Not All the News That’s Fit to Print: Richard L. Cravatts, Frontpage, Dec. 7, 2016— When Elmer Davis, director of FDR’s Office of War Information, observed that “. . . you cannot do much with people who are convinced that they are the sole authorized custodians of Truth and that whoever differs from them is ipso facto wrong” he may well have been speaking about editors of college newspapers…
Fixing ‘News That’s Fit to Print’: Jerold Auerbach, Algemeiner, Oct. 31, 2016 — Rami Nazzal is a Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem who guides tours “freely and safely across borders,” providing “a window into the reality of Palestine.”
The Führer and the Fourth Estate: Sean Durns, Times of Israel, Nov. 23, 2016— There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth, and to shame the devil,” U.S. commentator Walter Lippman once said.
The End Game: Machla Abramovitz, Michpacha, Dec. 2017— They believe in the coming of a messianic epoch, one in which humanity will unite and peace and justice will reign.
One Thing Voters Agree On: Better Campaign Coverage Was Needed: Liz Spayd, New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016
Author of New York Times Magazine Jerusalem Article Signed Pro-Boycott Petition: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Dec. 6, 2016 Maclean’s Photo Essay Is Pure Palestinian Propaganda : Honest Reporting, Nov. 7, 2016
Western Media Confused After Discovering Israel Not Involved in Most Middle East Conflicts: Rube Silverhill, Mideast Beast, Dec., 2016
Richard L. Cravatts
Frontpage, Dec. 7, 2016
When Elmer Davis, director of FDR’s Office of War Information, observed that “. . . you cannot do much with people who are convinced that they are the sole authorized custodians of Truth and that whoever differs from them is ipso facto wrong” he may well have been speaking about editors of college newspapers who have purposely violated the central purpose of journalism and have allowed one ideology, not facts and alternate opinions, to hijack the editorial composition of their publications and purge their respective newspapers of any content—news or opinion—that contradicts a pro-Palestinian narrative and would provide a defense of Israel.
The latest example is a controversy involving The McGill Daily and its recent astonishing admission that it is the paper’s policy to not publish “pieces which promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider oppressive.” “While we recognize that, for some, Zionism represents an important freedom project,” the editors wrote in a defense of their odious policy, “we also recognize that it functions as a settler-colonial ideology that perpetuates the displacement and the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
A McGill student, Molly Harris, had filed a complaint with the Students’ Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) equity committee. In that complaint, Harris contended that, based on the paper’s obvious anti-Israel bias, and “a set of virulently anti-Semitic tweets from a McGill Daily writer,” a “culture of anti-Semitism” defined the Daily—a belief seemingly confirmed by the fact that several of the paper’s editors themselves are BDS supporters and none of the staffers are Jewish. Of course, in addition to the existence of a fundamental anti-Semitism permeating the editorial environment of The Daily, there is also the core issue of what responsibility a newspaper has to not insert personal biases and ideology into its stories, and to provide space for alternate views on many issues—including the Israeli/Palestinian conflict—in the opinion sections of the paper
At Connecticut College, Professor Andrew Pessin also found himself vilified on campus, not only by a cadre of ethnic hustlers and activists, but by fellow faculty and an administration that were slow to defend Pessin’s right to express himself—even when, as in this case, his ideas were certainly within the realm of reasonable conversation about a difficult topic: the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Central to the campaign of libels waged against Pessin was the part played by the College’s student newspaper, The College Voice.
In August of 2014, during Israel’s incursions into Gaza to suppress deadly rocket fire aimed at Jewish citizens, Pessin, a teacher of religion and philosophy, wrote on his Facebook page a description of how he perceived Hamas, the ruling political entity in Gaza: “One image which essentializes the current situation in Gaza might be this. You’ve got a rabid pit bull chained in a cage, regularly making mass efforts to escape.” That image of a pit bull did not sit well with at least one Connecticut College student, Lamiya Khandaker, a pro-Palestinian activist, who complained publicly about Pessin’s old Facebook post; he thereupon deleted the offending Facebook entry, and even proffered an apology, but Pessin’s apology was insufficient for the ever-suffering moral narcissists on his campus.
In fact, editors of The College Voice insisted that Pessin’s thoughts were “dehumanizing” to Palestinians and had “caused widespread alarm in the campus community.” The paper’s editor, Ayla Zuraw-Friedland, initiated a campaign of lies against Dr. Pessin, contending that his post “caused widespread alarm in the campus community,” that the college community could and should “identify racism when we see it,” and that the very students viciously attacking Pessin for his thoughts were themselves “victims of racism.” In March 2015, the College Voice even ran three op-eds, beginning on the paper’s front page, that condemned Pessin and accused him of racism and comparing Palestinians to rabid dogs.
The Wesleyan University community also underwent collective apoplexy over a 2015 opinion submission in the school’s student newspaper, The Argus, which critically examined the Black Lives Matter movement. The thoughtful, relatively-benign op-ed, written by sophomore Bryan Stascavage, a 30-year-old Iraq veteran and self-described “moderate conservative,” questioned if the behavior of some BLM supporters “cheering after [a police] officer is killed, chanting that they want more pigs to fry like bacon” showed a moral and ideological flaw in the movement, leading him to wonder, “is the movement itself actually achieving anything positive? Does it have the potential for positive change?”
That opinion was apparently more than many of the sensitive fellow Wesleyan students could bear, and the newspaper’s staff was inundated with denunciations of the implicit racism of the offending op-ed and the “white privilege” demonstrated by its author, demands that apologies be issued by the paper’s editors, the widespread theft of The Argus around campus, and calls for sensitivity/social justice training for staffers. College students have now taken a new, misguided approach in their attempt to suppress speech whose content they do not approve of, as they seem to have done at Wesleyan. On college campuses, to paraphrase George Orwell, all views are equal, but some are more equal than others…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Algemeiner, Oct. 31, 2016
Rami Nazzal is a Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem who guides tours “freely and safely across borders,” providing “a window into the reality of Palestine.” He identifies himself as “a fixer for journalists, writers, photographers, film producers.” Surely his most prominent “fixee” is The New York Times.
By now a bevy of Times reporters have been the beneficiaries of his tours. He led former Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren to a group of Palestinian musicians, who created an “intifada soundtrack” that featured such hits as “Stab the Zionist and say God is great” and “Say hello to being a martyr.” He guided science reporter James Glanz to “the violent east Jerusalem slum” of Issawiya, filled with the “acrid stench of burning trash.” There, to the reporter’s surprise, Palestinian residents were raising “exquisitely groomed Arabian horses,” an affection that “helps them to endure life under Israeli occupation.”
Nazzal’s journalistic tour de force came in May, when he led Glanz to the sparkling new Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, north of Ramallah. In nearly 1,000 words, they described the Palestinian struggle “to build political and civic institutions while resisting Israel’s occupation;” recounted the story of the (ousted) director who planned to feature “artistic interpretations of things like keys and photographs that Palestinians around the world have kept from the homes they fled or were forced from in what is now Israel;” and anticipated the imminent “high-profile opening ceremony a few days after the 68th anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe” of Israel’s founding. Gazing at the sparkling new building, “rising above a terraced garden with carefully selected trees,” a museum sponsor exulted: “It’s as if the building is coming out of the womb, the Palestinian Mother Nature.”
The museum, Glanz and Nazzal enthused, would “have almost everything: a stunning, contemporary new building; space to celebrate and redefine Palestinian art, history and culture; an outdoor amphitheater; a terraced garden.” There was, however, a conspicuous omission: “One thing the museum will not have,” they wrote, “is exhibitions.” But, the museum’s chairman explained, Palestinians were “so in need of positive energy” that it seemed “worthwhile to open even an empty building.” Glanz and Nazzal did not contemplate what an empty museum might reveal about the content of Palestinian history and culture.
Inevitably, Peter Baker, the new Times Jerusalem bureau chief, was also taken for a ride by Nazzal. In Tulkarm, on the western edge of the West Bank, they met with Shifa al-Qudsi, “a Palestinian hairdresser driven to anger, despair and hopelessness” by the Israeli occupation. Seeking “revenge” for “her beleaguered people,” she had intended to pretend to be pregnant, wearing a suicide belt beneath her maternity dress, with full awareness that it would “rip her from limb to limb” (and leave her daughter an orphan). But, “with luck,” it would also kill many Israelis. Her own luck expired with her pre-attack arrest. Convicted of “conspiracy to commit premeditated killing and possession of explosives,” she spent six years in an Israeli prison.
