I think I may have been a little two soft on that antisemitic hack Deborah Orr (why is that whenever I say her name I keep thinking I’m dropping my H’s?) .
Her suggestion that Israel showed a lack of regard for human life because of its monumental concession of releasing over a 1000 terrorists for one Israeli, was not merely antisemitic, it also showed what a vile and repugnant human being she is. Indeed her views are so loathsome it is hard to understand how any respectable newspaper could employ her. But then again, no respectable newspaper does.
Professor Alan Johnson wrote a reply to Deborah Orr’s anti-semitic article in the Guardian and offered it to that same publication. Needless to say the Guardian refused to publish it. It was posted on “Harry’s Place” but there appears to be a problem linking to that site. if you cannot follow this link: http://hurryupharry.org/2011/10/24/deborah-orr-should-stop-playing-with-matches/ try the following cached version http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://hurryupharry.org/
Here are some other articles that might interest you:
What is really amazing is that Orr makes no effort to even sound serious. She makes no effort to discuss the issues pertaining to a country’s commitment to its citizens or the extent thereof. She makes no effort to analyze what the released prisoners being released did or didn’t do, or the circumstances of their imprisonment or what would have been their fate if there had been no negotiations, or at least no successful negotiations. She makes no genuine attempt at an analysis of a nation that is ready to release convicted murderers to obtain the release of a hostage. She makes no effort to prove her implied thesis that terrorist violence is the only path open to the Palestinians. She makes no effort to discuss the extent to which the Palestinians (or at least their leaders) are the authors of their own misfortune. She makes no effort to discuss the fact that Shalit was kidnapped after Israel had withdrawn from Gaza. All of these are issues that an intelligent and honest journalist could, should and would discuss are conspicuously absent from her article. But then again Orr has a deeper handicap to her journalistic career than mere antisemitism or ingrained dishonesty: she is is also a very stupid woman.
It was inevitable that despite Israel releasing over a thousand terrorists (including murderers), the Guardian would find a peg on which to hang its hatred of the Jewish State yet again. In this case it takes the form of a mendacious article by some one called Deborah Orr.
Disengenuously titled Is an Israeli life really more important than a Palestinian’s? Ms Orr’s article tries to imply that the world reaction to Israel’s willingness to release such a large number of terrorists for one soldier is “an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives.” And just to make it clear that she is attacking the Jewish state and not merely the world at large, she adds: “who is surprised really, to learn that Netanyahu sees one Israeli’s freedom as a fair exchange for the freedom of so many Palestinians? ”
And then to further make it clear that she extends this criticism to the citizens of the State of Israel, as well as its supporters, she then refers to: “what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.” She says Zionists. She means JEWS.
Whilst the word “chosen” is as misleading with regard to Jews as it is to Zionists (the Jews chose to believe in a single deity; the “deity” did not choose them) the fact is that the words “chosen” and “chosen people” have historically been applied to the Jews, not to the Zionists. Ms Orr, as a woman with at least a modicum of intelligence, certainly knows this – and knows also that her readers will understand the words that way. She may try to weasel out of this conclusion by claiming that Zionists think they have been chosen to inherit the disputed land. But then she could have used a word like “privileged” instead of “chosen” with its obvious association with the Jews.
But Jews have lived with antisemitism for so long, that it is now like water off a duck’s back. It is the brazen dishonesty of Deborah Orr’s article, rather than its thinly-veiled antisemitism, that is the problem.
For a start Ms Orr’s use of the word “life” in the context of the prisoner exchange implies that the lives of the Palestinian prisoners were in jeopardy. She knows full-well that they were not. In fact the Palestinian terrorists were safer in Israeli prisons. Now that they are out, they will either resume their terrorism (risking their own lives in the process) or refuse to continue as terrorists, in which case they will become suspect in the eyes of their Hamas brethren, to the point of risking accusations of treason. Either way, they are in greater danger now than they were when imprisoned in Israel.
