To me this fellow towers above the news items around at the moment. I really wish him well.
It's interesting how Sharon managed to combine eclectic elements of policy- angering everybody and fully reassuring almost none- with becoming a political phenomenon able to say 'today, I will form a new political party', with every chance of having done so effectively had the flesh not proved too weak.
It could seem almost banal to say that one supported him, in this context. His support seems to have come from the man on the street rather than from any political creed or group.
But I think the man on the street had a point.
Sharon was anti-factional but patriotic. He was pragmatic but he wanted to win.
He managed to kill the leadership of his foes, build a kind of Berlin wall against them, reduce their efforts to kill Israelis to a point where their own murderous infighting was producing more body bags that the war they were supposedly waging against Israel, and yet gain an unprecedented hearing among people home and abroad.
There are some very interesting pieces about Sharon at the moment; as usual I think they are ambivalent at best. Everyone always has some major 'con' to put alongside the 'pros', which seems to me almost contrarian.
Atlas Shrugs' Doctor Nancy makes the classic error of think that any kind of land concession by Israel was indicative of defeatism. She thinks Sharon was hamstrung by the reluctance of Israelis to shoulder the consequences of a hardline stance.
Daniel Pipes is even more critical, accusing Sharon of 'monumental mistakes' with the Gaza pullout foremost among them.
Meryl Yourish, however, points to Ariel Sharon's last interview at the head of his country. In it, Sharon lays down the law concerning the state of Israel in relation to the Palestinians.
What's striking is the iron-like grip Sharon maintained on these issues. There's an absolute and historically informed clarity in what he's saying. It all turns upon patriotism and the awareness of the hurts that have been visited upon the State of Israel in seeking its annihilation.
What I think is clear is this: Sharon's a winner, and he wanted to win for Israel its security and its integrity as a nation. How hard is that to love?
One interesting blog I found as well on Sharon examined his military career, preferring to concentrate on that. Well, I don't think it ever stopped, but I was struck by these words Ben Gurion had for Sharon:
'The only thing that matters is that we can exist here on the land of our forefathers. And unless we show the Arabs that there is a high price to pay for murdering Jews, we won't survive.'
I think that's what Sharon was zeroed on. Everything else was sound and fury.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Posted by ed thomas at 8:02 AM
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Two small nuggets. It's often hard to find out the BBC in big whopping lies, while to parse their articles can be likewise onerous on writer and demanding on reader.
So I have two small points to make:
This BBC article on the French very riot-like behaviour not only says that the riots had fizzled out several months back, it also describes the torching of 400 cars on New Year's Eve as representing a 'small rise' on the previous French hogmanay's festivities.
On the other hand this article describes how carbeques were up by one third on the previous year.
Basically it's the usual BBC love-in with the French establishment, and the PC willingness to overlook the crimes and misdemeanours of certain potentially religiously motivated groups. One thought I had about this recently: if it's ok for muslims to lie to dhimmies, is it ok for them, say, to drink in order to create the impression that they are disadvantaged youths recklessly rebelling? That would of course only be possible if they really intended some harm to the West, and had a strategy of sorts.
Anyway, the second nugget is where Paul Reynolds, analysing the great Ariel Sharon's legacy, which may well be sadly fixed at some time soon, gives the Palestinian point of view:
'They remember his role as the defence minister who allowed the Phalange into the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and who was forced to resign after those massacres after being criticised by the Kahan Commission.'
I am prepared to say that is in at least one respect (that of criticism) strictly true, and of course Reynolds has covered himself with the reference to how the Palestinians remember him. However, it would have been a lot more instructive to have reported, as this ally of Sharon's does, that Sharon was held 'indirectly responsible' for the massacres. 'Indirectly responsible' is the kind of fact I would like newspapermen to bear in mind in their reporting: it's the kind of 'indirect responsibility' which has seen Koffi Annan sail through his scandal over Oil-for-Food. So far that indirect responsibility has been uppermost in the minds of BBC journalists reporting Mr Annan. It doesn't appear to register in Sharon's favour in this case.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:48 PM
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Meanwhile the BBC's still in PC heaven:
Chirac's backing down on a so-called 'colonial law' - so the Beeb are quite excited. Thus they let doddering Chirac spout:
"France has set an example by being the first country in the world - and still the only one today - to recognise slavery as a crime against humanity. I have decided to establish a day of remembrance in France."
