You Know Your Paper's In Trouble When...
The commenters are consistently more knowledgable and are better writers than your editorial staff. Here is an example of the level of opinion writing offered at what was once a respected regional newspaper written by Saritha Prabhu who, like columnist Gail Kerr, seems to have barely graduated high school, but was nevertheless hired for the sake of diversity to be The Tennessean's Muslim voice. Prabhu writes:
Some of the weakest links in our political discourse here, I find, are U.S. policy toward Israel and the Israel-Palestine issue.
Sometimes it feels like the only views you're allowed to have and express on this are: that we are friends and allies of Israel, that the Palestinians are mostly terrorists, and that we should support Israel, come what may.
As Barack Obama — the candidate — Jimmy Carter and others have found, if you voice sympathy for Palestinian suffering or pass critical remarks toward Israel, you are likely to be labeled an enemy of Israel or worse.
Commenter Jumbos: Same propaganda, different writer. And plenty dumbed down to fit the profile of The Tennessean.
If you're going to be critical of American support of Israel, at least learn the history. The United States' support of Israel has not been unconditional. The Israelis have actually shown amazing restraint at times. They returned the Sinai to Egypt after winning it while defending themselves in a war started by the Arabs. They absorbed Scud Missle attacks during the first Gulf War while not retaliating at the Bush administration's behest. Israel came to the table in 1999 ready for a lasting peace deal; Arafat refused.
More recently, we had the egregious instance where Charles Freeman, a respected public servant, had to withdraw his nomination for a top intelligence post because political heavyweights and advocacy groups successfully lobbied against him. His crime? That he, among other things, had said critical — and true — things about Israel.
Commenter doc1031: Right about here is where a real journalist..or commentator..or a drunk at the gold rush would site at least one example.
Commenter nosharia: Let's look at some facts here. Obama was going to appoint this man to one of the most sensitive intelligence spots in the US government. Freeman, a former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and senior envoy to China, was the president of the nonprofit Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), an organization with “close ties to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” In a 2006 interview, Freeman explained that MEPC had received a $1 million endowment, thanks to “the generosity of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia.” The following year, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud gave another $1 million to MEPC. (Alwaleed’s offer of money to New York City after 9/11 was famously turned down by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.) Let's see.....what else...if that isn't enough.....Freeman also had business connections to the BinLaden family....let's see..what else....a quote from Freeman..."The connection between Islam and suicide bombing is a false connection." Also,
Freeman’s close working relationship with the Chinese government seems to have influenced his political views – so much so that, in a 2006 internet post that is only now receiving media scrutiny, Freeman criticized the Chinese authorities for not moving swiftly enough to crush democratic protestors and dissidents assembled in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Now there's a guy I want to have in the white house handling top secret intelligence!
All this is, of course, because so many in the political, media, intellectual and entertainment elite in this country have ties to Israel.And there are also powerful advocacy groups who exert influence with the policy-makers. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and there is a powerful Israel lobby. Maybe not a monolithic one, but one nevertheless.
Note to editors: right after Prabhu's "Jews control America" line she misuses the the snide and overused "Yes, Virginia."
Last summer, when there was much talk of flag pins, patriotism and such, I couldn't help thinking: If you advocate for another country's (Israel's) interests, and if those interests are sometimes detrimental to those of your own country, can you be considered patriotic? Obviously not.
Supporting Israel is in America's interest. It is those who advocate abandoning the only true democracy in the Middle East who don't have America's best interests at heart.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. But in this land of free thought and expression, it is sometimes strange to see lockstep thinking almost enforced in this issue.
The Muslim Brotherhood constantly promotes the idea of Jewish conspiracies forcefully shaping public opinion. Ms. Prabhu must have received the memo.
And this is not a call to withdraw support toward Israel, but to re-evaluate it, and to have an honest debate about our largely uncritical support of that country.
If we had a debate, we would start by saying that our support of Israel has cost us immensely, both financially and in other ways.
Commenter nosharia: Of course, you aren't anti-semitic. That would be something to accuse a Nazi of. You're only antt-zionist...which of course is the new "word" for anti-semitism. The Arab countries are attacking Israel because it is a country of infidels of the worst kind...Jews...
The war against Israel is the same as the other 44 wars in the world being waged by Islamic jihadists. The political ideology of Islam calls for the submission of all non-Islamic cultures and religions. It the "useful idiots" like you that the jihadists use to beat us from within.
Down the decades, it has been the biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid (more than $ 130 billion). Some of our taxpayer-funded aid has gone toward Israeli bombs that have blown Palestinian women and children to smithereens. Of course, I can't say this without adding that Hamas and Hezbollah rockets and suicide bombs have, likewise, killed Israelis, though on a smaller scale.
She neglects to mention that if Hamas and Hezbollah could kill more Israelis, they would, whereas Israel could easily wipe the Palestinian Arabs off the map if they wanted to, but don't. There is no moral equivalence here.
Also, our support has earned us the wrath of those lovable Islamic fundamentalists the world over.
Right, if we would just stop supporting Israel, Muslims would lay down their arms. Everybody knows that.
But as I wrote last week, there are shades of gray in every issue, and those shades exist in this, too. Both Israel and Palestine are tainted, both have blood on their hands, both Israel and Palestine (the Hamas faction) have been intransigent.
This is cute. The democratically elected government of Israel is equivalent to a terrorist organization. It's a shades of gray thing.
As I've said before when writing on such matters, my perspective is that of an interested, informed observer. And one of the things I've observed is the striking difference in perspective on this among native-born Americans and others.
Errata sheet: for "interested and informed observer," read: "uninformed propagandist interested in promoting the Muslim Brotherhood's party line."
Anecdotally, in passing conversations through the years with non-Americans and non-native-born Americans, what has come through is this: that the formation of Israel in 1948 was an injustice to the Palestinians; that this issue has more often been framed by those with might, who aren't necessarily in the right; that the historically oppressed Israeli Jews have, sadly, now become oppressors; that religion, regrettably, might lie at the heart of U.S. foreign policy in this matter.
Notice how she cannot say native born Americans believe that Jews are Nazis, only non-Americans and non-native-born Americans. Which means what? That in her converstations with other Muslims, they all think Jews are Nazis? I believe that.
And now we have a new, hard-line government in Israel, which says it might bomb Iran by year's end if the latter doesn't halt its nuclear ambitions. It will be interesting to see how President Obama handles this.
Meaning, she hopes Obama will use the excuse to cut off US aid to Israel, which he probably will.
Our addiction to foreign oil has cost us. And our mostly unconditional support of Israel in the past has cost us, too. We'll have to wean ourselves off the former and re-evaluate the latter if we want a safer, better world for ourselves.
Does she mean to say that since we import oil from the Middle East and Israel is located in the Middle East that we are "addicted to Israel"? Any journalism professor in the country would have a red pencil all over this. But here she is, Ms. Saritha Prabhu, working as a columnist at The Tennessean. Also see Steven J. Edelstein, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville's response here. The comments section on this piece shows the paper is fully prepared to leave blatantly antisemitic comments up.
From commenter gymtonic: A neocon; someone with a head in Israel, a body in the United States, and a neck that needs stretching.