Sunday, October 24, 2010

How Bad is Media Reporting about Israel?

The other day a reader named Josef chided me:
I don't think adding lines like " it's not the story you'd expect if you're the kind of person who believes the NYT" really adds anything to your arguments. It's somewhat condescending and pointless.
I try, as a general rule, to listen to criticism and learn from it when it's correct. (If the start-up company I'm setting up these days ever hits the big time it will be almost entirely because we were able to learn from criticism and adapt as we go). So I asked myself if perhaps Josef has a point.

On one level, he's responding with unease to a profound weariness that affects many of us as we face never-ending distortion, slander, and outright lies about our country. (Too much of the distortions, lies and slander originate here, in Israel, and are disseminated by Israelis). I admit that the need to dedicate a chunk of my life to defend my country and society from such malice wears me down and at times this may express itself in rough-edged formulations.

On a more basic level, however, not a personal one, the question is if the general reportage from Israel in mainstream American media is mostly fair and balanced, or perhaps hopelessly wrong. (The question can't even be posed about the European media, which is hopeless).

Israel is permanently scrutinized by the Western media to an unprecedented degree. Most people don't know much about the going-ons of such faraway places such as Australia, Korea, Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Argentina or South Africa, to name a handful of places each of which is much larger than Israel. Who knows anything about Chile except that they're good at getting miners out from under mountains? Not so Israel: since there are more foreign reporters here than in almost any place in the world except Washington, London and perhaps Paris or Berlin, the number of stories filed here is beyond any reasonable proportion. There's no other country in which mutterings of bored politicians routinely get into the New York Times, or where minor events will be reported on television screens across the world with predictable regularity.

That's the way it is, and I'm not even complaining anymore. However, since there's so much attention on us, it seems logical to expect that the overall story should be at least vaguely reliable. If it were, Josef's complaint would be justified. But is it? Here's a test for you.

For the long-term reportage of Israel to be reasonably reliable and unbiased, it would necessarily have to include, alongside the specifics of our mistakes and weaknesses, also a long-term presentation of most of the following:

1. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli Arabs identify themselves as Israelis, wouldn't wish to live anywhere else, and strive to be more integrated into the Jewish majority, not less so, even as they preserve their own cultural and religious identity.

2. A total majority of the large numbers of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians who used to work in Israel had at least some Israeli employers or colleagues with whom they had excellent personal relations.

3. Some 100,000 Palestinians have moved into Israel since 1967, and are now Israeli citizens.

4. A sizable number of Palestinians in East Jerusalem will chose to be Israelis, not Palestinians, should they be given the choice.

5. Hundreds of refugees enter Israel every day (500 refugees a day is the equivalent of 20,000 a day into the US, or about 5,000 into Germany). They cross over from Egypt, and as soon as they cross the border road they sit quietly alongside it and wait for the army to come and pick them up and bus them into Beer Sheva or Tel Aviv. Many, perhaps even a majority of them, are Muslims. None are Jews.

6. A large majority of Israelis - probably well above 70% - yearn for peace with an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza. They don't believe it will happen in their lifetimes, but they yearn for it none-the-less.

7. The IDF, from generals to grunts, gives thought, plans, and trains so as to minimize the harm it does while at war, and respects the sanctity of human life, all human life.

I could go on and on, but my point is simple: are these fundamental outlines of Israel's story clear and obvious to the non-Israelis who learn about us from the American media, and does the media make clear that it's daily fare of stories about all the things wrong with Israeli society are a distortion, as news often are? If so, then Josef's criticism is justified.

If not, I rest my case.


Anonymous said...

Latma's latest has a comment on knowledge about Israel which I find deeply satisfying:

a Dutch Plumber named in English Hoos van der Blackball shows up towards the end and asks:

Are there faucets in Israel?


NormanF said...

I think Van Der Blackball encapsulates European attitudes succinctly and its reported in polite conversation what a "little ------ country Israel is." Which betrays their ignorance in that in spite of the torrent of reports coming out of Israel, very few outsiders really understand the country or really know much about it.

