February 17: Their own bias

In a society where two people have three opinions, opinionating by journalists is to be expected.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: 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.
By 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.
J.J. GROSS Jerusalem
Sweet dreams
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).
All the 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 Netanyahu.
Unbalanced gate
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.
Did 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.
ALEX ROSE Ashkelon
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 the truth.
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.
It’s no use
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).
Ever 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 will succeed.
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.
Many, many more
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 Fire.
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.