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Jul 16th 2007

Israel and the Media: Are current events in Israel getting fair coverage?

This article is reprinted with permission from FLAME (Facts and Logic About the Middle East). Visit FLAME’s website, factsandlogic.org, to read every one of their excellent articles debunking common misconceptions about the history and current events of the Middle East. — Admin

In December of 1987, an Israeli civilian was stabbed by Arabs in the Gaza territory, administered by Israel. On the following day, four Gaza Arabs were killed by an automobile driven by an Israeli. The two events were totally unrelated. Yet, the rumor spread that the Arab deaths were revenge murders by the Israelis. Rioting broke out and spread into Judea-Sumaria (the “West Bank”), also administered by Israel. It was the beginning of the “Intifada,” which still goes on. The media have covered and continue to cover this uprising extensively. Are they doing it fairly?

What are the facts?

Undeserved coverage. The conflict between the Israeli government and the Arabs in the areas administered by Israel, the so-called “Intifada,” is essentially a minor regional one. It does not compare in scope, in violence and in the number of people killed or injured to the many other conflicts going on in the world right at this time, such as the conflict between the Basques and Spain; between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland; and between Moslems, Hindus and Sikhs in India. And there are many more. Just as with the Arab-Israel conflict, no easy or early solution seems at hand.

Yet, while the “Intifada” is only one of many regional conflicts, the volume of its coverage in the media has made it appear to be a major world event. There are over 250 press and television personnel accredited in Israel, a tiny country the size of New Jersey and with only half the population of New Jersey. This large media contingent is second only in number to that of Washington and Moscow — and less than that of such key news centers as London, Paris, Bonn, New Delhi, Peking or Tokyo. Naturally, all of these reporters must produce daily stories in order to justify their presence. This results in much journalistic overkill. The Washington Post, for instance, reports in an internal audit that…during a 5-month period in 1988, they published over 300,000 words on the “Intifada,” more than two articles daily, one-quarter of which appeared on the front page. That was the most intense coverage by the Post of any continuing story. In contrast, when in one day, 65 Shi’ites were killed in one of the brotherly battles in neighboring Lebanon, the Post gave that only 600 words, in an article on page 15.

But it isn’t just the intensity of coverage that casts serious doubt about the fairness of the media. It’s primarily the slant that is being given to the news, both in the print media and on television. Television, especially, thrives on “action bites,” short dramatic scenes with potential to get the viewer involved. For instance, we see over and over again pictures of teenage boys throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, and the soldiers chasing those teenagers with guns and club. That inevitably creates the impression of Israel as the bully or the Goliath and of the “Palestinians” as defenseless Davids. The opposite is true, of course. Israel is a beleaguered country surrounded by implacable enemies who incessantly plot its destruction. The “Intifada” is part of that never-ending war.

Media coverage is biased. The media do not show the hundreds of Israeli soldiers and civilians who have been grievously wounded and in some cases killed by rocks and gasoline bombs. They do not show the Arabs setting countless arson fires, in which over 25,000 acres of forest — every tree having lovingly been planted by hand — have been destroyed. They do not show the attacks on Jewish farms, the wanton destruction of industrial and public service facilities, the fire bombing of hundreds of buses, and the ruthless killing of livestock. They do not show the PLO terror aimed at the “Palestinians” themselves. In the last seventeen months of the “Intifada” dozens of Palestinian Arabs have been murdered by the PLO, hundreds injured, many critically. This campaign of intimidation has increased since Yasir Arafat allegedly renounced terrorism.

In the few cases in which fuller coverage of the conflict was attempted on T.V., such coverage usually did turn out to be more “show-biz” than serious reporting. ABC’s reporting “Six Days Plus Twenty Years” was so blatantly anti-Israel in tone that Arab countries rushed to use it as a propaganda film. Peter Jennings on ABC insistently perpetuates the odious comparison of Israel with South Africa. T.V. interviews with people in the territories invariably show reasonably middle class intellectuals and professionals with whom the American viewer can identify — never the arsonists, the bus bombers and the throwers of Molotov cocktails. The occasional Israeli spokesman that gets trotted out is almost always a member of the radical left or of the so-called “Peace Now” movement, quite unrepresentative of mainline Israeli thinking.

The media do not give the “Intifada” fair coverage. It’s partly the sheer volume of the coverage, which gives this minor regional conflict perceived importance that it doesn’t have. It also lies in the persistent anti-Israel slant that permeates the reporting in all media. Finally, the media, almost without exception, focus on the immediate “drama” and do not explore the history and background of this conflict. The most important point, always omitted, is that the conflict between Israel and the “Palestinians” is not the core problem in the area. The core problem is the unremitting obsession of the Arab states to destroy Israel, their refusal to make peace with it, or to lift the economic boycott against Israel — regardless of what disposition may ultimately be made of the “West Bank.” Israel, more even than other beleaguered pro-Western nations, is the target of disinformation and unfair reporting. Largely because it is a dependable friend and ally of the United States, the Jewish state is another victim of the “Blame America first” bias in the media.

