14 September 2008

Seth Freedman - an apologist for Hamas TV

Seth Freedman as an apologist - this sounds strange, no matter what entity he is supposed to apologize for. The opposite was believed to be true - as one of the main contributors of the Guardian political cesspool called Comment is Free, he became rather prominent as an attacker. His attacks are directed against the Zionist Entity - which happens to be precisely what is expected from him by his editors and the shoal of his faithful followers that cheer him as kind of a new Guardian Messiah.

Frankly, a terrible disappointment. Some years ago, with appearance of his first articles, my friends and I had high hopes for the youngster. Not afraid to decry injustice of his own side, he was not blind to the behavior of Palestinians. No more - the guy clearly figured out which side his bread is buttered. And this side has no trek with criticizing Palestinians, obviously.

Besides, he is lately becoming more and more religion-minded, finding his real roots in the Jewish faith, apparently. Nary a piece of his ends without mentioning the deep chasm between his religion and the Zionists' atrocities. So much so that a friend of mine asked, quite reasonably, whether Seth is in apprenticeship to Neturei Karta. Certainly a possibility.

But his latest shenanigans left many an anti-Zionist standing. It started with Edwin Bennatan publishing in Jerusalem Post a rebuttal to quite a poisonous piece by Freedman, in which Freedman says, between other things:

People object to the wanton destruction meted out in [Palestinian] villages by the IDF being likened to pogroms - the word having been somehow arrogated by certain Jewish people for their exclusive use.
Well, as acrimony goes, the rebuttal by Bennatan was quite moderate. And then something unique happened: the relatively right wing JP removes the Bennatan's article and publishes an apology:
The Jerusalem Post would like to apologize to Seth Freedman for certain comments that appeared on our site following a September 1 blog entry written by Edwin Bennatan that were defamatory, threatening, and inappropriate.

The Jerusalem Post apologizes for any distress caused to Mr. Freedman, expresses its sincere regret that such a situation was allowed to occur, and will endeavour to prevent any recurrence.

A donation will be made by the Jerusalem Post to a charity of Mr Freedman's choice.
Wow... wow... But hold your horses before saying your wows - notice this: it is not the Bennatan's article that caused Mr. Freedman's ire, it were "certain comments"! And the forces our Seth brought to bear on poor JP were of such magnitude that they have decided to remove not only the offending comments, but the article itself! Unbelievable.

So, it looks like the fearless fighter for freedom of Palestinians and freedom of his expression in CiF is not exactly averse to some legal hanky panky when it comes to silencing the opposition. Might be interesting to know whether he threatened JP with a British court, which, as we all know only too well, is unbearably easy to persuade re libel. Might be also interesting to know where a humble CiF correspondent gets such an easy access to some legal talent that, as we all know, doesn't come cheap.

So, folks, in the interests of the freedom of expression, follows the unabridged version of the Bennatan's article, taken from Google cache memory. It doesn't look as if there is a copyright issue in this case, unless Edwin Bennatan himself calls for its removal from this here blog. You shall see that the article is no more incendiary than the endless drivel Seth Freedman feeds his readers on CiF. Enjoy.

An apologist for Hamas TV

Counterpoint to

Harsh words: but true
Source: guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/21/israelandthepalestinians.middleeast

People object to the wanton destruction meted out in [Palestinian] villages by the IDF being likened to pogroms - the word having been somehow arrogated by certain Jewish people for their exclusive use."

Seth Freedman
The Guardian (London)
August 21, 2008

At which point do absurd comparisons become blatantly offensive? The Guardian's Seth Freedman recently compared the western media to the Al-Aqsa television station. You need to realize just how perverse this station really is in order to fully grasp the absurdity of Freedman's comparison.

Here's a brief glimpse of Al-Aqsa TV, which was launched by Hamas in 2006 as part of its campaign to counter what it saw as Israeli propaganda in the western media. The station transmits news, documentaries, and children's programs from Gaza.

A Mickey Mouse lookalike character tells children that he will eat the Jews, and then sings "We will never recognize Israel", while a little girl joins in for the refrain: "Until we liberate our homeland from the Zionist filth."

