19 Oct A “Millennial View” on the Latest Fad in Media Bias Against Israel
The way violence in Israel is covered in the US shows a noticeable slant against the country.
Two of my Israeli friends have recently taken to Facebook to protest as much.
The video one friend posted shows a Palestinian man plowing into an Israeli bus stop with his car. He then gets out and begins stabbing the injured people he’d just hit. One comment on the video was typical of the American response in the media to violence against Israelis – she commented about the Israeli police response instead, saying: “Don’t you think this was still too many shots for a child that was only armed with a knife?“
Another Israeli friend posted an image of the Sept 11th attacks with the sarcastic caption “19 Arabs killed by American airplanes.” This is how they perceive US coverage of the recent string of attacks in Israel – consistently blaming the victims.
For anyone who’s had little exposure, there has been a recent wave of violence in Israel in which Palestinians wielding knives (easier to conceal than guns) have attacked civilians and sometimes soldiers on the street. This is all in response to some (false) rumors about Israel changing access to the Temple Mount, a site both sides consider sacred. The random stabbings have resulted in 8 Israeli deaths. Police have fought back, causing 40 Palestinian deaths.
Israelis feel the coverage in the Western media has been unfairly characterizing the attackers as the victims, and blaming Israel for a so-called “disproportionate response” for defending its citizens.
Here are some headlines that help convey why – keep in mind, the “Palestinians” in question in each article were knife-wielding attackers:
- “6 Palestinian teens die amid Mideast unrest” – LA Times
- “Palestinians shot dead by Israeli police in two separate knife attacks” – Toronto Star
- “Two Palestinian teens killed, two injured by Israeli police” – Wall St Journal
- “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two” – BBC
- “Palestinian shot dead after fatal stabbing in Jerusalem; 2 Israeli victims also killed” – Al Jazeera
- “Police kill 16-year-old after alleged stabbing” – CNN
- “Three Palestinians shot dead after knife attacks” – Independent
There has even been commentary by political leaders causing upset in Israel – Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted about the violence without acknowledging who was committing it: “Escalating violence in Jerusalem. Attacks against civilians unacceptable. Bring perpetrators to justice. Leaders must act responsibly.”
Some networks have even misrepresented situations factually, going further than merely suggestive headlines. MSNBC presented a factually inaccurate map of Israel and Palestine on one show. In addition, a correspondent insisted that a Palestinian attacker was unarmed (he wasn’t) despite video evidence to the contrary: “…Ayman Mohyeldin, an NBC News foreign correspondent, triggered widespread criticism when he described a terrorist who had been shot dead while rushing at Israeli troops with a knife in his hand as empty-handed.”
And rights groups have gone so far as to say Israel is acting too aggressively to defend its citizens: “A coalition of human rights organizations — including Amnesty International and the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories — has said police and soldiers are “too quick to shoot to kill” and criticized calls for civilians to carry weapons.” What they consider fair is hard to imagine – especially given the context of suicide bombing techniques. If an armed person – even just ostensibly armed with a knife, or a rock – is not surrendering, what are officers of the law supposed to do?
Here are some thought-provoking questions you can pose to someone who reads misleading articles about the situation.
First, how would you actually recommend Israeli citizens and troops respond to something like this? If this is too much, what is just enough?
Can you imagine if you had to walk through the streets constantly afraid that someone might be out to stab you? Can you imagine knowing that a large part of the population of your country is urged by their religious and sometimes political leaders to kill you? That support for attacks like those are met by official bodies, like the Palestinian Bar Association, with support? (They posthumously awarded a law degree to an attacker who killed 2 people and injured 2 more in a stabbing in Jerusalem, calling him a “martyred hero”). Is there really a more appropriate response to attempted murder than to stop, with fatal force, the person who is attempting it? And wouldn’t you be arming yourself, too, if you lived there?
Second, consider what the headlines aren’t saying. Get beyond them and into the story. Who attacked whom in what order? At minimum, that tells you who’s behind the violence.
Worth thinking about…
Hannah R., Atlanta, GA