This article was written by CAMERA Fellow Elliott Hamilton, from Pitzer College. This piece was originally published in the Times of Israel.
Let me refer to a moment when the press displayed journalistic integrity: November 22, 1963. Three shots ring out in Dallas, Texas. The target: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. CBS news releases a bulletin, informing viewers that the President had been shot and was seriously wounded. The assassin murdered Kennedy, at least that was the general assumption. Eddie Barker of the Dallas radio implied that rumors on his death existed, but it could not be confirmed. An hour later, Walter Cronkite announces that the President died, following confirmation from his sources.
Today, such practices in journalism rarely exist when discussing the Israeli-Arab conflict. The New York Times, CNN, and countless other “reliable” sources display a blatant anti-Israel bias when reporting issues in the region. From using factually and politically incorrect terms like “illegal occupation” to manipulating facts to produce marketable headlines, the press underwent a metamorphosis from a respectable source of information to a hub of inaccuracies and quasi-propaganda. The days of Walter Cronkite ended long ago, and the media assaults accuracy and nuance to a degree that tarnishes what journalism should be.
The events taking place in the region within the past month could not highlight such problematic journalistic activity any better. When reports confirmed the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Gil’ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, The New York Times marginalized the situation, writing headlines implying the boys were “missing” rather than “kidnapped.” In addition, the newspaper failed to report that Palestinian-Arabs from Hamas and Fatah celebrated the apparent kidnapping. How can a renowned journalistic source omit such information that paints a more realistic portrait of the Israeli-Arab conflict? Such bias plagues The New York Times, causing the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) to post billboards outside its headquarters highlighting its mistreatment of Israel.
This continues the newspaper’s predominant apathy toward anti-Semitic incitement and Palestinian-Arab violations of international law. I cannot recall a time when The New York Times wrote a headline that highlights Palestinian-Arab terrorists rocket fire as the cause of retaliatory airstrikes. Nor do I remember a moment when The New York Times drew attention to honor killings within territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Instead of discussing the Palestinian Authority’s gruesome violations of human rights, The New York Times continues to publish articles that misrepresent facts, demonize Israel, and fail to highlight the nuance of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
When the Israel Defense Force found the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Gil’ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, CNN dedicated some air time to highlight the brutal murders of three innocent Israeli teenagers. However, CNN used language that implied that the boys were “believed to be kidnapped,” while also displaying a headline that said the boys were found “dead” rather than “murdered.” Such word choice whitewashes and trivializes the very nature of the acts that took the lives of the innocent boys.
CNN also had the audacity to claim that Israel “lashed out” against Hamas when Israel retaliated against terrorist targets in Gaza following days of rocket fire. It remains problematic that a reputable news hub uses language to demonize Israel when it acts in self-defense against threats that seek its destruction. Hypothetically speaking, if the United States responded to comparable threats from terrorists neighboring its borders, CNN would refer to its response as justifiable. However, when it comes to Israel, CNN holds the only Jewish state to a standard that it refuses to uphold to any other nation.
Yesterday, the mainstream media failed to give proper coverage to another travesty. On the same day that the Israeli police arrested six Jewish extremists for the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, police arrested an Israeli-Arab for murdering Shelly Dadon, a 20-year old Israeli women stabbed to death in May. While the mainstream media focused on the arrests associated with a Palestinian-Arab, no major news source gave the proper coverage to another murder inspired by nationalism. Out of the two gruesome murders of two innocent teenagers, only one of them gained the attention of the mainstream press, and it was not the Jewish girl. This highlights the double-standard that the media has against Israel. According to the U.S. State Department, holding Israel to a higher standard than other countries, namely the Palestinian Authority, constitutes anti-Semitism. It is imperative that the press understands this reality.
Walter Cronkite would turn over in his grave if he saw the state of modern journalism and the mainstream media. The days of journalism displaying objectivity and credibility died decades ago. Currently, the most widely distributed and commonly read news sources perpetuate a bias against the Jewish state. Whether it is in the name of readership or ratings remains irrelevant. The media bias needs to cease and desist. The only way that we, the Jewish people, can combat such double standards and demonization is by holding these sources accountable. Personally, I cannot stomach the reality that I must to question everything in the media. My parents rarely experienced such biased journalism, as only facts were displayed and nothing was reported until full confirmation of the events took place. I wait to see the day where the media stops holding the Jewish state and the Jewish people to a higher standard than those who seek the destruction of both.