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Sunday, January 15, 2006

The JIBs and the Gentiles (and DovBear)

*UPDATED* I see that Daled Amos wrote a similar post as well.

While it seems nice that the JIBs have received some attention from outside of the J-Blogosphere, not all of that has been positive. DovBear on Friday pointed to a post by a very liberal and satirical blog called "The General", who is referring to the JIBs as the "Jewish, Israeli, and Eliminationist Blog Awards", claiming that the Israel Advocacy section favors blogs which call for "genocide" and/or "deportation" of the Arabs.

The commenters at DovBear have discussed, pretty well, the problems that exist on both the right and left sides of the J-blogosphere, whether extremism or over-apologetics, among other good discussions. It's easy to write many posts about how Israel goes overboard in their actions to be nice to the Arabs, or how the Palestinians were not in existence until well after the establishment of Israel, or how the Israelis would be justified if they would have a stronger response to terror attacks. But that is not the point of this post. This post is designed to analyze the fallacies and misrepresentations of the General in his selective quoting from the JIB's Israel Advocacy blogs. I'm also disappointed in DovBear for this statement:
The overwhelming majority of nominees in the Israel Advocacy category express opinions that (a) make the rest of us look bad and (b) aren't in line with the thinking of the majority of Jews or the majority of Israelis.
First, though less importantly, the nominations were given by bloggers. If people wanted to nominate more left-wing blogs, they could have done so; and, as DB noted, he (and others) should have objected to LGF and C & F if they felt they should not be in there. Second, I think (a) is false. DovBear buys right into the General's statements who seems to feel that a couple of hand-picked quotes are representative of an entire blog. Dov should have instead looked at the quotes, checked where they came from, and realized just how unrepresentative those opinions are of those bloggers and the nominees for "Israel Advocacy". That DovBear did not even realize one of the quotes was picked from a commenter implicitly shows that he did not check the sources at all, and was all too quick to condemn the right-wing bloggers.

As to the General's post: He first questions why there are Gentiles in the running for a JIB Award. This is a good question, though I personally do not have a problem with it. If they are advocates of Israel, why shouldn't they be included? Because they're Gentiles? The rules don't say the bloggers must be Jewish, so I don't care too much.

Next, he states:
Well from what I can see, being either Jewish or Israeli isn't as important being politically in line with about ten percent of the Jews in the United States. That is to say you must be almost almost genocidal in your support of Israel. I'll admit that 10 percent is a guess, but I think it's a good one. While most Jews support Israel, I doubt that more than 10 percent would consider genocide or ethnic cleansing as desirable methods for achieving security. Even the General won't go that far. From what I've seen at the JIB nominated websites, the majority of the nominees are eager to collectively punish brown people as viciously as possible. That might not be in line with the thinking of most Jews, but I guess that isn't the point of these awards.
That's just stupid, but I'll just note that almost nobody has ever thought of genocide or ethnic cleansing as desirable methods for achieving security - not even among the blogs he's perused.
Sure there are exceptions, like DovBear, jewschool and a few others, but most of the nominees are like Best Jewish Humor Award contestant Aaron's CC, the blog that gave the world Rachel Corrie pancake jokes. That's just the beginning. A stroll through the list of Chuck's competitors will lead you to jewels like the following.
First, the implication here is that unless you are well to the left of mainstream, you are similar to the "genocide advocates". Second, as The General noted later, the pancake joke originated with "Only in Israel", and was simply a play on the words of Edwin Robinson's "Richard Cory". Personally, I have no sympathy for people such as Rachel Corrie, who wanted the destruction of the State of Israel and stepped in front of a bulldozer who couldn't see her.

The General then quotes Only In Israel:
Only in Israel's caption for a photo showing soldiers beating a brown person:
That kinda gives a new interpretation to "go back to where you came from".
Except, there's two major problems. They're not only not "beating" the person, they're not even touching the guy. More importantly, he's not even an Arab. He's an Israeli Jew, as OiI points out quite clearly - and it is obvious in the original post (his name is Lazer) as well. The General didn't even read the post correctly - or just chose to interpret it as was convenient for his own purposes.

Next, The General goes after Smooth Stone:
Smooth Stone stands up for Pat:
Folks, I am still surprised at the raging near-global disapproval of Pat Robertson's comment about Ariel Sharon on his program The 700 Club.

[...]

So far, all that Pat Robertson has done was quote a biblical principal. God explicitly promised in the Torah that He would have a constant, 24/7 connection with the Land of Israel and those who dwell here: "A land that the Lord your God scrutinizes constantly; the eyes of the Lord your God are on it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year." -- Deut. 11:12.

[...]