Michael W. said...

A few years ago I heard that Israel (or more specifically Jerusalem) has the highest concentration of foreign correspondents outside of Washington, DC. I wonder if that is still true.

peterthehungarian said...

An example of the good reporting about Israel:

A funny description of Gideon Levy exhumes the wrong dogs in the Ha'aretz:

Barry Meislin said...

It's somewhat condescending and pointless.

I understand that your dear reader is saying that since nobody believes the NYT reportage from Israel anyway (or at least no one ought to believe it), that even mentioning that it is not believable is redundant and doesn't "add anything to your arguments."

So yes even mentioning something so obvious is indeed pointless.

Barry Meislin said...

...not to mention condescending....

Here's some more pointless condescension...

(Or should that be "nauseatingly pointless condescension..."? or maybe, "humorously pointless condescension..."?)

Dukus Horant said...

1. How can you possibly accuse "the media" of bad reporting about Israel and not cite a single article?

2. You cannot simultaneously tout the existence of Israeli Arabs and their wish to integrate and not point out that it is mostly discrimination by the Israeli government, the Israeli business community, and Israeli Jewish society that is preventing this.

3. It is equally disingenuous to celebrate Israel for letting 100,000 Palestinians immigrate since 1967 without writing that since 2003 such immigration is illegal...even in cases of family unification!

4. It is not known what Palestinian Jerusalemites will do if made to choose between Israel and Palestine. Sure, many say they will choose Israel, but nationalist factors and fear of being called collaborators may push them the other way...if given a choice.

5. Yes, hundreds of refugees enter Israel everyday...but the treatment they receive isn't exactly a paragon of virtue. Many are imprisoned upon arrival and almost all are exploited during their "stay".

6. A large majority of Israelis may yearn for peace with Palestine, but it is less than before and many don't seem to know where the West Bank is. Just an anecdotal example: a well-informed friend of mine tried arguing with me to the effect that the Jordan Valley settlements were not in the West Bank. I think your statement would be accurate if it read: "A (shrinking) majority of Israelis yearn for peace with an independent Palestinian state on the parts of the West Bank that will not remain Israel - i.e. East Jerusalem, Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Ariel, and the Rift Valley. And Gaza can just go to hell."

This seems to be the Israeli centrist position as acted upon by both Likud and Kadima, stated over-and-over again by media commentators, and reflected upon in Israeli actions.

7. If the IDF is really aiming to minimize the harm it commits in wartime, it is officially the worst army in the world. The asymmetry of the damage done in the last two wars is simply appalling.


Now, you are correct in that the media often misses the vibrant debates in Israeli society, the numerous success stories of Israeli non-Jews, and the yearning for peace that does exist.

BUT from the outsider, does any of that matter if:
* the vibrant debates in Israeli society end up being hijacked by the McCarthyist tendencies of the Far Right: Im Tirtzu, Yisrael Beitenu, etc.
* the stories of success by Israeli Arabs are exceptions to the rule, rather than the norm.
* the alleged yearning for peace among the public results in the continued election of Likud and post-Likud governments, a complete lack of public action over continued settlement building, and that the public is willing to kill 1000+ Palestinians to get back a single prisoner of war.

Barry Meislin said...

A large majority of Israelis may yearn for peace with Palestine, but it is less than before...

Care to enlighten us why it just might be less than before?

(Just wonderin'...)

Barry Meislin said...

And for those who feel they really need to (and who have the time), enjoy(?!):

('Tis really the tip of the iceberg...alas.)

Anonymous said...

oh what a gem we've got here

How can you possibly accuse "the media" of bad reporting about Israel and not cite a single article?

first accusing Yaacov of this and then posting a long list of accusations without "citing a single article"

could it be that Dukus Horant is another one from the community of Blackballs?

Sigh! - If only hypocrites were a bit more ingenuous instead of preferring the elephant in the china shop procedure


Anonymous said...

