• July 20, 2024

Media Bias Threatens Israel’s Survival

 Media Bias Threatens Israel’s Survival

by Noah Beck
Special to IPT News
July 2, 2024

“You can’t empathize with what you don’t know” – that simple psychological truth explains how Israel, the only democracy fighting for its very survival against Jihadi barbarism, can be so easily demonized into an international pariah. When the global media stubbornly ignores Israel’s humanizing stories and downplays the evil of its enemies, while amplifying every anti-Israel allegation and/or narrative, the resulting global isolation can existentially threaten a tiny country surrounded by bloodthirsty hostility and dependent on international trade for its military and economic survival. 

On June 8th, a mere 13 hours after the New York Times sent its news alert about four Israeli hostages being rescued by the IDF, it sent a second news alert about hundreds of Palestinians killed in the rescue operation, as if Israel – rather than the hostage-takers – should be blamed for those deaths and as if they were more newsworthy, even though civilian deaths in war happen every day while successful hostage rescues are exceedingly rare.

There was no NYT story to spotlight the heroism of Arnon Zmora, 36, from the elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit, who was killed by incoming fire while leading the hostage-rescue team. Instead, in this 882-word article about the operation, the paper stripped away all humanizing details when tersely mentioning him for the first time in the third paragraph: “One special forces police officer died.” In a similar, but longer version of the article, only after 1,015 words (out of 1,333) did the paper give him a name (but nothing else): “Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, was seriously wounded in combat and later died of his injuries, an Israeli police spokesman said.”

The bravery, complexity and sacrifice of Israel’s rescue operation are worthy of a major motion picture but hardly noticeable in the New York Times’ coverage, which reliably emphasizes civilian casualties in Gaza, with this 776-word article, this 181-word article, this 57-second video (“Israel Bombards Central Gaza During Hostage Rescue Operation“), and this 79-second video (“Gazans Describe Deadly Israeli Raid in Nuseirat“) showing the devastation of Israeli airstrikes and testimony from two Gazans describing their suffering and pleading for an end to the war. The video’s caption notes that the Israeli hostage rescue “left more than 200 people dead, according to Palestinian health officials” without mentioning that a raping-and-beheading, jihadi terror organization controls the health officials providing those casualty figures.

By contrast, the paper’s video coverage of the hostages included just a 27-second video (“Freed Hostages Reunited With Loved Ones at Hospital in Israel“), and the first fifteen and final ten seconds of this 54-second video (“Israel Rescues Four Hostages in Operation That Palestinian Officials Say Killed Scores“) most of which is about the harm done to Gazans from the operation. The NYT included no video of the daring rescue operation (see i24 for a taste of what Times’ readers are missing).

Just three NYT articles mention Abdallah Aljamal, a journalist who, with his father, a well-known Gazan doctor, held three of the rescued hostages in their home. Such facts inconveniently contradict all of the preferred narratives about “innocent civilians” and “impartial journalists” in Gaza. None of these details matter nearly as much as the number of Gazan civilians killed.

There was no coverage of how Noa Argamani was whisked to Tel Hashomer hospital to be near her mother, who is terminally ill with brain cancer, or how her boyfriend Avinatan Or remains in Hamas captivity. There was also no coverage of how China refused to assist in Argamani’s release, by ignoring requests or claiming that she “lacked Chinese blood” (since only her mother is Chinese).

Media researcher Lilac Sigan recently published an exhaustive study of the NYT’s empathy gap when it comes to Israel, looking at thousands of articles covering the current conflict, and concluded that “Palestinians received 4.4 times more empathy than Israelis in general, and specifically the hostages.”

The problem is not just with the Paper of Record. CNN initially tried to suggest that the hostages were “released” (much like the UN’s Hamas apologist Francesca Albanese).

On May 13th, Yoseph Haddad, an Israeli-Christian journalist and IDF veteran, published his interview with a woman who survived the Nova massacre. Her harrowing testimony is horrible beyond words. That she managed to overcome such a trauma enough to talk about it on TV is an inspiring testament to extraordinary resilience. But did anyone outside of Israel even notice?

There are essentially two parallel universes concerning Israel: 98% of the global media, which is totally indifferent or actively hostile to Israel, and the Israeli and Jewish media, which cover Israeli victims and heroes, while highlighting Israeli humanity when fighting forces of diabolical cruelty, and all while maintaining enough reporting independence to expose government corruption, military abuses, and other problems.

Consider this heart wrenching Israeli news story about young, Israeli female hostages that got virtually zero coverage outside of Jewish and Israeli media organizations. The article includes a video from Hamas bodycam footage that provides a chilling reminder of the pure evil that Israel has been fighting, and of how the world has completely forgotten about the Israeli captives still enduring a living hell every day.

Here is yet another morally critical piece of information that was ignored by 98% of the global media: video of an October 7th perpetrator talking about how he, his father and his cousin took turns raping an Israeli woman before murdering her, as part of the Gazan massacre of Israelis that day.