For their part, the Israelis knew from the experience with Ron Arad that if they did not negotiate, and if it became clear to the terrorists that they were not going to budge, then Hamas would have murdered Gilad Shalit. See for example: http://www.qassam.ps/news-748-EQB_Gilad_Shalit_will_face_the_fate_of_Ron_Arad_If_the_Zionist_enemy_continued_its_procrastination.html
In contrast, the only effect of the passage of time for the terrorist prisoners held by Israel would be that for those not serving life sentences for murder, their release dates would be getting nearer. Thus while the imbalances take on one guise when one looks at the number of terrorists Israel released or compares the crimes of those terrorists to the innocence of Gilad Shalit, that imbalance takes on an altogether different guise when one considers the prospective fates of Gilad Shalit and the terrorists respectively.
Now Ms Orr might try to weasel out of it on the other side of the box into which she has locked herself, by claiming that her use of the word “lives” was a reference to the number of people murdered by the terrorists (quite a high number) as opposed to the number of people killed by Gilad Shalit (as in zero). But then it would show the oppositeof what Ms. Orr is claiming: that Israel does not put a premium on Israeli lives over Palestinian lives. Moreover, such an argument would merely show that Israel shares with other civilized nations that sentiment so eloquently expressed by Alexander Solzhenitsyn: that obligation to the living outweighs duty to the dead. In other words, punishing those who murdered Israeli citizens in the past was less important than saving an Israeli citizen who was currently in danger. But to acknowledge that, would refute Ms Orr’s thesis that the Israelis view the lives of their own more highly than those of others. And of course, such an argument would require a degree of honesty of which Ms Orr is incapable.
Having said that, one could argue that by releasing those who murdered Israelis in the past, Israel has increased the likelihood of other Israelis being murdered in the future. This is true both because of the likelihood that some of the released terrorists will return to their evil ways and because other Palestinian Arabs will be emboldened by their release. But this is one criticism that Ms Orr chooses not to make, because whilst it is a criticism of the Israeli government, it is not a criticism of Israeli society, and it therefore falls outside the scope of Ms Orr’s nefarious agenda.
Interestingly Ms Orr does not discuss the conflicted feelings of Israelis regarding the prisoner exchange, or contrast those feelings to the unmitigated joy amongst the Palestinians. If the Palestinians had genuinely felt that Shalit was a wrongdoer with innocent Palestinian blood on his hands, they too would have had similar mixed feelings about his release. Yet all she tells us in this regard is that Hamas were “abject in their eagerness to accept” the unequal exchange. This phraseology brazenly and mendaciously implies that it was Israel that instigated the unequal exchange and that Hamas merely accepted it. Is the lady incapable of speaking the truth? Does she really not know that Hamas demanded the large-scale release of their terrorists, whereas Israel reluctantly accepted it?
Of course she could say that what she meant was that by holding out for the release of many, Hamas risked leaving the table empty-handed and that this shows a lack of regard for their own. In other words, it is not a case of Israel valuing its people more than Palestinians, because – as Deborah Orr well knows – in negotiations each side bargains for its own. Rather it is a case of Israel valueing its own more than the Palestinians value theirs – a very different matter, and a truth that Deborah Orr is loathe to acknowledge explicitly.
And yes, of course Israel values its citizens very highly – and rightly so. This is not because they are worth more than other human beings. It is because any decent state has an inherent sense of obligation and duty towards its citizens – especially its serving soldiers. But whilst Ms Orr had no qualms about criticizing Hamas, it has to be in terms equally disparaging to the Jewish state. Consequently, she was, and is, unwilling to acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel’s action.
But is Deborah Orr really incapable of understanding a nation’s commitment to its serving soldiers ? Does she really not know that it was not just Gilad Shalit’s liberty that was at stake but also his life? Is she not aware that Gilad Shalit was held incommunicado for many years, unlike the Palestinian terrorists who were allowed Red Cross visits? Does she really have no understanding of the concept of national morale or the effect that this prolonged period of solitary detention would have not just on Shalit but on the morale of a nation that does care about its citizens?
