Friday, October 25, 2019

Aggressive-Passive Reporting on Israel

by Peggy Shapiro  

What do these headlines about the conflict with the Palestinians have in common?
a)     “Israel launches waves of strikes across Gaza after soldier killed.” 
b)     “Israel carries out Gaza strikes as soldier dies from gunshot.” 
c)     “Israel carries out deadly air strikes in Gaza after one of its soldiers is     killed.”
d)     “Israeli warplanes pound Gaza in response to burned fields.”
e)     “Israeli kindergarten yard hit by flaming balloon.”
The answer is simple for anyone who has taken basic English or Intro to Journalism: All actions by Israelis are in the active voice while all actions by Hamas are in the passive voice. The difference is not merely a minor rhetorical point. When we use the active voice, for example “Israel attacked,” we know who committed the action. In the passive voice, “Israeli killed” or “fields are burned,” the agent lurks unidentified.
When a journalist presents all violence committed by Hamas in the passive voice – “Israel hit by rockets” – it leaves the impression that there was no perpetrator. When the same journalist uses the active voice – “Israel carries out strikes” – to describe Israel’s response, it attributes blame to Israel and portrays Israel as the aggressor. Headlining “Soldier dies from gunshot” omits the shooter and implies that no one pulled the trigger. Too many headlines and articles lack explicit reference to an actor unless the actor is Jewish/Israeli.
Sometimes the passive voice is useful when you don’t know who the agent is. The mayor was arrested. We don’t know the officer who arrested him, nor do we need to. However, it is clear to every journalist exactly who fired the weapons that targeted Israelis and who launched the burning kites that destroyed Israeli land and crops. They are just not saying who.
Culprits who use this technique frequently employ the passive voice to blunt criticism. A new company executive who has just fired a significant number of employees may hope to direct blame away from himself with, “The workforce has been downsized.” In Washington, a hundred million dollar misallocation of funds might be explained as “A mistake was made.” Using the passive voice seeks to evade accusation of responsibility. 

To test the aggressive use of passive language in reporting about Israel, flip the voices. Instead of “Israel carries out deadly air strikes in Gaza after one of its soldiers is killed,” let the headline read, “Following Hamas deadly attack on Israel, Gaza is hit by air strikes.” Change “Israeli kindergarten yard hit by deadly flaming balloon” to “Hamas targets kindergarten with deadly flaming balloon.”

Journalists know that one of the most egregious uses of the passive voice is to hide blame or obscure responsibility, yet some do exactly that when it comes to attacks against Israel. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Letter from a Kurd to Israel

Israel and Kurdistan - time for an alliance of the ages.

Victor Sharpe, 15/10/19 15:05 

Sometime ago, before Turkey chose first to lurch further into the deadly embrace of Islamism and later under the growing dictatorship of Recep Tayip Erdogan, I received a plea from a highly educated  Kurdish friend who was supportive of Israel's epic struggle to survive among its hostile Arab neighbors. He was devoted to the Jewish people for he knew of both the shared values and even ethnicities existing between Jews and Kurds dating back millennia.

Here is some of my Kurdish friend's impassioned letter from ten years ago, which was in reply to my American Thinker article of June 2010 titled, In his reply, he uncannily warned against the then alliance of Israel with Turkey:

"I wish the Jews in Israel and abroad would know better about the policy of their leaders concerning the Kurds, because it happens in the name of Israel, and that should matter to all Jews. Turkish oppression of the Kurds is unknown to most Israelis. It is hard for me to understand how Israel's cooperation with Turkey does not take into account the misery that it imposes upon the Kurdish people who yearn, as the Jews have for centuries, to be free from terror and persecution?

"Not so long ago, the Jews in Europe endured the Shoah and they know better than anyone else the horrors of that experience.”

He went on to add the following:

"Of course it's not only Israel but the whole world that is pro-Turkish and anti-Kurdish. It is not fair to criticize Israel only, but given the history of the Jewish people, there should be a heightened sensitivity towards Kurdish suffering.

"We Kurds have shared so much culture together and we still remember fondly the Jews who lived with us for centuries. But the Turks waxed and waned in their attitude towards the Jews; sometimes they were tolerant and sometimes hostile. There are many Turks today who share Islamist ideas and proclaim hostility towards the Jewish state. Within Turkey lies the same anti-Jewish pestilence that exists throughout the Arab and Persian world.