I prefer over Tom Gross.

but the latest at the Elder is that Lauren Booth has converted to Islam ...

anybody's amazed about it after she exposed her hate songs singing children on YouTube?


Barry Meislin said...

Oh, how could I forget?

Especially (if you have a limited amount of time), sit back, open a cold beer, and enjoy the Al-Durah, um, "controversy":

Anonymous said...

Gilad Shalit is a kidnapping victim and huge parts of Gaza's population must by necessity be in on the secret where he is kept

if he were a prisoner of war the Red Cross would have access

Gilad's continued state of incommunicado is a legitimate reason to shame and blame all who keep quiet about the outrage of it.


Barry Meislin said...

It is equally disingenuous....

...and that the [Israeli] public is willing to kill 1000+ Palestinians to get back a single prisoner of war.

Oh, so that's why war broke out two years ago (how many years after the kidnapping?)...

(Why is it that such people seem to always, always have to insist that others are being "disingenuous"?)

Here's something to ponder (I know it will be excruciatingly difficult, even painful): Might there be any other reason (even of the "well, possibly, maybe, but remote" variety) why Israel fought a war against Hamas in 2008? (Or that over a thousand Palestinians were killed... though that's an issue that I wouldn't dare presume you'd be able to contemplate.)

File under: "We are what we read"(?)

Sylvia said...

"You cannot simultaneously tout the existence of Israeli Arabs and their wish to integrate and not point out that it is mostly discrimination by the Israeli government, the Israeli business community, and Israeli Jewish society that is preventing this."

Just "which" Israeli Jewish society are you talking about? There are several, all separate and unequal. The Jewish society of the periphery for example, takes a back seat to the Israeli Arabs and certainly the Palestinians as far as the Jewish society of the "Center" and the Israeli Arabs are concerned.

- There are Israeli Arabs in the Supreme Court WHILE no Jew of the margins - aka "Mizrahim" from an Arab country has made it there yet.

- The Universities, Ben Gurion and Haifa in particular, are swarming with Israeli Arab professors and lecturers but the doors are slammed shut before those who are neither Ashkenazis nor Arab Israelis or whose doctoral disseertation didn't mention Edward Said.
- The academic careers of Israeli Arabs are "helped" by Professors who co-author books and articles with them and include them in spaeaking tours (look up publications of Neve Gordon, Oren Yiftachel, etc) BUT when a Mizrahi gets a job at those colleges/universities, it is more often than not as "Zutar", an hourly wage earner who is kicked out for four months at the end of each academic year, which forces him to work more hours and to concentrate on job search rather than on scholarly research.

- There is high-tech start up training for groups of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, NONE for "Mizrahi" Jewish society of the periphery.

- There are special tehnological collaborative projects Israeli/ Palestinians, whereby they acquire advanced technology expertise. One such recent project financed from abroad is water desalinization plants. No such thing for "Mizrahim".

- Not to mention the conventional industries, where they were replaced in construction by Israeli Arabs who are now the contractors (and who hire only their own). The settlements agriculture has always hired Palestinians exclusively and services such as hotel and health-care are now filled with African refugees and Philipinos, respectively.

All in all, they are better integrated than the majority in "Jewish society".

Barry Meislin said...

Actually, I like Tom Gross because of his rather wacky site and also because he claims he used to be one of the ideologically blinkered until he opened his eyes and "woke up" (I'm paraphrasing.)

No doubt, there are others out there trying to---courageously---cut through the bullshit which has become THE accepted narrative (for all the peace-loving, progressive, good and humane). In other words, which has become the TRUTH.

Barry Meislin said...

Something else to, um, savor?:

Anonymous said...


sorry I should have explained my jibe at Tom Gross. I felt like it, because of his initially taking the water park etc stories about Gaza from the Elder without attributing it and once called out attributed it in what seemed a not generous way to me.

established journalists taking from bloggers without attribution is of course not restricted to Tom Gross.


Lee Ratner said...

