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Notes On A Pair Of Pinheads


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Would it be a tad tasteless for the Monitor to break into a hearty chorus of ‘Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead’ at the welcome news that Deborah Sontag is soon to vacate her post as New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief? (Not that anyone wishes for Sontag’s literal demise, of course; she should live long and prosper – as far away from Israel as possible.) But it’s true, it’s true: According to The New York Observer, Sontag, arguably the most insidiously biased American reporter currently based in Jerusalem, will be returning to New York to write for The New York Times Magazine. Her replacement in Israel will be veteran Times reporter James Bennet.No word on the status of Mr. Deborah Sontag, otherwise known as William V. Orme, though one assumes he won’t be staying behind in Jerusalem, or of correspondent Joel Greenberg, whose work so much resembles Sontag’s in tone and style that he could well be her clone (hmmm…has anyone ever seen those two together?).

· · ·

The execrable Letty Cottin Pogrebin is at it again. Pogrebin, a left-wing feminist who helped found Ms. magazine in the early 70’s and whose hectoring of Israel becomes shriller by the year, is complaining about those who urge Israelis to unify behind the Sharon government.

Writing in Moment, the magazine that tries to be all things to all Jews with predictably unsatisfactory results, Pogrebin notes approvingly that fringe left groups like Gush Shalom, the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace and Rabbis for Human Rights have no intention of falling into line for what Gush Shalom spokesman Adam Keller calls ‘a bad government.’

Even better, Pogrebin breathlessly announces, ‘Peace Now is stepping up its dialogues between Jews and Arabs and continues to monitor settlement activity.’ (The myth that settlements are the main obstacle to peace, a central article of faith for Pogrebin and her ilk, is brilliantly refuted this week by Charles Krauthammer in his nationally syndicated column, which appeared locally in the Daily News on Monday and can be seen at JewishWorldReview.com.)  Consider: Eight months into a bloody Palestinian intifada, which came on the heels of Yasir Arafat’s rejection of then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s unprecedented concessions, and Pogrebin still swoons over the concept of ‘dialogue'; eight years into the Oslo process, with no indication that Palestinians are anywhere near ready to accept the existence of Israel, and all Pogrebin worries about is ‘settlement activity.’Frankly, Pogrebin has never been one to let inconvenient facts intrude on her Utopian fantasies. Remember the controversy back in late 1992 and early 1993 over a documentary called ‘Liberators’? The film purported to tell the story of how black soldiers liberated Jews from the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps in 1945, and its release was celebrated by liberal Jews as a landmark event in black-Jewish relations.

But then the investigative journalist Jeffrey Goldberg reported in The New Republic that black soldiers had never liberated those two camps, and the American Jewish Committee issued its own report which concluded that the film was riddled with ‘serious factual flaws.’ The credibility of the film and its producers vanished almost instantly.

None of that seemed to matter to Letty Pogrebin, who came up with a truly asinine piece for the radical magazine Tikkun in which she essentially downplayed the importance of truth when measured against political expediency.

‘The film presents us with a problem of ethical slippage and well-intentioned embellishment,’ she sheepishly acknowledged, but ‘not a hoax.’

And then Pogrebin got right to the heart of her intellectual dishonesty: ‘Truth must be defended, yes,’ she wrote, ‘but so must the liberal vision of black advancement and the struggle for black-Jewish harmony.’

Something to bear in mind the next time you read or hear Pogrebin’s brainless bleating about the struggle for Palestinian-Jewish dialogue or similar pabulum.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


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