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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 17, 2003

Blaming the Messenger

This Boston Globe article, pointed out by Martin Kimel examines the pro-Israel media watchdog site CAMERA and concludes that this site's doggedness gets results, corrections to misleading or biased anti-Israel reporting

CAMERA was born in the early 1980s as a Washington-area citizen volunteer group, largely to monitor coverage of Israel's invasion of Lebanon. That was the first Israeli war not considered strictly defensive, and it began to transform the country's image from sympathetic victim into more of a controversial aggressor. Media coverage grew more critical.

Criticism of the Globe's Mideast reporting of the first Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s became a catalyst for the creation of the Boston chapter, which eventually became the group's headquarters. (Today, there are no other formal chapters.) In 1988 and 1989, CAMERA took out a memorable series of ads in The Boston Phoenix with headlines that read: "Would a Great Newspaper Distort the News About Israel? The Boston Globe Does."

The Boston organization's coming-out party occurred in October 1989, when about 1,000 people, paying $25 a head, turned up at a CAMERA conference in the Park Plaza Hotel to listen to speakers decry unfair treatment of Israel in the media. The headliners included Harvard law professor and attorney Alan Dershowitz and a former US representative to the United Nations named Alan Keyes, who would later go on to fame as a talk-show host and fringe African-American Republican candidate for the presidency. Keyes wowed the Park Plaza crowd with his passionate defense of the Jewish state.

By the early '90s, CAMERA had launched a national membership drive and became what Levin calls "a much more serious professional operation." It currently has annual revenues of $1.8 million, amassed through dues and contributions, some of which stretch into five figures. The organization employs about 20 staffers, serves about 40,000 dues-paying members, and represents a constituency of supporters of Israel who are mad as hell at some - if not much - of the media. [more]