With Judge Richard Goldstone’s recent sort-of recantation of the most incendiary charge leveled against Israel in the 2009 report to the United Nations that will forever bear his name, much has been made of the damage done by that document to Israel’s standing in the court of international public opinion.
But the fallout from the Goldstone report was nowhere near as savage as the media’s reaction to Israel’s retaliatory strikes against Palestinian terrorists in the spring of 2002. Journalists who had been strikingly silent while suicide bombers were killing scores of civilians at Israeli coffee shops, pizzerias, dance halls and a public Passover Seder, suddenly rediscovered their capacity for outrage when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon finally sent the IDF into Palestinian areas to clean out the terrorists’ nests.
Over at ABC, the late Peter Jennings was in his glory, outdoing even himself with his tendentious terminology and none too subtle habit of arching his eyebrows and pursing his lips when quoting Israeli officials or spokesmen.
On April 4, Jennings opened his broadcast by declaring that “the Israelis continue their assault against the Palestinians” – not the Palestinian Authority, not Palestinian terrorists, but “the Palestinians.”
In the same newscast, Jennings showed videotape of a small group of protesters in Israel and supplied the following voice-over: “Just to make the point, by the way, there’s no one single opinion on either side. In Tel Aviv today, police fought with demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy. Several hundred Israelis, both Jews and Palestinian Arabs, or Israeli Arabs rather, were protesting U.S. support for Israel’s military campaign in the occupied territories.”
Of course, at the very time Jennings was making his “no one single opinion on either side” comment, polls in Israel put support for the incursion at close to 75 percent. And Jennings couldn’t supply a single example of heterodox opinion from the Palestinian side.
Later that month, on April 15, the ABC anchor completely ignored that day’s huge Washington rally in support of Israel – the largest pro-Israel event ever held in the U.S.
But Jennings did find time on that same newscast to report on another gathering thousands of miles away.
“In Lebanon today,” he intoned, “thousands of people demonstrated against Israel’s campaign against the Palestinians. And also against U.S. support of Israel.”
Even more blatant than Jennings in terms of anti-Israel bias was the repulsive former White House fright mask Helen Thomas, who engaged in the following exchange with White House press secretary Ari Fleischer:
Thomas: “Ari, does the president think that the Palestinians have a right to resist 35 years of brutal occupation and suppression?”
Fleischer: “Helen, the president believes that [the] process has got to focus on peace between Israel and the Palestinians…. That remains the president’s vision .”
Thomas: “But he does think they have a legitimate right to fight for their land?”
Given that the Israeli action in question was a response to the aforementioned series of suicide bombings directed at Israeli civilians, it can only be assumed that blowing up busloads of Jews was Thomas’s notion of the Palestinians’ “legitimate right to fight for their land.”
Turning from the sanctimonious to the shameless, Geraldo Rivera was in fine form on Fox News Channel the night of Saturday, May 4, lapsing into near total incoherence as he begged Yasir Arafat to denounce suicide bombing:
“You know, but Mr. President you know, you know how I feel about you,” Geraldo sputtered. “You know how I feel about you and the Palestinian people…. I walk the streets with you today and I know the Palestinian people love you. Now, even more than, even before when they still love you then, now they, now you can take control of all of this. Now you can keep the peace on this side. If you keep the peace on this side then let the other side be the aggressor….”
Arafat was proving impervious to such blubbery importuning, so Geraldo, still very much on bended knee, offered up this bit of inspired wisdom: “I have a new slogan ‘Palestine is not Israel and Israel is not Palestine.’ Would you agree to that? Two separate states with the guarantee…. Just say, just say it for me .”
As bad as the American media were in covering the Israeli anti-terrorist operation in the Palestinian territories, their British counterparts were leagues worse, offering up news reports drenched in hysteria and echoing the worst lies pumped out by the Palestinian publicity apparatus. We’ll relive some of that next week.