It’s long held adage: Everyone thinks the New York Times is skewed against them. This is especially acute in the Israel/Palestinian debate. Both sides will tell you that the media favors the other side’s goals. And they mean it. And both sides might actually be right.
The other day, I got a taste of it, with a headline on ABC News’ site in reference to recent trouble in Southern Israel and Gaza. (See how I worded that? More on that in a minute.)
Just to back up, a little history:
In 1967, Egypt and other neighboring countries attacked Israel. Israel won the war and gained some territory (as often happens during war), including winning the Gaza “Strip” from Egypt.
In 2005, Israel unilaterally pulled out of the Gaza region.
Although there are no longer disputed borders in that area (except for extremists that don’t recognize Israel’s legitimacy at all), Hamas and other organizations have launched many, many rounds of rockets from their side. Of course, Israel responds – I will leave it to you, dear reader, to contemplate the concept of “proportionate” responses, but as we like to say, before you do that think of what your country would do if missiles were being sent from a neighboring territory.
Next the chronology gets a little fuzzier, but basically, Hamas kidnapped a soldier named Gilad Shalit. Years later, Israel secured his release by trading him for something like 1,000 Palestinian prisoners … and began a campaign of systematically killing most of the people involved in Shalit’s capture. (In case you’ve missed their message, Israel does not want their soldiers getting captured anymore.)
Earlier this month, militants in Gaza decided to start firing rockets into southern Israel. I believe they have said this was in retaliation for the assassinations (hence the explanations above).
Lots of people in Israel are saying that the problem is really that Iran is feeling the heat of the world community on their nuclear plans and are having their puppets in the Gaza create a little distraction.
So Israel’s retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the retaliation for the … you get the idea … has been, as usual criticized for being overly brutal.
Let me tell you. Missiles are missiles. The ones threatening southern Israel (they can go quite far) are plenty deadly. The reason no one has died in Israel proper at this point in this round is the fact that Israel has a new missile-interception system called the Iron Dome and because Israeli citizens have things like building codes and safe rooms. Without those, I’m sure there would be just as many casualties as the Gazans have experienced. And that doesn’t count the terror of air raid sirens felt by children and adults on both sides of this undisputed border. Have I mentioned that the border is not disputed?
Egypt emerged with a ceasefire plan. The day after the ceasefire, here’s ABC’s website’s headline:
Israeli Aircraft Hit Gaza in Response to Rockets
For my part, I posted a snarky remark on Facebook – kind of anemic – saying that the headline was inverted. What it should have said was:
Gaza Militants Break Ceasefire, Israel Responds
Okay: I’m finally at my point. I hear my conservative friends constantly grousing about the liberal media not giving them a fair shake. I have to tell you, dear reader, I felt that this time too.
I had to actually dig to find out real information about what was going on there. Fraudulent photos of an injured Palestinian child? Very easy to find. (The one I’m referring to turned out to be many years old.)
I had to dig to find out about the hardship on the Israeli side. And the result was an overall impression that Israel was, without reason or warning, attacking an innocent victim without suffering herself.
Just another schoolyard bully, right? Someone more cynical than me would say "that's what 'they' want you to think." Ah, what the heck, I'll say it: That's what they want you to think.
And even the headline above … What I took in on first reading – which is all most people will ever give it: “Israeli Aircraft Hit Gaza.” Yes, something that simple does matter, it helps people form an opinion. One my agree or disagree with that opinion, but in the interest of objectivity, why not just give the facts in chronological order? By emphasizing Israel’s actions, that headline was, by definition, downplaying the other side’s actions. Any media professor would admit to that.