02 November 2014

About the recalcitrance of Israeli public and the role of the media

A day usually doesn't pass without another article bewailing the unstoppable shift of Israeli public to the right. The shift to the right, as it is measured for Israelis, is usually referring to the attitude of Israeli public regarding the impassable Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which is simmering for a long time. Without any signs of abating and without hope for resolution.

Being one of the several millions that indeed have undergone a significant shift to pessimism and a significant loss of hope for the resolution of the conflict, I could quote many reasons for this change of heart. Indeed, from the heady days of Oslo accords via the years of Arafat's double-tongue speech and encouragement of "resistance", via lack of leadership on both sides of the conflict, via emergence of Hamas with its genocidal agenda (different from that of its rival Fatah only in more open and frank definition of goals, to be sure) etc. - it was difficult not to lose that optimism.

Be it as it may, the international media knows to put its collective finger on the reasons. Of course, depending on the particular bend of a specific media outfit, the apportioning of the blame will be different. From blaming the bloodthirsty ZioNazis to accusing the bloodthirsty Arab world and/or Islamist culture of death, you will find the whole gamut of opinions, emotions and hyperbole in the unending stream of what passes these days for reporting and editorializing.

There is one thing, though, you will never find in the media - blaming itself for what is going on. And I don't mean the incendiary articles by anti-Zionist or anti-Arabic gurus, not at all. Just the usual, run-of-the-mill daily reporting, dull and unremarkable, that seeps through the brain matter of the reader, leaving in its wake a few weak emotions, only to be forgotten the next day. But not completely forgotten. Because if, before reading the article, you didn't know anything about the subject, your knowledge will be increased only a tiny little bit. However, your opinion on the main actors of the unfolding drama - Jews and Arabs - will change - slightly, but it will definitely change. And not in favor of the Jews, things being (mis)represented as they frequently are.

And if you are a Jewish Israeli citizen, this reporting will increase your general irritation level, your sense of being wronged, your feeling of alienation and your sense of enmity the outside world displays. Slightly, granted, but increase all these feelings will. Eventually, with the passage of years and accumulation of these small jabs, one can't help but distance oneself from any hope of rapprochement - neither with one's Palestinian cousins nor with the rest of the world.

And to illustrate this long rant, I have chosen an unremarkable example from a newspaper that is not known for being especially anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish - The Telegraph. Robert Tait produced for The Telegraph an article

Israeli Right-wingers have revived highly contentious plans that could effectively silence the Muslim call to prayer, known as the adhan.

In a move that risks stoking already simmering tensions in Jerusalem between Jews and Arabs, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition is tabling legislation that could put strict limits on Islamic prayer calls from mosques in the city and across Israel.
So where do I start? With the headline, of course. No one is trying to "ban" the prayer call, to start with - this is the first small "inaccuracy" of that report. And as for "effectively silencing" that call, there is a grain of truth in that sentence, but only... how to say it gently - half of the truth. Because - but you will not find the full truth in the article, search it as you like. Let's try another source - Washington Post. WaPo presents a misleading headline as well, but slightly less misleading:

At least, this headline doesn't use the totally untrue "banning", choosing "to silence", which is somewhat closer to the reality. And in the article itself you may find the first glimpse of truth:
The song of the muezzin is a fixture of urban life in many parts of the world where there are Muslim populations. But for Ilatov and others, it's a problem of noise pollution. The proposed bill would give Israeli authorities the right to decide whether public address systems can be placed in mosques -- a de facto right to muffle the muezzin.
In this quote you can see that, first of all, the incendiary "to silence" is replaced by true version: "to muffle". Which, together with the first mention of  "public address systems", starts to resemble the truth (you wouldn't find any mention of PA systems, which are in reality humongous loudspeakers, in The Telegraph's article).

Now we can proceed to a local view of the same issue - by Jerusalem Post.

The bill, originally drafted in the previous Knesset by then-Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastasia Michaeli, calls for a ban on the usage of a PA system to complete the call to prayer – called the idhan in Arabic – and any other sound emanating from a religious institution that is deemed noise pollution.

The idhan is recited five times per day, including at dawn, and muezzin in Israel use loudspeakers to call Muslims to prayer.
You can say what you will about the whole idea. But, first of all, did Prophet Muhammed, PBUH, require use of loudspeakers for idhan?

I, personally, tend to doubt it, but then I am not a scholar of Islam - or any other religion, for that matter. I only know that for Israeli citizens living in cities with mixed population, the 4AM wail, equal in the decibel count to an air raid siren, produces an unwelcome and unasked for wake-up call. And sometimes the same "PA system" continues to transmit the whole sermon, undoubtedly prerecorded. Why should Jewish and Christian neighbors be subjected to this unsubtle punishment, only Allah knows...

And finally, if the question of comfort and well-being of the Jews and Christians shouldn't in your opinion trample the religious rights (what religious rights, by the way?) of our Muslim brothers and sisters, consider this:
Calls to prayer have become rare, too. Officials have silenced muezzins to appease citizens angered by the noise. The state broadcaster used to interrupt football matches with live sermons at prayer time; now only a small prayer symbol appears in a corner of the screen.
This quote refers to... yes, take a seat: Islamic Republic of Iran, for crying out loud. Apologies for emphasizing, but it was irresistible...

Now to summarize: you can see how a relatively simple case gets a skewed and, eventually, anti-Jewish angle when presented by many Western sources. Imagine the interpretation of the same case by the Muslim ones, multiply this case by tens or even hundreds on the daily basis... you get the picture now, I bet.

