Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Bias, continued

 Israeli jets pound Gaza as rocket fire resumes and Palestinians hit streets to protest

Why? Why not "Hamas continues to launch hundreds of missiles at Israeli cities, targeting civilians; Israel responds"?

And then ...

"The first priority for the Palestinian political leadership now is to have Israel stop its crimes and massacres against our people in Gaza," Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee in Ramallah, told CNN on Tuesday.

Really? Because Israel stopped firing at Gaza after Hamas stopped firing at Israel. Then Hamas started firing at Israel again, and Israel responded. It seems easy to me. Unless your definition of "crimes" by Israel is responding to your war crimes of firing at Israeli civilians.

Israel briefly allowed trucks carrying international aid into Gaza for the first time since the conflict began last week, but Israeli authorities halted the entrance of aid trucks in response to mortar fire at two border cross crossings.

This makes it sound like Israel decided to punish Gaza for some unrelated abstract mortar fire. Gaza was shooting mortar fire at the trucks carrying Israeli and international aid to them. Again: at the aid coming to them.

I should be depressed by the likes of as John Oliver and Trevor Noah as they completely screw up coverage of this conflict, by downplaying the thousands of unprovoked rocket launches against innocent Israeli civilians - all war crimes, terror, and killing people despite our best efforts - and sympathizing with the killers, despite every caution that Israel takes to avoid any casualties with civilians. But I always listen to this criticism to see if I am missing something, some real logic, some real balance that would give me an indication that Israel is doing something wrong. Instead, the arguments that I hear are so biased, so lacking in common sense and thought, so inconsistently discussing the two sides - not even mentioning the horrors inflicted by Hamas, yet trumping up horrors that did not even occur (but could have!) from Israeli actions - that I am actually comforted that Israel is still morally in the right. Every innocent death on either side, every scared person running from the conflict is a tragedy. But whose actions are purposely, or even accidentally, killing civilians (often it is the Gazan missiles falling on their own citizens, and then blaming Israel), who is the one putting civilians in harm's way, and who is the one who actually wants to prolong this conflict? Before you have a knee-jerk reaction to that, do some actual research and read deeper into and beneath the biased reporting.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Bias Against Israel Revealed in the Use of Active Tense for Israel, Passive Tense for Palestinians

 This is the headline from CNN:

Israel launches airstrikes after rockets fired from Gaza in day of escalation

(Unless they have since changed it)

I thought it was a simple aberration in language, but it is not. CNN uses this continuously in order to portray Israel as aggressors and Palestinians as victims. "Israel launches" is an aggressive act. "rockets fired" is passive: who fired them? Maybe they fired themselves? Maybe it was an accident.

Consider this text from the article (emphasis mine):

Israeli airstrikes have left at least 24 dead, including nine children, in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials. The Israel Defense Forces says it killed 15 militants. 
Meanwhile, at least six were injured in the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday morning after a residential building was struck with rocket fire from Gaza and after the Al-Qassam Brigades, the militant wing of Hamas, vowed to "make Ashkelon hell."

Why do Israelis perform aistrikes and kill people, while Gazans do nothing? "Rocket fire from Gaza"? How about "Gazas missiles - several of which Gaza launched at Jerusalem and Ashkelon on the previous day, starting this exchange (not the Israeli airstrikes) - struck a building in Ashkelon and injured six Israelis (and killed two others)".

Watch the ridiculous video embedded in the article. Palestinians enjoying meals in Ramadan interrupted by Israeli extremist violence, when in fact the Palestinians have been rioting and violent for days. Where are those videos? The proximate cause is a dispute over some houses in a sensitive area; I'm not going to argue who is right or wrong in this case, because I still don't understand the legality of either side's argument. But that doesn't stop people from fear-mongering using racist terms, and yes, that includes the Arabs who claim, over and over, that the Jews are coming to storm and Judaize the temple mount and everyone must rise up in resistance immediately. This clarion call never gets old, never gets questioned, and the violence that results from it never gets mentioned by the foreign media, only the reaction to it.

And listen to the terms used by the journalist:

- About Arabs: "A car is torched." By whom? An accident?

- About Jews: "A blast of pepper spray and a volley of plastic chairs" Active and violent.

- About Palestinians: "Bottles, rocks, and other objects are thrown by other protesters, ..." "Are thrown by protesters"? All passive and innocent.

- Then about Jews: "Police use gun grenades". Why not "gun grenades are used to disperse the protesters"? Why "Police use gun grenades"? Because it is active and violent.

CNN, an example of bias in new coverage.

Interestingly, BBC News, which is usually equally biased, covered it with much less bias.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

My South Africa Vacation (Feb 6 - 22, 2019)

Hi. I thought it would be nice to catch up people who don't see my Facebook photos on my trip to South Africa. Our trip was from Capetown to Port Elizabeth along the Garden Route, and some game drives to the east of Port Elizabeth. We skipped Johannesburg, since I am not much into cities. We skipped Kruger National Park; it is a much larger safari park, but since we had plenty to do on the two days that I allotted to game drives, and Kruger was 1500 km north of Port Elizabeth - and Kruger has malaria which the southern part of South Africa does not, there did not seem to be any point.

What is the difference between a game drive and a safari? About $2000. For $20,000 a day, you can fly around in a helicopter and sleep in luxurious tents and eat luxurious food (which we can't eat anyway, unless we chose one of the few kosher safaris that operate in Kruger). For $2,000 a day, you get a few game drives and sleep on the preserve with the aforementioned luxurious food. For $200, you can join one of the game drives and see the animals, and get one luxury meal. For $20, in very select locations, you can simply hire someone to join you in your car and drive around yourself. I chose 1 day of the $200 variety and one day of the $20 variety.

South Africa is very inexpensive: food, lodging, many goods, many experiences. Even the speeding tickets were inexpensive. The items that were at normal price were international brands, such as our car rental and items such as imported sneakers.

My companion and I left Israel for South Africa on Wed evening, Feb 6, 2019. This was out first experience in flying south, rather than west, which meant that we did not fly through any time zones. Which was weird.

We flew to Cape Town, where we stayed until Monday morning. The synagogue that we had intended to visit had burned down a few months before we arrived, but they held services elsewhere. it is easy to get kosher food in Cape Town, especially at Seapoint. It is easy to get kosher food all over South Africa, but specialty baked goods and meat are exclusive to Cape Town , Jo'burg, and one or two other major cities.

The closed synagogue

Downtown Seapoint

Me coming back from toveling dishes in the ocean
A visit to Cape Town must include a trip up Table Mountain, preferably on a day where the city is not covered in fog.
View from cable car going up to Table Mountain

Cable car reaching the top of Table Mountain

View of fog from Table Mountain

Walking around Table Mountain

View of Cape Town from just below the fog

Dassies are rock hyraxes

Flora on Table Mountain

These are available in all tourist shops and in most supermarkets

My kosher meat pie. Meat pies are ubiquitous in South Africa. That green drink is supposed to be vanilla, but it looks and tastes like nuclear waste.
Cape Town, like every other town in
Driving south from Cape Town along the cape

Petting a seal, for which they charge you (they don't tell you that until after you pet it)

There are penguins on the cape
Driving east from Cape Town we