The Power of the Written Word

by Ari Bussel

“U.N. reports are not canceled on the basis of an op-ed in a newspaper.” U.N. Human Rights Council spokesman Cedric Sapey

Many claim print media is a disappearing industry, yet it still wields enormous power. Many still claim Jews rule the media.

Let us take a look at three Op-Ed pieces published in recent months. I have chosen one from the Los Angeles Times, another from the Jerusalem Post and a third from the Washington Post. Incidentally, all three pieces are by distinguished Jewish writers. Ironically, all paint Israel in a very sad light.

The first on our timeline appeared in the Los Angeles Times and was written by Prof. Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University. An Israeli whose area of expertise is Political Science, holds the chairmanship of the department at a leading Israeli academic institution and has pronounced that the world must BOYCOTT ISRAEL (the title of his writing).

Among the opinion pieces and numerous anti-Israel articles that appear regularly in the LA Times, this managed to anger many. Some major advertisers of the paper are Jewish and in their way support Israel. To them, calling to boycott the country they love and support was wrong.

Many of the major donors of the University agreed. To the point where the President of the University was forced to rush to Los Angeles merely days before the Jewish New Year, put out fires and assure continuity of the flow of funding.

University President Rivka Carmi said it was the responsibility of those abroad, Jews and Israelis, supporters of Israel and of the University, to fight the fight. She promised the university would act, albeit “quietly,” when the time came. Her promise reminded me the Anti-Defamation League, and then the next instance and the next same, exact utterance.

Indeed, act she did, in a major campaign against those who dared to criticize the department policies, topics taught, positions indoctrinated and a selection process for advancement that led Prof. Gordon and other “Post-Zionists” to the position of power and influence they now exert.

Professor Carmi’s “action” was to attack and malign those who called attention to the issues rather than to dissect the issues themselves. She singled out the messengers rather than take a very close look at her university, faculty and future scholars being indoctrinated in “Post Zionism” under her baton.

As long as Prof. Carmi presides, Prof. Gordon will continue to enjoy a safe haven from which to call, uninterrupted, to Boycott Israel. If nothing else, the University affords him a megaphone few have. The distinguished professor, incidentally, is doing just fine at the university in a country he so despises.

David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post wrote a recent second article. It discussed the discovery by Israel of the UN General Assembly Resolution 377, which may put the September declaration of Palestine in a completely new light (other than a merely declarative one).

Given the critical nature of the issue, all relevant resolutions should have been thoroughly studied already. Reportedly, it took the head of a Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem based NGO, The Israel Project, to uncover the existence of this 1950 Resolution and its dire implications for Israel: “It would be a real obstacle … not just a public relations setback. This would seek to impose on us some kind of Palestinian state.”

Possibly if the “Post Zionist” professors who populate the academia in Israel were not so busy trashing their home country, they could divert some of their energies and knowledge into an assessment of the full ramifications of a unilateral, unanimous recognition by all members of the Family of Nations represented in the United Nations of a Palestinian country where Israel stands today.

Then again, Prof. Gordon focuses his attention on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, much as some of his and his colleagues’ graduate students do. The founder of the BDS movement is a doctoral student at the Apartheid Institution called Tel Aviv University.

David Horovitz’s reporting is neither ground breaking nor original. Rather, it shows how Israel, until very recently, completely ignored the upcoming vote. He did describe the obvious: Proving Israel knows nothing about the serious ramifications of a September vote and does not realize she is free falling into an abyss without a parachute.

One needs not be a distinguished member of academia or the free press to KNOW when one is in free fall. There is something in us that realizes a situation even without words, lacking a need for explanation. Possibly it is the wind, the acceleration, the bottomless abyss beneath and the feeling of helplessness.

Thus, great importance was given to the “discovery” reported by Horovitz in his paper. Its true earth-shattering nature is simple: It is the only lifesaving instrument thrown thus far toward this drowning nation and sinking ship. It is way insufficient to save a life.

A good journalist like David Horovitz could have looked further, beyond the mere act of “discovery.” He should have asked, for instance, what else may be in store? What can we learn from past resolutions and behaviors of the UN? Who in Israel is the most knowledgeable to answer these and other questions and to prepare Israel for the worse-yet-to-come scenario? What is it we are not seeing ahead at the moment, toward which the Palestinians are taking dead aim?

Horovitz knows only too well that the Palestinians want a country of their own to use as a stepping-stone toward final destruction of the Jewish State. These People have only hatred in their hearts, and so any and all means are permissible toward their desired end. The end, to reiterate an oft-overlooked point, is not to live peacefully, side by side with their Jewish neighbors, raise one’s family, earn a living and possibly do some good toward others. The end is an actual end—the cessation, destruction and decimation of the Jewish State.

Which brings us to the third, most recent, Op-Ed piece, this one by an internationally respected South African Jew, Judge Goldstone.

When Judge Goldstone arrived in Israel with a UN mandate to investigate the “Gazan Bloodbath” (to borrow the eloquent description coined by another Israeli journalist from another respected English paper, Ha’Aretz), Israel took the hard-line stand no one needs to cooperate with Judge Goldstone. Israel knew it had done nothing wrong thus any inquiry was bogus.

