Anti-Israel letters to the press: to respond or not to respond ...


By Yvetta
March 18, 2010
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That is the question. For example, a certain sleepy little town in these British Isles has just rejected the chance to host a travelling exhibition on Anne Frank; town councillors decided that the exhibition is not "relevant" to the town. Last week's local rag carried a letter from a local "second generation Holocaust survivor" castigating the decision. In this week's issue there are several other letters deploring the council's stance. There are also - as I suspected there would be - two letters from local pro-Palestinian activists, who used the Jewish person's letter of last week as a peg on which to hang their vitriol. One letter declares that the council was quite correct to refuse to host the exhinition, since Israel, "founded by Holocaust survivors", has cruelly persecuted the Palestinians ever since, and has been stealing more and more Palestinian land. The oppressed, we are told, have become the oppressors (that message is reinforced by the heading above the letter). The other letter carries on in similar vein, and declares that despite being well-versed in the horrors of the Holocaust "most young Israeli soldiers" have an arrogant and racist attitude towards the Palestinians and have thus not learned its lesson.
From time to time anti-Israel features appear in the local rag courtesy of the local "peace group", which at the time of Cast Lead was out in force (all baker's dozen of them) with anti-Israel banners (they are predictably silent over Tibet, Sri Lanka, Darfur, etc) and a leftist columnist who calls for divestment and boycott. The one time I know of that a letter in retaliation was sent was a wasted exercise - the letter was never published.
A pro-Israeli friend and I have debated several times whether or not it is worth responding to defamations of Israel in the local press. I concluded that it was best "not to give the defamers oxygen"; he declared that he'd reluctantly arrived at the same conclusion, and added that "today's correspondence column is tomorrow's chip paper".
Comments or advice, anyone?

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 08:16

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The 'oxygen' argument is leading British Jews into oblivion. If something is already in the public domain, how can it be giving 'oxygen' to rebut it?

Chief Justice Brandeis: "Sunshine is the best form of disinfectant"

Zero tolerance for antisemitsism


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 08:22

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Zero tolerance to anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. But it's not anti-Semitism when it's Israel being criticised. That just cheapens the term anti-Semitism and is crying wolf.
I agree with you on Brandeis: The sun's illuminating rays must be brought to shine on Israel's expansionist policies and the damage they are doing to Israel's continued existence.


Yvetta

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 08:29

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The "no oxygen" argument takes into account the fact that the pro-Palestinian activists would probably take a letter in rebuttal as manna from heaven - it would give them a golden excuse to come back venting more of their spleen. Best, perhaps, not to prolong the issue and to hope that the next gripping issue in the local rag will be, as usual, on closing rural bus services and closing town centre independent shops.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 08:31

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Yvetta, is the local rag on the internet? Can we see the reports/letters? I've done a Google search and I can't find anything on this.


Yvetta

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 08:32

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Moshe, the local rag is indeed on the internet but the letters page and other "inside" pages don't appear to be there.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 08:38

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Can we have a URL of the local rag? Just to check, so that a letter can be written. I find it very strange that the national press (Times, Mail or Telegraph) or even the JC haven't picked up on this.


Yvetta

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 08:48

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Meanwhile, Al Beeb got back to me on a complaint I made on another matter:

Thanks for your e-mail regarding 'Syrian School' as broadcast 22 February.

I understand that you've concerns with the continuity announcement from the end
of the broadcast. I note you feel the BBC World Class initiative and twinning
reeks of a political agenda.

I can confirm that what our continuity announcer said was:

"If you're interested in twinning your school with one in the Arab world visit
the BBC World Class website to get inspiration, activities and ideas for schools
around the world. Join World Class and our partners will help you twin your
school."

BBC World Class is a pan-BBC initiative which encourages schools to establish
links between classrooms across the globe and has had support from Lord Puttnam
- former president of UNICEF UK and chair of the Teaching Awards. You may wish
to visit the website and read about what BBC World Class has achieved over the
years:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldclass/index.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/05_may/20/wo...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/05_may/26/af...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/05_may/24/cl...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/bbcworldwide/worldwidestories/pressrele...

I realise you may continue to have concerns with this initiative and that it was
trailed with the programme. Therefore, let me assure you I've registered your
comments on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's
circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board,
channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions
about future programming and content.

All feedback we receive, whether positive or negative, is always appreciated.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your views.

(So that's alright then innit.)


Dan Judelson

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 09:59

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Yvetta, not to dismiss your concerns about whether the BBC should or should not have made & aired "Syrian School" - I think we will not reach agreement on that - but wasn't one of your points that the BBC should not choose to twin with Syrian schools when there are so many others they could work with? A quick look at the BBC World Class website link given in the response you reproduce does indeed show that the twinning programme has a genuinely global scope.


Yvetta

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 11:30

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I haven't yet clicked on their links, Dan, but suspect that Israel - apart from perhaps the territories - is not included!


