Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Israel Under Fire (From More Than Rockets)

So, while under rocket attack from Hamas, Israel negotiated a cease fire. But, honestly, let’s call this what it really is… giving in to the mounting international pressure (especially from the anti-Israel UN) so that you can have a few days of silence before Hamas launches more rockets, you retaliate, and Israel is deemed the aggressor. Basically, a giant Middle Eastern circle jerk.

What happened to the hard line that Bibi seemed so proud to be walking? What happened to the putting an end to this conflict once and for all? Where did the common sense go?

Honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised. This is basically what has happened every time ever since Israeli politicians began giving up land fought for and earned by the blood of their fellow Israelis. This is a dangerous trend that seems to have no end and that, at best, Israel comes out of the conflict a little worse off in the eyes of the media and the gullible public. Of course, this brings up another interesting story that was making the media rounds today.

A former AP correspondent, Motti Friedman, published a story in Tablet magazine about the failings of the main stream media in reporting the war in Israel and reporting on Israel in general. This is a tremendous read and one that should be noted as one of the few, if not the only, honest account of the world media and their treatment of the Jewish state. Unfortunately, this kind of reporting is not new as Freidman writes:

“The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.”

While reporters face tremendous danger, death threats, and, as we have seen recently, death, there is still little criticism surrounding those who are making these threats, posing these dangers, and taking innocent lives. Not only has it prevented reporting of the facts from actually occurring, it has prevented the truth from being told on more than one occasion. This is best explained when Freidman writes:

“There has been much discussion recently of Hamas attempts to intimidate reporters. Any veteran of the press corps here knows the intimidation is real, and I saw it in action myself as an editor on the AP news desk. During the 2008-2009 Gaza fighting I personally erased a key detail—that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and being counted as civilians in the death toll—because of a threat to our reporter in Gaza. (The policy was then, and remains, not to inform readers that the story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli. Earlier this month, the AP’s Jerusalem news editor reported and submitted a story on Hamas intimidation; the story was shunted into deep freeze by his superiors and has not been published.)”

This is particularly startling when taken into account the means by which Hamas is reported. Actually, it’s more about how much is not written and how focused the media wolves are on every aspect of Israeli politics, culture, etc. It is not about wanting to better understand, it is all about finding the minute failings (this is a term applied by the outsider) in individuals and groups and applying them to Israel as a whole. This is not reporting, this is find a way to paint a picture, frame a story, box a topic that fits the views of the reporter and the media outlet. As Freidman explains:

“Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011, I decided to count the stories coming out of our bureau on the various moral failings of Israeli society—proposed legislation meant to suppress the media, the rising influence of Orthodox Jews, unauthorized settlement outposts, gender segregation, and so forth. I counted 27 separate articles, an average of a story every two days. In a very conservative estimate, this seven-week tally was higher than the total number of significantly critical stories about Palestinian government and society, including the totalitarian Islamists of Hamas, that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.”

For those of us who have been paying attention to the media, listening to what is actually being said, and talking to those living in Israel we have been aware of this massacre of the truth perpetuated by the media. I am grateful for the honesty that has been so succinctly reported in this piece and I hold out hope that, one day, actual reporting will return to the Middle East and Israel in particular. Maybe we can have a few honest voices on the ground when this current ceasefire is shattered by the sound of rocket fire.