One thing is clear to me: G-d has blessed Israel by re-uniting Jerusalem and bringing Judea, Samaria and Gaza back under its control. Based on what our sages teach us, it is a horrendous sin against G-d to renounce this inheritance to which Israel is entitled. Israel holds these lands as a sacred trust for the Jewish people in perpetuity.
This one is far trickier, because Robertson's comments are pretty despicable - and almost all J-bloggers stated as much. However, Smooth Stone is far more focused on the ideas behind it than the statement itself: That God does punish those who act against His wishes. While this is true, I don't see how that means Robertson can make the ridiculous jump to assume that's why Sharon had a stroke; however, Smooth Stone says other points that show he doesn't necessarily agree with Robertson, just that it's not so crazy:
I don't claim to know what G-d thinks, but I am sure as heck allowed to speculate and Pat Robertson, dopey and a schmuck as he has been in the past, also has the right to speculate.
That's true. And while much of what Smooth Stone says is correct, I have to disagree with his speculation in this case. But The General definitely took this one somewhat out of context as well.

The third blog he goes after is Soccer Dad:
In a post titled "Donating organs to the enemy," Soccer Dad responds to the news that a the family of a brown child killed by Israeli troops donated his organs to Israelis:
And in what circumstances did those minors die? Ahmed, was carrying a toy rifle in a place where the Israeli army was operating. Hardly a wise decision. And even if Israel apologizes, was it wrong for the Israeli soldiers to shoot first and ask questions later?
How out of context can The General be? Here's the beginning of Soccer Dad's post:
I don't mean to be churlish. Really I don't.

It is wonderful that Ismail Khatib chose to donate the organs of his son Ahmed to any and all who needed them and that Mr. Khatib is proud that some of his son's organs went to Jews.

But the coverage of this heartwarning incident strikes me as cynical.
The focus of the entire piece is on how the media covered the donations - not the act itself. After noting a Washington Post piece which made out the dead to be martyrs (and the Israelis somewhat villianous) - when the children, not the Israelis, were at fault for their own deaths. The complaint of Soccer Dad was how this was made out to be such an incredible gesture - yet the more common donations by Israelis & Jews who are killed, even those killed in terror attacks, are ignored.

Despite the conflict there has been plenty of humanity displayed by Israelis towards the Palestinians. (And I'm not talking about the political exhibitionist like Machsom Watch.) But that rarely makes the news.

But when a gesture of such profound goodheartedness comes from the Palestinians it's a major news story. As if only the Palestinians can act this way. As if Israel needs forgiveness from the Palestinians, but not the other way around.
And, in an earlier update, written well before the General's piece:
UPDATE: I am not complaining about Ismail Khatib's actions or declarations, which are noble and above reproach. I was careful to state that my discomfort was with the coverage. It seems to me that the coverage has used the Khatib family's tragedy as another stick with which to club Israel.
Next comes Jameel from the Muqata:
Mugata tells hitchiking tales:
Besides its pikuach nefesh to pick up a unarmed teenager by say tzomat eli at 11 at night. Because i have spent the night there... not to mention there are wild pigs there (the animals and the arabs)
Except Muqata said no such thing. One commenter said this, and as Jameel noted by DovBear:
Do I need a disclaimer that not everything commented on in my blog is neccessarily the viewpoint of Muqata Management?
Finally, The General goes after Zion Report:
Zion Report gives us a lesson in Democracy that could have come straight out of one of Our Leader's speeches:
You consistently hear Israelis brag about how allowing Arabs to hold Knesset seats displays our goodness. I disagree. I think it's a display of weakness, and I know that our enemies see it as such.

To allow a sworn enemy, who actively supports the destruction of the nation who pays his salary, to maintain his position is suicidal at best.
But Zion Report is very clear in the first sentence as to who he's referring to:
Israel is the 20th century's greatest robbery, carried out in broad daylight, Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara (National Democratic Assembly) told a Lebanese audience last week during a speech at an Arab book fair in Beirut.

"I will never recognize Zionism even if all Arabs do," he said. "I will never concede Palestine. The battle is still long."

Bishara, who recently launched his campaign for an additional term in the Knesset, left for Lebanon five days ago without consent from the Interior Ministry, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.
That ZR finds it disgusting to find a member of the Israeli Parliament be traitorous to its own country is commendable. Imagine if Harry Reid supported terror against the United States, or Brownback called for Hilary Clinton's assassination. They would be immediately removed from Congress, without question, and likely tried for treason.

The General miscategorized all of the people he quoted, with Smooth Stone the only one he was even close on. His article is despicable and twisted, and I just noticed as I am finishing this that DovBear has just called out The General on a couple of the comments at the least. That he didn't do so originally is a shame.

I also find it a shame that DovBear is still utilizing it to prove a point: If 4+ of 5 examples were clear mischaracterizations, then how could the rule still be true?! This is like the "fake but accurate" claim. 'Well, okay, so it wasn't true, but the point still stands.'

No, it doesn't. Don't make false claims and then say your point is still true when it turns out to be false. Dan Rather was properly vilified for doing so by the fake memos, when he claimed that the 'story could still be true'. Well, yes, it could be, but that would be like me saying, "DovBear secretly worships idols and would love to meet Dick Cheney so he can thank him for his tremendous service." Sure, it could be true; but it's not, and ridiculous to think so or state as much without any proof.

Shame on The General, and a bit of shame on DovBear, too.

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