Nor does NRC say anything “about the background of the Israeli blockade” – namely, that it was necessitated by attacks on Israeli targets by Hamas, a group committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. When NRC refers to Israeli figures, moreover, its way of identifying them almost invariably gives away the paper’s slant. In 2009 Moll read in NRC about an Israeli writer who, as he discovered through a quick Wikipedia search, described himself as “left-wing”; butNRC described him simply as “the writer Yossi Melman.” By contrast, when the same reporter, in the same column, mentioned Caroline Glick, he called her – absurdly, in both Moll’s view and mine – “the ultra-conservative columnist for the Jerusalem Post.” In NRC one can see Hamas and Hezbollah described not as terrorist groups but as “movements”; a 2009 NRC review of two books about Hamas contains no reference whatsoever to its anti-Semitism. And what of the notorious case of Mohammed al-Dura, in which France 2′s report on a Palestinian boy’s murder by the IDF was later shown by journalist Philippe Karsenty to be a hoax? NRC chose to ignore the evidence and stand by France 2′s story. Against the explicit opposition of the foreign desk, Moll managed to publish a review of the documentary The Child, Death, and the Truth (2009) by German journalist Esther Schapira – which marked the first time NRC chose to pay attention to this infamous incident.
Moll also writes about the now-infamous commentary, published in NRC on May 6, 2002, in which editor-in-chief Folkert Jensma viciously misrepresented Pim Fortuyn, then the leading candidate for prime minister of the Netherlands, as a racist, xenophobic threat to the Netherlands’ open society. That very day, Fortuyn was murdered in cold blood. Jensma did not learn his lesson. On October 2, 2010, he warned against “strong speakers” who preach discrimination. He mentioned no names, but he was clearly referring to Wilders. For Moll, the current philosophy of NRC is summed up in a single inane statement by Jensma: “It is the pride of the Netherlands that we believe one culture is not superior over the other.” On the contrary, insists Moll, it is the pride of the Netherlands that it possesses a “humanistic culture” that is indeed “better than those found in patriarchal, Islamic cultures where violence against women, Jews, and apostates is glorified.”
One story is this book is especially unsettling. Less than an hour after the slaughter of Theo van Gogh, Moll, was standing at the crime scene surrounded by horrified passersby. Next to him, a teenage girl of Mediterranean origin said with a laugh that van Gogh should not have insulted God. Moll decided not to quote her words in the article he wrote that day – perhaps, after all, she was just an isolated fool whose insensitive remark was not representative of anything. Yet within twenty-four hours after the murder it was clear that Bouyeri enjoyed widespread support among Dutch Muslims. Moll was reminded of 9/11, after which Dutch Muslims also celebrated in the streets. But “only a small proportion of these reactions make it into the newspaper….Nobody dares to suggest that there is broad support for such views.”
Such, more or less, is the editorial culture not only at NRC but also at many an elite left-leaning newspaper in the Western world today. This is why Hans Moll’s book is so important. If only some conscientious soul would quit the Times or the Guardian and give us an earful between hard covers, just as Moll has done! Memoirs by defectors from these institutions, if properly attended to, could go a long way toward demystifying the aura of authority and objectivity that, alas, so many of them still enjoy in so many quarters – and might actually immunize many otherwise intelligent and sensible people to their insidious propaganda.
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