What does the British debate over plans to build a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport have to do with Israel?
Fraser is clearly sympathetic to the residents of Richmond Park protesting against a planned third runway at Heathrow airport and indeed devotes much of his column reflecting on what he refers to as the ‘forgotten pollutant of noise’ in society.
“Silence”, Fraser opines, “is crucial to our physical and mental health”.
Yet, seven paragraphs down, Fraser finds an effort to limit noise pollution he doesn’t seem to fancy.
And one cannot celebrate silence uncritically. Being silenced is what happens to those who are victims of abuse. Moreover, what counts as bad noise is often controversial. The Israeli Knesset is currently passing legislation to silence the Muslim call to prayer, legislation that has been recently redesigned not to effect the Jewish Shabbat siren.
The Guardian columnist fails to explain that the latest version of the bill reportedly would also limit its scope to the first of the five daily Muslim calls to prayer – the one just before dawn.
The broader context omitted in the column relates to the fact that (according to Knesset commissioned research) “in several European states (including the UK) the call to prayer through PA systems is either banned altogether or subject to limitations on days of the week, hours and level of decibels”.
Our colleague Tamar Sternthal recently highlighted attempts in Egypt to “restrict the call to prayer to only the largest mosques in order to reduce noise”. Cairo, as well as some Saudi cities, she adds, “currently impose decibel restrictions on the muezzin’s call”.
Our point isn’t to debate the merits of the Knesset’s muezzin bill, but to question why Fraser highlighted only Israeli efforts to limit noise from mosque loudspeakers – in a column focused on noise from a British airport – when he could have used similar examples from anywhere in the world.
Of course, those who’ve followed our posts on Fraser – who’s smeared Israel with the charge of apartheid, came close to justifying Palestinian terrorism and once even compared Israel to an autistic child – would likely see this latest gratuitous swipe as merely another example of his malign obsession with the Jewish state.