Monday, February 15, 2010

Annals of anti-Semitism

The stories just keep flooding in.

First, the real thing: a little projection by popular far-right American commentator Rush Limbaugh. Suggesting that Barack Obama is anti-Semitic because the president is critical of bankers, he finds the tables rightly turned by none other than Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who called his comments "borderline anti-Semitic."

Borderline? Linking "banker" and "Jewish?" Well, I don't want to be more Catholic than the Pope, as it were. Over to you, Mr. Foxman.

Here at home, that alleged "hotbed of anti-Semitism," York University, has yielded up another cold ember.

Two Jewish students assaulted! University investigating! shrieked the Jerusalem Post, on the say-so of Tyler Golden, co-president of the aptly-named Hasbara Fellowships, who claimed that about 50 activists surrounded some Jewish students, chanted anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs, and then got physical with them.

And here's Marlee Mozeson, Golden's co-president: "The University's steps to ensure a safe campus for all have been proven unsuccessful and ineffective. We call on the University to take immediate action to restore order and safety for all students on campus."

The ubiquitous Jewish Defence League, meanwhile, has offered a $500 reward "for the assailants [sic] identities, names, alias [sic], phone numbers and addresses."

And then the whole thing turned out to be a lie. Security cameras had been rolling throughout the event, and they tell quite a different story.

Surveillance footage made available to Excalibur [York's campus newspaper] shows no evidence of a physical brawl. While the footage lacks audio, it does clearly show that no one physically touched another person or invaded anyone’s personal space in a threatening manner.

Body language is exuberant, at most, but never aggressive. No more than 20 to 30 people can be seen around the table in the video, including both parties and bystanders. Two visible handheld cameras can be seen on screen, none of which is smacked to the ground.

Shalom Life, which published the original incendiary report, has now published what is, in effect, a retraction:

The video was taken using the closed circuit cameras which are installed on campus, and although there is no audio as the camera is placed in a high traffic area, it clearly shows the events which took place between 4pm and 5pm on Monday, February 1, the day in question. The table which was set up by the Hasbara group at York is visible, and no more than about 15 to 30 people are seen around the table at any given time. At one point, it can be seen that an argument may have taken place; however, at no point during the video is there any evidence of a brawl, nor can a shouting match be evident from the students’ body language. At several points cameras are being used by the students, and at one point a female student who obviously does not take well to being on camera tries to reach for the camera, but the male student holding it lifts it up so it is out of her reach. No evidence of students being physically assaulted can be found during the video. York’s security officers are seen towards the end of the video taking statements from students who were on scene.

We are no longer dealing with conflicting Rashomon-like accounts, but with a camera lens (not to be confused with a CAMERA lens). How many other sensational stories of campus pogroms might have been put to rest with strategically-located surveillance equipment? Bring on the transparent society: once again, I commend futurist David Brin to your attention.

[H/t ftbt, b/c]

1 comment:

forgot to buy tinfoil said...

Uncorrected versions of the York story continue to turn up in Google news searches, dated after the corrections were made available. Shoddy research? An eagerness to hear only what you want to hear (or in this case, what you supposedly don't want to hear)? Or, as in the original, a cavalier attitude toward thetruth? Every echoed misrepresentationadds to thediscredit of the pro-Israeli cause.

I'm not saying that all pro-Israelis are liars -- far from it. But the ones who aren't need to get out there and correct this. Otherwise no one will have much reason to believethe pro-Israeli faction keeps its facts straight.

It will be interesting to look back in a year's time and see which version has been most widely propagated.