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No Media Bias? Check Out Fletcher, Jennings


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If you’ve ever thought you detected a certain anti-Israel bias in the reportage of NBC’s longtime Israel bureau chief Martin Fletcher, there’s good reason: Despite being Jewish, married to an Israeli and the father of three Israeli sons, Fletcher considers Israel worse than South Africa in the days of apartheid and won’t even say whether he thinks the creation of the State of Israel was a good thing.

Fletcher gave vent to his feelings in a surprisingly revealing interview that appeared last Friday in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz. Interviewer Aviva Lori, after viewing a video anthology of Fletcher’s reports, flatly concluded that “his sympathies clearly lie with the suffering of the Palestinians.”

Lori asked Fletcher whether he”care[d] about the continued existence of the State of Israel.”

“Since it already exists, it matters to me that it continue to exist,” Fletcher replied. “Did it have to exist in the first place? That’s another question.”

Want some moral equivalence? Fletcher has plenty of that: “When I’m reporting on the bodies that I see after a terror attack, I hate the people who did it,” he told Lori. “And when I see Palestinian houses that have been demolished, I hate the people who do that….The fact that I’m a Jew and my family is Israeli doesn’t make me feel that Israel has the right to do the things that it does.”

Fletcher, writes Lori, “believes an analogy can be drawn between Israel and [apartheid] South Africa,” though as Fletcher makes clear, he actually thinks Israel is worse (all italics added):

“I see more and more similarity between Israel and South Africa in the apartheid period….I say that if there isn’t serious and foreseeable progress soon in the peace talks, the world will treat Israel the same way it treated South Africa….The thing is that, to a large extent, Israel
today is worse than South Africa. Because if you compare the situation of the blacks under apartheid to the situation of the Palestinians under the Israeli military occupation, the Palestinians’ situation is much worse.

“….[the blacks under apartheid] were free to travel, to go to the cinema, to go to work, or wherever else they wanted. Here the Palestinians are not free to move because the military dictatorship of this government doesn’t allow it.”

Of course, Fletcher still has a way to go in the bias department to even come close to the Prince of Palestine, ABC’s Peter Jennings. Here’s how the story of the arrest of Prof. Sami Al-Arian was introduced last Thursday on the evening news broadcasts of the three networks:

John Roberts (subbing for Dan Rather), CBS Evening News.: “On the terror trail in this country, federal authorities today accused a university professor and seven other people of, in effect, operating an international terror cell from a college campus in South Florida. Some
suspects are still being sought tonight….”

Tom Brokaw, NBC Nightly News: “And in the war on terror, arrests tonight. Attorney General John Ashcroft made the announcement. Eight people, four of them American, one a controversial college professor in South Florida, charged with helping to run a violent Palestinian terrorist group….”

Prince of Palestine, ABC World News Tonight: “Good evening, everyone. We’re going to begin tonight with the government’s aggressive campaign in the U.S. against people it accuses of supporting terrorism. Today the Attorney General John Ashcroft said the Bush administration is charging eight people, four of them in the U.S., with helping what the
government calls a terrorist group overseas….” [Italics added.]

While CBS and NBC played it straight, Jennings used his intro to imply that there was something arbitrary, even sinister, in the way U.S. government was acting. And he couldn’t even bring himself to call Islamic Jihad a terrorist organization, suggesting instead that such a
characterization was nothing more than the opinion of the Bush administration.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com  

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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