Ex-AP Reporter – Media Imbalance Toward Israel Becomes Rooted

A Reuters truck drives through a bombed refugee camp in Gaza. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

A Reuters truck drives through a bombed refugee camp in Gaza. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

by IPT News  •  Dec 1, 2014

Life as a foreign correspondent often is portrayed as dangerous, sexy work for a journalist.

But it also can be insular – you’re a stranger in a strange land, often dropping in with little knowledge about history, culture and context. That can inhibit the breadth of reporting presented to the world, a glaring flaw when it comes to reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former Associated Press Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman writes in an article for The Atlantic.

Journalists monitor each other’s work and tend to view human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well meaning do-gooders immune from scrutiny. “Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know,” Friedman writes, “because these groups are to be quoted, not covered.”

Over time, that arrangement helped entrench a narrative among foreign correspondents in Israel, writes Friedman, who reported out of the AP’s Jerusalem office from 2006-11. It is the second essay from the veteran journalist on how the media covers Israel. In August, Friedman provided first-hand examples of stories which were spiked if they made the Palestinians look intransigent, or made Israelis look good.

A “distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry,” he writes in the Atlantic piece. “The Israel story” is “a simple narrative in which there is a bad guy who doesn’t want peace and a good guy who does.”

A New York Times editor unintentionally reinforced Friedman’s point last month when he took to Twitter to admit his willingness to ignore Palestinian incitement and bigotry until “they have [a] sovereign state to discriminate with.”

When events conflict with that narrative, Friedman writes, they are under-reported or not reported at all. So a 2013 rally at the West Bank’s Al-Quds University supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and invoking Nazi imagery was widely known among Western journalists but generated little coverage until Brandeis University suspended a partnership program with Al-Quds.

Or, more recently: “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.)”

Hamas understands this reality and manipulates journalists to further advance it. So some stories hint that Hamas no longer is wed to its founding, anti-Semitic charter and its calls for Israel’s destruction. Others falsely cast Hamas as open to peace and moderation.

Friedman’s essay is important because he writes from experience, not anger. It is packed with too much insight to fully capture here. To read the full essay, click here.

Also see:

Hamas Intimidates Western Journalists, Kills 30 “Collaborators”

Media representative broadcasting from Israel's border with Gaza, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge, July 9, 2014. (illustrative photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Media representative broadcasting from Israel’s border with Gaza, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge, July 9, 2014. (illustrative photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

by IPT News:

Western journalists operating in Gaza have been threatened and harassed by Hamas for reporting instances of the terrorist groups’ use of human shields, according to a Times of Israel report. Israeli officials have noted that some reporters are intimidated by Hamas’ threats and have ceased documenting Hamas’ exploitation of civilians throughout the conflict.

The newspaper says it confirmed instances in which Hamas officials confiscated equipment and pictures from photographers exposing terrorists who were preparing to launch rockets from civilian structures and fighting in civilian garb.

Hamas continues to limit access to its terrorist operations. For example, Hamas converted Gaza’s Shifa hospital into a base of operations but reporters are prevented from showing that.

“We know that downstairs there is a Hamas command and control center and that Hamas leaders are hiding there,” an unnamed Israeli official told the newspaper. “No reporter is allowed to go anywhere downstairs. They’re only allowed to work upstairs to take pictures of casualties, the pictures that Hamas wants them to take.”

Last week, a French journalist told Liberation, a French daily newspaper, the circumstances of his interrogation in a Hamas office in Shifa.

“A few meters from the emergency room, where the injured from the bombings kept on coming in, in the outpatient ward, [the reporter] was received in ‘a small section of the hospital used as an office’ by a group of young combatants,'” according to the article.

The reporter said a Hamas interrogator confronted him, asking, “Who are you? What’s your name? What are you doing?” He also was asked whether he spoke Hebrew or had any relationship with the Palestinian Authority. “The young Hamas supporters insistently ask the question: ‘Are you a correspondent for Israel?'” he wrote. The reporter insisted that he contributes to French and Algerian media only and was eventually ordered to leave Gaza.

His account matches a report out of Australia. It cites television reporter Peter Stefanovic, who issued a Twitter post describing seeing rockets being fired from a civilian area near his hotel. Hamas supporters accused him of lying, asking “Are you working for the IDF” and issuing a not-so-subtle threat that “in WWII spies got shot.”

Meanwhile, Hamas has executed more than 30 suspected collaborators in Gaza, according to the Times of Israel reporting on Palestinian security officials’ statements to Palestine Press News Agency. The alleged spies were summarily executed after a brief investigation. Moreover, Fatah appealed to Hamas to cease harassing its members and placing them under house arrest.

Also see:

Scurrilous NYT Informant Story Ignores Successes

 

NYPD Surveillance Upheld Despite AP Campaign

NY Times Avoids Linking Morsi’s Anti-Semitism to Muslim Brotherhood Ideology

by IPT: