Take your pick. There’s enough dead people to mourn. Outside the performances of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company on its recent national tour, hundreds of protesters mourned the dead children of Hamas. Here, in the confines of a Jewish paper, before Adar slips away, let’s remember Daniel Pearl (his yahrtzeit was Adar 9, this year March 5), the Wall Street Journal reporter whose head was sliced off by Islamic fascists in 2002.
For seven years it has been most unfashionable in the media to call Pearl’s murderers “fascists,” let alone “racists.” It seemed so, well, extreme, something George W. Bush might say, though he rarely did.
The killers’ own videos made it clear that Pearl’s “race” was his crime, and their response was fascistic.
however, that the definitions of “fascist” and “racist” have become as wildly inflated as Weimar currency to describe Israel’s Avigdor Lieberman, perhaps readers — even those who despise Lieberman — will forgive me for wondering why journalists continue to refuse to call Pearl’s kidnappers by the same damnations allotted to Lieberman? Indeed, numerous publications won’t even call terrorists “terrorists,” preferring “militants;” it’s more sanitary, less judgmental. Israel alone is in the docket,
Forget calling terrorists “militants.” The New York Times won’t call Pearl a Jew. In a review (Feb. 25) of “Daniel Variations,” a dance program at the Joyce Theater written as a tribute to Pearl, the word “Jew” does not appear. By contrast, go online and see if you can find even one review of “Milk” that’s at least 300 words that does not remind the reader that Harvey Milk was gay. Pearl’s Judaism led to his martyrdom as surely as Milk’s homosexuality led to his. The Times’ reviewer didn’t think so.
A student journalism project investigating Pearl’s murder wrote to the FBI for information. The FBI refused, says The Washington Post (March 13). The FBI explained that the students “did not submit privacy waivers” signed by 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed in Guantanamo to slicing Pearl’s throat.
All over America newspapers are folding and here’s one reason why. Mark Steyn, at National Review Online (March 10) observed that The New York Times and The Washington Post were among the dozens of newspapers that totally avoided mentioning Pres. Obama’s controversial nomination of Charles Freeman, a notorious anti-Zionists with ties to Saudi Arabia and China, to chair the National Intelligence Council. No stories until he withdrew.
Only seven papers covered it: The Wall Street Journal, Investors’ Business Daily, the Washington Times, The New York Post, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Augusta Chronicle, and the Press Enterprise of Riverside, California. That’s it.
Steyn adds, “The U.S. newspaper has deluded itself that it’s been killed by technology,” but if you were interested in this kind of news,” and Freeman’s nomination was major news for anyone concerned with Israel, the “somnolent U.S. monodaily is the last place to look for it.”
The best place to look for it? You’re holding it. If there was ever a better advertisement for why a uniquely Jewish media is necessary, even in a city with the Times, this was it. The Jewish Week covered the Freeman scandal and its implications for the Obama-Israel relationship, as did numerous Jewish bloggers including two of the best: Jeffrey Goldberg, at Atlantic online, and James Taranto, at The Wall Street Journal online.
The Los Angeles Times (March 15) featured dueling op-eds about anti-Zionism. Judea Pearl entered the fight: “Anti-Zionist rhetoric has become a mark of academic sophistication and social acceptance… Anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern inter-religious discourse, to attack the most cherished symbol of Jewish identity.”
In the end, writes Pearl, “anti-Zionist rhetoric is a stab in the back to the Israeli peace camp,” giving credence to those “who claim that the eventual elimination of Israel is the hidden agenda of every Palestinian.”
The Batsheva Dance Company learned that lesson on their recent tour: the gallows prepared by Haman fit Batsheva’s neck as well as Lieberman’s.
Ohad Naharin, Batsheva’s director, told reporters that there was nothing racist or apartheid about the troupe, they were simply a stand-in for Israel, just convenient for the protesters. Most papers, such as the Times, took Naharin at his word, even though a sophisticated, full-color brochure distributed by protesters said Batsheva itself was a racist, apartheid troupe: “Despite lip service to ‘diversity,’ you will see no Arab dancers in tonight’s performance.”
One writer, in Dance Insider last December, said, yes, Batsheva itself was the problem: “I’ve been monitoring Naharin’s statements for more than two years now… and while he’s been willing to criticize his country, he doesn’t volunteer it; you have to ask.” He won’t volunteer about Israel’s “repeated killing of children, forceful evictions, destruction, and repossession of homes or other collective punishments. Nothing.”
A spokesman said the dancers were apolitical. Naharin insisted to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he was a good Israeli, “my work stays away from any religious, national, political and ethnic connotation.” If the protests are “against the abuse of power by the Israeli army in the [Gaza] war,” and “the occupation … I agree on both of those things.”
He doesn’t get it, say the protesters on online sites such as Palestine Think Tank and Electronic Intifada. They are not apolitical. They themselves are “apartheid.” Last fall, London’s Independent (Oct. 26) wrote: Batsheva’s dancers “include none of Arab extraction…”
Apolitical? Electronic Intifada points out that Batsheva was founded and named by Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, the family “to whom the infamous Balfour Declaration… is addressed.” Baroness Batsheva “served in Israel as a driver when her car was mobilized for the Yom Kippur War of 1973,” and she supported “Jewish colonization of Palestine” by providing “housing for newcomers in the early 1950s.”
To anti-Zionists, there are no “good Jews” in this fight.
Seven years later, Judea Pearl writes in The Wall Street Journal, “Would Danny have believed that today’s world emerged after his tragedy?”
Could Danny “have possibly predicted [that] the ideology of barbarism would be celebrated in European and American universities…? Or that another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit,” would this week spend his 1,000th day in captivity?
The father mourns, “Civilized society… has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.” A “mentality of surrender then worked its way through politicians,” and “Some American pundits and TV anchors didn’t seem much different from Al Jazeera in their analysis of the recent war in Gaza.”
Adar slips away, never really leaving. To parents of a murdered child, yahrtzeits start all over again in the morning.
“Danny’s picture is hanging just in front of me,” writes the father, “his warm smile as reassuring as ever. But I find it hard to look him straight in the eyes and say: You did not die in vain.”