Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why my fasting will include laying off the Guardian or Lies, Damn Lies and Guardian Reporting

Each year as we approach Rosh Hashannah, I make myself some Shana Tova resolutions. No doubt in years to come I will be using 10q for this, but for now, I tend to just write them down on a scrap of paper which floats around my office. I then attempt not to lose the piece of paper for as long as I can keep to the resolutions - I believe that one year, I even managed to have the scrap of paper by next Rosh Hashannah (which is definitely more than I can say for the resolutions).

This year one of my resolutions will be to refrain from using the Guardian website.

Why is this bizarre move part of my New Year's Resolutions, I hear you ask (who am I hearing - no-one knows this blog is here!)?

There are in fact two reasons - one - I simply spend too much time wasted on reading pointless articles on the net, when I should be going to bed early and having enough energy to devote to my gorgeous son and wife. But - two - and more importantly - the camel's back has broken.

Growing up in Manchester, home of the Guardian, and as the son of a Labour Lord Mayor, and the grandson of a Labour chairman of the Greater Manchester Council, the Guardian newspaper was the natural choice for our socialist (admittedly of the champagne variety) leaning household. It was the paper on the breakfast table as I grew up. Over the years, as the Labour Party went more extreme (mid-80s) and my parents went more moderate, somehow the Guardian was replaced by the Times, but I stayed true to the GroinYard, for both sentimental and ideological reasons. I pride myself on my (champagne) socialist views, my liberal outlook, my left-wing agenda. I am unashamedly a pinko-commie-Palestinian loving, wet as a fish, floppy as Hugh Grant's hair LEFTY. So obviously the Guardian had to be my natural ideological home.

Even when my Zionist leanings pushed me to make Aliyah - I kept faith with my old friend. I understood that the paper was broadly aligned against Israeli policy -but then again - so was I. I realised that the editorial policy was broad enough to include radical anti-Zionists and Palestinian, anti-Israeli, extremists, but they also had articles representing support for the original Zionist vision of a safe and secure homeland living in peace with its neighbours. So - I carried on reading avidly - mostly comment pieces on the Middle East and Israel, and football pieces on Manchester United.

But the paper is losing my support. It has gone too far. In recent months, the paper has ceased to function as a source of journalism and has become a form of propagandizing. Not only is the Guardian now a campaign outlet rather than a newspaper, but the campaign has taken worrying steps towards not only the championing of the Palestinian cause but the complete delegitimization of Israel. In an article urging the left to remain cautious of blurring anti-Israel sentiment with antiSemitism, one writer describes Israel's founding thus: "The actually existing Israel is founded upon displacement of another people .." One comment piece immediately after the recent UN stand-off between Abbas and Netanyahu was from a Palestinian academic who accused Abbas of selling out the people and urged all sensible people to continue the struggle for a one-state solution (i.e. the dissolution of Israel). But worst of all is the fact that the Comment is Free website (whose by-line is, “But facts are sacred”) is willing to sacrifice all pretence of being part of a news organisation when it presents its “background” to the statehood appeal with a completely one-sided, biased, demonization of Israel. I can deal with the attacks of campaigners invited onto the site to air their views, but this was something else – this was, in my eyes, the final betrayal – not of me, nor or the original idea of Zionism, but of the mission of the newspaper – of all newspaper – to present the complex reality of the world. Instead, a simplistic whitewash of Israeli-Palestinian history was painted, a purimshpiel mockery of a morality play, with all Israelis cast as blood-lustful settlers praying on innocent Palestinians. This was the final straw.

I am giving up the Guardian, not because I am an Israeli, and I recognise that the Guardian has become part of an organised effort to delegitimize the country I live in, not because I am a Jew, and I fear that the paper has crossed the line between anti-Zionism and antiSemitism, but because, as the paper’s website tells us, “Comment is Free”, but facts really are sacred. I believe that somewhere out there, there might be a truth – a real objective definable truth. While none of us can ever guarantee we have found it or a part of it, a newspaper is not at liberty to remove itself from the search for such a thing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"History is written by the victors"

The tenth anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks has been causing many to look back over the last decade and in particular how the world has changed, how the world reacted to this great rupturing event - an event so dramatic it seemed to be placed in history as a fault line between millenia.

One article that I have read, and was particularly unimpressed with was from the Guardian:

While I actually agree with the main thrust of the article - that the future will more likely be influenced by the economic rise of China and India than the violent struggles between American Imperialism and Islamo-fascism, the headline strikes me as particularly inept. The Guardian sub-editor (for it is not the author who chooses the title) claims:

"The years since 9/11 already look like a detour, not the main road of history

What could this possibly mean? There is some main road of history which humankind walks down? Has the paper reverted back to a naive 19th century understanding of progress? One in which we march in a set direction? What other momentous events does the editor/author believe were mere "detours"? The rise of Nazism? The Holocaust? The second world war? What was the road and what was the detour?

History does not travel on roads - it always beats its own way through an unplotted course.

And most importantly - each of us holds a compass and has the right to choose our way. In the next decade, may we all know to follow paths of peace.

וכל נתיבותיה שלום