Dukus Horant, detaining refugees until a decision is made to give them asylum or not is pretty much the international norm. Only Canada and the United States tend to give refugees liberty until a final decision is made and thats mainly because neither Canada or the U.S. wants to pay for clothing, housing, and feeding refugees rather than out of a sense of altruism.

I also think your little rant is a good example of the double standards placed upon Israel. The treatment of Arabs in Israel isn't really any worse than out minorities are treated in other democracies. Its often much better, Israel is not placing any religious restrictions on Muslims unlike many European countries. More Israeli Arabs are involved with the Israeli government than French Arabs are with the French or German Turks are with the German. Yet, according to you Israel is worse.

Lee Ratner said...

I will say this Yaacov, I read the NYT everyday and really don't find its reporting on Israel to be as bad as you make it out to be or as other posters find it to be. Generally, the NYT points out the good and bad on both sides and the readership tends to be evenly divided between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian sides based on the letters to the editor.

The reason why I think that Israel-Palestine features so heavily in the press is because: (1) exciting things are happening there; (2) its safer to report from Israel than say North Korea because Israel is a democracy with freedom of the press so reporters don't risk arrest or worse; and (3) Israel is a first world country with high levels of creature comforts. This makes it more attractive than say Kazakhstan as a base. The combination of all three factors lead to the Israel-Palestinian conflict appearing disproportionally in the media, when it is statistically a low-level ethnic conflict.

Sylvia said...

There is a new trend that was started in the media and is now spreading to anti-Israeli websites. It consists in attributing an action (always negative) to an imaginary "Israel" collective.
Examples gleaned at the Ranting Schizophrenics' Echo Chamber:

"Israel Crushes A Palestinian Gandhi"

"Israel should know better"

"Israel confirms the obvious"

I predict that the the leap from figure of speech to theory will soon be made - if it hasn't already.

Anonymous said...

by "Palestinian Ghandi" did they refer to this whiner?
or are there several of them?
maybe all of them qualify?
(hearing Christopher Lydon from whom I had previously heard some interesting interviews sucking up to this slander, really hurt - I think they are all willing to do whatever sells best - and Israel slandering brings with it such a nice whiff of what I call horror-porn)

Mustafa Barghouti: Is there Room for Gandhi in Palestine?


RK said...

This willingness to really take alternate points of view seriously is one of the reasons I ignore the gratuitous and tiresome sniping at lefties and the media and read this blog. (That and the fact that I learn things.) Well done.

Out of interest, can you provide links to stories in (say) Yediot Acharonot that present each one of these seven points? (I'm not sure how you would even provide evidence for something as nebulous as "excellent personal relations" or "respect[ing] the sanctity of human life, all human life," but you probably had something in mind when you wrote that.) Hebrew or English is fine.

Anonymous said...

This seems to me to be a case of special pleading. In an issue covered as extensively as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, each side is inevitably going to be able to point to what they see as unfair characterizations of their team. But all of the examples Yaacov points to seem to cases where he wants news articles to constantly trumpet good sides of Israel, ignoring the fact that most of them bear only a tangential relationship to what's going to be the main story in any article about Israel (i.e. current events). And I'm sorry, but even stories about (say) illegal migrants to Israel at least touch on the points he raises.

But more to the point, the whole post demonstrates a complete lack of imagination in attempting to envision how Palestinians might feel about their portrayal in the media. Go to any pro-Palestinian website and you'll be bombarded by complaints about how Pro-Israel the Western media is. So any attempt to charge the media with anti-Israel bias will, at a bare minimum, need to establish the anti-Israel bias is worse than the anti-Palestinian bias. But, as usual, perceived slights against Yaacov's side are all that concern him.

Barry Meislin said...

Indeed, the symmetry between the sides is pretty equal, which is why we can all pretty much agree to blame both sides equally.

That's right, Israel would very much like a Palestinian State to be created (albeit a state that would not pose a threat to the Zionist Entity...heh...heh...heh); and the Palestinians would very much like to destroy the Zionist entity.

Yes, pretty much a perfect symmetry.

(Hold on, did I say, "blame both sides equally"?....)

Bryan said...