There, Baker and Nazzal recounted in a front-page story (October 29), she “transformed herself from a would-be deliverer of death into a messenger of peace.” Offering “a window into the world of terrorism” that has recently inspired young Palestinians to launch the “stabbing intifada,” she explained “the kind of thinking that makes sacrificing oneself seem like a rational response to deep feelings of grievance.” After all, Israelis “occupy your home, your land, they kill your relatives and your people.” The only option is “to seek revenge.” The beguiled Times reporters did not care to provide a statistical update on the stabbing intifada: 3,635 Palestinian attacks (2,188 against civilians); 26 Israelis killed and 511 wounded. The reformed Ms. Qudsi is now a member of Combatants for Peace. It joins peace-seeking Palestinians and Israelis – former fighters and soldiers — in a new “jihad”: “The world must know the Palestinians’ land is occupied.” Now that yet another Times reporter has partnered with self-described “fixer” Rami Nazzal, her message is news fit to print.
Times of Israel, Nov. 23, 2016
There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth, and to shame the devil,” U.S. commentator Walter Lippman once said. How then, did the U.S. media cover a man responsible for some of the most evil and heinous acts in recorded history: Adolf Hitler? Press coverage of the German dictator defies a simple and neat summary, as the U.S. media was not, and has never been, a monolithic entity and coverage of Hitler naturally changed over time. Nonetheless, some patterns can be discerned from a cursory glance at the early years of Nazi rule.
Upon Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933, some U.S. news outlets did not see a devil, but rather, much needed stability being brought to a country that had been in economic and social upheaval since before the Great War. Hitler and the Nazis were providing a “dark land a clear light of hope,” according to a 1933 dispatch by the Christian Science Monitor that was cited by the American historian Dr. Rafael Medoff (“The American Papers That Praised Hitler,” The Daily Beast, Dec. 20, 2015). CSM praised, at its outset, Nazi rule for bringing order; quite literally for making the trains arrive “punctually.”
The U.S. press baron William Randolph Hearst was quoted by Putzi Hanfstaegnl, an early Hitler backer, about his purported views on the Nazi rise to power. According to the Aug. 23, 1934 issue of The New York Times, Hearst said that Hitler’s “Germany is battling for her liberation from the mischievous provisions of the Treaty of Versailles…This battle, in fact, can only be viewed as a struggle which all liberty-loving people are bound to follow with understanding and sympathy.” Although Hearst’s publications initially published articles by Hitler and his fellow fascist Benito Mussolini, the businessman, and the empire at his disposal, would eventually become a critic of Nazi rule and an advocate for their Jewish victims.
Other U.S. newspapers, despite evidence to the contrary, including the virulent antisemitism easily discerned in Hitler’s writings and speeches, nonetheless sought to look for moderation in the new Nazi regime. As Medoff has pointed out, the Berlin bureau chief for The New York Times, Frederick Birchall, claimed that there was a “new moderation” in the political atmosphere after Hitler took power. Similarly, The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin stated in a Jan. 30, 1933 report that “there have been indications of moderation” by Hitler.
Elsewhere, some journalists displayed a tendency to underestimate the objectives of the new authoritarian regime. The Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist, Hubert Knickerbocker, was one of the more perceptive members of the press to cover Nazi Germany. As detailed in Andrew Nagorski’s 2012 book Hiterland, Knickerbocker—in contrast to many of his colleagues—was one of the first to record rising anti-Semitism and to note it’s centrality to Nazi ideology. Yet, when it came to Nazi war aims, in 1933 Knickerbocker believed that, “The odds are too great against Germany for anyone but a mad German to consider making war now against France and her allies. Contrary to a considerable body of opinion abroad, it may be positively asserted that there are no madmen running Germany today.”
