Speculating about the Mossad is the international pasttime, even among Israelis … but speculating about the Washington Post?

Andrew’s salivant chewing on the possibility that the Mossad has assassinated a Hamas-connected arms dealer seems to have caused another of The Dish’s patented Israel-related typing errors:

If you want some idea of the imploding ship of the WaPo, they have a Reuters wire story that you have to [do] a search to find.

Translation: the Washington Post is trying to protect Israel by giving a lower profile to the story (… and I guess, um … duly making phone calls to its webmasters for that purpose … I guess).

Hmm. Andrew writes “Goldberg bait,” about a TSA story and “Colbert bait” about a bear story, could we say that The Dish sometimes includes a line or two to offer up what we should similarly term “pro-Israel Jew bait” (that is, if the phrase  “Jew-baiting” didn’t have its own distinct etymology and meaning)?

… I sometimes think Andrew has to get the itchy possibility of an offensive thought immediately out of an overdelicate system — shades of Coates’ theory here. On the other hand, “I confess some ignorance here as well […] is Israel once again an exception?” as a great thinker once carefully qualified.

I don’t know exactly how The Washington Post is supposed to arrange their website adequately enough to not be the neoconservative outpost Andrew thinks it is. And I don’t know how often ships “implode” before they sink, but I admit it sounds like a more incredible disaster than the Titanic.

Still, I don’t think Andrew’s posts lately have provided convincing evidence that The Dish is immune to implosion or sinking, or whatever dishes do that buildings and ships usually don’t, like shattering into a million pieces or running away with the spoon.

Very recently, The Dish cited Johann Hari’s broadside from over a year ago about how pro-Israel voices made a concerted effort to “smear” him for a perfectly innocent column criticizing Israel. It seems that Andrew didn’t take a moment to evaluate any of the criticism leveled against Hari — from the parties Hari complained about and from others — and just took the man’s word for everything. Not very journalistic of The Dish.

The most gentle criticism may have been a Howard Jacobson column in The Independent last year, which might also apply to Andrew’s illuminating new series of posts, “What Often Happens to Israel’s Critics.” (Personally, I’m excited for “Episode 4 – A New Hope.”)

Jacobson’s op-ed has been reprinted at Engage, above David Hirsch’s letter to The Independent. Here’s a portion of Jacobson’s argument:

Indeed, accusing your detractors of carrying out a campaign often amounts to carrying out one in return – for it is a smear in itself to accuse people who disagree with you of acting out of no other motive than malice. He who says I smear him when I don’t smears me.

Something else doesn’t feel quite right to me about Johann Hari’s unearthing of this “campaign”, and that is his assertion that “it is an attempt to intimidate and silence – and to a large degree it works”. To my ear, that answers intimidation with intimidation, since it impugns the intellectual honour of those of whom he speaks, and coerces us into thinking the worst of them.

Furthermore, it is patently untrue that “intimidation” has worked. Johann himself is demonstrably not intimidated. Nor is it easy to see who else is. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, it cannot surely be argued that the Palestinian case is not heard. Let’s put it this way: if there really is a smear campaign in operation to intimidate and silence those who try to describe the plight of the Palestinian people, it isn’t working.

The reason for the virulence of some of the attacks Johann describes is not hard to locate. He finds the smearing of Israel’s critics loathsome; others find the smearing of Israel loathsome too. I know – neither side will have it that “smearing” is what’s going on.


It didn’t help Johann to convince those who didn’t want to be convinced that in the middle of his reporting on the defilement he perpetrated falsenesses, or falsely emphasised, or offered as self-evident historical truth events which are subject to intense controversy. He cited, as many cite, the catchphrase “a land without people for a people without land”, though that was not a formulation of Israeli making or even general Israeli belief. It was coined by the British before Zionism existed and didn’t answer to the hopes for Arab/Jewish co-operation which early Zionists, perhaps naively, entertained.

I’ll post something tomorrow about Sullivan’s neglect in using the Hari column.

I have to admit though that Andrew’s link to the Reuters story has made me nostalgic. Was anyone else a bit nervous about his pro-Israel idealism when The Dish used to reflexively slam Reuters for the anti-Israel bias in their coverage? Nowadays, I wouldn’t have been completely surprised to wake up to this same Dubai assassination post on The Dish with the headline “What Often Happens to Israel’s Critics, 3.”

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