Anonymous 7:47:

The pro-Palestinian websites also claim that Israel committed genocide of Palestinians (blatantly false), that Israel murdered 9 civilians without provocation on the Mavi Marmara (proven false with video evidence), that Mahmoud Abbas is a moderate and respected leader with whom compromise can and must be made (see above), and that there is a mythical Right to Return en masse (with zero basis in international law or historical precedent).

Frankly, saying "but the Palestinians say X Y or Z" is worthless, because they spout outrageous lies on a daily basis.

Barry Meislin said...

Of course, having said all that, I neglected to mention that since Israel is the superior power, the Palestinians certainly have the right to want to destroy it.

Whereas Israel has no right to defend itself from destruction.

That much ought to be clear.

(Actually, it should go without saying.)

Barry Meislin said...

And as for how the Palestinians "might feel about their portrayal in the media" and the "complete lack of imagination in attempting to envision it" well, there does indeed seem to be a lack of empathy between (most) Israelis and their partners in peace who not only declare that they want to destroy the Zionist Entity, but who have tried to do so, have defended those who tried to do so, have paid homage and honor to those who tried to do so, have insisted that they continue to have the right to do so, and continue to insist that they will always have the right to do so, until they get what they want. (What do they want? I keep forgetting....)

So you're right about the lack of empathy...but I think you're stretching it just a bit when you talk about the "lack of imagination",

Most Israelis know exactly what will happen (or what will be attempted) if they give the Palestinians what the Palestinians purportedly want. (What do the Palestinians want again, remind me....)

Most Israelis know exactly what would happen were the tables to be turned (and had the tables been turned years ago).

No, no "lack of imagination" there.

In fact (and gosh, how ironical!), one can say the exact opposite: that when Israelis were euphoric about Oslo, they demonstrated a "complete lack of imagination in attempting to envision" what the Palestinians might" feel or do (let alone be portrayed in the media); and here I'm talking about the ecstasy felt in Palestine (though to be fair, not only in Palestine) on 9/11 (and 9/12 and 9/13, etc.), the "hope and change" that they believed would result from the massive (and well-planned) campaign of suicide bombings against Israelis, the vote for Hamas and all that that represents (though your mileage may certainly vary on that...heh), the continued incitement against the State of Israel in the PA media (including those utterly charming children's programs proclaiming how all of Israel is Palestine), and all those other myriad and lovelyl little things that prove that Palestinians really do want to live with Israelis in peace, harmony and mutual respect.


...well, as long as we're talking about "lack of imagination"....

But you know what? In spite of all the PA's killings, the murders, the bombings, the incitement and the threats and the lies, and Hamas throwing Palestinians off of rooftops and threatening to destroy the Zionist Entity and shooting missiles and rockets and mortars into Israeli population centers, in spite of all of that, (most) Israelis would still, still be willing to countenance a Palestinian State if they heard, if they only heard, if they thought they only heard any number of "sweet little lies" (ref. Stevie Nicks) that might go something like, "The future State of Palestine will recognize the Zionist Enti----er, the State of Israel in its borders and the right of Jews to live there, and would like nothing better than to live side by side, in peace and prosperity, with mutual respect and as good neighbors with the Zionist, with the State of Israel...."

Yes, that's right: in spite of all that has happened, Israelis would fall for it. Would go for it. Would exult in it. Would welcome it. With open arms. In spite of everything that has happened---and would happen.

(Talk about Israelis' "LACK OF IMAGINATION"!, eh?)

But, you see, the Palestinians---bless their honest souls---can't even lie about that.

Anonymous said...

just recently I've read somewhere that Arab archives on 1948 are still not accessible to historians.

I regard no "narrative" from any side which keeps its archives unaccessible as equal to the "narrative" of the side which complies to modern standards.

and since so much of the discussion of the "conflict" harps back on history it boils down to the simple that there is one side I trust and which has proved again and again that it is worthy of trust and another who may or may not tell the truth.

since even the Vatican seems by now willing to bend to public demand to open up and thus make the beatification of Pius XII palatable, if even the Chinese have lots of their stuff about the Maoist era made accessible├Âtter/chinese-history-great-leap-backward
I think this part of my personal view-of-the-world puzzle is pretty reasonable and very very fair. Let them mend their ways and I'm willing to consider adjusting my view to balanced.