A TV bunny is tempted by Satan to steal, and is sentenced by children viewers to be punished according to the Koran, by having his hand chopped off. He then threatens to kill the people of Denmark for the publication of a cartoon that illustrates the prophet Muhammad.

And in a particular potent strain of edification, Arab children are stuffed into a crematorium embellished with a nazi swastika and a Jewish Star of David, while for more mature viewers, a Hamas documentary program explains that it was the Jews who planned the Holocaust in order to kill other Jews who were handicapped.

The station's news broadcast reports that Israel is creating artificial earthquakes to shake the foundations of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and in an interview with Agence France-Presse, the station's news manager, Ibrahim Daher, explains: "We adapt news so that it is compatible with our culture, the values of our people, and Islam".

Freedman recently summarized his impressions of the television station after having spent some time with a Palestinian family in the West Bank watching the news with two of his host's sons.

He implies that there is a balance of bias between the way the supposedly pro-Israel media disseminates information from the Middle East and the way Hamas television reports its version of events. He states: "The abandoning of western media parlance... in favor of an entirely different lexicon was a rude awakening for me, having been fed on a vastly different diet over the years." (Freedman is a fairly recent immigrant to Israel from Britain.)

Freedman sees an equitable parallel between the Hamas broadcasts on the one hand and the Israel and Western media (he combines the two) on the other; they are basically two sides of the same coin. "...it would be "wholly understandable" if a viewer of al-Aqsa TV who tuned into any western station from the BBC to Sky News and beyond felt a mirror-image outrage simply because of the terms used to describe the conflict."

And regarding the news broadcast that he was watching with his host's sons, he adds, "...the terms used ...were indicative of how wide the gulf is between ordinary citizens "on either side of the divide".

Freedman's lengthy introduction leads up to his main point: the vocabulary that is used to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is always unavoidably offensive to one side and acceptable to the other, due to the sides' different perspectives of the conflict. Thus, whenever Freedman tries "to call a spade a spade" he inevitably finds himself under fire from one side or the other. (Of course in his case the fire almost exclusively come from the Israeli side, because he rarely, if ever, has anything good to say about his newfound homeland.)

Freedman gives examples of his difficulty in calling a spade a spade. According to Freedman, the Palestinians are upset with the use of the terms settlers instead of colonists, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) instead of the more appropriate (according to Freedman) Israel Occupying Forces.

On the other hand, Israelis are upset with the term apartheid despite it being the more appropriate term for the situation in the West Bank (according to Freedman), and with the term pogrom to describe the destruction by the IDF in Palestinians villages, which is a term that Freedman believes has been "arrogated by certain Jewish people for their exclusive use, and only then in relation to the Jews' own historical suffering." (Freedman is apparently unaware that the term 'pogrom' entered English from Yiddish/Russian where it described the carnage of Jews in Eastern Europe.)

By his defense of these egregious descriptors, Freedman has set himself up as an apologist for the excesses of the Al-Aqsa station. In particular, his attempt to explain away the sensitivity of Israelis towards the careless use of the term 'pogrom' is inexcusable, considering that as a Jew and an Israeli he cannot claim ignorance.

Freedman concludes with one of his more remarkable statements. "While I understand how emotionally invested people (myself included) become when focusing on the conflict," he says, "we should not allow a situation where plainly-spoken facts are dismissed simply because the reader or viewer feels uncomfortable with the truth." In other words, those who reject the use of descriptors such as apartheid, Israel Occupying Forces, and pogroms, are clearly doing so because they are "uncomfortable with the truth". The possibility doesn't even enter Freedman's mind that they are rejecting these terms because they are uncomfortable with falsehoods.

While Freedman's most extreme allegations have been omitted here, he himself is a living rebuttal to his own claims. In Israel, he can call a spade a spade whenever he wishes; in fact he can even call it a pogrom. This is one of the benefits of living in a free society, - a privilege certainly not afforded by Hamas to the Gaza viewers of Al-Aqsa TV.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.