Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When it comes to the Middle East. why does the 'quality' media ignore quality writers?

In responding to a typically ignorant attack on her by a prominent writer, pro-Israel, anti-Jihadist blogger Pamela Geller says:

  • "Who gives these people jobs? Who put these people in positions of influence? We are thirsting, and they're giving us seawater to drink."

Every time I see an article, a news item, or a documentary about the Jihad threat or about Middle East politics this is the question I ask about the writer/presenter. And I'm not just talking about the leftist bigots. Last week's (London) Times on Saturday, for example - the so-called creme de la creme of high-brow reporting - had a massive article dominating its world news section about the Middle East peace talks. The entire article (and headline) blamed Israel's decision to re-start building in Jerusalem (wrongly called "the West Bank") for the breakdown in talks. What was pathetic about the article was not so much its bias (which has been a feature of the Times for several years now) but the sheer ignorance and laziness of the writer. It would not have been hard, for example, to find out and mention the crucial role of the PA in refusing Netanyahu's request to recognise Israel as a Jewish state in exchange for a continued freeze on building, or to mention the clumsy role of Obama in unnecessarily making the building issue so prominent when even the Palestinians had never previously made it a condition for talks. But the writer simply did not bother. Instead the writer simply parroted out the standard Palestinian narrative without any attempt to check the facts. The writer also repeated the libel about the the 'settler' who 'ran over Palestinian children' as being a factor in the breakdown of talks, ignoring the fact that this had been comprehensively debunked with video evidence over a week before.

I'm increasingly coming to the opinion that most writers in the main stream media are not necessarily inherantly biased against Israel. They are simply ignorant, and above all lazy. They simply repeat what other 'writers' in the main stream media are saying and so it just becomes a self-perpetuating torrent of anti-Israel narrative. The tragedy is that these totally useless writers have all the key positions in the main stream media, while truly talented writers are marginalised in the blogosphere. Why. for example, are writers like Michael Totten (who really researches and understands the middle east), Daniel Greenfield (Sultan Knish, who is able to provide deep analysis) and Barry Rubin (who has access to a wide range of inside experts), not given the opportunity to be seen in the main stream media, while truly lazy and ignorant ones dominate it?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Israelis who seek to deligitimize and destroy Israel

I've written several times before about Israeli academics who spend their lives attempting to deligitimize and destroy Israel.

Prominent among these in the UK are Avi Shlaim (Oxford) and Ilan Pappe (Exeter). Although their revisionist work has been widely discredited by genuine experts, they continue to be idolised by leftists and all anti-Zionists. Moroever, because they are keen to emphasize their "Israeli" backgrounds the main stream media often uses them, bizarrely, to "put the Israeli viewpoint" across in a debate (this gives you a feel of just how ignorant/biased the producers/editors are). This explains why you often see a "debate" involving an Arab and an "Israeli" in which the only actual disagreement is about whether Israel is a Nazi state or a fascist state.

Typically, Avi Shlaim is in the news today for playing a prominent role in the scandalous decision to 'disinvite' Jewish academic Professor Geoffrey Alderman from a panel debate at Queens University Belfast about ‘Conflict in the Middle East’. Heaven fordbid that an academic on the panel would not be a Hamas supporter.

But, more concerning to me, is the following example: A few weeks ago I came across a children's textbook in our local library, which I think was called "The Arab Israeli Conflict" (I think it is this one by Debra Miller). Flicking through it was clear that the book provided (exclusively) the Palestinian narrative in which, for example, the only 'terrorists' in the history of the conflict were Jews at Deir Yassin etc. When I looked at the back cover I discovered that the "Israeli consultant" on the book was none other than Avi Shlaim. It may well be that the author was a perfectly reasonable person who felt that by getting Shlaim's input she was getting a 'balance' against the "Arab consultant". The effect was that a standard textbook for 12-15 year-olds is indoctrinating a new generation to believe that Israel - and only Israel - is the root of all evil in the Middle East.

