What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel

10428091_10152531838247689_8506865217398126978_nThe Atlantic (Dec 1) — Based on my experiences between 2006 and 2011 as a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press, I wrote for Tablet of the disproportionate media attention devoted to the conflict between Jews and Arabs relative to other stories, and gave examples of editorial decisions that appeared to be driven by ideological considerations rather than journalistic ones.

Last November at Al-Quds University, a mainstream Palestinian institution in east Jerusalem, a rally in support of the armed fundamentalist group Islamic Jihad featured a row of masked men whose stiff-armed salute was returned by some of the hundreds of students in attendance. The rally is interesting for the connection it makes between radical Islam here and elsewhere in the region. It could help explain why many perfectly rational Israelis fear withdrawing their military from east Jerusalem or the West Bank. The images from the demonstration were, as photo editors like to say, “strong.” The rally had all the necessary elements of a powerful news story.

The Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press was in possession of photos of the event a day later. Jerusalem editors decided that the images, and the rally, were not newsworthy. I mention such instances to show the way in which the pipeline of information is intentionally plugged.

Mark Lavie, who has reported from the region since 1972 until his retirement last year, recently told me the AP Jerusalem bureau’s editorial line was still that the conflict was Israel’s fault, and the Palestinians and the Arab world were blameless.

The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office – and AP wouldn’t report it, not even in articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff – and AP wouldn’t report it. Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying.

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