Monday, 17 July 2006

Worried, angry and frustrated

Maps from

This will tell you why I can't write just now: This Ongoing War

Just read it! It's updated every day so go back if you want the latest news.

Slapping the biased media!

Updates (Wednesday 19 July): For the first time in days, on the World at One (BBC Radio 4) today, the war in the Middle East was replaced by an item of domestic news. Are the media already getting bored? Is Israel getting too long to get wiped off the map? That’s what they’re waiting for, aren’t they?

Every day I’ve turned on the radio or the television and switched it off again within a minute, after hearing the word ‘Israel’ followed by a verb signifying aggression. “Israel attacked...”, “Israel bombed...”, etc. Even when whatever Israel did was in direct response to rockets fired by Hezbollah, this wasn’t made clear in the reporting and the lasting impression was that Israel was the aggressor.

So what else is new?

Two of the very first words I learned as a small child were ‘propoganda’ and ‘demagogia’. That’s how my Russian father pronounced them. He said them often, usually at the television. I used to laugh at him and think he was slightly paranoid, but I see now he was right. He knew the meanings of those words first-hand. As teenager, he had lived through the Revolution, then through the 30s and beyond in France, where propoganda and demagogia were also common currency. Nothing has changed: these days, as always, if you want to be liked (or get a huge round of applause on BBC programmes like Any Questions?) all you have to do is to tell lies about Israel. I should be used to it by now, but I’m not. I carry on being dismayed.

And I wonder.

I wonder why anyone would want to ally themselves with people who don’t value their own lives nor those of others. The answer is very simple: anti-Semitism. Some people would rather support murderers than be on the side of the Jews. They should be careful not to back the wrong horse, though: history might remember them as those who tried to carry on Hitler’s work.

(Saturday 22 July): Apparently, there are still some people out there who, although Israel has been in the news for years, still haven't got a clue how tiny that country is. The maps above are meant for them.

(Thursday 27 July): And this map is for those who still think that size doesn't matter.


  1. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this. Are you supporting the blog author or angry with them? I take it you support them due to your media comment but how can I possibly be sure that this blog is telling me any more truth than any other source? I would like to truly understand the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. I'm never going to because I can never trust what I read. If that is the meaning of your comment then well done.

  2. You're right: I support the author of the blog. He was saying exactly what I wanted to say a few days ago so I thought I would direct people to him.

    I know he's telling the truth because what he writes is what my relatives, who live in Nahariya, are telling me is happening. Also because I remember the Six-Day War and all the other wars since then and the misreporting and bias was the same.

  3. Thank you for posting the link...I've just spent the better part of an hour reading.

    I heartily join your slap against the corporate-owned and -indfluenced media, which are biased in so many ways that I no longer believe anything they report. There's always more to the story. There is always an undisclosed agenda. In a world in which an unprecedented amount of "information" streams at us, we have to work hard to discern any semblance of truth.

  4. Beneath all the rhetoric about tyranny and democracy, the agenda of the West is principally oil, oil, oil, isn't it? I know it's much more complex, but it's got to be playing a big part. We are simply terrified of supplies drying up.

    I know very little about the situation, and have no hope of extracting truth from any media available, but I for one would not want to live in a world where Israel did not exist or was powerless. I think that would have consequences that would reverberate into the future for centuries.

    Wishing your family safety and peace.

  5. Bela,

    I hope and pray that your relatives are safe in Israel. For more than 2000 years us Jews have been fighting.

    As you know, I am going to Israel myself in 3 weeks with my husband. This is a 'vacation' a dream trip, and each time we have tried to go, something happens. I am told that life in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is business as usual. Our tour is still on, and I will continue to pray for a speedy resolution to this crisis.

  6. Thanks for posting the link Bela. Very relevant, thought provoking article. I've always felt that Israel takes the worst bashing in the media.

    Sometimes it feels like they make them out to be some sort of "Mad Bombers"-while their enemies are very often painted as innocent victims-Who have never bombed or terrorized anyone.Yeah, right...

    The whole situation is tragic. So many innocent people caught in the crossfire. I hope that I live to see peace in the Middle East.

  7. I should make it clear that when I said there was no hope of extracting truth from the Western media, I didn't mean to include the author of the blog you posted the link to, nor what your relatives say has been happening.

    I've heard more about it since, and someone on the radio this morning described the previous 'truce' as 'a truce with rockets', i.e. continuous firing into northern Israel by Hezbollah over past months/years, which is what the blog author describes. If you combine that with the fact that Israeli military leaders have expressed dismay at the unanticipated range, number and power of Hezbollah weaponry, and it really does seem likely to me that Hezbollah were hoping to provoke a big conflagration like this, knowing they had more power than would be anticipated. Someone else also pointed out that Hezbollah have usurped the power of the elected Lebanese government to decide whether or not to take their country, which had been getting economically successful, into war.

    You have to ask, how long would the UK or America put up with being fired on by another country before responding militarily? About two seconds in the case of America. Surely a 'proportionate response' to 9/11 would have just been to bomb two big buildings in Afghanistan or Iraq? But instead two countries were invaded and their leaderships defeated - with the same purpose, in the case of Afghanistan anyway, to root out and eliminate terrorist leaders and their central circle.

    Also, you can't ask one side to restrain themselves to a proportionate response when the other side is doing everything in their power to overthrow them and impose their own values on another people. Continual proprotionate responses might in the end just drag things out, and the loss of life might be greater overall. Remember how the only thing we could all hope for once Iraq was invaded was that it would be over quickly?

  8. Very interesting, I can see both points of view. However, it is more than obvious that whenever Israel takes military actions against aggressors they are portrayed as the "bad guys." What I find even more puzzling is other countries that have taken similar actions against aggressors like Israel has, still refuse to see any middle ground in supporting Israel. I'm not in complete support of all of Israel's actions but it is clear the mainstream media portrays Israel's actions much more negatively than their aggressors.

    I hope your relatives stay safe.

  9. I agree completely. Israel has every right to defend themselves. Extreme Arab terrorist groups are very open about their goal-the destruction of Israel.

    I think the people who are being anti-Israel need to take a good honest look at themselves and their opinions and ask WHY?

  10. I was wondering how long it would take for you to post on this, Bela.
    First of all, let me send you my sympathy for you and your relatives, because human beings everywhere are owed that much.

    However, I do not lump every disagreeing voice into the anti-semetic category. It would be just as much demagogia to do so. Neither is the Holocaust a justification, because although not a soul who is in their right mind says that it was a good thing to do, one would expect from people who have gone through as much suffering to show some compassion to other people. Hence some of the international amazement at what goes on.

    We, as a nation, have been taking refugees from both sides these past days and the Lebanese account is just as valid; whole blocks are destroyed with civilians still inside, children hit and left blind and amputated, not to mention orphans.
    It is not the same when a terrorist organisation who may have usurped power kills civilians as when a well-running democratic state does it. It just isn't and I would be surprised if you do not see the difference (which is one of the reasons I am opposed to the death penalty as well, but I digress). This doesn't detruct from the right to defend oneself and one's state.
    Lulu made some very valid points in her post with which I agree.

    Not all Lebanese are pro-Hezzbollah either, neither is the majority, for that matter. However such tactics would only result on creating more "martyrs"/terrorists and leaving Israel with no international friends (barring the US, who -let's face it- will always be pro-Israel because the Jew lobby is all powerful in the US and politicians of all strata wouldn't want to risk votes. They are not at all coy about saying so themselves!)
    Would you realy want that?

    The lateness in diplomatic intervantion points to a deliberate plan of foreign interests and conglomerates to demolish Lebanon and then profit on its re-constrauction, the same as was in Iraq. And the oil angle, that is lurking through Syria and Iran, is not to be underestimated. The raging prices of oil point to that direction as well and it would be naive not to acknowledge that.
    Let's see what happens that now UN representatives are the victims of bombs.

    As to how big Israel is, you do know at this point in life that it is not the size that makes a difference, right? LOL

    Surely the media are biased from time immemorial and it lies within the intelligent reader/viewer to do the "shifting" required.

    Please take this in the respectful way it was meant and join me in prayer that a lasting solution for peace will be reached in the end.

  11. Thanks, for your comments, everyone: I understand why people who are not involved in any way (i.e. who don’t have relatives in either countries) can see both points of view; for my part, I have to admit to being totally clear about what and whom I believe and being unrepentant about it.

    Barbara, I gather you have no relations in Israel so at least they won’t have to worry about your safety while you’re there, as mine said they would when I expressed regret that I couldn’t be with them at this time.

    Helg, I don’t know what you mean by “I was wondering how long it would take for you to post on this, Bela.” It sounds like a reproach. Was I too slow to post? Am I too predictable? Or what?

    It’s funny, every time someone says they’re saying something ‘with respect’ I know it’s going to be followed (or in this case preceded) by something objectionable. You’re not Jewish, are you? Then, you cannot tell me what is or what isn’t anti-Semitic. Just like you wouldn’t tell a Black person what is racist and what isn’t. I know that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are synonymous. People hide their prejudices behind that distinction, but there isn’t one. As for using the Holocaust to justify whatever, no one has, I don’t think. Israel has been under constant (unreported) threat from the time of its creation. It has to defend itself. Period. When the other side stop using civilians as shields there will be no more pictures of distraught families for the media to parade around and for bleeding hearts to cry over. Israel is not targeting civilians deliberately.

    Your comment is full of points I would like to refute but I won’t: I don’t pretend to be a political analyst; that’s why I posted links to websites written by people who can explain the situation much better than me (Melanie Phillips especially; and This Ongoing War has some compelling photos).

    One more thing, though: I strongly object to the phrase “the Jew lobby”. The adjective relating to the word ‘Jew’ is ‘Jewish’. The use of ‘Jew’ as an adjective turns any phrase into something extremely insulting. As for the concept, you should watch episodes of The West Wing, you will find that everyone has a lobby in Washington. And ‘the Jewish Lobby’ is too often followed by the words ‘plot’ or ‘world domination’. It's a despicable expression.

  12. I've turned this same question inside out and back again, "Why would anyone ally themselves with people who don't value their own lives...". Yes very simple, very sad, but something we have to continue to fight "Anti-semitism". I wish I didn't have to commend you for this post as I wish it did not need to be written. But thank you for speaking so eloquently what needs to be said.

  13. Bela,
    please let me clarify as well. (I must assume your post was thought-out well since it took you a couple of days to reply).

    What I meant initially in my post was that I expected a quicker post since you are more involved than us, non Jews, and nothing more. Hope that is clear now.

    The “respect line” was not trying to justify something objectionable, but merely to avert from any misunderstanding due to the written word being different than the spoken one and due to English not being my native tongue either.
    Respect and disagreement can co-exist after all.

    Of course one cannot fully comprehend what one has not experienced first hand (don’t I know about that….) But my point was not all discussions are evolving around that tag used.
    I come from another prosecuted people who have suffered throughout their history. We have also known “racism” and contempt. I could dismiss Hemingway for instance on that regard alone, yet I prefer to object to his literary flaws, not his personal opinions.

    I won’t get into the whole middle-eastern debate here. It is such a complex issue which I might oversimplify unjustly.
    It just doesn’t ring right that US is the only country who does not want to cease bombing before peace talks.
    A perspective which you have not thought of (and it is completely natural not to) is this: we too are an ally of the US. But we must rank in about 30rd place , because there were no qualms whatsoever when they were bombing the Balkans with Uranium, polluting our soils for our children to eat and drink for years to come, while fighting another people’s war! Neither are there any qualms when there is an ongoing war in the middle-east that pollutes the sea we are fishing and living by. Plus our soldiers will have to participate as well, because if they do not, our “ally” will give green light to another people who is more of an ‘ally” (I mean the Turks) to make intrusions in our land and our airspace with impunity. (it’s a case of “Animal Farm” – who is the fairest ally of them all?)
    So my vehemence has a very real concern as well, it’s not theoretical only.

    As to the “jew lobby” expression I used I was not aware of the difference in nuance, since English is a foreign language to me. I meant the “jewish lobby”. I do not imply that there is a conspiracy, just that it is something to think of for any administration. (we also have a lobby, but it is not as powerful, alas…LOL)

    Regarding the “size doesn’t matter” which prompted you to post the last map in your post, it was tongue-in-cheek and meant as a joke (maybe a bad one), referring to parts of human anatomy.
    It would be very sad to think the whole Arab world is allied against Israel, not to mention foreboding. And I couldn’t assure you enough in light of the above that I wouldn’t want that.

  14. eelriverrose03/08/2006, 15:30

    Bela, I would like to offer my perspective as a American Jewish woman. All my ancestors are Jewish and most of my maternal grandmother's family perished in Europe during the second World War. Some of your comments have implied that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are overlapping bigotries and in my experience that is not always accurate.

    I had a moderately religious upbringing, but when I was 15 or so (which would have been in 1964), I became increasingly offended by the strong pro-Zionist tone of my Conservative Rabbi and the constant pro-Israel harping from the pulpit during services. My burgeoning spiritual and social sensibilities were deeply offended by this temporal politicizing of a profound religious tradition.

    It made me extremely uncomfortable to have a Rabbi, who by rights should confine himself to matters of the spirit, breech this by attempting to dictate a political stance for the members of the congregation. When I later ended up with a degree in Psychology, I couldn't help see the mindset of many Jewish people in the light of theories of personality and consciousness. I heard (and hear) many Jews defending their position with an almost craven dependence upon a sense of entitlement for having suffered so grievously as a people. "No more Mister Nice Guy! The ends justify the means! We have a right to defend ourselves!" But don't we also have an obligation to attempt to maintain the moral high ground in the face of provoction? To attempt to follow Mosaic law? To not put ourselves above the laws of human conduct that we demand others live by?

    I retain my connection with the deeper spiritual core of Judaism, but long ago renounced my affiliation with the Jewish religion, and I am far from alone. I meet other people of Jewish birth all the time, who are as appalled as I am at the situation in Israel, including friends who were born there. There are even Hasidic rabbis who maintain that creating the state of Israel ran counter to God's mandate to have the Jews live amongst all the people's of the world, without their own homeland, and that Jews, Muslims, and Christians all co-existed more or less peacefully in Jerusalem for many years before the arbitrary formation of Palestine and Israel.

    I am not a pro-Palestine apologist either, and do not feel, at this point, we can or should disappear Israel. But I am sick at heart and ashamed at many of the unforgiveable actions and self-serving rationalizations of many of those who support Israel, including in the U.S. government. In fact, there is a virulent fundamentalist segment of the American populace (George Bush and some of his cronies among them) that feel the Armageddon is near (you've probably seen the "Come the Rapture This Car Will Be Unmanned" bumper stickers). Supporting Israel in a way that pits it violently against the Islamic countries in the Middle East seems to be part of their Folie aux Deux. I feel this, as much as a Jewish Lobby, is responsible for the U.S. lack of intervention or support for a cease-fire by Israel right now.

    So, the short version: I am Jewish, increasingly anti-Zionist, but not anti-Semetic (after all, my sons are Jewish, right?).

  15. I apologize; I don't use spellcheck and seem to be an ineffective proofreader: I meant "provocation."


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