Saturday, October 30, 2010

NPR and the Liberal Subculture that Worships It

Juan Williams’s recent firing from NPR has occasioned yet another in the perennial series of arguments about the public radio network and whether it should or should not continue to be government funded. The debate so far, it must be admitted, has not been an edifying one, consisting mostly of the regurgitation of clichés.

At The Daily Beast, itself a formidable organ of the liberal establishment, Peter Beinart provided an excellent example of this, writing that “NPR is elitist, and it’s a good thing too” before trotting out almost every cliché NPR’s defenders have ever employed in defense of the network. “The people who run the station,” he writes, “believe that Americans should know more about what is happening in China and less about what is happening to Britney Spears, which in today’s media makes them downright subversive.” As proof of this, Beinart claims that “NPR now has 17 foreign bureaus compared to four for CBS,” and “NPR devotes 21 percent of its airtime to international news compared to 1 percent for commercial talk radio.”Needless to say, these are not particularly helpful arguments. One is little more than openly acknowledged snobbery, and the other appears to make the bizarre claim that more coverage by definition equals better coverage, as if a patient were more likely to survive surgery with ten doctors in the operating room instead of one. Given the ready availability online of translated foreign media, moreover, one wonders why those interested would require their news filtered through an American radio network in the first place.

Continue reading at Pajamas Media.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Middle East Peace Talks Degenerate into Farce

At the moment, the Middle East peace process appears to have descended into a bizarre impasse, more akin to farce than tragedy. Both sides are announcing demands and possible concessions, none of which seem to last longer than a single news cycle.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses a renewal of the settlement freeze, then says it might be renewed in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians hint that they may be willing to recognize Israel as such, and soon after declare that it will never happen. Then they publicly declare that only a return to the ’67 borders will satisfy them, something that, given the facts on the ground, is impossible, as they are well aware.

Now, there is the controversy over Netanyahu’s issuance of building tenders in Jerusalem, which would normally not be a problem, but in the current atmosphere is generally being considered as yet another shot across the bow of the Palestinians.

Continue reading at Pajamas Media.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The J Street Scandal

The recent scandal involving the lobbying group J Street, a liberal organization founded in 2008 that bills itself as "pro-Israel and pro-peace," may seem to some like a tempest in a teapot. In fact it is very significant, especially to anyone concerned about Israel, its future, and its relationship to the United States.

The scandal broke on September 24 with the publication of a Washington Times article by the reporter Eli Lake revealing that one of J Street's largest donors was the billionaire financier George Soros. The fact that Soros was funding a liberal organization was hardly surprising, given his well-known political views; but his stance on specifically Jewish issues has been controversial at least since 2003, when he asserted that the rise in global anti-Semitism was the result of policies being pursued by Israel and the United States.

Continue reading at Jewish Ideas Daily.