Tuesday, October 23, 2012

James Zogby and the Abuse of Truth

I began my dissecting of James Zogby's latest whinefest on the Huffington Post by explaining what exactly was wrong with the church letter that is the subject of his article. So if you haven't checked that out yet please do so now because it's time for him to lie again, this time about the reaction of the Jewish organizations that left the interfaith conference:
"The reaction was both hysterical and predictable. Using excessive and abusive language, some major Jewish groups denounced the letter and the churches represented by the signatories, charging them with "participation... in yet another one-sided anti-Israel campaign...."
As soon as I saw this I was immediately suspicious. When journalists use vacuous phrases like "some major Jewish groups said ______" that's a red flag that something fishy is happening. If you have a quote, that means that someone attached his or her name to it so why don't you just tell us? So I did some digging and here's what I found. The quote was by JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutnow but unlike some of the other quotes that Zogby is about to use, this one is actually pretty accurate (and correct, I might add). So why didn't Zogby just say that Rabbi Gutnow said XYZ? Ah! Because then he couldn't paint with such a broad brush and put the words of Gutnow into the mouths of millions of Jewish people! Of course. But he isn't finished yet, the quotes continue:
"and "vicious anti-Zionism" and accusing them of "stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state.""
These quotes are also by Gutnow, but once again Dr. Zogby is lying. Gutnow did not accuse the letter and the churches of these things in so many words. Here are the quotes in context:
"“The participation of these leaders in yet another one-sided anti-Israel campaign cannot be viewed apart from the vicious anti-Zionism that has gone virtually unchecked in several of these denominations."
See the difference? Here's the other one:
"Their stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state, often from within their own ranks, speaks loudly to their failure to stand up and speak the whole truth about what is occurring in the Middle East.”
So you'll have to excuse me, Dr. Zogby, but did Rabbi Gutnow say anything that wasn't 100% true? But of course it's much easier to feign outrage and repeat the same old "Can you believe he said that?" over and over instead of actually proving him wrong. Fortunately, I intend to do just that, because it's time for Dr. Zogby to start lying about Jewish people.

Here comes the big one:
"Now while this flare-up is new, the underlying tensions have been with us for a generation. So too has the bullying behavior of some of the mainstream Jewish organizations." 
Yes, I'm always curious when a Palestinian supporter accuses others of bullying behavior, because it never takes long before hypocrisy comes out. Now as we are about to say, what Dr. Zogby considers to be "bullying" is what the rest of us might call "expressing an opinion." Apparently it is totally fine for church leaders to write a letter attacking Israel, but not so much for Jewish leaders to write a letter attacking the church leaders. If that seems hypocritical to you, clearly you need to read more Dr. Zogby and eventually you'll start nodding your head along with him.

Now in order to prove that Jews bully, Dr. Zogby tells a story about a group called the Palestine Human Rights Committee that were cruelly slandered by the evil evil Jews. Oh noes! But don't take my word for itt:
"We were subjected to exclusion and defamation. We were denounced as "pro-terrorist" and our efforts to join a major progressive peace coalition were blocked. Despite winning the support of over 90% of the coalition's members, two Jewish groups threatened to abandon the group if we were allowed to join."
Time for me to ask some inconvenient questions:
1) Can you please extrapolate on what "exclusion" and "defamation" took place?
2) Does this "major progressive peace coalition" have a name?
3) If it does have a name, is there a particular reason why you didn't feel it was necessary to share that information with your audience?
4) Do these two Jewish groups have names?
5) Why don't you tell us which two Jewish groups threatened to leave?
6) And most prominently, why is it that when I google "Palestine Human Rights Committee" your article is the first thing that comes up? Does this group actually exist or did you just make it up?

Now it's not that I don't believe him (okay that's not true I don't) but when a story is this vague and full of this many holes, what else can one conclude except that he is trying to hide something and doing a rather pitiful job of it? But of course this is all one big distraction so that he gets to his main point:
"There have been many other examples of this behavior but it all boils down to the same modus operandi: the use of hysterical and exaggerated rhetoric in an effort to intimidate opponents...The net results of these tactics are: a silencing of any discussion or examination of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians...It is, to be sure, bullying. It is counter-productive and damaging to discourse and respect amongst peoples.""
So according to James Zogby, it's totally fine for these church leaders to write a letter condemning Israel, but not okay for Jews to write a letter condemning the church leaders. I'm sure he would also defend the examples of anti-Israel thuggery I defended above.

This is what I like to call the Opinion Two-Step: That only people who are anti-Israel are allowed to express their opinion, no matter what their opinion is and even if the way they choose to express their opinion is illegal. Naturally academic boycotts (aka forbidding professors from teaching) is considered "freedom of expression" as well. However, if people who are pro-Israel disagree with them about their point of view, that is "bullying," "silencing," not to mention "counter-productive" and damaging. This only works on people who already are drooling fans of Dr. Zogby, so it's no surprise that the readers of the Huffington Post eat it up.

Naturally, the Huffington Post readership didn't bother to read the article very closely at all before launching into 800 comments of hate. Here are just a couple examples:

Notice the "perpetuate the same genocide on the Palestinians as was done to them by Germany."

As always, Huffington Post approved.

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