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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Double Vision’

Anti-Israel Bias Not A New Phenomenon

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

With the proliferation over the past several years of websites and blogs spotlighting anti-Israel media bias, it’s not surprising that some of the Monitor’s younger readers harbor the misimpression that the bias is only as old as the Internet age itself – that prior to, say, 1995 or 1996 Israel received favorable, or at least fair, press coverage.

The reality, of course, is that the anti-Israel bias we know so well has been around for some time now – at least 30 years, and a reasonable case can be made for closer to 40.

Starting shortly after the Six-Day War of 1967 – and intensifying through the Yom Kippur War, the election of Menachem Begin, the invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982, the first intifada in 1987, the Rabin assassination in 1995, the second intifada in 2000, Israel’s anti-terror operations on the West Bank in 2002, the building of the security wall, the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and Operation Cast Lead earlier this year – coverage of Israel in the nation’s newspapers and on its TV screens has ranged from skeptical to skewed, with little wiggle room in between.

It wasn’t always this way, though with the passing of time it becomes increasingly difficult to recall just how drastically things have changed since 1967.

To say that Israel in the first two decades after its establishment had the sympathy and support of the mainstream American media would be to actually understate the case; the new country was constantly praised, fawned over and celebrated to an extent very nearly unimaginable from our present vantage point.

It was a time when lingering shock and guilt over the Holocaust tended to mute anti-Jewish sentiment, and when Israel’s decisive military victories contrasted so startlingly with the American stalemates or worse in Korea and Vietnam.

The golden age reached its zenith with the Six-Day War as editors, reporters and columnists unashamedly cheered on the Israel Defense Forces. Newspaper coverage was exuberantly pro-Israel, cover stories in Life, Look and the newsmagazines were ecstatic, and most reporters dispensed with even the slightest pretense at objectivity. The opinion shapers, from William F. Buckley on the right to Mary McGrory on the left, marched in lockstep on this one issue.

There were, to be sure, a few contrarian media voices, but they were barely heard above the loud swell of accolades for Israel.

But by the late 1960s, liberals were quickly losing faith in all the old verities and transferring their sympathies from their own country and its allies to any Third World country or movement claiming oppression at the hands of America or any nation identified with the West.

Increasingly, Israel came to be seen by many liberals as a bullying Western Goliath, the Arabs as an outmatched Third-World David.

This was all happening, it needs to be emphasized, while Israel was still firmly under the governance of the Labor party of Golda Meir and Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin – the very figures who now inspire such nostalgic revisionism among those inclined to blame Menachem Begin or Ariel Sharon or Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel’s near pariah-like status in many parts of the world.

If Israel’s image was growing progressively worse under Labor, it nosedived with the election of Begin in 1977. Decades of vilification, mainly from fellow Israelis and prominent Jews abroad, had taken a toll on the reputation of the Likud leader.

Media regard for Israel sank even further with the invasion of Lebanon in the spring and summer of 1982, as American and European journalists openly compared Israelis to Nazis and parroted PLO casualty figures and related propaganda.

(For a detailed analysis of the coverage of the Lebanon War, see Zev Chafetz’s invaluable book Double Vision and Edward Alexander’s damning essay “NBC’s War in Lebanon: The Distorting Mirror,” which has been included in a number of anthologies including Alexander’s own collection, The Jewish Idea and Its Enemies.)

With Lebanon the floodgates were opened, and they haven’t closed since.

Just a partial list of prominent media personalities – news anchors, correspondents, columnists and television talking-heads – who at one time or another over the past three and a half decades have exhibited either a bias against Israel or one in favor of the Palestinians would include such prominent names as Mike Wallace, the late Peter Jennings, Seymour Hersh, the late Robert Novak, Georgie Anne Geyer, Anthony Lewis, Nicholas von Hoffman, Lou Dobbs, Deborah Sontag, Joshua Hammer, Roger Cohen, Eleanor Clift, the late John Chancellor, John McLaughlin, the late I.F. Stone, Christiane Amanpour, the late Mike Royko, and Helen Thomas.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Israeli/Nazi Analogy Old Hat By Now

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

It would be fair to say that the recent demonstrations in cities around the world during which Israel was likened to Nazi Germany, and Israeli soldiers to Nazi storm troopers, created a fair amount of angst among an appreciable number of Jews. But as this is hardly a new phenomenon, the surprise really lies in why so many Jews continue to be surprised.

