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The most important article on anti-Israel media bias you’ll read anytime soon

The most important article on anti-Israel media bias you’ll read anytime soon

The abuse of Israel by the media has real world consequences.

I hate when people refer to a column as “important,” because the reality is that few columns are important in the real world.

But I consider the column at The Tablet written by former AP Middle East reporter Matti Friedman to be important.

Readers have been emailing and tweeting the link at me at a somewhat furious pace.

Friedman lays bare both the explicit and implicit biases of media coverage of Israel and how that bias is part of a larger narrative seeking Israel’s destruction.

Here are some excerpts from An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth, but of course, go and read the whole thing and share it widely:

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….

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters…..

I have to stop there, otherwise I’d end up quoting the whole thing. It’s that good.

Okay, one last quote:

When the people responsible for explaining the world to the world, journalists, cover the Jews’ war as more worthy of attention than any other, when they portray the Jews of Israel as the party obviously in the wrong, when they omit all possible justifications for the Jews’ actions and obscure the true face of their enemies, what they are saying to their readers—whether they intend to or not—is that Jews are the worst people on earth. The Jews are a symbol of the evils that civilized people are taught from an early age to abhor. International press coverage has become a morality play starring a familiar villain….

You don’t need to be a history professor, or a psychiatrist, to understand what’s going on. Having rehabilitated themselves against considerable odds in a minute corner of the earth, the descendants of powerless people who were pushed out of Europe and the Islamic Middle East have become what their grandparents were—the pool into which the world spits. The Jews of Israel are the screen onto which it has become socially acceptable to project the things you hate about yourself and your own country. The tool through which this psychological projection is executed is the international press.

When we complain about the corrupt, lying, scheming, conniving international media coverage of Gaza and Hamas, we’re not just concerned with some abstract notion of journalistic fairness.

The abuse of Israel by the media has real world consequences.


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JohnOfEnfield | August 26, 2014 at 10:09 am

Well funnily enough I am beginning to hear “ordinary straightforward” people voice deep concerns about how the news is being presented from Gaza. They notice the absence of any criticism of Hamas, they notice the blame is always put onto Israel, they notice the absence of adult males from the pictures of the dead & injured, they notice that Hamas always fires first, they notice that Israel’s attacks are in retaliation, they notice that Hamas shoots to kill civilians (real civilians) whereas Israel shoots to kill soldiers. They are beginning to notice.

I live in the UK, where the bias of the BBC is far far worse than in the USA (a family member has just been on holiday in Florida for three weeks & although being relatively unpolitical said that the comparison between the two countries of the treatment of Israel was stark). It is so appalling that the journalists have fallen into the trap of believing everything they themselves are saying. Their over-statements and self-contradictions are becoming more & more obvious as the war goes on. In short, the News Media have completely lost credibility with their audience.

The conversation might be a little bit different if there had not been an Iron Dome and legions of Israelis had been killed by ever longer range (if not more accurate) rockets in ever larger numbers. And yet, perhaps not all that much. The issue of Israel “not bleeding enough” mixes with a certain segment of society, completely divorced from most normal people, that seriously, honestly believes in the nobility of terrorism, that firing rockets as a negotiating tactic is an acceptable and desirable thing to “free Gaza” and “end the occupation”.

These people don’t bother to find out that when Hamas speaks of the occupation, they mean the occupation of Tel Aviv too.

Israel’s not perfect, certainly. But it’s not as if Abbas was tripping over himself to negotiate in good faith. It really must be people being eager to put Jews down, because the only party that stands to benefit from Hamas’ war is Hamas. There’s also that little planned coup against the PA.

The cover of this week’s New Yorker proclaims that AICPA does not speak for Jews who desire peace despite its massive influence on Congress, the old Jewish lobby meme. Edgy.

The Beastly Day was screaming today that “over 1/4 of killed in Gaza are kids” beneath the superscript “ungodly”.

It never told us much, except these numbers were provided by Palestinian sources. It linked to “The Guardian”, which curiously never defined what a “kid” was. For all it told me, they might have been young goats.

One can extrapolate from the article about the media’s substantive and publication biases generally, most of which are to one degree or another tangentially related (e.g. everything is racism, e.g. pro-Muslim diversity memes to absurd ends, e.g. ignoring of politician crony conflicts such as in Qatar, e.g. anti-capitalism, etc.). The ignorance could land us in WWIII.

Great article.

Most jaw-dropping facts:

“Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted.”


“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.”

Haven’t ever seen that spelled out before. It’s completely nuts how much attention the world media pays to Israel.

TrooperJohnSmith | August 26, 2014 at 11:50 am

“Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year.”

This sentence is one of many in the article that describes one of the real problems, not just is Israel, but in our world in general: Press Bias. When the (formerly “Free”) Press decides to shape or make the news, they are no longer to be taken seriously. In this case, the slant towards “Palestine good / Israel bad” is nearly criminal in its scope.

It’s no wonder that “traditional” news organizations are dying. Sadly, in AP’s case, it is still hanging on because enough of the same morally decrepit organizations depend on their “news” feed to keep the public ignorant, in the dark and misinformed.

I just bookmarked this article for future reference. It’s also going straight to my Lefty friends.

    Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to TrooperJohnSmith. | August 26, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Press Bias. When the (formerly “Free”) Press decides to shape or make the news, they are no longer to be taken seriously.

    That excerpt only applies to you and me and the rest of the very small cohort who look beyond the MSM to learn of current events.

    Matti Friedman just nails the generation currently manning the editorial posts of AP and the other media bigfoots. But the bulk of ‘public opinion’ is successfully shaped by that generation, who are in business to ‘make a difference’ in the political world. And public opinion takes what it gets from those ‘editors and reporters’ dead seriously – because it’s the only information it receives.

    If every there was a Horrible Example of a monopoly against the public interest, those ‘editors and reporters’ are Exhibit A. They have no serious competition, there’s no diversity nor dissent in their messages.

Brad Brzezinski | August 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I was and remain fascinated by the way the (Mainstürm) media kept up its feverish, biased reporting even as anti-Israel protests world-wide exhibited open Jew-hatred.

Remember, these are the same people that exercised their sensitivity and wisdom in not showing the 2005 Danish Mohamed Cartoons.

A good read, but fatally spoiled by this line:

“the Israeli settlement project, which I believe is a serious moral and strategic error on Israel’s part”.

That it might be a strategic error is an opinion to which he’s entitled, even if he’s wrong. But it’s impossible to claim that it’s a moral error without buying into the deepest antisemitism of the very enemy that he so discerningly condemns. To claim that there are places in the world, let alone in the Jewish nation’s native land, where they have no moral right to live, is intolerable, even in someone who clearly wants to be on the right side.

This definitely qualifies as “an important article”. However, it is missing an important element: the names and contact information for the people who perpetrate this journalistic malpractice. We need to know who they are and let them know what we think of them.