Barry Meislin said...

And as long as we're talking about that "perfect symmetry" (op. cit.---no, not Stevie Nicks) that exists between Israel and its Palestinian Partners in Peace, one should make every effort (i.e., at least try to try) to understand the source of the grievous disappointment, yea e'en unto deep, deep bitterness, that Palestinians (and their Arab brethren) now feel about Obama---after that oh-so-brief flirtation with euphoria (aka "hope and change") resulting from the precedent-setting, ground-breaking Cairo Speech, or Declaration (or, to some, Fantasy) that the President made towards the start of his presidency.

Yes, Obama gave the Palestinians real hope (not like the hope George W. Bush gave them when he said he supported a Palestinian long as certain conditions were
fulfilled----I mean, what kind of hope could that possibly be?)

Yes, real hope. He spoke to them in words they could understand. He spoke of their suffering and their misery and their steadfastness and their years of yearning. And the absolute essential need to give them a state, and the justice of it, and the fairness of it; and they thought he spoke their language. (Even he probably thought he spoke their language.)

Finally, a president who would be serious about solving the issue, who would turn America into a fair arbiter, into an honest broker.

Finally, after all those years of favoring Israel and the Zionists and the Jews.


Alas, that problematic concept of "symmetry" gummed up the works.

And it is a problem that will not go away. That is, not until Israel

Because (once again now, with feeling) the symmetry (and the fairness and justice it represents) necessitates the creation of the Palestinian State side by side with the elimination of the Zionist one.

A perfect, perfect symmetry.

Previous American administrations could not be honest brokers because they insisted, they believed---they assumed---that Israel must, somehow, continue to exist together with a Palestinian state.

(And they thought they were honest brokers...)

But Obama came and gave them hope, tremendous hope that finally, finally, the United States might be able to free itself from the tentacles of the Zionist octopus, could break out from under that tenacious, world-wide Jewish domination, could shake off the bonds of the insidious Israel Lobby and be Free, Free, Free.

Free to be fair to the Palestinians.


(NB: If you don't quite understand this, it's undoubtedly because
you are trapped in a western, colonialist, zionist discourse that keeps you imprisoned in pathetically flawed and faulty consciousness and provides you with no tools to see, let alone understand, the Truth.)

Alas the hope been dashed (at least for now, since Obama has two more years to prove how Fair, Fair, Fair he can be.)

And while I suspect that the Palestinians, deep down, understand Obama's failure (so far) and even continue to admire him (for who knows better than they of the power of the Jew), they really ought to have more faith in the man.....

Two more years.

Independent Observer said...

Lee Ratner doesn't read very carefully. The New York Times' handling of Mideast news is often flagrantly anti-Semitic.

Bryan said...

Having just done a media analysis assignment on Islam, the problem I found with the NYT is that while it devotes a lot of time to analyzing the minutest aspects of Israeli motivations, it provides absolutely no context when it comes to Muslims doing anything. According to the NYT, Muslims have no goals or motivations or justifications. They just are.

Gavin said...

I'll note mildly that I noticed what Josef commented on but being a long term reader I view such asides by Yaacov as born out of frustration rather than any conscious intent to condescend; to attack or demean 'the other side'. The relentless and thoroughyly malignant attacks on Israel by Europe and much of the western media is appalling and I don't begrudge Yaacov the odd slip into narkiness. Having said that I guess a new reader could find it a bit irritating when they don't have the full context of Yacovs history here, I don't think Josef was being intentionally rude or unreasonable there and he looks to have been a bit misunderstood.

Bit of a flurry of words here folks, I thought Dufus there had a couple of points that merit a response but he (or she) has demanded Yaacov supply proof of his claims and subsequently launched into a tirade of strongly opposing statements without providing a scrap of evidence to support his own claims. Bit boring really.

Cheers, Gavin

Independent Obsever said...

Yaakov's comment is not only welcome but true. Here is more information on the institutionalised anti-Semitism of the New York Times:

Just a sample of the anti-Semitic incidents among the many at the New York Times:

- The Times' front-page mis-characterisation of the withdrawal of NIC nominee Freeman. The Times' story hewed closely to Freeman's own Protocols-like Jew-hatred.

- Times' op-ed writer Nicholas Kristof's mis-characterisation of Operation Susannah as a massive terrorist operation by Israel.

- Times' op-ed writer Maureen Dowd's little game of find-the-Jew-in-the-woodpile, with her conclusion that the ill-advised Iraq war is to be blamed on .... three Jews! (Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle).

Barry Meislin said...

For your reading pleasure:

Hey, let's do on on-line poll: Should the NYT report on something like this?
1 - Yes, absolutely
2 - Absolutely not
3 - Absolutely maybe
4 - Only if they feel like it
5 - It depends
6 - Sometimes

Barry Meislin said...

Silly me. I forgot to add the most compelling option:

7 - Yes, but only if it makes Israel (and especially Avigdor Lieberman) look bad.

Anonymous said...

your link demands that I become some kind of member - is there another one?


Barry Meislin said...

Sorry. Try this link:

And then compare it with this most interesting article:

Yaacov said...

A fellow who isn't managing to post, asked that I do so. Shortened, to fit in:
Finally, this incessant bad news and, indeed, the exaggerated criticism and baleful concentration on Israel, does have at least one positive outcome. Whether it likes it or not, Israel has to operate, and meet challenges, in situations which are very unusual and quite unlike those prevailing in other Western societies, whose authorities occasionally have to make a few decisions about fighting crime etc. The fact is that your leaders and soldiers and police have to constantly make decisions in fraught situations, which have no easy answers and not much guidance from elsewhere. The human temptation and inclination to make wrong but easy decisions, and take short-cuts, and do a "little evil", must be profound. Very understandable.

However, the fact that your soldiers and police are constantly aware that even a mistake, let alone a deliberate decision, to do something morally wrong, or take the easy way out, or cause unnecessary harm, will undoubtedly be exposed and unfairly excoriated, must serve as a powerful additional human incentive on these people to try to do the right thing, and take care to avoid harm.

This means that citizens and friends of Israel can know for sure that almost all these stories are rubbish, or exaggerated, or only partly true or taken out of context, and that where they are not, the culprits will be dealt with. Imagine what life would be like if you knew that in fact terrible things were being done by the authorities in Israel, perhaps for understandable human reasons, but for the most part they were being concealed and no-one really cared.

In the long run, Israel and its society can only benefit from this pressure by the constant need to get it right, and when not, to learn from the error. It’s not entirely co-incidental that the Palestinians, subject to no real scrutiny and criticism are languishing where they are, whilst Israel, subject to unending criticism and complaint goes from strength to strength.

Yaacov said...

Thanks to all the discussant, and I"ll respond in a separate post.

Anonymous said...

Latest from the media

found on the Vatican's (radio) site reporting on the recent synod - Silke

Through the eyes of a Jew...
For the fist time, since its foundation almost 80 years ago, Vatican Radio has been able to offer a webpage in Hebrew with up-to-date information about the just-ended Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Yes, the radio actually employed a young woman, her name is Hana Bendcowsky, to create and update a special webpage that aimed to make quite sure "that the Israeli public" be correctly and well-informed about Synod proceedings and the message of the Bishops with no margin for misunderstandings and controversy. Linda Bordoni spoke to Hana, who is a Jewish expert on early church history and Programme Director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, about her background and her work, both here at the radio, and back home in Jerusalem…

- all the other documents seem to be available now here

Sylvia said...

As you know,I have been following that synod from the beginning. I have also followed how and by whom its conclusion were twisted by some in the media in what I would call "the itinerary of deceit".