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9 Responses to “Israel and the Media: Are current events in Israel getting fair coverage?”

  1. chavez's idiot

    This article is a load of crap. Media coverage of the intifada is definitely not biased towards the Palestinians.

    One example of what should be obvious. Most people who follow the situation over there know the name of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier, part of the occupation force, captured by Palestinians and held captive for over a year now. Indeed, the media excused the murderous attack on Gaza by Israel because of of this abduction.

    How many people know of the Muamar brothers though? They were Palestinian civilians, kidnapped from their home a few days before Shalit and held captive by the Israeli Army. Indeed the capture of Shalit was probably a reprisal for the Muamar brothers kidnapping. I have never seen the Muamar brothers names mentioned in western media. On the other hand, Shalit is still spoken of by even President Bush recently.

    Additionally, there are 40 members of the Palestinian government kidnapped by Israel in Israeli prisons right now. There are hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, probably thousands according to Israeli Human Rights groups… all unmentioned in the media.

    Anyway, this article is a load of crap and I would seriously advise an alternate source of information on the middle east… at least from what I’ve seen of Flame so far.

  2. travis

    Most people who follow the situation over there know the name of Gilad Shalit

    most people who follow the situation over there know about the proliferation of pro-terrorist fauxtography in the western media.

    Indeed the capture of Shalit was probably a reprisal for the Muamar brothers kidnapping.

    let me make sure i’ve got the verbiage down: the palestinians “captured” shalit, but the israelis “kidnapped” the muamars?

    k.

    Indeed the capture of Shalit was probably a reprisal for the Muamar brothers kidnapping.

    …..which “kidnapping” was probably the reprisal for something the palestinians did……which thing was probably a response to something the israelis did…..man, i think i am starting to figure out this complicated middle east problem now. thanks for your help, idiot.

    There are hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, probably thousands according to Israeli Human Rights groups… all unmentioned in the media.

    the other day on an obscure website, i read that over 23,000 inmates in US federal prisons (as of 2002) were illegal aliens. why isn’t the media reporting this staggering number of kidnappings? unbelievable, considering the US government locked them up wrongly! to think, they were just trying to reclaim the land we won from them in the mexican-american war! everyone knows you don’t get to keep the land you win in a conflict you don’t start, but manage to win anyway.

  3. chavez's idiot

    At least you do nothing to argue against the premise of my comment that media coverage is not slanted towards the Palestinians. Your other points are not worthy of comment.

  4. doug

    Thank you for leaving one of the most unintentionally funny comments I’ve read in a long time.

  5. travis

    you do nothing to argue against the premise of my comment that media coverage is not slanted towards the Palestinians.

    please read up on fauxtography. then, please explain how the unbiased, objective media had to be called out by a bunch of bloggers for perpetuating fake news of israeli atrocities.

  6. Curtis

    Fauxtography doubtless exists and is very misleading. However, it is not at the level of deception in its magnitude, as what the mainstream media does in its pro-Israeli bias.

    Another example. During this last year there have been several times when I’ve seen reporting complaining that Hezbollah is violating the Security Council resolution that ended the massacre last summer. Israel has been righteously indignant and this has been given ample play in the media.

    On the other hand, there has been no mention made that I’ve seen of the numerous Security Council resolutions that Israel stands in violation of with regards to Palestine, Sheba Farms area or the Golan Heights. They are still in violation of those resolutions and were they to comply with them, the Palestinian sufferring would doubtless dramatically decrease, and yet western media is 100% silent on the issue as far as I can tell.

    Enemies of Israel get their Security Council resolution violations displayed on the front page (Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah), but Israel’s violations don’t even make the comics.

  7. Why do you guys flip sound reason and educated analysis on their heads by blaming the US and Israel?

    Enemies of Israel get their Security Council resolution violations displayed on the front page (Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah), but Israel’s violations don’t even make the comics.

    Wrong!

  8. Curtis

    Ryan,
    Thanks for illustrating my point. Israel didn’t make this comic strip did it.

  9. That comic doesn’t…no. Funny though isn’t it?

    What I was looking for was the following:

    Israelis under pressure for breaking UN Resolutions and Palestinians or others on the other side that want an Islamic State from “the river to the sea.”

    (The sea representing a sea with dead Israelis in it.)

    That is why most people cut Israel slack.