BOOK SUMMARY by Rodney Mazinter
Respected commentator and senior journalist Benjamin Pogrund has mastered the art of dissecting received opinion and exposing the truth beneath. His political views while deputy editor of the now defunct Rand Daily Mail, a liberal newspaper that was targeted and became a victim of South Africa’s apartheid regime, landed up with him doing time in prison. During his tenure as editor of the RDM he fearlessly exposed the iniquities of the Nationalist government and nailed his anti-apartheid colours to the mast.
Reporting on the political scene in South Africa has literally changed Pogrund’s life. After his departure from South Africa he wrote for the Independent in London, and the WorldPaper in Boston. He has written for Haaretz in Tel Aviv, the Guardian in London, Facta in Tokyo, the Star in Johannesburg and others.
In Drawing Fire, he shows how disproportionate criticism of Israel, particularly the use of the Israel = Apartheid analogy, distorts the facts and incorrectly promotes the tendentious, malicious accusation that Israel practices apartheid against the Palestinians.
Pogrund writes: “Israel is relentlessly criticised. Even its right to exist is questioned. However, deconstructing the criticisms reveals that overwhelmingly, they are based on falsehoods, distortions, prejudice or lack of knowledge, … often emanate[ing] from people…who hate and reject Israel as a Jewish state.”
Pogrund points out that “Israel, despite awesome achievements, is not a perfect society.” Every country in the world has its problems and a great many are open to the same criticisms leveled at Israel. Israel does much that is commendable but also is by no means beyond censure.
Complicated social interactions set against a backdrop of a state of war with hostile neighbours bring about decisions that impact on its Palestinian inhabitants, sometimes poorly. When the legality of its position is ignored not only by its enemies, but also by the international media, and when Israel’s policies relating to settlers in the West Bank do nothing to help its cause, it is not surprising that the malevolent intentions of the Muslim states hold sway.