Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Matti Friedman on News Coverage of Israel

Matti Friedman has a long essay on news coverage of the Jewish/Muslim conflict.

The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.

News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000)
The numbers are odd compared to the relative amount of coverage. Maybe something else is going on.
The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP, though Hamas won a Palestinian national election and had become one of the region’s most important players.
Friedman is here referring to Article Seven of the Hamas Covenant, which says that the Day of Judgement shall not occur until the Muslims kill the Jews.
There has been much discussion recently of Hamas attempts to intimidate reporters....as an editor on the AP news desk. During the 2008-2009 Gaza fighting I personally erased a key detail—that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and being counted as civilians in the death toll—because of a threat to our reporter in Gaza. (The policy was then, and remains, not to inform readers that the story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli.
So, reporters know that Hamas is committing war crimes by dressing as civilians, but the AP and other "news" organizations refuse to report those crimes, preferring instead to describe them when killed as dead civilians. How charming.
The fact is that Hamas intimidation is largely beside the point because the actions of Palestinians are beside the point: Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story.
Is that properly described as reporting, or creating propaganda for an organization openly dedicated to genocide?
White people in London and Paris whose parents not long ago had themselves fanned by dark people in the sitting rooms of Rangoon or Algiers condemn Jewish “colonialism.” Americans who live in places called “Manhattan” or “Seattle” condemn Jews for displacing the native people of Palestine. Russian reporters condemn Israel’s brutal military tactics. Belgian reporters condemn Israel’s treatment of Africans.
One must expiate one's sins by condemning others for the same ones.
Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer...requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is...an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots.
Islamists see themselves as on the rise, and that gives them strength. The West sees itself as failing, as it well should, and that weakens us. Those of the far left, who have worked so long and so effectively to destroy western self-confidence are still ascendent. Hence the election of an utterly un-vetted leftist hack to the presidency of the United States, and European inability to even contemplate the possibility of halting Muslim immigration lest they be called racist. Islamists have openly declared their intention of re-taking the once conquered lands of Europe, and of doing so by conquest.

When the Night of the Long Knives finally arrives, it will be the people with confidence in their own righteousness who are likely to triumph. You could not pay me enough to live in Europe when that day comes.

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