Mainstream media mangles Mideast

Robert A. Cohn


The media frenzy of unbalanced, biased and inaccurate “coverage” of Israel’s raid on the “humanitarian” ship of “peace activists” bound for Gaza has reached a fever pitch. I would like to quote the news anchor in the movie “Network” in response to the unprecedented barrage of anti-Israel rhetoric tainting the pages and airwaves of major news outlets: I’M MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! That feels good to yell, but by now I realize that it is only a psychological release for pent-up anger and frustration. Let me calm down and try to be factual, even though I know that is now considered an “old-fashioned” way of approaching “journalism” in today’s brand of “advocacy” media:

• Like any other nation, the actions of Israeli leaders and Israeli soldiers deserve to be evaluated objectively, and when such actions and decisions are wrong are deserving of criticism – or if they are right decisions, they deserve to be praised. But Israel is not treated like “any other nation.” With numbing frequency, whenever Israel takes action to defend its own citizens, it is condemned as “disproportionate,” a term once again used by French President Nicholas Sarkozy in response to the Israeli interception of the flotilla bound for Gaza, and the ensuing violence that resulted in several Israeli soldiers being wounded and nine people on board the ship among the “activists” dead.

• The mainstream media, with few exceptions, have engaged in an orgy of denunciation of the Jewish State with a fury that is truly shocking. The most egregious recent example was the odious statement by Helen Thomas, the “Dean” of the White House press corps, who said that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go back to Poland, Germany and the United States,” so Palestinians could have their homeland. Thomas has issued a faint-hearted apology, which Abraham Foxman and Karen Aroesty of the national and local Anti-Defamation League have correctly said “does not go far enough.” Her colleagues on CNN have said that “a few words” have damaged Thomas’s otherwise splendid career. A few words? Thomas has sunk to the level of Patrick Buchanan in her vitriol towards the Jewish State, which goes far beyond the limits of fair commentary or criticism. Later, Thomas’ employer, Hearst News Service, announced her “retirement” effective immediately. Good riddance!

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• CNN, The Associated Press, The New York Times, Newsweek and other major news outlets have played the Gaza Flotilla story as if working from a template hammered out in the press relations office of Hamas.

Time and again, stories lead off with descriptions of “Israel’s deadly raid” on a ship of “peace activists” delivering “humanitarian” aid,” trying to “break Israel’s embargo” against the “starving and desperate” people of Gaza. The New York Times Sunday “Week in Review” section contains not just one, but two strongly anti-Israel articles, including one which quotes a “think tank expert” who believes Israel has become a “strategic liability” to the United States.” Newsweek in its June 7 edition contains a black-and-white photo spread by Paolo Pellegrin, who says he “focused on both the description of the physical landscape and on the survivors of Israel’s military operation there in the winter of 2008-09.” He does not bother to mention the thousands of rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza against towns like Sderot or Ashkelon; nor were there any photographs of the children of those towns sleeping in bomb shelters because of those rockets fired by Hamas terrorists to cause death and destruction to innocent people.

• Seldom, outside of some thoughtful pieces in The Wall Street Journal, or columns and commentary by writers like Charles Krauthammer and George Will, is there any effort made to clarify or put into context exactly why Israel has placed an embargo on shipping into Gaza. As Krauthammer pointed out in his recent column from The Washington Post, Israel is doing exactly what JFK did in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis: protecting the citizens of its country from the delivery of lethal weapons to a group officially and explicitly dedicated to Israel’s complete destruction. When Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister, Israel seized a ship bound for Gaza which was loaded with deadly and advanced rockets and missiles from Iran, led by a regime which is also committed to wiping Israel off the map, in the words of its fanatic President.

• While some of the passengers on the “Free Gaza” ships are no doubt sincere “peace activists,” some of the radical Turks on board the ship have been proved to have the backing of Insani Yardim Vakfi, a Turkey-based terrorist group with formal links to Al Qaeda!

• Would the United States allow ANY ships to unload cargo at U.S. ports unless they were fully inspected? In fact the 9/11 Commission criticized the United States intelligence agencies for failing to fully inspect cargo ships coming into U.S. ports.

• Why is anything and everything Israel does to defend the 7 million people living there called “disproportionate,” while the terrorist actions which prompt Israel to act are excused as “resistance” in an “asymmetrical” war?

Yes, once again I throw open my metaphorical window and shout: “I’M MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!”

There, I feel better for the moment. But I know there will be a “next time,” and I fear my anger at the media distortions of the facts will even be greater. So it goes.

Robert A. Cohn is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the Jewish Light.