Examining the Role of Media and the State of Israel
September 30, 2016 • Dateline: Middle East September 2016, Issue 33
By Bradley Martin
Public opinion is shaped in large part due to media coverage. It is therefore incumbent on media, whether from news, entertainment, or government-sponsored, to disseminate fair and accurate information to their respective communities. This is all the more necessary when it comes to subjects surrounding Israel and the Middle East. More often than not, the truth is often left by the wayside, while anti-Israel propaganda is allowed to proliferate. In the words of Mark Twain: “a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Media inaccuracy, when it comes to Israel, manifests itself in different ways. The most obvious of which is through news media, when journalists propagate inaccurate stories concerning Israel either because of bias or shoddy investigation of a given issue. There is also government inaccuracies, where world leaders broadcast erroneous information in the service of a given agenda. With the advent of the 21st Century, traditional media would undergo a major shift through the introduction of social media. With platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, media would have the power to affect millions of people on a scope that was previously unimaginable.
It is therefore important to respond to media inaccuracies concerning Israel, wherever they may be. In order to bring to light the current situation that the State of Israel is facing, Volume Thirty Three of Dateline: Middle East focuses on the following issues concerning media and misrepresentation.
To begin, Miriam Barchilon in “Israel: A Spanish Journalist’s Obsession” describes the state of journalism in Spain, where criticism against Israel can be accurately described as a hypocritical obsession. Israel, in the Spanish media, receives a disproportionate amount of focus in comparison to other conflicts throughout the world, with much criticism even going as far to be outright anti-Jewish bigotry. While there have been some improvements as of late, concerning the Spanish media’s portrayal of Israel, the problems of anti-Semitism and double standards are still prevalent.
Mosché Amouyal’s “Obama et Israël: l’heure des bilans est arrivée” examines the promises made by President of the United States Barack Obama concerning Israel, in comparison to the reality of U.S-Israel relations.
Mitchell Stein, Graphic Editor of Dateline: Middle East, writes in “The Rise of Anti-Semitism on Social Media” how new technologies in combination with an old hatred has combined in such a way to create a new kind of anti-Semitism that propagates itself over the Internet. How to combat hate speech, as well as protecting oneself from hate crimes, are issues that must be addressed.
Liora Chartouni, Publications Director for Dateline: Middle East, examines media hypocrisy concerning terrorist attacks leveled against Israel in comparison to terrorism committed elsewhere in the world, in her article titled: “Le terrorisme est condemnable… à une exception près.”
In my article, originally published by The American Spectator, titled “The Best Place for Arabs in the Middle East,” I reply to the latest assertions made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in front of the European Parliament, that Israel is guilty of committing genocide against the Palestinians. Not only are Arabs tolerated in Israeli society, but Israel is undoubtedly the best place in the Middle East for Arabs to thrive as well as practice their religion freely.
Bernard Bohbot, Editor of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s French publication Communiqué Isranet, describes how a number of news media outlets use their platform to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, without any regard for journalistic integrity or objectivity in his piece titled: “Quand les médias se font les complices du mouvement BDS.”
Ben Jaffe criticizes U.S funding of the Palestinian Authority, as well as the PA’s continuous incitement and spreading of propaganda against Israel, in his article titled: “The Palestinian Authority Money Vacuum.”
Ryan Bellerose, a Métis from Alberta and founder of Calgary United with Israel, tackles a fallacious anti-Israel media narrative that Palestinians are indigenous to the land and that Israeli Jews are colonizers. Bellerose calls for solidarity between Jews and indigenous peoples throughout the world in his special contribution to this edition of Dateline: Middle East titled: “The Indigenous Argument against the Palestinian Narrative.”
Finally, we have CIJR Publications Chairman Rob Coles’ “Book Review of ‘Project Palestine’” where he takes a look at the graphic novel by Dan Yoo and Goodman Kim. Not only is this graphic novel an informative, entertaining, and easy read for people who have no knowledge of the region, but it is a valuable tool for pro-Israel advocates to counter BDS lies. This book review also shows the importance of graphic novels, which have emerged as an effective way to make complex issues more accessible.
With the great power that comes from the media’s ability to shape public opinion, comes great responsibility. It is incumbent on media outlets to present their perspectives on Israel as factually and as objectively as possible. It is the hope that with this edition of Dateline: Middle East, which now celebrates its twenty eighth year of publication, that the baseless assertions and anti-Israel bias that pervades all forms of modern media, can be countered.
Alex Enescu, Editor
Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)