But as Ian Kershaw noted in his two-volume biography of the German dictator, Hitler’s rhetoric and Nazi ideology itself had begun to emphasize the need for Lebensraum (living space) from the late 1920s onwards. Some outlets had been misreading Hitler long before he came to power. For example, The New York Times, in a Nov. 21, 1922 article claimed, “Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded.” “He was,” they assured readers, “merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.” What The Times missed of course, was that anti-Semitism was central to the Nazi movement’s “political purposes.”
Long after Hitler became the Führer—after he enacted the Nuremberg Laws, dispossessed Jews and opened concentration camps—The New York Times would, in at least one article, proceed from the minimization of his ideology to outright hagiography. As my CAMERA colleague Gilead Ini pointed out, a 1939 New York Times Magazine article entitled “Herr Hitler At Home In The Clouds,” failed to critically detail Hitler’s policies, opting instead to record that the dictator “makes no secret of being fond of chocolate,” that he “likes an after-breakfast stroll on his mountain” and, perhaps most absurdly, that “Hitler can be a good listener.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Michpacha, Dec. 2017
They believe in the coming of a messianic epoch, one in which humanity will unite and peace and justice will reign. Their enemies are conservatives and traditionalists, or those who fail to comprehend the arc of history and humanity’s final destiny. No, they’re not an apocalyptic cult hatching a plot in a South American jungle hideout, but modern progressives who subscribe to the idea of “millennialism.”
Richard Landes, a former professor of Medieval Studies at Boston University, and currently the senior fellow with the Center of International Communication at Bar Ilan University, is one of their leading critics. For decades, Landes has been studying the phenomenon of millennialism, or the belief that a messianic era of justice, peace, and abundance is coming soon, often preceded by a massive disruptive event. Now, with the election of Donald J. Trump and the protests that have exploded nationwide, the world is witness to the expression of millennialism.
“Those who are protesting his election are not only criticizing Trump, but his supporters, who they dismiss as undereducated ‘deplorables’ who love their guns and their religion,” says Landes, who came to observant Judaism as an adult. “[To their way of thinking, Trump supporters] are mere offshoots of the Middle Ages, whereas Hillary Clinton supporters have advanced beyond that.” Were it only an academic meme, this kind of millennialism wouldn’t much concern the Jewish community. But in the 21st century, messianic progressives have joined their fellow millennial dreamers, the Muslim jihadis, and embraced a common apocalyptic narrative with an ultimate enemy – Israel.
“BDS is essentially a cognitive war (cogwar) campaign of Caliphaters — active, cataclysmic (apocalyptic) millennialists who believe that Islam will dominate the world under one global caliphate — that have teamed up with the global progressive left, who have been duped into thinking that Israel is the cause of the world’s woes,” said Landes, who recently delivered the keynote address at the Montreal-based Canadian Institute of Jewish Research’s (CIJR) conference on “BDS and the Campus Delegitimization of Israel.”
“That’s the folly of the progressives: to side with the most regressive messianic movement on the planet against the most progressive country in the world. Morally speaking, it’s just breathtaking.” Landes is perhaps best known as the man who helped expose the al-Durah hoax and coined the term “Pallywood” (Palestinian Hollywood). At the start of the second intifada, a young Palestinian named Mohammed al-Durah was allegedly shot to death by the Israeli army and died in his father’s arms. His death throes were captured by France 2 TV and became an iconic image of Palestinian victimhood. “This image represented the moment when Islamic apocalyptic discourse about the genocidal Israelis who intentionally kill Palestinian children, was mainstreamed in the Western media,” says Landes, who also serves as the chairman of the council of scholars for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. “This sentiment was all the more horrendous given that Mohammad’s death was a fake. When I looked into it, I was amazed by the widespread use of footage staged by Palestinians, run as news by Western journalists.”
The son of Professor David Landes, a renowned Harvard economic historian, Landes’ personal journey marked a departure not only from the secular intellectualism of his youth toward observant Judaism (he was inspired by Rabbi Joseph Leibowitz in the 1980s, while living in Berkeley, California), but later departed from former friends and colleagues within academia. This mindset, Landes acknowledges, continues to affect his relationships with friends and colleagues. “Since 2000, there has been a steady decline in the number of academics I talk with, work with, and exchange ideas with.” Of late, Landes has focused on educating university-aged students on the cognitive war that is currently being waged on today’s campuses – a war for which he feels they are woefully unprepared.