Or is she simply indulging her penchant for mendacity in a malicious effort to stir up hostility towards the Jewish state and thus – by implication – the Jewish people?
It seems that Richard Silverstein got a bit irritated with me for exposing his hypocrisy and double standards – and in particular his unabashedly evil criticism of Israel for sending a huge, well-equipped medical relief team to Haiti after the earthquake. He replied angrily, accusing me of being rude.
Let’s take a look at some of Silverstein’s own statements:
“When you can translate Hebrew as well as Sol Salbe then you can talk. Till then shutup.”
“If you ever mature enough to actually write comments w/o snark & all the other infantilisms you introduce into yours you may let me know”
“Either you can read them & respect them or you’ll lose yr comment privileges. I won’t even debate this noxiousness.” (After the woman he was banning had proved that a pregnant Palestinian woman was planning to use her pregnancy to stage a suicide bombing attack – which would have killed her unborn baby as well.)
“you think you’re the first numbskull to say these things here?”
“more like fucking obnoxious”
“If you wish to continue to be an ass” (Pot-kettle anyone?)
“Lord protect us fr. the idiot hasbara crowd.”
“You are really a very stupid person.”
All this from a man who accuses ME of being rude. And these are just a tiny fractions of the examples I could have given if I had more staminia for intellectual slumming in Silverstein’s cesspool.
Now let’s look at some of the comments he has tolerated from friendly commentators who support his hostility to the Jewish state:
MARY: my remark that Zionists have control over the news media is my own opinion, and there is nothing “dumb and thuggish” about it… I will not withdraw or repudiate my remark about control of the media…”
MARY: “You incredible, outrageous hasbarist. My temper is thinning fast.” (Hasbarist is Mary’s and Silverstien’s term for anyone who presents eloquent, factually based arguments in favour of Israel.)
SHIRIN: “You’re either an idiot, or a liar, or both.” (To the woman who exposed the case of the pregnant Palestinian woman trying to carry out a suicide bombing.)
MARY: “Are you really that dense, or are you being deliberately obtuse?”
ELIZABETH: “More verbal diarrhea from Cociella” (Elizabeth is another member of Silverstein’s ideology-brothel)
LYN: “Haitians are lucky Haiti isn’t next to Israel, or Israel would deem them the seething, angry, vengeance-ridden savages and test their weapons on them.” (Now that’s already an antisemitic lie. But Silverstein tolerated it.)
MARY: “what a bunch of fascist creeps you really are”
MARY: (again – sigh) “I’m actually gratified to have gotten under your rather reptilian skin” (If you’re thinking that Mary is a foul-mouthed whore, you’re probably right.)
Just as a matter of interest, at the end of his cesspool of lies about Israel and its excellent medical aid for Haiti after the earthquake, Silverstein uses cowardly innuendo (which is typical of Silverstein) to imply that Israel was responsible for the United States blocking the delivery of “desperately needed medical supplies.” This is after he has just spent paragraphs criticizing Israel for bringing in medical supplies on the grounds that such supplies were NOT necessary?
And we’re supposed to take Silverstein seriously?
When I wrote my last post about Richard Silverstein’s attack on Israel for giving medical aid to Haiti, I didn’t realize quite how mendacious and rude he was. (I should have done, as I have seen how rude he is when his arguments are refuted by his intellectual superiors – which most people are.) Here is an example. Some one responded to the article as follows:
This is quite a bad translation. Whole sentences are missing. I’ll deal with this tomorrow, I have productive activity ahead of me.
A perfectly polite and reasonable response. And how does Silverstein, who controls the blog reply? Like this:
When you can translate Hebrew as well as Sol Salbe then you can talk. Till then shutup.
“I have productive activity ahead of me.”
