October 30, 2012 1 Comment
Pablo Christiani was born into a pious Jewish family in 13th century France. Somewhere along the line, he strayed from fold and became a Christian. Like many other baptized Jews of that era, he took up a leading role in demonizing his people. He even tried to get the Talmud banned. This kind of thing often proved to be a lucrative career path for Jewish converts. Christiani was paid good money to travel far and wide to convert Jews. Christiani is most famous for his role in the Disputation of Barcelona in 1263, an event organised by the Dominicans for the Court of King James I of Aragon. Christiani would debate the leading rabbi and philosopher Nachmanides. Unlike similar debates in Medieval times, it was not rigged against the Jews. Nachmanides insisted on complete freedom of speech.
To the horror of the Dominicans and the surprise of the wider population, the Disputation went in favour of Nachmanides. The King was so impressed that he awarded the rabbi with a prize of 300 gold coins and declared that never before had he heard “an unjust cause so nobly defended”. He even visited a synagogue in Barcelona and addressed the congregants a short time afterward.
Pablo Christiani was upset. Don’t feel too sorry for him. As a consolation, I believe he was awarded an editorial job at Haaretz.
The Role of Haaretz and Gideon Levy in the Apartheid Canard
Haaretz is a left-liberal paper of good quality. Unfortunately, there appears to be an increasing emphasis on the ‘left’ side of the equation Its English online edition has an important role. A quick look at the comments reveal its mostly read by foreign hacks and quite a few anti-Semites looking for ‘dirt’ on the Jewish state. Gideon Levy, a journalist for Haaretz, is respected far more among left-wing circles abroad than he is in Israel – like many others at that paper.
Gideon Levy could be described as the Pablo Christiani of our time. He’s also been known to shoot from the hip. He falsely claimed to the now disgraced journalist Johann Hari that the death of a dog by a Qasam rocket got more newspaper coverage in Israel than the deaths of tens of Palestinians on the same day. Unfortunately, the incidents he described occurred three years apart.
Levy’s latest piece of journalistic venom has reverberated throughout the world. He wrote two articles – a report and an opinion piece – on a survey of around 500 Israelis on the political situation. The headline over his report screamed: Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel.
There was a tiny flaw in the initial report and Levy’s commentary. It was all bollocks.
A number of disparities were picked up by Ben-Dror Yemini, a senior journalist with the Hebrew daily Maariv:
According to the survey, 53 percent of Israelis are not opposed to having an Arab neighbor. That much is clear. But when Gideon Levy passes from reporting to overt incitement masquerading as “interpretation,” he writes that “the majority doesn’t want… Arab neighbors.” Could it be that the second Gideon Levy didn’t properly read what was written by the first Gideon Levy?
Moving on: According to the survey, 33% of Israelis support revoking the voting rights of Israeli Arabs. That’s a grave figure in and of itself. But when it comes to the “interpretation,” Levy writes that “the majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset.” Again, Levy the interpreter seems not to have read Levy the reporter. Is he capable of formulating a sentence that includes only the truth? And where in the hell is his editor? Was there not a single editor who could properly parse the results of the survey?
Not only that, but the headline Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel did not even reflect the findings of the survey. The Israelis polled were asked about the granting of voting rights to Palestinian Arabs if the territories were annexed. It did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation. Most Israelis oppose the annexation of the territories in the first place.
Levy has come out with a somewhat tepid apology. Unfortunately, it seems to be available only to Haaretz subscribers He says mistakes “were not made intentionally, but as a result of neglect due to time pressure”.
Anybody who actually believes this happened accidentally at Israel’s oldest quality broadsheet is a fool.
Gideon Levy is no fool. Neither was Pablo Christiani. But they both had an agenda and an audience, and they did a massive disservice to their own people.