‘Tis the season for media reviews of the just-bygone year. This is when commendations and demerits are handed out by supercilious news-purveyors. But they never subject their own performance to retrospective scrutiny. They never focus on those deliberately neglected items, which they relegated in brief to the lower margins of inside pages.
That’s because they didn’t reform in 2007. Their choice of what to accentuate and feature boldly and what to bury continued to hinge on their outrageous political bias.
For instance, there was hardly any mention that the third anniversary of Arafat’s death was marked on Israeli campuses as Keffiah Day – symbolic homage to Arafat’s iconic Arab headdress. Sponsored by the National Union of Arab Students, its theme was “the Palestinian-Arab collective within Israel, which deserves recognition as a national entity.” Note: the demand no longer is for individual civil rights but for the rights of an autonomous separate nationality – a wee hop and a skip away from seeking a territorial slice of within-Green-Line Israel.
The Hebrew University and Haifa University’s administrations lost no time to grant permits for Keffiah Day happenings. And thus, under the auspices of Israeli academia, Arabs held frenzied pageants and marches, feverishly shouting for Israel’s destruction. How else can one understand furious chants such as: “With fire and blood we shall redeem you Palestine.”
Palestinian flags were hoisted high, while Israeli flags were violently torn from the hands of the few dared wave them. The scene was particularly menacing in Haifa, where slogans against the state, overt intimidation and incitement are everyday occurrences.
Had any of this happened on the lawns of Harvard or Berkley it would – very justly – have generated great hue and cry. On Israeli campuses it’s evidence of broadmindedness. Obsequious enlightenment dictates that provocation be ignored and kept from the general public. The less plebeians know the better, lest they get a tad restless.
In the same vein most of 2007’s opinion-molders must have judged there was insignificant news-value to the demand by PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat that natural growth be aborted in Judea and Samaria settlements. He didn’t merely ask that no new housing be allowed to accommodate population increase, but stressed: “We want to see an end to the natural growth.” In other words, our peace partner wants to curtail Jewish births, a demand not made so in-your-face since the days of the Third Reich.
But why bring such racist comments to the commoners’ attention? Those who dictate page-one agendas work extra-hard to hammer in the contention that Israel is in the dock for racism. Truth won’t be allowed to undermine the party line.
That’s probably why repeated destruction throughout 2007 of settlers’ vineyards and groves in Dolev, Ofra, Neria, Bat-Ayin, Pnei-Kedem, Sde-Calev and others was downplayed, particularly the fact that it’s the handiwork of Arabs and foreign leftist “volunteers” who fly here to agitate and inflame in the name of peace and goodwill. Contrast that with the shrill outcries which accompany the pruning of olive trees (necessary periodically anyway but which, if ascribed to sabotage by evil settlers, entitle “victimized” Arab growers to generous Israeli compensation. They’d be suckers to pass up such windfall). Journalistic ire is very selective indeed.
Hence the minimalist coverage of the wanton destruction of Old Peki’in’s Jewish homes. Ha’aretz outdid itself with a front-page feature on an orthodox Jewish association that purchases dwellings in the village and returns Jews to what had been the site of uninterrupted Jewish settlement since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70CE and up to the Nazi-sponsored riots of the 1930s. Ha’aretz’s subtext was that reviving the Jewish community of Peki’in constitutes aggression, that everything was harmonious until the advent of interloping Jews.
Those who look askance on Jewish residence in Arab townships are of course those who clamor loudest for admitting Arabs into Jewish villages like Katzir, Harish, Rakefet and Mei-Ami. Barring Arabs is racist. Barring Jews is progressive and warranted. It’s wrong for Jews to buy land from Arabs. Turning over to Arabs JNF holdings (purchased for over a century with contributions of largely impoverished Diaspora Jews who donated their last pennies to acquire land specifically for Jewish settlement) is the hallmark of pluralism and egalitarianism.
Arab rights are sacrosanct. Consequently unlawful Arab construction is underreported by established moderators of our public discourse. Unabashed warnings that demolishing illegal buildings in Wadi Ara would trigger “another intifada” shocked nobody in 2007. Righteous indignation about upholding the law is reserved for the settlements, which Israelis are taught to hate. Accordingly the widow and orphans of Second Lebanon War hero Ro’i Klein are liable to be forcefully evicted from Eli, their sacrifice notwithstanding. Indulgent strokes for the enemies of the state and ruthless strokes for its most loyal defenders.
No wonder Defense Ministry funding is now denied commemorative projects for fallen soldiers from Judea and Samaria. It’s OK for them to be idealists and lay their lives on the line, but memorials for them in their home communities are verboten. The media made no big deal of this in 2007.
Likewise, no squawk was raised over Washington’s role in prodding Israel to release convicted terrorists. We know our Palestinian peace-partners see the murder of Jews as laudable, but for the superpower embroiled in its War on Terror to make exception for terrorists who target Jews is mind-blowing.
For America, established on the creed of justice, to make mincemeat of verdicts by the courts of a fellow democracy is no less than insulting. For America, which refuses freedom for Jonathan Pollard (punished with disproportionate harshness only because of his Jewishness) on the grounds of the inviolability of its legal strictures, to make mockery of Israel’s legal system is insufferable.
Yet did our democracy’s watchdogs howl about the affront? Don’t expect them to in 2008 either. They’re obedient pooches.
Bottom line, not only should news-consumers evince skeptism about news-content but also about what’s accorded prominence. There are items they don’t want you to dwell upon.