Mea Shearim is an ultra-Orthodox enclave in Jerusalem, the kind of place where you will find bearded men with black hats, ringlets and gabardine coats rocking on their heels as they mutter their passages from the Torah. Ripe for ridicule, especially by those who themselves don’t have enough faith to save a mouse.
Last week the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that a Beth Din, a rabbibical court, in Mea Shearim had condemned a dog to death by stoning. The offending animal was supposedly inhabited by a reincarnated secularist lawyer who had insulted the court 20 years previously. Well what else can you do in that situation; these reincarnated secularist lawyers are the devil to get rid of, not that easy to get rid of before they qualify for reincarnation either.
What actually happened was that a dog wandered into the rabbinical court, attracted the attention of some children who thought it amusing and so the spoilsport rabbis called the dog catcher who removed the offending canine
without any harm befalling the animal. As soon as they realised their error Maariv quite sensibly ran a retraction and apologised.
This did not deter the international mainstream media from leaping on the story with glee and passing it off as ‘news’ even after Maariv had published their retraction. Not unexpectedly the BBC was in there quickly. On their web site it was posted under a “Must Read” heading with the headline “Jewish rabbis condemn dog to death by stoning.” The story began, “A Jewish rabbinical court condemns to death by stoning a dog it suspects to be the reincarnation of a lawyer who insulted judges 20 years …” In the USA Time magazine was also quickly into action with “Shocking sentence – Jewish court condemns dog to death by stoning.”
Not just the mainstream print media. Yahoo entered the fray with most of their readers responding with outraged vitriol, pretty much what one would expect. No need to mention the incandescent rage posted on Tweeter.
This is interesting. Not the response by the inhabitants of cyberspace. You guys really should go out and find human friends. For cyberneds the first lesson in Relationships 101 has to be “A keyboard is not a Significant Other.” Neither is it possible to be surprised any more by any response, especially from Brits, whenever possible harm to an animal occurs. Nothing is too inane, stupid or off the wall for the average Brit animal lover who will weep real tears over a bewildered hamster whilst ignoring the tens of thousands of babies aborted every year.
The interesting thing is the response of the ‘responsible’ media. Were they simply gullible? After all, here was a story which would get a sure response from their readers, why not go for it immediately without doing a proper check?
Perhaps it was something more serious. Perhaps the erroneous article was readily accepted because it poked fun at believers. Or perhaps it was accepted because it cast a section of Israeli society in a ludicrous light. Perhaps it was accpeted by those who assumed without question that Hasidic Jews would be capable of such an ludicrous act.
I’m not saying that this was conscious anti-Semitism. I merely wonder whether the mainstream media especially the BBC, which we pay for, would have instituted more stringent checks if a story of this kind had emanated from a sharia court in Bolton, or even via a leak from the archbishop’s entourage Lambeth Palace.