A journalist’s blind view of Israel

February 20, 2017 by Simon Plosker
Read on for article

Fairfax Media’s Chief Political Correspondent Mark Kenny’s opinion piece “The West’s blind support for Israel has done it no favours” appears in both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The word “blind” in the headline is an apt description of Kenny’s views when it comes to Israel…writes Simon Plosker/Honest Reporting.

He begins:

“Descending east from Jerusalem into the Rift Valley, the landscape turns decidedly hostile, and that’s just the start of it.

The Number 1 freeway first arcs up from the Holy City’s eastern flank towards the Mount of Olives before cutting underneath the world heritage site to emerge in what quickly becomes another country, a different land.”

Except that the Number 1 freeway doesn’t cut “underneath the world heritage site” that is the Mount of Olives. Any look at a map will show that the road tunnels underneath Mount Scopus.  There simply is no tunnel underneath the Mount of Olives. A glaring error in his first paragraph is not an auspicious start and in this case, presenting Israel as somehow violating a world heritage site is a portent of the anti-Israel agit-prop to come.

Kenny moves on to the Bedouins:

“And lower down, perched awkwardly in the dry treeless gullies closer to the highway, there are Bedouins. Their ad hoc micro-settlements are untidy off-grid affairs. Illegal shanty towns of tin and tarps, marking out these itinerants as the most dispossessed of the 2.9 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

In one such community, just 20 minutes from First World Jerusalem, a mud-brick school clings to a hillside.

Its defiantly permanent adobe structures use solar panels for electricity, fake grass for play areas, and rely on donated equipment, most notably from Italy.

But even that international recognition has not protected the tiny school from capricious treatment. A community leader displays a children’s swing now reduced to a useless frame after its moving parts were allegedly confiscated because the concrete footings had breached the rules.”

Exactly how are these Bedouins “the most dispossessed” of the Palestinians? It’s quite the opposite. The Bedouins in the E1 area to the east of Jerusalem have set up what Kenny himself describes as “illegal shanty towns” without any form of planning permission on land in Area C that is under full Israeli control as defined in the Oslo Accords.

Bedouins have expressly chosen to live in places devoid of any basic infrastructure and to create facts on the ground that press the buttons of European officials, blinkered journalists and workers for non-governmental organisations. This is being carried out by Palestinians precisely in order to create facts on the ground that would prevent Israel from potentially developing the area.

Kenny continues:

“It is an example of the countless small ways in which officialdom makes life difficult for non-Jewish persons in the hope that they simply give up.”

And this is the crux of Kenny’s polemic – that how Israel treats Palestinians or even non-Jews is driven by racism. As he says:

“A place where rights are dependent on race and religion. Where uniformed Israelis young enough to use acne cream stroll absent-mindedly through shopping malls and bus stations, machine guns dangling from their shoulders.”

The image is meant to portray Israel as a military society. That young Israelis serve in the IDF is a direct result of the security threats that Israel faces. And while Kenny pays lip service to Palestinian terror, the onus is still on Israel as if the terror merely provides an excuse for Israeli behaviour:

“Where Palestinian suicide bombings, murderous drive-throughs and random stabbings create a siege mentality, licensing the constant ratcheting up of the existential threat and thus the further militarisation of Israel itself.”

As for freedom of movement:

“Where traffic snarls last for hours at check-points policing internal borders.

Where even professional Palestinians, academics with PhDs, or top-level business people are required to queue up for monthly permits simply in order to move between cities or attend work.”

Checkpoint traffic is certainly not snarled for hours as Israeli journalist Ami Horowitz found out for himself when he went on a “road trip.” (See video below.) In fact, it is usually extremely efficient during times of relative quiet.

 

Kenny doesn’t say where these professional Palestinians are trying to travel to. Within the West Bank itself, Palestinians are free to travel between their cities and to their jobs. The only reason for applying for a permit would be to enter Israel. They are not being prevented from moving between their own cities.

Kenny then makes a wholly distorted claim:

“It is astounding that in the decades since enlightened governments celebrated the removal of that abomination against humanity, the Berlin Wall, Israel has been furiously building walls similar in appearance and function to the partitioning of Germany.”

The Berlin Wall was built to keep in a captive population by an authoritarian regime with the intent to partition the German city. Israel’s security barrier, of which some 95 percent is a chain-link fence and not a wall, was built to keep out Palestinian terrorists from carrying out suicide bombings and other attacks during the so-called Second Intifada. It was built to protect Israeli lives not to imprison a population. Kenny’s comparison is inaccurate and offensive.

Kenny claims:

“The comprehensiveness of Israel’s suppression of the local population is staggering. Yet it occasions little serious study from governments like Australia’s, which has succumbed to the self-serving binary that there are only two critiques of Israel: unqualified support or antisemitism.”

