The Media’s Top 10 Mideast Mangles of 2013
In 2013, the media blundered all too many times in reporting on the Middle East. There were, unfortunately, countless potential “winners,” but CAMERA has identified our…
Top Ten Mideast Media Mangles for 2013
1. The New York Times Relentlessly Promotes the Palestinian Narrative
On a single Sunday, March 17, The Times published a front page story rehashing old themes about Jewish housing in eastern Jerusalem allegedly victimizing Arab residents and thwarting peace, and a rambling 8,000-word cover story for the Sunday magazine that waxed poetic about the Palestinian “resisters” from a West Bank town engaged in weekly – and sometimes violent – protests.
Over the summer, The Times published another front page story romanticizing Palestinian rock throwers and ignoring their victims. In November, in reporting on the murder by a Palestinian Arab of a young Israeli soldier while he slept on a bus, the newspaper printed a sympathetic photograph of the killer’s mother, rather than the grieving family of the victim.
Though the public editor admitted it was a mistake to run that photograph, The Times continues to run the “wrong” picture online. The line between opinion and news has continued to fade in the “newspaper of record,” where promoting the Palestinian narrative seems to trump objective journalism.
To learn more about The New York Times’ coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, read the CAMERA Monograph: Indicting Israel.
2. CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager Stonewalls, Refuses to Correct False Report
60 Minutes Executive Producer and CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager still refuses to correct material falsehoods in a 2012 segment, “Christians in the Holy Land,” that inaccurately asserted a “wall completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the little town where Christ was born into what its residents call an open air prison.”
CAMERA produced an analysis of the segment, alerted its supporters to the problems with the story and published an ad in the Wall Street Journal drawing attention to some of the more egregious errors in the segment.
This year, Fager spoke at his home church in New Canaan, Connecticut, and repeated many of the errors originally broadcast and tried to portray himself and his news network – one of the most powerful media institutions in the country – as the victims of bullying by CAMERA and other viewers who have simply called on 60 Minutes to correct the record. Let Mr. Fager know again that the error still needs correcting and the public hasn’t forgotten! Call him at (212) 975-1073.
3. CNN Seemingly Conducting PR Campaign for the Iranian Regime
On several occasions, CNN whitewashed the rhetoric of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The network falsely reported that Rouhani’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly “was absent anti-Israel rhetoric.”
In a later interview, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour pointedly asked Rouhani about his views on the Holocaust and mistranslated his comments to imply that he, unlike his Holocaust-denying predecessor, publicly acknowledged and condemned the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Though numerous translators and media outlets agree that Rouhani never used the word “Holocaust” and never acknowledged the systematic attempt to wipe out European Jewry, CNN has never corrected their report.
Another misleading report presented a ridiculously utopian portrait of a tolerant and benevolent Islamic Iranian regime whose Jewish citizens enjoy the same religious freedoms as those living in Israel. A self-proclaimed standard-bearer of international journalism like CNN should be able to penetrate the smooth facade presented by the Iranian regime.
4. Ha’aretz’s Ongoing Pattern of Mistranslations Result in Misrepresentations
There’s Ha’aretz in Hebrew and then there’s Ha’aretz in English. The Hebrew edition of Ha’aretz has a very low circulation in comparison to other Israeli newspapers; its influential English site is the go-to portal for Western journalists, policymakers, diplomats, and a vast public. Close reading of both print editions over the course of years has revealed an ongoing pattern in which the Hebrew articles are not merely translated, but often altered. In sometimes dramatic and sometimes subtle cases, time and again, information appearing in the Hebrew original concerning Palestinian aggressiveness, violence and other Arab wrongdoing is downplayed or omitted entirely.
In some instances, the English account is completely at odds with the original Hebrew. Among dozens of corrections issued by Ha’aretz at CAMERA’s prompting in recent years, many have involved errors in translations.
5. Two Major International Newspapers Feature Anti-Israel Cartoons Using Blood Libel Imagery
January 27 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. That same day, The Sunday Times of London published an editorial cartoon showing a hook-nosed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall on the bodies of Palestinians and using their blood as mortar. On July 2, alongside a favorable review of two books that are highly critical of Israel, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung ran a cartoon depicting Israel as a voracious Moloch, the deity to whom ancient Canaanites sacrificed children. After powerful letter writing campaigns, both newspapers apologized.
6. UK Media Characterize Terrorists and Killers Released by Israel as “Political Prisoners”
The Israeli government is in the process of releasing 104 convicted terrorists as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority to facilitate negotiations. British media outlets such as The Guardian and The Independent have misrepresented the killers as “political prisoners.” Though both of those outlets eventually corrected the characterization, there has been a widespread neglect by all mediaof the crimes committed by the released convicts and the details of the lives of their many victims.
7. PBS Doubles Down on Anti-Israel Films
Of the fifteen films broadcast in the 2013 season of the documentary series POV, two of them, more than 13 per cent, were anti-Israel. PBS aired “The Law in these Parts” on August 19 and “5 Broken Cameras” on August 26. Among the thousands of documentaries released in recent years on all subjects – medical advances, pollution, political corruption, architecture, famous crimes, literature, internet dating, the life of Elvis – why did PBS select two in one season that are misleading and anti-Israel? And air them in successive weeks?
Since November 2008, CAMERA’s C-SPAN Watch has documented hundreds of on-air anti-Jewish, anti-Israel calls toWashington Journal, C-SPAN’s daily 7-10 a.m. (Eastern) public affairs call-in show. Potentially reaching millions of viewers, these hateful rants typically have been facilitated by hosts who fail to repudiate the numerous slanderous falsifications and distortions.
During Operation Pillar of Defense, the BBC, flouting its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, falsely reported that the young son of one of their staffers was killed by an Israeli airstrike. Though it was later determined that the death was likely the result of a misfired Palestinian rocket, subsequent corrections received far less attention.
Promoted as part of a preconceived narrative depicting Israelis as “baby killers,” an image of Jihad Masharawi holding his son’s body became entrenched in the minds of many as a depiction of Israeli wrong-doing. The image has since been used in several anti-Israelprotests and continues to foment hatred against Israel. Months later, the flawed account of Omar Masharawi’s death was still featured prominently in the Magazine section of the BBC website.
In The Los Angeles Times in March and again in The New York Times in September, Ian Lustick depicts Israel as a pariah state, glosses over the sins of its adversaries, and goes so far as to call for the dissolution of the Jewish state. While he apparently suffers from the delusion that Jewish self-criticism and Israeli concessions can bring a unilateral end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the outrage here is the fact that influential newspapers believe it is reasonable to debate the idea of eliminating Israel, a democratic country and the world’s only Jewish state.
Can we expect 2014 to be a better year for Israel and media coverage? While CAMERA is gratified at the many instances of responsible action by members of the media, it’s also obvious there will be numerous challenges!
That’s why we are dedicated every day to setting the record straight on Israel and Middle East realities.
If you support our cause, please contribute as generously as possible to support CAMERA’s essential work protecting Israel from the great harm of defamation. To contribute, please click here.