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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘CONTEXT’

BBC Amplifies UN Criticism of Israeli PM Without Providing Relevant Context

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

{Originally posted to the BBC Watch website}

In an article date stamped September 15th (but which actually appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page the following day) the BBC chose to amplify some specific passages from earlier remarks made by the UN Secretary General.  Readers of “UN’s Ban: Netanyahu ethnic cleansing remarks ‘outrageous’” were told that:

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has criticised Israel’s prime minister for saying Palestinians want the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews in the West Bank.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s use of the term in a video attacking opponents of Jewish settlement construction on occupied territory was “outrageous”, he said.”

While readers would not necessarily understand that the above (and later repeated) tendentious portrayal of the aim of Netanyahu’s video came from Ban himself, a more accurate description appears further down in the same article.

“Last Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a video in English on his Facebook page in which he criticised people who described settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.”

Predictably, the article includes amplification of the BBC’s stock mantra on Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and certain districts of Jerusalem.

“Mr Ban stressed that settlements were illegal under international law.” […]

“About 570,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu called the demand that they leave “outrageous”.” […]

[Quoting Ban] “”Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end.”

Israel rejects the assertion that the settlements are illegal, and over the past two weeks has advanced plans for another 463 housing units at four locations.”

As ever, the BBC compromises its own impartiality by failing to inform its audiences of the existence of alternative opinions on that particular issue of ‘international law’. Neither are readers told that more than half of those touted “463 housing units” are accommodation for senior citizens and that they, like the rest, are located in regions which, under any reasonable scenario, would remain under Israeli control in the event of an agreement.

But the most remarkable feature of this BBC report is that while it provides amplification for censure from Ban Ki Moon and Mahmoud Abbas, it makes no effort whatsoever to inform audiences of the facts behind the statements which are the subject of that criticism.

In 2010 Mahmoud Abbas told journalists:

“We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it,”

He repeated that message in 2013:

“Abbas said that no Israeli settlers or border forces could remain in a future Palestinian state and that Palestinians deem illegal all Jewish settlement building within the land occupied in the 1967 Six Days War.”

And Abbas is of course not the only PA political personality to adopt such a position: here, for example, is the ‘moderate’ Sari Nusseibeh speaking to Al Jazeera in 2007.

“The Israelis now living in the territories of the future Palestinian state should return to living within the borders of the state of Israel. No Jew in the world, now or in the future, as a result of this document, will have the right to return, to live, or to demand to live in Hebron, in East Jerusalem, or anywhere in the Palestinian state.”

Moreover, in addition to demanding a Jew-free Palestinian state, Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues consistently refuse to recognise Israel as the Jewish state – i.e. to declare an end to their claims regarding that country and the ‘return’ of Palestinian refugees to its territory.

Of course Israelis do not have to dig too deep in their collective memory to recall that prior evacuation of all the Jews from their homes in Hebron in 1929, in Jerusalem in 1948 or in the Gaza Strip and parts of northern Samaria in 2005 did nothing to remove ‘obstacles to peace’. As former Labour MK Einat Wilf noted:

“While the settlements are not (to say the least) the best vehicle to make the argument about ethnic cleansing in the Israeli – Arab conflict, it’s not a bad idea to remind the world that it is the Arab side that has pursued a consistent policy of ethnically cleansing the Jews from the region – whether from Arab countries (successfully) or during the Arab war of 1947-1949 designed to crush the nascent State of Israel (mercifully a failure to this day).

It has to be said again and again: Had the Arabs not violently rejected the UN Partition proposal and opened war against the nascent State of Israel there would have been no displacement of Arab Palestinians and no refugees. If anything, when the cease fire lines were set in 1949 all Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Arab side of those lines, whereas Arabs remained securely on the Israeli side of it, becoming Israel’s Arab citizens.”

The BBC, however, chose to amplify Ban Ki Moon’s remarks without providing audiences with the relevant context which would enable them to judge their accuracy and relevance. The result of course is that once again – and despite the corporation’s remit – audiences are deprived of the opportunity to see beyond the BBC’s favoured political narrative.

Related Articles:

BBC tells audiences location of centuries-old Jewish habitation is an ‘illegal settlement’

More BBC promotion of the ‘Peace Now’ narrative on construction

Why is the BBC’s failure to properly report the Jewish state issue important?

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

Hadar Sela

Shiloh Musings: WWII Japanese First Suicide Bombers; The Atomic Bomb in Context

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Last Friday, I had international television news on, and I kept getting very annoyed at how the newscaster, when reporting on United States President Barack Hussein Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima, were portraying Japan before the Americans dropped the atomic bomb there. We were given the impression that it was a nice quiet peaceful day when out of the clear blue, for no reason, The United States attacked that poor innocent city with the deadly bomb.

Considering that most people are not too historically knowledgeable, and no place in the reports was any serious or even minimal context given, it was clear that the point was to make the Japanese look like innocent victims and not immoral deadly enemies of the USA.

In 1945 there was a vicious war going on between Japan and the USA. Japanese believed their emperor to be a god and were willing to die for his victory against America. Those were the kamikaze pilots who willingly crashed their planes into American ships to destroy, sink and kill.