One could possibly have taken Israel’s position to be sufficient had it not been common knowledge that the Palestinian-Hamas propaganda machine is at its very best, spewing lies and hatred in copious amounts, all sugar and caramel-coated for the hungry masses. At the very least she should have been there, Truth contradicting Lies.

One could even have believed Israel had the officer in charge of information dissemination for the IDF not said with a straight face that Israel did not use phosphorous bombs, a position later reversed. Even without the Palestinian propaganda machine, Israel’s credibility was thus lacking.

Israel’s position could have been supported not solely because Judge Goldstone is a Jew with relations to the South African Jewish community and to Israel, or because he comes from South Africa and would differentiate between “Apartheid,” the type that existed in South Africa, and the Blood-Libel-Apartheid of which Israel is wrongly accused.

No, it is rather because Judge Goldstone is a respected Judge that people anticipated he would put his own personality and beliefs aside to conduct an honest inquiry. That he would know what questions to ask. That he would refuse to take statements at face value and would conduct an impartial inquiry. That he would require cross- referencing of testimonies, using only unbiased evidence and discarding all other and take his job seriously.

A lot, after all, hung in the balance. Israel’s reputation, its very moral essence, was being evaluated. Her inner core was dissected, and Judge Goldstone was there to oversee the operation.

For Israel, truth was her best defense. She did not need to remember what was said, for it never changed depending on time or circumstance. She was the first to investigate and expose any wrongdoing, and to use the full extent of the law to bring any perpetrator to justice.

Her task was never easy, for she is the world’s laboratory for testing how far evil can go. From roadside explosions to homicide bombings, booby-trapped homes to expertly disguised explosive devices, from smashing children’s skulls to handling terrorists in captivity, everything is tried and tested against Israel first. If successful, the same methods are then exported. If Israel fails to fight, the weapons become effective against the rest of civilization. In this war, lies and deceit are major tools as well.

Judge Goldstone thus arrived in Israel and his constant requests were met with what some would call “Israeli arrogance.” In a word, they were ignored by the powers at the helm. Instead, he was fed lies and deceit not only by a willing Palestinian-Hamas propaganda machine, but also by a plethora of NGOs operating in Israel, all under the guise of “human rights” and “peace activists.”

A good reporter would have looked around and asked: Who is not present? And then—WHY? An experienced judge, with so much on the line, would have summoned witnesses, from the Prime Minister to the Defense Minister to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; from Heads of Shabak (Israel Security Services) to the Mossad (Israel Intelligence Services). They may have refused to appear, but he should have at least tried, and then tried again.

Is that not what justice is all about, trying to get to the truth? Or are we now dismissing truth in favor of shortcuts and convenience?

Judge Goldstone chose a very easy way out: He took the plethora of lies and complied and bound them in an actionable report, the Goldstone Report. It was exactly what Israel’s haters sought. It was the “conclusive evidence” of Israeli wrongdoing.

Israel, incidentally, has now changed her ways. She has submitted three subsequent reports to the UN. Is she having a change of heart, or perhaps a realization of the error of her former ways?

Releasing white doves into the air is nothing but a symbolic, useless gesture. No one was there to witness the doves, and the world community thus ignored the passing moment. The manner in which Israel changed her position (regarding Phosphorus bombs or cooperating with the UN investigation) indicates she is refusing to take things seriously enough.

The doves rose and disappeared, and people only remember the single element of incriminating evidence: THE GOLDSTONE REPORT. A wall of hatred continues to mount against Israel.

In an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post, Judge Goldstone begins:

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

It was Judge Goldstone who put Hamas on the same level as Israel, elevating Evil to the same grade of Goodness. I wonder what has now caused a shift of position. The same tools were at his disposal before. He could have insisted, nay required, and he could have initiated. He preferred not to. Why now? Did the Mossad finally get to him? Did they finally show him the truth, the facts, the real evidence? Or maybe they threatened him and his original report was the true account of events after all?

Three different Op-Ed pieces, all within a short time span: One calling to Boycott Israel, one illuminating the dangers of a newly recognized Palestine and one almost asking forgiveness.

All three articles failed the most basic test of credibility: the distinguished professor used his academic expertise to pronounce Israel’s guilt. The editor-in-chief reported on a finding, but failed to look a centimeter beyond and ask the relevant questions. The Judge failed in his original investigative task and concluding “Had I Known” is neither a basis nor a sufficient reason for salvation.

All three have failed at their chosen professions and by so doing failed Israel. The worth of one’s work is success when it counts most, and often times these are the most difficult tasks, working against all odds. Defending Israel against overwhelming criticism, bringing the truth to light so that others may act upon it, and ensuring justice was blind, not blinded when carrying on the investigation was a formidable task.

The printed media still holds immense power, despite declining advertising dollars and diminishing circulation. Media can turn the world against the innocent. We have seen it in the Danish Cartoons, later in the Aftonbladet (Sweden’s largest circulation daily) blood libel alleging Israel is murdering Palestinians to harvest their organs, and more recently the Goldstone Report. In between, Israeli papers like Ha’aretz and the Jerusalem Post serve as platforms that enable, rather than battle, the blood libels raging against Israel.

One day soon Israelis will have to vote with money against the local papers, once Israel decides to fight for herself. In the meantime, Israel remains in the habit of conducting after-the-fact commissions of inquiry, responding rather than initiating and defending rather than attacking. All these methods will change one day, sooner I would hope, than later.