How many global media outlets covered this February 25th interview of Emily Hand, the 8 year old Hamas hostage who turned 9 in captivity, and her father, who talks about the lingering trauma and challenges of that nightmare? International news organizations have been all but silent regarding the 240 Israeli hostages that have endured unfathomable conditions and cruelty (with reportedly only about 50 still alive). Imagine if those 240 hostages had been Gazans kidnapped by Israelis: their plight would be given the same obsessive daily coverage as the media has given to Gazan suffering in the wake of Israel’s military campaign.

This severely skewed media coverage is at the heart of Israel’s most serious strategic challenge, producing anti-Israel bias at the UN and other NGOs, on universities, in most governments around the world, and in global public opinion, effectively preventing Israel from conclusively defeating the Islamist terrorists that constantly threaten it, whether Hamas or Hezbollah.

If for every three news stories about Gaza’s suffering civilians, there was just one showing Hamas’s jihadi essence – including hatred of LGBTQ people, Christians, atheists and any other non-Muslims, and its brutal rejection of free speech and assembly – would campus protestors be so blindly supportive of Gazans and hateful towards Israelis? While Qatarand other Mideast countries have spent billions corrupting academia in ways hostile to Israel, students might not have been converted so quickly if the news they consumed outside of the classroom didn’t share the same overwhelmingly anti-Israel bias.

If for every three news stories about Gaza’s civilian death toll, there was just one about how many Gazans in some way support Hamas, as Alan Dershowitz has tirelessly explained, would Norway, Ireland, and Spain so shamelessly recognize “a State of Palestine” (effectively incentivizing future terrorist atrocities by confirming that they ultimately produce diplomatic dividends)?

If for every three stories about Gazan’s losing their homes, the global media published just one about how 200,000 Israelis in the north and south of Israel can’t live in their homes because of the non-stop threat from Hezbollah and Hamas, might there be a bit more sympathy for the terrible choices imposed upon Israel because of its singular, geostrategic vulnerability?

If for every three stories about hunger in Gaza, the global media published just one that provided a comparative global context and showed all of the times that food aid failed to reach Gazans because of Hamas theft or NGO incompetence, would the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan have announced arrest warrants against Israel’s prime minister and defense minister, for “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare as a war crime?” The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cited Hamas-run Health Ministry reports that, as of March 15, 2024, a total of 31 people had “died of malnutrition and dehydration.” While every civilian who dies of starvation is a tragedy, there are exponentially greater famines, each affecting well over ten million people, in conflict-torn countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, with no shortage of war crime allegations, and yet there have been no ICC arrest warrants for leaders or military officials from those countries. Such misapplied justice is possible thanks to extreme media bias, and those responsible can never undo the damage of their false famine accusations.

The heavily distorted information landscape effectively dehumanizes Israelis by making the average uninvolved observer acutely aware of Palestinian suffering while creating the impression that Israel has no widows, orphans, terror victims, or severely injured and/or traumatized soldiers, and no humanity when dealing with the civilian population from which unspeakable atrocities against Israelis were inflicted, unprovoked, on October 7th.

This article explains how the media takes Hamas numbers, which classify terrorist deaths as civilian casualties, at face value. Yet inflated Hamas numbers have been uncritically accepted by world media since at least 2009. This very detailed media critique published by Forbes in 2014 still applies remarkably well ten years later.

Indeed, the problem has only gotten worse, in part because of demographic changes in which older generations, with memories of Israeli vulnerability, are replaced by people who have known Israel only as an economically and militarily strong country. Technology and the shrinking human attention span have also produced legions who know nothing of history and decide the merits of this conflict on the basis of 30-second viral videos.

Those who care about Israel must urgently address this strategic challenge by ensuring that Israel’s story is widely and fairly covered. Maybe pro-Israel investors and entrepreneurs from the tech community can create a rival to TikTok that favors Israel and other Western democracies, but without the many surveillance concerns associated with the China-produced app.

Another strategy might be to create a counterweight to Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned network with an annual operating budget estimated at one billion dollars. That war chest funds “70 bureaus around the globe, and more than 3,000 employees” to produce a nonstop anti-Israel narrative that reaches “over 150 countries and territories in more than 430 million homes.” The fastest and most cost-effective way to counter such a propaganda powerhouse would be simply to invest massively in expanding the reach and coverage of a leading English-language Israeli news organization. One obvious candidate would be The Times of Israel, which was the fastest growing news site in the world last October and, unlike the tarnished brand of Al Jazeera, has a reputation for fair and reliable journalism. A group of investors concerned about Israel’s future could fund massive additional resources that would enable the media outlet to cover and reach many more regions and countries, in far more languages, and in a way that makes it a valuable and trusted source for global news, enabling the site’s already excellent coverage of Israel to reach far more people.

And there are undoubtedly other, better ideas. The point is that those who care about Israel must recognize how much the empathy gap driven by anti-Israel media bias now threatens the long-term survival of the world’s only Jewish state, and how critical it is for massive resources to counter that threat in a sustained manner.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic submarine thriller about Iranian nukes, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

Copyright © 2024. Investigative Project on Terrorism. All rights reserved.

Related Topics: Noah BeckNew York TimesIsraelGazaPalestinianHostagesAbdallah AlJamalCNNAl JAzeeraThe Times of Israel

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