The Facebook profile picture of the main New York Times Gaza correspondent. (He has now changed his picture.)
* There is another important dispatch today, here: Ex-AP Jerusalem correspondent: How the AP (and others) covered up the truth to make Israel look bad
* See also this recent dispatch: Israel’s record on civilian casualties compares well to America’s
* Richard Behar: “Journalism ethics professors and historians take note: You are bearing witness, with few exceptions, to some of the most abysmal overseas reporting since Hearst’s New York Journal in 1898 got the U.S. into the Spanish-American War and Walter Duranty of the New York Times was ignoring Stalin’s crimes in the 1930s. ‘We’re not just talking bad journalism,’ says Gary Weiss. ‘We’re talking about journalism that functions as a tool of a terrorist organization, Hamas: breathlessly pushing its narrative, whether cowed by its threats, sympathetic to its cause, or simply ignorant.’”
* Joshua Muravchik: The children’s verse, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me” is as false for countries as it is for children – but in a more material way. The opprobrium heaped on Israel whenever it finds itself in a confrontation with enemies who still do not accept its existence, restricts its freedom of action, even though, more than perhaps any other state, its survival depends on its ability to defend itself militarily.
* A hostile international atmosphere forces Israel to weigh each measure of self-defense against the political costs which can sometimes be astronomical. In 1973, on the eve of the Yom Kippur War, as Israeli leaders belatedly recognized that Egyptian and Syrian attacks were imminent, they were cautioned by the U.S. not to strike the first blow lest it compromise American support. Prime Minister Golda Meir [later testified]: “Had we gone to a preemptive strike, I have full confidence that the ‘air lift’ [of American arms that eventually turned the tide of battle] would not have come.” In part as a result of waiting until Egypt and Syria had attacked, Israel lost upwards of 2,500 soldiers in that war, more than double, in proportion to population, the number America lost in the entirety of the war in Vietnam.
* Few American students will earn their baccalaureate today without getting an earful of the case against Israel in the classroom or on the commons or both. Even those who are not won over are bound to be affected. The anti-Israel movement knows it will score no sudden coup, but it is committed to the long war.
“STICKS AND STONES WILL BREAK MY BONES -- BUT WORDS WILL INDEED HARM ME”
[Note by Tom Gross]
Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit’s new book “My Promised Land” has been gaining a great deal of attention in recent months. Another new book, which has so far garnered less attention from the likes of the New York Times, because unlike Shavit, it hasn’t made dubious claims about Israel’s actions at the 1948 battle of Lydda – an historian writing in the Daily Beast for example, called Shavit’s claims “a gross historical distortion” – is Joshua Muravchik’s “Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel,” published by Encounter Books.
Below, with the permission of Joshua Muravchik and of Roger Kimball of Encounter Books, I attach one of the shorter chapters from “Making David Into Goliath”.
Before that, I attach some other links of interest.
NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT USED PICTURE OF YASSER ARAFAT AS HIS FACEBOOK PROFILE PHOTO
I posted all these items on my public Facebook page at the time they appeared, and if you want to see similar items in future, please “like” this page: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.
* Among the points made in this lengthy essay by Richard Behar in Forbes magazine is that the New York Times Gaza correspondent used a picture of Yasser Arafat as his Facebook profile photo (hardly an indication of neutrality). (Towards the end of the piece, Richard Behar, who is also a subscriber to this list, mentions and links to my own reporting.)
* Not only ISIS does the beheadings:
* A report about another Londoner (this one is from Lewisham) who moved to Syria with her Swedish husband. Apparently life in the UK and Sweden wasn't satisfying enough for them...
* A sick new dimension to the warnings that smoking can kill you:
* Hamas-led gunmen execute 18 "collaborators" in Gaza:
The short video from Reuters is worth watching. Of course, Hamas has killed many more Palestinians in Gaza during the last month, and many have not, as the New York Times suggests, “spies”. They are moderate peace activists who have dared to speak out at Hamas’s tyranny. They are all added to the death toll by organizations like the BBC who then give the impression that Israel is responsible for all these deaths.
* The NY Times bias and attacks on Israel are too much even for some at the Washington Post:
* Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Silverman, Rogen lead Hollywood criticism Hamas:
This ad appeared in major U.S. newspapers on Sunday. However, there were not too many big names among them.
