Thursday, January 14, 2010

MuzzleWatching and Knee Jerking Into a New Decade

It's January. A new year. A new decade. There's fresh, white snow outside my window.

And what is MuzzleWatch up to in 2010? Oh right, the same old knee-jerk defenses of the most virulent anti-Israel propagandists, and attacks against mainstream Jewish organizations.

Not new either is the dishonesty of said defenses and attacks. Currently at the top of their site is a January 13 article lamenting that an organization that doesn't share Jewish Voice for Peace's political views is "unfortunately ... still in business." (Yes, the free market of ideas is "unfortunate" in the mind of those self-proclaimed defenders of free speech.)

One of MW's criticisms of this organization is that they recently described professor/activist Rashid Khalidi as having been an "official spokesperson for the PLO," despite Khalidi's recent denials. (Never mind that the article MW criticizes doesn't actually use the word "official.")

In fact, question of whether Khalidi had been a PLO spokesman was deeply investigated during Obama's run for the White House. Now, this blog doesn't concern itself with the president's relationship with Khalidi. And frankly, I still have no regrets about having voted for ... well, I'll also leave party politics out of this blog.

The point is that MuzzleWatch's assertion that calling Khalidi a former PLO spokesperson is a "smear" because he had denied this affiliation makes clear that MW's "analysis" is not nuanced or thoughtful, but rather resembles a jerk of the knee. (Khalidi is anti-Israel? Then he must be right!)

Khalidi, it seems, was indeed a spokesperson for the PLO. The evidence is convincing, and as it emerged convinced at least one reporter to dramatically change his mind after initially insisting on Khalidi's innocence of PLO affiliation.

MuzzleWatch is also disturbed by Jane Fonda. A recent posting — okay, I admit the posting is from late-2009 and not 2010 — asserts (emphasis mine):
What is it about Atlanta and Israel?

First, in response to a firestorm of criticism and vilification, Atlanta resident and iconic film star Jane Fonda issued a mea culpa about the wording of a petition she signed protesting the Toronto International Film Festival’s celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv. She said she signed it, “without reading it carefully enough, without asking myself if some of the wording wouldn’t exacerbate the situation rather than bring about constructive dialogue”. To her credit, Fonda did not remove her signature. But it was still an extraordinary move that reflected the intense pressure she was under. (This level-headed group of Atlanta Jewish leaders rose to her defense.)

Fonda upsets MW's because the actress expressed regret for behaving in a knee-jerk manner rather than with nuance and thoughtfulness.

"I signed the letter without reading it carefully enough," Fonda explained in her apology.

She added:

[I]t can become counterproductive to inflame rather than explain and this means to hear the narratives of both sides, to articulate the suffering on both sides, not just the Palestinians. ...

The Israeli-Palestinian story cannot be reduced to a simplistic aggressor-victim relationship. In order to fully understand this, one must be willing to come together with an open heart and really hear the narratives of both sides.

Sounds reasonable enough. Who would disagree that completely closing your ears to one side's narrative can be counterproductive? Oh right -- MuzzleWatch and its parent organization Jewish Voice for Peace disagrees.

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