Before deciding if the evidence supports such a claim, let’s identify our expectations.
In my view, the media must report the facts accurately and interpret them competently. Although this is universally necessary, it is particularly important in matters pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There, Palestinian spokesmen and media are wont to ignore the facts and lie. In addition, American and European national interests (oil) usually cause those countries to tilt (often reluctantly) toward the Arabs. In the process, Israel’s right to defend its legitimate interests is simply ignored. Therefore, to be properly informed, we desperately need a competent media.
That said, let’s see if the media satisfy these expectations.
Conventional wisdom insists that Arabs occupied Palestinian “from time immemorial,” long before the arrival of Jews. Not so.
The continuous presence of Jews in Palestine can be traced back to and before biblical times. Arabs, on the other hand, tended to be transients in Palestine. until very recently when well-paying jobs in Jewish settlements encouraged them to settle nearby. In other words, Jews did not displace Arabs, they attracted and nurtured them.
When was the last time you saw or heard the media challenge the erroneous conventional wisdom? Like never? And I thought that checking the facts was what competent journalists did all the time!
Before the Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza came under Israeli jurisdiction in 1967, those areas were administered by Egypt and Jordan respectively. At no time during that period did the Palestinians demand their independence from their Arab brothers. However, their demands for independence from Israel have been relentless. Why does the media not challenge Yasser Arafat to explain this change of heart?
Between 1948 and 1973, the Arabs attacked Israel several times intending to destroy it, to wipe it off the map. There is no evidence to suggest that this Arab objective has changed: In fact, Yasser Arafat, in his words and deeds, leaves no doubt that Israel’s destruction is his objective as well. Therefore, when reporting on conflicts between the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Palestinian militants (usually children), why do the media refer to these conflicts as part of the Palestinian struggle for independence instead of as an integral part of the continuing attempt to destroy Israel?
As a result of the various wars that Arabs visited upon Israel between 1948 and 1973, something in the order of 350,000 Arabs were expelled from, or voluntarily left, their homes in present-day Israel.
Neighbouring Arabic countries welcomed them, not by assimilating them, but by sending them to refugee camps where many, along with their children and grand-children, still rot.
The Arabs who remained in Israel comprise about 15 percent of the population and enjoy full citizenship rights. On the other hand, a roughly equal number of Jews had to abandon their homes in their Arabic homelands and flee to Israel where they were accepted with open arms and assimilated.
Proportionately speaking, the Arabs refused to accept and assimilate a small number of refugees while the Israelis accepted a very large cohort. When the issue is raised, the media invariably focuses on the “plight” of Palestinian refugees, but ignores Jewish refugees and Israeli Arabs.
Arabic schools teach that Israel is illegitimate and to be destroyed. Hateful anti-Semitism looms large in the Arabic media. Long-discredited calumnies such as blood libels and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” are routinely portrayed in the Arab media as fact. These abominations seem unable to retain the attention of the media for very long.
Over the past few years, the Israeli military reacted vigorously to Palestinian-initiated provocations such as the rock-throwing intifada and suicide bombers. Whether the Israeli responses were proportionate to the provocation is arguable (I argue that the Israeli responses were reasonable.). But, what is not debatable is the fact that the responses were indeed preceded by provocations and were hence justified. However, the media generally treated the provocations as minor protests, and the Israeli responses as unwarranted bullying. Go figure!
In September, 2000, a twelve year old boy and his father were caught in a Gaza cross-fire between Israeli and Palestinian militia. The boy was killed, apparently by Israeli bullets; the media played it up; Yasser Arafat built a propaganda campaign around “this murder by Israelis of an innocent Arab boy”; the Israelis investigated and apologized, then investigated some more, concluding finally that the boy had not been shot by Israeli forces; no one believed them; I, for one, assumed that the boy had been shot accidentally by Israeli forces.
In April, 2002, a German TV network reported that its investigations had led it to conclude that the Israeli forces could not have shot the boy, even if they had tried: the boy was not in their direct line of sight. But he was in the direct line of sight of the Palestinian militia who could easily have shot him for propaganda purposes.
The German TV network offered credible evidence to support this hypothesis. It will be interesting to see how or if the media follow up on this. Don’t hold your breath.
In April, 2002, the IDF made public copies of correspondence implicating Arafat and his Palestinian Authority in the planning and financing of suicide bombers. This included an invoice for the manufacture of bombs used in the suicide bombings!
Although this clearly exposed Arafat as a terrorist, I do not expect the media to pursue the issue. I expect them to continue in their quest to square the circle, to accept Arafat’s insistence that he does not condone suicide bombings. Stay tuned.
How well informed would you feel with this type of news reporting and analysis? Did all media act this way? Of course not! But enough did to allow a reasonably informed and fair-minded person to conclude that many did. A majority? Not sure, but enough to make the phenomenon appear to be widespread. Why did the media act this way? Incompetence? Innocence? Bias? Mendacity? Cowardice? Ignorance? Ideology? Reader’s choice.
Finally, Canada’s disgraceful “balanced fence-sitting” on Israeli-Palestinian matters is deplorable and obscene.
Although we might be able to understand the logic behind the European and American tilt toward the Arabs (oil), Canada cannot hide behind this excuse since we can do without Middle Eastern oil, Alberta is swimming in it.
Until someone comes up with a reasonable justification for Canada’s fence-sitting, I will continue to be outraged by it.