Hafta letters: Hamas-Israel, balancing acts, Jayashree’s rants, air pollution

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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I am the person who sent in the Atlantic article as a letter. Disappointed that other aspects of my letter weren’t engaged with and some misconceptions were doubled down on.

As I had mentioned, NYTimes received condemnation for taking claims of casualties regarding hospital blast from Hamas at face value and subsequently published an editor’s note about this.

They have also had some really good coverage on the opinion side, and I recommend reading/listening to the Jewish Left who are trying to hold two thoughts at the same: Thomas Friedman and Ezra Klein.

Finally, as I mentioned, instead of passing on Jayashree’s opinions as facts or dismissing Israel’s position as coloniser/WhatsApp forwards, I suggest calling any Jewish voice to discuss the issue. I very much am not a fan of the BJP, but that does not mean I hate everything they do.

This topic requires more nuance than what you have been willing to engage in Hafta so far. That’s a disservice to your listeners.

Anonymous

***

This is regarding Hafta 459.

Here, Sudipto said regarding the Israel-Palestine war that Jews have been oppressed for 2,000 years and we should think from their perspective. I agree with him but let me talk about my perspective of it.

I am 32 years of age and from the age when I started taking knowledge of my surroundings and politics, I know that there’s a conflict between Israel and Palestine. If some people of Israel are killed, then 10 times the people of Palestine are killed. Gaza is an open-air prison. There's a problem of Al-Aqsa mosque and Israeli police brutality, settlers occupying the West Bank.

So, from growing up to now, I am seeing Israel as an oppressor so I am sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause.

Sudipto also emphasised that it was Palestine that forsook the two-state solution twice. Is Israel ready to acknowledge the two-state solution today? Is it ready to call back its settlers from West Bank and East Jerusalem and vacate East Jerusalem?

Sudipto also said that Israel should have attacked Iran instead of Gaza as it's the backer of Hamas. I agree with him. Hamas was created by Netanyahu to oppose the Fatah party; he had sent bags full of cash to Hamas for their operations and setting up of facilities. He also said to his party leaders that they should support Hamas if they don't want to see and oppose a two-state solution.

Then, according to Sudipto’s logic, IDF should first kill Netanyahu and his supporters who helped in creating Hamas.

Sudipto also talked about the reduction of Jews population in Arab countries. Then what about the reduction of Jewish population in European countries after WW2? What are we going to say to a Palestinian child who’s orphaned during the recent bombings of Gaza – that it's okay because the people bombing you, which killed your whole family, friends, destroyed your home, schools and hospitals, are very oppressed people? They’re being oppressed for more than 2,000 years, they faced a Holocaust so it's okay to kill you guys and cause a genocide because shit happens? If you want to blame someone, blame your grandparents who voted for Hamas in 2006?

Then what are we going to say to the victims of the West Bank who faced Israeli brutality where there’s no Hamas. Does being oppressed for 2,000 years and facing a Holocaust give you the free right to cause a genocide and what you are doing now? What's left of Gaza now? More than 70 percent of buildings bombed, all the hospitals bombed, all the schools bombed, all the relief camps bombed. Like how we are condemning Hamas,, we should also condemn the IDF instead of saying that it's okay because they faced oppression for 2,000 years so it's okay.

It's not okay.

Sudipto also said that Israelis have the right to exist as they have suffered oppression for 2,000 years. I agree with him, they have the right to exist. Then what are we going to say about the Palestinians who are getting oppressed by Israeli brutality? That it's okay for them to be oppressed because their oppressors faced similar oppression for past 2,000 years and it gives them a right to exist and do whatever they want? You guys can continue to be oppressed for another 2,000, years then my progenies can acknowledge your oppression and your rights to live and exist. Till then, tough luck guys and just die as numbers in a list.

Farqul

***
Dear Hafta team,

I’m writing about Hafta 459. I've been listening to Hafta for many years and this was one of the richest and best Haftas to date. Loved the insights from your reporters.

However, I was shocked by Sudipto Mondal's positions on the Israel-Palestine conflict, including that "Zionism is a social justice movement" which seems to encourage genocide of the Palestinians, and to learn that Dalit intelligentsia identifies with this idea.

