I apologise for not blogging much for the past couple of weeks.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on how the Maccabean has failed to act to acknowledge the plagiarism this blog has identified, and the broader implications of what this represents. As a statement about the Perth Jewish community, and an indication of its culture, it is to my mind damning in the extreme. By the same token there is something to be said about the changing nature of this community, and the media that surrounds it. More about that in posts to follow.
For now I would like to add to the record. Although far more subtle, for the third consecutive week, I allege that the Did You Know column in the Maccabean contains plagiarised content from Wikipedia. This weeks column is about Yitzchak Peretz. The reference is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Leib_Peretz
Rather than go through the article point by point, it is sufficient to note that many of the facts presented in the article, and the photo of Peretz himself appear on the Wikipedia site, and some of the links from this site. As an afterthought at the end of the article the translation of texts from Yiddish was linked to its source.
The column has two major concerns. First, the source content is not linked to Wikipedia. Secondly, the context and tone of the interpretation yet again delivers a negative view on Judaism. Ken Arkwright takes delight in noting that Peretz “fought the Hebraists and Religious Orthodoxy”. He goes on to quote text from the author, and then concludes “It again shows the attitude of Peretz that his religious was humanism and socialism and that he questioned all formal and legalistic expressions of religion”… “Peretz leaves no doubt whatsoever that the highest duty for a Jew is not to be found in religious ceremony but in remedial social action.”
Unfortunately the selection of text cited does little to support the validity of these conclusions. There is no supported argument here, and I contend that the analysis completely misrepresents this great literary contributor to Yiddish writing. It demonstrates yet again that the author of this column does not relate to the construct of Judaism. In fact it is quite correct to assert that Judaism defends and stands up for the rights of people, and places deed and action ahead of ideal and expression. However unlike the poisonous viewpoint expressed, Judaism does not do this at the expense of religious devotion and ceremony, but rather in conjunction with it.
Ken Arkwright states “Peretz expresses that in his mind, Judaism is about people and kindness and not knowing the Talmud backwards by heart”. Yet the quote he bases this conclusion on demonstrates precisely that the Litvak was studying Talmud. From this one could easily conclude the character was conditioning his conduct, and response to the hardship of his surrounds. Rather than disparaging Talmud study, I would conclude the opposite – that it was exactly this commitment that motivated the Rabbi of Nemirov to respond to the social dilemmas that he encountered.
Thank you once again to the Maccabean for taking the beauty of Judaism and destroying it through the bitter bias of its columnist. Thank you to the columnist, who yet again has to source “facts” from Wikipedia to build a case to support yet another attack on the knowledge base that acts as the pillar of all Jewish belief and conduct.