That’s it. You’re done. I’ve had about as much snark as I can take. If you ever mature enough to actually write comments w/o snark & all the other infantilisms you introduce into yours you may let me know & I can reinstate you. Till then you’re toast.
Note first the puerile sarcasm of the half-witted Silverstein: “When you can translate…” And the yobbish rudeness: “Till then shutup.” Next Silverstein has the audacity to accuse the other person of lacking maturity – that’s rich coming from Silverstein – and then he does what he so often does when he can’t refute an argument: he bans the person from his forum. And this is the same Silverstein who likes to pretend that he wants to hold serious discussion.
What can one say about Silverstein. Well, he’s a liar and hypocrite for a start.
Once in a while I like to slum it by reading Richard Silverstein’s attempts to demonize the Jewish state in which he uses the kind of unscrupulous methods that all decent people would rightly find repugnant. I’ve just fallen into the cesspool of his belief system yet again, reading an article he wrote on Israel’s prompt and effective disaster relief in Haiti after the earthquake there – relief which apparently bothers Silverstein immensely. In an article called “The Zionization of Disaster Relief” he subjects his hapless readers to the anti-Zionization of Disaster relief. That is, he uses an article that is ostensibly about disaster relief in Haiti as a peg on which to hang his anti-Israel beliefs.
Not content with limiting himself to the dishonest accusation that the Jewish state gave this assistance for purely publicity reasons (an accusation that is false but wholly in character for Silverstein) it seems that Silverstein has now set himself up as an expert on aid and has decided for others what is best way to help them – even as he sits on his toochas not actually lifting a finger to help them himself. Specifically he claimed that in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, portable toilets and digging equipment were needed more urgently than a field hospital and doctors. The one thing he omitted was evidence to support this assertion. He also didn’t mention that these other things were also available from other sources more locally based. Nor did he take into account that the Israeli medical team was dispatched before the situation on the ground was clear. Under those circumstances, it was only natural that medical aid was deemed to be the highest priority.
Now Silverstein’s defense would no doubt be that he was actually quoting an article by Yoel Donchin, a former Israeli relief worker who by then worked as Director of Patient Safety at Hadassah hospital. But Silverstein made no effort to interview or read anyone other than this one disgruntled former employee of the Israel army to get anything like a balanced picture. He simply seized upon words that he knew lent themselves to the demonization of the Jewish state, quoted them freely and looked no further – thereby showing his low regard for the truth and his determination to advance his anti-Israel agenda.
Some facts contained in the article are in fact pro-Israel in their import, but they are so cleverly camouflaged as to effectively negate their pro-Israel connotations. And of course Silverstein makes sure to avoid pointing this out, although he editorializes freely before and after quoting the article to stir up negative feelings towards the Jewish state. Take for example the following passage:
“I understood the purpose perfectly when the head of one of the delegations to a disaster zone was asked whether oxygen tanks and a number of doctors could be removed to make room for another TV network’s representatives with their equipment. (With unusual courage, the delegation head refused!)”
So the Israeli head of the delegation refused. In other words he placed the treatment of the injured above the wishes of the press or any public relations considerations. But that cuts no ice in the biased eyes of Silverstein or his equally mendacious source. Because it was “unusual courage.” So there we have it. When Israel does good it’s all for the wrong reason and when their behaviour doesn’t confirm the anti-Israel propaganda it’s “unusual.”
And Silverstein doesn’t stop there. He publishes a comment from a woman claiming that the Israel medical team didn’t even stay a week. He replies that they stayed 11 days, but does not take her to task for her dishonesty. He then claims, without offering any evidence, that they would have had to stay longer to make a difference – conveniently ignoring the fact that by then, many others had come. Next he publishes a comment from another woman claiming that “Zionists have control over the news media.” This woman is a well-known supportive contributor to Silverstein’s blog noted for her rudeness. On another occasion she described a Jewish contributor as having “reptilian skin” without public comment or warning from Silverstein. In contrast he is quick to warn or ban supporters of the Jewish state who use language that he claims to be impolite, as indeed he did a short while later in the thread about Israeli aid to Haiti.
