Presence of Paranoia?
Mrs. Schmidt’s title is excellent, and I’m glad that she took me to task for not considering the original Hebrew version of the article in question.
I agree with most of what Mrs. Schmidt wrote, but still believe that my piece on Presence of Malice was accurate both in general and in the details. Paranoid? No.
True, I never read the Hebrew version of the same article — until she pointed it out, I had no idea that it was translated at all. I plucked it off haaretz.com under the impression that it was originally written in English. I fully agree that the title seemed to have been grafted on by a hostile editor… actually, that’s almost precisely what I wrote about the last paragraph. [There are several substantial differences between the Hebrew and English versions — and I did not find that last paragraph in the Hebrew. I suspect the same editor may have been responsible for both.] [UPDATE: Upon more careful reading I discovered basically the same passage, but buried in the middle of the article — and pointing out that lower salaries are balanced by non-financial considerations.]
Had I known that the Hebrew article was published under a far more balanced headline, I probably would have merely skimmed the article rather than doing such an extensive analysis in my earlier piece. But does this change my evaluation of the terms “lured” and “sweatshop”? I see no reason why it should. The English-language headline remains as unreasonable as ever.
Yes, I appreciate Mrs. Schmidt’s emphasis upon the more moderate voices at HaAretz. They do exist, and she’s not mistaken that we should pay attention to them. And, yes, excessive attention to us as a group is a sign of much greater health than being ignored.
Nonetheless, given that the editor of HaAretz is, as a commenter pointed out some time ago, the same David Landau who authored Piety and Power: The World of Jewish Fundamentalism, I don’t think any perception of anti-charedi bias in its pages can be called ‘paranoia.’ Or, alternatively, we can refer to the adage, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.” When it comes to HaAretz, I think it unreasonably optimistic to call it friendly, or even fair.
One thing to take into consideration — Israeli standards of
journalism are completely different from those in the US. It is
acceptable to editorialize and make ad hominem remarks in a
regular news or human interest piece. Israeli media is also a
lot less subtle and more coarse in its reporting. When translated
literally into English, Israeli journalism reads almost childish
to an American. Add the fact that Haaretz has a horrible staff
of translators — and I mean horrible — and you get awkward
and inappropriate articles.
By the way, the Hebrew version of Haaretz is very much antagonstic
to Haredim. However, it doesn’t feel as offensive when taken in
David Landau’s book “Piety and Power: The World of Jewish Fundamentalism” is an excellent view by an
outsider with some excellent contacts in the Charedi world. If you enjoyed either William Helmreich’s
or Samuel Heilman’s works or “Real Jews”, then by all means, read Landau’s work as well. I think
that Haaretz is never going to be either the Yated, Hamodia, Mishpacha, the JO or Jewish Action in
its coverage or editorial views towards any section of the frum world. That is evident from its
coverage of the charedi world and the disengagement. However,the question remains whether Landau
will be better than the former editors-whose anti religious streak was notoriously in print. RYBS once
commented that some of the views expressed in Haaretz about religious Jews reminded him of
the Nazi papers.
Whether or not the previous editors of HaAretz were even worse, the fact remains that both Landau and Samuel (“Defenders of the Faith: Inside Ultra-Orthodox Jewry”) Heilman have been repeatedly and roundly castigated by charedi writers for claiming to understand us, and instead erecting the weakest of facades of a community that exists nowhere outside their minds.
One who reads either of those books emerges with the view of charedim as unthinking fundamentalists. According to them, a journal like Cross-Currents simply could not exist.
So we put the lie to their diatribes every time we publish.
The Israeli Haredi world is impenetrable to outsiders. There are too many linguistic and cultural peculiarities. I could compose a mutiple choice test about the Haredi world which neither Heilman, Landau, nor any sociologist of Haredim would pass. Does Landau know the difference between the two groups of Slonim? Does Heilman understand the difference between Yerushalmi
Chasidim and and non-Yerushalmi? The Haredi world is so sociologically complex that most academics end up writing wrong and inane ideas instead of acurately describing what is going on.
For all Haaretz’s hostility, I think it is often better than the more conservative Jeruslem Post. The post can be very supperficial while Haaretz often makes an effort at depth.