A little match on Yom Yerushalayim

In honor of Yom Yerushalayim, which was celebrated yesterday, I lit a small match in a great darkness. Before I explain, some background:

Every day I listen to a local Miami radio station, WIOD, which is a completely schizophrenic station. It has twelve hours a day of conservative talk radio. But it also has, every half hour, the standard liberal news, from the CBS network. So the talk show hosts are all very pro-Israel, for example, while the news is more like al-Jazeera.

I’ll give you an example of liberal-skewed news I heard on WIOD, just to give you the flavor of what I hear every day.

The day the new pope was elected, the news described him as “unbending in his views on abortion and gay marriage, but not a trained actor like his predecessor.” No other information, nothing about his being scholarly, speaking many languages, etc.

The subtext was clear: like John Paul II, the new pope is hidebound, Neanderthal and fascist, but unlike John Paul, he doesn’t hide his viciousness under a patina of charm and affability because he’s “not a trained actor.” The knives were out.

I called the radio station to complain. “Look, I’m not a Catholic, I’m an Orthodox Jew, but it seems to me you’ve been very disrespectful to your thousands of Catholic listeners. If I were a Catholic I would certainly be offended.”

Does it help that I make these calls, these little protests? I don’t know. But my philosophy is that a person should always do what he wishes everyone else would do. I believe that it would be a good thing if everyone protested this sort of anti-religious prejudice. Therefore, I do my little bit, feeble as it might be.

So what happened on Yom Yerushalayim? The newscaster reported that there had been Arab protest demonstrations on the Temple Mount that day — “a place that is holy to both Moslems and Jews” — because Jews were celebrating “the anniversary of the day they captured traditionally Arab East Jerusalem from the Palestinians.”

I almost know their newsroom number by heart already. Quick as a flash I was on the phone, explaining to the newsroom editor, “East Jerusalem was LIBERATED in 1967, not captured. It was not traditionally Arab, it was traditionally JEWISH, for thousands of years. The Arabs conquered East Jerusalem in 1948, they kicked the Jews out, desecrated their synagogues and smashed the headstones in the Jewish cemetery.”

This was 7:30 in the morning and my son was anxious to be on his way. “Ima, do you have to call now, can you please take me to school now?” But he goes to a yeshiva, the kind where they learn a lot of Gemara and not much history, and I suspect that my 30-second history lesson on the telephone may have been all my son learned about Yom Yerushalayim. And I wanted him to know what happened. And I wanted him to hear the passion in my voice.

Anyway, the editor said, “Got it, thank you” and that was the end of the conversation. I heard no further references to demonstrations in Jerusalem on the news that day.

All around us is a great darkness, as anything having to do with Jews or with Israel is routinely misrepresented in the media. The reason I say I lit a small match is that the Gemara says, “Me’at min ha’ohr docheh harbeh min hachoshech” — a little bit of light pushes away a great deal of darkness.

The people who write the news don’t know beans about anything and were mostly not even born yet in 1967. But now at least one editor knows — if he chooses to believe me — that the story as he heard it from the Arabs was not true. And my son knows not to trust the news on the radio. A little bit of light….

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13 Responses

  1. Chana says:

    This article provides an alternative view about the news: http://www.chijewishnews.com/archives_articles.jsp?id=37567

    “The people who write the news don’t know beans about anything.”
    I would differ. I think they are quite informed, though not informed necessarily from the point of view you would prefer. Also, it is their job to make news sensational, which equates to the yellow press America lives off of. Why do you think tabloids and celebrity scandals are so popular here? I don’t think that it is so much the knowledge base as the function of the news that is the problem on a whole. News is an entertainment industry, not a history, and therefore the facts are many times factually inaccurate/ gaping. We accept that when we watch/ read the news, and attempt to verify whatever stories are therein. It’s not that the news is always against Israel. It’s that the news is sensational, picks sides, is biased, entertainment TV. For everyone and against everyone. Whenever there’s a scandal, the news picks it up, like the recent one with Americans and Afghani soldiers, or Newsweek and the Koran. Considering how conflicted Americans are, and how many times Americans are against themselves, one has to realize that them being against anyone else merely continues the tradition.

    So- it’s the function of the news that needs to be changing, if anything, from watching murders over your TV dinner to actual factual analysis and cold hard facts. But that’s not happening anytime soon.

  2. Toby Katz says:

    “The people who write the news don’t know beans about anything.”
    I would differ. –Chana

    I read and hear examples of simple ignorance in the news every day, but I will give you a classic example, from about four years ago. There was a news item in the Miami Herald about how women are not allowed to pray at the Western Wall. There was a lot of fawning coverage of the Women of the Wall and their supposed attempts to win for women the right to pray. I called up the editor and had a long chat with him. I told him that I myself had prayed at the Western Wall many times, that I had pictures to prove it, and that there is in fact a large women’s section. I told him that my mother and my sister live in Jerusalem and that they pray at the Wall regularly. At first he was skeptical — “So what are all these demonstrations about?” — but I did educate him. He suggested I write a letter, which I did, and it was published. But I doubt that it was read by all the people who read the original reports about women “not being allowed to pray at the Western Wall.”

  3. ralphie says:

    Either they’re ignorant or they’re lying… Jerusalem was captured from Jordan, not “the Palestinians.”

    This could be half-true, I suppose, considering that the vast majority of Jordanians are Palestinian, but that’s another issue.