It would be nice if the likes of Shlaim and Pappe could simply be just laughed at or, even better, ignored. In many ways the publicity about Shlaim's role in the Belfast panel fiasco makes it more likely for him to be laughed at. But while this enables a handful of Israel supporters who follow the story to take the moral high ground, it is nothing compared to the real damage he continues to reap on thousands of school children (not to mention his students at Oxford and everybody else fed the lie that he somehow represents Israeli opinion).

p.s. How about this for another example: while searching on Amazon for the above book I was presented - by Amazon - with a list called "The best books about the Middle East" - you can see the list and the heading here. And guess which books are numbers 1 and 2 on this list? The first is by Avi Shlaim (The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World) and the second is by Ilan Pappe (A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples). For good measure the rest of the list is filled almost entirely with anti-Israel writers too (Edward Said, Robert Fisk, David Hirst, Greg Philo, Charles Smith and two by Baruch Kimmerling). The 'exception' is Benny Morris, but the book listed is one written before he rejected his (until then) revisionist views.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Who is going to defend Pamela Geller from defamatory claims - not defamed Melanie Phillips

Bear with me for a minute as this is a little complicated (about an article refering to another article referring to a third article) but this is important.

Melanie Phllips has posted an interesting article here.

In it she praises an article at Harry's Place written by "Alan A" .

The Harry's Place article defends Melanie against the inference that she is as an anti-Muslim bigot that was made in an article about her (at Left Foot Forward) titled "Melanie Phillips is inspiration behind Tea Party anti-Muslim leader" (the "anti-Muslim leader" referred to is Pamela Geller).

Melanie's own article praises the Harry's Place article for defending her. However, there is a very strong irony about what Melanie has written, in that she is praising an article which actually defames Pamela Geller in the same way (only more openly and viciously) than the original article defamed both Melanie and Pamela. In fact Alan A states that Pamela Geller is a "lunatic bigot".


  • The first article infers (rather than states openly) that both Melanie and Pamela are anti-Muslim bigots, without offering a shred of evidence against either.
  • The second article claims Melanie is not an anti-Muslim bigot but states openly that Pamela is an anti-Muslim bigot, without offering a shred of evidence against her.
  • The third article (Melanie's) praises the second article for coming to her defence, while ignoring the fact that the second article had made a far more openly offensive claim.

So who is going to defend Pamela Geller against the cumulative claims against her? The irony, sadly, is that it is not going to be Melanie Phillips.

The problem is that the stock response of any 'liberal' to people who are prepared to stand up to the threat of Islamism (as opposed to Muslims) is that they are 'bigots' or 'racists'. Just as there is no evidence that Melanie is a bigot or racist, nor is there any evidence that Pamela Geller is. In fact, the demonising of Pamela Geller by the main stream media is no different from its demonising of Israel. It all boils down to a combination of anti-semitism and dhimittude.

The other irony about Alan A's article on Harry's Place is that it begins with the words "I expect that Left Foot Forward will get into trouble for this [referring to the original] article." So the entire thrust of Alan A's article is that even implying that somebody is an anti-Muslim bigot without providing evidence is a serious offense. Yet, his own article explicitly calls somebody a lunatic bigot without providing evidence. You just could not make this stuff up.

Update 30 June 2013: This (old) post has been getting a lot of hits because of the fall out from the Geller/Spencer UK ban and Melani Phillips response. Please also see latest update on that ban here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Another media scandal

So we now have another classic example of the Media's insatiable obsession to find any tiny negative story about Israel and explode it into an international incident.

Every TV news channel (and all the major newspapers) has been running the story of an "Israeli West Bank settler running over Palestinian children". Even the one news channel that is supposed to be "not hostile" to Israel - Fox News - went big on this one presenting it as an outrage. But take a look here for the full video which as far as I know no western TV channel has screened.

The full video speaks for itself and the question that needs to be asked is why would editorial staff in the UK and the USA not use the full version rather than a version which so clearly presents a lie? I've been racking my brains over that one and can only come up with the answer: anti-semitism. And incidentally this was not in the "West Bank" as every news outlet reported. It was in East Jerusalem (Silwan) where the dispute is about properties that have not only been bought legally but were actually were owned by Jews before the Jordanian occupation of 1948-67. Even the notoriously left-wing Israel judiciary accepts that.

Update: It seems that youtube has censored the above full video - you can now only watch it if you are registered as over 18. Elder of Ziyon has more on the original story and an update on further attacks against Jewish drivers in Silwan.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Gerald Kaufman loves Hamas

The Jewish Chronicle, which as I have been saying for a while is increasingly aligning itself with those who are hostile to Israel, carried a sympathetic article last week about Gerald Kaufman being "verbally assaulted" by two members of his synagogue on Yom Kippur.

Now we find out in this must read Harrys Place article that the depth of Kaufman's depravity in cosying up to Hamas is much greater than we had feared. What's the betting the Jewish Chronicle gives rather less prominence to this story about their friend Kaufman?