* This woman is brave (Warning – graphic content):
* And on a perhaps lighter note:
This Isis is not to be confused with the other Isis:
“STICKS AND STONES WILL BREAK MY BONES -- BUT WORDS WILL INDEED HARM ME”
A chapter from “Making David Into Goliath”
By Joshua Muravchik
The children’s verse, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me” is as false for countries as it is for children – but in a more material way. The opprobrium heaped on Israel whenever it finds itself in a confrontation with enemies who still, sixty-odd years after its founding, do not accept its existence, restricts its freedom of action, even though, more than perhaps any other state, its survival depends on its ability to defend itself militarily.
No other country faces a near neighbor with the declared aim to “wipe it from the map” or well-armed forces on two of its borders sworn to its destruction and doing what they can to make this happen. The degree to which Israel has won acceptance by some of its neighbors and the hope that it may someday be accepted by them all are predicated on having given hard proof that it is indestructible.
Nonetheless, a hostile international atmosphere forces Israel to weigh each measure of self-defense against the political costs which can sometimes be astronomical. In 1973, on the eve of the Yom Kippur War, as Israeli leaders belatedly recognized that Egyptian and Syrian attacks were imminent, they were cautioned by the United States not to strike the first blow lest it compromise American support. Prime Minister Golda Meir, in secret testimony to an investigative commission on the war that was declassified in 2013, testified: “Had we gone to a preemptive strike, I have full confidence that the ‘air lift’ [of American arms that eventually turned the tide of battle] would not have come.”
In part as a result of waiting until Egypt and Syria had attacked, Israel lost upwards of 2,500 soldiers in that war, more than double, in proportion to population, the number America lost in the entirety of the war in Vietnam. Yet, Meir told the commission that she believed she had made the right choice. “I knew then, and I know now, too, that it’s possible, maybe we could even say certain, that boys who are no longer would still be alive,” she acknowledged. “But I don’t know how many other boys would have fallen due to a lack of equipment.”
In the decades since, the political constraints on Israel have only increased. By narrowing Israel’s maneuvering room in the face of the ceaseless threats of destruction, the global obloquy heaped on the Jewish state might indeed break its bones.
This censure flows from two contradictory sources. The first is the material leverage that the Arabs exert thanks to their numbers and resources which, while insufficient to vanquish Israel on the battlefield, translate into political and economic power that intimidates the rest of the world.
The second is the intellectual power of the contemporary Leftist paradigm in which the central drama of our time is the conflict of the “West against the rest” – and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has somehow become its apotheosis. This consigns Israel to the side of darkness and villainy, even in the face of the reality that, measured by the Left’s nominal values – freedom, democracy, tolerance of racial, religious, and sexual diversity, equality of status for women, generosity to the needy – Israel is among the world’s best countries and its enemies rank among the worst.
Israeli has withstood isolation and anathema thanks to its own strength of spirit and societal cohesion and also thanks to the United States which has consistently dissented from the global chorus of condemnation.
Throughout the Arab world as well as among anti-Semites in the West, America’s strong support for Israel is attributed to the mysterious power of “the Lobby,” in other words, the Jews. But this explanation ignores how American democracy works. The American people have continued to identify with Israel, however much it is vilified. A Gallup Poll in March 2013 found that 64% of Americans supported Israel, while 12% supported the Palestinians. Other polls in 2013 were similar. (The Washington Post/ABC poll put the ratio at 55% for Israel to 9% for the Palestinians; Pew had it at 49% to 12% and NBC/Wall Street Journal, 45% to 13%). Of course these numbers fluctuate, but they always show a whopping preponderance for Israel, on average by about 4-to-1.
Whenever public opinion is overwhelming on an issue, government policy will mirror it – lobby or no lobby. Can Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer or any of the conspiracy-theorists name a single exception to this rule? Or would they have us believe that a “lobby” has not only manipulated office-holders but brainwashed the whole population?
While the American people’s sympathy for Israel has been durable, however, it is not guaranteed to last forever. The ideological Left, the bastion of contemporary anti-Israel sentiment, has always been weaker in America than elsewhere, but its influence is not inconsequential. For one thing, its voice is heard on college campuses from faculty who make the works of Israel-bashers like Edward Said, Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler among the most widely assigned texts, as well as from student activists of the Muslim Student Associations, the Students for Justice in Palestine, and a miscellany of Leftist groups like those that attracted Rachel Corrie.