So how do you expect us to keep our equanimity and our desire for peace, understanding and all things dear to any right-minded progressive Western bloke going?

You tell me.

P.S. To prevent a certain type of responses: no, I am far from blaming the media in everything that is going on, but at the end of the day, when the blame is to be apportioned, some media hacks have to own up to their fair share.


Dick Stanley said...

Israelis aren't paranoid for thinking these snooze outlets are out to get them when, in fact, they are, either because they hate jooz or because they just like conflict. Journalism is about conflict, not truth. Only the local media, like the J-Post, feels obligated to be precise. No conflict, no story, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so old and so well known as to be a cliche. Which is another thing journalists can't live without, cliches, because they're familiar and the readers/viewers can instantly understand them.

My late mother used to live in fear of non-existent crime waves in her small city because she watched the local teevee news and most of what it reported was crime because police reports are free and require little effort to track down the victims or at least the survivors. A good police-band radio is all you need to get to the scene with your camera in time for the action.

She never stopped to think why she should be frightened of one or two criminals in the news out of the thousands of people who lived around her and broke no laws more serious than traffic violations. I told her to stop watching the stupid news shows. She couldn't. They were too compelling.

As for the daily calls on the speakers, I remember people in at least one town in Michigan sued to stop them because they made life intolerable and they won. It might be simpler just to find the wires and cut them every so often. A rifle with a silencer might work on the speakers themselves. But that's easy for me to say. No such thing is happening in Austin nor do I ever expect it to. It helps to live in a town where so many civilians are privately armed. An armed society is a (reasonably) polite society. Most of the time.

Dick Stanley said...

I don't know the two "comics" in question, but the woman seems deranged. Jacobson's Finkler was a depressing romp. He may be best summed up by the title of another of his books: "Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It."

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I tend to rather agree with you re his books, sometimes he just likes to hear himself speaking (writing, I mean). But his articles are usually brilliant.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I can understand the need of a reporter to come up with a scoop or with some other kind of story attractive to the reading public, after all media is a business. Same with cliches.

But the tendency to tell half truths to make their articles palatable to a specific slice of readers is disgusting. Half truth are lies, no matter how you look at it.

And yes, what you tell about your mother is familiar to me - my dad was the same way, fuming about the crime wave that is going to bury us all...

As for "No such thing is happening in Austin nor do I ever expect it to." - never say never ;-)

Who knows, Austin may get its share...

And kudos for quoting Heinlein, I know you don't dig him generally ;-)

David Sigeti said...


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Thanks David.

Sennacherib said...

"No such thing is happening in Austin nor do I ever expect it to" C'mon Stanley, give the City Council a chance, after all they have an "opening song" from what I understand. Plus they could beat Portland or Seattle to the punch for once.

Sennacherib said...

Gee Snoop,
Just because you guys have been unmercifully picked on for around 2,700 yrs or so, you have to go get all sensitive about it now. Next thing you know you guys are going to get all paranoid that people are out to get you.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Probably what I meant too ;-)

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, I knew that this post could be possibly taken wrong. You see, I am frequently going maudlin just before we, the Elders, are going to commit a major atrocity... Them journalists (any present company excluded, of course), are going to get some serious field guidance, to borrow a term from a neighborhood tyrant.

Dick Stanley said...

I don't like Heinlein's kid stories much. The adult ones are pretty good.

I can't imagine the Mussies in Austin trying to broadcast that stuff. We have enough of them now that they could have tried it if they dared. They apparently don't. Which is real smart of them.

I agree that half-truths are lies, no question about it and some of the practitioners are, indeed, after the Jooz.

David All said...

"An armed society is a (reasonably) polite society. Most of the time."
As long as nobody looks like they are going for their gun!
It has been some years, but I recall reading that Texas

was the state with the highest murder rate in the country.

David All said...

4 AM is rather early to have a public call to prayer broadcast on the loud speaker so probably should be done to quiet the early prayer call. As for the other daily prayer calls, I am rather suspicious about the noise pollution complaint. It sounds, to me, like an excuse to harass observant Muslims, by interfering with their daily prayer rituals.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

We (the Assyrian King and I) were just joshing you. Well, I hope so, at least.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Well, I would guess that by now they god rid of most the uncouth characters, so this should be indeed the most polite state.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Most of complaints are indeed related to 4AM thing, but the others could also be bothersome. Consider sich people staying at home, people trying to have their siesta, people who work shifts and are trying to catch some sleep.

Again, there is interfering with daily prayer and there is interfering with noise. See the Iranian example.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

This would be true if one really believes that settlements are the main problem. Not to forget, this is the theory that got popular with the advent of Obama's administration. Oh well, we shall see what happens.

ALPHA.MALE said...

I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.



./. /./ .//

Dick Stanley said...

Hardly. Not since before 1996 anyhow:


Obumbles' own state of Illinois, where they supposedly control guns and have no death penalty, is well ahead.

Dick Stanley said...

Why should the Musslemen be allowed to disturb anyone at any time for their "prayer rituals"? Piss Upon Them.

Dick Stanley said...

The only chickenshits are your boss and his secretary of state. The settlements are in the West Bank. East J-Lem is the capital city, to which the arabs who like to call themselves Palestinians have no claim whatsoever except the land or apartments they own. The more they riot the greater the restrictions they'll encounter, not to mention gunfire. I like Bibi's push for making rock-throwing punishable up to 10 years in prison. About time.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

PBUT, you mean ;-)