In the heat of the moment immediately following an incident such as the apprehension of the Mavi Marmara last Monday morning one can understand, although not necessarily excuse, mistakes being made by journalists under pressure and eager to get copy to their hungry editors despite the fact that the fog of war is still thick and the facts of the incident are by no means clear. However, four days after the dust had already settled, Linda Grant came out with a CiF article so replete with vacuous hyperbole and deliberate inaccuracies that no serious editor should have allowed it to be published.
Here are just some examples of the highly inaccurate and borderline hysterical language which Grant deliberately employed in order to whip up her readers’ fervor:
“Innocent civilians brutally massacred in an act of piracy”
“Starving millions in Gaza”
“Inmates of a vast open air prison”
As the old saying goes, empty vessels make most noise. None of the above words or phrases has but a tenuous connection to reality except in the minds of those whose opinions of Israel’s attempt to prevent ships from breaking the naval blockade had been formed long before the Mavi Marmara had even weighed anchor. But of course reality and accuracy are not what interest Grant in this piece. She is attempting to whip her readers into a certain emotional state by evoking vapid comparisons between homeless, malnourished, refugee Holocaust survivors in 1947 and a surreal hybrid of politically naïve, relatively affluent, Western ‘peace’ campaigners who are delightfully ignorant of the realities of life at war or under the constant threat of terror, mixed with terror activists (some even possibly paid to be so) whose ultimate aim is the destruction of Israel and the death of Jews, not because of political conflict but because of religiously-inspired racist ideologies. And yet Grant finds herself capable of writing the following:
“why would the passengers not defend themselves against their attackers, exactly as the refugees had done in 1947?”
Not content with this ‘sand in the eyes’ tactic, Grant goes on to make the somewhat amusing claim that Swedish author Henning Mankell “risked his own life to bring aid to the starving millions of Gaza.”. Beyond the hyperbole of the ‘starving millions’, this claim also falls flat as a pancake when one takes into account that neither Mankell nor anyone else had prior reason to assume any threat to his life based either on the experiences of previous flotillas or that of the other five boats accompanying the Mavi Marmara, all of which were detained peacefully and without incident. The hype escalates even further when Grant pronounces Mankell’s ‘authoritative presence’ to be more significant than the opinions and analysis of maritime experts. Despite her literary credentials, Grant has clearly well and truly lost the plot here, as is further indicated by her subsequent comparison of the Palestinian solidarity movements with the campaign against South African apartheid.
Towards the end of her embarrassingly over-emotional and desperately confused article, Grant states that “[w]e look back on the ship Exodus and wonder if our parents and grandparents should have thought harder and emoted less.”. By this she appears to be claiming that the world would have been a better place had world public opinion not been in favour of the establishment of the only state either capable or willing to take in one million refugees from post-war Europe and some 800,000 refugees from Arab and Muslim countries. Go figure the motives behind such a suggestion.
Even if Grant is incapable of overcoming her painfully obvious dominant emotions in order to write about the flotilla incident with less hyperbole, more facts and less drama-queen tugging at the reader’s heart strings, that does not provide an excuse for the editor who cleared this article for publication. Both Grant and the Guardian have obviously fallen into the trap of letting their emotions get the better of them and the result is something more suited to a Mills and Boon novella than the pages of a newspaper whose role it is to inform its readers, not try to entertain them.