Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Why the Media Get the Middle East Wrong" with Jeff Jacoby

Last Tuesday night (12/2) Tikvah hosted Jeff Jacoby, columnist of the Boston Globe, to talk about "Why the Media Gets the Middle East Wrong." It was a fascinating talk with about 45 people in attendance. Jacoby began the evening by reading news stories from various American newspapers and pointed out how when it comes to the Middle East, publications like to leave certain facts out. For example, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Palestinians to stop firing rockets into Israel and for Israel not to respond with excessive, a respected newpaper reported the story as saying: "Ban Ki-moon tells Israel to stop using excessive force on Palestinians" without making any mention of the rest of his statement. There was another case with Newsweek Magazine when on the cover the face of a female suicide bomber was placed next to a picture of a female victim of the bombing. Their two stories were profiled equally and their faces were the same size. This sort of imagery creates a sense of moral equivalence between the murderer and the murdered. There are countless other similar examples.

Jacoby then went into why such a bias exists. Logically, it doesn't make sense that such a tiny region with such a relatively small conflict (compared to ones in Darfur and Congo with MUCH more violence) gets so much coverage, and negative coverage at that. The reasons are as follows: First, access to Israel is much easier for international journalists than it is to many other places. Tel Aviv is very hospital to reporters and there is a thriving free press in Israel. Reporters are much more likely to spend months posted in a beautiful hotel by the beach in Tel Aviv than they are to stay in Sudan or Congo. The next reason is fear. In the Islamic fundamentalist countries around Israel, journalists are threatened and intimidated by the government for writing anything critical. In Israel, it is more than OK to criticize the government -- Israelis do it more than enough! Another reason is the media's general leaning towards the left side of the political spectrum. While the Left and Right in this country are supportive of Israel, it is a trend of late for the Left to be more critical of Israel. Because most major media outlets in this country are left-leaning, this tendency to be critical of Israel is apparent. Lastly, there is often reporting based on nonfactual information. When a reporter goes to the Middle East and doesn't know the local language, they depend on translators and guides to give them the story of what's going on. The translators/guides in Palestinian territories often work for the government and take journalists to staged scenes of children throwing rocks that are not genuine at all. Reporters don't have any other options so they run with the fake story and photographs and people in the rest of the world take them to be true. Following his talk, Jacoby took questions from people in the audience, some journalists themselves and some just interested students.

Overall it was a great evening and a wonderful way to end the semester. Thanks to all of you who showed up! We look forward to seeing you for more events after the break.


Jean Louis Marin said...

The national anthem of Israel "Hatikvah". I sing this
as an humble hommage to the Jewish People; I'm your mexican friend Arturo Escorza (I'm not jewish). God bless you all...


"Tzion Hallo Tishali leshlom asirayich"

Zion, thou art doubtless anxious for news of thy captives;
they ask after thee, they who are the remainder of thy flock

From West and East and North and South, from near and far;
bring peace from every side.

And peace is the desire of the captive, who giveth his tears
like the dew on the Hermon and yearns for the day they will fall on thy hills

I am a mourner who weeps for your poverty and when I dream
of the return I am the accompaniment to thy songs.

Yehuda Halevi

The back of the hill said...


What: Counter Protest in Support of Israel

Where: Israeli Consulate – 456 Montgomery Street, San Francisco

When: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - 4:45pm

Dear Friends,

Israel is taking care of business in Gaza, and it is upon us to watch her back, here, on the streets of San Francisco. As we have seen from recent events in the region, PR war is a big part of this conflict, and “the streets” is where it’s fought, and no one will fight it but us.

Under the camouflage of “Peace Movement”, haters and misguided-ones will be holding a demonstration in front of the Israeli Consulate to protest the “Holocaust in Gaza”. We ask, where were they for 3 years to “stand for peace” when Israelis were being bombed, killed and injured? We ask why are the fair-minded supporters of Palestinians not outraged by Hamas’s continuous provocations which clearly led to this defensive action, by its human shields tactics, and by its complete disregard for human life, both Israeli and Palestinian? We ask, what would United States, Turkey, Russia or China do, if 750,000 of its citizens were under constant cross-border shelling? We ask, the questions that are at the heart of this conflict, the ones that no-one will ask if we are not there!

So be there, with your own questions and answers, and flags and energy, to show by our solid presence our unwavering solidarity with the Jewish State.

For signs to support Israel, please go to Gaza Posters and Hamas Posters. These posters are ready to send to your local printer. Please bring your own flags and signs, we have limited resources for this event.

Be the San Francisco Voice for Israel!

As always, feel free to make your own signs but please no signs or graphics offensive to any racial or ethnic group including but not limited to Arabs, Islam, or Palestinians. Signs in violation of our policies will not be allowed.

Taru said...

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