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July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘ted’

TED Publishes Anti-Israel Lies in Interview With Arab Photographer

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Who doesn’t love TED?

For those who don’t know, TED is the phenomenally popular series of lectures that began as a one-off conference in 1984 showcasing the convergence of Technology, Entertainment and Design. TED now encompasses almost every conceivable category, so long as people In The Know deem it is, or will be, great.

TED is run by a non-profit foundation and is best known for the 18 minute talks given by the hundreds of presenters chosen by the TED staff. TED also hosts conferences, sells books, encourages independent “TEDx” events and takes on “TED Fellows.”

There is an in-depth interview with a Gazan female photojournalist chosen as a TED fellow in 2014. It was posted on the TED Blog on April 25, 2014. The now-26 year old Eman Mohammed spoke with Karen Eng, part of the TED writers team.

Much of what Mohammed discusses during the interview has to do with the wildly misogynistic culture of Middle Eastern men. Mohammed insists that the misogyny is not dictated by Islam, but is instead an oppressive cultural norm.

In Islam, you’re allowed to work, you’re allowed to be in the field. And men have to respect you because you’re a woman, regardless of what you do, as long as it doesn’t go against Islamic rules. You can’t be, say, an escort or something like that. That goes against modesty rules. But you can be anything else, if you want to. Photography doesn’t offend Islam in any way. So it was never an issue religiously speaking, but it was a huge issue culturally speaking.

Mohammed also discusses, naturally, her work. Her truly spectacular photographs have been used by such major players as Getty Images, The Washington Post, Le Monde, the Guardian, UNICEF and Save the Children.

On the TED blog, Mohammed was allowed to caption her own pictures. In those captions and during brief sections of the interview, Mohammed provided wildly inaccurate accounts of the activities, ethical standards, and operating procedures of the Israel Defense Forces.

In discussing how she was injured while photographing an incident during the Cast Lead Operation in Gaza in 2008, Mohammed attributed to the IDF a particularly heinous practice for which Palestinian Arab terrorists are notorious.

There had been an air strike on a police compound, and I was there afterwards. The thing about the Israeli military, when they start an air strike, they wait for civilians and medical teams to arrive, and then they strike again, so they can have biggest number of casualties.

Before the erection of the Security Fence, when homicide bombers were regularly terrorizing Israel, it happened that an initial bombing was followed by a second one, timed so that it would explode when rescue workers and onlookers had rushed in to help the wounded at the initial bombing site.

The IDF, in stark contrast, dropped over two and a half million leaflets throughout Gaza, and phoned and texted the residents there, warning them of impending attacks.

As the media watchdog organization CAMERA, which was the first to notice the problematic TED interview and wrote about it in an article published in its Hebrew publication, Presspectiva, continued,

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009, praising the “extraordinary measures” that Israel took in Cast Lead to avoid civilian casualties:

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

There is other misinformation provided as fact by Mohammed which the TED writer and/or editor failed to suggest were anything but fact. She discusses as fact, the highly disputed use of white phosphorous by Israel in the 2008-09 Cast Lead Operation, and the specific targeting of civilians and residential areas. Several of those points are addressed in the CAMERA article, which has been translated into English.

2014: The Year of the Non-Existent Product

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Adapted and inspired from recent teachings of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh.

Recently I’ve watched a TED video that attempted to reverse the tide of TED. The speaker explained how the nitty-gritty details were more central than the epiphanies and inspired ideas presented in most TED videos. He told of an astrophysicist friend of his, who was turned down by a potential donor because he didn’t sound more like Malcolm Gladwell. The speaker asked (rhetorically): is this is the approach we the public should be taking. Does it make sense that a well-trained scientist should play second fiddle to those who are better able to popularize the subject matter?

Instead of reversing the tide, while details are important, let’s approach it differently. While this speaker says that good ideas don’t equal a good world, according to Jewish thought, good ideas are certainly very powerful unto themselves. There is a Chassidic adage that “think good and it will be good.” This is not some well-meaning positivism, but a truism that is hardcoded into creation.

