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August 28, 2008

Judea Pearl Speaks Out on US Media

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Judea Pearl

In an Aug. 28 column in Ha'aretz, Judea Pearl discusses the tendency of U.S. newspapers to publish outrageous criticisms of Israel and even calls for the country's dissolution, the question of responding to such charges, and the shortcomings of "balancing" Op-Eds:

Each year, in preparation for Israel's birthday, American newspaper editors feel an urge to invite Arab writers to tell us why Israel should not exist. Typical this year were the Los Angeles Times (Opinion, May 12 "Forget the two-state solution", by Saree Makdisi) and the Christian Science Monitor (Ghada Karmi "A One-state Solution for Palestinians and Israelis", May 30, 2008), where the elimination of Israel were advanced under the usual euphemism of a "one-state solution." ...

... Israel is put on trial for its very existence, while less radical commentators, if they are invited, deal with Israel's future, difficulties and achievements, but leave the accusations unanswered.

There is some wisdom to ignoring insults and unfounded accusations. By answering one tacitly bestows credence, however minimal, upon the arguments that put you on the accused bench -- the last bench that a birthday celebration deserves.

So, perhaps it is wise to write chapter and verse about Israel's achievements (as Bill Kristol did May 12, and Tom Friedman did June 8) and let the "colonial" and "apartheid" accusations hang there, unanswered, as living testimonies of the Orwellian mentality of the accusers?

I am not totally convinced. ...

... articles calling for the elimination of Israel are often balanced by articles discussingthe prospects for a peaceful settlement of the dispute. But, ironically, this "balance" is precisely where the imbalance cries out loudest, for it gives equal moral weight to a provocation that every Jew in Israel considers a genocidal death threat, most Jews view as an assault on their identity as people and most Palestinians view as an incentive to undermine or forestall peace negotiations.

Balance has its norms, logic and responsibilities, mirrored and shaped by sound editorial judgment. We do not rush to "balance" each celebration of Martin Luther King Day with articles by white supremacists, and we do not "balance" a hate speech with a lecture on breathing technique; a hate speech is balanced with a lecture on the evils of hate.

Read the entire piece here.

Posted by GI at August 28, 2008 02:10 PM

Comments

I don't know why it is the business of any non-Israelis what Israel is up to.

Jews are considered a nosey people. They have big noses, and even when they don't, they're still considered nosey, because the reason people pay attention to their noses is because they're nosey: they're always in other people's affairs. But here it is the other way around.

Posted by: Matthew Dick at September 8, 2008 11:23 PM

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