Zionism, a project initially supported by the British Empire and now propped up by America, to settle and support a large number of Jewish Europeans in Palestine while ethnic-cleansing the locals, is hardly "social justice". Even if one believes that justice must include revenge, suffering a genocide does not justify perpetrating another against completely different people! Please call out such power fantasies as he seemed to have, as you would those of the Hindu right.

Pratik

***

On the discussion of Israel-Palestine conflict, people on the left have also condemned Hamas. There maybe outliers but that's not the standard. Every established media is asking every pro-Palestinian spokeperson this same question: Do you condemn Hamas? And they have condemned.

But are any of the Israeli spokesperson asked this question of IDF’s atrocities on the Palestinians? People on the centre and right have openly called for violence on Gaza and not just Hamas. So you can see why some would react in a very extreme way but those are still the outliers. And also yes, the Europeans owe the Jewish people a state but the Palestinians do not.

AG

***

Hi guys,

I saw Dhanya’s interview with KTR done at Cafe Niloufer where a fair amount of branding was shown for the cafe in the video frame. I assume this is not considered advertising because you guys don't get paid to do the branding, or so I assume. Could you please shed some light on this? I think this falls into a grey area.

Sid

***

It isn’t complicated. Israel is the oppressor and Palestine the oppressed. Also why I don't see how Israel can be considered equal to the fight of Dalits here. Israel is a settler colonial nation. They colonised Palestine. Even today, the people in the West Bank are losing homes due to their homes being taken over by Israelis.

More than Israel, Zionism is the problem. It started even before the Second World War. Jews have been oppressed for a long time and most of it was by the Chirstians. This goes back to the time of Jesus. Romans also oppressed Jews. Jews have faced oppression mostly from Europeans just for their Jewishness. Zionism is about Jewish nationalism even though they started before Israel. Zionist extremists are the same as RSS here. They use the same words; they want to retake their homeland of 1,000s of years ago like RSS wants to bring back Akhand Bharat. Once there was an Israeli PM that wanted to find peace with Palestine and a Zionist extremist assassinated him.

I hope there will be a well-researched conversation on Israel-Palestine. Most of the info I’ve heard here doesn't make sense with reality. Palestine has asked to go back to pre-1969 borders multiple times and Israel disagreed. This isn't about Jews. Israel was started by Zionists. There are Jews outside Israel who don’t support them. Palestine should get their whole land back; the situation can be handled same as apartheid South Africa. Karan Thapar did an interview with a former Hamas head who asked the same.

Anyone condemning Hamas should try to put themselves in the shoes of Palestinians first. They have gone through one of the worse lives for decades now. There are children that have been born refugees. Israel attacked continuously with the support of the West. Hamas was also supported by Israel in the street. Palestinians are fighting back the only way they can. They aren't on equal level, so judging them should be done within the current reality. Hamas is just another product of oppression.

Vishnu

***

Hi, I will try to stay within the word limit this time. I like Abhinandan’s way of conducting podcasts by saying what's in your mind without hesitation instead of maintaining a balancing act. Your comedic inputs makes the podcast more entertaining and engaging and as a listener, it makes a pleasant experience.

The person who wrote the letter said that you should maintain a balancing act. I think you gave a very convincing reply to his previous letter only, that by maintaining a balancing act you are complicit with the government. He said that he started writing letters from 2015, and was an avid listener from that time. I like to point out that the time and political and media environment now is very different from 2015, so changes are inevitable. I like the way you host the podcast, keep it like this only.

Farqul

***

Hi NL team,

I am a big advocate of NL and never fail to share some of your articles with my bhakt extended family, if for nothing else then to just poke a finger in the devotional eyes with inconvenient things like facts.

I would however like to express my irritation with your casual anti-Americanisms and Jayashree really takes the cake in this department. Her uninformed rants against "western imperialism" and "American talking points" – as evidenced in her recent article "Fools rush in: Dear celebrities, get your PR reps to do some research before posting online" – would make N. Korea confer honorary citizenship to her.

I regularly read the NYT, WaPo, the BBC along with NL and Express and I think the news coverage has been pretty fair. And there are a number of op-ed columnists like Nick Kristoff, Tom Friedman, etc who have expressed a very balanced view of the situation which quite simply is this: what Hamas did was barbaric and Israel has every right to respond but it is also important to address the classic question, "why do they hate us", and that raising this question is NOT the same as supporting Hamas and supporting the Palestinians is not the same as supporting Hamas or being anti-semitic.

