Small experiences with Big Media
When one publishes about subjects such as Israel and Europe or anti-Semitism, one is regularly contacted by journalists. It sometimes leads to bizarre experiences. Several such experiences resulted from my 2013 book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews.
The book brought to light the fact that, based on opinion polls – the main one from the German University of Bielefeld – 150 million out of 400 million European Union citizens aged 16 years and older believe in the conspiracy theory that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.
In March 2013, when my first article appeared in the Netherlands pointing out that in view of these polls, there are five million Dutch who believe in this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory against Israel, I was contacted by the local office of Dutch RTL television.
Their reporter wanted an interview with me as soon as possible.
We made an appointment for the very next day, and the reporter arrived accompanied with a camera man.
When I explained the unpleasant findings about his native country, the reporter rapidly became emotional and irritated. After five minutes, he sent his camera man away. We continued our conversation while I tried to calm him down. I gave him a copy of the book and never heard from him again.
The next journalist who came to interview me about the book had no difficulties whatsoever with my statements. They seemed to him to be well-substantiated.
This journalist represented one of the largest German papers. I’ll not disclose his name, in order to avoid unpleasantness for him. He interviewed me for two hours, and later on we had lunch for another two hours. His editors never published the article. A few months later I spoke to a colleague of his. She said that one of the editors had stated, “We cannot insult our readers.”
Thereafter I was interviewed by telephone by a journalist from a major Dutch daily, whom I had known for several years. He sent me a copy of the interview for verification, and I made a few small corrections. It never appeared in print.
Many months later, I was interviewed by a journalist of the large German economic paper, Handelsblatt. He inquired about several things, including my findings in Demonizing Israel and the Jews. As promised, he sent me the draft interview. I made some minor suggestions, but afterwards, when I didn’t hear from him, I tried to reach him a number of times, unsuccessfully.
The interview was never published.
A few of the smaller European papers and blogs in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands have given some attention to the book, but the major media remain silent. It is not so difficult to understand why. The book’s conclusions destroy much of the humanitarian image of post-war Europe. How very false that image actually is has become much clearer throughout the summer of 2014, with the outburst of anti-Semitic incidents and the multiple demonstrations in favor of the Hamas Islamo-Nazi movement in many European countries.
The facts above present a rather sad description of the censorship in major European media. Yet I cannot complain about the publicity which my book received. The big national Canadian daily, The National Post, devoted a column to it. The important American Jewish weekly The Jewish Week dedicated an editorial on its front page to it. Sizable American websites published lengthy interviews with me, which garnered many reactions. The Jerusalem Post and some other English-language Israeli media gave it much attention. The Jewish media in about 13 countries wrote about the book.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), based in Los Angeles, raised the issue in a meeting with Pope Francis I. The SWC and The Gatestone Institute sent the book, accompanied with a letter, to the leaders of several countries as well as to the leaders of the European Union. The German president’s office answered that a major study on anti-Semitism in Germany will soon be initiated, which will also include a study of German anti-Israelism. The associate dean of the SWC, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, thereafter met with a deputy German minister on this issue. All in all, quite nice for an author.
My strange experiences with journalists are not limited to the reactions to this book. One day in 2012, a journalist from a Belgian state television station came to interview me. He wanted my opinion about a fourpart Israeli television program called Allah-Islam, the Spread of Islam in Europe, which had been broadcast by Israel’s Channel 10 TV.
An Israeli journalist, Zvi Yehezkeli, had presented himself in Europe as a Palestinian. He filmed the Muslim ghettos in a number of European countries. The program paid attention to the violence, drugs and weapons possession, as well as other criminal activities occurring in parts of the Muslim communities.
Yehezkeli mentioned the religious fanaticism, the intimidation of dissenting Muslims, the discrimination against women, and the honor killings. He also devoted attention to the widespread anti-Semitism in these communities. The rare European programs that discuss such issues usually only deal with one particular aspect in a single country.
The Belgian journalist asked me what I thought about this program. I said that my first reaction was that Channel 10 should not have made this program.
The many problems with parts of the European Muslim communities was a major European issue. It would have been normal if Channel 10 could have purchased such a program from European sources, but there were no such programs available, I said. The journalist admitted that I had a point, but added, “I am not convinced that my bosses want to broadcast this.” And indeed, they did not.
I had a rather different experience when, in November 2008, I published an article in the major Dutch daily, De Volkskrant. It was titled, “Are We Living the 1930s Again?” In it, I stated my opinion that the future depended on which proved stronger, European values or radical Islam and its “useful idiot” allies in Western societies, such as the humanitarian racists who remain silent about the genocidal ideology present among Palestinian parties and other parts of the Muslim world. The article had already appeared in English and Hebrew without any problem.
After my article was published, I was informed that I could no longer write for De Volkskrant. My inquiries revealed that a number of readers had threatened to cancel their subscriptions if it published another of my articles. Only after a few years had passed and a new editor-in-chief had arrived would my articles be occasionally published once again in De Volkskrant.
The most surreal experiences I had, though, were with the Norwegian media. An interview by journalist Fredrik Graesvik was aired in March 2009 by the major Norwegian commercial TV station TV2.
He translated most of what I said correctly. Graesvik, however, interjected that I considered all Norwegians to be “barbarians and un-intellectual” because they killed whales and seals. This was a major distortion of my words.
The individual at TV2 who transcribed this distorted interview for the station’s website maltreated my quotes even further, falsely claiming that I had said that “Norwegians are unintelligent and barbaric” and that “Norway is the most anti-Semitic country in Europe.” The Norwegian press agency NTB spread these false quotes even further. They were taken up by many Norwegian and even some Swedish papers. As a result, I now own a representative collection of hate emails from Norwegians.
Sidsel Wold, who was at the time the Israel correspondent from Norwegian state radio NRK, succeeding in outdoing TV2. She interviewed me and afterwards claimed that she had mistakenly deleted the interview. Instead of interviewing me anew, she fabricated a false interview. She culled some recorded text of mine off the Internet. Thereafter, she aired an invented interview with me, full of distortions, and then criticized the text she had falsely attributed to me. In 2010, the Media Watch organization Honest Reporting selected Wold for a special dishonorable mention among journalists all over the globe. Wold thus was the one Norwegian journalist which got any international attention for her overall work.
The author’s upcoming book The War of a Million Cuts analyzes how Israel and Jews are delegitimized and how to fight this. He is a former chairman (2000-2012) of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.