Wednesday, June 15, 2016

15-Jun-16: Contemplating a Pal Arab lust for terror, The Economist goes for whitewash

Villagers in Nabi Saleh prepare to celebrate the release (via the Shalit Deal)
of the most celebrated of the clan's numerous murderers, the woman who
engineered the Sbarro pizzeria massacre [Image Source]. For obvious reasons,
the adoration of its murderers is generally absent from
agenda-driven reporting about the odious clan.
Over at UK Media Watch ("Promoting Fair and Accurate Coverage of Israel") they have just published a critical analysis of what it takes to pull the wool over the eyes of the editors at one of the world's best-regarded weeklies:
The Economist fancies itself a sophisticated magazine, one which “offers authoritative insight” into news, politics, business, finance, science and technology.  However, as it pertains to Israel, they've sometimes proven themselves just as vulnerable to the mindless group-think plaguing the rest of the media. A case in point involves their review of The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine by Ben Ehrenreich (The view on the ground, June 11), a book featuring the Tamimis of the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh.  Though some British media outlets have caught on to the family’s well-choreographed ‘Pasbara’, the anonymous Economist critic barely shows even a hint of journalistic skepticism in the face of Ehrenreich’s risible narrative... ["‘Sophisticated’ Economist duped by Pallywood tale starring the Tamimis", Adam Levick, UK Media Watch - today]
Ehrenreich, who created what the editors at the Economist call "an elegant and moving account", came to our attention three years ago with a cover story he wrote for the New York Times Sunday Magazine - an appalling confection spun from fantasy, carefully-phrased half-truths, wishful thinking and adoration of the redemptive power of murder. 

We hated it. And not only because of the connection of the people of whom he was writing with the murder of our daughter Malki - a tight, meaningful, ongoing and ugly connection.

We wrote two responses at the time. One was in the form of a letter from Frimet Roth to the editors of the NY Times ["To See the NY Times Gloss Over this Travesty of Justice is Journalism of the Most Amoral Sort"] which they declined to publish. The other was a post on this blog - until today the most widely-read piece we have written ["17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns"].

Ehrenreich's previous round of
canonizing the Tamimi clan
Adam Levick's fine UK Media Watch piece today refers back to that, noting how Ehrenreich:
romanticized the culture of terrorism in the Tamimis’ ‘little village’ and whitewashed the crime of its most infamous resident, a woman named Ahlam Tamimi, one of the main terrorists responsible for the deadly Sbarro bombing in 2001. The Economist review makes no mention of Ahlam Tamimi or the disturbing fact that, according to Ehrenreich in his NYT Magazine feature, she is still quite admired in the town. It’s actually quite extraordinary that a publication which prides itself on peeling off the superficial layers of a story to reveal the story behind the story published a review of a book featuring the Tamimis without giving readers even the slightest inclination that the family, and the protests they stage, represents something akin to Palestinian street theater, a Pallywood production packaged as real news.
The village of Nabi Saleh, almost all of whose inhabitants are Tamimis (owing to a deep attachment to ensuring members marry within the small clan) is far from being an idyllic pastoral hamlet. But it very much wants to be seen as one and goes to extraordinary lengths to conjure up a Potemkin village facade, an illusion replete with contrived legends of a struggle for decency, respect, human rights and a beleagured little pond of spring water. 

It's mostly invented, and cultivated assiduously. We explained some of the how a few months ago ["11-Sep-15: How devoted to non-violence are the villagers of Nabi Saleh really?"].

The true facts are not hard to get at. Yet no journalist we have met or whose work we have read appears to have made that effort. In fact, we can't recall even one published mainstream analysis where highly appropriate and seriously troubling questions were raised about the Tamimi narrative.

We're left to ponder, and not for the first time, the manifest decline in the mass media's commitment to careful, factual, non-partisan, well-researched writing and respect for the common values of democratic societies - above all the value of human life.

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