Over the years, we’ve covered some vicious and despicable pieces in the media, many of them published in The Guardian. But amongst the many commentaries and analyses of the Gilad Shalit prisoner deal, one by Deborah Orr in The Guardian’s print edition really plumbs the depths.
All this, I fear, is simply an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives. Netanyahu argues that he acted because he values Shalit’s life so greatly.
Yet who is surprised really, to learn that Netanyahu sees one Israeli’s freedom as a fair exchange for the freedom of so many Palestinians? Likewise, Hamas wished to use their human bargaining chip to gain release for as many Palestinians as they could. They don’t have much to bargain with.
Is Orr really suggesting that Israel’s desire to get back one of its soldiers at such a high price is driven by some racist sense of valuing Israeli or Jewish life above all others? Apparently so:
At the same time, however, there is something abject in their eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.
The abuse of the concept of the “chosen people” refers specifically to Jews and is commonly employed by anti-Semites to falsely assert that Jews claim to be superior to non-Jews not only in a theological sense but also in a racial one.
As Joseph Telushkin asks:
Does Judaism believe that chosenness endows Jews with special rights in the way racist ideologies endow those born into the “right race”? Not at all. The most famous verse in the Bible on the subject of chosenness says the precise opposite: “You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth. That is why I call you to account for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2). Chosenness is so unconnected to any notion of race that Jews believe that the Messiah himself will descend from Ruth, a non-Jewish woman who converted to Judaism.
The fact that Israel values the life of a solitary individual so much that it is prepared to release hundreds of Palestinians responsible for some of the most appalling terrorist outrages instead tells us how much Israel values human life. This overwhelming desire to return one of its own people is a value to be proud of.
Orr appears to be distressed at the implication of a deal that sees one Jew as the equivalent of 1000 Arabs. If this is the case, then Orr would be better directing her ire at Hamas for demanding and setting such an unbalanced equivalance.
That Deborah Orr is prepared to descend to the depths of anti-Semitism to claim that Israel is motivated by racism says much about her own warped values. That The Guardian was prepared to publish such an obscene commentary merely confirms the publication’s vicious anti-Israel bent.
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Writing in a Guardian commentary in the October 26 print edition, it is clear at whom Jonathan Freedland is aiming this paragraph:
It should go without saying that Israelis would have preferred a one-to-one exchange, releasing a single Palestinian prisoner, rather than more than a thousand – many of them guilty of horrendous acts of violence – in return for Shalit. But, contrary to what some have suggested, it was Hamas, not Israel, that set that 1:1000 exchange rate; it was Hamas, not Israel, who decided that the freedom of a single Israeli was worth the freedom of a thousand Palestinians.
Still no sign, however, of The Guardian publishing any proper rebuttals of Deborah Orr, either in its opinion section or on the letters page.
UPDATE 2 – DEBORAH ORR RESPONDS
The intense criticism and the deluge of emails from HonestReporting subscribers and other concerned parties to The Guardian has had some effect. The October 27 print edition contains a response from none other than Deborah Orr herself.
See our Special Update – Deborah Orr’s Disgusting Excuse For an Apology