Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Matti Friedman Very Short Version

A former AP correspondent explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters

The very short version:

the central tropes of the international media’s Israel story ... one which is a narrative construct that is largely fiction.

How Important Is the Israel Story?

Staffing is the best measure

The volume of press coverage

News organizations believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.

what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel.

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.  they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.

Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported.

The Hamas emplacements [in Gaza] were not important in themselves, and were therefore ignored. What was important was the Israeli decision to attack them.

Any veteran of the press corps here knows the intimidation is real

Do not to inform readers that the story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli.Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians…They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both.

The fact that Israelis quite recently elected moderate governments that sought reconciliation with the Palestinians, and which were undermined by the Palestinians, is considered unimportant and rarely mentioned. These are a matter of policy.the narrative was that the Palestinians were moderate and the Israelis recalcitrant and increasingly extreme.

Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political.

The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” … the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” …described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab…

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party.

reporters generally cannot see the Israel story in relation to anything else [happening in the Muslim Middle East]

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…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.

Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality. They may convince themselves that all of this is the Jews’ problem, and indeed the Jews’ fault. But journalists engage in these fantasies at the cost of their credibility and that of their profession. And, as Orwell would tell us, the world entertains fantasies at its peril.


After cooling off at the pool, I thought to add these points that are missing, if only from the professional side:

the overwhelming amount of journos today are ignorant of Mideast history; are products of liberal/prog educational frameworks; have no second language and surely not Hebrew.

They are so into a minus, they have almost no chance at being positive.

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