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October 31, 2003 - Image 32

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-31

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Fighting A Double Standard


o let's try once more to
point out the proverbial
double standard as it
applies to Israel in the
Middle East conflict.
A group of Israeli fighter pilots
refuse to fly missions that may
cause deaths or injuries to
Palestinian civilians. Let us put
aside what such a decision means to
the principle of military command
— or whether one opposes or sup-
ports such a decision — and exam-
ine how the pilots' action is illustra-
tive of dual moralities.
Israel's state-sponsored policies
have always been to minimize casu-
alties of enemies and do whatever it
can to avoid killing civilians, even
at the risk of endangering its own
military personnel.
First and foremost, the protest
reflects the value of life imbued in
Israel's society even among the mili-
tary. (Can anyone imagine a
Palestinian or any Arab protesting
the loss of lives among Israeli civil-
One of Israel's strengths is its
commitment to the value of life and
unlike its bitter adversaries, Israelis

Berl Falbaum, an author and play-
wright, is a Farmington Hills public
relations executive and former political
reporter who teaches journalism part-
time at Wayne State University.

do not dance in the streets with joy
— as many Arabs do — following
the deaths of women and children.
Further, when lives are lost, Jews
do not gloat over the deaths of Arab
civilians. Whose heart is not moved
when Palestinian parents grieve over
the loss of their loved ones or their
The Palestinians and other Arab
nations promote state-sponsored
policies that call for the killing of
Israeli civilians. Those policies have
been "perfected" over the years and
developed into the creation of sui-
cide terrorists.
Generally, how do the world and
the media react to the two sides?
They fault Israel and are generally
silent When Palestinians are
involved in the killing of civilians.
Worse, excuses are found for
Palestinian mayhem, i.e. it's the set-
tlements, it's Ariel Sharon's visit to
the Temple Mount, it's the opening
of the tunnel near the Western
Of course, the rationale is not
only wrong, since the killing of
Israeli civilians goes back well
before the 1967 war or the establish-
ment of the State of Israel in 1948,
but it also is grotesque to suggest
that a "volatile" visit to the Temple
Mount justifies three years of mur-
Curiously, no one ever finds a

reason to excuse the civilian
Where is the outcry
casualties caused by the
demanding justice for these
Israeli military, casualties
victims? Surely, given the
that, as unfortunate and
number murdered, some
regrettable as they are, in
innocent people were
the end, are often unavoid-
slaughtered. And why page
able, especially when the
Palestinian militants strate-
The answer may be
gically locate their facilities
embedded in a letter written
in civilian neighborhoods.
several years ago by William
What's more, when Israeli
Borders, Times news editor,
actions lead to deaths that
to a reader who complained
might have been avoided, it engages that he believed the Times was giv-
in self-examination. Israel often
ing greater coverage to alleged
orders investigations of military
Israeli abuses than that of
missions that may have caused
Palestinians. The news editor basi-
unnecessary casualties. (When have
cally replied that violence by Israelis
Arab nations engaged in such self-
is news; by Palestinians, it is not.
Then he asked rhetorically: Surely
The dual morality standard was
you don't consider the two sides
sharply evident in the massive
morally equivalent?
media coverage that the pilots'
There we have it — a confession,
action received.
albeit most assuredly unintentional
Yet, another story of how
— of a double standard in the cov-
Palestinian gunmen slaughtered
erage of the Middle East conflict by
"suspected" Israeli collaborators —
arguably one of the most powerful
made public at about the same time media institutions in the world.
by a human rights agency — went
Yet, while the Times holds the
virtually unnoticed by the media.
Palestinians to a lower moral stan-
The New York Times ran a story
dard than Israel, there is good news
on page 11, reporting the killing of
in the Times' flawed judgment of
two suspected informants, but also
that Palestinians have killed
Unfortunately, given its animus
"dozens" of suspected informers
toward Israel, the world does not
over the past three years and hun-
hold the Palestinians or other Arab
dreds during the first intifada
nations to any moral standard in
(uprising) between 1987 and 1993.
their attacks on Israel. Pi

When Bad Ideas Happen To Good Writers

Whi p pany, N.J.
ou'd think that the biggest
anti-Semitism story of the
week would be that of
Malaysian Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad, who got a stand-
ing ovation at the Islamic Conference
in Kuala Lumpur for declaring that "the
Jews rule this world by proxy. They get
others to fight and die for them."
But giving Mahathir a run for his
money was New Republic writer Gregg
Easterbrook, whose questionable
remarks came in a scathing review of
the ultra-violent film Kill Bill in his
Web diary, or blog. Easterbrook wrote,

Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor-in-chief'
of the New Jersey Jewish News,
His e-mail address is



apropos of very little, that the studio
execs behind the Disney-Miramax film,
Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein,
are Jewish, and went on to condemn
"Jewish executives [who] worship
money above all else, by promoting for
profit the adulation of violence."
The paragraph in question raised a
storm of protest, apologies from
Easterbrook and the New Republic, and
a statement from the Anti-Defamation
League that Easterbrook's apology was
"insufficient." Easterbrook reportedly
was sacked from his job as an online
football analyst for ESPN (owned by
Disney, we should point out).
Easterbrook's apology was indeed
lacking, as poorly thought out as his
original essay. In the essay, the refer-
ences to Eisner's and Weinstein's reli-
gion come in a final "corporate side-
light" to his criticism of the movie.
He writes, "Disney's CEO, Michael

Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of
"I think it's fair to raise faith
Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is
in this context: In fact, I did
Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of
exactly that one week earlier,
Christian and other Hollywood
when I wrote a column about
executives who worship money
the movie The Passion [of
above all else, promoting for
Christ] asking how we could
profit the adulation of violence.
take Mel Gibson seriously as a
Does that make it right for
professed Christian, when he
Jewish executives to worship
has participated in numerous
money above all else, by pro-
movies that glorify violence."
moting for profit the adulation
Yet Gibson is directing a self-
of violence?
Commentary financed movie about Jesus in
"Recent European history
what he himself calls an expres-
alone ought to cause Jewish
sion of his own Catholic theol-
executives to experience second
ogy; unless Miramax commissioned Kill
thoughts about glorifying the killing of
Bill Vol. /director Quentin Tarantino to
the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice."
create a midrash on the Sixth Com-
In his apology, Easterbrook blames
mandment, I don't see how it is at all
the speed of Web writing for a "terrible
fair to raise the faith of Eisner and
job through poor wording." But
Weinstein (neither of whom, by the
Easterbrook, who writes frequently
way, is particularly active in Jewish
about his own Presbyterian church, also
causes or communal life).
has this to say.
And if you are going to raise some-

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