60 Minutes recently did a show on Daniel Barenboim’s Middle Eastern orchestra — and snuck a sneaky shiv into Israel in the first minute.
This past Sunday, 60 Minutes did a profile of Daniel Barenboim, who has put together an orchestra made up of Middle Eastern Muslims, including Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, and Israelis. The segment’s shtick is that even people who are mortal enemies can make beautiful music together.
This orchestra is one of an endless series of peacenik efforts to get ordinary people to find common ground and stop the hate. And certainly, the people who find themselves in these groups do manage to function well together, but the reality is that these efforts never translate into the Arab/Muslim street giving up its genocidal attitudes towards Israel. But that’s the besides the point here. Here I want to talk about 60 Minutes’ disgraceful exercise in subtle moral equivalence.
The episode started innocuously enough, introducing us to Barenboim and his orchestra:
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished musician than Daniel Barenboim, a celebrated conductor and distinguished concert pianist, who grew up in Israel and for the last seven decades has been performing with the great orchestras of the world. For many maestros, all that would be enough. Not for Barenboim. At 75, he’s still at it and he’s embarked on a second act: starting his own orchestra for young musicians from Israel and the Muslim world and taking on a subject that’s as contentious as it gets: the conflict in the Middle East. His work has earned him Palestinian citizenship and charges of treachery from some of his fellow Israelis. But as we found out, controversy hasn’t slowed Barenboim down, he seems to thrive on it.
Of all the orchestras Daniel Barenboim leads around the world, this might be the one that moves him the most.
Some of the young musicians on stage at this summer concert in Berlin are Iranian, Syrian, Palestinian.
Isn’t that nice? And then, in the next sentence, 60 Minutes shivs Israel:
Others are Israelis, all playing in perfect harmony, even as their governments threaten to destroy one another.
That’s some interesting moral equivalence there. It’s also factually wrong. The Israeli government has never threatened to destroy any Arab or Muslim nation or to commit genocidal murder against its people.
Israel has made it clear that she will defend herself against attacks, including taking out nuclear facilities on the ground, because the threat is too great to allow nuclear missiles ever to launch against her. But no, unlike other Arab and Muslim nations that constantly use apocalyptic language against Jews and against each other (based upon Sunni versus Shia animosity), Israel has never threatened to destroy anyone. She asks only to be left alone.
And this is why I hate the mainstream media. Its active, obvious bias is something one can easily see and challenge. It’s the subtle, almost subliminal bias that’s really dangerous. It’s the sentence that, with a single clause, makes Israel as morally culpable as her bloodthirsty neighbors that is dangerous, because most people don’t notice it. They just absorb it into their frame of reference.
On the bright side, though, Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia continues to be a source of great pleasure for me. As I’m sure all of you already know, he recently broke with Saudi precedent by agreeing that Israel has a right to exist. Long may he reign (and thank you, President Trump, for being the wind at his back).