When one sees the byline of William Booth and Ruth Eglash on a Washington Post article, what follows, one knows, is going to be a very ugly piece about Israel. There will be the pretense of balance, but the slant will always be there and the direction of that slant will never favor Israel. You read their stuff and you have to wonder what's wrong with them, the authors. Their regular and willful distortion of the facts must, by design, be born of deep-seated hatred for the Jewish State.
Now if the articles were balanced and at least factually true, we might have given Booth and Eglash a pass. We might have said they are writing what they write for the sake of truth. We could have called them truth seekers. We could have ascribed a certain logic to reporting true but ugly news about Israel, and called the authors "truth seekers." (Even though nitpicking on Israel is kind of a strange thing to do, considering the slaughter going on next door in, for instance, Syria.)
With Booth and Eglash, however, what you've got is something far from the truth, something at a distant remove from decency and basic journalistic standards. What you've got instead is two authors pushing a single agenda and passing off selected half-truths as cover for their naked hate of Israel.
The latest Booth and Eglash screed against Israel is a piece about the mosque loudspeakers, Israel wants mosques to turn the volume way down. The piece is framed as though the proposed legislation to ban loudspeakers is a freedom of religion issue, which it most assuredly is not. The caption under the video clip at the top of the piece includes the phrase: "The Muslims say their sacred tradition can't be compared to a rowdy party to be shut down by police."
Right here is where the distortion begins that is carried throughout the article and here is why it is a distortion: the most important thing to know about the loudspeaker bill is that it does not muzzle the muezzin and his call to prayer.
No one asks this. No one wants this. No one is pushing such a thing.
Jews don't do that. Everyone in Israel is free to pray or not pray to whatever deity he or she so chooses. We believe in free will, free choice. We brought the concept to the world, for crying out loud.
What we don't like is having prayers of any sort blasted in our ears at 4:30 in the morning. That's not nice. It disturbs our sleep. It's noise pollution.
And it's deeply unnecessary.
The blasting of prayers at full volume over a loudspeaker is neither sacred nor a tradition. Islam thrived just fine between the 7th century, when Islam was founded, and 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell invented the loudspeaker. The muezzin managed his duties a-okay without a loudspeaker. And if any Muslim is afraid he will sleep so deeply that he will not hear the call to prayer, he can darned well set an alarm clock and call that a "sacred tradition," too.
But let's get to the meat of the article. Booth and Eglash tell us that when Muslims hear the call to prayer, they hear something beautiful, but when Jews hear it, they hear noise. This too, is a distortion. It makes it sound like the Jews are deriding Muslim prayer, calling it "noise."
No. We really aren't. We have no problem with Muslim prayer and don't think of it as noise. UNLESS YOU BLAST IT INTO OUR EARS OVER A LOUDSPEAKER AT 4 FRIGGING THIRTY IN THE MORNING. Like when we're sleeping.
Sing it out in your villages and towns and neighborhoods. But not with a loudspeaker. Not at full volume. Not in the middle of the night when we're sleeping.
And just by the way, it's not a benign sacred Muslim tradition, as Booth and Eglash would have you believe. It's Muslims asserting their belief in their religious superiority. It's a thumb in the eye to Judaism. That is the only reason for the loudspeaker, to make sure EVERYONE hears. Especially the Jews.
And the truth is no one cares about that either. Because we are Jews in our own land and let the Arabs think whatever the heck they want to think. We're secure in our own beliefs.
We DO, on the other hand, want to sleep undisturbed. That's the bottom line. Sleep. Ya know?
But Booth and Eglash, they don't get it. Or they do but pretend they don't. They write, "During periods of heightened violence, when the Jews who live near Palestinians hear the Arabs proclaim that 'God is great!' in a broadcast that travels far from the mosque’s loudspeakers, they say they do not think of God.
"They hear a threat."
What utter malarkey. We don't think of anything much at all. We grumble and pull our pillows over our heads and try to get back to sleep. Except for the babies. They cry. It sounds scary to them. And of course, if they cry and they're scared we can't go back to sleep, because we have to go take care of them, comfort them, try to rock them back to sleep.