It was back in 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon after one provocation too many by the PLO, which had set up a murderous mini-state in the country that had been affectionately known as the Paris of the Middle East, that the Nazi analogies began in full force. Since then, whenever Israel has mounted retaliatory operations against Palestinian terrorists, the canard has been trotted out with tiresome predictability by a subset of pundits and editorial cartoonists.

But playing the Nazi card goes back even before Lebanon, to a time when the Palestinians barely existed on the world’s radar screen and Israel was widely perceived as an underdog surrounded by much larger nations determined to eradicate it.

On July 7, 1967, barely a month after Israel’s celebrated victory in the Six-Day war, The New York Times published a letter to the editor which made the equation that in later years would become all too familiar.

“All persons who seek to view the Middle East problem with honesty and objectivity will stand aghast at Israel’s onslaught, the most violent, ruthless (and successful) aggression since Hitler’s blitzkrieg across Western Europe in the summer of 1940, aiming not at victory but at annihilation,” wrote Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, a former president of Union Theological Seminary, the academic centerpiece of liberal Protestantism in America.

Van Dusen was ahead of his time, but 15 years later, with the Palestinian narrative having become received truth among the left-wing faithful, the locusts were loosed within days of Israel’s incursion into Lebanon.

“Incident by incident, atrocity by atrocity, Americans are coming to see the Israeli government as pounding the Star of David into a swastika,” wrote the liberal columnist Nicholas von Hoffman.

“In their zeal to ensure that the Jewish people never suffer another Holocaust, Israel’s leaders are imitating Hitler,” wrote the late, hopelessly mediocre columnist Carl Rowan.

Lefty columnist and author Pete Hamill conveniently cited an unnamed “Israeli friend” who supposedly said of Israel, “Forgive me, but all I can think of is the Nazis.”

Liberal columnist William Pfaff also looked eastward and beheld the Fourth Reich rising in Jerusalem, suggesting that “Hitler’s work goes on” and speculating that Hitler may “find rest in Hell” with “the knowledge that the Jews themselves, in Israel, have finally accepted his own way of looking at things.”

The late Alfred Friendly, former managing editor of the Washington Post, was in fine frenzy, stopping short of using the word “Nazi” but raising the specter of Israeli fascism just the same: “[Israel's] slaughters are on a par with Trujillo’s Dominican Republic or Papa Doc’s Haiti. Still absent are the jackboots, the shoulder boards, and the bemedalled chests, but one can see them, figuratively, on the minister of defense.”

Liberal columnists weren’t the only media types to take the sledgehammer to Israel. In Double Vision, his 1985 study of anti-Israel media bias, Zev Chafets noted that editorial cartoonists were particularly vicious and inclined toward the Nazi imagery favored by so many pundits:

Artist Steve Benson compared Ariel Sharon with Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and showed goose-stepping Israeli storm-troopers guarding a death camp labeled BEIRUT; Tony Auth depicted the ghost of a Jewish inmate of Auschwitz looking at a bombed-out site in Lebanon and, in horrified recognition, saying, “Oh, my God.”The Louisville Courier-Journal ran a picture of Begin looking into a hole where Lebanon had been, captioned “A final solution to the PLO problem,” and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner carried a Bill Schorr cartoon in which Begin said, “For every problem, there is a final solution.”

The Indianapolis Star carried one cartoon by Oliphant of a wrecked city with a sign saying WARSAW GHETTO crossed out and the words WEST BEIRUT substituted and another with Israeli soldiers saying, “We are only obeying orders.” The Arizona Republic ran a picture of Begin wearing a badge saying NEVER AGAIN, and an Arab standing next to him wearing a button saying UNTIL NOW.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/israelinazi-analogy-old-hat-by-now/2009/04/01/

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