Finally he allows an off-topic posting accusing Israel of selling arms to the Duvaliers in Haiti (going back a bit). Why this historical alleged information is any more relevant than weapons sales to other dictators by Arabs or Communists, he doesn’t say. But let’s not forget that this is the Jewish state and so it suddenly assumes a great relevance to a posting about recent earthquake relief.
And let’s not forget that Silverstein started it off by criticizing Israel for giving medical aid to Haiti. You can draw the appropriate conclusions about his ethics from that.
After a flurry of communications following the London Book Fair and my belated return from Israel (courtesy of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud), some two months went by, without any indication of what I was supposed to be doing and now with all the proofreading and corrections done for the second Alex Sedaka book, I was in the uncomfortable position of not having anything to do. True, I was supposed to be studying for my physics degree with the Open University. But high blood pressure and dizzy spells – brought about by anxiety – were making that impossible.
No Way Out had gone on sale on the 10th of June and hopes were high because the publishers had got it into Tesco and Asda. However, whilst it was selling better than Mercy, the question was whether it was selling enough to meet the publishers 20,000 copy target within a reasonable time?
In the absence of any word on the subject, I decided to force the issue. So on the 20th of June, I wrote to Diane telling her that in the absence of any indication from the publishers as to what they wanted I was going to continue writing the third Alex Sedaka book. But being too cowardly to present this as an ultimatum, I explained my decision in conciliatory terms (or should that be weasel words) to the effect that “I don’t want to be in a position where they decide they want it and I have to start from near the beginning.”
In retrospect it may have been a mistake to force the issue. Had I not done so, the publishers might have waited longer before deciding. But the upshot of all this was that on the 27th of June Diane told me that the sales – although better than for Mercy – were not quite good enough and that consequently HarperCollins had decided not to go ahead with the third Alex Sedaka book. The good news was that they agreed,in principle, to my suggestion that I should do the Moses book rather than the Doomsday Labyrinth. Of course all this was subject to agreement between me and Kate (my editor) on the plot for the Moses book. And that had yet to be finalized.
There followed an exchange of eMails in which Kate and I struggled to find a suitable date to meet. The problem was that Kate was going on holiday for a fortnight starting on August the 20th. For my part, my sister was coming to visit for a week, taking up a chuck of the time before that. In the event, we met on Thursday the 5th of August and came up with the rudiments of a plot.
The basically requirement was that there had to be an important discovery at the beginning, the hero trying to work out the full implications (which had to be major), people trying to stop the hero, a chase, an albino monk (only joking – but there did have to be some serious threat to the hero) and of course a final resolution of some sorts with a happy end. Also one of the pursuers must be extremely vicious with a propensity not just for murder but for brutality.
This last point was something of a problem for me, because one of the things I had learned from my mother’s cousin Clive Donner (a celebrated film director in the sixties and seventies) was that one should always put a bit of good in ones bad characters and a bit of bad in ones good characters. This Yin and Yang approach had served me in good stead when it came to keeping my characters realistic. But perhaps it was actually holding me back in the commercial stakes. So maybe Kate was right. But it was uncomfortable for me to have to adapt my style to this extent.
However, I rose to the challenge and drew up a synopsis based on our discussions. The one one remaining problem was the deadline. Kate wanted to publish the book in January 2011, somewhat earlier than we had previously been talking about and well before the third Alex Sedaka book was due to have been published. Given that we were already a week into August 2010, this left very little time for the writing of the book – especially as there was still some research to be done. (I had in fact been reading up on ancient Egypt and especially the 18th Dynasty, but my reading was far from complete.)