The effect of positive thinking is seen quite readily in warfare, sports, or any achievement-based discipline. It is the thoughts and ideas behinds our actions, that lead to the desired result, as in the saying from the sages, “thought [brings the] effect” (מַחְשָׁבָה מוֹעֶלֶת).

What this TED lecture highlighted, and what we are beginning to become conscious of, is that knowledge is primary. What comes afterwards, the physical manifestation of the thought, might not need to come about at all for the thought to be meaningful. Since the Enlightenment, we got used to a world where the physical was primary, and the spiritual was old and antiquated. But as this speaker himself admitted, the ‘big ideas’ presented at TED lectures more resemble the spiritual than the physical. Does it matter if TED talks are acted upon? It is the idea that first attracted millions, so why should we then conclude that the only viable outcome is a material one? While we expected Steve Jobs to hold something during his new product announcement speeches, and not just speak such lofty ideas as “think different” without the physical result of this concept, we are now approaching a point in history when the physical is no longer necessarily. The idea is valid whether the product is developed or not.

The End of the Enlightenment

One great principle in the Torah’s inner dimension states that every “husk” exhausts itself, eventually falling and dying. The French Revolution, and the Enlightenment that fed the entire development of the modern world, is about to reach its end. More exactly, the evil side of it is gradually exhausting itself completely. The attempt to place mankind on a Divine pedestal, to worship human intellect and success, and to use it as the only gauge for truth and judgment, is gradually losing its appeal. After shattering all the old myths, the statue of mankind who coronated himself is crumbling to dust. So much so that in today’s post-modern world (or perhaps, post-post-modern) we are hearing completely different tunes than what were heard during the French Revolution.

Now, in our generation in particular, we are witnessing a vast upheaval. Since the Enlightenment, traditional Judaism has been on the defense, and even receded in a constant process of retreat. Many communities fell captive to the winds of the Enlightenment, and it seemed traditional Jewish observance was being cast away by this self-confidence wave of secularism. At the time, it appeared that this trend would continue; showing religious observance to be something outdated and irrelevant. Yet amazingly, a generation of teshuvah (returnees to God and His Torah) has arrived, and the serpent once again lies helpless to the “hand of Moses” in our generation.

Has American Society Become Insanely Hypersensitive?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Around a year ago, I was lambasted on the blog for calling a girl a “girl” in a post I wrote, instead of calling her a woman, even though the other female readers of this blog freely use the pejorative “girl” for girls of the same age as the one I talked about.

In the comments I exposed that double-standard, but at the time I don’t recall mentioning the insane hypersensitivity and political correctness that drove the response.

This week I watched with amazement two other incidents (not involving me) showcasing more examples of this hypersensitivity and insane political correctness.

In the first case, Dov Hikind dressed up for Purim as a basketball player. A black basketball player, mind you. And for that he’s going to hell and his career is almost certainly damaged.

Because apparently you can dress up as anything on Halloween or Purim, except as a black man (or am I supposed to say African-American).

In the second case, Seth MacFarlane made some amusing jokes about Jews controlling the Hollywood movie industry, during the Oscar ceremonies. As a result, he was attacked for it by the Jewish watchdogs.

What?!  Are you people insane?

A comedian suddenly can’t make jokes about something that is pretty darn near close to true, or certainly used to be.

This hypersensitivity is out of control.

Neither man had any racist intent in their acts or statement. Neither were aware that what they did would be considered racist or insensitive.

And why should they have?

People don’t costume up as Hassidim? As Italian Mafiosos? As Arabs? As Rastafarians? You can get all those costumes in the store.

But a black man is off limits? Or is it that costuming as a black basketball player if off limits because it’s a stereotype. Though what kind of stereotype can it be when 78% of basketball players are black?

And look how many Hollywood producers and actors are Jewish (or of Jewish descent at least). You’ve got to be an idiot to not see that.

But apparently it’s now wrong to point that out. (Unless you’re John Stewart, in which case it’s OK, presumably because he’s Jewish).

What’s next?

Is it going to be racist to point out how many Jewish Nobel prize winners there are? Is that an offensive stereotype too?

It really is time that this hypersensitivity got toned down, and save it for real racism.

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