NicoleS

Fri, 03/19/2010 - 15:11

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Yvetta: Are you kidding? Of course you should respond. How does keeping silent help? Most criticism of Israel is based on lies and ignorance and should be robustly engaged with. No wonder the press walks all over Jews, if the Jewish community is too cowed to say anything. I have recently written twice to my local rag and clearly have not changed the minds of the rabid few, but who knows, maybe it helped someone to have a small second thought.


cityca

Sun, 03/21/2010 - 00:16

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Yvetta
certainly you should respond. We should all respond. We are too keen to sit quietly and hope the world doesn't notice us - its been bred into us since birth here in the UK.

Meanwhile, in the States, people are not afraid to stand up and be counted. And unless we stand up too, the anti-Semites will believe they have free rein to do as they please. We are a small community here but we punch well above our weight. If these groups believe they can get away with it, they will. If we show them there will be a response, perhaps they'll think twice.

I too saw the programmes about Syria and considered writing to the BBC, but I've been that route before and found as you did, that it's a waste of time.

WRT anti-Israel demos etc, please consider joining us when we demonstrate (peaceably if not peacefully) against those, and unfortunately it includes a number of Jews, who have only hate for the only Jewish state.

Jonathan, perhaps the JC will give you a column of upcoming events so that readers can see what's coming up and go along. It could be called 'Stand up and be counted' column - activist events for the Jewish community.


Jonathan Hoffman

Sun, 03/21/2010 - 08:36

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@Yvetta

I can't believe you buy the 'oxygen' argument. Look at this column of Galloway for example (in the Daily Record).

You really think this should go unrebutted?

Dark echoes of Holocaust
By George Galloway on Dec 28, 09 06:36 AM in
Last week the most infamous sign in modern history was stolen from above the gates of Auschwitz. Arbeit Macht Frei - work will set you free - was the last thing the doomed read as they entered the doors of the inferno.

The Satanic evil of Nazism murdered many millions. Some they merely worked to death, others they tortured then executed. Still others were systematically starved.

Many, most of them Jews, were shuffled into gas chambers on the pretext of being given a shower. The shoes they took off on the way in are perfectly preserved in the camp.

After they were dead their gold fillings were extracted, their body parts were harvested, some were subject to medical experimentation even before death.

It was thought that such a thing could never happen again. And it has not - on such a scale of barbarism the Holocaust remains unique.

But the revelation in the Israeli parliament in recent days that the body parts of Palestinian prisoners were systematically harvested without the knowledge or consent of their families has had an impact in these parts which it is difficult to overstate.

When the story first broke, on Swedish TV, I frankly did not believe it. Implacable critic of Israel as I am, it was beyond belief that a country calling itself the "Jewish State" could ever do such a thing.

I met the correspondent responsible for the story months ago and rigorously questioned him about it. I was not satisfied, and didn't use the information. The man was offended and I owe him an apology.

Israel has admitted this evil, wicked crime and declared it no longer practises it.

While it is to their credit that they have stopped it and even more creditable that at least within their own people robust freedom of the press and parliament has allowed the truth to come out, there is little evidence of national soul searching of how such a thing could happen.

Still less of anyone being held accountable for playing mini-Mengele on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Sun, 03/21/2010 - 14:30

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Meanwhile, Yvetta, to the original issue. Did it actually happen? Where's the internet address of the local rag? Does it exist? As it seems such a huge story, why hasn't even the JC reported it? It didn't really happen, did it?


Yvetta

Sun, 03/21/2010 - 21:05

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Moshe, what I've written is true - I wouldn't come on here and lie. I don't think the rejection of the Anne Frank Trust's offer to host the exhibition is so big a story - this is a small and fairly impoverished town and it would have cost several thousands of £££s to mount it. Besides, with certain exceptions the councillors aren't renowned for intelligence.
Unlike the "second generation Holocaust survivor", who has written two indignant letters to the local rag on this issue (echoed by several other rag readers, now) I'm not so concerned with the Council's rejection of the exhibition as with the fact that two pro-Palestinian agitators pounced on her letter in order to write their anti-Israel vitriol.
I'd respond to the Galloway blood libelling in a heartbeat, Jonathan, but I'm still on the fence over this one.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Sun, 03/21/2010 - 21:16

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Yvetta, I've searched and searched and I cannot find any reference to this story. I'd love to see a url of this local rag.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Sun, 03/21/2010 - 21:19

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Is that what Jonathan wants from the JC, Cityca? A column? Is that why he hasn't shown any anger or indignation at Stephen Pollard's:

I think the settlements are wrong morally, politically and practically, and I would like to see some form of international protectorate over Jerusalem.
And I’ve written that many times.

hmmm?


cityca

Sun, 03/21/2010 - 23:04

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moshe

I've no idea what Jonathan wants from the JC. I do know he deserves help from the community and if that helps him get it, I'm all for it.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Mon, 03/22/2010 - 05:46

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Why does he "deserve help"? He's the anti-Zionists' favourite Zionist. They know that when he turns up at meetings he gives them extra publicity.

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