Now in hindsight, it is glaringly obvious how correct my Kurdish friend's warning those ten years ago was. Erdogan has sought every opportunity to break Turkey’s erstwhile friendship with the Jewish state and now he seeks a veritable caliphate in the Islamic world while garnering to himself those, like Hamas, who harbor deep hostility towards Israel.

Turkey is an enemy of both Israel and the Kurdish people. He pointed out that, "the legitimate arguments and rights Israel has are the same rights and truths it denies in its official policy towards the Kurds. For now and for the future, everything looks black. I fear the worst for us. The whole world is against us, and on the Turkish side there is no change...."

From 1961, the Jewish state was the only nation to actively support Kurdish aspirations. According to Mordechai Nisan in his book, “Minorities in the Middle East”, the Kurdish leader in 1966, Mustafa Barzani, told a visiting Israeli emissary, Arieh Lova Eliav, that. “In truth, only the Jews cared about the Kurds.”  

I remember an article in the New York Sun on 6 July, 2004 titled "The Kurdish Statehood Exception," in which Hillel Halkin exposed the discrimination and double standards employed against Kurdish aspirations of statehood.  He wrote:

"The Kurds have a far better case for statehood than do the Palestinians. Kurdish people have their own unique language and culture, which the Palestinian Arabs do not have. They have had a sense of themselves as a distinct people for many centuries, which the Palestinian Arabs have never had. They have been betrayed repeatedly in the past 100 years by the international community and its promises, while the Palestinian Arabs have been betrayed only by their fellow Arabs."

The Kurdish experiment, in at least the territory's current quasi-independence, has shown the world a decent society where all its inhabitants, men and women, enjoy far greater freedoms than can be found anywhere else in the Arab and Muslim world.

The Jewish state must now, more than ever, not ignore the 35-40 million Kurds, who remain stateless and shunned by the world and who seek, at last, the historic justice they have craved for centuries, nay millennia, but have been denied; an independent Kurdish state of their own.

Turkey has now chosen to break its alliance with Israel and instead has sought alliances with rogue states such as Iran and Syria, along with the Hamas occupied and terrorist infested Gaza Strip. Under Erdogan it has turned on Israel with a viciousness that is quite desolating. It is sliding remorsefully back to the 7th century mindset and cesspit that so many of its neighbors wallow in.

Israel should advance the restoration of a profoundly just, moral and enduring pact with the Kurdish people, and assistance towards creating a future independent State of Kurdistan. An enduring alliance between Israel and Kurdistan would be a vindication of history, a recognition of the shared sufferings of both peoples, and bring closer the advent of a brighter and strategically stronger future for both non-Arab nations.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

New Year Greetings from Kasim Hafeez

Kasim Hafeez is a British citizen of Pakistani Muslim heritage. Growing up in a predominantly Muslim community in the United Kingdom, in his teenage years he made a natural progression towards a more radical Islamist ideology, becoming very active in the Anti-Israel movement, calling for Israel’s destruction and delegitimizing its existence on campus and beyond. After coming across Alan Dershowitzs book ‘The Case for Israel’, a book that challenged his fundamental beliefs, Hafeez began a period of research and reflection that led to him visiting Israel for the first time in 2007.

Read his New Year greetings to his Jewish friends

Shana Tovah to all my Jewish friends. I pray the coming year be blessed and sweet for you all. The last year has been one full of challenges and tragedy, skyrocketing open murderous anti-Semitism and an ever belligerent Iranian regime are just a few examples. It has been a year when old hatreds seemed refreshed anew. But I say this to my Jewish friends, have you not felled more mighty foes before? Have you not survived and thrived while your enemies are footnotes in history?

Without a state have you not outlasted mighty empires, in the desire to return to your home have you not survived unspeakable perils and even when alone, have you not been able to cry out Am Y'Israel Chai' making an impossible dream a undeniable reality.

Today you have a state, today you have the courageous warriors of the Israel Defence Force, today you have returned home. With all the challenges ahead today you are strong and you no longer stand-alone. You have friends and supporters all over the world.

At Christians United for Israel (CUFI)I alone you have over 7 million and growing friends, and this year, next year or a decade from now, we will stand with you, we will stand against hate and stand for truth. So this is Rosh Hashanah, remember as the Jewish people have returned to their homeland and thrive, where are all those who sought to erase you from history. Shannah Tovah wishing you a sweet and blessed new year.