IS the media anti-Semitic?

We’ve seen how the media conditions people to be anti-Israel. But does that have to mean the media is anti-Semitic?

Already that’s the wrong question to pose because, if you think about it, the media has two living thinking parts: the corporate and the human. Therefore should we not address two corresponding questions:

1. Is it true that down to earth Israel-hating media entities, exemplified by London’s Guardian, are anti-Semitic?

2. Is it true that their correspondents and opinion writers are anti-Semitic?

Even if both happen to be anti-Israel, media entities and their journalists could be driven by different motives, which do not have to be anti-Semitic.

Anti-Semitic media companies?

To answer for them few are better qualified than a justifiably famous though not always popular figure. Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at MIT, and the most cited of all living authors, has written 150 books. I need cite only one: Manufacturing Consent – The Political Economy of the Mass Media.  

Noam Chomsky

A media corporation, Chomsky  reminds, has to sell its product, i.e. readers and audiences, to other businesses, i.e. advertisers. That, and not providing quality news to the public happens to be the core business of the media. News is not the final product. It’s only bait to hook readers and audiences and sell them on to advertisers. So readers and  audiences, not news or opinion, is the end product that brings in profit.

We’re now ready to understand why bias happens. Unwelcome news that would turn readers and audiences away, endangering profit, is either treated or cut. So news content and opinion end up biased or censored.

There we have it. To maximize profit means to sacrifice news objectivity.

The Chomsky model well and truly passes a reality check. Consider, what would endanger profit more than positive news from Israel, or  sympathetic news about Israeli people? Like it or not, anything good about Israel would fall under Chomsky’s ‘Unwelcome’ news.

For a media conglomerate, advertisers are not the only, or even the biggest fish. There are international business interests to consider. A conglomerate with, for example, interests in the Arab world has to think about that when setting policy for news content.

We know why for example CNN, or Time, regularly fail to cover stories about Palestinian misdeeds. Only last month vandals desecrated the ancient synagogue of Naraan near Jericho; painted swastikas and trashed relics. It would do no good for business with the Arab world if a story like that was covered. Similarly with stories on corruption and theft of billions in donor funds by Palestinian top brass; or inter Palestinian violence. Like it or not, anything bad about Palestinians would fall under Chomsky’s ‘unwelcome’ news.

So it’s a matter of follow the money. Audiences, advertisers and investors want Israel to be the brutal oppressor and Palestinian people the oppressed victims; and that’s what the media gives them.

In short, media bias boils down to business, not bigotry.

 Are journalists anti-Semitic?

Here’s Robert Fisk, doyen of Mid East correspondents, furious about  the very idea:

Robert Fisk

The actor, John Malkovich, has … joined a long line of people (calling Fisk and Reeves anti-Semites)  trying to stop any glimmer of truth emerging from …the Middle East.


How to shut up your critics by uttering a single word. (Anti-Semite.)

Fisk the intrepid is ideal for testing the claim that to be an anti-Israel writer means to be anti-Semitic. He’s a heavyweight critic, and a trenchant one, a veteran correspondent, author and award winner. The  paper he works for, Independent, is heavyweight too – mainstream and unfailingly hostile to Israel.

So let Robert Fisk take the test. Before putting him through it we must acknowledge that he’s bound hand and foot to other players. We cannot tear him away from colleague, Phil Reeves, or from the media group they work for; nor for that matter can we understand Fisk if we isolate him from ‘Left-wing Lodge,’ where fellow-travellers John Pilger and Noam Chomsky bed down. Let the test begin!

Mr Fisk, you wrote that Jews were trying to silence you and colleague, Phil Reeves. Please answer the questions as fully as you can, so that we may evaluate your claim to be a ‘glimmer of truth’ out of the Middle East.

Question 1  Warlord of Zion

Covering Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield you wrote:

So if this was a ‘war on terror’ it was a little difficult to know who was the more terrorised..: the Palestinians or the Israeli soldiers who have gone to war for Sharon.

(a) Please explain how your phrase, “gone to war for Sharon’ can be taken as a glimmer of truth, given Israeli opinion polls taken before and after your report, which put national support for this operation at 80%.

(b) Please explain your phrase, this time in light of the fact that even exempt reservists (i.e. those who got no call-up papers) came forward to volunteer for Operation Defensive Shield.

(c) For a last time explain your phrase, now in light of what CBS anchor man, Dan Rathers said on CNN, that never before had Israelis, from both right and left-wings, rallied so solidly behind a war effort.

(d) Such was the truth, out there in light of day, to read in Israeli papers or catch on CNN. Surely then, to offer your readers not glimmers but the truth itself, you should have written “Israeli soldiers who have gone to war for Israel.”  Instead you told readers that soldiers were fighting Sharon’s war.

If that is not propaganda, please explain why you see it as a glimmer of truth.

(e) Your phrase, “gone to war for Sharon”’ brings to mind a picture of some tyrannical warlord, on the lines of Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, or Assad of Syria. Sharon happened to be the elected leader of a Parliamentary Democracy, as free and democratic as your country, