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May 12, 2010

Gil Troy Addresses "Narrative Imbalance" on Jerusalem

In a recent blog post, McGill professor Gil Troy does a good job trying to explain, for those who might not understand, Eli Wiesel's (and others') passionate feelings about Jerusalem.

While doing so, he mentions a "narrative imbalance" about the holy city:

Unfortunately, if Jews celebrate their eternal ties to Jerusalem — or dare question Palestinian ties — they are deemed racist. Yet those who question Jewish ties to Jerusalem get human rights awards and EU grants, especially if they are Jewish. This narrative imbalance is another form of asymmetrical warfare.

Although he was speaking generally, that pithy description could very well be describing the Economist. As we recently noted, an editor's attempt to defend the magazine's recent distorted article on Jerusalem in fact served to deepen the magazine's one-sided understanding of Jerusalem:

Rather than address the article’s unfair double standards, or CAMERA’s complaints about the consistent Palestinian denial of Jewish heritage in the Holy Basin, the editor chose instead to underscore Palestinian propaganda points. He insisted that promoting "Israeli claims to its holy places" and educating Jewish youngsters about Jerusalem’s Jewish history is "worthy of comment" – apparently more so than anything Palestinians have done to deny Jewish heritage. His response went into considerable detail about Israeli "ideologues" supposedly in cahoots with the government and involved in "Temple-related activity":

Temple-related activity has increased in recent years sponsored by official and semi-official agencies promoting Israeli claims to the eastern part of the city and its holy places. These include the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, a government-run association, which seeks to "preserve and develop the Western Wall and its Tunnels, and to develop educational frameworks that make Jews everywhere feel closer to Jerusalem" the Temple Mount. Its e-learning website includes an interactive programme in which "the child ‘builds’ the Temple on the Temple Mount". Visitors to its tunnels...are similarly treated to models of a reconstructed Temple in place of the existing mosques...

The implication that it is an affront to Palestinians, and therefore wrong, to expose Jewish students to a historical reproduction of the Jewish Temple, to teach them how the Temple was constructed, or to encourage a Jewish connection to Judaism’s holiest site is extremely disturbing. Are Jews not entitled to be connected to their heritage and central religious tenets?

Similarly, the editor’s implied criticism of the Elad Association’s stated dedication to "continuing King David’s legacy and strengthening Israel’s current and historic connection to Jerusalem" through archeological excavations, among other initiatives, demonstrated a lack of regard for Jewish heritage.

By conveying the attitude that it is somehow sinister to strengthen Jewish knowledge about and connection to Jerusalem, the editor reflected the article’s double standards, where Palestinian rights and connection to the Holy Basin are a given, but Jewish rights and connection to the area are considered a threat.

Posted by at May 12, 2010 10:30 AM


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