The Nation Israel: Media Bias

The Nation Israel: Media Bias

Three weeks ago, I began a series on Israel, starting with its history, discussing the Israeli settlements, and last week identifying the religious aspects of the land. This week, I will focus on the United States, and our interactions with Israel, specifically on Israel in the media, and the bias in the mainstream media.

Ironically, in my series of very opinionated articles on Israel, the finale calls out the mainstream media for their bias. However, the Millennial Review was established as a conservative media source, while the so-called “mainstream media” are supposed to be objective.

A bias against Israel in many mainstream media sources can come in the form of not reporting stories, reporting more favorable stories, or influencing the type of stories produced. The sources analyzed here are CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, and BBC. 

The fight against “fake news” has caused many people to try to identify unbiased sources of news. The truth is that all journalists are biased, and those reporting on Israel are no exception. In order to showcase clear bias and compare it with the so-called mainstream media, I have identified two obviously biased sources, the Electronic Intifada and the Times of Israel.

As their names suggest, the former writes from a Palestinian perspective, and the latter from a Jewish or Israeli point of view. You can find an account of almost every Israel-Palestine event occurring in the region through these sources. 

The first instance I would like to cover is the Manhattan trial against the Palestinian Authority’s alleged support of terrorism. Obviously, the Electronic Intifada was highly critical of the lawsuit, blaming US refusal to recognize Palestine and the Israeli intelligence’s lawfare group.

The Times of Israel focused on the families of the lawsuit, detailing their situations and circumstances. BBC did not cover the trial, but CNNNew York Times, and the Washington Post all reported on the incident. While the New York Times and Washington seemed to produce well-written, relatively unbiased reporting, CNN’s article was published a day later.

In this article, the first section doesn’t mention “terror” in reference to the attacks, an aspect that draws parallels to Obama’s unwillingness to say “radical Islamic terrorism.” Unlike the Washington Post and New York Times, CNN does not have the Israeli lawyer or the Jerusalem-based reporter talk about the news. This is one instance in which CNN omits information to create a bias against Israel. 

Unfortunately, the other American media sources are not perfect either. Less than a week ago, the Washington Post released three articles on the Palestinian prisoner’s hunger strike. These articles covered anything from the point of the strike, to the imprisoned leader, to a Palestinian activist. Each article clearly fails to discuss the Israeli side, such as why the prisoners are there and what treatment they currently receive.

In fact, only the Palestinian activist interviewed tells you that Palestinians call those imprisoned ‘political prisoners’, while Israel calls them ‘security prisoners.’ Haaretz, an Israeli source of news, details the official conditions of the Israeli prisons, stating that some provisions can be revoked upon bad behavior. 

Each mainstream news source is not entirely biased. Terrorism occurs in Israel more often than could possibly be reported by any one source. In hopes of comprehensively covering Israel terrorism incidents, the Washington Post composed and updated a lengthy list of attacks in Israel, citing every instance of stabbings, bombings, shootings, and car attacks from October 2015 to September 2016.

However, even this list excluded the multiple times in which Israel confiscated bombs and other weapons, thus preventing an attack. As the graphic shows, Israel is constantly threatened, which is why they have so many Palestinian prisoners. 

On the other hand, the New York Times publicly received criticism when it published an op-ed by the leader of the hunger strike, listing him only as a “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” Many accurately identified that biography as misleading since it failed to mention his history as a terrorist, which was the reason for his imprisonment. While the New York Times did correct the error, the blatant disregard for writing truth in an objective biography is quite disconcerting.

Sadly, the UK-based BBC network is no better than the New York Times. In fact, there is an entire website dedicated to describing the anti-Israel bias of BBC articles.

This site, BBC Watch, claims the BBC’s coverage of the prisoners’ strike excludes background information. Additionally, a few months ago when a British student was stabbed and died, BBC refused to use the word “terror” in all forms of the report.

Although not covered by Electronic Intifada, the American networks, CNNNew York Times, and the Washington Post all mention terrorism in their articles, with the New York Times being the most evasive in using the word terrorism, leaving it to the end of the article in a quote. To compare, the Times of Israel headlines with “terror attack,” providing a contrast to the muted language of the mainstream media. 

As an American, the unstable environment of Israel is a foreign concept. I do not wake up everyday and think that a terror attack is likely to affect me personally. San Bernardino and Orlando are examples of terrorist attacks on US soil, but since 9/11, the United States has not experienced anywhere near the constant terror that Israelis face on a daily basis.

To understand any conflict, you have to understand both sides. Unfortunately, to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict, you can neither solely read our mainstream news nor rely on a single source. Instead, you must find both sides and listen to them, determining the truth as you read and observe.

Otherwise, you will find yourself so distant from the truth that you think Israel is unjustified in its actions and that, in the same way, Jews in America deserve anti-Semitism and suppression. 

Follow this author on Twitter @UCDavisEngineer

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