I spoke to" in her article. These, however, do not seem to have been offset by any Israelis that were "spoken to" - at least they appear nowhere in the text. This perhaps explains another, more interesting error. Lesley White refers to a person described as Israel's "head of security." This person, apparently, is called Gabi Ashkenazi, and he is, Lesley White tells us, "considered by many the nation's de facto leader."

Well, Lesley White, first of all allow me to tell you that Israel, like most other countries, doesn't have a post called "head of security." The Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel has a head of security. I dare say Annabel's nightclub in London has a "head of security." The State of Israel doesn't. What Israel does have is its armed forces, and Gabi Ashkenazi is currently what is called the Chief of Staff of the said armed forces.

Israel has some other things, too. Israel has universal adult suffrage, a parliament, regular free elections, a defence minister, a prime minister and a president. Not all of these necessarily always contribute to effective or wise decision-making. But Lesley White, if she had found the time to talk to any Israelis, might have learned a little about these institutions, and would have discovered that Israel is a democracy, and that Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi is no more "de facto ruler" of Israel than is General Sir Richard Dannatt the de facto ruler of Great Britain.

(H/T: Martin Kramer)

II. Immoral equivalence

On Solomonia recently there was this post about a cartoon alleging moral equivalence (at the very least) between Olmert and Ahmadinejad.

The cartoons, and editorial pages, in the British media, when discussing Israel, increasingly resemble the kind of Arab sensibilities one can encounter on Arab media, like Al-Ahram, or Al-Jazeera. A posture that is made out of a sneering attitude, smug opinion, some facts and heavy historical revisionism. You don't know where to even begin to deconstruct the message, so grotesquely it is distorted out of all recognizable shape. And when you ty to, as sometimes you can in the comments, your efforts are met with more of the same, exponential ignorance and leaps of irrational logic. The anti-Israeli haters never answer pertinent questions, only make up more stuff. There is very little doubt in my mind that the UK is slowly sinking into third-worldism.

III. Honest immoral equivalence (H/t: SJ)

Couldn't get any clearer than this statement, by a British... academic:

"To put the matter as starkly as possible: from the standpoint of Marxism and international socialism an illiterate, conservative, superstitious Muslim Palestinian peasant who supports Hamas is more progressive than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically)." (source)


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