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Sunday, April 11, 2010

NG does it again

Every few years I come very close to canceling the family subscription to National Geographic.  This is almost always a result of a deliberate and unnecessary slamming of Israel.

I know I'm probably overly sensitive, but I'd like to share a couple of things from the latest issue... one devoted entirely to the global issue of water.

First is the following statement (with my emphasis added):

"Accompanied by military escort, three scientists - an Israeli, a Palestinian, and a Jordanian - are standing knee-deep in the Jordan River. They are nearly 40 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, under the precarious ruins of a bridge that was bombed during the Six Day War of June 1967."

Strange how in one short paragraph about a cooperative scientific survey of the Jordan River, the author manages to make two not-so-subtle allusions to militarism.

Next comes the following:

"Armed confrontations over the Jordan date to the founding of Israel in 1948 and the recognition that sources of the country's needed water supply lay outside its borders. Its survival depended on the Jordan River, with its headwaters in Syria and Lebanon, its waters stored in the Sea of Galilee, and the tributaries that flow into it from neighboring countries."

Ah yes, all the region's woes can be traced to that upstart Israel casting a greedy eye outside its borders for the things it wants.

"In the 1960s Israeli air strikes after Syria attempted to divert the Baniyas River (one of the Jordan's headwaters in the Golan Heights), together with Arab attacks on Israel's National Water Carrier project, lit fuses for the Six Day War. Israel and Jordan nearly came to blows over a sandbar in the Yarmuk River in 1979. And in 2002 Israel threatened to shell agricultural pumping stations on the Hasbani, another of the headwaters in southern Lebanon."

Now we're getting to the root of the problem.  Israel threatens or actually carries out military actions whenever it's neighbors do anything related to water management.

"According to a 2009 World Bank report, Israelis use four times as much water per capita as Palestinians, much of it for agriculture. Israel disputes this, arguing that its citizens use only twice as much water and are better at conserving it. In any case, Israel's West Bank settlements get enough water to fill their swimming pools, water their lawns, and irrigate miles of fields and greenhouses."

This is a common theme in Israel-bashing from Europe and the U.S.  They like to juxtapose the poor Palestinians living in squalor with no landscaping and sub-standard sanitary provisions, against Israeli settlers living in comfortable suburban neighborhoods filled with tree-lined streets and green lawns.  What they never talk about is that the respective communities are responsible for their own urban planning and Israel has no way to impose first world standards or aesthetics on what is essentially a third world population.  This leaves aside the fact that there are many, many Palestinians living in homes far bigger/nicer than mine who drive BMWs. Mercedes and other luxury cars I could never dream of affording.

But by far the thing that offended me the most was a picture caption (which doesn't appear in the on-line edition) stating that since 1967 Israel has been denying Syria access to the easter shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).  No context, just that incredible statement as if Israel woke up one day and decided to block a peaceful neighbor's access to a vital water source.

This may be the one that finally gets me to cancel that subscription.

Posted by David Bogner on April 11, 2010 | Permalink

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I no longer take, or read the online editions, of The Guardian or The Independent or watch CNN.

When watching BBC News, I switch channels whenever an Israel-related item comes on.

I watch no programmes about Israel or Judaism on BBC or Channel 4.

To have given up The Guardian, a paper I have read all my adult, and most of my pre-adult life, was extremely hard. I agree(d) with much of its contents apart from its I/P stance, and love(d) the crossword. But I had started to dread opening it in the morning, and find that not reading it (6 years now) enhanced my life considerably.

I am not sticking my head in the sand. I am only too aware of the opinions of much of the MSM, I just don't see why the hell I should either pay for the privilege of allowing the editor to lie about or discriminate against my people, or help improve their readership and viewing figures.

I have also cancelled a subscription to a music magazine, 'Q', after it had printed politically inspired interviews with musicians. It's not what I want from a music journal, and was hardly of the journalistic calibre that Rolling Stone used to give us when it first started publishing, and there was only one news stand in London where it was available.

I don't listen to the music of the anti-Israeli.

Posted by: chairwoman | Apr 11, 2010 3:30:19 PM

The issue with an article about Arab Christians (don't remember which month, sorry) was also a doozy. "The Israeli occupation" this and "the Israeli occupation" that. Ugh.

Posted by: Esther | Apr 11, 2010 5:20:50 PM

I cancelled my subscription (which I got as a gift) after the article about Christians in the Middle East which was published a few months ago, which basically blamed all the problems of the Christians in Judea and Samaria on you-know-who while completely ignoring Islamic violence against Christians by Muslim Palestinians.

Posted by: jacob | Apr 11, 2010 6:57:34 PM

After reading that earlier issue about the Arab Christians, I pretty much decided that NG was a waste of my time. Pretty pictures coupled with the standard enviro-liberal party line. Feh.

Posted by: Elisson | Apr 11, 2010 7:24:15 PM

I have very much the same reaction every few issues. Then comes an issue- or sometimes an article within the same issue- that keeps my subscription going.

And the letters a few issues later usually call them on the nonsense. The one on the Christian Arabs was particularly good. ("What, you expected a Christian in Bethlehem to actually blame the *Muslims*?")

Trep, do you get the English edition? I'm still having it mailed to the US.

Posted by: Nachum | Apr 11, 2010 9:30:26 PM

I have very much the same reaction every few issues. Then comes an issue- or sometimes an article within the same issue- that keeps my subscription going.

And the letters a few issues later usually call them on the nonsense. The one on the Christian Arabs was particularly good. ("What, you expected a Christian in Bethlehem to actually blame the *Muslims*?")

Trep, do you get the English edition? I'm still having it mailed to the US.

Posted by: Nachum | Apr 11, 2010 9:30:26 PM

NG can be pretty bad, but it's mild compared to Newsweek. I just saw an issue (at my barbershop - needless to say, I didn't actually buy it) with - count-'em - four virulently anti-Israel articles in the same magazine. And unlike the NG article you mention, you don't have to dig to find anti-Israel references. It's like they no longer even have to pretend that they're not a bunch of anti-Semitic pointy-headed pinkos, thanks to our like-minded President.

Of course, that issue followed the evil Netanyahu's world-peace-threatening announcement about a dastardly new housing project in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, so who could blame them? [heavy sarcasm]

Not that I subscribe to National Geographic, either.

Posted by: psachya | Apr 12, 2010 12:31:47 AM


I've ALREADY stopped reading National Geographic. I was on the point of ordering a subscription for my classroom when I read a similarly biased and anti-Israel article. I was appalled by the blatant anti-Israel attitude displayed throughout the article. That was it for me, an end to reading and subscribing to this magazine, which at one time I read with enthusiasm. No more, and I do not use it in my classroom.

Posted by: Lynne | Apr 17, 2010 7:21:17 AM

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