To be sure, there are also Jewish groups that defend Israel, but today these are often defensive, even apologetic, in their advocacy and sometimes downright frightened of the rhetorically and occasionally physically violent behavior of their adversaries. Thus, they often seem to display less conviction than the anti-Israel voices which are, in Yeats’s phrase, full of passionate intensity.
Few American students will earn their baccalaureate without getting an earful of the case against Israel in the classroom or on the commons or both. Even those who are not won over are bound to be affected. The anti-Israel movement knows it will score no sudden coup, but it is committed to the long war. As its patron saint, Yassir Arafat, put it: “I may be martyred, but I shall bequeath our historical heritage . . . to the children of Palestine.”
In addition, while the ideological Left may be small in numbers, it is able to exert influence with a much wider public by advancing its position through groups that present themselves as liberal rather than radical: human rights organizations, labor unions, churches, and even Jewish groups like J Street.
The osmotic process by which some of the views of the Left seep, albeit in diluted form, into the mainstream was evident at the 2012 Democratic Convention in a fight over the party’s platform plank on the Middle East.
The draft that was brought to the floor failed to describe Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as previous Democratic platforms had done. This was no oversight. Jerusalem is undeniably Israel’s capital, but the drafters believed that saying so could be taken as prejudging the final status of the city which is one of the most contentious issues between Israel and the Palestinians. However, refusing to say so amounted to a slap at Israel.
There is no doubt that the platform was still pro-Israel. But this and a few other formulations on sensitive subjects such as refugees edged away from the staunch pro-Israel positions the Democrats had customarily taken and in this sense was a sign of the times.
When attention was drawn to the changes a ruckus ensued with both political parties spinning furiously. Republican candidate Mitt Romney said, with obvious exaggeration, that the Democrats’ new language amounted to a “radical distancing” from Israel, while Obama’s team, which had engineered the changes, claimed they were merely semantic.
The falsity of this spin, however, was brought home when Obama’s camp, feeling the political heat, moved to amend the plank on the convention floor to restore the more robust pro-Israel language of previous platforms. On a voice vote, their motion failed – once and then again. On the third try the chairman ruled it to have passed although his dubious interpretation of the relative volume of the “ayes” and “nays” had delegates standing on their chairs, shouting protests.
Far from being only about verbiage, the argument was substantive to the point of evoking passions. Clearly, either a majority of the delegates or a large minority were less firmly pro-Israel than the stance Obama’s campaign team thought it politic to run on.
Surveys have repeatedly shown that convention delegates of both parties are more extreme than rank and file voters, Republicans more conservative and Democrats more liberal. In this case it was apparent that being more liberal meant, if not wishing to “radically distance” America from Israel, then at least to distance their party from its strongly pro-Israel stands of the past.
Such shifts can matter greatly even if they amount to less than a complete reversal of position. The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.
The degree of Israel’s dependence on America was underscored in an interview that Eitan Haber, who had been Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s closest aide, gave to the Times of Israel in September 2013. Scoffing at the freedom politicians feel to say whatever they like when in opposition, Haber said that only when one of them becomes prime minister does he or she begin to understand the “extent the state of Israel is dependent on America [f]or absolutely everything – in the realms of diplomacy, security, even economically.”
Were that support withdrawn, Israel’s enemies would be tempted to renew their efforts to destroy it once and for all. Such are the dynamics of the “Arab street” that even governments that would prefer peace would feel pressure to support militant actions if Israel appeared vulnerable.
Should Israel’s enemies succeed, the result would be a second Holocaust. This would be a tragedy of unspeakable proportions for the Jews, but not only for them. The world would have lost one of its most creative countries, and the devastation of the Jewish people would cause incalculable harm to the spiritual life of the West and perhaps beyond.
Of course, this scenario is unlikely – at least for the time being. With its formidable army and presumed nuclear weapons, Israel is not very destructible, at least not by conventional warfare. But this does not preclude new rounds of guerrilla fighting and terrorist strikes employing ever more lethal weapons. Even if Israel succeeds in defeating such assaults, the prospects for peace would recede before new torrents of blood and tears from Jews and Arabs alike.
And in the end it might not succeed. As the Vietnamese Communists showed, setting a model on which the PLO patterned itself, a conflict need not be determined by the sticks and stones of military arsenals. These can be trumped by words that transform political realities and thus, the balance of power. For all its might, Israel remains a David, struggling against the odds to secure its small foothold in a violent and hostile region. The relentless campaign to recast it instead as a malevolent Goliath places it in grave peril.