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      Fundamentally Freund
      by Michael Freund
      An alternative approach to Israeli political commentary.
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      Michael Freund is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister´s Office under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He has lived in Israel for the past decade.
      Cheshvan 1, 5766, 11/3/2005

      Clearing Up the Muddy Moral Waters


      In an age when many media pundits and even decision-makers often seem to have difficulty differentiating between good and evil, it is refreshing to see that all the patient and hard work of pro-Israel activists occasionally does pay off.

      Indeed, moral clarity enjoyed two minor, if not insignificant, triumphs this week, giving us all cause to redouble our efforts on behalf of what we know to be true and good.

      The first “victory”, if one can call it that, came this past Sunday in the New York Times, where the paper’s Public Editor, Daniel Okrant, weighed in on the use of the word “terrorism”.

      Of course, for most straight-thinking people, this hardly constitutes much of an issue, since any fair-minded observer long ago concluded that when Palestinian suicide bombers blow themselves up on an Israeli passenger bus, it constitutes an act of terror.

      But we are talking about the New York Times, where straight-thinking doesn’t always apply, replaced instead by a politically-driven agenda which slants the news.

      And that is precisely what makes Mr. Okrant’s musings so unusual, for in his bi-monthly column he wrote,

      Beheading construction workers in Iraq and bombing a market in Jerusalem are terrorism pure and simple.

      Given the word's history as a virtual battle flag over the past several years, it would be tendentious for The Times to require constant use of it, as some of the paper's critics are insisting. But there's something uncomfortably fearful, and inevitably self-defeating, about struggling so hard to avoid it.

      And so, while he steps back from insisting that Times reporters make “constant” use of the word, Okrant does seem to push for its more frequent utilization when characterizing Palestinian attacks on Israel. That, at least, is a step in the right direction.

      The same goes for the European Parliament, which passed a non-binding resolution Thursday labeling Hizbullah a terrorist group and urging EU ministers to take action against them.

      Muddywater Again – anyone who has followed Hizbullah’s decades-long career of hijackings, kidnappings, bombings, shootings and rocket attacks, knows all too well just how horrific a group it can be. But this basic fact seems too politically or financially inconvenient for various European governments such as the French and the Spanish, so perhaps the parliamentary resolution will turn up the heat on them on this issue.

      In both cases, it seems safe to say that years of lobbying and petitioning by Israel and its supporters played a role in these subtle shifts of policy. It may not be much, but it is certainly a good start, so let’s take comfort in knowing that at least in certain spheres, our message is finally beginning to get through.

      Shabbat Shalom.