Booth and Eglash write: "One might think that after centuries of Jews and Muslims living side by side, in war and peace, these issues would be settled — but that would be naive."
In what century did Jews and Muslims live side by side in peace??? Have they even read a history book? Have they never read about the Muslim Conquest? The Arab riots of the 1920's? The Farhud?
Booth and Eglash write:
“'This call doesn’t hurt anybody,' said Kamal Abdul Khader, a former boxer who works as a bus dispatcher in Shuafat."
It does hurt us. Yes it does. It causes sleep deprivation.
“'You know what the call is? The call is to come and pray to God,' he said. 'The Jews don’t want to hear this? Tell me why.'"
Because it's a call to pray according to Islamic tradition. And we're JEWS. We have our own way of praying. And because it WAKES US UP and WE don't have to pray or get up for at least another couple of hours. It's not fair. It's not nice.
"Told it wakes people up, Khader laughed and pointed at the chaotic street scene with its cacophony of honking horns, cellphone rings and pop music blasting from shops.
"'Listen, this is Jerusalem. We Muslims don’t complain when the Christians ring their church bells. We don’t complain about the Jews with their ram horns. This is religion,' he said. 'No one should interfere.'"
Christians don't ring their church bells at 4:30 in the morning. Jews don't blast their ram horns at 4:30 AM and even if they did, they don't do it into loudspeakers so as to force the Muslims on the other side of town to listen to them. We blow them in shul for the (Jewish) congregants gathered therein.
"Men attending Shuafat’s main mosque agreed. One recalled that he had heard the muezzin bill was changed to protect Jewish customs. In the deeply Orthodox communities of Israel, sirens often wail on Friday afternoons to mark the beginning of the Sabbath. Sometimes a trumpet or ram’s horn is sounded."
The main word here to note is AFTERNOON. We don't play the sirens at 4:30 in the morning. I've never heard of someone blowing a trumpet for this purpose, but even if they did, it isn't at 4:30 in the morning. It really is THAT simple. Don't blast your prayers at full volume over a loudspeaker at 4:30 in the morning.
"There are some who ask why such a divisive topic needs the blunt force of legislation and a ban."
Here is why: we keep asking them to turn down the volume. They crank it down for a bit and then slowly, they inch it back up. They simply don't respect our wishes. They don't respect our freedom of religion, which is to sleep through the night and pray with a minyan instead of on a prayer rug with our backsides facing the Temple Mount. They are inconsiderate and don't care that we want and need to sleep. They don't care that they are scaring our babies and waking them up.
And since they are rude and inconsiderate and don't care about our rights, we have to legislate our rights, enshrining them in law.
But Booth and Eglash make it sound like all Israel wants to do is suppress something of tremendous beauty.
"At the mosque in Shuafat, the muezzin, who asked to be referred to as Abu Mohammad, said he has sung the call to prayer for 35 years. He was sorry to hear about all the complaints. He said he thought there was nothing more moving than hearing the call in the quiet of the dawn as it echoes across the desert where the prophets walked.
“'If there is a more beautiful voice than mine?' he said. 'They can do the call.'”
Yeah. Because it's all about your voice. Right. Us Jews just don't get the poetry, the lilting harmonies, the LOUDSPEAKER BLASTING ARABIC IN OUR EARS AT 4:30 IN THE MORNING.
Now it's clear that Booth and Eglash see Islam and the Arabs in this pink, soft, romantic light. Conversely, they want to see Jews and Israelis as culturally bankrupt morons. And actually, that would be just fine if they were writing fiction, or even opinion. But it's not fine that a newspaper like the Washington Post would carry a piece like this even once, let alone on an ongoing basis, as it has done.
In so doing, the Washington Post, rather than disseminating information, is fostering hate. Readers trust Wapo to tell them the truth. It's a sad thing indeed that Booth and Eglash are allowed to use the pages of the Washington Post to spread lies, misinformation, and their pathological hatred of Jews and Israel.
Sad and tragic.
The only thing to do is keep calling them on it. Every single time they do it. And to recap in logical terms, the truth of the matter.
It was only ever about sleep, Habibi. No matter what Eglash and Booth try to tell you. And no matter where they tell it.