Fluff-headed British journalist reports about Israel
It may not even be bias -- just stupidity and ignorance. Sad to see in my favourite newspaper
An interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared in the Sunday Times this week. The interview took place in Jerusalem's American Colony Hotel. It was concerned with Blair's role as the Quartet's Middle East envoy, and was written by journalist Lesley White. Journalist Lesley White is evidently not a specialist on the Middle East. I say "evidently" because the article contains a series of ludicrous errors which leave one slack-jawed in astonishment at the standards apparently now prevailing in this august publication.
Lesley White starts as she means to go on. Lunch with Blair, we are told, takes place under parasols which overlook "east Jerusalem's temples and mosques." I have lived in Jerusalem for just under two decades. It does contain quite a large number of mosques. Temples, however, are conspicuous largely by their absence. The clue is that religions worshipping in temples - Hindus, Buddhists - have scant regard for Jerusalem, and hence don't bother to build facilities for worship in it.
There was of course a quite important Temple in Jerusalem at one time. But this particular one, built by the Jews, was destroyed by the Romans in ad 70, and a rather large Mosque currently coincidentally stands where it once stood, so it's unlikely that Lesley White saw it, unless she was being unwittingly affected by a bout of the well-known "Jerusalem Syndrome." This syndrome causes visitors to Jerusalem to imagine themselves as Biblical figures, and experience visions and hallucinations. An additional religion that has facilities called temples - US Reform Judaism,- is also not known to have constructed any places of worship of this type in the area of the American Colony Hotel, where the White-Blair lunch occurred.
Lesley White mentions the "Palestinians I spoke to" in her article. These, however, do not seem to have been offset by any Israelis that were "spoken to" - at least they appear nowhere in the text. This perhaps explains another, more interesting error. Lesley White refers to a person described as Israel's "head of security." This person, apparently, is called Gabi Ashkenazi, and he is, Lesley White tells us, "considered by many the nation's de facto leader."
Well, Lesley White, first of all allow me to tell you that Israel, like most other countries, doesn't have a post called "head of security." The Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel has a head of security. I dare say Annabel's nightclub in London has a "head of security." The State of Israel doesn't. What Israel does have is its armed forces, and Gabi Ashkenazi is currently what is called the Chief of Staff of the said armed forces.
Israel has some other things, too. Israel has universal adult suffrage, a parliament, regular free elections, a defence minister, a prime minister and a president. Not all of these necessarily always contribute to effective or wise decision-making. But Lesley White, if she had found the time to talk to any Israelis, might have learned a little about these institutions, and would have discovered that Israel is a democracy, and that Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi is no more "de facto ruler" of Israel than is General Sir Richard Dannatt the de facto ruler of Great Britain.
Would a little fact-checking have been so difficult? This article was, after all, not just any old article. It was an interview with a former British Prime Minister. It did, after all, appear in a newspaper - and not just any old newspaper. The Times, including its Sunday edition, used to be one of the most venerable publications in the western world, with a reputation based on the delivery of meticulous, carefully examined information. Not any more, apparently.
Women in Britain having more children: "Women are having more children than at any time since the 1970s, with almost one in four born to foreign mothers, official figures show. Each woman now has 1.91 children on average - the highest since 1973 - according to the Office for National Statistics. As a result the number of births - 690,000 - increased by 20,000 in 2007 compared to the previous year, when there were 1.86 children per woman. A third of those were born to British mothers and the rest to women originally from overseas. One factor in the rise is the tendency for foreign-born mothers, particularly from the Indian sub-continent, to have large families. Another is women choosing to have children when they are in their more fertile 20s, rather than delaying until they are in their 30s and 40s. However, those who do delay are having more children due to improvements in fertility treatment. The figures, which relate to England and Wales, indicate the overall fertility rate has now increased for six successive years. Its lowest point came in 2001 when it sank to 1.63 children per woman."
Stupid Democrat Congressman: "Senator Chuck "The Camera Hunter" Schumer decided to bill taxpayers tens of billions of dollars by starting a bank run. The run on the bank came after a critical letter about the bank from Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. Federal regulators said on Friday that Mr. Schumer's letter had prompted the collapse by causing the run and scaring away potential acquirers. "The senator made comments in his letter questioning the viability of the institution," John M. Reich, director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, said in a phone call with reporters. "When a member of the United States Senate makes such a statement, it frightens depositors."
One Year After Endorsing Genocide-- Old Gray Lady Eats Iraqi Crow: "Don Surber reminded us yesterday that it was the one year anniversary of The New York Times startling editorial endorsing surrender in Iraq even if it led to genocide. Nice group of writers, huh? Of course, Barack Obama felt the same way last year and said so. He was for genocide in Iraq before he was against it. But, fortunately they did not get their way. The Bush surge worked so well that the president is now considering withdrawing additional troops from Iraq."
The non-citizen electorate: "Amid all the talk of new voters becoming involved in the election, hopefully one group of voters will not vote in November - non-citizens, many of whom are illegally registered to vote all over the country, particularly in the southwest. Although there is no reliable method to determine the exact number registered aliens, there is evidence that this is a significant and growing problem. The Government Accountability Office estimated that up to 3 percent of individuals called for jury duty from voter registration rolls in just one U.S. district court were not U.S. citizens. While that may not seem like a large number, it's more than enough to tip close elections - say, Florida in 2000.. Florida has over a million illegal aliens, and the Justice Department has prosecuted non-citizens, including a state-legislature candidate, for voting there. After a grand-jury investigation of the 1982 Illinois governor's race resulted in the conviction of aliens for illegally registering and voting, the U.S. Attorney estimated that there were 80,000 non-citizens registered to vote in Chicago."
Another black crook in Congress: "While aggressive evictions are making rent-stabilized apartments increasingly scarce in New York, Representative Charles B. Rangel is enjoying four of them, including three adjacent apartments in a sprawling penthouse overlooking Upper Manhattan, courtesy of one of New York's premier real estate developers. Mr. Rangel, the powerful Democrat who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, uses his fourth apartment, six floors below, as a campaign office, despite state and city regulations that require rent-stabilized apartments to be used as a primary residence."
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