The Guardian's Almost-Comical Nastiness

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Read this in full, from a person named Deborah Orr (bold is mine):

It's quite something, the prisoner swap between Hamas and the Israeli government that returns Gilad Shalit to his family, and more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to theirs. The deal is widely viewed as a victory for Hamas, the radical Islamist group that gained power in Gaza after years of frustration at the intractability of the "peace process". Conversely, it is being seen by some as a sign of weakness in Israel's rightwing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

All this, I fear, is simply an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives. Netanyahu argues that he acted because he values Shalit's life so greatly.

Yet who is surprised really, to learn that Netanyahu sees one Israeli's freedom as a fair exchange for the freedom of so many Palestinians? Likewise, Hamas wished to use their human bargaining chip to gain release for as many Palestinians as they could. They don't have much to bargain with.

At the same time, however, there is something abject in their eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe - that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.

A few thoughts and questions:

  1. She's got to be kidding.
  2. Assuming Ms. Orr is not kidding, how is it possibly Israel's fault that Hamas demanded the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit? Isn't this a question for Hamas?
  3. Is the prime minister of Israel not supposed to value Israeli life? Asked another way: Is the British prime minister not supposed to do whatever he can to help one of his soldiers? Have I missed something about the nature of the relationship between the British prime minister and his fellow citizens?
  4. "Chosen"? Really? Does Ms. Orr understand Jewish theology? (This is a rhetorical question). "Chosenness" in Jewish theology actually means "burdened," as in, Jews are burdened by their faith with special responsibilities to carry out what Judaism understands to be God's wishes. Chosenness does not mean "exclusive" or "more equal than others." It never has, except to anti-Semites. Christians believe they are in possession of the final word of God, as do Muslims. This belief fosters a feeling of theological superiority. Does this make Christians and Muslims "chosen" as well? Or is the term "chosenness" only a weapon for use against Jews? (This, too, is a rhetorical question).
  5. A question for the Guardian: Shouldn't your editors do a better job of masking prejudice on your website?
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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