Sunday, January 18, 2004

Rags and bones

I have never been an avid reader of the censored press. Nevertheless, on the behest of my good wife, I do bring home the Hamodia each week. After the compote Friday-night, just as the effects of a heavy meal and half a bottle of wine begin to kick in, I am regaled with bits of news that happened a couple of weeks back, followed by all that is new on the hatches, matches and dispatches front. Being the good guy I am, I convincingly add all the oohs and ahs in the right places and so perform my most important husbandly duty. (Well, nearly most important.)

I must admit that the quality of the Religious press (a term very loosely used in this context) has improved vastly in recent years. When I was a child the only orthodox paper in English you could get was the London Jewish Tribune. Under its title was the caption ‘Organ of Anglo Jewry’. Some organs should only be exposed in public when they are having a bit chopped off.

The Jewish Tribune was to newspapers what Ronald Reagan was to presidents. Jacky Mason says that Ronald Reagan was the happiest president America ever had. He wafted along merrily, blissfully unfettered by any disturbing knowledge of world affairs and largely unhampered by worries of anything smaller than local primaries. Likewise, there was never a bit of negative news about the community in that paper. The only bits of dirt ever found in there were the plate scrapings I would wrap in it, so as to stop my dustbin smelling.

The Homodia, Yid, Machne Haredi, Yated etc. that vie for market-share today are all a little better. By that I mean that they will all mention the main points in the news and add in anything negative about the ‘other’ parts of the community that they feel they can get away with. It still does not deserve to be called journalism and its integrity cannot be questioned, barely mentioned in fact. What we are fed with is rehash of lasts week’s news messily offered up on bed of self-righteous comment.

I was therefore not surprised to notice that the Hamodia this week chose to side with their arch-rivals in objective journalism, the BBC. A rather flamboyant Springer-style show host named Kilroy was reported by the BBC as having called all Arabs "suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors" and asked what they had given to the world other than oil. ( . The BBC immediately suspended him and will keep him off the air pending an investigation into his potentially racist comments.
Strangely enough, what the Hamodia fails to point out is that the very same BBC also has on its books an extremely savoury character called Tom Paulin. In April 2002, Paulin wrote in Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram that "Brooklyn-born" settlers in the occupied territories "should be shot dead… I think they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them… I never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all."

Despite numerous and well publicized complaints from the Jewish community about these statements and Paulin's other comparisons of Israelis to Nazis, the BBC has continued to allow Paulin to be a regular contributor to the BBC Newsnight Review arts program. I do not believe that the Hamodia did not notice the hullabaloo surrounding this fine specimen of a poet. Yet it has chosen this week to report the suspension of Kilroy but not the double standard in the BBC. Is there some link here that I am missing?

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