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

February 23, 2003

Pro-Palestinian Media Bias: An Examination
WriterMartin Kimel has here a carefully crafted look at the media and how it offers up a pro-Palestinian point of view, often neglecting both facts and history.
Over the past several weeks, Jewish organizations and other supporters of Israel have bombarded the news media with complaints of pro-Palestinian bias in their reporting on the current Mideast war. A grassroots group is calling for a boycott of the Washington Post. In Los Angeles last April, over 1,000 subscribers to the Los Angeles Times suspended home delivery for a day to protest that paper's coverage. The New York Times and National Public Radio also have been the objects of reader protests.

The Mideast story is complicated, infused with history and drenched in blood, making it difficult to cover well. When the news media have responded to charges of bias, they generally have chalked up their errors to honest mistakes. No doubt, some of the distorted or unbalanced coverage is the result of good-faith mistakes. But a close look at the coverage suggests that anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian bias (take your pick) is largely to blame.

This bias manifests itself in various ways: in sometimes blatant, but often subtle, erroneous or misleading presentations of supposed facts in news stories; and in the selective attention the media pay to events, which demonstrates what editors consider important.

Factual Errors and Distortions

Erroneous or misleading stories are commonplace. One popular genre is the story with questionable statements of fact suggesting that Israel is occupying the West Bank and Gaza illegally. For instance, MSNBC (in the person of its hip young star, Ashleigh Banfield) stated in a recent news piece that UN Security Council Resolution 242 mandates Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. The Washington Post made essentially the same point in one of its recent stories. As various pro-Israel groups have pointed out to the media, however, the carefully negotiated Resolution 242 does not actually call for Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, nor was it meant to, according to Lord Caradon, the British ambassador who sponsored it. Unfortunately, while the media are very good at speaking, they do less well at listening, and attempts to educate them about Resolution 242 appear to have failed miserably. [more]