Israel and the US media
I saw something remarkable on American television news on Monday night, so astounding I just had to tell you about it. It was a story about what is happening in Israel and Palestine told from the perspective of the Palestinians - I know, I almost fell off my chair.
It was revolutionary, okay maybe not that, but by US standards it was really very different.
NBC News aired not one, but two packages on their evening newscast that actually showed the bombings in Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinians.
One of the graphics next to the anchor actually said, "No Way Out". I would bet the fact that the people of Gaza cannot leave came as a surprise to the vast majority of Americans.
That probably is not the case around the globe; I am assuming other national television newscasts show the impact of a bombing campaign from both perspectives. That very rarely happens here.
There is a conventional wisdom that almost everyone in the US media seems to follow when it comes to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The formula is simple, and it applies to most of the print and broadcast journalism outlets. Always start your story with description of Hamas rockets and the fear they are striking into the heart of Israel. The first pictures are always of rockets fired from Gaza and Israel is targeting the "militants that rule Gaza".
The US government considers Hamas a "terrorist organization" after all. Case in point this probing question from David Gregory of “Meet the Press” this past Sunday.
"There is probably agreement among Israel, even the Palestinian leadership, it is important for people to understand, President Abbas, Egypt as well, that they would like Hamas to go. And then maybe there is a chance for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. What does that take to get that to happen?
The other evening newscasts started their stories following the formula.
ABC News: "Today after more than 1,000 rockets launched by Hamas."
CBS News: "The Israeli military insists it is targeting terrorists."
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a frequent guest on the Sunday talk shows. He often receives very deferential treatment. This past Sunday he appeared on two.
On CBS, the very first question was: "How many rockets have been fired so far from Gaza?" On Fox, Netanyahu said no country could accept rocket attacks to which the moderator replies: "There seems to very little disagreement about that here in his country, Mr Prime Minister".
There is a new poll out today, according to the Pew organization: "Currently, 51 percent of Americans say they sympathize more with Israel in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, while just 14 percent sympathise more with the Palestinians." I have to wonder what the numbers would be if they interviewed just members of the media.
I hesitated to post this because I expect the comments from both sides will be hateful. I tweeted one particularly lopsided article the other day to which a person responded: "Has anything ever occurred throughout history that was not Israel's fault in your book?" He went on to ask: "Israel also provoked Hitler right?"
I do not like being called an anti-Semite and I do not like the thought of provoking more hatred which will be spewed on to the Internet, it has enough.
My job is to explain America and the Obama Administration to our audience. I am not writing this to take sides, just to point out that most of the US media seems to have chosen, and it has an impact on public opinion and therefore US foreign policy.