by James M. Wall
In the Damon Runyon-inspired Guys and Dolls, a movie musical tale of “gangsters, gamblers and dolls”, Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra, left) descends to the sewers of New York with Big Julie, a gambler from Chicago.
Big Julie is looking for action. “Let’s shoot craps”, he says. Nathan needs Big Julie’s money to set up “the oldest, established, permanent, floating, crap game in New York”. The game begins.
Big Julie: “I’m rolling a thousand. And to change my luck I will use my own dice.”
Nathan Detroit: “Your own dice!”
Big Julie: “I had them made for me especially in Chicago.”
Nathan: “They’re blank.”
Big Julie: “I had the spots taken off for luck. But I remember where the spots formerly were.”
Israeli Prime Minister (Bibi) Benjamin Netanyahu remembers, “where the spots formerly were.” His worldwide network of media and political backers, and their names are legion, embrace Bibi’s memory. They are a well-trained legion.
Veteran American journalist Barbara Erickson is not among the legion. Her task is to identify where the Times slavishly adheres to the boundaries of Netanyahu’s reading of the spots on the dice.
In a recent posting on her web site, Time warp, Erickson picks apart New York Times columnist Roger Cohen’s embrace of Netanyahu’s version of Israel’s summer Gaza invasion.
She trains her media hermeneutical eye on Cohen’s October 6, op-ed:
Roger Cohen calls for Israeli self-scrunity in his New York Times op-ed today, bemoaning the “moral dilemma of the modern Israeli condition.” It’s tough, he says, because the “terrorists” in Gaza forced them to take action and now Israel has the blood of 500 children on its hands.
Although Cohen calls for Israelis to take a hard look at their own share in this summer’s massacre, he makes no attempt to scrutinize Israeli spin—the claims that Israel was acting in self-defense, that Hamas is “bent on the destruction of Israel” and that “Palestinians have made a profession of failure.” He takes all these self-serving catchphrases as established facts.
Erickson writes that Cohen’s “call for self-scrunity” has not led him to review the evidence that refutes the Israeli spin that Israel was “acting in self-defense”. She offers references to material available to Cohen as alternatives to Bibi’s reading of the dots.
She links to specific examples and invites her readers to read them. She writes further:
[Cohen] has apparently never read Larry Derfner’s analysis of how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provoked the war this summer, nor research showing that Israel is a serial breaker of ceasefires, nor anything about Hamas’ willingness to accept the 1967 borders, nor any of the numerous reports (see here and here) showing that Israel deliberately undermines Palestinian efforts to develop their economy and hang onto their resources.
Cohen is explicit in naming the sins of Israel’s enemies, but he is vague when it comes to stating just where Israel has gone wrong.
If Roger Cohen reads Barbara Erickson’s analysis of his most recent column, and the links she provides, he would understand that his perspective is also in serious need of scrutiny.
Erickson is not alone in her quest for Israeli hasbara (propaganda) posing as facts.
One of those in the hunt is Amena Saleem, a journalist and activist, working closely with Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the United Kingdom.
She recently caught the BBC in a “following Bibi’s spots” episode. She reported in the Electronic Intifada that the BBC has posted a map on its website that conveniently moves Jerusalem out of the West Bank. Saleem writes:
The BBC has published a map on its website, which indicates that Jerusalem is not occupied by Israel. This graphic (right) was used to illustrate at least two stories on the BBC website in recent months.
The first example Saleem found was in a story entitled, “Israel: Hamas ‘will pay price’ after teenagers found dead.”
The map shows the city of Jerusalem located inside Israel. That is wrong. Jerusalem is under Israeli military occupation inside the West Bank.
After a complaint from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the BBC map was changed. Jerusalem is now shown close to the Green Line which separates present-day Israel from the West Bank.
Finally, if you are looking for a refutation of the Netanyahu “no spots” version of the politics of Israel and Palestine, tune in to this work of word artist Remi Kanazil, which he calls “Normalize This”.
Remi Kenazi is a spoken word artist, writer, and activist based in New York City. He is the editor of Poets For Palestine and the author of the collection of poetry, Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine.
Kenazi will be performing at the Sabeel Conference Friday, November 7, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
The verbal dice he will roll there, still have their truthful spots, clearly marked.
The map incorrectly placing Jerusalem inside Israel, above, is from the BBC website. The video of Remi Kenazi is from Friends of Sabeel North America.
Any criticism of Israelis is seen as unfair and evidence that they are “being singled out.” In fact, they are held to a lower international standard than just about any of the “Western” countries. Israel has been able to thumb its nose because of its near-total backing by the United States. That, let’s face it, reflects the power of the Jewish lobby, which is beginning to think things over. So listen to Rabbi Melchior. Look around you. Try to be objective. You’re not the victim. You’re the bully. Your immunity from the consequences of that is not forever.
Thanks for highlighting once again how the Washington Post and the NY Times are the chief propagandists for unquestioning US support for the Status Quo.
That is why it is so surprising that the Post allowed Patricia Greenfield’s op-ed on Sept. 26, where she called for “An Israel equal for all”.
Roger Cohen and Tom Friedman are two of a kind in shoring up US support for Israeli hegemony. The editorial council is stacked. For them to allow an alternative voice is rare indeed.