On Tuesday, April 15, a Palestinian Arab terrorist armed with an AK-47 assault rifle took position near Road 35 and opened fire on Israeli civilian traffic. Before fleeing the crime scene, he managed to fire dozens of rounds at cars passing mere meters away. Barukh Mizrahi (47 years old, father of five) was killed by one of those bullets. His pregnant wife Hadas survived, but with multiple bone fractures and in a state of shock. One of the couple’s children (Almog Mizrahi, 9 years old, who was travelling in a second car) underwent surgery aimed at extracting the shrapnel embedded in his body.
So far, nothing really uncommon – just another episode of ‘non-violent resistance to occupation’. So not uncommon, in fact, that the British Broadcasting Corporation – that paragon of impartiality and accuracy – only reported it as an aside, in an article dealing with the failure of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
So did the British weekly ‘The Economist’. But the latter’s journalist must have felt that reporting about Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism – even in a ‘by the by’ manner – was simply too accurate, or perhaps too impartial. Hence, the said journalist – who, incidentally, is so proud of his scribblings that he signs them only with the initials N.P. – decided to add a bit of venomous ‘context’. So, he wrote that
a Palestinian gunman fired on cars on a nearby road restricted to settlers, killing one of them.
Again, on the face of it there’s nothing extraordinary here. Political activists masquerading as journalists often engage in this type of disgraceful ‘story manipulation’. Under their glib pens, the characters involved undergo strange metamorphoses: terrorists who deliberately and indiscriminately murder civilians turn into ‘gunmen’ or ‘militants’; and once apprehended – into ‘prisoners’ whose release is mandated in the name of ‘peace’ and ‘human rights’; as for the innocent victims of those ‘militants’ – they (and their women and children) become nameless ‘settlers’ guilty of driving on segregated roads. Nothing new in all this.
The only problem is – in this case N.P. was caught violating not just such trifles as journalistic honesty, common decency and good ol’ human compassion, but also that absolute entity that some might call ‘God’s Undeniable Truth’. Because Barukh Mizrahi was no settler – he lived well within those armistice lines that people like N.P. deceitfully call ‘the 1967 borders’. As for Road 35, it’s actually not ‘restricted’ to settlers or to anyone else – but rather open to all, Jews and Arabs. (At least – for the time being; it will take a few more attacks by Palestinian ‘militants’, before Israelis finally decide that the safety of their own children is worth more than somebody else’s convenience. And since they are accused of ‘apartheid’ anyway…)
Needless to say, both facts – the one about the man and the one about the road – were very easy to check. All that was needed was for N.P. to actually move his lazy behind from the environs of Orient House – where such ‘journalists’ tend to spend so much of their sorry lives, waiting to be fed ‘news’ by their Palestinian contacts – and actually do some research.
But research is about uncovering facts; and this brand of ‘journalism’ is not about facts, but about activism. So, in his keen desire to find fault with the Israeli victim and somehow justify the Palestinian ‘gunman’, N.P. got it completely, undeniably, horribly wrong. And the fact has been pointed out to ‘The Economist’. Which, after pondering for a whole week (!), deigned to delete the blatant untruths from the web article (which, by that time, nobody was reading anyway…) The editors even added a remark at the the bottom of the article, stating that
“An earlier version of this article mistakingly said that the road in Hebron was restricted to settlers and that the victim of the attack was a settler.”
That’s it; no apology; no embarrassed admission of sloppiness, let alone bias and ill-will. Well, let me point out to The Economist’s learned editors (LOL!) that an article does not ‘say’ anything on its own – either ‘mistakingly’ or indeed mistakenly; that it was their ‘journalist’ that said (or, rather, wrote) the calumny. And that it’s rather obvious that he did so neither ‘mistakingly’ nor mistakenly, but as a result of knee-jerk assumptions fed by a combination of anti-Israel bias and plain ol’ laziness.
This is no honest mistake; but even if it were, The Economist’s reaction is remarkable in its lack of professionalism. We all make mistakes, granted; but if you are – say – an engineer, a teacher, a doctor or an economist (as opposed to a ‘journalist’ at ‘The Economist’), you’ll analyse the cause of the mistake; you’ll learn from it and you’ll make damn sure it won’t happen again. In any ‘normal’ business, such processes are mandated by run-of-the-mill professional and management systems.Well, not at The Economist, apparently. But why?? Isn’t journalism a ‘normal’ business? Don’t journalists expect customers to pay – directly or indirectly – for their services? So why does The Economist dare deliver those services – repeatedly – with such blatant lack of professionalism?
British consumers were outraged when they found that food products sold as ‘beef’ actually contained small amounts of horse meat. They demanded an inquiry; they asked the entire supply chain to analyse their processes afresh and required them to report how they’ll avoid a repetition of the mishap. Horse meat may not be harmful; but it’s not beef.
We raise hell when we are fed – through suppliers’ negligence – the wrong kind of meat, even when it does not harm our bodies; so should we let our minds be poisoned by drivel delivered as ‘news’ by dishonest and lazy ‘journalists’?
Of course we shouldn’t, and in fact… we don’t. Most people are equipped with common sense; and faced with N.P.’s type of ‘journalism’, they simply vote with their feet. Circulation and audience numbers are dwindling; so is advertising. Numerous media outlets – from newspapers to television stations – struggle to survive. In 2013, the US newspaper industry lost more than $1 billion of its 2012 revenue. Worse, thanks to ‘journalists’ like N.P., the entire profession is falling into disrepute: three out of four Americans believe that journalists ‘try to cover up their mistakes, rather than admit them’; only one in five Britons trusts journalists to tell the truth.
The myth is that all this should be attributed to the internet, which allows people to quickly access free information. Well, sure, it is hard – nay, it’s impossible – to compete with information that is available free-of-charge online. But that’s not where true journalists should compete. There will always be people willing to pay for honest, reliable, trustworthy information; but there won’t be a market for the type of sloppy and tainted hokum peddled by the N.P.’s of this world. As for the old-fashioned outfits that employ them, they’ll soon disappear – however few peanuts they pay their pseudo-journalists.
Because we, John Public, will be fed no horse meat by Tesco; and no bull shit by The Economist.