This is in response to an email I received while on hiatus. Reader F_ sent me a story from the San Francisco Chronicle (Hamas camp: Sun, fun and ... indoctrination), about a Hamas summer camp where children are taught swimming, riding and... incitement against Jews. F_ asks: "Why dont you post this on your site. Don't you think your audience should know what Palestinian children learn at camp?"
My response would be that I wouldn't post a story about incitement at a Hamas camp and portray it as representative of "what Palestinian children learn at camp", any more than I would post an Israeli TV screenshot of children in a West Bank settlement doing paramilitary training in the classroom...
And I wouldn't post racist extracts from Israeli schoolbooks, and suggest that my audience now knows "what Israelis teach their kids in school".
And it never occurred to me to write a post about about Gaza settlers teaching Holocaust manipulation and hatred of the non-religious to their preschool children, just so I could proclaim "Look what religious Jews teach their children".
And I don't post pictures of Israeli gunmen among children who are stoning Palestinians in the West Bank, so that I can show my audience that "Israelis don't love their children", but hide behind them so that they will be killed first.
And I don't write posts about Jewish Israelis celebrating religious holidays by dressing up their kids with combat gear and weapons, just so I can wring my hands in faux exasperation about "What's wrong with Judaism and why does it glorify violence?".
And I never linked to the March 2005 cartoon in the Shas magazine for kids - that taught its readers "ערבי טוב הוא ערבי מת”** - in order to "show my audience what ultra orthodox Jews teach their kids".
And I didn't link to Yedioth Ahronoth (Israel's most popular daily paper) on 7 May 2002, when it published a selection of letters from Israeli 7th to 10th graders urging IDF soldiers in the West Bank to "Please kill a lot of Arabs", so that I could pontificate to my audience about the ugly racial indoctrination that Israeli kids must go through to produce such hatred in children so young.
And I don't highlight this kind of handiwork from the Hebron settlers, and present it as proof that you simply can't make peace with Jewish Israelis, because theirs is a murderous religion that obliges them "to commit genocide" against the Palestinians.......
In other words, I don't look for the worst examples of extremism I can find and pretend they are representative of the whole culture, just so I can smear an entire religion as "a religion of hate" or a whole race as "not quite people like us".
It's not legitimate to select examples of extremism by Jewish Israelis, detach them from the wider context of Israeli society and the I/P conflict in general, and insinuate to my audience that I am sharing some representative or ontological insight into "how Israelis are", "how Jews are" or "how the religious are", etc etc. So I'm not sure why it's legitimate to do the same thing to Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. I certainly don't plan to start. This is Lawrence of Cyberia, not MEMRI.
It is indefensible to incite hatred of Jews. It is yet more reprehensible when children are your target audience. But it is also reprehensible to want to cherry pick the worst examples of extremist behaviour, and to pretend it is representative of an entire people, just because it fulfils your own prejudices about what kind of people "they" are.
** "the only good Arab is a dead Arab."