Anthony Lewis has died.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post was 85 when he died in March. While many will remember him fondly … I won’t.
Lewis represented the cream of bias among pundits – especially when displaying his animus for the state of Israel.
In a Jerusalem Post column written some 20 years ago by Andrea Levin, we see that Lewis’s loathing of Israel is shockingly similar to that of leftists in the American church.
Before we get to that, though, get a load of Levin’s saucy lead paragraph: “Henry Kissinger’s observation of Anthony Lewis –’He’s always wrong’ – applies not only to the columnist’s colossal misappraisals of the murderous Khmer Rouge and the Ayatollah Khomeini, and to his inane prediction that the Gulf War would become another Vietnam, but most aptly to his relentless misrepresentations of truth about Israel and the Middle East.”
Indeed, I well remember a Lewis column from 1997, in which he spent one paragraph lamenting the murder of Israeli schoolgirls at the hands of a deranged Jordanian – then spent the next 13 paragraphs blaming the lack of peace on Benjamin Netanyahu.
This passes for “journalism” in modern America. This type of poison has incubated in the West’s system for so long, now the religionists have caught the Lewis virus.
Hear Levin again: “In a continuum of interchangeable commentary, he has harangued the Israeli government for its deviation of the Lewis version of the Zionist dream, often seizing on specific allegations of abuse against individual Palestinians. In contrast, he has never evinced interest in or anguish for the Jewish victims of Arab terror.”
Levin said that she once asked Lewis why, for example, he never wrote about the vicious anti-Semitism that infected the Egyptian press; Lewis responded “furiously” that there was so much to write about, he couldn’t get to it all.
This presumably is also the conundrum for “evangelical” Christians like Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne.
Look, we all make mistakes. The only divine writing is found in Scripture. Yet, while advocacy journalism isn’t always a bad thing, it becomes problematic when one side presents falsehoods in order to advance a cause. Happily, falsehoods aren’t always knowingly advanced, which leaves the door open for corrections.
My friend Dexter Van Zile writes for CAMERA, and I consider him to be the ideal when one considers what a real journalist should sound like. I’ve seen him ask Catholic and Orthodox representatives in Israel what’s being done about security for Christians who are hunted and harassed by Fatah and Hamas. I’ve enjoyed his rigidly factual reports on media bias.
Would that more writers welded themselves to ethics like Dexter does.
When I finished reading “Red-Letter Revolution,” a book by Campolo and Claiborne, I frankly found some things I liked. Their calling out of fat-cat evangelical ministry leaders is dead on, for example. I found their views on the Arab-Israel conflict most troublesome, however.
In one exchange (the book is cleverly – and effectively – structured as a couple friends having a conversation about important global issues), Campolo expounds on one of his favorite topics: Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians. Never mind that Israel gave the PA an opportunity 20 years ago to govern its own people properly, or that Israel pulled out of Gaza eight years go. Campolo (and important young leaders he’s mentored, like Claiborne) continues to denounce Israel while giving the terrorists a pass.
Campolo brings up the topic of Jews living in the territories. One can almost hear the hissing utterance “sssssettlements” as it comes out of the mouths of Palestinian advocates.
Claiborne then injects a comment so bizarre, I had to contact him and ask about it. The founder of Philadelphia-based The Simple Way, Claiborne alleged that for every Israeli “settler,” there are three bodyguards!
Let’s see, tap-tap on the calculator. About 300,000 Jews live in the disputed territories. That means, in a country of not-quite eight million, almost one million bodyguards are employed. That’s a whopper that would make Yasser Arafat blush.
The goal, of course, is to characterize Israelis as crazed, brutal occupiers of Palestinian land, and by golly, they’ll go to armed lengths to keep it. Problem is, the numbers are wildly false. Most of the Jewish communities in the disputed territories have security but in, let’s say, a town of 1,000, only a handful of men are standing watch at any given time. Hey, Shane and Tony, that’s why Palestinian terrorists are able to murder whole families from time to time (see the Fogel family).
When I pointed this out to Claiborne on the phone, he told me that “someone in Hebron” gave him those figures.
Of course they did. The PLO has long used Western dupes to advance their bloody cause – the “liberation” of Palestine. That’s why the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded in Egypt in 1964 … a full three years before the “occupation” by Israel began. This is a most embarrassing fact for Palestinian apologists in the American church today. They are counting on most people remaining ignorant.
For the record, Shane Claiborne was willing to discuss it and, I hope, he will correct such mistakes, since they are now available for researchers to log as fact. And Israel doesn’t need more reasons for people to hate the Jewish state.
Moral of the story? It’s immoral to write falsehoods, especially when lives are on the line. I have also contacted the editors of Thomas Nelson, the Christian publisher responsible for “Red-Letter Revolution.”
Let’s hope they will be forthcoming in correcting mistakes in subsequent printings of the book.
It’s a big deal. Because I know Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo – surely – don’t want to follow the example of Anthony Lewis.
That would be wrong.