Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Real World Education of a Liberal Reporter

Freelance reporter, Hunter Stuart (VIN)
It’s no secret that I lean conservative on most issues.  However, I am not a card carrying conservative. I do have some views that are usually considered liberal.  I just want to be clear about my perspective before I go on.

I have been saying for some time now, the hard core liberal perspective usually begets a sympathetic approach to the underdog. Which in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often generates a lot more sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians than it does for Israelis. It doesn’t seem to matter much whether a liberal is Jewish or not. The primary motive for a liberal is sympathy for those the oppressed masses. In Israel, the oppressed masses are the Palestinians.

I have conceded that Palestinians experience hardships. I don’t think that can be disputed by anyone with even the slightest bit of objectivity. But as I also constantly say, Israel is forced to scrutinize them more carefully for security reasons which is the cause of those hardships. That too should not be disputed by people with the slightest bit of objectivity.  It’s not that Israel is prejudiced against Arabs or Muslims. It’s that Israel has been terrorized by people from their midst! 

To the liberal, that doesn’t matter. When the mainstream media (which is exceedingly liberal) reports about the treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis they rarely talk about the context of their treatment. They only focus on how difficult it is for Palestinians living under occupation. And without context - that makes Israel look like pre Mandela South Africa.

This view was recently corroborated by Hunter Stuart, an American reporter.  From a Jerusalem Post article (republished at VIN): 
Before I moved to Jerusalem, I was very pro-Palestinian. Almost everyone I knew was. I grew up Protestant in a quaint, politically correct New England town; almost everyone around me was liberal. And being liberal in America comes with a pantheon of beliefs: You support pluralism, tolerance and diversity. You support gay rights, access to abortion and gun control.
The belief that Israel is unjustly bullying the Palestinians is an inextricable part of this pantheon. Most progressives in the US view Israel as an aggressor, oppressing the poor noble Arabs who are being so brutally denied their freedom.
This was his attitude and at first he would make his case in discussions and debate with his Israeli friends. But he slowly came to realize what those of us who support Israel and its actions realize.  That It isn’t about Israel ‘oppressing the poor noble Arabs who are being so brutally denied their freedom’. In facing the realities of  living in Israel he gradually began to change his mind. Its started with a Pew Research Report he was shown: 
I saw that Pew’s researchers had done a survey of thousands of people across the Muslim world, asking them if they supported suicide bombings against civilians in order to “defend Islam from its enemies.” The survey found that 62 percent of Palestinians believed such terrorist acts against civilians were justified in these circumstances. And not only that, the Palestinian territories were the only place in the Muslim world where a majority of citizens supported terrorism; everywhere else it was a minority ‒ from Lebanon and Egypt to Pakistan and Malaysia. 
Shortly after being shown this report, he saw a new wave of terrorist attacks by individual Muslim Palestinians who on an almost daily basis were popping up out of the woodwork and stabbing Jews. (Later to become known as the ‘Stabbing Intifada”.) Nevertheless, his bias got the better of him at first. He blamed ‘the occupation’. If only Israel would cease the occupation, Palestinians wouldn’t be attacking them.

He soon found out that the ‘occupation’ wasn’t why Jews were being attacked. It was while he was doing a story in the Arab part of East Jerusalem called Silwan.  He was mistaken for a Jew by a 13 year old Palestinian who started shouting, ‘Yehud’ (Jew - in Arabic). That generated a group of that boy’s Palestinian friends to race toward him with what he calls ‘a terrifying sparkle in their eyes’. He calmed them down after exclaiming that he wasn’t Jewish and that he loved Palestine.

That look, he said was something he would never forget. That incident was followed by the following: 
Later, at a house party in Amman, I met a Palestinian guy who’d grown up in Silwan. “If you were Jewish, they probably would have killed you,” he said. I made it back from Silwan that day in one piece; others weren’t so lucky. In Jerusalem, and across Israel, the attacks against Jewish Israelis continued. My attitude began to shift, probably because the violence was, for the first time, affecting me directly.
I found myself worrying that my wife might be stabbed while she was on her way home from work. Every time my phone lit up with news of another attack, if I wasn’t in the same room with her, I immediately sent her a text to see if she was OK. 
Later he spoke to an Israeli friend who told him about the murder of his friend on an Israeli bus that was stormed by 2 Palestinians. Ironically this was a story he had reported on. And just as other reporters had done at the time - he blamed Israel for it and glorified the attackers.

The victim in that incident was a liberal, too. He was heavily involved in the peace movement, never missing a rally. He believed that by teaching English to both Palestinains and Israelis he would be able to bridge the gap and show that peace is possible if more people did the kind of things he did. But his killers could not care less. They were well-off Palestinains who were paid 20,000 shekels to storm the bus with guns and kill some Jews.

What was the Palestinian reaction to this murder? 
More than a year later, you can still see their faces plastered around East Jerusalem on posters hailing them as martyrs.  
And yet, most of the mainstream media and foreign governments still blame Israel for these attacks. If only Israel weren’t occupying Palestinians land…

Why is this the case? This brings me back to my theory about the myopic view of the liberal. I will end with an excerpt that sounds almost as though I had written it:   
I’ve come to believe it’s because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appeals to the appetites of progressive people in Europe, the US and elsewhere. They see it as a white, first world people beating on a poor, third world one…

Unfortunately for Israel, videos on social media that show US-funded Jewish soldiers shooting tear gas at rioting Arab Muslims is Hollywood-level entertainment and fits perfectly with the liberal narrative that Muslims are oppressed and Jewish Israel is a bully.
I admire the liberal desire to support the underdog. They want to be on the right side of history, and their intentions are good. The problem is that their beliefs often don’t square with reality.