Friday, September 26, 2008

Isabel Kershner Takes On Israel's Radical Right

The New York Times' Isabel Kershner takes on the Yesha scene in an article today entitled, "The Radical Right Takes On Israel".

Takes on all of Israel?


It is, surely, the "radical right" that she describes, as well as using these terms such as: "elements of Israel’s settler movement", "Hard-core right-wing settlers", "extremist bastion", "the religious, ideological wing of the settlement movement", "so-called hilltop youth" and "the more militant activist part".

Nevertheless, she does not provide any standard of judgment for the uninitiated reader. Is she talking about 10,000 persons, 1 million or 250 teenagers? Of course, one terrorist or fanatic is more than enough, as Yigal Amir proved. Still, my point is that she was not describing a known quality but was drawing a general picture, providing background. And while using terminology that shielded her from being accused of making sweeping generalizations, I think that in not informing the reader as to what is the true picture, she was transferring impressions and not facts. In other words, her reporting was a bit biased.

For example, in writing that there have

been bouts of settler violence for years, notably during the transfer of Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005

she is misleading because both in absolute numbers of incidents and in relative to the monstrosity of the acts done to the Gush Katif and Northern Samaria revenants, what actually happened was minor, although regrettable, and cannot be compared in violence to any similar event on that scale in other countries.

She also failed to let her readers know that the person responsible for the terror attack at Yitzhar, which she describes fairly, was the same person the army killed a week or so later as he tried to throw a molotov cocktail at soldiers. In other words, the residents of Yitzhar were facing a quite determined killer.

In another instance, she writes,

In Samaria, the biblical name for the northern West Bank, and in Binyamin, the central district around the Palestinian city of Ramallah, settlers recently ousted their more mainstream representatives in local council elections, voting in what they called “activist” mayors instead. These new mayors, like the Samaria council’s Gershon Mesika, reject what they see as the more compromising policies of the Yesha council...

First, Samaria was not only the Biblical name but it is the geographical name used until today. Secondly, the mayor, or head of the Binyamin Reginla Council, Avi Roeh, is not more activist than the former head, Pinchas Wallerstein, for sure. Thirdly, as for Gershon's activism, well, have you heard a Jew say 'eh'? And fourthly, as she does mention the friction with the Yesha Council, she couldn't speak with Dani Dayan, the Council's Chairman? Note: I called her up, spoke with her and made that very suggestion.

And one more example of troublesome writing. She relates to Rechalim

Rahelim, a Samarian community of 45 families founded in 1991, has been labeled an illegal outpost

but could have added "...founded in November 1991 in protest following an Arab terror attack on civilian buses which killed a mother of 7 children and the bus driver, a father of two".

I guess not all the facts fit.


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