Friday, July 9, 2010

Economist Stuff

The folks at The Economist aren't Zionists, but at least they try to do journalism well. Here's how they report about the construction issues in Jerusalem. Do they put it as I would? No. Is it a reasonable approximation of facts and views of both sides? Yes. Would that all journalism was remotely like this.

Though of course they do inadvertently display their own subjective position, and explain why it's all wrong, in a single sentence:
Race, religion, creed and sometimes even gender are supremely relevant if the Holy City, a complex web of separate Jewish and Arab districts, is ever to be divided peaceably into the capitals of two states, Israel and Palestine.
A pretty good explanation of why it can't happen, I'd say.

Then there's this column about the Eurocrats who rule - or not - from Brussels. They're not evil people, nor is their project particularly malicious as large-scale human projects go. Yet they're deeply wary of nationalism, and skeptical of allowing the general public too much a say in the running of things, which is to say they aren't fully democratic. This description easily fits much of the left these days, certainly the far left in Israel; it also goes part way to explain why these people are fundamentally not on Israel's side: a nationalist project in which the electorate disagrees with the educated, secular, self-anointed elite.

Of course, it doesn't explain why they think Palestinian nationalism is such a fine thing.

Finally, the pundit on the UK - Bagehot - is leaving his post this week, and summarizes three years of political punditry. In his understated English way, he's mildly dismissive of how journalism works these days (bloggerism, too).

Political commentators, in other words, have concerned themselves with what will happen; what has happened; and what should happen. Few have addressed what is happening—that is, whether policies work and how the country is changing. The commentariat is mostly too cocooned to ask. Bagehot has sometimes been guilty of this myopia himself.

One reason for it is that the British newspaper business cultivates provocation rather than consideration. The crowdedness of the market means people feel a need to yell to be heard; for all their virtues, political blogs and the internet have intensified the competition and the shrillness, making analysis ever more instant and intrusive.


Anonymous said...

I have a love-hate relationship with the Economist. They do a good job covering countries and trends that you cannot read about anywhere else. But the snotty tone, and the reflexive rightward slant on social issues, turn me off.

In an article on the oil spill in the Gulf, the Economist showed a photo of an oil-soaked seabird, certainly dying, with a large beak, captioned "There's going to be a big bill." That did it for me.

I have a sense of humor. I adore The Daily Show and other political satire. But I cannot respect a publication that finds drollery in the suffering of animals, in a man-made disaster that also has a severe human toll and has destroyed an ecosystem for decades to come.


Silke said...

thank you Lisa
- things like that can't be said often enough

- I objected for the same reason to the Daily Show (which I normally enjoy) on the flotilla incident - only there the callousness and tastelessness was about wounded soldiers

- and those of us who do it from time to time should not care about getting accused of a lack of a sense of humour by the lack of a sense of taste brigade

- there is enough fun-stuff around without them having to demonstrate their witticisms on an at best very sick animal or even on an at best only lightly wounded soldier

Anonymous said...

they're deeply wary of nationalism [...] Of course, it doesn't explain why they think Palestinian nationalism is such a fine thing.

There you advance an explanation of the anti-Israel stance of the Eurocrats, and then you explain why your explanation must be false.

The Eurocrats are anti-Israel for an unrelated reason that we all know.

Incidentally, although Zionism can be defended in nationalistic terms, it is not fundamentally nationalistic in origin. It just happened to arise during the heyday of nationalism when that was the new and preferred justification for the existence of states. But the State of Israel has a purpose that goes far beyond the dubious one of merely giving a state to a nation, namely to prevent mass murder and the extinction of a uniquely valuable culture. It can be justified equally well in terms of humanitarianism, or democracy, or neo-conservatism, or indeed any moral-political system that is even halfway decent.

Barry Meislin said...

Palestinian nationalism is affirmative action on a global level.

No matter that nobody, not even the Palestinians, think it can work.

No matter that nobody has prepared any of the infrastructure and organizations that might even make it work (and no, throwing scads of money at the Palestinians and making all kinds of impressive declarations is not quite the same thing as preparing infrastructure and organizations).

No matter that the Palestinians are divided between the PA and Hamas---and those Palestinians really in the know detest both gangster orgs.

No matter that a Palestinian state, should it even get off the ground, will be taken over by either Syria, Egypt or Jordan (or some other brotherly Arab or Moslem country).

In truth, Palestine's only purpose is to destroy the Jewish State. And as such, Palestine has become a dream for progressives and humanitarians world-wide (along with their fascist, totalitarian and merely wacky fellow travelers).

Anonymous said...

Lisa---"snotty' is exactly right, and Jon Stewart does a good job on making fun of the MSM. His interview last night with Marylynne Robinson shows how bright he is.

Yaakov: Thanks for your blog. As someone who has never lived or visited the Middle East, I value the information and analysis you provide.

Ron from Portland, Oregon

Lee Ratner said...

The various political schools on the left side of the equation have always had an interesting relation to nationalism. This is especially true on the Far Left, where the focus is used to be on the universal struggle of the undergo. National identity is something that the rich are supposed to use to get the poor to act against the state interests. OTOH, nationalism is often a great weapon against colonialism and imperialism, which the Far Left hated. Therefore, the Far Left kind of tolerated nationalism from people who were seen as victims of imperialism. The Palestinians are seen as victims of imperialism so the Far Left allows somewhat tolerates their nationalism.

Barry Meislin - I think that you overestimate the importance of the self-defense aspects of Zionism and downplay a lot of the cultural renaissance aspects of Zionism. Jewish self-defense and preservation were certainly important but lots of Zionists believed that only in a Jewish state could Jews enjoy a true cultural renaissance not burdened by the interference from non-Jews. Personally, I prefer the cultural renaissance aspects of Zionism over the self-defense aspects.

I also think you are wrong on Palestinian nationalism. Palestinian identity is a reaction against the Zionist movement. Without Zionism, the Arabs of the area would probably associate with Syrian Arabian identity unless imperial politics creates a Palestine anyway but its certainly a very real thing now and even a person completely against an independent Palestine should recognize this.

Silke said...

The Economist talks of Jerusalem as the "Holy City"
- is that a Jewish/israeli synonym also?
- I seem to remember it only in a Christian (crusaderish) context.

OT but with a special alert to 4infidels:

here is a book tour talk on "A Munich Mosque" (does Germany always have to be in the center of it?)
the author claims that the Munich Mosque was the first foothold of the Muslim Brotherhood in a Western country. Also he tells that there was a kind of a meeting between Eisenhower and Tariq Ramadan's father and some scheikhs in 1953 and that the CIA assessed Saeed Ramadan as a fascist who had fascist political aims as compared to the scheikhs who were religion minded. (that's in the first of the Q&A parts)
(my summary fascinating story and very well told but when it comes to solutions I don't get it)

to Lee

pray how do you propose to have one without the other? in real real life with real earth to walk on and to build houses on, not as an admirable goal

"I prefer the cultural renaissance aspects of Zionism over the self-defense aspects. "

What do Nazis, the CIA, and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West have in common? The untold story of a group of ex-Soviet Muslims who defected to Germany during World War II has a lesson for today: beware of using religion as a tool.

Ian Johnson is the Berlin bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal.

RK said...

Silke, yes, Jerusalem is referred to as עיר הקודש ("City of Holiness," "The Holy City") in Judaism. (And at least five times in the Bible.) It's considered to have greater kdushah, or holiness, than any other city in the Land of Israel.