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August 08, 2012

Where's the Coverage? Palestinian Authority Arrests Non-Muslims for Eating During Ramadan


Over the weekend, The New York Times published an Op-Ed by Avraham Burg entitled, "Israel's Fading Democracy," in which the author argues:

Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations.


With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world.

CAMERA recently documented The New York Times' slanted editorial policy which overwhelmingly features "obsessive hectoring and criticism of Israel." But this problem is not limited to The Times. Currently, "The Economist" is hosting an online debate, Is Israel succumbing to Jewish fundamentalism? The fact that such a question is even entertained in the media is nothing short of Orwellian, given that Israel is the only liberal democracy in the region where residents are free to practice their religion as they see fit or to practice no religion at all.

Contrast Israel's freedom of religion with the restrictive policies of its neighbors.

In June, Saudi Arabia beheaded a man for witchcraft and the state reportedly executed two people last year on similar charges. The BBC reported:

The BBC's Arab Affairs Editor, Sebastian Usher, says there is a very strong prohibition of some practices from the country's powerful conservative religious leaders.

Last month, the State Department called on Iran to release Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani who is facing execution for converting from Islam to Christianity. He has been in prison for almost three years already.

In Egypt, recent sectarian riots forced many Christian families from their homes and shops which were looted and burned by Muslim mobs. The ancient Coptic community is unhappy with the post-revolution Muslim Brotherhood government which they feel under-represents them and, as reported in The Jerusalem Post:

Christians complain school books discriminate against them as they include verses from Koran that both Muslim and Christian students are required to study, but make no reference to the Bible.

Several weeks ago, hundreds of Gaza Christians protested the kidnapping and forced conversion of several members of their community. As described by The Gatestone Institute:

According to Christian families, the world does not seem to care about their plight. "We only hear voices telling us to stay where we are and to stop making too much noise," said a Christian man living in Gaza City. "If they continue to turn a blind eye to our tragedy, in a few months there will be no Christians left in Palestine. Today it's happening in the Gaza Strip, tomorrow it will take place in Bethlehem."

And indeed, oppression of Christians is taking place under the Palestinian Authority. According to the official PA newspaper, six people have been arrested and one sentenced to a month in prison for eating in public during Ramadan, the month when, under Islamic law, eating is prohibited from sunrise until sunset. And, in an interview on PA TV, Sheikh Yusuf Ida'is, the Chairman of the PA Supreme Court for Shari'ah Law, said:

Our streets are Islamic, praise Allah. Any person caught committing this sin in public during Ramadan has to be imprisoned until the end of Ramadan, as an example to others.

So, while the media are obsessed with criticizing Israel, even to the point of promoting absurd stories of religious fundamentalism, they routinely ignore the rising tide of true religious fundamentalism throughout the rest of the Middle East.

Where’s the sanity? Where’s the decency? Where’s the coverage?

Posted by SC at August 8, 2012 05:10 PM


Complicit in this mendacious pseudo-debate featuring serial liar and hypocrite Burg is none other than David Landau

Posted by: Paul at August 9, 2012 06:58 AM

I fully agree with your analysis but I must sadly and rather angrily observe that the Haredi domination of Israeli religious life is true and growing. It deeply angers me, The recent comment of Chief Rabbi Amar is an outrageous insult to the 88% of we American Jews who are not orthodox and I have read of no criticism of him from major Israeli officials. Let me be clear: as a Zionist I feel committed to support Israel as a Jewish state--I DO NOT FEEL COMMITTED TO SUPPORT ISRAEL AS AN ORTHODOX STATE MUCH LESS AS AN ULTRA ORTHODOX STATE.

Posted by: elliot stamler at August 9, 2012 12:35 PM

While you may be correct about the NY Times mostly posting extremist views on Israel, you ignore the real issue that Burg raises. First, our standard should never be "they're worse". Of course religious abuses, often ignored in the media are far worse in other middle eastern countries. That should never excuse Israel's ongoing shift towards fundamentalism. When a woman can get arrested in the Jewish state for the "crime" of wearing a tallit (!), we are in deep trouble. It used to be that non-Orthodix rabbis could not officiate in two countries, the Soviet Union and Israel. Now this is true only of Israel. To pass off rising fundamentalism in Israel as a creation of the media is to ignore a very serious problem.

Posted by: Steve Kane at August 9, 2012 12:53 PM

Yes -- I completely agree with the previous commenter, Mr. Stamler. Israel has a serious and growing problem with religious fundamentalism, and saying "the Palestinians are even worse," while it may be accurate, is an embarrassing and immature deflection of the truth. This is not worthy of you, CAMERA. You are on the wrong side of this issue.

Posted by: Eric Estrin at August 9, 2012 01:35 PM

In Israel Jews can be observant or nonobservant. In Muslim countries, even non-Muslims can be punished for not observing Sharia law. It is true however, that the haredi leaders do not want their followers to serve in the army or go to the universities.

Posted by: Naftali at August 9, 2012 01:59 PM

I agree that fundamentalists of all types tend to be a plague, as in this case, but I don’t believe CAMERA’s point is that other Middle East countries are even worse. The point is that the stories that get published on this issue tend to be the ones that cast Israel in an unfavorable light. Not to mention they generally fail to provide context by, for example, pointing out that religious and other freedoms in Israel still far outstrip every other country in the area. Nor do we often see stories about the millions of Christians living in the Middle East, such as in Saudi Arabia, that will never be allowed to become citizens, or will be executed if they travel to Mecca or try to convert a Moslem. Numerous other examples of extreme religious intolerance in neighboring countries are quite easy to find, but Israel gets almost all of the bad press.

Posted by: Mark Laine at August 14, 2012 05:42 PM

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