The concept of millennialism — the belief in a coming Utopia — features greatly in your work. Heaven on Earth, deals comprehensively with this subject. Please explain what this is and why it is such an important subject for today’s university students to understand and appreciate?
Millennialism is the idea that there will come a time when things will get better; therefore, we have to put factors in motion that will transform over generations. Its concepts, for the good and the bad, permeate our culture in multiple ways, which needn’t be religious. Western progressivism is based on a millennialist idea. When not revolutionary, it tends toward transformational millennialism, that is a gradual, nonviolent change that occurs because people’s awareness changes. Modern progressives start from what Pirkei Avos tells us: the toil is long and it’s not up to us to relinquish it, or finish it. For them, this is the time to finish it.
“What we witness today is a marriage between pre-modern sadism (the jihadists who hate the infidels) and post-modern masochism (the ones who klap al cheit),” says Professor Landes. “Trump had disappointed their millennial expectations” This millennialism activated by a sense of apocalyptic imminence can get darker. Fueled by a sense that the world is unbearably evil and corrupt, they believe that now is the time for evil to vanish from the earth. For many apocalyptic millennialists, the process will be cataclysmic: vast destruction of evil precedes the victory of good. In passive scenarios, like Christian Rapture, G-d is the major agent of this destruction: in active ones, like global Jihad, the believer is the major agent, G-d’s weapon of destruction.
ISIS is a Sunni Muslim millennialist cult. They believe in the establishment of a global caliphate and are willing to kill and be killed to establish it. Some Shiites also share this desire to bring on this messianic age. Iranian President Ayatollah Khamenei actually believes he is paving the way for the “hidden Imam” to emerge. And when that doesn’t happen on its own, apocalyptic zealots are not averse to suicidal action that will force the hand of G-d, in this case the Mahdi to come to their rescue. So when Secretary of State John Kerry states that the Iranian leaders are rational and would never do anything to bring on their own destruction (like nuke Israel) he doesn’t understand their motivating ideology…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Machla Abramovitz & Richard Landes are CIJR Academic Fellows
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
One Thing Voters Agree On: Better Campaign Coverage Was Needed: Liz Spayd, New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016—There is a group of 10 friends in Charlotte, N.C., all women, all in their 50s, all white. They’re college educated with successful careers, and they have a message for The New York Times: Come visit us. They voted for Donald Trump and don’t consider themselves homophobic, racist or anti-Muslim. But now, they say, thanks to The Times and its fixation on Trump’s most extreme supporters, most people think they are. They would like a chance to show otherwise, and one of them, Cindy Capwell, wrote my office to extend the invitation.
Author of New York Times Magazine Jerusalem Article Signed Pro-Boycott Petition: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Dec. 6, 2016 —Concern and questions are mounting as additional details emerge about an article in Sunday’s New York Times magazine highlighting what the article described as squalid conditions in a Jerusalem refugee camp.
Maclean’s Photo Essay Is Pure Palestinian Propaganda : Honest Reporting, Nov. 7, 2016—Re: Maclean’s Magazine: David Sherman, Toronto: Your photo essay shows destruction, but fails to explain why there was “Israeli shelling” and “the Israeli-Gaza conflict that destroyed much of Beit Lahiya,” leaving the uninformed reader to draw conclusions that Israel attacked Gaza for no reason, leaving misery in its wake. The photo essay should have provided some context, and should have described Israel‘s actions as a defensive war against thousands of rockets and dozens of tunnels aimed at Israeli civilians. Describing and showing the destruction without context merely reinforces the false narrative sold to the public that Israel is at fault.
Western Media Confused After Discovering Israel Not Involved in Most Middle East Conflicts: Rube Silverhill, Mideast Beast, Dec., 2016— Due to escalating tensions in Middle Eastern countries, arriving Western journalists were shocked to discover that the Middle East has a ton of conflicts, and very few are even remotely related to Israel. “I always write about the ‘Middle Eastern’ conflict being Israelis vs. Palestinians, but it turns out, the Middle East is a huge, complex, messed up region,” a BBC journalist exclaimed. “Who knew?”