The one that was not yet decided was the publication date. When the third book in the contract was going to be an Alex Sedaka book, the delivery deadline was the end of August 2010 and publication had been scheduled for August 2011. But now things had changed. Here we were in the first week of August 2010 and I had yet to write a word of the new book, or even to have a full and detailed plot.
Whilst some heavy-duty Antisemites are coming out of the woodwork and explicitly accusing Jews of running the world in a big conspiracy, most Antisemites prefer to camouflage their antisemitism.
The usual way is under the guise of anti-Zionism. This is a clever tactic because Zionism is understood to include not only the basic belief that the Jews have a right to a state where they can go as a matter of legally protected right, but also to all the policies of specific governments of that state. Given that no country is perfect and every nation state has something deserving of criticism, this tactic works very well. Even most Israelis have some complaints about Israel – to put it mildly. So if one obscures the difference between the policies of a particular government and the nation state’s right to exist then the antisemites can use legitimate criticism of Israel to call the country’s very existence into question.
Of course, the critics of Israel do not stop at legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies or practices. In the past Israel has been criticized for building a security wall to reduce terrorist incursions, for the liberation of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation (thereby making it accessible to Jews and also to Israeli Muslims who had previously been denied access by their own Arab brethren), for the shooting of Arabs on the Temple Mount (after they threw large rocks onto the heads of Jews peacefully praying below) and even for the rescue of over a hundred hostages held by Arab and Neo-Nazi terrorists at Entebbe Airport with the collusion of Uganda’s syphilitic dictator Idi Amin – who spent his twilight years hiding out in Saudi Arabia.
Sometimes the critics of the Jewish state go even further afield in their nefarious efforts to demonize the Jewish State. For example, in the nineteen seventies, Time Magazine did a cover story about then Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Beigin in which they falsely claimed that the only thing he knew about Saudi Arabia was that they cut off the hands of thieves. Thus a negative fact about Saudi Arabia was transformed by Time magazine’s dishonest reporting into a negative fact about Menahem Beigin – and by implication the Jewish state. In effect the article was saying: “Don’t condemn Saudi Arabia for cutting off the hands of thieves (or beheading or stoning people for adultery). Blame an Israeli politician for knowing that they do.” If anyone thinks that I’m blowing Time‘s disingenuous language out of proportion, bear in mind that that same edition of Time included a cover picture of Beigin (deliberately selected to make him look bad) surrounded by a Shield of David formed out of rifles.
Not quite as dishonourably, but using a similar technique, Robert Fisk had a field day trying to drag Israel (established 1948) into the massacre of one and a half million Armenians by Turkey in 1915 because of their official silence on the matter. To judge from Fisk’s tone, the fact that Israeli politicians have not openly condemned Turkey for the massacre is almost as bad as the massacre itself. No matter that Israel has valid reasons for not wanting to alienate Turkey, given the hostility of so many other governments in the region towards Israel. No matter that most ordinary Israelis know of and condemn the massacre. No matter that very few other countries have officially condemned the massacre. No matter that most of Fisk’s British co-nationals do not even know of let alone condemn the massacre. (If he has mentioned it in one of his more obscure writings, I apologize in advance!) No matter that Israel’s Armenian population is well-treated and that almost all Israelis feel goodwill towards them. No, this little fact of Israel’s pragmatic silence on the massacre by Turks, gives Fisk a golden opportunity to get his foot in the door with yet another reason to demonize the Jewish state. As in the Time example, he was effectively saying: “The Turks massacred Armenians; what wicked Israelis!”
However for some it is not enough to criticize the Israeli government or even the Israeli majority. I recently came across a blog called “wake up from your slumber” that seems to take a delight at cataloguing every case of wrongful behaviour by individual Israelis that they can find, regardless of how newsworthy or important it is. Upon further examination of their cesspool of a website, it became clear that they are indeed antisemites and not just critics of Israel. I won’t provide a link because I have no desire to direct my readers towards that pile of excrement. I merely mention it to show where that road leads.