Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Gaza and the Antidote to all that Bad News
My wife’s antidote to constant news bombardment about airplanes blown out of the sky over Ukraine and the conflict with HAMAS is an episode of “Everybody loves Raymond” followed by back to back episodes of “Frazier”. I appreciate it sounds superficial but in a 24-hour a day news environment the twin news items I referred to at the beginning are pounced on by partisan journalists and international news agencies to fill the airwaves with speculation, misinformation, trite analyses meant for the soporifically inclined mind and propaganda. It could easily continue for weeks until something else replaces it (see how the airwaves were saturated with rumor, conjecture and excited gossip after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared). It isn’t too difficult to turn off the news completely, if that is what you want. We do not need to be spoon-fed the news, 24/7. But the issue is that unless you are utterly self-absorbed, constant media bombardment will have an impact, even, if only tangentially, on how you view events.
In Israel during times of increased conflict and war there is community and solidarity. Here in the UK, as in most of the developed world, there is no war and conflicts are viewed as entirely political. Everything is viewed through a prism that is back lit by money and what can be achieved by spreading vast amounts of it around. It is of course an obscene and unethical philosophy that feeds this thinking. Perhaps it is the source of the West’s infirmity. In parts of our world that are labeled “developed” most nations have suffered centuries of needless, often fratricidal, blood soaked conflict. There is little mood for understanding or acknowledging complexity.
Jon Snow (principal news reader at Britain’s Channel 4 News) is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. Curiously, his bio on Wikipedia fails to mention his connection to MAP (Medical Aid for Palestine). Nevertheless he expressed the common frustration shared by too many people when a few days ago he attacked the Israeli spokesperson by condemning Israel for failing to “speak to HAMAS”. When you are informally negotiating with an enemy that has articles of its constitution declaring global annihilation for not just Israel but for all Jews everywhere issues such as talking and trust are not quite so simple.
But this does highlight the simplistic view that most people have of the war and its antecedents, even if Jon Snow is guilty of dissimulation and journalistic cant.
Conflict as an existential struggle is for the fanatic fringe that increasingly dominates street protests and campuses, and for philosophers teaching in our universities whose pathway to fame is linked to creating new, muscular disciplines around identity politics. But for most of us, any conflict for survival is “so last century”.
Except it isn’t. The fall of the Soviet Union left many on the far-left adrift and the Palestinian cause reunited them. There exists across most of the globe an intensifying communion of hate led by a Muslim-extreme Left coalition and the danger is that the extreme left will, with unwavering enthusiasm drift towards the center as society’s discomfort with acceptable bigotry ceases to be an oxymoron. If passion determines commitment then it is the fanatic that is most committed to change and the people who are most vocal and visible in the press, in our universities and through the electronic media in influencing society.
This expanding coalition is the hell we face if our Hasbara (information) policy continues to be a combination of government indifference and ineffective counter propaganda. The "Jewish World" has been in ideological turmoil through religious upheaval and mutual sectarian disdain for so long that it is in danger of rushing blindly into self-imposed oblivion while the threat from political extremism and ever larger Muslim immigration into the West will create the conditions by which Nazism could easily return to the mainstream within another decade. The time to mobilize against multiple threats (and not just to the Western way of life) but also to a flight from most centers of Jewish life outside of Israel into a few concentrated ‘safe-areas’ is long past.
Of course we could always turn off the TV, ditch our cell-phones, stop reading the news and throw out the laptop but ignorance is not bliss, except to the fool.