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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The writing on the walls

Last night Zahava, Gilad and I attended a party for a friend's son in Jerusalem.  It was a beautiful affair in a stunning location overlooking the illuminated stone ramparts of the old city. 

However, in the middle of the party I had to sneak off to the Jerusalem offices of Sky News to do a short live interview via Satellite hook-up to their London studios.  And by the time I returned and slipped into the seat beside my wife, I was a little shaken (although I tried very hard not to show it).

The interview was between a female anchor in Sky's London studio, an articulate blogger in Gaza and me.  The interview itself lasted no more than four or five minutes and was sort of surreal for it's lack of substance or point.  But it wasn't the interview that shook me up.  What really turned my head around was my short wait in the Sky News' offices before the interview began. 

On the walls of their Jerusalem office are ten or twelve beautifully framed black & white photographs that are clearly supposed to demonstrate to a guest, the space's occupant's appreciation for the rich, multi-cultural tapestry that is Israel. 

There are photos of Christians in and near the ancient Churches of Jerusalem... Muslims (including crying children) near mosques and in pastoral settings, and of course Jews... mostly in prayer:

Jew photo #1-  A close-up of a hand holding an open siddur (Hebrew prayer book) with a sub-machine gun in soft focus on a table in the near background, within easy reach.

Jew photo #2- An Israeli soldier wrapped in tallit and tefillin praying in front of an enormous battle tank (not the famous one from sukkot taken during the Yom Kippur war).

Jew photo #3 - An Israeli soldier wearing a helmet and holding an assault rifle next to his face, peering around a corner of a stone building as if trying to line up a difficult shot.

After viewing the first two images of Jewish Israelis, an observer could be forgiven for assuming that the soldiers were praying, not to G-d, but to the tools of war before them.  And the third photograph does nothing to dispel the notion of Jewish Israelis as an entirely militaristic society.

There are no images of Jewish women, children or civilians of any kind.  And the only other photograph showing anything approaching a warlike/violent pose is of a young masked Palestinian winding up a rock in a slingshot just before the moment of release.  His pose is simultaneously primitive and heroic... especially when juxtaposed against the photos of well equipped, uniformed IDF soldiers.

To be clear, the cameraman and office staff at the Sky studios in Jerusalem were extremely cordial and solicitous of my comfort... offering tea, and chit-chatting with me about family, pets, blogging and other comfortable topics. 

But I couldn't help feeling that all the while the photographs on the wall were broadcasting a clear message that Jewish Israelis are soldiers. Full Stop.  And that all non-Jewish Israelis are civilians.  Full Stop.  Christians and Mulsims worship G-d or Allah, while Jews - the people who gave the world monotheism - worship Ares, Enyo, Mars, Odin, Murugan, Tyr... WAR!

The writing on the walls at Sky News is clear for anyone to see:  Without Jews there would be no soldiers. And without soldiers, there would be no war. 

Posted by David Bogner on January 6, 2009 | Permalink


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..and in the end God will destroy useless-warmonger-coldblood blogger like you

Posted by: relionx | Jan 6, 2009 12:46:30 PM

The saddest part of this is, the media doesn't think they're promoting an agenda. They merely reflect "reality" -- a reality that they (the anointed) see more clearly than we (the unwashed rabble).

Posted by: Bob | Jan 6, 2009 1:24:24 PM


Did you mention those photographs to the Sky staff? I'm curious what they might have said.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Jan 6, 2009 1:27:24 PM

Mmmmmm.... honey.... I hate to break it to you, but you showed it.

The transmitter (aka: your wedding band)... it never lies.... Just remember the chocolate cake at a wedding reception during the 1993 June season....


Am glad to finally have the explanation of what was gnawin' at ya -- just wish sometimes that I didn't have to read about it...

Posted by: zahava | Jan 6, 2009 2:15:17 PM

...and there would be no Israel.
A very astute observation. I recommend reading this piece http://israelinsider.ning.com/forum/topics/ronn-torossian-israels-pr on how Israel consistently neglects the war over public opinion. Good for you for doing your part.

Posted by: Ruchie Avital | Jan 6, 2009 2:47:36 PM

The media phase of this war is truly beginning. I've noticed myself that the quality and tone of the reports are beginning to change. As Israel begins to turn the tide of the rocket barrage, more and more media outlets will run to the assistance of the Arabs.

Posted by: Evan | Jan 6, 2009 2:48:30 PM

I think it would have been ok to mention, as an aside, something like "nice pictures... it would be nice to see some pictures of Jews who are not in uniform...."

Just an open ended comment about what you would like to see....

The pics are probably from their news archives and that is probably what they show....

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Jan 6, 2009 4:24:22 PM

I would say you should do comment on posters you saw.
As in the Faulty Towers you mentioned.
"Why are you instantly talking about the war?"
"Well, actually it was you who attacked Poland"
I believe we should not miss any chance to let people what we think about them. In polite way but stil...


Posted by: Andrzej | Jan 6, 2009 5:47:44 PM

As cold as it probably sounds, sometimes it's better to know where you stand with someone, than to have them like you.

I mean, obviously they like you (and hopefully that matters) but if the photos display their true feelings about Israeli Jews in general, at least you know.

Still sucks, though. For some reason, I still expect better from the British.

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 6, 2009 5:57:23 PM

And without the Jews the world would be stuck in an earlier age.

