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All the news except unfavorable Israeli news
Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2002

By Raff Ellis,

Everyone knows the above popular slogan, slightly modified of course, belongs to a major national newspaper. In today's world, such slogans have become entirely meaningless and are as hollow as the sound you get banging on an empty oil drum. Equally meaningless are the names of newspapers, which in yesteryear were meant to signify integrity in news reporting. The herald, tribune, sentinel, beacon, chronicle, etc. are names associated with the ancient tradition of information gathering and distribution. Sadly, that tradition has fallen victim to the corporate and political manipulation that has rendered unbiased reporting obsolete.

In today's world the information dissemination business operates like a pretzel factory where the stories are twisted, formed, sprinkled with the salt of bias and baked into a palatable product for consumption by an increasingly gullible public. The resulting "news" is meant to taste good and to be consumed without question.

Although examples of bias run across the spectrum of special interests, the most egregious examples come from the treatment of news about the Middle East. Criticizing the state of Israel is not good policy in America, either for newsmen or politicians. Therefore, the best examples of media bias come from the lack of coverage of bad acts. Here's a sampling of the accounts you missed.

Item 1. United Nations relief workers in Afghanistan were summarily shot by government troops as they awaited transport to their billets. The soldiers ordered the workers to kneel down and face the ground, then unexpectedly showered them with a barrage of bullets, killing seven and wounding many others. What! Oops, my mistake. It wasn't UN workers and Afghanis; it was Palestinian workers in Rishon Lezion of the West Bank shot by Israeli soldiers on May 20, 1990, as they awaited transport to Gaza.

Item 2. Jewish men in Basra, Iraq, were stripped naked at gunpoint in the street and forced to walk home in utter humiliation while their friends and relatives looked on. You guessed it. It wasn't in Iraq but in the West Bank city of Nablus on November 24, 2002 where Palestinian men were forced to undress by Israeli soldiers. "They forced Yasser Sharaf, 25, to take off all his clothes including his underwear...They ordered him to walk like a dog and then he burst into tears," Palestinian fireman Samir el Lifdawi said of one of the men. To compound the humiliation, a Reuters photographer recorded the scene.

Item 3. The former chief mufti in Saudi Arabia openly advocated a 'Final Solution' to annihilate the Jews. Speaking at the widely broadcast sermon marking the end of Ramadan, he declared of the Jews: "Allah shall return their deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable." You guessed it; I did it again. The reason you never read this shocking and provocative story is that it happened in Israel and it was former chief rabbi Ovadia Yossef, who is also a founder and spiritual leader of the religious Shas party (Israel's third largest political party). He made these remarks in a speech marking the end of the Passover fast, openly advocating a 'Final Solution' to annihilate the Palestinians.

Item 4. Egyptian troops invaded the Jewish quarter of Cairo and desecrated the Hebrew temple by blowing up the entrance, causing serious damage to the structure. After entering, they defecated and urinated inside the temple, arresting the rabbi and the cantor before leaving the premises. You're catching on; it didn't happen in Egypt but in Jenin and Dura, Palestine, and it was Israeli soldiers and a mosque, not a Jewish temple. The opprobrious behavior occurred in Jenin on 24 November 2002, and in Dura on 25 September 2002. In Jenin, Israeli soldiers blew up the entrance to the mosque and then entered without taking their boots off, tore up religious texts and arrested the imam and muezzin (caller of prayer) before leaving the premises. In Dura, the Israeli troops urinated and defecated inside the Mosque and placed the Israeli flag atop the building's minaret.

Had these stories been atrocities against Jews or Israelis instead of Palestinians or Arabs, the headlines would have screamed out at us. The President and various congressmen would have loudly and subserviently condemned such acts, and I guarantee it wouldn't have been with the mild rebukes we've heard such as, "It was a bit heavy handed."

I could continue with a lengthy rendition of the many atrocities, including rape and robbery, in addition to wanton murder by Israelis that go undocumented in the American press. Israel's supporters don't like this kind of publicity and do all in their power to suppress their publication. The media, in order to keep up its unflinching support for Israel, continue to portray the occupiers as the underdog, struggling to survive against the Moslem hordes of Arabia. They are a democracy after all and couldn't possibly behave in such a reprehensible fashion, could they?

In addition to the non-reporting of actual events, we see an irresponsible penchant for reporting non-events from so-called "credible sources," which, of course, remain anonymous. Recent examples include reports that Al Qaeda is setting up terrorist cells in the West Bank. This intelligence was attributed to an e-mail message reportedly sent by an Al Qaeda operative and validated by none other than Israel's prime minister, who, by the way, has no vested interest in having that rumor widely circulated. Of course, after having been slammed, spammed and spoofed, we all know how tough it is to fabricate bogus Internet messages. Only later did we find, from foreign sources of course, that Mossad agents have been recruiting people to set up such cells.

Another example is Canada's recent decision to place Hizbullah on its terrorist list based largely on the report that that group's leader had issued a call for suicide bombings around the world against both American and Israeli interests. A reporter in England, who has been previously implicated in filing false stories, fabricated this startling report. The fact that Hizbullah's leader never said this hasn't made the rounds yet.

Of course, once the canard takes wing, it's almost impossible to undo the damage. Disinformation from news media is so rampant today that the journalistic standard of verifying sources has gone out the window.

The irony is that many of these events are reported or discussed in the Israeli press but can't seem to make it across the ocean into U.S. newsrooms. The man on the street in America is generally unaware of these happenings and, if our esteemed news organizations get their wish, he will remain that way.

All the news that's fit to print. Indeed.

[Raff Ellis lives in the United States and is a retired former strategic planner and computer industry executive. He has had an abiding and active interest in the Middle East since early adulthood and has traveled to the region many times over the last 30 years.]

Raff Ellis encourages your comments:

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