. . . Tuesday October 19, 2004

God’s PR Department

A few weeks ago, an Iraqi court issued an arrest warrant for a guy named Mithal al-Alusi. Al-Alusi was a member of the Iraqi National Congress. His crime? He visited Israel to attend a conference on terrorism.

The story received a bit of coverage in the U.S. But not much. Because it’s not the side of religion that we like to focus on in this country. Does anyone else find it interesting that we are fighting two wars and numerous diplomatic battles in the Middle East and yet we almost never talk about the rabid antisemitism that is at the very core of the cultures in the nations where we are engaged?

I know, I know. There are those who will say that anti-Israel and antisemitism are not the same thing. In this country that may (occasionally) be true. In other parts of the world, such distinctions have long been blurred if not obliterated.

We like to look away when religion gets ugly or doesn’t fit the storyline. We don’t like to talk about liberation and the hate that might consume those we’re liberating in the same breath. Religion is good.

Think I’m overstating the ways in which we ignore religion?

Well, here’s a scoop. A couple of months ago, a major U.S. television network told non-essential Jewish producers that they would not be sent back into Iraq for the foreseeable future. Why? Because their presence among the team would present too much of a danger to themselves and those with whom they worked. This message was sent out loud and clear. Not to Israelis, but to American Jews.

Now I’m not knocking this network for making the decision. I’m knocking mainstream media because I am the one who is breaking this story.

Journalists are renown for covering themselves. How did this directive manage to avoid their headlines?

Concentration is important!