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Blaming Israel For Istanbul

Editor’s Note: Jason Maoz will return next week. The following is a media commentary by HonestReporting.com.

A disturbing media trend blames Israeli policy for the Islamist war on Western civilization. The recent coordinated bombings against British targets in Istanbul, occurring just days after the dual bombings of Istanbul synagogues, make the Islamic terrorist message brutally clear: their targets are the Jewish people and Western democratic civilization.

What most Americans recognized after 9/11, Europeans are now also beginning to see: radical Islamists threaten every Western citizen, and Israel is merely a convenient front line for their battle.

Given this, HonestReporting is concerned about the re-emergence of a trend we witnessed after 9/11: the media’s shift of focus away from this stark reality, and onto Israeli policy as a scapegoat for Islamic terrorism. Recent examples:

1) The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on the Istanbul synagogue bombings: “[T]he reaction of Arabs, Muslims and others to Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza is spilling over into anti-Semitism and violence directed against Jewish populations normally living in peace in countries like Turkey…The United States could help by returning to a credible policy of seeking a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians.”

2) In Germany, Wolfgang Guenter Lerch wrote in Frankfurter Allgemeine: “The criminal attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul were mainly directed against Israel…Even secular Turks are dismayed when the see what is happening in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories.”

3) Lerch is just one step short of the Egyptian newspaper, Al Wafd: “Why do we not say that the attack was plotted in order to improve Israel’s image in the EU after the recent poll that showed it as the primary threat to global peace” Why do we exclude Turkish Jews as perpetrators?”

4) K Gajendra Singh, India’s former ambassador to Turkey, writes in the Asian Times: “Many Turkish experts suspect that the twin bombings were a warning to Turkey, one of the few Muslim countries to have ties with Israel…The blasts could be an act of revenge for the daily killings of Palestinians and the Israelis building a much-opposed wall that encroaches on Palestinian land.”

This media trend recasts the radical Islamic war against the Jewish people and the West as something else entirely – an Israeli-specific disaster that now everyone is suffering from.

Coverage of President Bush’s powerful speech two weeks ago in London further illustrates the problem. Bush, after pointed reference to the pre-WWII failure to confront Nazi tyranny, called for democratic reform in the Mideast:

“As we work on the details of peace, we must look to the heart of the matter, which is the need for a viable Palestinian democracy. Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, who tolerate and profit from corruption, and maintain their ties to terrorist groups…The long-suffering Palestinian people deserve better. They deserve true leaders, capable of creating and governing a Palestinian states… Leaders in Europe should withdraw all favor and support from any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays their cause. And Europe’s leaders – and all leaders – should strongly oppose anti-Semitism, which poisons public debates over the future of the Middle East.”

Though Bush himself called Palestinian reform “the heart of the matter” and warned of the dangerous new wave of anti-Semitism, these Reuters’ headlines focused instead on Israeli policy:

“Israel Defiant Over Barrier After Bush Criticism,”

“Bush Urges Israel Not to Prejudice Peace Talks,”

“Israel Spurns Bush Call Over West Bank Fence.”

Note to Readers: The Monitor’s updated listing of favorite websites has been postponed until later this month. Please submit recommendations by Dec. 15.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.

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