By Erika Schwartz
As I write this, the Israel/Hamas war is at a boiling point. Rockets, some of which are Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets, are fired endlessly, relentlessly, mercilessly at Israeli citizens from Gaza. Israel has finally had enough. The offensive is on, Israel is fighting back.
With pinpoint precision, Israel targets Hamas leadership, artillery emplacements and known terrorists. Leaflets are dropped on neighborhoods in advance to warn the civilians to evacuate. Despite the fact that Hamas places the artillery near playgrounds, schools and mosques, civilian casualties are amazingly low.
However, if you get your news from the Los Angeles Times or much of the rest of the mainstream media, this is not the view you get of this conflict.
The Los Angeles Times writes of "homemade bombs" being lobbed into Israel. The photos are primarily of dead and wounded Palestinians. There is absolutely no mention of the years and years of rocket attacks from Gaza onto Israeli towns.
CNN reports on the death of a Palestinian child killed by "shrapnel" from an Israeli bombing attack. The dead child was displayed in public and mourned over by visiting Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in front of a large crowd. The problem with that report was that Israeli bombs carry no shrapnel. And it was later learned that the child was killed by a Hamas rocket that had been fired at Israel but had fallen short. Did CNN follow up with a correction to their initial report? No.
In one report, the Associated Press referred to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They quickly published a "correction" and referred to Jerusalem as the "self-declared" capital of Israel.
These are only three examples of the amazingly biased reporting from America's mainstream media as it pertains to Israel. I could write a book about the volumes and volumes of distorted stories.
But it gets even better . . . . and weirder . . . .
We've all heard the saying "The lady doth protest too much . . ." in reference to feigned outrage. Even that situation has now entered the fray.
Just prior to my writing this, Rupert Murdoch made a really boneheaded comment in a tweet. He publicly asked why the "Jewish owned press" was always so anti-Israel whenever there was a conflict. Not only was this comment bone-headed simply because it wasn't such a cool public statement to make; it was also pretty much erroneous. Other than the New York Times (which, incidentally, is most definitely anti-Israel in spite of the fact that it is owned by a Jewish family), most other media outlets are owned by large corporations.
Now, I'm very familiar with Rupert Murdoch's views on Israel. He is a staunch and uncompromising supporter of Israel. The media owned by his News Corporation (which include The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Fox network and Fox cable channels), is consistently pro-Israel in their reports of any conflict that Israel finds herself in. My take on that comment was that it should have been made at the dinner table . . . just as we Jews can say things about our fellow Jews but heaven help the "outsider" who says the same thing. Murdoch's comment, besides being erroneous, should not have been publicly tweeted even if it was correct.
But, oh my, you should hear the public outcry by the mainstream media! The very same media that reports about "Israeli aggression and over-reaction", the very same media that reports about dead Palestinian children who were, in reality, killed by Hamas rockets . . . this very same media is absolutely outraged that Rupert Murdoch would so slander the Jews. Our dear friends at CNN called his tweet "beyond outrageous to offensive, truly offensive." And the outrage went on and on and on.
While doing research for this column, I decided to check out what Wikipedia had to say about the mainstream media and its reporting of the Arab-Israeli conflict. What I saw was truly revealing . . . and confirmed all of my conclusions.
The Wikipedia section on "Coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict" has two sections, one titled "Pro-Israel media" and the other titled "Anti-Israel media."
The "Pro-Israel media" section talked about how Jewish organizations, considerable lobbying, financial contributions from the Jewish community create an atmosphere where ". . . journalists, editors and politicians are going to think twice about criticizing Israel . . ."
The "Anti-Israel media" section states that ". . . Jewish organizations are quick to detect bias in the coverage of the Middle East, and quick to complain about it."
Frankly, I don't see a difference in the slant here. It appears to me as if the agenda of both of these sections is to demean and marginalize those who support Israel.
So . . . why is the mainstream media so anti-Israel? I'll begin with a statistic and then explain in one sentence why this statistic is significant. In several reputable polls and surveys (2005 University of Connecticut study, 2005 Annenberg Public Policy Center poll and 2007 Pew Research Center study) it was determined that, at the very least, the liberal-to-conservative ratio among journalists was 3.4-1. Now, before my liberal friends come at me with baseball bats, please consider the ugly floor fight at this year's Democratic Convention during which the Party literally forced the delegates to add back to the Party Platform wording that accepted Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. No, there are few friends of Israel among the liberal press. Why is this? Here comes that one sentence.
Liberals love the underdog and, because the Palestinians are masters at PR and Israel is a miserable failure at PR, Israel is perceived as the Goliath in this David vs Goliath fight.
That's it . . . plain and simple. I researched and researched and researched this issue and that theme came up over and over again.
Compare today's "journalism" to the newspaper reporting of the good old days. I remember newspaper articles filled with fact-based reports, citing actual events and resources. Much of what passes for journalism today is actually Op-Ed. Opinions abound and pertinent facts are either blaring headlines or omitted entirely, depending on the point of view of the writer. And most of today's journalists are rooting for those poor beleaguered victims of Israeli oppression.
So, now that the election is behind us and no one has to worry about being brainwashed by the right-wing media, I sincerely suggest that, if you really want to know what's happening in Israel . . . about Israel . . . . or the true dangers facing Israel . . . tune in to Fox News Channel or pick up the Wall Street Journal. As Jews, we owe it to Israel to be extremely informed.