Friday, September 08, 2006

Sept 4 Media Critique: "Kasrils - Minister of 'Intelligence'?"

Slow news week at HonestReporting.

The bulk of this ‘Media Critique’ is about the views of the South African Minister for Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, who has views that HonestReporting doesn’t much like. A particular problem is that Kasrils quotes the Norwegian writer, Joostein Gaarder, who also raised the ire of Zionists by criticising Israeli actions and drawing parallels with Apartheid.

Referring to the recent Lebanon conflict, Kasrils uses a clever sleight of hand to sum up his own feelings by quoting Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder:
HRs effort to portray Kasrils as using "sleight of hand" is purely to lend a sinister air, as the first line states that “Kasrils is well-known for his anti-Zionist views”.

In an attempt to discredit by association (falsely, as I show below) HR then claims that,

Kasrils allows himself the license to project his own distorted view of Israel without taking responsibility, while failing to mention that Gaarder actually sought to distance himself from his original article

Not quite. In the same Ha’aretz article where HR asserts Gaardner is distancing himself from his claims, it says “However, Gaarder refused to retract publicly his main theme.”

But what are these perfidious "anti-Zionist views" that Kasrils has? HR doesn’t elaborate, but let me.

I am Jewish born. Since Israel purports to speak and act in the name of Jews everywhere... we are saying: No, not in my name. Never.
And in 2004 Kasrils visited the West Bank, leading him to make the following remark,

This is much worse than apartheid. The Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses. We had armoured vehicles and police using small arms to shoot people but not on this scale.
It is this particular claim, that Israels policies towards the Palestinians are similar to Apartheid, that HonestReporting is especially keen to counter by labelling Kasrils as that all-purpose derogatory adjective turned-noun, “extreme”.

Is this view extreme?

Hardly, and Kasrils is far from alone in this view. In a 2002 article, famous anti-Apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said much the same,

Yesterday's South African township dwellers can tell you about today's life in the Occupied Territories.
Other ANC veterans have similar views. And one in particular has an especially interesting opinion. Arthur Goldreich fought in the Palmach in 1948, returning to his native SA in the 1950s to fight with the ANC against the Apartheid regime. He returned to Israel after escaping prison, and said this about Israels approach to the West Bank,

bantustanism…….through a policy of occupation and separation
And Nelson Mandela has backed an anti-Apartheid style boycott campaign against Israel.

Let’s be clear about this, Kasrils is “extreme” regarding Israel, in precisely the same way he was extreme regarding Apartheid South Africa. That is, he stood for justice and human rights against a repressive state. That HR attacks him for this, tells you all you need to know about HR.

HR continues,

In keeping with Kasrils' non-recognition of Israel's right to exist, he questions Jewish rights to their homeland while….
In keeping with HRs non-recognition of truth, Kasrils does not say anywhere that he doesn't recognise Israels’ "right to exist", but HR tries to credit Kasrils with what it claims is Gaarders' view, because he quoted Gaarder.
Doubly dishonest, as HR actually invents the view that it attributes to Gaarder. Gaarder wrote “We no longer recognize the state of Israel”, not ‘we no longer recognise the state of Israels' right to exist’.
Tripely dishonest, Gaarder wrote this in the context of the South African Apartheid regime; "We no longer recognize the state of Israel. We could not recognize the apartheid regime".
Gaarder was saying that, just as he refused to recongise the South African government while it enacted illegitimate policies, so too, he would not recognise the Israel government until it changed its’ policies. Instead, HR attempts to play the ‘pushing the Jews into the sea’ gambit, implying a threat against the existence of the state of Israel, where there is none.

Appallingly dishonest and manipulative, but quite normal for HonestReporting.

This, despite all the evidence to the contrary, including Israel's 1 million Arab citizens currently living in the state with equal rights under the law to Israel's Jewish population
As inaccurate as ever, is HR. Israels' Arab citizens do not have equal rights under the law. For instance, they are prevented from working in a wide range of professions within Israel. They are prevented from leasing state owned land, which is freely accessible to Jewish Israelis. Just a few examples of the long list of discriminations that Arab-Israelis are subject too.

Bizarrely, Kasrils also claims that ‘Lebanon, too, has been a part of Zionist annexation plans. Israel long regarded the Litani river to its north as its natural border...
The only thing bizarre abou this is that HR thinks it’s bizarre. Kasrils has a far better understanding of Israels' view on southern Lebanon than does HR.These were some of the comments from a member of the Israeli Govt after Israels’ 1982 invasion of Lebanon,

the nearby region[Lebanon] which, geographically and historically, is an integral part of Ertez Yisrael.....
an agreement on border rectification….Israel could integrate the strip south of the Lintani…

According to HonestReporting, the problem with Kasrils’ view is that he has a “one-sided and distorted hatred for Israel”. There is another possibility, which HR studiously avoids in preference to its’ one-sided and distorted views, and that is that Kasrils’ “hatred” is of unjust and repressive government, whether it be South African or Israeli. And as Kasril says, he won’t allow injustice to be perpetrated in his name. I suspect what has really riled HR is that Kasrils is a prominent Jewish-South African, and in the world according to HR and other strident ‘supporters of Israel’, Jews should either support Israel or shut up.

"Storm in a Tea Cup"
Kasrils is not the only target.

AP and the BBC are also under the microscope for their choice of headlines in a story on a Palestinian who sought political asylum in the UK by entering the British Embassy in Tel Aviv and threatening to kill himself.

The headlines are HRs beef; “Israeli Police Storm British Embassy” (AP) and “Commandos storm Tel Aviv embassy” (BBC).

Though in thoroughly typical HR style they misrepresent the facts. The BBC headline was actually “Raid ends Tel Aviv embassy siege”. But that doesn’t make the case for HRs claim of a “subtle yet insidious form of media bias” anywhere near as well, so they chose part of the sub-headline while falsely claiming that it was the headline.