Blinkers and earplugs

[A big tip of the hat to Elder of Ziyon for the following.]

The following story is from Israel Hayom:

BBC debate can’t secure Muslim cleric to face off with Rabbi Lau

The Doha Debates – a Qatar-based free speech forum for discussing issues facing the region – invites former chief rabbi and current Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau to participate in panel alongside representatives of other faiths • Lau: They are always talking about dialogue, but they don’t really mean it.

Yehuda Shlezinger

The full version:

Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi and current Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was scheduled to travel to Qatar in the coming weeks to take part in the monthly Doha Debates panel, together with other religious leaders. The event was canceled, however, because no Muslim representative could be found to participate.

The Doha Debates, which have been broadcast on BBC World News since 2005 and have a potential viewership of more than 350 million people, had already secured a Christian representative to speak alongside Rabbi Lau, but no Muslim cleric would agree to join them.

“They are always talking about dialogue and [peace] partners, but apparently they don’t really mean it,” Lau told Israel Hayom on Wednesday. “We reach our hand out and they leave us hanging.”

The Doha Debates are chaired by award-winning former BBC correspondent and interviewer Tim Sebastian, who founded the program in 2004 and secured its editorial independence.

No government, official body or broadcaster has control over what is said at the sessions or who is invited.

I was unable to see any mention of this on the BBC website, or that of Doha Debates.

This is a significant event, but it seems likely to receive no news coverage west of Tel Aviv. It’s almost as if those of a certain political persuasion – when it comes to Israel – have blinkers around their eyes, and earplugs in their ears; they do not want to see or hear anything – anything – which confirms one of Israel’s repeated, but ignored, warnings to the West: we who live in Israel are not dealing with an enemy, a culture, a people, a political movement, or whatever you label it, that has meaningful shared values. (Of course, there’s an element of generalization here.)

They do not, for example, value free speech. They do not value human life. Perhaps the more fundamental issue is that they do not value truth. No wonder there is mistrust on the part of the Israeli mainstream political establishment. That is not extremism; it’s realism. And it’s one reason why Netanyahu’s short, sharp response to the last bout of Obama pressure on Israel, was warmly appreciated by people of all political persuasions in Israel. (Except Tzipi Livni, but that’s why she is an ex-leader.)

Maybe the rebuff to Rabbi Lau’s will achieve some good, if it causes Western leaders to take off their blinkers and earplugs. If they want to help – really help – Israel make peace, that’s a prerequisite.