Friday, July 30, 2004

Gaza Gideon (updated)
Gideon Levy is not an example of a responsible, balanced journalist, Mick. He’s very good at what he does. This article is a compilation of distortions and half facts. It’s cleverly done, so it’s difficult to argue with.

But Gideon Levy never gives any other angle, as a responsible, balanced journalist would. He never bothers to point out why something happened. He never takes the time to mention the terrorist son or brother, for instance, hiding out in the building, or the weapons factory in the back room, or the sniper that forcibly took over the building, or that the building was booby-trapped, or the soldiers that called out their intentions on loud speakers a day in advance, giving ample time for the inhabitants of the building to evacuate. And why should he? No one demands journalistic integrity of him (if the words still hold any meaning, to rephrase you, Mick).

Gideon Levy will never bother to point out, just to balance things a bit, for instance, that the field of vision of the driver of an armored bulldozer (and they have to be armored bulldozers otherwise the drivers will be shot) is very narrow and that he can hear very little, probably not even the shrill, high pitched shrieks of a diminutive Palestinian elderly lady, besides the squeaky screeches of his heavy machinery.

He never gives any background for the sad stories he tells. They are always out of context, always. He always give a narrative of a situation that is so narrow, so very, very narrow, that it offers the reader a field of vision that even the driver of an armored bulldozer, used to being able to see very little, would complain about, and find unreasonable. He distorts and twists things so that all you can see is that very narrow field of vision he is offering you. And like that bulldozer driver, you can’t hear yourself think over the roar of his hate-filled accusations and his warped, clear-cut assertions. He turns that into the only reality, although that is never the case in real life, is it, Mick?

And sometimes the things he writes are just outright lies, but he lies so damn well that you can’t even see it.

I’m tired of Gideon Levy and his twisted and manipulative use of selective half-truths. I find it easier to see where and how he is b#$%&&*#ing me, because I can see the big picture, because I know the context out of which he is sneaking these ‘facts’. But you can’t, Mick. You are an innocent, a perfect target for Gideon Levy. Me, on the other hand, I’m immune by now. I wasn’t always, but I’ve been hearing his rhetoric for years and years. I’ve read about a hundred Gideon Levy articles too many, maybe more.

Gideon Levy lost his ability to affect public opinion in Israel, long ago. The result of his persistently creative use of the facts is that he has very little credibility and is widely seen, at best, as a Palestinian propaganda tool. He is overbearing, pompous, and self-righteous.

In this article, Gideon Levy relates a number of unrelated events, giving a very selective and partial account of each, and cites them as proof of Israeli society’s inherent racism and hypocrisy.

But what stares out at me quite clearly from this article is not Israeli racism. Every example he gives is disgracefully out of context and a complete, unabashed distortion of the facts. Not that there is no racism in Israeli society, quite the contrary, we are no better than anywhere else in this respect, although I do believe we actually are better than quite a few places, and not only our neighbors in this region, whose racism is so prominent and unapologetic that the blindness of the west to it (even as they call Israelis Nazis) is quite incredible. No, I think the real message of his article is the moral corruption of the Israeli media.

It is true - Yediot Aharonot plays down Palestinian suffering. But this is not out of political bias or hypocrisy. Yediot Aharonot is in the business of selling papers. Yediot Aharonot thinks Palestinian suffering doesn’t sell papers, and it’s probably right. Scantily clad starlets sell papers; dubious ‘Man Bites Dog’ stories sell papers; questionable, titillating revelations about the private lives of celebrities sell papers. THE NEWS, sadly, does not sell papers, or, at least, that is how Yediot Aharonot appears to see it. Journalistic integrity doesn’t come into it. Even when they do run the news, they do it in a yellow, sensationalist manner, with little respect for the facts.

The rub is that Haaretz is no better, maybe even worse, morally speaking. While Yediot Aharonot makes no secret of putting its profits first, Haaretz vehemently and shamelessly pushes its political bias, while at the same time denying this and claiming to offer fair and honest reportage.

We were longtime readers of Haaretz, and bought into this claim of theirs for many years. It wasn’t Gideon Levy’s articles that eventually pushed us to cancel our subscription, or Amira Hass’s articles for that matter, it was the semi-disguised political slant in the news pages and in the so-called serious in-depth investigative stories that gradually disgusted us more and more, until we couldn’t and wouldn’t read it any more.

Gideon Levy, in this article, offers us a pile of hateful manipulative half-truths, at best, and one or two outright lies, all cleverly disguised. You asked for my reaction to this article, Mick, and I have been agonizing over it all week. It upsets me considerably to read all his twisted, devious manipulations. I should fisk it, I should go sentence by sentence and pull it to pieces. It is probably the most fiskable article ever written. Every out-of-context piece of poison in it is a complete distortion of the facts. I should fisk it, and I feel bad that I can’t. But I can’t, because that would make me just as petty and spiteful and hateful as he is. I cannot find the energy in me to stoop to his level, even if it is the right thing to do.

What can I say? We are at war with the Palestinians, I’m sorry that this is the situation. A personal aim of mine is to make an effort to continue seeing the humanity in the other side, to be aware of their considerable hardships and understand them, although they make no such effort to do the same with regard to me.

The nature of war is that people get hurt, innocent people. Unlike the Palestinians, we do not purposefully target non-combatants, but still it happens. Part of their war strategy is to bring the war zone into densely populated areas. This strategy, and its awful results, serves the Palestinian cause well. It gives people like Gideon Levy ample ammunition. For we are at war with the Palestinians, Mick, and Gideon Levy is not on our side.

Update: I've been writing and writing and deleting and starting over and getting anxious and gtting upset all week. And after all that John just says it so much better:

Gideon Levy doesn't make any analogies about suicide bombers...

'Imagine a scene where a Palestinian suicide bomber stands at the entrance of a restaurant crowded with children eating 'happy meals'...then imagine a situation where an Israeli suicide bomber stands at the entrance to a Palestinian cafe filled with children...ooops, one can't really imagine that can one?'