It happens every time: Let Israel bomb empty office buildings of the Palestinian Authority and the mainstream American media will for the most part restrain from pouncing – and point to that restraint as “proof” of their even-handedness. But let Israel take military action on a fuller scale and the wolves not only pounce, they devour.The wolves were in full feeding frenzy last week, as Israel mounted what was described over and over by anchormen and reporters as its largest military operation in the West Bank in decades. But this was not just any old conventional military operation, or so we were assured by such delightfully authoritative sources as Geraldo (“I’ll be packing heat in Afghanistan”) Rivera, the longtime sleazefest host turned globe-trotting correspondent for Fox News.
To see, hear and read some of the more apocalyptic dispatches from Israel and the Palestinian-controlled areas last week was to come away with the impression that once again the nasty war criminal Sharon had unleashed the crushing might of his brutal army on the ramshackle refugee camps housing hordes of helpless, peace-craving Palestinian women and children.
Suddenly forgotten were the weeks – excuse us, months (actually decades, but let’s keep the story line simple) – of Palestinian atrocities; the ceaseless targeting of Jewish civilians by suicide bombers in full service to everyone’s favorite “religion of peace”; the frenzied bloodlust in the faces of Palestinians celebrating the murder of yet another Israeli mother or teenager.
It’s a tiresome phenomenon by now, this self-inflicted collective amnesia on the part of media types who fancy themselves informed and objective observers but who become, by dint of their overly emotional, root-for-the-perceived-underdog reporting, transparent cheerleaders for one side in the conflict.
As Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz noted, “focusing mainly on Israeli retaliation tends to leave out the horrible Palestinian provocations – the suicide bombers that have killed Israeli civilians – that prompted the response in the first place. It would be like showing U.S. warplanes hitting Afghan towns without mentioning that there was this episode called Sept. 11.”
Readers fortunate enough to have missed Geraldo’s peroration on Fox News on Wednesday, March 13 will have to forgive the Monitor for inflicting on them the following sampler of the sage’s deep thoughts, but the opportunity is just too tempting to pass up.
“When you use tanks and F-16s … against thickly populated civilian towns and cities, that’s not fighting terrorism,” intoned Geraldo, referring to Israel’s attacks on Palestinian targets. “That is inflicting terrorism.”
After describing himself to anchor Brit Hume as “a Zionist my entire life,” Geraldo said that “watching the suffering of the Palestinian people, the real suffering of these people, I’ve also become a Palestinianist, in a sense.”
Asked by Hume whether he thought Israel was intentionally killing civilians, as he seemed to imply with his charge that Israel was “inflicting terrorism,” Geraldo insisted that he would never, ever suggest such a thing. That disclaimer out of the way, Geraldo was off to the races:
“But the tactics [the Israelis are] employing, the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, over the severe objections of his defense minister….You can’t do these things. You can’t, for example, round up Palestinian young men and put numbers on their arms to make it easier to identify them in the future. What in the world does that remind the world of? That reminds the world, that reminds Jews, of what Hitler and those Nazi pigs inflicted on the Jewish race during the Second World War.
“Maybe the comparison is not precise. Maybe it’s not exactly parallel, but the echoes of it are unmistakable. It is indefensible. These people, the Palestinians, they bleed just like we do. They suffer just like we do. They have the same aspirations,” blah blah blah….
And so it went. You get the picture. Geraldo Rivera, “Palestinianist.” Last sighted high over the Mediterranean, propelled solely by his own hot air, ever the noxious gasbag.