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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

British moral diet fad: Jews don't count

By Bradley Burston
There's been a refreshing note to much of the overviews, analyses and reconsiderations accompanying the imminent 40th anniversary of the Six Day War - balance.
The early entries, those of the Economist, for example, and the New Yorker, are notably free of the slavish leanings that have poisoned much of the writing on the subject for decades.
A notable companion to these accounts is "Gaza, The Jailed State," an article by author and journalist Zaki Chehab, writing in this week's New Statesman. Nuanced and knowing, the piece examines the performance of the Hamas-led Palestinian government in dispassionate detail.
The article is all the more valuable for the one which follows it, "Children of the Dust," by the London-based Australian writer John Pilger. A political cartoon in the guise of factual exposition, it discusses with minute resolution and admirable compassion the effects of occupation and warfare on the children of Gaza, while writing off the post-traumatic stress of the blitz-plagued children of Sderot as the negligible, they-had-it-coming whining of the faceless offspring of callous brutes.
There have always been two sides to the imbalance story: On one hand, there is the humanist who cries out against the violence and slander dealt to the Jews of the Holy Land, suggesting, with respect to what has happened to the Arabs, that they're only getting what they deserve.
Then there are writers like John Pilger, the kind of humanist who doesn't much care for Jews.
Why, after all, should we care about the people of Sderot at all, when, as Pilger reminds us as the opening of the piece, the only issue that should move anyone, is the fact that Israel's single-minded imposition of hardship on the Palestinians could be seen in the anguish of all distressed peoples everywhere:
"Israel is destroying any notion of a state of Palestine and is being allowed to imprison an entire nation. That is clear from the latest attacks on Gaza, whose suffering has become a metaphor for the tragedy imposed on the peoples of the Middle East and beyond."
Pilger scorns British reporters for what he sees as their overt and consistent pro-Israel bias. He takes them to task for mentioning in reports on Israeli airstrikes "the rockets fired at Israel from the prison of Gaza which killed no one."
Contrast this with the balance and the breadth of the lead sentence of Chelab's article:
"As hundreds of Israeli families leave the town of Sderot in southern Israel to escape Hamas-designed Qassam rockets and mortars, Palestinians in turn are fleeing the wrath of Israeli air strikes on Gaza, which in the past week have killed more than 30 people, many of them civilians."
For Pilger, any suggestion of anything smacking in the least of equivalence, or of Palestinians mounting deadly attacks - for example, a British Channel Four reporter's mention of an "endless war," rather than a unilateral Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people as a whole - is indicative of unforgivable pro-Israeli pandering:
"There is no war," Pilger writes. "There is resistance among the poorest, most vulnerable people on earth to an enduring, illegal occupation imposed by the world's fourth largest military power, whose weapons of mass destruction range from cluster bombs to thermonuclear devices, bankrolled by the superpower."
In Pilger's kindergarden class of the left, the basic legitimacy of Palestinian suicide bomb, rocket, and drive-by sniper attacks ? most of them aimed at civilians - is both self-evident and intentionally omitted from BBC and other wildly pro-Israel press accounts:
"Under international law an occupied people has the right to use arms against the occupier's forces. This right is never reported."
Here's another point that's never reported: Any Jew who has ever worked for a British news outlet knows which members of staff are anti-Semitic. Any Jew who has ever worked for a British news outlet knows how that Jew-hatred can insinuate itself into news copy.
I have no evidence that John Pilger falls into that class. He may even be Jewish for all I know. I think it entirely legitimate that he may at once detest Israel and have not a molecule of anti-Semitism in his entire constitution.
Which is all the more reason that I believe he owes the Jews of this place a little more consideration as human beings.
The problem goes beyond Jews, after all, because the Israeli people on Israeli soil who are in the line of Palestinian fire are both Jew and Arab, Semites all. The crux of the matter is this:
To argue that attacks on civilians is justified, is to declare those civilians to be sub-human.
Come to think of it, perhaps this is why a humanist like John Pilger can't be bothered to bring himself to care about them.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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