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Seeing events from a new angle - Book Review

Debunking the Bull: For Seekers of Another Tack

By Sarah Honig

Gefen Publishing House, 2013. 247 pages (soft cover).

Reviewed by Mike Porter 


Should a middle-of-the roader, not interested in politics (the art of manipulating), and even less in politicians (the manipulators), be writing a review of a controversial book?

As an outsider, to whom much of the material is new, I found the book of great interest. A highly skilled journalist, who comments on daily events between Israel and its detractors, Sarah Honig writes with conviction and passion (good attributes for a writer), and very much to the point. Her book is a collection of short articles on a variety of subjects, which began appearing in The Jerusalem Post in 1999.

Another plus (for me at least): I was seeing events from a different angle and learning new facts - e.g. that the down-to-earth Mahmoud Abbas, who always made a good impression on me, wrote his doctoral thesis on the denial of the Holocaust. So what am I to think of the US President, also a rare type – a man in a powerful position who is quiet and modest and, unlike many others in high places, does not use his powers essentially for his own benefit? Sarah Honig has an unhesitating answer for this one as well.

What's interesting is that two such opposites as Sarah Honig and Gideon Levy (Haaretz journalist) should share something in common – a dislike of the unusual Israeli film, Waltz with Bashir. Gideon Levy wrote a front-page film review in Haaretz some time ago in which he gave vent to his annoyance that the picture, ending as it does with the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, deals with'non-Israeli aggression, somehow making this okay for Israel. (I don't remember his exact words, but this was the general impression.)

Sarah Honig did not like the film either, but her take was that it cast Israel in a bad light. "Local filmmakers ... revel in portraying Israelis as jaded, essentially unpleasant ... justifiably insecure ...while the Arab is revealed as the antithesis .... patriot, confident ... noble .... "

I can vouch for the fact that the audience watching this picture was deeply moved. When the lights eventually came on, the entire audience remained seated. There wasn't a sound. Then, quietly, we all got up and filed out, back to our present-day realities.

One has to appreciate Ms. Honig's fighting spirit which is ready to take on the unremitting attacks on Israel and the Jews in no uncertain terms. Jews are a minority among minorities, their achievements are out of all proportion to their numbers and there are many envious people out there. In addition to this, in many countries of the world, a flawed and faulty leadership continually discovers that shifting the public's rage onto the Jews is both convenient and successful. Here Ms. Honig quotes the case of the Russian Czar and the Cossacks' slaughter of the Jews which led to, amongst other things, my grandfather coming to South Africa in 1902.

Now if only we had more diplomatic types like Abba Eban, a 'super-dove' who meets with Ms. Honig's approval. "A quiet talker, a listener and a well-balanced personality with a suave wit and unflappable poise, he knew how to take a firm stance when it came to Israel's security. Alas, even his quiet and firm logic did not succeed against the hostility of Mike Wallace (born Myron Leon Wallechinsky). Wallace's opening salvo was that 'Israel threatens world peace with a policy of territorial expansion'"

This was later followed by quoting historian Arnold Toynbee about the 'evil deeds committed by Zionist Jews against Arabs ... are comparable to crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews'.

And when did this interview take place? In April 1958, a short time before Israel's 10th birthday.

Pretty grim. No wonder I don't take an interest in politics.



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Monday, 24 June 2024

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