  4. Gershon Seif says:

    A number of years ago I was listening to WBBM, the local news station in Chicago, when a short piece made mention of the holocaust and how 300,000 or so Jews perished. I too was on the phone and got to speak to the top guy managing the newsroom. At first he denied that the piece actually said that. Then he tried to say that the number 6,000,000 is not definitive. I lost patience with him and told him “look, you can say what you like, but after I get off the phone with you, I’m seeking out Jewish leaders across the spectrum and telling them about how WBBM is becoming a biased news station which offends over 300,000 Jews living in Chicago and the memory of all those that died in the holocaust. You dare play that distortion again.” And then I hung up on him. For the next 2 hours I kept near the radio. My blood was boiling. The piece was pulled. So you see, one little voice can do something once in a while!

  5. DovBear says:

    It was not traditionally Arab…

    If so, who built the Dome of the Rock? And when? And why?

  6. Toby Katz says:

    ‘It was not traditionally Arab…’

    If so, who built the Dome of the Rock? And when? And why?

    Comment by DovBear

    The Dome of the Rock was built at the end of the seventh century CE, about fifty years after Mohammed started the religion of Islam. It was built on the mountain where the Jewish Temple had stood for hundreds of years, and where the mere ruins of the Temple — the Western Wall — were already over half a millenium old. There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for three thousand years. There have been Arabs there for less than half that time. In addition, the city of Jerusalem itself — the part now called “East Jerusalem” — was a JEWISH city for at least a century before the 1948 war, in which Arabs over-ran the old Jewish quarter and expelled its Jewish residents. In modern times (the last couple of centuries), Jerusalem has been “traditionally Arab” only from 1948 to 1967. That is not much of a tradition.

  7. jabrams says:

    First, Before there was an Islamic presence in Jerusalem, there was a Christian presence, and a Jewish presence before that.
    But second, the REASON the Dome of the Rock is holy in Islam is that Islam recognizes the prior claim of the Jews to the site. It’s only holy b/c Mohammed recognized the Jewish Temple’s holiness and the prior claim of the Jews.
    Third, all of Jerusalem wasn’t very important to the Arabs, Dome of the Rock notwithstanding – not politically and not culturally. When Arabs did have control of the area, their capital was in Ramalah, not in Jerusalem, despite the Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock were in an Arab backwater. The Dome of the Rock was just not that significant, not significant enough to have built up any sizeable settlement in JM, compared to Ramalah.

  8. DovBear says:

    I agree that since the mid 1800s the Jews have had a majority in Jerusalem, and I agree that in the last the last hundred years or so Jerusalem hasn’t had much of an Arab presence, save for the 19 years it was under Jordanian dominance.

    Still, when you say Jerusaem “was not traditionally Arab” it sounds an awful lot like you’re denying the fact that Jerusalem was a predominatly Arab city for almost 1500 years, and that it’s the home of one of their great mosques, and the site of one of their enduring legends.

    Yes, 1500 years isn’t 3000 years, but 1500 years isn’t nothing, either.

  9. ja says:

    “Jerusalem was a predominatly Arab city for almost 1500 years,

    Yeah, don’t you find it odd that when the Arabs controlled the area, this home of their great mosque and site of one of their enduring legends was a backwater, and their political and cultural center was Ramalah?
    Jerusalem didn’t become important until the israelis made it so.

    “and that it’s the home of one of their great mosques, and the site of one of their enduring legends”

    The legend is Dome of the Rock is a holy spot *because* it is holy in Judaism.

    Alexandria was the home of one of our great synagogues too. We don’t pretend we have some *right* to the city.

  10. DovBear says:

    None of what you wrote makes a lick of difference. It’s all true, but irrelevant. The original post said there had never been an Arab presence in Jerusalem. This is wrong. (yes, Arab Jerusalem was a backwater. Yes, it was never a “center” whatever that means, but to deny their “prescence??” Absurd. And it’s also true the Jews were there for twice as long. But as I said before 1500 years isn’t nothing.)

  11. DovBear says:

    Alexandria was the home of one of our great synagogues too. We don’t pretend we have some right to the city.

    The issue here is not “do they have a right” to Jerusalem.

    The issue here is “was Jerusalem traditionaly Arab”

    The answer is yes.

    (It was “traditionaly” Jewish,too. But let’s not bolster our political claims by denying history.)

  12. ja says:

    “The original post said there had never been an Arab presence in Jerusalem.”

    The post did not say this, as all readers can determine for themselves.

  13. Yaakov Menken says:

    I’m surprised that no one is calling Jerusalem “traditionally Persian”, “Greek”, or “Italian” given the definitions of “traditionally” being employed here. The Arabs knew exactly what they were capturing when they got Jerusalem, and what it meant to the Jews. It’s only in recent years that they have attempted to deny the existence of the Temple on the Temple Mount. The Temple is why “the Rock” of the Dome of the Rock was so designated in the first place — Mohammed never saw Jerusalem in his lifetime.

    They treated Jerusalem like a backwater — and when the Jews “captured” East Jerusalem, hundreds of “Arab” houses still had long rectangular recesses carved out of the right doorposts. Oh, and let’s not forget the Jewish gravestones which the sophisticated and humane Jordanian army used for toilet seats.

    “Traditionally Arab”? “Captured” by Jews? Absolutely, if George Orwell is writing the news.

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