Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Further Poisoning The Well

Media Bias In the Wake of the Tel Aviv Bombing

Late Monday night, in the wake of the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, I tuned to first CNN then CNN International. While both CNN networks had covered the terror attack earlier in the day their news crawl at the bottom of the screen no longer mentioned it. Instead the Israeli missile attack on Gaza City was mentioned. The fact that nobody was killed or injured in Gaza was conveniently ignored. The bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed nine innocent people at a falafel stand and injured 70, wasn't there to provide context. Qassam rockets fired from Gaza that day were also deemed not newsworthy. If someone was catching the news for the first time that day and chose CNN as their primary news source they might believe that Israel, without provocation, attacked Palestinians in Gaza. By comparison Fox News, which tends to be pro-Israel, still had the suicide bombing on their news crawl 24 hours later.

CNN is hardly alone in providing subtle bias to their news coverage. Reuters, the European news agency, began their story on the Tel Aviv bombing this way:TEL AVIV (Reuters) - A Palestinian suicide bomber killed nine people and wounded 60 outside a Tel Aviv restaurant during the Jewish holiday of Passover on Monday, an attack the governing Islamic group Hamas called an act of self-defense.Why put the Hamas justification in the very first sentence? It gives the Hamas statement equal weight with the bombing itself.

Beyond the subtle anti-Israel media bias I have illustrated there are, of course, media outlets that do nothing to mask their blatant bias and go as far as presenting propaganda as news stories and revising history to portray Israel as the root of all evil in the Middle East and beyond. As I previously reported the BBC has been caught fabricating stories and has twice been censured by it's own Board of Governors for anti-Israel bias. UK newspapers The Guardian and The Scotsman are equally bad. On business trips to Houston last year I found Pacifica Radio station KPFT broadcasting hours of anti-Israel diatribe so virulent that I might have thought I was listening to a station from Ramallah rather than Texas.

While it is true that there are some mainly conservative media outlets that tend to be biased in favor of Israel (the aforementioned Fox News and the UK newspaper The Telegraph are good examples) they are by far outnumbered and would, in any case, be dismissed or ignored by those on the political left where most of today's anti-Israel animus resides. This media bias reinforces the relentless effort to indoctrinate young people to be anti-Israel in major prestigious academic institutions I described and documented in my piece Poisoning The Well.

Is it any wonder that pro-Israel voices get shouted down in left-wing political fora? Is it any wonder that anti-Zionism and even in-your-face anti-Semitism are blossoming in the political left? How can those of us who have traditionally been on the political left and yet strongly support Israel fit in? How can it be that those who claim to stand up most strongly for tolerance and diversity are completely unwilling to accept or even listen to a Jewish or Israeli viewpoint, or worse, are willing to support or even parrot views which sound like those emanating from Germany 65 years ago? How do those of us who are now deeply concerned change opinions which have become so hardened? How do we fight back?

[NOTE: This piece also appears in Blogs of Zion in a somewhat abbreviated form, published under my Hebrew name.]

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