This is nonsense. Nobody credible claims that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Equally, it is very difficult to find any other state that has lent unqualified support for Israel, even among friends such as Australia or the United States. Criticizing Israel is perfectly legitimate and even its own citizens spend plenty of time doing just that.

If Kenny detects a “self-serving binary,” it is the one created by critiques such as his that are driven by innate hostility and a wilful blindness when it comes to Israel.

STEREOTYPING JEWS

It’s not only Mark Kenny who sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in black and white terms. The cartoon by Matt Davidson that accompanies his piece is also highly problematic, drawing upon a clear stereotype to create an image of an Israeli Jew. In fact, ultra-Orthodox Jews, as depicted in this image make up a minority of the Jewish population of the state.

This article first appeared in http://honestreporting.com

Comments

18 Responses to “A journalist’s blind view of Israel”
  1. Peter Arnold says:

    No one has yet mentioned Tuvia Tenenbom’s insights, as detailed in his book, “Catch The Jew!”
    This skilled, multi-lingual impersonator/actor has penetrated both West Bank Arabs and West Bank settlers, and captured, verbatim, their unguarded innermost thoughts.
    He quotes one of the latter, but it applies equally to both sides, and surely explains why the problem remains insoluble:
    “It doesn’t matter to me if what I believe in is factually right. I know it’s not, but I don’t care about facts! I want to believe, even if everything I believe in is false. Please don’t make me see reality. I have fought it all my life. Please!” I commend his book to every reader of J-Wire.

  2. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Naive, uninformed people who are tricked by journalists like Kenny, would profit from reading the expose written by a former member of the journalistic community, an insider who rubbed shoulders with slanderers of Israel constantly.
    I refer to Matti Friedman, who wrote a number of critiques. This is the internet reference:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/11/how-the-media-makes-the-israel-story/383262/

  3. Hymie Glass says:

    To Rose Blustein

    I will keep my response to you respectful and try not to attack you personally for your hurtful comments. The feedback you have already received from people like David Singer is very polite, truthful and addresses many of the issues you raised.

    The culprit article written by Mark Kenny, as presented in J-Wire, has many untruths and is in my view anti-Semitic. No surprises there – Fairfax has habitually provided a lopsided and hateful view on the Israel Palestine question. Kenny conflates Jews and Israel in a completely negative sense and provides zero context as to the situation there. Fortunately Simon Plosker, supported by the majority of the commentators, exposes Kenny’s venom in a reasonable way.

    I was shocked, hurt and offended by your comments and tirade against Israel. How can you ask that a Jew whose family perished in the Holocaust “have no understanding and compassion for what it means to be oppressed and denied basic human rights”? That compassion needs to be directed firstly to the Jewish people of Israel who have suffered numerous horrific, existential wars, as well as all the newest innovations of mass terror and murder, at the hands of butchers, mobsters, liars, mass murderers, and virulent anti-Semites. These are Hamas, the PA, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and their paymasters Iran, Saudi Arabia, the former regimes in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Libya. In all fairness how can Israel respond to these modern day fascists without a show of strength? Please answer that.

    You also commented that “If a vote were taken in the UN today on the granting of the state of Israel to the Jews it would be soundly defeated because of the undemocratic, racist and aggressive behavior of the Israelis who have shown a total unwillingness to behave as humanitarians.” What an outrageous statement. The UN is dominated by racist states that have no democratic tradition at all – no universal franchise, no equality before the law, institutionalised misogyny, state terror and tyranny. An example of the UN’s falsehood: they recently declared that the Jews have no connection to Jerusalem. Never mind that we have prayed towards the holiest of cities for close to 3 millennia; that our biblical King David founded it; that our closeness to Jerusalem is described in depth by Flavius Josephus, the Jewish Romanphile historian of 2 thousand years ago, in his book The Jewish War; never mind the Jewish artefacts found in Jerusalem originating thousands of years ago. And so – the UN would not vote for a Jewish state – so what? The UN is irrelevant and in its death throes anyway – it is just a mouthpiece for many lunatic regimes with malignant intent towards the world and the Jewish people aka Israel in particular.

    Regarding Israel, and its treatment of Arabs, both Palestinian and foreign – the words humanitarian, civilised, fair, restrained, legal, merciful, rachamim (thats Hebrew for compassionate) – describe Israel’s behaviour. What army has ever dropped leaflets warning its deadly foes beforehand that bombs will be dropped on them (as they store and/or fire offensive weaponry against the civilian population of Israel)?What army charges its soldiers with a serious crime if an enemy combatant (ie murderous terrorist) is killed in military action, where there is the smallest chance that the terrorist was already incapacitated? It happened recently and the soldier was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, which was futile because it did not satisfy the terrorist’s father? What country will open the specialised services of its finest hospitals to its foes who are critically sick or wounded? That happens regularly with Gazans and Syrians.

    The reason Israel is so heavily militarised with so many young people bearing arms is simple – Israel needs to be prepared to react quickly to the next murderous stabbing, car/truck ramming, bombing or all out military attack from the sky or terror tunnels. We need to thank these young soldiers for preserving peace, and ask G-d to bless them for risking their own lives to keep their fellow Israelis safe.

    My last point deals with your statement that you are ashamed to be a Jew. How can this possibly be? What would prompt you to transform shame into pride? Please tell us.

  4. Rose Blustein says:

    I am saddened by your blinkered and ‘blind’ view on Mark Kenny’s article. How can you, a Jew, whose family perished in the holocaust, have no understanding and compassion for what it means to be oppressed and denied basic human rights. If a vote were taken in the UN today on the granting of the state of Israel to the Jews it would be soundly defeated because of the undemocratic, racist and aggressive behavior of the Israelis who have shown a total unwillingness to behave as humanitarians.

    I am ashamed to call myself a Jew!

    • david singer says:

      Rose

      It is indeed very sad that you should think as you do.

      Israel has been unjustly maligned and delegitmised by articles such as Mark Kenny’s which Simon Plosker has gone to great lengths to expose as misleading and deceptive and not in accordance with any factual reality.

      You have to make up your mind as to who is right here – Kenny or Plosker.

      Read this article again carefully and let us know who you think is correct in what they write – Kenny or Plosker.

    • Roy Sims says:

      No Rose,
      If a vote were taken in the U.N. today, it would be because of the incredible bias against Israel which is promoted by articles such as that produced by Mark Kenny

    • Roy Sims says:

      Another thought for you Rose.
      You, as a Jew, have written critically about Israel. It is your right and priceless privilege to write what you think.
      Just ponder, if you can, the fate of the Palestinian who might have penned a response critical of his own. What might his life expectancy be after that.
      The BIG difference between Israel and their Arab neighbours is that in broad and general terms Israel reveres life, their opponents glorify death.
      I commend you to support the Nation which offers you citizenship by reason of your birth circumstances.
      Israel NEEDS your help rather than your criticism.

    • david singer says:

      Rose

      I am truly concerned and very sorry that you should have been brought to the stage where you are publicly prepared to admit you are ashamed to be a Jew.

      This is precisely what Arab propaganda is trying to achieve.

      That the Palestinian Arabs claim oppression and denial of basic human rights has been caused by their rejection of peace proposals to resolve the Jewish-Arab conflict made in:
      1. 1922 by the League of Nations
      2. 1937 by the Peel Commission
      3. 1947 by the United Nations
      4. 1993 to 2000 by the Oslo Accords
      5. 2000/2001 by Israel
      6. 2008 by Israel

      The conflict could also have ended at any time between 1948 to 1967 with the stroke of an Arab League pen after Jordan had forcibly evicted all the Jews living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and occupied those areas exclusively.

      The Arabs are perfectly entitled to reject those opportunities – but where has it got them over the last 100 years?

      Don’t feel ashamed to be Jewish Rose.

      Feel sorry for the Palestinian Arabs who have been led down the path to hell by their leadership over the last 100 years. Feel sorry that even today they are ruled by a President in the 11th year of his four year term and been denied free and fair elections for the last 10 years.Feel sorry that they do not have the opportunity to freely speak out as you have.

      Remain loyal to and support the State of Israel. Hold your head high that those Arabs living in Israel (20% of the population) vote every three years and are able to rise to positions of power in Israel and their children can receive a tertiary education and that they can even call for an end to the Jewish State.

      To do otherwise is to submit to the lies peddled by Arab propagandists who would like nothing more than to see Israel disappear from the face of the map and who are prepared to say anything to earn converts like you to their cause.

      Might I suggest you download the following publication which will tell you about the history of the Mandate for Palestine – an international agreement that Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO calls “null and void”.
      http://www.mythsandfacts.org/Conflict/mandate_for_palestine/MandateN2%20-%2010-29-07-English.pdf

      You won’t regret it.

      Should you wish to discuss anything with me concerning the above – please do so by emailing me at dsinger2000@gmail.com

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      Rose, what makes you think that Mark Kenny writes in good faith?
      Why, in your mind, is Mark Kenny more reliable than Simon Plosker?
      Is it because the latter is a Jew? You did say, didn’t you, that you are ashamed to call yourself a Jew.
      Please tell us, Rose.

  5. david singer says:

    Congratulations Simon on exposing what is increasingly becoming published not only as “Fake News” but also “Misinformation and Disinformation News”.

    These guys write one sentence unsubstantiated throwaways and people like you have to write paragraphs to expose their misleading assertions.

    So far as the Beduins are concerned – mention must be made of the active intervention of the European Union in illegally constructing structures for the Beduin to create “facts on the ground” in the struggle to create “rights” within Area C.

