We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Harping about Hebron

17 0 0
12.08.2022

One of the most outrageous, blood-boiling aspects of ‘modern’ political culture is the shocking levels of intellectual dishonesty found among people who claim moral high ground as ‘campaigners for human rights’.

I’ve written before about the Israeli group that calls itself ‘Breaking the Silence’. Let me remind you, in just one sentence:

“Fair disclosure: I despise Breaking the Silence. It’s not that they hold opinions that are very different from mine; frankly [sigh], a lot of people hold opinions very different from mine! Much as I disagree with them, these BtS chaps are entitled to their opinion; they are even entitled to promote those opinions and try to persuade others. But the way they go about it is, in my view, thoroughly anti-democratic and intellectually dishonest.”

“Fair disclosure: I despise Breaking the Silence. It’s not that they hold opinions that are very different from mine; frankly [sigh], a lot of people hold opinions very different from mine! Much as I disagree with them, these BtS chaps are entitled to their opinion; they are even entitled to promote those opinions and try to persuade others. But the way they go about it is, in my view, thoroughly anti-democratic and intellectually dishonest.”

I’ve also written (and not in very complimentary terms, either) about the British group which calls itself ‘Yachad’:

“In Hebrew, Yachad means ‘together’. Nice name; but the reality is, these days, that Yachad is ‘together’ with those who target Jews – and only Jews – for boycott.”

“In Hebrew, Yachad means ‘together’. Nice name; but the reality is, these days, that Yachad is ‘together’ with those who target Jews – and only Jews – for boycott.”

The two groups – Breaking the Silence and Yachad – have been working together for years. And one of the main areas of collaboration is taking British Jews on indoctrination tours – especially to the city of Hebron, in the West Bank.

Why Hebron? Not because, as Yachad dishonestly claims, it’s “a microcosm of occupation”. Quite the opposite: rather than being ‘typical’ – as Yachad and BtS would like people to think – Hebron is the worst place in the West Bank. That’s because some of the most extreme Israelis live in close proximity to some of the most extreme Palestinians. Agreements have been implemented, which have by-and-large pacified the area and saved lives. But those same agreements give duplicitous groups like Yachad and BtS an opportunity to bash Israel.

The advert

So, if that’s been going on for a while, why am I writing about it now? Well, because after the latest such tour, BtS and Yachad have managed to get some free advertising (I am not convinced that it was indeed free; i.e. that no money or other benefits changed hands; but let’s assume it was) from the pages of Jewish News – a British Jewish outlet associated with Times of Israel. The author is a certain Lee Harpin and his article is entitled “We must fix this for the settlers, soldiers and the Palestinians”.

So that’s why I write about this now: to take apart this disingenuous piece of anti-Israel propaganda and wipe the floor with it. Sure, people have the right to criticize my country; but, if they do it with ill-will, duplicity or dishonesty, I have the right to expose those rather unpleasant traits. Advertisement

The first thing I asked myself as I started to read Mr. Harpin’s piece was: who exactly is ‘we’? If Harpin were an Israeli citizen writing in Hebrew for an Israeli audience (for instance for Ha’aretz, who may be willing to have him), all would be clear and legitimate. Israelis (read: people who live, pay taxes, vote and put their arses on the line in Israel) have every right to express opinions and try to persuade other Israelis that theirs are the best opinions in town. But Mr. Harpin isn’t Israeli; he writes in English for a British audience – i.e. people who live, pay taxes and vote in the United Kingdom. If they are the ’we’, then it’s entirely unclear why “we must fix” anything at all more than 2,000 miles away from where “we” live.

The article’s strapline is no less ‘interesting’:

“Controversial Israeli group Breaking The Silence attracts increasing numbers of diaspora Jews onto its ‘occupation tour’ in West Bank cities like Hebron.”

“Controversial Israeli group Breaking The Silence attracts increasing numbers of diaspora Jews onto its ‘occupation tour’ in West Bank cities like Hebron.”

And below, still in bold typeface: Advertisement

“Israeli human rights groups such as Breaking The Silence (BTS) are reporting an increase in bookings from diaspora Jews for ‘occupation tours’ of West Bank cities like Hebron to witness for themselves the situation faced by Palestinians.”

“Israeli human rights groups such as Breaking The Silence (BTS) are reporting an increase in bookings from diaspora Jews for ‘occupation tours’ of West Bank cities like Hebron to witness for themselves the situation faced by Palestinians.”

