31 August 2009

Seth Freedman on organ harvesting affair

After successfully settling the thorny issue of OH (Organ Harvesting), I had me some time to get acquainted with several responses in the press to the issue. Between others, I've read what Guardian had to say on the subject. First, a fairly dry and factual article by Roy Greenslade and then a strange and longish treatise by Seth Freedman. I am still trying to get my head around the latter. Which is worth some fisking, I guess, so bear with me for a few minutes.

First of all, I have to say that I completely agree with Seth where his advice to Israeli government is concerned:

Israel has to start dealing with criticism in a measured and mature fashion, otherwise it simply plays into the hands of its detractors...
Indeed, the display of histrionics by some officials was unworthy, but what can you expect, having a thug for a foreign minister? I omitted the rest of the sentence quoted above, not because of the mixed metaphor (crying wolf and running for the hills) but because the first part of it (crying wolf), which is repeated in the headline of the article (Israel cries wolf over 'blood libel') is sheer nonsense. So lets' start from the beginning, namely from the headline. It makes two statements, the first one openly: "crying wolf". The meaning of "crying wolf" is:
If someone cries wolf, they raise a false alarm about something.
So, the (hysterical) outcry of Israeli officials was a false alarm? Meaning much ado about nothing? Hmm... strange. I am not into teaching Seth English, he could teach me English for years to come, but logic it ain't for sure.

The second, hidden statement is the appearance of quotation marks around 'blood libel'. Obviously meaning that Seth (or the on-line edition editor) doubts that the accusation leveled at IDF re organ harvesting could be classified as blood libel. Curious, I would say. The definition of blood libel says:
Blood libels are allegations that a person or group engages in human sacrifice...
Fits like a glove, I suggest. But let's move on. To the subhead of the article:
A Swedish report about supposed organ-harvesting by troops in the West Bank isn't antisemitic – it's just bad journalism
A "swedish report"? I wasn't aware of a formal document by the Swedish government. See, there's me thinking this was about an article in some insignificant rag seeking to create increased sales. Normally you would expect the subhead to continue and strengthen the statement made in the headline. In this case, however, it opens a completely different can of worms. Big ones, I submit.

Indeed, how is the fact that the "report" is bad journalism (and I wholly agree with that part) related to the report or its author being (or not) antisemitic? How does Seth derive it from the report itself?

Yours truly in particular and this blog in general try to avoid the hot potato of antisemitism, the whole issue being impossible to prove or disprove in too many cases. It is used and abused by pro- and anti- Israeli sides of the dispute to smithereens and should be handled with utmost care, especially where no proof of antisemitism or its absence is available. Not knowing anything about the author of that "Swedish" crapola, one should avoid any statement on the subject like a plague. Moreover, one should avoid introducing the subject where it's unnecessary due to abundance of other issues.

So why does Seth jump in exonerating the Swedish scribe of possible accusation of antisemitism? Unless Donald Boström, the author of the original article, is Seth's personal friend who just loves the Jews, Seth's defense of Boström in this regard is a mystery.

Well, almost a mystery. If you forget the line so beloved and so frequently used by Seth:
However, bad journalism does not automatically an antisemite make, especially when the allegations were directed at the Israeli army, rather than at Judaism and its practices.
Of course, you must remember, that in the world according to Seth there are good Jooz and, how to say it gently - not so good Jooz. To the former group belong Seth, religious Jooz, most of the Jooz outside of Israel, esp. those who see Israel as a thorn in their backside. Most of the latter are Israeli army, Israeli government, the settlers, esp. these wild hilltop youth monkeys... oops, there is a small problem, since they are mostly religious, but this is a dichotomy Seth is solving for a long time, no doubt he will come up with an answer in the future. No doubt he will explain to us how come there are followers of Judaism that are rather less peaceful and mature than Seth would like you to believe.

Seth will also explain how come that Sheik Nasrallah and many others of his ilk do not distinguish between these good Jooz and the bad Jooz, preferring rather to deal with all of us in the same manner. We should be patient and just wait for Seth to come up with something. Meanwhile let's just relax and make peace with Seth's line of thinking that is able to make a logical leap from "bad journalism does not automatically an antisemite make" to "bad journalism is not antisemitic".

Then we'll be able to sit down together with Seth and to have a good hearty laugh at that shiny example of intellectual contortions:
Had the article claimed that Jewish teaching encouraged the killing of gentile children and the use of their blood for ritual purposes – the classic definition of blood libel, and the origin of the phrase – it would be another matter, but in this case the accusations are clearly made against a subsection of Israeli society, not against Israelis per se, let alone the worldwide Jewish community.
Sure, Seth, we'll say. You've hit the nail with your interpretation of the term "blood libel". No problem, Seth, even if it smells a bit fishy. And you are right - them IDF are bad apples. Subsection, as you say, no representation of Israeli society whatsoever. To be dealt with to the full extent of peaceful and happy Judaic law - whatever it means.

Of course, one cannot but compliment Seth on his masterly use of the trope:
...pro-Israel commentators routinely allege that criticism of Israel is in fact thinly disguised antisemitism...
Broad brush, no doubt. Bold statement, there is no attempt to be a bit more selective by saying "some pro-Israeli commentators". Or "some criticism of Israel". There is not even a tiniest sign of an effort to understand that some anti-Semites of the worst kind use this same trope to hide their ugly mugs behind what they call "criticism of Israel", is there?

Ehehe... enough fisking for one article, I think. Just the last bit:
...the Israeli authorities ought to be able to easily prove the army's innocence...
Seth is surely aware of the Israeli often used fable about a dude who's beeing accused that his sister is a whore, then having to prove that he doesn't in fact have a sister... There are two aspects. One is purely technical. Should the "Israeli authorities" order removal of all implants performed during the last decade with subsequent exhumation of the suspected donors to check for matching "pairs"? I wonder...

The second aspect is legal. To the limited extent of my knowledge, there is a rule of presumption of innocence in jurisprudence all over the world, aside of a few regimes we'll not mention right here. To use a handy example, should Jooz start proving their innocence regarding all libels leveled at them during the last, say, three thousand years?

But I am forgetting myself. Or, rather, I am forgetting Seth's view. After all, good Jooz don't have to prove anything, it's the not-so-good ones that should...

I, being probably one of the not-so-good Jooz, should start thinking about it. Later, maybe, sometime in October, when it will be less hot...

P.S. on a related subject, from Haaretz:

It takes an expert in cheap and harmful journalism to identify another one...


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