Jewish, Jewish, Everywhere, & not a drop to drink
Monday, September 15, 2003
From: Honest Reporting
To: simshalom@att.net
Subject: Ins and Outs of Choosing the News
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2003 07:17:49 -0700

HonestReporting Communique
15 September 2003


* * *

Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,

Journalists covering the Mideast conflict have to answer a hard question each
day: "Given the range of newsworthy items that constantly emerge, what should I
run with, what's my story?" Whatever they deem "in" will be zapped to tens of
thousands of newspapers, radio stations and TV screens worldwide; what's ruled
"out" will disappear from world consciousness. This, in a nutshell, is how the
media's content decisions shape public opinion.

In the past week, such decisions on three major topics fell into a curious
pattern -- when the news item challenged Israeli policy, it made it "in," but
when the item bolstered Israeli policy, it was deemed "out":

1) Israeli Restrictions on Palestinians

IN: Both Reuters and the Associated Press released articles on September 8
trumpeting a new Amnesty International report that condemned, among other IDF
practices, Israel's use of administrative detention against Palestinians active
in terror organizations.

OUT: The Israeli government's startling announcement that the Palestinian
perpetrators of the Sept. 9 dual terror attacks in Tsrifin (7 murdered, 30
wounded) and Jerusalem's Café Hillel (8 murdered, 50 wounded) were both, just
six months ago, released from administrative detention in an Israeli prison.

Israeli policy is to continue administrative detention when necessary. The
media's method of selective reporting, however, leaves Israeli policy woefully

2) Arafat and Peace

IN: Both Reuters and AP (Sept. 13) painted Yassir Arafat as a peace-lover under
siege. AP's headline was "Arafat Urges Israel to Return to Peace Talks," and
Reuters quotes Arafat saying, "I appeal to you the Israeli people, together we
can make peace."

OUT: That very day (Sept. 13), masked gunmen from Arafat's own Fatah movement
stormed the Palestinian TV station Al Aribiya in Ramallah, held the employees at
gunpoint, then systematically destroyed their equipment as "a warning" for
unflattering reports on the PA. Acknowledging his involvement, Arafat later
apologized to Al Aribiya in the middle of the night.

[The media frequently quote voices of dissent within Israeli politics, but
almost never bring equivalent Palestinian dissent. For example, also deemed
"out" this week was a remarkable voice of protest from a prominent Palestinian
journalist, who wrote an article in a Palestinian daily critical of the
Arafat-led PA's "all or nothing" policy. Said Tawfiq Abu Bakr, "It is difficult
to find a greater and more deeply rooted culture of self-deception than that in
our Arab and Palestinian arena; a culture of daydreams in the height of a
burning summer. People cling stubbornly to rosy dreams and delude themselves
that these are the facts." http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD57303

Israeli policy is to remove Arafat, as an obstacle to peace, enemy of
Palestinian moderation, and undemocratic strongman. The media's method of
selective reporting, however, leaves Israeli policy woefully unexplained.

3) Palestinian Schoolchildren

IN: Both Reuters and AP reported large gatherings of Ramallah schoolchildren
rallying in support of Yassir Arafat (Sept. 13). AP adds the detail that the
children shouted "With our souls and our blood we defend Abu Ammar [Arafat's nom
de guerre]," while Arafat "waved and blew kisses from a window."

OUT: The Jerusalem Post reported that the children had some other things to say
(which apparently didn't interest AP and Reuters): "I'm prepared to go to the
Jews myself and to kill them wherever they are," and "At school they tell us, go
to liberate Palestine… We have to carry out suicide attacks because the Jews
are killing us."

And outside Arafat's compound, one group of supporters shouted, "We will
sacrifice millions of martyrs on the road to Jerusalem."

Israeli policy is to remove Arafat's grip on Palestinian culture, in order to
eliminate the ongoing incitement in textbooks and classrooms calling for the
murder of Israeli citizens. The media's method of selective reporting, however,
leaves Israeli policy woefully unexplained.

Comments to Associated Press: feedback@ap.org
Comments to Reuters: editor@reuters.com

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.


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