And again, this time in the body of the article, coming from Danielle Bett, a Yachad spokesperson:

“More and more diaspora Jews are visiting the West Bank…”

“More and more diaspora Jews are visiting the West Bank…”

Well, methinks thou dost protest too much, Mr. Harpin: much as I scoured the rest of the article, I could find no clue what the reported “increase in bookings” was. Which is ‘a bit’ odd: self-respecting journalists don’t write vague statements bereft of any substance.

And what exactly is the term of reference for that “increase”? If it’s 2020 or 2021, then Mr. Harpin must be, technically-speaking, correct – and ethically-speaking beyond contempt. It’s obvious that, if we compare 2022 with the pandemic years, there was a sharp increase in all travel; not just in “occupation tours” to “West Bank cities”, but also in tourism to Timbuktu and Phnom Penh…

And how many Diaspora Jews is “more and more”? From 8 to 10 – now that’s a whopping 25% growth; but it would be utterly misleading to report “an increase” based on such insignificant numbers…

Let me be clear: I am very suspicious of journalists (or ‘journalists’) who write in this manner: without numbers to support them, such statements amount to subliminal adverts dressed up as ‘news’ and unethically ‘fed’ to the unsuspecting reader.

Journalism?

And it’s not just my suspicious nature: Mr. Harpin has been caught writing ‘inaccuracies’ before.

A former News of the World journalist, he got rather spectacularly arrested in 2015 “on suspicion of conspiracy to unlawfully intercept communications” – that’s ‘phone hacking’ to you and me. The Crown Prosecution Service later decided that there was “insufficient evidence to bring charges” against Harpin and some of his colleagues. If one disagrees with Lee Harpin and criticises his views, one is a ‘reactionary’. Well, I’m going to call those in his camp (including Yachad and BtS) ‘the harpins’. No, not ‘an eye for an eye’, just contempt for contempt.
{Twitter}

But let’s go back to Mr. Harpin’s latest ‘journalistic’ contribution:

He begins by giving a broad platform to the BtS ‘tour guide’. That’s Amir Ziv, the group’s so-called ‘Pedagogy Coordinator’ (‘pedagogy’ sounds so much better than ‘propaganda’ or ‘brainwashing’, doesn’t it? But it is also indicative of a certain attitude).

After being so vague about the alleged “increase in bookings”, Harpin suddenly decides to be amazingly precise when reciting Amir’s ‘credentials’:

“[He] had served three years in the IDF, with the 50th battalion of the Nahal Brigade in Hebron and Gaza”.

“[He] had served three years in the IDF, with the 50th battalion of the Nahal Brigade in Hebron and Gaza”.

Such military track record may sound impressive to Diaspora Jews with no experience of army service. But most Israelis would shrug: millions of them served in the IDF – the males typically for three years. Of course, Amir did not spend three years in Hebron and Gaza – that’s just Harpin’s journalistic sleight of hand; no Israeli soldier did: garrisoning and anti-terror activity in the West Bank is just a relatively small part of IDF’s mission. Like so many Israelis, I also served in Hebron (and Nablus, and Ramallah and a handful of other ‘nice’ places). In total, I spent there many months, including as a reservist, at the height of the intifada. I have quite a few stories to tell – but they’re not the kind of stories Breaking the Silence or Yachad are interested in; they’ll never publish my testimony, nor will they invite me to guide their tours.

So, a word of warning: yes, Amir Ziv served in the IDF, like most Jewish Israelis; but no, that does not mean ‘he knows what he’s talking about’. Amir is an outlier; listen to any of his comrades and you’ll hear a completely different story.

Anyone who ever listened to a Breaking the Silence presentation knows how one-sided their tales are. But Lee Harpin wants us to believe that dear ol’s Amir gives a balanced, sane account, which also highlights Israeli suffering:

“Standing beside a memorial plaque in downtown Hebron to Gadi and Dina Levi – a couple expecting the birth of their first child, who were killed by a Palestinian terrorist wearing a bomb while they were on their way to pray at the nearby Cave of the Patriarchs in 2003 – Amir opened up about the impact of violence, having recently become the father of a baby girl.

Recalling another Palestinian sniper attack in the same area, which killed a young child, he said: ‘Each death, each attack, each time you see violence… it pushed me further away into the realization we need to fix this. It won’t stop on its own, we have to end it, for the settlers, and soldiers who come here, and for the Palestinians.’”

“Standing beside a memorial plaque in downtown Hebron to Gadi and Dina Levi – a couple expecting the birth of their first child, who were killed by a Palestinian terrorist wearing a bomb while they were on their way to pray at the nearby Cave of the Patriarchs in 2003 – Amir opened up about the impact of violence, having recently become the........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


Get it on Google Play