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September 17, 2011

Robert Mackey Responds

We've posted here a handful of times about commentary by Robert Mackey, and on Friday, after hours, the New York Times blogger visited Snapshots to respond. (We published that response in full below. You can see it in context, and with his other comments, here.)

In a statement that came awfully close to being an admission of bias, Mackey wrote,

The blog posts I wrote for The Times that you take as evidence of a bias against Israel were almost all based on the writings of Israeli bloggers and activists who object to some of the country's policies but do so as concerned citizens.

That's the thing. His blog entries about the Arab-Israeli conflict are overwhelmingly devoted to criticism of Israel — criticism that is often harsh, often unfair, and always debatable.

And this penchant for anti-Israel commentary on The Lede, his blog, pushes aside other facets of the debate. Mainstream Israeli voices are virtually silenced. Mackey leaves little room for commentary that's more understanding of Israel challenges. He leaves little room for criticism of the Palestinian Authority.

It means, for example, that Mackey will promote a video meant to show Israeli callousness in arresting a young Palestinian, but won't let on that the video actually shows Israeli police urging the boy's mother accompany him, while a Palestinian man commands her not to get in and pulls her away from the vehicle. When the Israel Press Council acknowledged this, and ruled that a journalist who claimed the video showed police preventing the mother from boarding the police van was being "untruthful," there wasn't a peep from Mackey.

In his comments on CAMERA's blog, Mackey insisted that he is "fair-minded," and implied that therefore his output shouldn't be subject to scrutiny. "You might want to think about that before attacking fair-minded, responsible people like me," he wrote.

Let's ignore this peculiar idea that those who see themselves as "fair-minded" shouldn't be challenged, and instead focus on Mackey's claim of fairness. What, exactly, is fair about comparing the Turkish Islamists who attacked, stabbed and pummeled Israeli soldiers while sailing to the defense of Hamas, a violent and openly anti-Semitic group, to the Jewish Holocaust survivors on the Exodus?

What, exactly, is fair about slurring the pro-Israel advocacy group Fuel for Truth as "an anti-Palestinian group"? (Mackey describes the virulently anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement, whose leaders have called suicide bombings "noble," as nothing more than "pro-Palestinian," and dubs Noam Chomsky as someone who merely "has been critical of Israel.")

And since Mackey implies, absurdly, that by criticizing his output we are trying to "silence" him and his sources — "What sort of a society do you think you will have when you succeed in silencing or driving away any citizen who dares to criticize their own government?," he writes — does the above quote mean he is trying to silence Fuel for Truth? And when, in his comments here, he hysterically charges CAMERA with "inciting hatred of me," is he not, by his own standards, trying to silence CAMERA?

Mackey's record speaks for itself. He might truly think that he's saving Israel by turning his blog over to one-sided discourse about the country. But in the end, one-sided discourse is... well, one-sided discourse.

Mackey's comment is published in full after the break.

Eventually, you might understand that this sort of hysterical attack on anyone who reports anything that might be taken as criticism of Israeli government policies - even Israeli citizens - is doing your cause no good at all. Many people who object to Israeli policies, particularly those that are seen as reckless by some Israeli citizens, are in fact most interested not in hurting the country, but in keeping its most fanatical leaders from wounding it.

The blog posts I wrote for The Times that you take as evidence of a bias against Israel were almost all based on the writings of Israeli bloggers and activists who object to some of the country's policies but do so as concerned citizens. You might want to think about that before attacking fair-minded, responsible people like me. What sort of a society do you think you will have when you succeed in silencing or driving away any citizen who dares to criticize their own government?

I grew up partly in Northern Ireland during 'the troubles,' and worked in Bosnia during the war there, so I am well aware of the damage caused to the world by ultra-nationalists who are blind to anything but what is good for their group. In the end, it does no one any good.

Posted by GI at September 17, 2011 03:06 PM

Comments

devastating take down of mackey.

Posted by: a reader at September 17, 2011 07:51 PM

mackey gives totalitarian fascist a pass but assails israel. he is objectively pro islamist.

Posted by: a reader at September 17, 2011 07:54 PM

You should have moderated his comment (not published it). That's what he used to do on the Lede blog. Most comments that exposed his hypocrisy and anti-Israel bias wouldn't get published, while off-topic comments about the USS Liberty would be approved immediately.

Thank you for showing his lack of intelligence by publishing his response. Americans are glad to see him leave for the Times for the Guardian.

Posted by: Anonymous at September 18, 2011 04:35 PM

There's obviously no room for reason in a dialogue with someone who feels the need to devote a fresh hysterical post to preface my comment on his previous hysteria, but thanks for neatly illustrating my main point by claiming, falsely, that I compared the raid on the Gaza flotilla to the one on the Exodus - a comparison that was, in fact, made by an Israeli blogger and journalist. It was the voices of bloggers in various countries that my Times blog was devoted to covering - and the fact that you can only see that as some sort of attack on Israel exactly echoes the response of ultra-nationalist extremists in several other countries - including Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Serbia and Northern Ireland - who also leaped to the same, erroneous conclusion when forced to read the criticism of dissidents from their own nations.

You other objections - that describing an anti-Palestinian group as 'anti-Palestinian' is a slur; that I reported that a video "showed police preventing a Palestinian mother from boarding a police van hen I simply wrote or suggested no such thing - are similarly based on either intentional distortion on your part or a shocking lack of reading comprehension, so there's clearly no need to bother disturbing further you with the facts.

Posted by: Robert Mackey at September 18, 2011 09:04 PM

"You might want to think about that before attacking fair-minded, responsible people like me."

Not really, unless you consider running a blog in a major newspaper with an obvious anti-Israel bias fair-minded and responsible. Evidently, I am not alone in thinking this way - and with very good reason. The "most recommended" comment after Mackey's last posting on The Lede is:

"...paabraham
charleston
September 10th, 2011
11:50 am
So very sorry to see you go. What a loss, as your's is/was one of the few voices at the NYT that dared to raise issues such as Israel's criminal acts in the occupied territories and its endless ethnic cleansing of Palestinians both inside and out side the Armistice line, Issues which others NYT voices either ignored or condoned.

Who will tell the truth now at the NYT?"

Robert Mackey's next gig will be as reporter and blogger for The Guardian, the most anti-Israel and, arguably, anti-Semitic mainstream newspaper in the English language. Res ipsa loquitur - the thing speaks for itself. So long, Israel basher Robert Mackey. Next stop, links to all of your anti-Israel posts in the Guardian on CIF Watch.

Posted by: Samson at September 19, 2011 11:41 AM

Snapshots responds to Mackey's latest comment here: http://blog.camera.org/archives/2011/09/more_from_an_angry_mackey.html

Posted by: GI at September 19, 2011 05:24 PM

To The Editor of Snapshots:
I write as a former newspaperman for the Jerusalem Post and I am fluent in Hebrew.
Based only on what I have read on this page, I have a few questions of my own:
1. Does Mackey read Hebrew and does he read the on-line Hebrew press? If the answer is no, dismiss his comments.
2. Anyone with a computer can write anything he wants without any editing. If the blogs are in English, how does Mackey know that the blogger is in Israel?
3. Just who are these bloggers? Are they people with any credibility or perhaps they are Palestinians or others who are putting up false or misleading stories.
4. Keep going after Mackey and force him to devote time to defending himself.
Shabat Shalom,
Rafi

Posted by: Rafi at September 23, 2011 12:53 PM

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