05 December 2014

Daniel Reisel of Yachad or how to end a debate using a blunt object

I had the misfortune to step into this article due to the like it received from one of my Facebook friends (thanks, David). And due to the fact that the link was prefaced by a tantalizing sentence:

Yachad chair Daniel Reisel questions claims of a "global Hamas-scripted conspiracy" in the media at +972 Magazine.
You just can't pass over the link after reading something like that, can you? Then, after clicking through I wordlessly watched for some considerable time the two +972 divas trying to take you even further into the bowels of that institution with these headlines:

If you succeed to escape the sirens' call (I almost did, straying for about half a minute - only to ensure that Mya G. is still breathtakingly stupid), you get to Daniel Reisel's article, which is titled:

Occupation: The missing context in Matti Friedman's 'inside story'

and its lede goes directly to the heart of the matter:
For several months now, a former Associated Press reporter in Jerusalem has been on a mission to ‘expose’ the media’s bias against Israel. Glaringly missing from his argument, however, is the occupation.
Heart of the matter? As one who read the original article by Matti Friedman, I would (fairly naturally) assume that Matti Friedman dedicated the article to the problem he (and only he) has a right to define as central to the article, namely:
The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
But no, it is not for mere author of the article to decide what is central to it, apparently. Because here comes Daniel Reisel (a research fellow at University College London and as such, probably, an authority on what really matters in other people's articles) and boldly states:
Friedman wants to look at context, but it would be fairer perhaps to question the context of all this context-seeking. Israel finds itself at a crisis point today. There is bad news from successive European governments lining up to recognize Palestinian national rights, there is bad news on the home front with unprecedented racism, arson attacks and renewed violence in the streets of Jerusalem. In all this, Matti Friedman tries to convince us that there is a media bias against the Jews and that the world should stop obsessing about Israel. Does that not feel a bit disingenuous?
And thus, putting our life in a proper context, Daniel Reisel plunges into it:
Friedman writes that the real problem is not the occupation and continued lack of a solution for the Palestinians, instead the problem is the Arab world’s hatred towards the Jews.
Let me see how it goes now: on one hand, according to Daniel Reisel, Friedman omitted a mention of occupation from his article*. On the other, "Friedman writes that the real problem is not the occupation"**... some lessons in elementary logic should be added in University College London, I suggest. Also some lessons in how to avoid twisting your opponent's words to prove a (irrelevant) point.

But this is not the point, of course, simply because Matti Friedman's article is not about settlements, not about current Israeli crisis point(s), not about European governments' actions, racism and/or violence in the streets. It is not about LGBT community rights, GMO foods, global warming or unrest in Ferguson. It is concerned with one subject only, and the subject is certainly not one of the listed above, no matter how close to Daniel Reisel's heart they all might be.

In effect, Daniel Reisel debating technique boils down to: "You, Matti Friedman, are yakking about the media bias, but since you didn't relate to settlements, racism, Israeli crisis point and (for the argument's sake) global warming, your yakking is invalid. Cease and desist." Does it make sense to you?

But to provide +972 with fodder you don't have to make sense, apparently.

(*) Not true, by the way, this is what Friedman says:
This definition also allows the Israeli settlement project, which I believe is a serious moral and strategic error on Israel’s part, to be described not as what it is—one more destructive symptom of the conflict—but rather as its cause.
(**) And of course, Friedman doesn't say "real problem is not the occupation" - only in Reisel's "interpretation". But this would be nitpicking, and we want to avoid it, don't we.