The rotten, no good New York Times ran two article of note this week, regarding Jews, Israel, and Palestinians. The first, an exploration of preferential tax breaks given to Americans who support settler movements, has been roundly denounced in Likud-loving circles as the product of a biased and Jew-hating collusion between the Times and leftie Jews. In their criticism all the usual dishonesty, fallacies, and errors are in play. For instance:
(1) The assumption again is made that only Jews who are war-mongering and/or racist, and/or in favor of grabbing as much [West Bank] land as possible are truly "pro-Israel". In the minds of the media critics, Israelis who have another view simply don't exist, don't matter or (bizarrely) are judged "anti-Israel" The article quotes a senior IDF military commander who agrees with the article's perspective, and there are a great many Israelis, perhaps a majority, who don't support the settlements. How can an article that shares their perspective be considered "anti-Israel?" and how can its appearance in the Times be evidence of an "anti-Israeli bias?" Its not "anti-Israel" to oppose the settlements, especially the illegal ones. Would the media critics also consider the pro-Tea Party articles that frequently appear in Rupert Murdoch owned publications evidence of an "anti-American bias?" Well, what's the difference?
(2) Honest Reporting is most upset that the article seems to have been based extensively on a campaign conducted by Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace activism group. Well, so what? Is Honest Reporting so naive to assume that reporters write articles without conducting research and interviewing sources? There's absolutely nothing unscrupulous about a reporter using someone else's report for source material, or basing a line of investigation on a pre-existing campaign. Every side, in every controversy, attempts to influence the media with press releases, phone calls, meetings, white papers, and glossy presentations. That's how the game is played, and the pro-settler people do it, too, often much better than anyone else. It's most disingenuous for HonestReporting to whine and complain about this, when (a) they say nothing when their own side does it; (b) they know very well that articles - especially investigative pieces such as this one - are often instigated by someone who has a horse in the race.
(3) The critics take for granted that this is still more evidence of an anti-Israel bias in the media, while remaining willfully blind to the counterpoints. For instance on the same day that the anti-settler article appeared, the New York Times ran an article about antisemitism that is remarkably pro-Jewish and even highlights a connection between the Nazis and Arab anti-Semites. [This is the second article of note, mentioned above] On this blog, and others, such pro-Jewish, pro-Israel and anti-Arab articles are frequently posted, but none of it seems to makes a dent in the minds of stupid and stubborn people who've already decided that the media is a solid, anti-Jewish, monolith. These people make a sick fetish of luxuriating in the anti-Israel hits they discover (some of which are bogus; some of which are real) And though they wallow in the evidence that supports them, they cavalierly ignore the articles that expose the error in their thinking. [Note to trolls and DovBear haters. I am not guilty of this myself. I record the pro-Israel hits because I'm trying to make a point to the stupid and the stubborn, but I'm under no illusion that the media "loves" us. The media is not a single entity, but a very large collection of journalists, individual people. Some of them like Jews, settlers and Israel, some of them don't, and most of them are indifferent.]
(4) Though I don't think the media, as a whole, is pro or anti either side, I do recognize that some conventions are generally respected by most journalists. For instance, we rarely, if ever, hear the names of Arabs who are killed or captured by the IDF, nor do we often see Arab casualty figures. Arabs, as a group, are often painted as terrorists and squatters and dozens of them can be killed or hundreds detained with no media attention at all. You'd never guess from the typical American news reporting that Israel, since 2000, has killed ten times as many Palestinian children, destroyed close to 30,000 Palestinian houses, and that it holds in its jails over 7000 Palestinian prisoners. This is not an attempt to judge the morality of what Israel does - for the purpose of this conversation let's stipulate that Israel does everything right, that every death of a Palestinian child or destruction of a house, was justified, and that every imprisoned Palestinian is a terrorist. The point is that these sort of things are seldom reported, and Palestinians could legitimately argue that this omission is an example of media bias against them. There's a similar reluctance to put forward the Arab perspective on the central question. It seems almost impossible to say in polite company that Palestinians honestly believe that their land was and continues to be, stolen out from under them. You can provide all the counterarguments you like. The point is that the Palestinians have a sincere perspective, one honestly acquired, that seldom, if ever, finds expression in the American Media. (Incidentally, I blame the Arabs for whatever media bias against them exists. You can't conduct a twenty-plus year war against women and children without destroying your reputation and the good will of neutral observers. But the fact remain that the media tends, as a rule, to say less about the injustices Arabs have suffered; indeed in most settings, especially Orthodox Jewish settings, it is almost impossible to talk about those injustices at all. PC at work)
Search for more information about organizations that misrepresent the media because it helps them collect donations from simple-minded Jews at 4torah.com.