February 17: Their own bias
In a society where two people have three opinions, opinionating by journalists is to be expected.
Letters Photo: REUTERS/Handout
Their own bias
Sir, – While one would hope that Army Radio reporter Hadas Shteif
exposes whoever it is that is hitting on female journalists, such harassment can
hardly be compared to the rape of five-year- olds and the protection of
pedophiles by haredi rabbis (“Bashing haredim,” Media Comment, February 14).
Sadly, one may legitimately suspect a causal connection between extreme
religious repression and pedophilia and incest, which would not be the case
among educated adults.
Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak then go on to declare
that “the job of newspeople is to report, to get the facts, not to argue,
reprimand and wave a finger.”
If this were a law, Israel would be left
with no newspapers at all, beginning with Haaretz on the secular extreme and
Hamodia and Yated Neeman on the haredi extreme. In a society where two people
have three opinions, opinionating by journalists is to be expected.
singling out Army Radio for criticism while systematically ignoring the
outrageous junk that passes for news in the haredi media, the writers reveal
their own bias.
Sir, – Gershon Baskin
must have been dreaming when he came up with the material for his latest column
(“Netanyahu, the peace maker,” Encountering Peace, February 14).
questioning about whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to enter a
serious peace process should be steered toward Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas. After all, isn’t Abbas the one who has refused to sit and
sincerely negotiate? Isn’t he the one who refused to negotiate even after
Netanyahu agreed to an unprecedented 10-month settlement building freeze, save
for a short three weeks toward the end of the freeze? Isn’t it Abbas who
wouldn’t come to terms with then-prime minister Ehud Olmert after the latter had
agreed to almost all – and perhaps absolutely all – of his demands? It seems
that Baskin is doing all the negotiating for Abbas.
There are some
interesting demands as well. It’s time he wakes up from his dreams and starts to
realize that Abbas is supposed to be the one sitting and negotiating with
Sir, – Good
journalism demands balance, and this is no less so for filmmaking. It is common
knowledge that for every action one would anticipate a reaction. Wars are either
invasive or defensive.
In viewing the film The Gatekeepers (“Using
documentary as manipulation: The dishonesty of ‘The Gatekeepers,’” Comment &
Features, February 14), one is left with the distinct impression that Israeli
governments have always been short on plans for settling the dispute over the
acquisition of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Six Day War.
not prime minister Menachem Begin propose autonomy? What was the Madrid
Conference about, or for that matter the disastrous Oslo Accords? And who can
forget in more recent times the exhaustive efforts of Ehud Olmert and Tzipi
Livni in meeting after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas? Neither the director nor any of his six “actors,” in belaboring their
complaints, offers a single concrete idea on problem resolution other than
further discussions, which has already been attempted. How does one explain the
extremist behavior of those charged with protecting the nation when they hang
their dirty laundry in the public arena? The kindest answer would be found in
the numerous works of the famed American psychiatrist Kenneth Levin, and in
particular The Psychology of Populations under Chronic Siege. Briefly
summarized, “segments of populations under chronic siege commonly embrace the
indictments of the besiegers, however bigoted and outrageous. They hope that by
doing so and reforming accordingly they can assuage the hostility of their
tormenters and win relief.”
The film is thoroughly onesided, completely
ignoring the many generous offers made to the Palestinians. A better documentary
would have explored the failed attempts in seeking a real peace.
Telling the truth
Sir, – Kudos to Seth J. Frantzman (“Israel’s
burden of inequalities,” Terra Incognita, February 13) for saying the king is
naked. No doubt he will be crucified by all the hypocrites for daring to tell
Sir, – While the secular public
gets more and more fed up with the ultra-Orthodox sector, the rabbis who dictate
the behavior of that sector barricade themselves behind the claim that their
people are tending to the spiritual values of Israel by neither working nor
performing national service.
I would like those rabbis to sincerely
consider these questions: Who achieves more merit in the sight of God, the man
who sits on a bench in a yeshiva all day or the man who labors to support the
yeshiva student and his large family? Who achieves more merit in the sight of
God, the man who remains faithful to his wife or the women who make sure he can
never see them or hear their voices, and therefore is never exposed to any
temptation? Ultra-Orthodox rabbis, whom we are all supposed to admire for their
fine understanding of moral values, seem to have a huge blind spot when it comes
to their own moral values. They demand that the masses who do not belong to
their flocks act as their servants, supporting them, serving in the army in
their place, and making sure to be inaudible and invisible so as not to offend
their feelings in any way – all while these rabbis insist that credit for their
pious behavior belongs solely to them.
Sir, – Your February 12 Comment & Features section included two columns
decrying the lack of adequate hasbara (public diplomacy) to state Israel’s case
(“The Jewish Billy Graham, the Israeli Martin Luther King,” No Holds Barred;
“How not to win friends and influence people,” Original Thinking).
since I made aliya 38 years ago I have heard criticism of our lack of hasbara.
While I accept the criticism, I am very doubtful if any efforts to improve it
While Christian authorities have withdrawn the claim that
the Jews killed Christ, millions of Christians throughout the world do not
accept this disclaimer.
In addition, the influence of Muhammad on the
Muslim world by decrying the Jews as infidels is responsible for the hatred of
Jews by adherents of that religion.
And the claim that we are the chosen
people makes the situation even worse.
Sir, – In “The Jewish Billy Graham, the Israeli Martin Luther King,”
Shmuley Boteach needs a new yardstick by which to measure Jewish accomplishment,
at least in terms of athletics.
His claim that it “may still be a while
before a Jew wins the 100 meter dash in an Olympic stadium” ignores the
accomplishment of precisely that feat at the 1924 Paris Olympics by underdog
British Jewish sprinter Harold Abrahams, as depicted in the movie Chariots of
Boteach may know of “but a handful” of Jewish Olympic medalists,
but Jewish Olympians have in fact won over 150 gold medals over the years, about
3 percent of all gold medals awarded. Not bad for a people who represent roughly
0.2 percent of the world’s population.