Posted by: Mickysolo | Jan 6, 2009 7:01:23 PM

You weren't implying that you were surprised, were you. Fox News are not exactly unfamous for their, well, [strike.that]biased[/strike.that] weird POV. They're not the only weird thinking folks in Jerusalem, though. You'd be falling backwards out of the door when visiting the Joo-loving Messianics at NAI Israel. Whatever angle people put it - those "journalists" and philosemites who love to bring on the biggest bull always seem to be the ones with the least idea about what it is like to be a Jew living in Israel. Why can't they just write about... say... gardening or birdwatching?

Posted by: a. | Jan 6, 2009 7:25:24 PM

Shalom David

When I first time traveled to Israel as a young man, I fell in love with the beautiful country and her people. When I first time saw all the firearms hanging from IDF soldiers, I felt safe. An Israeli soldier to this day warms my heart and makes me feel protected – and I’m a goy. An Israeli soldier with his/her weapon represents freedom, and is as exquisite sight as the mountains of Eilat or the Wailing Wall.

All civilized and decent people know the contributions of the Jewish people to the world: the arts, science, music, you name it. You made the desert bloom.

I'm maybe wrong but the world would choose a Jew with an M-16 any day over a jihadist with an AK-47. Lets be proud of the fine men and women of the IDF where ever we seen them live or in photos.

Posted by: tino | Jan 6, 2009 8:11:08 PM

Why do you let theses things get to you? Sky News is not as bad as the BBC but they're still not exactly Fox News.

Posted by: Imshin | Jan 6, 2009 8:55:12 PM

Once again, well done, David!
Selective photos, like selective details in verbal reporting, can be the very heart of a person's or an organization's bias. This one is not even subtle!

Posted by: Del Bogner | Jan 6, 2009 9:42:16 PM

zahava ... Some wives never find out what their husbands are thinking/feeling. Now don't you feel lucky! :-)

Ruchie Avital ... I've finally come to the realization that while Israel could certainly do better PR, there is just no changing the minds of people who hate Jews and who will cheer on anyone willing to do us harm.

Evan... Time will tell, but you're probably right.

Rivka with a capital A ... Part of my upbringing is to not make my host feel uncomfortable. Also, culturally I'm still very much a diaspora Jew that deep down just seeks acceptance. It's a problem I'm working on.

Andrzej... I'm working on it. really. :-)

Tanya ... It may be hard for you to understand but Jews have been trying to gain acceptance amongst hosts that ranged from indifferent (if we were lucky) to downright hostile (if we weren't) for two thousand years. Its not an easy transition to being in a place where I don't have to care about what foreigners think.

Mickysolo... Maybe people are nostalgic for an earlier age. Who knows. :-)

a.... Yes, as I've said many times, there is no such thing as unbiased news.

tino... I am also quite proud of our young soldiers and even more proud that not even the smallest child feels the slightest fear of uniformed men and women carrying arms. That is the sign of a truly free society.

Imshin ... You've lived most of your life here so you have less of the diaspora mentality than I do. But as I said above to several others commenters, I still care what foreigners think of Jews/Israel. It is a problem I'm working on. Really.

Del Bogner ... Thanks Dad.

Posted by: David Bogner | Jan 6, 2009 10:09:31 PM

..and in the end God will destroy useless-warmonger-coldblood blogger like you

An Indonesian, eh? Ah yes, the pacifistic place that slaughtered five million non-Muslims between 1965 and 1967. The place where several years ago over two thousand Chinese women were raped by Muslim mobs. The place where the government sponsored Jihadi attacks against the Christians of Ambon, extra-judicially executed Achinese rebels, slaughtered Dayak civil rights workers, and brutally disinherited the natives of Irian Jaya.

Oh yes, also the place were ignorant mobs run through the streets yelling 'jihad jihad' whenever some preacher or government functionary decides to criticise the US, the western world, or Israel.

But in some ways, also a very tolerant place - many Indonesian Muslims drink arak atawa bir, dan makan sate babi. Dan puna, lihat film yang sexi, beli majlis yang pornografis, bayar kupukupu malam......
Yes, very ...... 'tolerant'.

Been there, done that, never travelling to that place again.

Posted by: At The Back of the Hill | Jan 7, 2009 12:03:08 AM

Dear David, the pictures on the wall of Sky News are of no importance to G-d. Sleep well. Blessings to your family.

Posted by: Dina | Jan 7, 2009 8:27:20 AM

Correction: Except for the photos of the IDF soldiers, of course. They are His kids, after all.

Posted by: Dina | Jan 7, 2009 8:37:28 AM

I would have liked to have seen you introduced as The Gun Slingin Chef- haven't mentioned the chopped liver picture in a long time. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jan 7, 2009 10:01:01 AM

Why didn't you respectfully ask them, where are the photos of the women and children? Of Jews learning? I would be curious to hear their answers.
To a. : Tears are coming to my eyes after reading your comment. Thank you. That is exactly how I feel...

Posted by: Lady-Light | Jan 8, 2009 10:00:23 AM

Good observation. I will add, though, that photograph or other representations of Jewish women are weirdly hard to find. Go to any place online where you can get Israeli or Jewish-themed photos or art, and try to find pictures of women. A few abstract sketches maybe of ladies lighting Shabbos candles, maybe not.Lots of pictures of men doing all kinds of masculine things with props--tefillin, siddurim,Torah scrolls, dancing, you name it. Women are invisible.

THis is not excusing the schmucks who are indeed presenting an image of the warlike Jew--it's just my own personal complaint.

Posted by: balabusta in bluejeans | Jan 10, 2009 8:36:23 AM

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