"Washington Post" Bias Against Israel
4/19/2002 12:00:00 AM - Joel Mowbray
In the lead of a Page 1, above-the-fold story, the Washington Post
stunningly announced that Israeli forces were pulling out of two “conquered”
West Bank towns. Conquered?
Is the Post
’s bias so thoroughly ingrained that it can nonchalantly
bandy about brazen words uttered only by fierce Palestinian partisans?
Going town-by-town in the disputed territories to dismantle Arafat’s
terrorist infrastructure in a defensive effort can hardly be considered in
the ilk of Spanish conquistadors plundering to acquire new land.
A city cannot have been “conquered” if there was no conquering in the
first place. To conquer an area implies both aggression and an intent to
hold or annex the “conquered” land, but neither applies to Israel’s military
actions. How could the nation’s premier daily flub so badly?
Given the prominent placement and double byline, this was no mere
oversight. There would have been no fewer than five people—-any of whom
should have known better—-who approved the use of “conquered” in the lead.
Such an error, whether intentional or not, fans the flames of
misinformation spread by Palestinian apologists. The Post
vital role in framing American perceptions about the unfolding developments
in the Mideast, not just for the public-at-large, but also for other
newspapers nationwide and TV and radio news outlets. Describing Palestinian
cities as “conquered” undeniably fits hand-in-glove with Yasser Arafat’s
yelps about Israeli “aggression,” which results in Sharon being cast as a
hostile bad guy and Arafat as a victimized leader of an oppressed people.
Perhaps this biased blunder would be forgivable if the Post
been otherwise fair in reporting the Mideast crisis, but it hasn’t been.
Since the start of Israel’s military actions, the Post has run more than 50
supposedly objective news stories labeling the operation an “offensive.”
Pardon the pun, but to dub defensive actions designed to protect innocent
civilian lives as an “offensive” is utterly offensive.
It’s not as if the word “offensive” is necessary in order to properly
describe the situation in the Mideast. “Military sweep” or “military
actions” both perfectly explain the course of events in objective terms,
without resorting to characterizations embraced by partisans on either side.
Why is it, then, that the Post
compulsively feels the need to
classify Israel’s actions as an “offensive”?
, and many other American newspapers, likely view the side
that sends in tanks as the one engaging in an “offensive.” But the world
has changed. The new terrorist warfare doesn’t march soldiers or roll
tanks, it maliciously targets innocent civilians with lethal force to
further a political agenda. In responding to terror at its doorstep, Israel
’s initiating the use of conventional warfare does not render its actions an
After 9/11, no mainstream American media outlet attempted to portray
America’s retaliatory strikes against al Qaeda as aggressive, so why the
double standard for Israel? Watching planes smash into the World Trade
Center and forcing the destruction of the towers was tangible to journalists
here, and in our then-galvanized society, every sane mind understood the
need for a swift, decisive response. But civilians getting blown up at
cafes and religious gatherings halfway around the world apparently doesn’t
have quite the same salience to American reporters.
Part of the problem may also lie in the fact that there is a residual
belief in the fourth estate that Arafat has no control over purportedly
independent groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad. So American media types don
’t necessarily see the correlation between suicide bombings, often conducted
by these “independent” groups, and Sharon’s direct response to protect his
people. Maybe American journalists will see Israel’s military actions
differently as more and more evidence from Arafat’s Ramallah
compound—-showing that Arafat is intimately involved with the “independent”
terrorists—-comes to light.
There’s a reason that even Israel’s peaceniks are now hawkish, and Sharon’
s military efforts enjoy over 70% Israeli public support. People in Israel
know that to live there is to live in fear. No sovereign can sustain
merciless and repeated deadly attacks in every area where people have a
right to feel safe. Military reaction
to neutralize the persistent
terrorist threat is not only justified, but an absolute necessity.
If nothing else, out of respect to the scores of Israelis who have been
brutally killed in the latest spate of suicide bombings, the Post should
think long and hard about portraying Israel as launching an “offensive” to
“conquer” the West Bank. Their families’ suffering may be less tangible to
reporters here, but it is no less real than ours.