Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Left - Terrorized by Talkbacks!

1. Israel's Left has always hated "talkbacks". Those are the little
responses that people can write to articles on the web versions of
newspapers. In Israel, where the newspapers are largely under the
hegemony of the Left, and especially at Haaretz, whose concept of
political pluralism resembles that of Pravda back in the happy days of
Brezhnev, "talkbacks" are the main or only venue in which non-leftists get
to have a say.

But in Israel talkbacks . a bit like radio phone-in shows in the US (and
in Israel) . are dominated by the non-Left. Even at Haaretz, which
almost never allows non-Leftist opinion to be aired on its print pages,
the talkbacks are almost wall-to-wall rightwingers. Even though responses
are monitored (mainly for crudeness and libel). Ditto at the other

That has gotten the Left upset. Haaretz today runs an Op-Ed by Prof.
Fania Oz-Salzberger, titled "The democratization of evil", which can be
read in English here
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/880096.html . Oz-Salzberger, who
teaches law at the University of Haifa and is the daughter of Amos Oz, has
previously expressed reservations about "offensive" uses of freedom of
speech, such as when it offends Moslems. See Melanie Phillips comments
on this here: http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/?p=1431

Oz-Salzberger writes in her Op-Ed in Haaretz, inter alia:

'The Israeli context is particularly interesting. The talkback policies at
the news sites in Israel, including those of newspapers, are more liberal
than those of their Western counterparts. The local surfers are faster and
blunter than their brethren, who live in societies that are more serene
than ours, and the artery that connects their gut feelings to their
fingers on the keyboard is shorter. Thus, if evil seethes in all cultures,
here it rises more swiftly to the surface and to the chains of responses.
In this matter, too, Israel is a kind of precursor of the post-modernist
camp, a fascinating touchstone for human issues of all sorts. Violence,
and especially nationalist crime, evokes in the Israeli surfer a spectrum
of emotions that is certainly no different from the general homo sapiens
range, but it is both sharper and more open than is customary in other
cultures (and this includes Internet cultures). When Shalhevet Pass, a
baby who did not live to understand that she was a Jewish settler in
Hebron, was shot and killed, one person who lives among us took the
trouble to write to the NFC (News First Class) Web site that the murder
victim "stank of the blood of slaughtered Palestinian children."

'This phrase, which is sadly engraved on the computer servers, is neither
leftist nor rightist. It is pure evil. And when a Jewish fanatic murdered
taxi driver Taysir Karaki, who drove him from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, quite
a number of respondents hurried to the Ynet and Walla! Web sites, and also
to that of Haaretz, to celebrate the blood that was spilled. "Those Arabs
can just keep on whining," they typed. "What is an Arab doing in Tel Aviv
anyway? He was probably planning a terror attack." And in the best of
succinct talkback style: "Poor Arabs hahaha." This is not right, this is
not left, this is evil.

'A handful of weirdos with keyboards? We have long known that this is not
the case. There probably isn't a single Israeli who dwells among his
people, in taxis and at tables, who hasn't heard such things said aloud
innumerable times. This is about the human soul, unbridled and
uninhibited, free of the muzzles of cost and censorship that publication
of an opinion in print and in public entails. Many evil bytes pass through
the exhausted hands of Web site editors. Israeli news channels usually
censor very crude responses, including "Death to the Arabs," as well as
messages that involve the right to privacy and the fear of libel. But how
do you define a text that the screen does not tolerate?'

Now it is true that some talkbacks are crude and vulgar. After all, most
of those writing them are folks from the streets, not college profs. But
one suspects that what REALLY upsets people like Oz-Salzberger is the fact
that these talkbacks are a far more reliable indicator of the political
sentiments of the average Israeli than are the elitist Op-Eds at Haaretz,
and the average Israeli despises the delusions of the Left and rejects the
entire Oslo Ascendancy.

2. Avram Burg:

3. Peace Now's latest Treason:

4. Human Rights Watch . Pro-Terror and Indifferent to Human Rights

5. July 10, 2007

Le Running Man (vs. Freedom Fries?)
July 10, 2007
Since he bound up the steps of Elysee Palace on his first day in office,
Nicolas Sarkozy has made jogging -- in local parlance le running -- the
symbol of his presidency. The French President's daily regimen telegraphs
a fresh insistence on forward movement, self-reliance, and hard work. For
a nation that has begun to tire of its economic torpor, there's no
healthier mindset.

Of course, no evolution proceeds uncontested. The recent popularity of
running in France has piqued the old guard that regards the long stride as
vulgar, un-French and, worst of all, American. Lib.ration, France's
left-leaning daily, associated the sport with individualism, asking in its
headline, "Is jogging right-wing?" Alain Finkelkraut, a prominent
philosopher who supported Mr. Sarkozy, pronounced the President's exercise
regimen "undignified." "Western civilization, in its best sense, was born
with the promenade," Mr. Finkelkraut insists.

And here we were thinking Western civilization was born with fleet action,
in counterpoise precisely to the indolence of earlier regimes. The
intellectual class's basic problem is, per Mr. Finkelkraut, about
civilization and the best way to measure its progress. One school says
measure by output; another, by leisure. So we can forgive French polite
society for seeing the Sarkozy Presidency, in its symbolism at least, as a
departure from the nation's traditions. It is.

But a jog away from tradition seems to be what ordinary French want, and
voted for in elections this spring. That's a whole lot healthier than the

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