These days it’s difficult to get an honest report or appraisal of what’s going on in the world because the media so consistently skew the news according to personal or political biases.
Particularly perplexing is the twisting of the truth about events in the Middle East. As usual, the brunt of the dishonest journalism is aimed at and absorbed by Israel. One of the most common vilifications is the so-called “occupation” of the West Bank and the forced rule over the Arabs living there, who are often depicted as poorly treated, unemployed and denied access to basic human needs.
Last week, for example, The New York Times carried a front-page story under the headline “Mideast Din Drowns Out Palestinians,” together with a photograph captioned “Israeli soldiers fire rifles at Palestinian stone-throwers.” Nevermind that this was an old file photo or that the weapons shown carried non-lethal rubber bullets designed for crowd control. The story itself was heavily slanted against Israel, containing both factual mistakes and errors of omission.
In truth, travelers through the West Bank will discover a highly Westernized living standard amid
robust modern construction projects that largely belie the claims of suffering and discrimination. Some 82 percent of Arabs in the area own their home; 92 percent are literate (considerably higher than elsewhere in the region). Life expectancy is likewise higher.
Readers of the Times are not likely to see its correspondents ask Palestinians where they’d prefer to live if a two-state solution were to become reality. There’s little doubt that the great majority would prefer Israel.
And as the media watchdog CAMERA noted, “With civilians being slaughtered in Syria, it is curious that this article, and this photo, were deemed newsworthy enough to merit such a place of prominence in the newspaper of record. Was the subliminal message supposed to be that Israel, just like Syria, slaughters civilian demonstrators?”
Don’t expect fairer coverage overseas. Recently the British daily Independent published an essay by an Oxford professor titled “Obama Must Stand Up To Netanyahu”; he called the Israeli prime minister “a bellicose, right-wing nationalist, a rejectionist and a reactionary.”
While it may be difficult if not impossible to achieve total objectivity in delivering the news, fairness and
balance should be attainable goals.
For example, even if Israel actually did “occupy” Gaza, Judea and Samaria — which of course it doesn’t — the wanton murder of innocent Jewish civilians can never be justified. Nor can the Palestinians’ official and oft-stated refusal to recognize Israel as a sovereign state ever be viewed as a fairly balanced counterweight to the nation’s legitimate insistence on its security.
Thus it’s refreshing to hear the rare voices from independent groups such as CAMERA, Honest Reporting and a fledgling Israeli group called the Tazpit News Agency.
These may be old stories but — to the shame of modern journalism — they seldom get reported.
Kenneth Lasson is a law professor at the University of Baltimore.