Israel Was Ground Zero for the New Woke Religion

(Tablet) Matti Friedman - An essay I wrote in 2014 for Tablet described the replacement of journalism by activism, the subjugation of objective description to higher ideological truth, and the manufacture of politically driven morality plays in the guise of news. I took this to be a problem related to, and perhaps limited to, perceptions of Jewish people and of Israel. But from the vantage point of 2020, Israel was just an early target, a place to manufacture a mobilizing mythology. Upon gaining admission to the tribe of Western journalists in Jerusalem in 2006, I found that it wasn't enough - or necessary - to be knowledgeable about the region or to speak its languages. The important thing was adopting a creed, one that is widely familiar now. This outlook included a dim view of America; a healthy respect for fervent Islam; the belief that while groups like Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood might sometimes go too far, they do have a point; and the idea that the world would probably be improved if Jewish sovereignty could somehow be reduced to 0% from the current high of 0.01%. The news narrative in Israel was constructed with tricks of storytelling and framing: pretending the Palestinian national movement merely wants a state beside Israel; dismissing Israeli attempts to solve the conflict on reasonable terms; erasing the actions of Israel's opponents so Israel's own actions and fears seem irrational or duplicitous; and suggesting the Jewish instinct for self-preservation in the Middle East is "right wing" while the Islamist war against Jews or the Iranian drive for regional hegemony are somehow about "human rights." In many ways Israel was patient zero of the "cancel culture." Israel was transformed from a real country into something so dangerous and disruptive to the desired order that it had to be canceled - an aspiration that is now aired in the press as if it were completely rational. The writer is a former journalist for AP in Jerusalem (2006-11).

2020-07-30 00:00:00

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