Anti-Israel Media Bias?

In my post yesterday about the need to lift the blockade of Gaza I wrote about the sad story of a 19-year-old Palestinian girl who needed to leave Gaza for a medical surgery (the equipment for the surgery was unavailable in Gaza).  Her request for a permit to leave Gaza was ignored by Israel for months, forcing her to reschedule the surgery three times.  Israel granted her permit several days after she died.

Jeffrey Goldberg over at the Atlantic used the same story in his post (although he got the story from a Washington Post article).  Goldberg agrees that the blockade must be lifted to ease the suffering of Gaza’s population, but goes on to use the WaPo article to show “Fairly Definitive Proof of Media Bias” against Israel.  His point?

I support ending Israel’s closure of the border. But wait: In the 11th paragraph of the story — after we are told about Israel’s various deprecations and crimes against Gaza, we read the following:

“Hejji had hoped to get life-saving treatment in Israel as other Gazans have done. The Egyptian border is also closed.”

Notice the sentence construction. The Egyptian border “is closed.” By whom? Perhaps by… Egypt? As most people know, Egypt shares a border with Gaza, and it too seeks to punish Hamas, which rules Gaza, and protect its own citizens, by keeping its border sealed. I don’t agree with this closure either. But why is Israel’s closure worthy of worldwide condemnation, and why does Egypt’s own closed border barely get mentioned?

His post frustrated me, but I could not find the words to describe why.  He was expressing remorse for Fidaa Talal Hijjy, the girl who died and he was promoting the end of the blockade.  He even makes good points.  Egypt is not receiving the same amount of bad press (that is outside of the Arab world; see here, here, here, here and here) as Israel.

Fortunately a reader of his blog wrote in to help.  Here are a few highlights, but go read the entire thing.  It isn’t that long:

…I have to take issue with your blog commentary on media bias. There is no question there is bias against Israel but your expanation of the situation in Gaza misses the mark.

…only Israel is controlling Gaza’s access to the outside world via control of the sea and airspace… Politically, it’s intolerable for a people to be subject to someone else for everything and everyone who enters or exits their land…

I am not a fan of Hamas – they are stone cold killers in search of their goals. However, it is possible that they could be turned toward positive goals like Begin and Shamir [Shamir was the Israeli PM during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and Begin is a politician who opposed the Oslo accords] did after their spree of stone cold killing…

I have no idea how Israel can sustain the current situation another 43 years without the country being torn apart internally and by external forces. With that in mind, I simply do not understand why Israel does not gather the forces of good in the world, the US, EU, UN etc and agree to make an offer to the Palestinians and arabs that is too good to turn down along with the mechanisms to insure it’s success. Instead, Israel seems to be treating negotiations as something of a game, to see if they can get the “best” deal for Israel rather than a “Just” deal that insures viability and longevity.

I felt better after reading this.  Sure, maybe there is an anti-Israeli bias in the media (something that should be debated, however, not just stated as fact), but that in no way should absolve Israel for what it is doing to Gaza.  I respect Goldberg’s writing and agree with him quite often.  His original claim of definitive proof of bias, though, was far too apologetic of terrible Israeli policies to be taken seriously.

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2 thoughts on “Anti-Israel Media Bias?

  1. You always here people in Israel–and out of it–complain that Israel has a massive PR problem. And while I’m sure they do, I think it is valid to examine the possibility that they might just have a actually problem: 60 years of statehood with no peace.

    If Israel is going to be an attractive place for Jews it has to make peace. Everyone know what it will eventually look like. So why doesn’t the US sink massive amounts of money into making it happen? It’s why there is peace between Israel, Jordan and Egypt. After all, it would be a much better investment than some gined up population centric COIN In Afghanistan.

  2. Abu G

    Israel has a PR problem and Israel has a real problem, but there is no denying that the two are linked. There are neighboring groups that threaten Israel- and this is unjust and Israel has the right to defend itself. Unfortunately, Israel has responded to such threats in a draconian, heavy-handed manner that simply pushes peace farther and farther away from the realm of possibility. In the last few days, we have seen many words thrown at how the US is trying to get peace moving and how the Obama Administration still thinks peace is possible by 2012. Right after, PM Netanyahu stated that it would be necessary for Israeli troops to remain in the West Bank after peace. Announcements like that – and at a time like that – make any US dollar thrown at peace useless.

    Sinking American money into the issue is not the problem. The US could promise massive aid to Palestine in exchange for peace, but Abu Mazen would be committing political suicide if he returned from the negotiating table without Jerusalem (Bibi said he is keeping it) and with Israeli soldiers in Palestine.

    American money in not the issue. It is the American ability to push Israel and Palestine to make big changes. Brutal responses to threats create more threats and – without a change in policy – more brutal responses.

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