Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dishonesty About Bill Moyers

MuzzleWatch apparently believes it's impossible for criticism of Israel to go too far or to be wrong. By extension, then, it's always wrong for people to take issue with anti-Israel statements. Here's one example of how MuzzleWatch dishonestly tries to convince their readers that the above is true.

Their Jan. 27 post about a controversial episode of PBS's "Bill Moyers' Journal" insinuates that Moyers was criticized — the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman and others took issue with his broadcast — only because he drew a false parallel between Hamas's indiscriminate rocket attacks, which target civilians, and Israel's response, which targets militants but sometimes hits civilians. To Moyers, these both amount to "terrorism."

Frankly, that assertion alone is pretty disagreeable, and it would be quite reasonable for Foxman et al. to voice strong disagreement with Moyers' opinion.

Still, MuzzleWatch would have you believe that this expression of opinion alone led the public to charge Moyers with antisemitism. Calling someone antisemitic because he is wrong and morally confused? Well, that might not be quite as reasonable. The nefarious "Israel lobby," MuzzleWatch suggests, is trying to "muzzle" Moyers!

But MuzzleWatch is hiding something from its readers. A big something.

The back-and-forth between Foxman and Moyers makes perfectly clear that references to antisemitic statements focus not on the host's moral equivalence of Hamas and Israel, but on this shocking assertion he made on the air:
What we are seeing in Gaza is the latest battle in the oldest family quarrel on record. Open your Bible: the sons of the patriarch Abraham become Arab and Jew. Go to the Book of Deuteronomy. When the ancient Israelites entered Canaan their leaders urged violence against its inhabitants. The very Moses who had brought down the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” now proclaimed, “You must destroy completely all the places where the nations have served their gods. You must tear down their altars, smash their pillars, cut down their sacred poles, set fire to the carved images of their gods, and wipe out their name from that place.”

So God-soaked violence became genetically coded. A radical stream of Islam now seeks to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. Israel misses no opportunity to humiliate the Palestinians with checkpoints, concrete walls, routine insults, and the onslaught in Gaza.
Wow. Jews (and Muslims) are violent by birth, Moyers seems to be saying. It's in their genes.

Now the references to antisemitism make sense.

Moyers himself eventually acknowledged that people found his "genetically coded" statement to be offensive, and argued, however unconvincingly, that he made a bad word choice and didn't mean to say what he said:
Some of you were offended by my comment that "god-soaked violence" has become "genetically coded." Those words were obviously not sufficiently precise, I was not talking about a specific people but of the violence in the DNA of the human race, as the Bible itself so strongly attests.
The MuzzleWatch post, though, doesn't acknowledge that Moyers made this offensive comment. If Moyers is willing to admit that the "genetically coded" statement drew fire, why isn't MuzzleWatch? Why do they feel the need to mislead?

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