It's a difficult lie to parse, since technically they did outlaw slavery for a while after the revolution (don't know how effectually). The present perfect is a tad off-putting; I am sure that's not deliberate. But I don't suppose Chirac will ever get round to saying that Napoleon reinstated slavery, and it lasted almost half a century afterwards. Come to think of it, it's doubtful that in euphoric mood the BBC will bother to explain either. It must be Chirac's du bist la France moment.
Posted by ed thomas at 7:05 PM
Anthony Browne, simply. And of course Steyn on Demography, Europe and the Islamists. If I could link Roger Kimball I would, as his Criterion piece was excellent too. I think in Browne (as linked by Stephen Pollard), we come very close to the reality of things in the UK; as I've known them and as I feel them to be. I don't know if I will buy it. Maybe I should; but I know this stuff- know it factually, test it with a modest sort of empiricism- it's the believing that's the hard part, and that Browne helps instill.
The bit that struck me most of what I've read was where Browne reports the suppression of a report by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia; or rather, the re-writing of it to blame white skinheads for anti-Jewish acts, rather than the Muslims identified by the report as the most significant element.
So, a supposedly respectable trans-national agency lies to preserve its PC agenda. That's no surprise, but it should be if they were at all worthy of respect. However, instead of being discredited, what happened? Well, in the UK, the media split:
The Independent reported 'White men blamed as attacks on Jews rise'.
The Telegraph approached the real story that was there to be told. Approached, I say, because there seems to have been no real sense of scandal.
The will to negate the real story of the world's developments is extraordinary. Suicidal even.
Most individuals think a bit before they lie; usually work a little to avoid it, and if they do regret it just a bit. But in Britain the media quite literally thinks nothing of lying to force its mentality upon its readership. Papers like the Telegraph are no paragons; there can't be any when things go so far down that lying is a community journalistic activity- part of the scenery, going with the territory.
People are often pretty nasty, but usually lack organisation. The media in the UK however has organised its rhetorical turf and meanders round the boundaries seeking ways of extending it (the Telegraph occupies a slighty nicer bit of turf, as does the Guardian in its own way. The BBC? They are like some higher former of mafia, with access to all turfs, able to look infinitely more respectable while, whenever they really want to, orchestrating quietly). I often recommend articles not out of any faith in the media, but because somehow they delineate this turf war in a comfortingly close approximation to the reality. So it is with Browne- but it's a very close approximation in this case.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:07 PM
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Another of those exotic young things.... The BBC has been highlighting the account of former Palestinian hostage Kate Burton.
Of course they're keen to give us the background: she 'grew up in Belgium', she 'speaks Arabic'. Ah, perfect, perfect. She's well, a young female 'human rights worker'. Maybe she even speaks arabic in a non-laughable way.
I am sure many of us just think: Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall... Kate Burton- another (we are coached to think) telegenic product of one of the (if not the) great causes of our time. True, she worked for a slightly more academic organisation than Hurndall and Corrie (there is an aside on the website about sewage issues, for instance) but it is no different in outlook, only in tone.
According to the BBC she's even human: she 'lost it' with the hostage takers. But they just leave it in this picturesque celluloid ether waiting for the obligatory film director's interest.
The fact is though there are ample facts missed out by the BBC (and others, but the BBC gives her the sought-after formal gloss- nice pic, btw). Human Rights worker she may have been, but for which humans' rights? A run-through of the statements at the website of her Al Mezan 'employers' reveals an exclusively and chauvinistically pro-Palestinian stance. No mention of that one on the BBC.
The reason, therefore, she lost it, could be seen in a different light when one postulates that she felt that the terrorists owed her one for being on their side in the conflict. Absent recognition of that, she lost it. One interpretation of course, but one we're entitled to as much as we are to the Gladys Aylward made-up treatment. Unless facts are unpacked, interpretations are limited.
Going further, one might note the kind of detail picked up by David Vance via the Irish media: it turns out Ms Burton had helped out in Cuba, too- a picture begins to emerge - working shoulder to shoulder with a Sinn Fein activist.. er councillor.
The Beeb knows we like the glamour (though actually I find none of this stuff glamorous, only pathetic), and they're only to happy to give her the Gladys Aylward treatment. But they know much better than that- and they're sitting on that knowledge because it suits their news agenda. It figures. The Honest Reporting awards summarised reasons for the BBC's victory in the Dishonest Reporting Awards, 2005 by referring to:
...a pattern of naivete, dishonesty, forcing facts conform to a narrow worldview and, arguably, a desire to inappropriately influence events
Oh, I beg to differ. I think the desire is unarguable. I am only gratified when I notice it failing to be consummated.
Posted by ed thomas at 4:01 PM
Monday, January 02, 2006
Happy New Year- and see the Beeb's grey matter stewing as they struggle to reallign in the face of new 'realities on the ground'.
Jeremy Bowen comes close to endorsing the neo-con revolution in the Middle East. Close, I say.
But first a little linguistic analysis. It's always noticeable how odd contortions of language are used when people want to soften the truth (ie. approach a lie). Jeremy Bowen gives a modest example with his intro:
'Oppression and violence and the doings of despotic regimes can seem to drown everything else out.' (in the Middle East)
The thing I notice is this triplicate 'Oppression and violence and the doings of despotic regimes...'
Just where is the oppression and violence disassociated with despotic regimes? Of course one might say he means terrorism, but this disjunction of several ills from the well-known despotism of the region seems unjust. Terrorists are merely aspiring despots, or tools of the same. One senses that Bowen is trying to blur distinctions into a 'we are all sinners' point (and the Israelis in particular, as usual). Naturally the BBC journalist carries round an instinctive awareness of an international audience that encompasses many who disapprove of Israel and the US and all that they do, and only a few jews.
Enough of the bad. What's good about Bowen's piece is that it identifies very forthrightly the locus of reform in the Middle East:
'there are signs of change.
They go back, in one way or another, to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.'
Yay. Iraq war good. At last.
Well of course, as I said, not quite. Bowen picks up John Simpson's point about bombing in Jordan being caused by the US invasion of Iraq- 'The violence will continue, and across the Middle East governments are worried that it will spread their way.
In Jordan, it already has.'
That really is Beeb-think in action, since it really flies in the face of the analysis of the Jordanians themselves, who blame not GWB but Al-Zarkawi- producing headlines and initiatives like this one (just as an evil neo-con of Rovian intellect might have planned away back).
It almost annuls the impact of saying 'Thanks to the Americans, Iraq had elections in December 2005.' , but not quite.
And then of course Bowen makes the obligatory anti-neo-con point that islamists may actually be popular, so democracy will work against America.
Maybe so- though he ignores contrary indicators like the response of Jordan to the bombings- but his point's a dud:
'The Americans are discovering that the problem with democracy is that it can produce results that you don't like.
That's just the way it is.'
Huh- very bluff. Very Yorkshire.
America- the country that knows more about democracy in terms of consecutive experience of it than any other. People there apparently haven't figured that votes can go against them, over the four centuries they've been experiencing it. I think the point has been demonstrated amply that where democracy endures and a commitment to it is made over time, despots shrivel and fall away- but the Beeb haven't quite figured that one out yet. But its what we all want, isn't it?
Posted by ed thomas at 11:44 AM