Ex-AP Correspondent Exposes the Media’s Israel Obsession

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 6:24am

In a damning yet revealing feature in Tablet magazine, former Associated Press correspondent Matti Friedman explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters:

When the hysteria abates, I believe the events in Gaza will not be remembered by the world as particularly important. People were killed, most of them Palestinians, including many unarmed innocents. I wish I could say the tragedy of their deaths, or the deaths of Israel’s soldiers, will change something, that they mark a turning point. But they don’t. This round was not the first in the Arab wars with Israel and will not be the last. The Israeli campaign was little different in its execution from any other waged by a Western army against a similar enemy in recent years, except for the more immediate nature of the threat to a country’s own population, and the greater exertions, however futile, to avoid civilian deaths.

 

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 global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.

Matti Friedman

Friedman reveals how the level of staffing at the AP, like other media, is so disproportionately high in Israel and the Palestinian areas compared to other locations.

He takes the media to task for treating Palestinians as passive victims of an Israel that is treated as the only side that deserves scrutiny and how the media never bothers to take a look at what Hamas really is.

He quotes examples of stories that were buried because they did not fit the accepted framework that treats Israel as the center of an imploding Middle East.

Disturbingly Friedman concludes:

Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. Israel is not one of the most important stories in the world, or even in the Middle East; whatever the outcome in this region in the next decade, it will have as much to do with Israel as World War II had to do with Spain. Israel is a speck on the map—a sideshow that happens to carry an unusual emotional charge.   Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality. They may convince themselves that all of this is the Jews’ problem, and indeed the Jews’ fault. But journalists engage in these fantasies at the cost of their credibility and that of their profession. And, as Orwell would tell us, the world entertains fantasies at its peril.

Matti Friedman’s story, penned by an insider, deserves to be read in full.

 

Please share Friedman’s article through your own social networks and ensure that it is read by as wide an audience as possible.

 

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Original article can be viewed at Ex-AP Correspondent Exposes the Media’s Israel Obsession on HonestReporting.

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