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Media Analyses





NBC's "Law & Order" Promotes Anti-Jewish, Anti-Israel Sentiment


Damaging misinformation is being conveyed about Israel not just in news stories, but in popular culture items as well, such as Oprah and Vogue magazine, and now a popular NBC police drama. A "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" television episode that aired Tuesday, February 27, 2007, fosters negative stereotypes of Jews as disloyal Americans and Israelis as brutes who demolish Palestinian schools and kill innocent civilians. During this time of escalating anti-Semitism and anti-Israel animus, the show's executives have shown extremely poor judgment to promote such an anti-Jewish, anti-Israel storyline.

True, it is only a fictional TV show, but because the "Law and Order" series (of which there are numerous variations) is advertised as having plots "ripped from the headlines," some viewers may not realize the program is pure fiction. TV executives obviously have the right to air an offensive episode presenting anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment. But rights are generally tempered by individuals acting responsibly and weighing the real-life consequences of their actions. It's time for NBC to consider the impact of its dramatic characterizations that denigrate Jews and Israel. 

The NBC blurb for the show:

Season 6 Episode, 9/8pm 2/27/07

POISONED JOURNALIST REPORTS HIS OWN MURDER TO DETECTIVES
When journalist Josh Lemle (guest star Lee Tergesen) learns he has Polonium-210 poisoning, he rushes to tell his old friend Detective Logan (Chris Noth). Lemle is convinced it traces back to a story he's working on, but all leads turn up clean. A secret dinner is revealed and the detectives learn there may have been a case of mistaken poisoning. Logan pledges to help the dying Lemle get to the bottom of his murder, which is just a matter of time. Chris Bauer, Eric Bogosian and Julianne Nicholson also star. TV-14

In the show:

[1] Israeli bulldozers destroy Palestinian schools.

[2] A Jewish police captain (Danny Ross) covers up for Israel at the urging of the pro-Israel pac (political action committee). The captain's friend, the director of the pac, is portrayed as an agent of Israel and possibly involved in spy activities.

[3] Detective Logan challenges his superior, Ross: "... are you a Jew first and a cop second?"

The portrayals in [2] and [3] taken in context, are tantamount to claiming the loyalty of American Jews is first to Israel. This false dual-loyalty assertion has, of course, been a mainstay of historic anti-Jewish prejudice.

The plot was inspired by the recent news story of the polonium poisoning murder of a former Russian KGB agent in London. However, unlike the show's plot, that actual event had no connection whatsoever with the nation of Israel.

Relevant excerpts beginning half-way through the show:

Logan meets with Rebecca Slater, a journalist who is the girlfriend of the victim (journalist Josh Lemle)

REBECCA: Are you familiar with Sarah Myers? The young teacher from Brooklyn, who was shot by the Israeli army? Now she's a martyr for the Palestinians. Her face the perfect photogenic symbol of Israeli brutality.

LOGAN: Well, no offense, but I've-I've seen 100 stories about her.

REBECCA: Not this one. If I get you something, do not share it with the FBI. Sarah Myers, a young international "Teachers For Peace" volunteer, had only been in the West Bank for a few weeks when she decided to approach the Israeli tanks. She was hoping to convince the Israeli army to spare a Palestinian children's school from their advancing bulldozers. What Sarah didn't know was the Israeli army had just received a tip that a suicide bomber, dressed as a blonde American woman, was going to target them. They ordered her to halt.  She continued on, flashing them the peace sign.

Logan explains the situation to his colleague, Detective Wheeler:

LOGAN: Then... So Rebecca's saying the Israelis got a false tip. That the Palestinians set Sarah Myers up, and created their own martyr. Could be true. Could be Israeli spin. Either way, kill Rebecca, kill the story. If someone in the Middle East wanted her dead, why wait till she got to New York? They waited 'til she was dining with Josh.  They used polonium. They wanted to throw suspicion onto Josh and the Russians and away from Rebecca's report about the Middle East. "They." On American soil, who is this "they"? Al Qaeda, Syria. How do you even begin to count the groups?

Captain Ross meets with his friend, Artie Ableson, the director of the "U.S./Israel Friendship PAC" (apparently a thinly veiled alias for AIPAC ):

ABLESON: How do you even begin to count the groups that wouldn't want this story to get out? You don't. You go the other way. I know someone who'd love to see this story lead the evening news. I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of Rebecca's sources.

