This post (see below ***), originally written in 2014, became relevant again.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is backing a proposal to quieten calls to prayer, saying he has received complaints from all quarters about "noise and suffering".I don't know who exactly complained directly to Bibi (Sara?), and I don't doubt that, aside of the worry about the citizen's eardrums, the opportunity to stick it to the mullahs is also an element in the decision.
On the other hand, the ever increasing levels of noise irritate not only the sensitive Zionist ears, but Iranian ears as well, as was shown further down there in this post. The Saudis joined this trend too.
Saudi Arabia is cracking down on overly loud loudspeakers used to call the faithful to prayer, as mosques increasingly drown each other out, the official SPA news agency said Saturday.Of course, it is always educational to see how the other side presents the initiative. Here comes Kamel Hawwasha, Professor in the School of Civil Engineering at University of Birmingham, with his (not especially unique) version of events.
Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Saleh al-Sheikh ordered teams to inspect mosques in the holy city of Mecca, in Riyadh and elsewhere around the kingdom for too powerful speakers.
Something is in the air in Jerusalem and if Israel has its way it soon won’t be; the Muslim call to prayer – the adhaan – is under threat. The state which is built upon the ethnic cleansing of the majority of the indigenous Palestinian people is inching its way towards banning the call for prayer, which was probably first heard in Jerusalem in 637 AD. That was the year in which Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab travelled to Palestine to accept its surrender from Patriach Sophronius, bringing a six-month siege of the Holy City to a peaceful end.So again, "banning the call for prayer" is the definition of the measure. Well, what is good for Telegraph (see below) is surely good for one lying Professor of Civil Engineering.
Well, what can I say: shut them down.
Being one of the several millions that indeed have undergone a significant shift to pessimism and a significant loss of hope for the resolution of the conflict, I could quote many reasons for this change of heart. Indeed, from the heady days of Oslo accords via the years of Arafat's double-tongue speech and encouragement of "resistance", via lack of leadership on both sides of the conflict, via emergence of Hamas with its genocidal agenda (different from that of its rival Fatah only in more open and frank definition of goals, to be sure) etc. - it was difficult not to lose that optimism.
Be it as it may, the international media knows to put its collective finger on the reasons. Of course, depending on the particular bend of a specific media outfit, the apportioning of the blame will be different. From blaming the bloodthirsty ZioNazis to accusing the bloodthirsty Arab world and/or Islamist culture of death, you will find the whole gamut of opinions, emotions and hyperbole in the unending stream of what passes these days for reporting and editorializing.
There is one thing, though, you will never find in the media - blaming itself for what is going on. And I don't mean the incendiary articles by anti-Zionist or anti-Arabic gurus, not at all. Just the usual, run-of-the-mill daily reporting, dull and unremarkable, that seeps through the brain matter of the reader, leaving in its wake a few weak emotions, only to be forgotten the next day. But not completely forgotten. Because if, before reading the article, you didn't know anything about the subject, your knowledge will be increased only a tiny little bit. However, your opinion on the main actors of the unfolding drama - Jews and Arabs - will change - slightly, but it will definitely change. And not in favor of the Jews, things being (mis)represented as they frequently are.
And if you are a Jewish Israeli citizen, this reporting will increase your general irritation level, your sense of being wronged, your feeling of alienation and your sense of enmity the outside world displays. Slightly, granted, but increase all these feelings will. Eventually, with the passage of years and accumulation of these small jabs, one can't help but distance oneself from any hope of rapprochement - neither with one's Palestinian cousins nor with the rest of the world.
And to illustrate this long rant, I have chosen an unremarkable example from a newspaper that is not known for being especially anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish - The Telegraph. Robert Tait produced for The Telegraph an article
Israeli Right-wingers have revived highly contentious plans that could effectively silence the Muslim call to prayer, known as the adhan.So where do I start? With the headline, of course. No one is trying to "ban" the prayer call, to start with - this is the first small "inaccuracy" of that report. And as for "effectively silencing" that call, there is a grain of truth in that sentence, but only... how to say it gently - half of the truth. Because - but you will not find the full truth in the article, search it as you like. Let's try another source - Washington Post. WaPo presents a misleading headline as well, but slightly less misleading:
In a move that risks stoking already simmering tensions in Jerusalem between Jews and Arabs, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition is tabling legislation that could put strict limits on Islamic prayer calls from mosques in the city and across Israel.
At least, this headline doesn't use the totally untrue "banning", choosing "to silence", which is somewhat closer to the reality. And in the article itself you may find the first glimpse of truth:
The song of the muezzin is a fixture of urban life in many parts of the world where there are Muslim populations. But for Ilatov and others, it's a problem of noise pollution. The proposed bill would give Israeli authorities the right to decide whether public address systems can be placed in mosques -- a de facto right to muffle the muezzin.In this quote you can see that, first of all, the incendiary "to silence" is replaced by true version: "to muffle". Which, together with the first mention of "public address systems", starts to resemble the truth (you wouldn't find any mention of PA systems, which are in reality humongous loudspeakers, in The Telegraph's article).
Now we can proceed to a local view of the same issue - by Jerusalem Post.
The bill, originally drafted in the previous Knesset by then-Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastasia Michaeli, calls for a ban on the usage of a PA system to complete the call to prayer – called the idhan in Arabic – and any other sound emanating from a religious institution that is deemed noise pollution.You can say what you will about the whole idea. But, first of all, did Prophet Muhammed, PBUH, require use of loudspeakers for idhan?
The idhan is recited five times per day, including at dawn, and muezzin in Israel use loudspeakers to call Muslims to prayer.
I, personally, tend to doubt it, but then I am not a scholar of Islam - or any other religion, for that matter. I only know that for Israeli citizens living in cities with mixed population, the 4AM wail, equal in the decibel count to an air raid siren, produces an unwelcome and unasked for wake-up call. And sometimes the same "PA system" continues to transmit the whole sermon. Why should Jewish and Christian neighbors be subjected to this unsubtle punishment, only Allah knows...
And finally, if the question of comfort and well-being of the Jews and Christians shouldn't in your opinion trample the religious rights (what religious rights, by the way?) of our Muslim brothers and sisters, consider this:
Calls to prayer have become rare, too. Officials have silenced muezzins to appease citizens angered by the noise. The state broadcaster used to interrupt football matches with live sermons at prayer time; now only a small prayer symbol appears in a corner of the screen.This quote refers to... yes, take a seat: Islamic Republic of Iran, for crying out loud. Apologies for emphasizing, but it was irresistible...
Now to summarize: you can see how a relatively simple case gets a skewed and, eventually, anti-Jewish angle when presented by many Western sources. Imagine the interpretation of the same case by the Muslim ones, multiply this case by tens or even hundreds on the daily basis... you get the picture now, I bet.
So how do you expect us to keep our equanimity and our desire for peace, understanding and all things dear to any right-minded progressive Western bloke going?
You tell me.
P.S. To prevent a certain type of responses: no, I am far from blaming the media in everything that is going on, but at the end of the day, when the blame is to be apportioned, some media hacks have to own up to their fair share.