Unprecedented bias: The media's intellectual dishonesty in Israel conflict coverage

As a public relations professional who deals with the media every day I am disgusted by the media’s intellectual dishonesty in their coverage of the ongoing conflict in Israel. Journalists have a responsibility to cover issues with accuracy and what we’ve seen thus far has been an infusion of bias and misinformation. I have to speak out against it.

People who consistently read mainstream news sources, such as The New York Times, may be surprised to learn they are not as informed as they think they are. It may surprise them to know that the recent spate of terrorist attacks against Israelis did not begin in the past two weeks, but much earlier in fact. It took weeks before many media outlets actually lent any coverage whatsoever to the events. The New York Times waited a month — a month full of violence and blood — to report on the violence in Israel.

And now, although all “reliable” media outlets are reporting on the violence, they are not doing so responsibly. They bury stories, downplay the severity of the attacks and fail to give full and relevant context to these events.

A prime example of this should be evident to New York Times readers. On Oct. 18, an Israeli solder was stabbed and killed in Beersheba by a Palestinian militant; the New York Times had one article about it. On Oct. 19, an Eritrean man was shot and beaten to death by Israeli citizens who erroneously believed he was a terrorist; on its website, the New York Times already has more than five articles on this incident.

Both murders are disgusting and should be condemned strongly — so why is the New York Times only condemning the act of violence committed by the Israelis?

What those in the media fail to recognize or at least refuse to include in their reporting is the actual reason for this violence. The manufactured reason is that Israel planned to reopen the Temple Mount to the Jews; however, the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly denied this. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the media from presenting the Israelis as the aggressors and provocateurs of this conflict.

The fundamental reason for the violence this time around, is the same reason it has been since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. It’s an underlying cancer of hatred for the Jewish people that reaches a boiling point every few years, manifesting itself into acts of terror against innocent Israeli civilians. The root of the problem is not settlement building in the West Bank but the indoctrination of Palestinian youth from a young age to hate the Jew. What I have yet to see covered by any major media outlet are the incendiary depictions of Israelis that exist throughout Palestinian press. The textbooks distributed to Palestinian children in schools teach that Jews are the descendants of apes and swine. Until this cancer is eradicated once and for all, there will never be peace and certainly not a resolution to this conflict.

But the media doesn’t lend any of this context to its reporting. Instead, the New York Times on its website has an article titled “Wave of Unrest Leaves Palestinian President With No Good Choices.” The article paints Abbas sympathetically as an older man who, like all adults today, can’t seem to control children who are exposed to the decaying influence of the Web. The opening paragraph reads: “A three-week-old uprising by knife-wielding, Internet-generation teenagers against Israelis has left 80-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looking like yesterday’s man, unable either to oppose the violence or openly endorse it.” This sentence seemingly equates stabbing innocents with listening to that darned punk music.

And it is not just the New York Times painting these attackers as victims and troubled children. Even though the last few weeks have been plagued by numerous incidents of Palestinian teens running with knives attempting to stab Israelis, a recent headline in the LA Times read “Palestinian teens die amid Mideast unrest.” Where’s the context? That headline inaccurately reflects the reality of the situation in Israel. These weren’t innocent Palestinian teens who were killed by Israeli forces; they were terrorists wielding knives stabbing innocent Israeli civilians. The media has a duty to the public to deliver the news in a fair way. It has failed miserably to live up to that professional standard in its coverage of the ongoing conflict in Israel.

What of the innocent teens on both sides who are living in fear right now? I have seen very few headlines acknowledging that the Israeli soldier murdered in Beersheba was a teenager, too.

One recent example of propaganda being spun by the Palestinian Authority and printed without question by the media is the story of Ahmed Manasrah. Ahmed, 13, and his cousin, Hassan Manasrah, 15, stabbed two innocent Israeli civilians, including a Jewish teen, also age 13. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas immediately broadcasted that innocent Ahmed had been “executed in cold blood” by Israeli forces, releasing a video of Ahmed being “killed.” And news sources immediately began bemoaning Israel’s lack of restraint. After all, they said, he’s just a teenager.

But then Israel released video footage of Ahmed and Hassan stabbing two citizens, kicking the teenager once he was already on the ground with a stab wound to his neck. And Ahmed was not “executed.” He was in stable condition and being treated in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. The Palestinian Authority released images to the media showing Ahmed dead. In turn, Hadassah Ein Kerem showed the image of the boy alive and in stable condition being treated by Israeli doctors.

And how did the media cover this clear illustration of propaganda and intellectual dishonesty by the Palestinian Authority? The following NBC headline tells you all you need to know: “Dispute Over Viral Video of Shot Ahmed Manasrah Sums Up Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

What does that even mean? Sums it up how? Unless NBC is meaning that this clearly shows how the PA’s propaganda machine lies to the world, I don’t see how this video “dispute” sums up the decades of violence and aggression. Also, the word “dispute” implies that we’re still debating this. There is no debate. Abbas lied.

The media needs to begin doing its due diligence and covering the ongoing conflict in Israel honestly. But most importantly, it’s time for them to expose the true source of the terrorist outbreaks that unfortunately emerge far too frequently. The root cause is not Israelis building apartment houses in East Jerusalem. Nor is it the construction of settlements in the West Bank. Rather, it is the culture that glorifies terrorism and murderers which Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority foster. If Palestinian leadership refuses to condemn murderers and terrorists, where is the next generation of Palestinians to look to for a moral compass?