ROSS: The Palestinians sent Sarah Myers to her death?

ABLESON: Yes, I know all about it. And no, it's not Israeli spin. It's true. And it's also the last story we want made public.

ROSS: Back up. You're the chair of the U.S./Israel Friendship PAC. You're telling me you want the story kept quiet?

ABLESON: What's done is done. I'm asking you as an old friend—let this one go.

ROSS: I can't do that, Artie. It's a murder investigation. Not yours.

ABLESON: Our understanding is the Feds asserted jurisdiction.

ROSS: Where'd you hear that?

ABLESON: It's my job. Now, I'm asking you as a Jew, and as a friend of Israel, don't let this story out.

ROSS: I'll take it under advisement. Now I have a favor to ask you. You know this guy? He was at the scene of a car bombing last night. What agency?

ABLESON: That, nobody knows. His name is Nick Flanders. And I believe he's on our side.

ROSS: What side is that?

ABLESON: U.S.A., Danny. U.S.A. [laughs]

Captain Ross meets with his subordinates, Logan and Wheeler.

ROSS: I need you both inside now. Close the door, please. Okay, stuff your notes in your desk—we move on.

LOGAN: It's our case.

ROSS: Not anymore.

LOGAN: Now, wait a minute. I'm not closing out this case.

ROSS: Your friend Josh has been an obstacle to his own murder investigation from the get. He won't even tell us what Rebecca told him, because he's protecting his story. Let me go back to Rebecca. Rebecca won't talk. The Feds have blocked us out. Even the Israeli government—which you would have to think would be interested in clearing their name—even they want us to drop this.

LOGAN: What, did your PAC guy tell you that? Come again? Is that what this is about—Israel?

ROSS: Logan, wait a minute.

LOGAN: Are you afraid that Israel's gonna look worse than it already does? We've been ordered off. By who? The Feds? Or Israel? Let me ask you something. On this one, are you a Jew first and a cop second? Is that the story?

ROSS: We're done here, Logan. There are good guys, and there are bad guys here. We're dealing with car bombs, terrorists. Hamas, PLO—they blow people up in cafes, busses, shopping malls.

LOGAN: Who are you kidding? You think Sarah Myers is the first innocent the Israelis have killed?

ROSS: Thank you for your help, detectives. We're off this case.

Logan meets with Nick Flanders, a government investigator.

LOGAN: It's on the way, Nick. Oh, uh, by the way, the Captain sends regard from a mutual friend—Artie. Artie Ableson? From the Israeli PAC.

FLANDERS: Not a name I'm aware of.

LOGAN: That's strange, he's aware of yours. He fed it to us.

FLANDERS: That proves he's not my friend.

LOGAN: Yeah.

Ross meets with Ableson.

ROSS: Why was Nick Flanders at the crime scene?

ABLESON: Best guess—coming to broker a deal. A deal? Danny, breaking news, reporters will write for fame or principle. But they're sometimes willing to not write for cold cash. Obviously, someone who didn't believe in negotiation beat Nick to the meeting.

ROSS: So Rebecca Slater had hard evidence vindicating those Israeli soldiers?

ABLESON: She did.

ROSS: Naive Sarah Myers, in her glorious Palestinian solidarity red scarf, was set up to be martyred. Then why wouldn't you or your PAC or the State of Israel want the whole world to know that?

ABLESON: Because if people dig around, they're also gonna learn that Sarah Myers was a mole for Mossad—Israeli secret service.

ROSS: Israel inadvertently shot their own spy, and turned her into a Palestinian martyr? Mmm. Tell me that doesn't say "Middle East" all over it. Okay, so either the Palestinians didn't want it revealed that Sarah was an Israeli spy, or the Israelis didn't want their spy nest... disclosed, is that it?

ABLESON We're still not sure if Rebecca even knew Sarah Myers was an Israeli spy...

Logan visits Josh in his hospital room just prior to his death.

LOGAN: How'd you get infected?

LEMLE: They must have poisoned me when they gave me the Polonium.

LOGAN: Who's "they"?

LEMLE: Does it matter?

LOGAN: They killed you too. Why would you protect them now?

LEMLE: There are two businessmen in Germany. Said they were Russians. Though these days, who knows? Could be Hamas... to stop the story. Or Syria or Israel. For its own reasons.

The featured actors:

Eric Bogosian as Captain Danny Ross, Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan,

Julianne Nicholson as Detective Megan Wheeler.


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