Kamikaze aircraft were essentially pilot-guided explosive missiles, purpose-built or converted from conventional aircraft. Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships in what was called a “body attack” (体当たり; 体当り, taiatari) in planes laden with some combination of explosivesbombstorpedoes and full fuel tanks; accuracy was much better than a conventional attack, the payload and explosion larger. A kamikaze could sustain damage which would disable a conventional attacker and still achieve its objective. The goal of crippling or destroying large numbers of Allied ships, particularly aircraft carriers, was considered by the Empire of Japan to be a just reason for sacrificing pilots and aircraft.
These attacks, which began in October 1944, followed several critical military defeats for the Japanese. They had long since lost aerial dominance due to outdated aircraft and the loss of experienced pilots. On a macroeconomic scale, Japan suffered from a diminishing capacity for war, and a rapidly declining industrial capacity relative to the Allies. Despite these problems, the Japanese government expressed its reluctance to surrender. In combination, these factors led to the use of kamikaze tactics as Allied forces advanced towards the Japanese home islands. (Wikipedia)

The American decision to use the atomic bomb wasn’t easy, and the Japanese were a very difficult enemy, a different culture and mind-set. Over seventy years after the fact, nobody can say how much longer and how many more Americans would have had been killed by the Japanese if the USA hadn’t dropped the bomb on Japan.

Not only is the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki kill, maim and destroy many lives and much property in Japan, but it broke the morale of the country, the public’s faith in the emperor as god and made it possible for them to fully surrender.

Batya Medad

Permutations & Combinations

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Originally published at Chabad.org.

By Elisha Greenbaum

Some people just don’t appreciate gematria.

In our synagogue I try to find something to say during the pauses in the Torah reading every Shabbat. We’re fairly eclectic in our tastes, and you might find us flitting between an ethical teaching, a play on words, a chassidic interpretation, or a piece of numerology during the break between one reading to the next.

Many of our regulars question my occasional use of gematria or other types of numerology.

Every Hebrew letter has a numerical value. Aleph = 1, bet = 2, etc., and adding up the letters gives you the unique numerical value, or gematria, of each word and phrase. Comparing and contrasting the relative value of different words and phrases often affords surprising insight into the text and allows us to correlate seemingly unconnected Torah topics.

I admit it does sometimes seem somewhat random. One congregant of mine frequently observes, often after I’ve just introduced a particularly obscure piece of numerology, that you can read whatever you wish into numbers, and if you try hard enough you could probably find a tenuous connection between most topics.

He’s right, in a way. These methods are described as parparaot la-chochmah, the condiments of wisdom. They’re not the main meal of Judaism, just the seasoning that gives Judaism its taste. Torah is Godly and infinite, and all wisdom is contained within her words. You’d never decide a law on the basis of gematria; but, used properly, they can help give a new and deeper appreciation and understanding of the text.

Take one of the most famous examples of word and number play in the Torah. As Jacob leaves his father-in-law’s house on his journey back to Israel, he sends a message to his brother, Esau. Im Lavan garti, I have lived with Laban.

Rashi pointed out that the gematria of garti is 613, which is also the number of commandments in the Torah, and thus interprets Jacob’s message to be saying, “Throughout the years that I lived with the evil Laban, I kept the 613 commandments.”

But would my friend be convinced? So the word garti equals 613; it’s surely not the only word in the Torah with that value. Where do you get mitzvahs from “I have dwelled”? Why would Rashi assume that Jacob is doing more than just describing his living arrangements for the last 20 years, and is rather making a metaphysical point about his commitment to the commandments?

Gematria is more than random wordplay. Legitimate tools of Torah interpretation treat the text as a living document: an interplay of content and context, with each letter, word and phrase redolent with meaning. In our example, the correlation between garti and mitzvah observance is deeper than just adding up the letters; rather, the context leads to the conclusion.

The word garti, from the root ger, “stranger” or “convert,” is unusual. Had Jacob just wished to say “I lived with Laban,” there are other, seemingly more appropriate verbs that he could have used. Garti has connotations of “I was a stranger”; I was different, I never fit in with the wicked people because I lived and acted differently than they. Jacob was saying, “The whole time I was away from home, I stayed true to the lessons that I learned in my parents’ home.”

It was in this context that the rabbis observed that there is also numeric support for this supposition. “I was able to keep the 613 mitzvot, even in Lavan’s house, because I remained a stranger to their way of life.”

Wherever a Jew is, no matter how far from home he may have traveled, he can always maintain his connection to the words and letters of Torah by appreciating the value of each letter and word of Godliness and seeking out the underlying purpose of each phrase and phase of life.

Chabad.org

Blogger Puts Congressional Aide’s Get Refusal In Context

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is becoming the focus of a tough social media campaign, according to Fox News. Not for anything he himself has done, but for the refusal of his adviser, Aharon Friedman, to give his ex-wife a proper get.

Without a get she can’t start a new life with another Jewish man, which some have likened to domestic abuse. So now political Jews have decided to put the pressure on Congressman Camp, hoping for some trickle down pressure.

They go on his Facebook page, leaving messages like “Give Tamar her freedom like every human deserves!”

There’s an online petition going on, too. What can I tell you, this Internet thing seems to be catching on with folks…

But I was curious to hear the man’s side (typical, right?) and found some explanation by Sarah Wildman on Huffington (what can I say, my curiosity is without boundaries). Wildman writes:

The Epstein-Friedman case is complicated. Friedman was granted a joint-custody agreement in the civil courts, one that gives him three weekends a month, but weekends that start at 6 p.m. In Philadelphia. On Friday nights. Which means, for a Sabbath-observant Jew, Friedman can’t really see his daughter until Sunday. That’s wrenching, that’s awful; that, many believe, is unfair. The kid is so far away to begin with – and Friedman, by all accounts, begged his wife to move back to the D.C. metro area so he can see the girl more.

So Friedman is holding back the get until he gets to visit his daughter. It’s messy and really shouldn’t go sooo public, which is why I’ve stayed away from it all this time. But now I saw a reason to touch it, to provide CONTEXT.

Now you can have your megaphone back…


You get the feeling the private and the public is getting a tad mixed here? just wondering…

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/a-congressman-and-his-adviser-in-hot-water-with-jews-over-get-refusal/2012/03/01/

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