This has been echoed by everyone from President Biden to Sec. Blinken and beyond. Her article is filled with a grab-bag of anecdotes of evil things the "west" and references to some kind of "Kool-Aid". But honestly just read the NYT today (Oct 29) and it is very clear that while the US supports Israel's retaliation, there is constant pressure on Israel to allow more humanitarian aid, protect civilians, and push to Egypt to allow more relief trucks in.

Shantanu

***

Dear Abhinandan, Manisha, Jayashree, Raman, Anand, and the Hafta team,

Happy Diwali to you all!

I'm a long-time subscriber, first-time writer.

The Diwali discussion about air pollution got me thinking. I live in Dubai, known for its massive law-abiding Indian population. While fireworks are illegal, the authorities tend to look the other way during Diwali. People gather in open spaces and set off fireworks all night long. This morning, I woke up to a gigantic mess, with the whole street covered in the debris of the night's festivities. Watching the municipal workers cleaning up the mess this morning I realised – to the revellers, the cleanup was an externality, a cost borne by someone else. In other words, someone else's problem.

Can most of the social issues that India has can be traced to the same phenomenon? People are comfortable littering because the onus to clean up is on the municipality. Similarly, a system that externalises the costs of pollution allows poorly-run industries to flourish. The cost of healthcare resulting from the pollution will be borne by the patients. In a similar vein, the impact of spreading misinformation is an externality to TV news channels and political parties. The impact of misinformation is borne by vulnerable communities such as minorities.

Anumita blew me away with her observation about how the system subsidises private vehicles. I would love to read a series of articles that try to explain the true cost of common things, and who actually pays for it. This is also, to me, the greatest reason to Pay to Keep News FREE.

Apologies for overshooting the word limit! Love you all!

Regards

Hari

***

Hi Newslaundry team,

Thank you for the wonderful work, especially the assembly elections coverage.

I am curious about the terms of your partnership with The News Minute, especially given that Newslaundry is "reader-supported, independent news media company" while The News Minute does have some ads and doesn't claim independence. Given that ads are now embedded into NL too as TNM has Aas, how does this keep Newslaundry still independent from ads?

For example, "partner" articles are subtly inserted which is very annoying at times and a reason why I haven't bought TNM's subscription. I have nothing against TNM and, in fact, love their coverage of southern states and I am glad you could extend the subscription, this collaboration is amazing.

Thanks,

Kushal

***

Dear NL,

Firstly, thank you for your efforts. I think Newslaundry is doing fantastic work. I am particularly fond of your reporting and discussion of environmental issues. Nearly all regions in India face enormous environmental issues. I find it upsetting that environmental issues are never an election issue although it deeply affects all aspects of our lives and conflicts (like access to water, land, clean air). We are living in the time of severe environmental crisis and yet I feel this issue is not highlighted as an issue of concern after the worst has passed.  

Your podcast episode on Delhi’s air pollution you addressed the issue of the increasing number of vehicles and how vehicle ownership is seen as a mark of wealth. Financially speaking, owning a vehicle is only a liability and not an asset. Moreover, whilst there was discussion on the direct emissions from vehicles, one doesn’t even think about the impact of indirect emissions (for example production, disposal). This is true also when we consider impacts of electric vehicles. In several European cities, the central city infrastructure is increasingly built to support cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport.

I am aware many might argue that such a reality is not possible in a populous country like India. But given that increasing air pollution is taking away healthy life years, especially for children, I think this issue needs more attention and awareness.

Regards,

Agneta Ghose

***
Two complaints from a habitual grumbler.

1) Dhanya’s interview with KTR was a letdown! Her soft questions and meek acceptance of half-true answers, that too on the eve of an election, seemed similar to that one sees from YT creators. For example, on recruitment she did not mention either the job data that her own team had presented in the Nov 22 report, or the drop in share of education + welfare in the state budget that came up during TNM-NL Town Hall in Hyderabad. Rs 80,000 crore Kaleshwaram project's impact on the state's finances deserved more attention.

One must be polite but is deferential treatment a necessary condition imposed by access journalism?

2) Familiar gripe. Thanks for inviting informed experts in Hafta. But among regulars in the panel, except for Anand and Jayashree, one can sense a distinct lack of preparation on topics that are away from regular political news. Here I'm expecting some basic research, and not expert comments. Bidaas bolo lekin preparation ke sath!

Have fun.

Dr Sudipt Roy

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