Israel seems to have little awareness that holiness counts for something in a media war for the Holy Land. Israelís ìsiegeî of the Church of the Nativity continues to be a front-page story around the world. Just a few blocks away from Nativity is Rachelís Tomb, under siege from Palestinian gunmen for 20 months, but never a front-page story. Up in Nobles, Josephís Tomb is still charred from Palestinian fire. Israelís return to Joseph in Nobles, two weeks ago, was not occupation but a liberation, proof of Israelís Oslo-sanctioned, centuries old, pre-settlement presence on the West Bank, but no one in the Israeli government or the major Jewish media played it that way.
While Israel was asleep at the switch, The Washington Post (April 14) ran a long story on how the war has hurt Bethlehemís tourist attractions and holy places, but not one word on Jewish holy places. The Jordan Times (April 18) says Israeli attacks in Bethlehem spoke ìvolumes of Sharonís barbaric disregard for anything sacred to anyone.î How about whatís sacred to us?
Symbols count, and the pro-Israel rally in Washington utilized the Capitol backdrop and the star power of speakers. No one blew the story more than Newsday, which only reported the presence of ìthousandsîóthey were off by the size of a small city ó and then, adding insult, gave over some of its minimalist story to a quote from an Arab-American leader. Unmentioned in anyoneís guesswork over the size of the rally is the fact that there is now more to a modern crowd-count than how many were actually there. Big rallies, such as this, are broadcast and rebroadcast in their entirety by C-Span, with its vast reach on cable.
Yes, the rally rightly booed the Bitburg-like mention of Palestinian suffering. The Jewish ìstreetî is beginning to stir. And the American street is with us. James Taranto, of The Wall Street Journal online (April 16), writes: ìArab leaders, listen up: The American street is enraged, and youíd best ask yourselves: Why do they hate us? … Americaís leaders cannot ignore the anger of the street; if they do, the street may bring down the moderate pro-Arab government currently in the White House. It is long past time for Arab leaders to appease the American street. If they let this crisis fester until Americans get desperate, thereís no telling what we might do.
David Gelernter writes in The Weekly Standard (April 15), ìAs the death toll from the vicious suicide attacks rose, Israeli rage mounted. But somehow it is always the rage of the Palestinians that is under discussion. [Evidently] Palestinian rage is noble. Jewish rage is racist, or perhaps invisible.î Hey, ìDeep thinkers, you ask yourself: Is it not the case that over recent months, terrorists have murdered in cold blood hundreds of Jews… lacerating their bodies with shattered glass and jagged metal until blood ran in the streets and body parts were plastered all over the landscape?î But the Israeli army is warned against ìhumiliating Palestinians…. So we should all scold the Israeli army for not treating the Palestinians better, but I find I am not up to it. Those were my children they died for.î
Yes, thereís even rage on the mainstream left. Amnon Danker, editor of Maariv (April 1), once a staunch leftist who believed there was no military solution, now headlines his piece, ìSmash this Cult of Death.î He writes, ìA violent cult of death is blowing from the core of Islam, from the heart of Arab nationalism, dark, rotting and nightmarish…. Some fools among us would still shamelessly have us believe that it was we, or the occupation,î thatís at fault, but ìthe first suicide bombing was recorded within three months of the Oslo Accords,î when Palestinians started ìthreatening us with murder if they donít get all they desire.î Withdraw from the West Bank? Someday, but not in a collapse under fire, or it will be a Jewish retreat ìthat will not end before we reach the seashore.î
Europe is seething. One of Europeís best-known journalists Oriana Fallaci penned a classic 1800-word jíaccuse in Panorama against European anti-Semitism [http:fallaci.blogspot. com, and follow the archives to April 12]. She poetically documents ìshamefulî behavior by the Church, by the French, by the youth of Holland, Germany and Denmark who ìflaunt the kaffiah just as Mussoliniís avant garde used to flaunt the club and the fascist badgeî; shameful ìthat in nearly all the universities of Europe, Palestinian students sponsor and nurture anti-Semitism.î Shameful, that the Europeans, 60 years after the Holocaust, deny Jews ìthe right to react, to defend themselves, to not be exterminated again.î Shameful, that ìprimarily through the fault of the left…. Jews in Italian cities are once again afraid…. That in the name of the word Peace, by now more debauched than the words Love and Humanity, they absolve one side alone of its hate and bestiality.î
She sees this ìnew fascism,î this ìnew Nazismî nourished ìby those who hypocritically pose as do-gooders, progressives… and who have the gall to label a warmonger anyone like me who screams the truth… I stand with Israel, I stand with the Jews.î
Although most American papers were far more accepting of Israelís war stories than European papers, some Jews in California are advocating a boycott of The Los Angeles Times. But the worst opinion pieces donít come from anti-Semites but invariably from Jews. For example, an opinion piece by Robert Scheer (April 9) was headlined, ìU.S. Jews Cannot Acquiesce to Sharonís Monstrous Behavior.î Scheer deplored that ìcruelty is being done in the name of defending my people.î But the L.A. Times also runs Yossi Klein Halevi, perhaps the best analyst out of Israel, and no leftist. Why should readers deprive themselves of Halevi out of spite for Scheer?
A similar boycott of The New York Times (until Shavuot) is being suggested by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who organized a boycott last autumn, even though the Times regularly runs William Safire, Israelís steady defender, and the most extensive and intelligent coverage of the war, bettering any major daily in the country, despite terrible and consistent lapses by some reporters. Its coverage of anti-Semitism, in the Sunday magazine and in editorials, has been excellent. Yes, on a daily basis, the editorials and op-eds on Israelís war are far better in The New York Post and The Daily News, but do you get even a fraction of the hard news information in the tabloids?