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July 03, 2017

Washington Post Book Review Eviscerates Anti-Israel Writers

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Matti Friedman


A Washington Post book review by journalist, author and former IDF soldier Matti Friedman highlighted the inaccuracy and the absurdity of a recently published anti-Israel collection of essays.

The Post, to its credit, published Friedman’s “What happens when famous novelists ‘confront the Occupation’ in the West Bank,” which examined an anthology called Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation. This book features contributions by novelists such as Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Dave Eggers, among others.

Friedman noted that the group of novelists were “shown around by anti-occupation activists and wrote about their experiences.” Yet, as a reading of the book makes clear, “the visiting writers aren’t experts,” nor are they seeking a balanced or accurate portrayal of Israel. Friedman points out that the essays get basic facts, such as when the Oslo Accords were signed, wrong.

The essays are also plagued with poor sourcing, as Friedman notes:

“The writers interview the same people who are always interviewed in the West Bank, thinking it’s all new, and believe what they’re told Chabon, for example, waxes sarcastic that in the West Bank you can spend months in administrative detention if you forget your I.D. card at home. But that isn’t true.”

Indeed, the writers don’t ask—nor do they tell readers—who financed their anti-Israel excursion: Breaking the Silence (BtS). As CAMERA has pointed out, BtS is one of several largely foreign-funded organizations that seek to delegitimize the Jewish state via anonymous testimonials.

Yet, the group’s influence is obvious on the writers. Friedman highlights that “the host’s choreography becomes evident the more you read, because the writers keep going back to the same street in Hebron, the same village near the same settlement, the same checkpoint activist. They avoid Palestinian extremists and average Israelis, so it looks like all Palestinians are reasonable and all Israelis aren’t.”

Nonetheless, “everything,” Friedman says, “is described with a gravitas suggesting that the writers haven’t spent much time outside the world’s safest corners.”

Indeed, according to the review, one monumental fault with the book is its superficiality and the novelists’ own sense of self-importance. Large regional questions that are unfolding near Israel’s borders, such as the Syrian civil war, Hamas’ totalitarian Islamist vision being implemented in the Gaza Strip, internecine Palestinian violence, aren’t given attention in the volume. Why? Because “the essays aren’t journalism but a kind of selfie in which the author poses in front of the symbolic moral issue of the time…That’s why the very first page of the book finds Chabon and Waldman talking not about the occupation, but about Chabon and Waldman.”

“After a while,” Friedman bemoans, “I feel trapped in a wordy kind of Kardashian Instagram feed, without the self-awareness.”

Readers of a Kingdom of Olives and Ash aren’t the only ones being taken for a factually flawed, skewed view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. As CAMERA has pointed out, The Washington Post itself feted the group of the writers while they were on their anti-Israel tour (“Washington Post’s Letter from Israel Should be Marked ‘Return to Sender,’” May 11, 2016).

Matti Friedman’s book review can be found here.

Posted by SD at July 3, 2017 03:45 PM

Comments

"Last week, a report by an Israeli group called Breaking the Silence made headlines in the U.S., Britain, and most of Europe, becoming one of the week’s biggest international stories. The subject was the Gaza war of 2014. The headline in the Washington Post was representative:

"New report details how Israeli soldiers killed civilians in Gaza: “There were no rules.”

Attacking Matti Friedman by the Washington Post? Its a red herring, they are supportive of Breaking the Silence.

It isn't only the political purpose for "Breaking the Silence" that deserves scrutiny and justifies cancellations of their speakers in Israel, but in reading their original publication that describes "atrocities" or "war crimes", is poorly documented. It is more about how they feel and then they use their feelings to make political statements. The same strategy used by Winter Soldiers and marxist christian groups like the buderhof and other "peace activists" that are anti-American.
Under certain ROEs it has been possible and justified to kill civilians in line of duty , for instance if the enemy is using civilians as human shields, if a car full of civilians drives rapidly at a convoy and the driver ignores warnings to stop etc.,. Or if civilians are in the wrong place at the wrong time and become collateral damage. In my experience America's (And Israel's) enemies are more to blame and commit conscious and deliberate attacks on civilians as a means to wage war. In the Israeli context when Hamas launches over 4,000 projectiles with the intent of murdering anyone in Israel, often placing their launch pads in civilian neighborhoods, schools etc.,. Where is the recrimination? Why are there no charges of war crimes?
In my experience veterans who have been near the killing or had to kill fall into two types: The first type generally accepts the fact killing the enemy is a duty and even if you have to live with the ugly images of terror and death, and PTSD which is bearable and one can learn to cope; it doesn't bother you unless there are other circumstances.
The second group is more likely to exist in countries with a universal draft, are those who simply hate "killing" outweighing their sense of duty and the belief they are protecting the lives of their fellow soldiers and even themselves when forced to engage in combat. They are more likely to question political decision making even when war is forced upon them, why did I have to kill, why did my buddy have to die? They are more likely as a result of blind conscience or weakness to become activists against war under any circumstances and by extension their own governments. You do not find such opposition in Gaza, the West Bank, etc.,. But I also question if these veterans are phony's? How do they prove their claims, what are their bona fides?
I ask that because I have been in uniform and spat on for killing babies, I assure you have not and they had no proof or care I ever did, they are just hateful people. Such is the mentality of the war activist, etc, that are not pacifists but simply anti-American. Some of them were and remain simply draft resisters. More recently when deploying for Iraq a veteran stood up to speak out against the war and claimed he had committed atrocities. The fact is, he was a deserter and never deployed, he lied, but that did not matter to the war resistance activists because facts and truth are not their objective; obviously.
And what of Senator Kerry? He's a War Veteran who claimed he witnessed atrocities but as a Naval Officer there is absolutely no evidence he in fact witnessed it because if he had he was sworn to take action to prevent such atrocities. I know more veterans who saved civilian lives than took them either because of the ROEs or enemy action intentionally putting civilians in harm’s way. Kerry never stopped a single war crime he claimed were going on all over Vietnam, if his claims were true he should be in jail because as an officer he did nothing to stop war crimes. But we don't put people in jail for lying and slandering veterans, especially if they themselves are veterans: in fact in the USA, you can run for the Presidency if you slander fellow veterans. It is fair to ask is "Breaking Silence" simply a political party with an agenda and are they truthful or does their agenda and ideology outweigh truths derived from fact?

Posted by: jeb at July 8, 2017 08:32 AM

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