Dear HonestReporting Member,
Sometimes we ask ourselves, “Why do we even bother to respond to the anti-Israel bias of the Guardian?” Day-in and day-out, the British paper’s columnists and correspondents excoriate Israel in ways that can compete only with the Palestinian press.
First, we respond because we believe that left unchecked, a handful of biased journalists can and will use freedom of the press to undermine the democracies that give them those freedoms.
Second, we respond because the outrageous charges of the Guardian sometimes slip into the lexicon of other publications.
And third, every once and a while, even the Guardian reaches new journalistic lows — as the case with last week’s column, “Israel should learn from the Boers” by Liz McGregor.
McGregor just can’t invent enough parallels between the apartheid South Africa and Israel: Both are “based on ethnicity,” whereby a particular ethnic group prospers at the expense of another. She claims both are “born of a strong sense of religious destiny and experience of persecution.” Both societies “demonized” their persecuted ethnic populations as “lazy, unmotivated, lacking ambition.”
To draw her analogy, McGregor doesn’t let facts stand in her way: Both countries “dispossessed… subordinate races of their land and crowded [them] into marginal, drought-stricken ghettoes; their movement was restricted; access to education and skilled jobs limited so that they inevitably sank into a pool of low-wage labor. In both societies, bans on inter-marriage and daily lives segregated by race did little to dispel the fear and ignorance that feeds racial bigotry…”
Where does one begin to respond? First, Israel is a parliamentary democracy, and Arab parties serve in the Knesset; Arabs also run on the party lists of mainstream Israeli parties. There are no “uncle toms” among them. They freely attack Israeli policies and leaders from the podium of the Knesset. There are no bans on inter-marriage, universities are open to Arab students, and Israel’s Supreme Court rulings forbid discrimination in housing or jobs. Both sides are working to tear down barriers, sometimes slowly and painfully as seen in the October 2000 riots, but the mainstream political parties advocate integration and equal opportunity.
McGregor’s naive or malevolent comparisons are put into the context of the absurd when she writes, “In Israel’s case, many in the Arab world are thought to resent its very existence.” Is there any question that many Arab world want to see Israel annihilated? Were Saddam Hussein’s scud missiles “thought to” be falling on Israeli cities? Are Palestinian bombs in Israeli shopping malls “thought to” be messages of aggression and hatred?
But wait, there’s one more parallel that McGregor suggests: “Learn from the Boers.” The white South Africans gave up political power but “still control the economy and they live as well as ever… They no longer live under a state of siege… They have a future.” In other words, the State of Israel should give up its Jewish identity, and subsume itself in the larger Arab/Palestinian mass. Then, suggests the politically astute and fair-minded McGregor, Israeli’s will surely live in peace, happily ever after.
Read McGregor’s article.
If you believe the article is biased, send your complaints to:
The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, cut-and-paste the critique below. Please do not forward this page directly with HonestReporting’s comments.
========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ============
To the Editor:
Liz McGregor’s column “Israel should learn from the Boers” (May 17) compares Israel with apartheid South Africa. The analogy is full of mistakes in judgment and in facts.
Israel is a democracy where Arab citizens can vote. Israeli Arabs serve in the Knesset. They attend Israeli universities. There are no bans on intermarriage, and Arab Israelis enjoy equal rights, protected by Israeli supreme court rulings.
Incredibly, McGregor suggests that just as white South Africans turned over reigns of government, so too Israel should surrender its sovereignty. And why not? According to McGregor, the Arab world’s resentment of Israelis is only a perception.
Is that true? After endless wars of annihilation, PLO terrorism, and political and economic isolation from 22 Arab countries, the reality of Arab hatred seems more serious than the cavalier McGregor presents.
If Israel takes Ms. McGregor’s advice, I doubt she’d mourn over Israel’s grave.
In the article, “Arabs Propose Suspending Contacts with Israel,” no Israeli reaction is quoted, and there’s no mention that Israeli air strikes were in retaliation for the Netanya suicide bombing.