    Readers can find out the extent of this pernicious conduct by reading:
    http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-EU-building-hundreds-of-illegal-structures-for-Palestinians-in-Area-C-of-West-Bank-390184

    This coming from a body that talks about “flagrant violation of international law” is a disgrace.

    It seems clear that Mark Kenny had not read the above article before bursting into print with his highly offensive and damaging article.

    Had he done so he would have produced a far more balanced report and had a far better insight into what is going on.

    • Henry Herzog says:

      In true trump tradition, it’s all so very simple; anything you don’t like or disagree with is fake news for which you have alternative facts. But guess what, the rest of the world is catching on.

      • david singer says:

        Henry

        The world has been fed on fake Palestinian propaganda for decades. Now we see the UN Security Council swallow the lie that the Jewish Quarter, the Mount of Olives cemetery and the Kotel is “occupied Palestinian territory”.

        Do you accept that to be true or do you disagree?

        • Henry Herzog says:

          David, if only things were that simple. It doesn’t matter who’s occupying who. We all know the history of Jerusalem and how we were forced out 2000 years ago, and since then it’s been occupied by foreign powers. Judea, 3000 years ago extended over most of today’s mid-east. The trick is to find a solution to the conflict where Jews strolling down a street in Jerusalem aren’t run over. As the Talmud says, to save one life is like saving the whole world.

          • david singer says:

            Henry

            Please answer the question I asked you:

            “Now we see the UN Security Council swallow the lie that the Jewish Quarter, the Mount of Olives cemetery and the Kotel is “occupied Palestinian territory”.

            Do you accept that to be true or do you disagree?”

            “True” or “false” is all you need to say.

    • Roy Sims says:

      Yes David, we know about the blatantly misleading and disgracefully biased writings of these “journalists”, who actually try to MAKE the news rather than report it. But what can we do about it?
      How can they be called to account for their irresponsibility?
      What responsibility does an Editor have for allowing such misreporting of fact.

      • david singer says:

        Roy

        Every article that contains false and misleading facts needs to be exposed as Plosker has done so remarkably well here.

        The task is daunting as so much fake and misleading news and supposedly learned articles reeking of Jew-hatred and inaccurate facts are flooding the internet.

        I get one despicable on line publication in my Inbox every day to see what is being published. The editor refuses to print any responses I want to make. Its that simple to blot out any attempt to expose these writers.

        People read this rubbish, see it is unresponded to or not corrected and believe it must be true.

        Editors are often as uninformed as those who write the articles.

        It is one never ending challenge on the internet and there are few Jews who are prepared to take the time to answer these purveyors of lies and hatred.

        I spend an inordinate amount of time answering Jew-haters who frequent other sites – Jewish and general – where my articles are published. All are anonymous and make the most outrageous and unsubstantiated claims. I find myself usually alone in shooting them down in flames with little support from anyone else.

        50 angry on-line responses could make a huge difference in spreading the truth about the Jewish-Arab conflict that has gone unresolved for 100 years.

        Organisations such as Honest Reporting and CAMERA are doing sterling work but the lies and falsehoods keep being regurgitated ad nauseum.

        Get me fifty people who are prepared to study the history of Palestine from the 1880’s on and write responses under their own names and in their own words and be ready respond to anyone who dares to take them on.

        I think we can then make some huge inroads in countering articles like Kenny’s on line since exposing their inaccuracies and errors will never be published in the Herald.

        Roy – perhaps you have started something.

        I know that hundreds of people have attended seminars conducted by the Board of Deputies. What they have learnt could be put to good use in joining such a group.

        My email address is dsinger2000@gmail.com.

        Are there any volunteers prepared to step up to the plate?

    • Lioudmila Levina says:

      David, this guy wanted to see only what he wanted to see despite all facts just opposite. It is called prejudice pure and simple. Such a person will never ever see the reality because this reality does not agree with his views. It does not make any sense to argue with this person, his mind is made up and it is forever. Unfortunately these kind of articles published in wildly read newspapers form a distorted image of Israel in many minds. Sorry for mistakes I definitely made, I am from the former USSR and English is not my native tongue

      • david singer says:

        Lioudmila

        People will always take sides on any issue and that is their perfect entitlement.

        How people form their views is the big question.

        There is a real problem when such views are based on false and misleading information or on unsubstantiated statements of fact as Simon Plosker has so brilliantly exposed in his criticism of Mark Kenny’s article.

        However Kenny’s article is but one of thousands proliferating the internet every day. Most go unanswered and so they become accepted as fact.

        In a perfect world Mark Kenny should come on to J Wire and challenge Simon Plosker’s statements by justifying what he initially wrote in the Herald as being factually accurate and correct.

        Don’t count on that happening.

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