Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Price Honest Reporting?

On July 8 last year, I posted an Australian Jewish News advertisement for an "Advocates Mission for Israel," co-sponsored by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and Zionist website HonestReporting and scheduled for November 2012.

According to HonestReporting, there were 20 takers - "mostly members of Sydney's Jewish community, plus a number of West Australians and Americans." (30/11/12)

Precisely which category participant Anne Skinner, described in The Australian Jewish News as a "freelance writer and editor [who] self-funded her participation," fits into I do not know. Let us assume she's Australian. At any rate, it was Ms Skinner's wrap-up which appeared in the December 21 issue:

"The opinions in this article," we are told, "were partially informed by the mission's advocacy program." Now whatever else may have helped inform Ms Skinner's opinions on the Palestinians - Leon Uris' novel, Exodus, perhaps? - she does not reveal. One thing's for sure, though: Israeli settler Itamar Marcus's wearily familiar line - that the Palestinians are not so much sinned against as sinning - was given an unqualified thumbs-up by her:

"According to Israeli independent media monitor Palestinian Media Watch, PA-controlled Arab [sic] language media routinely incites hatred against Israel and Jews, much of it aimed at radicalising children and delivered via cartoons, sermons and programs on sport, culture and education. The Palestinians need - and must have - a state of their own. But instead of preparing them for peace, their leaders are warping the minds of generations of citizens - a criminal tragedy conveniently ignored by journalists intent on blaming Israel for all Palestinian ills." (Time to engage soft power)

Yes, I know, we've heard it all before, but what really puzzles me is the extraordinary revelation that Ms Skinner self-funded her undignified prostration at the feet of Mr Marcus.

Frankly, if she'd really wanted to find out what's going on (or should that be 'who's going down'?) in the occupied Palestinian territories, and where the undoubted hate is coming from, all she had to do was visit a well-stocked book store here in Australia, and, for a mere AUS$35, purchase and read Our Harsh Logic: Israeli soldiers' testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 (2012), compiled by the good folk of Breaking the Silence.

Our Harsh Logic is no amateur effort. Its contributors are all experts in the field if I may put it that way. Yes, if honest reporting was what Ms Skinner really wanted, as opposed to HonestReporting - know what I mean? - Our Harsh Logic is the place to find it:

"The worst thing I saw in Hebron happened the day after Elazar Leibowitz's funeral. I was guarding the Gross post, which is on the roof of a building and is the lookout for Hebron's central square... [I]n the middle of my shift, sometime in the afternoon, I see an old man with a cane walking down, an Arab from Abu Sneina. The old man looked sixty-plus, had a cane, he gets to the Abu Sneina intersection, to Gross Square, and all of a sudden three sixteen- or seventeen-year old [settler] kids jump him, they push him down to the ground in a second. They grab a stone and they open up his head. They start kicking him down on the ground, bashing his head. Here's a sixty-year-old man with a stream of blood gushing from his head, blood pouring from his head... I understood that basically anything that goes on there, that innocent [Palestinian] kids, fourteen years old, eight years old, die there for no reason, that settlers go into their houses and shoot at them, and settlers go crazy in the streets and break store windows and beat up soldiers and throw eggs at soldiers and lynch the elderly - all these things don't make it to the media. Hebron is a small, isolated world, and the Avraham Avinu neighborhood is isolated inside Hebron, and more soldiers guard it than people living there. The people living in the neighborhood do whatever they want, the soldiers are forced to protect them. The settlers are the biggest Jewish Nazis I've ever met. And it's here in the State of Israel, and no one knows about it, and no one wants to know, and no one reports on it." (pp 304-307)

"We were in Jabal Juar at that time. It used to be an Arab school, and for at least a few years now it's been an IDF post. There was an incident there where some settlers jumped some woman, an elderly woman. She was ill in some way. They injured her stomach, a serious stomach injury. It was only later that we understood she'd been ill. But apart from that, she was very old, and a few settlers jumped her in the Erez alley." (p 307)

"My main problem in Hebron was with the settlers, the Jewish community. I got the feeling we were protecting the Arabs from the Jews. And neither side liked us, but it felt like the Jews did whatever they wanted and no one cared... Here's an example of something that happened right near me: I was on guard duty, and one of the soldiers at another post called a medic over the radio. Someone replaced me at the post and I ran down to see what had happened, and I saw a six-year-old Palestinian girl, her whole head a gaping wound... This very cute [settler] kid who'd regularly visit our post decided that he didn't like Palestinians walking beneath his house, so he took a brick and threw it at this girl's head. Kids there do whatever they want. No one does anything about it. No one cares. Afterward, his parents just praised him. The parents there encourage their children to behave like that. There were many cases like that. Eleven-, twelve-year-old Jewish kids beat up Palestinians and their parents come along to help them, set their dogs on them - there's a thousand and one stories." (pp 308-309)

See what I mean?

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