There's cowardice in an opinion piece that uses the dead to sell hatred to the living. The dead deserve better. So do the living.
By Bradley Burston
I just listened to a version of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by Amy Winehouse, may her memory be for a blessing. Every note, every better-than-perfect pause and inflection, drove home the same thought. Maybe once in a generation is a singer so blessed, and so benighted, that she can communicate raw and refined emotion like that, howl and soar and glide like that, and at the same time – and as a result, or as a cause - incinerate herself before our very eyes.
In the case of g'dolot ha'dor, the peerless of their generation, it often happens that we barely get to know them for what they are, when they are lost to us forever. So we are left to deal with the all-too-little of their legacy, and with all too much of ourselves.
Perhaps because Amy Winehouse was Jewish, or perhaps because for some people, everything is about the Mideast conflict, there were those who lost little time in making the connection.
In a piece on Irish4Palestine, a blogger wrote that Winehouse had quite a lot in common with Israel. While "she had a great voice and didn't kill people constantly, both suffered from the same affliction."
"Amy Winehouse, like so many others, is now dead and gone from over-indulgence, a mentality that says nothing can hurt me, I am powerful, and I am invincible." [Emphasis in the original]."
"Israel over indulges, it suffers terribly from over indulgence, it is a monster that is now utterly and totally out of control. It kills and murders at will, anywhere in the world," the piece continues.
Because Israelis "are never told 'no,' they are like spoilt brats who slap someone and then get away with it, so next time they punch them, and get away with it, but punching is no longer 'fun,' it’s time to escalate, next time they shoot someone, just because they can. It’s fun to be this powerful, almost like God."
"But, guess what? Israel is not 'God' and ultimately what killed Amy Winehouse will also kill off Israel as well. All we have to do is wait, and just keep on chip, chip, chipping away at the out of control, over excessive, over indulgent, spoilt brat killer bully that we now know as Israel."
Two days before the piece appeared, something of its mirror image appeared in the editorial of the Jerusalem Post. Responding to the Norway massacre, the Post warmed up with a slap aimed both at the Norwegians and nearly 20 years of Mideast peace efforts:
"Oslo is the namesake of one of the most ambitious – and misguided – attempts by Israel, under the mediation of the Norwegians, to reach a peace accord with our Palestinian neighbors."
But the Post's roundhouse punch was saved for the "failure of multiculturalism," polite society's favored cloak for anti-Muslim bigotry:
"Perhaps Brievik’s inexcusable act of vicious terror should serve not only as a warning that there may be more elements on the extreme Right willing to use violence to further their goals, but also as an opportunity to seriously reevaluate policies for immigrant integration in Norway and elsewhere."
As my colleague Noam Sheizaf wrote on +972, in suggesting that the Oslo attack be used to re-evaluate immigration policy, "Brievik couldn't have said it any better."
The Post seems, retroactively, to have seen his point. After the editorial appeared in the Sunday paper, the following paragraph was added to the online edition [Again, emphasis in the original]:
"The editor-in-chief adds: As a newspaper, The Jerusalem Post strongly denounces all acts of violence against innocent civilians. This editorial is not aimed at deflecting attention from the horrific massacre perpetuated in Norway, nor the need to take greater precautions against extremists from all sides."
There's a certain cowardice to both of these pieces, and not only because their authors are hiding behind a shield of anonymity. Both are using the dead to sell hatred to the living. The dead deserve better. So do the living.
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