The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

One sided reporting on the Middle East conflict

George Curry of New America Media writes about the bias in coverage of the conflict.

Read the story?


One-Sided Reporting On The Middle East
NNPA, News Analysis,
By George E. Curry, Aug 01, 2006

Until Sunday, when Israeli bombers leveled a three-story building in the tiny Lebanese village of Oana, killing at least 55 people, most of them children, the U.S. media has been anything but even-handed in covering Israel’s three-week assault on southern Lebanon, a stronghold of Hezbollah.

Israel initiated a 48-hour pause in the aerial attacks, in the face of international condemnation, and later resumed its effort to cripple the military capability of rebel groups intent on destroying Israel. If the past is any indicator, the U.S. media – after it’s Sunday pause – will return to its mission of blaming Hazbollah and Hamas for all the strife in the Middle East.

Of course, both groups have blood on their hands, but they are not alone.

Fair and Accuracy in Reporting, the media watchdog group, reported prior to Sunday’s fatal assault: “…The portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis; between September 2005 and June 2006, 144 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B’tselem; 29 of those killed were children. During the same period, no Israelis were killed as a result of violence from Gaza.”

But you’d never know it by reading U.S. newspapers.

“On July24, the day before Hamas’ cross-border raid, Israel made an incursion of its own, capturing two Palestinians that it said were members of Hamas (something Hamas denied – L.A. Times, 7/25/06). This incident received far less coverage in the U.S. media than the subsequent seizure of the Israeli solider; the few papers that covered it mostly dismissed it in a one-paragraph brief (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 7/25/06), while the Israeli taken prisoner got front-page headlines all over the world.”

The nation’s three leading dailies published one-side, overly simplistic comments on the Middle East violence.“In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three U.S. papers – the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times – have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation,” FAIR observed.

Under the headline, “Hamas Provokes a Fight,” (6/29/06), the New York Times editorialized that “the responsibility for this latest escalation rests squarely with Hamas” and that “Israeli military response was inevitable.”

In another editorial two weeks later (7/15/06), the Times said: “It is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation. Both questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah.”

The media monitoring group suggests that the fighting did not begin with the capture of two Israeli soldiers.

“A major incident fueling the latest cycle of violence was a May 26, 2006 car bombing in Sidon, Lebanon, that killed a senior official of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group allied with Hezbollah. Lebanon later arrested a suspect, Mahmoud Rafeh, whom Lebanese authorities claimed had confessed to carrying out the assassination on behalf of Mossad (London Times, 6/17/06). Israel denied involvement with the bombing, but even some Israelis are skeptical…”

But that wasn’t the only precursor to the current conflict. In a July 21 column, FAIR’s Alexander Cockburn pointed out:On June 20, an Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt. The missile missed the car and killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15; One June 13, 2005 Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another extrajudicial assassination attempt; nine innocent Palestinians were killed and Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya on June 9,2006, killing eight civilians and injuring 32.

FAIR says, “While Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers may have reignited the smoldering conflict, the Israeli air campaign that followed was not a spontaneous reaction to aggression but a well-planned operation that was years in the making. 'Of all of Israel’s wars since 1984, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared,’ Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, told the San Francisco Chronicle (7/21/05). ‘By 2004, the military campaigned scheduled to last about three weeks that we’re seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it’s been simulated and rehearsed across the board.’”

FAIR posed a sobering question: If journalists have been told by Israel for more than a year that a war was coming, why are they all pretending that it all started on July 12? That’s a good question. I wish we had some good answers.

George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and

To contact Curry or to book him for a speaking engagement, go to his Web site,

No comments: