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Our Kiwi in Israel 2017

Michael Kuttner


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17 July, 2017 by Michael Kuttner
First published in jWire

It is very rare for the international media to have no news about Israel. Likewise our local media hardly misses an opportunity to inform us about developments here.

The Maccabiah is an interesting example of how a seemingly hot news event hardly features in our daily domestic diet of newsworthy items. Prior to the games commencing there was lots of pre publicity and even supplements in the newspapers. The English language media seemed to be more focused on this international gathering of Jewish athletes and this became more evident once the competitions started. Israel TV featured the opening ceremony on its KAN channel but this was the only one to do so. The live coverage was somewhat ruined by regular commercial breaks which meant that large segments of the proceedings were missing.

Fortunately as Australia was the first team to march into the stadium in Jerusalem we were able to watch their large contingent and exuberant participants receive an enthusiastic welcome from the public. By the time countries starting with the letter N were due to march past we were already being bombarded with endless & mindless advertisements. When these had finished we were already up to Sweden which made me wonder whether I had missed out on seeing New Zealand. I needn't have worried however because New Zealand was not represented. Their lack of representation was not only a deep disappointment for all local Kiwis but also a mystery. Countries with miniscule Jewish communities managed to send competitors yet New Zealand seemed unable to do so. If the Cayman Islands, Barbados, Cambodia, Cuba, Curacao, Gibraltar, Vietnam and Hong Kong amongst others could muster even a one person team surely New Zealand could do the same.

Now that the games are well under way the absence of publicity in the local media is glaringly obvious. In fact J-Wire has more coverage than our local media which makes one wonder why this should be.

A cartoon which appeared in Israel's largest circulation Hebrew newspaper sums up the situation admirably. It shows a couple sitting in front of their TV. The husband asks his wife – “What do you want to watch, the results of the Labour primary or the results of the Maccabiah?” She responds – “What? The Maccabiah started?”

Meanwhile elsewhere fake news abounds.

Jews have been subjected to this phenomenon for the last two thousand years. Deicide, well poisoning, plague disseminators, blood libels and today's mutations of Israel conspiracies and lies such as apartheid and colonialist oppression are all part and parcel of the same sickness.

The recent UNESCO vote on Hebron was yet another opportunity for news outlets to concoct phony claims. This time it was SKY News which, as reported by Honest Reporting, rewrote historical facts.

Israel is particularly offended because there is an ancient shrine in the centre of the town: known to Jews as Tomb of the Patriarchs and the second-holiest site in Judaism, and known to Muslims as Ibrahimi mosque.

The important religious site, which was built by Muslims in the 14th century, is believed to be the resting place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The majority of people seeing or hearing this will assume that this holy site was built by Moslems in the 14th century when in actual fact it dates back thousands of years before Islam and certainly before a Mosque was built there by illegal Moslem occupiers. No mention is made of course that Abraham actually paid for purchasing this place. This is a classic example of make believe assertions and how the media spreads it far and wide.

Israel has, in reaction to the UNESCO vote, once again reduced the amount it pays to the United Nations for the doubtful privilege of being a member.

Hardly a day goes by when Israeli security forces do not intercept Palestinian Arabs trying to smuggle knives and other weapons through checkpoints. The existence of checkpoints and the security barriers is another example of news perversion which features regularly in the media. Portrayed as symbols of oppression these security measures are of course necessary measures preventing the murder of Israelis. You wouldn't realize this if you only relied on what passes for media disinformation.

The Chief PA “peace” negotiator the other day claimed that Hamas and other associated friends are not terror groups but legitimate political parties. This bit of fiction may go down well at the UN and in the Islamic world at large but for anyone with even a miniscule knowledge of reality it is a ludicrous assertion.

Abbas has told the French President that he is ready to sign a peace agreement with Israel. Monsieur Macron was obviously conned by this piece of fictitious fantasy because he reverted to the traditional bashing of Israeli homes being built in Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria. Instead of challenging Abbas about his continuing payment of stipends to terrorists and their families and his refusal to stop delegitimizing the Jewish claim to Jerusalem the new French President swallowed every piece of untrue narrative and reverted to traditional French hypocrisy.

One of the classic ways of diverting citizens' attention away from domestic failures is to create a crisis by blaming minority groups. Jews have historically been the targets of such policies and today Israel is the recipient. That is why the South African Government faced with massive domestic crises finds it expedient to accuse the Jewish State of every imaginable crime. Its latest effort at duplicitous news is to trot out the discredited apartheid libel again and talk of downgrading relations. This no doubt plays well with the ill informed masses but is merely another manifestation of how lies can be used to manipulate public opinion.

There are those who still do not take the danger of false news seriously. The ability to underestimate the damage which can be caused by its unchallenged spread is serious. A clear example of how lies can be swallowed even by so called educated sections of society is vividly demonstrated in this video by courtesy of ACT.IL - a student initiative which is defending Israel on line:

It's time to stop fake news in its tracks now.

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel where he is J-Wire's correspondent.