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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘troubling’

A Troubling Debut at the NY Times

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

{Originally posted to the Camera website}

Incoming Jerusalem Bureau Chief Peter Baker filed the first story of his new tenure August 28. Given the complexity of issues relating to Israel and the fraught debates about coverage, readers might have anticipated a carefully balanced, factually nailed-down, serious piece by the new correspondent.

Instead, echoing a Haaretz story about a minor incident involving a female singer who was asked to leave the stage because she was wearing a revealing bikini top at a publicly-funded event, Baker’s debut piece veered from this trivial story to Israel “struggling with its identity and values.”

This struggle, he asserts, is rooted in increasingly influential “Orthodox Judaism” which he links in a lurch of logic to “culture minister, Miri Regev,” who is “seeking to deny state money for institutions that do not express loyalty to the state.”

Judaism, patriotism, identity and values would be large topics for a veteran on the scene and not surprisingly ring both shallow and muddled at the same time in this piece.

In any case, the intended message is clear: Israel is supposedly veering rightward – a bad thing in The Times worldview – and Baker is plugging in items to make the point.

More substantively problematic was the incomplete and deceptive framing of Minister Regev’s efforts related to taxpayer funding of cultural events. Readers might assume her actions as characterized by Baker compel Orwellian public expressions of fealty to the state.

But the “Loyalty in Culture” legislation seeks to remove public funding for extreme anti-Israel projects. It permits a retroactive reduction in the budget for “actions against the principles of the state.” Among these are cultural events that entail: “Denying the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; incitement to racism, violence, and terror; support for an armed struggle or terror act by a hostile country or terror organization against the State of Israel; marking Independence Day as a day of mourning; an act of vandalism or physical degradation that dishonors the country’s flag or state emblem.”

The Minister is calling for what she terms “freedom in funding” along with freedom of expression. She and those who support passage of the law believe Israel is free not to fund cultural events that promote terror, incite racism, denigrate Independence Day and so on.

Baker likewise cites Regev “proposing to vet the music played by the army’s radio station for its patriotism.”

Here again the facts of the proposal convey something different from The Times innuendo that a censorious government hand will control the popular radio station. Rather, the culture minister expressed the desire to “create cultural justice” at the state-funded radio station, by increasing its play of music by local artists. According to Haaretz, she suggested three options, including “adding a sister station” that would air “Israeli music only,” having the station increase the time devoted to Israeli artists and diversifying the playlist committee to reflect the demography of the country.

In a related story from January 2016, another Times piece cited criticism of Regev’s initiatives but, importantly, also provided a balancing counter-voice. Reporter Steve Erlanger wrote:

“… Mr. Leibler, The Jerusalem Post columnist, defended Ms. Regev and Mr. Bennett as trying to ‘restore a climate that nurtures love of Israel and promotes pride in Jewish heritage’ after years when ‘far-leftists, postmodernists and even post-Zionists took over the Education Ministry.’”

That’s a piece of information that readers deserve to have. Readers must hope that going forward they will get some sense of the full context – even if the reporter’s default viewpoint is to fault Israel.

 

Andrea Levin

Definition of Insanity: Failed Negotiators Trying Yet Again

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Twenty years after Yitzhak Rabin attempted to conjure arch-terrorist Yasir Arafat into a worthy partner for peace, it seems we have not learned the necessary lessons from the past.

As the “peace process” continued to hit bumps along the way, Israel and its American ally attempted many different variations, all of which led to the same failed result. Perhaps the problem with Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations lies not with the process but with the people involved in representing the parties at the table.

In most professions, when one fails at his job and leaves the project in question in chaos and disarray, he is not asked to keep working on the task at hand. Not so when it comes to the “peace process industry.”

Saeb Erekat is the main representative for the Palestinian delegation. He has held this position in one form or another since 1991 and has not brought the Palestinians one inch closer to peaceful coexistence with Israel. More troubling, it is clear he never really revised his radical views about the Jewish state. During the second intifada, Erekat accused Israel of massacring 500 Palestinians in Jenin, completely ignoring the facts showing that one-tenth of that number had been killed and most of those were armed terrorists. As recently as 2007, Erekat denied the possibility of the Palestinians ever recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Representing the United States at the latest round of talks is former ambassador Martin Indyk. Like Erekat, Indyk has been a major player in the peace industry since the early 1990s, and he also can point to zero achievements in bringing peace and prosperity to our region. On the contrary, when Indyk served as the American ambassador to Israel during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s first term, he was known for his disparaging attitude toward the democratically elected government of Israel.

Since leaving public office, Indyk has revealed his true political leanings. Until his recent appointment by Secretary of State Joh

n Kerry, Indyk chaired the International Council of the New Israel Fund (NIF), an organization that has refused to stop funding groups that call for boycotting Israel.

Finally, we are left with Israel’s chief negotiator. Compared to Erekat and Indyk, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is a relative newcomer to peace negotiations. Nevertheless, she too has endured countless hours of negotiating with the Palestinians. Most troubling, her views do not represent the majority of the current government and are at odds with the average Likud voter, not to mention the Israeli public, which sharply spurned her in the recent elections.

While serving under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Livni offered the Palestinians more than 95 percent of the historic Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria and the unprecedented division of Jerusalem – an offer that was ultimately rejected by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Erekat.

As a father of three small children, there is nothing I want more than to believe that the latest round of talks will lead to true and lasting peace. But we all know that a definition of insanity is the endless repetition of the same experiment in the hope of obtaining a different result. Therefore, all sides should end the insanity and appoint negotiators who have not failed us in the past and who truly represent the best interests of the people they aspire to represent.

(JNS)

Danny Danon

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/definition-of-insanity-failed-negotiators-trying-yet-again/2013/08/08/

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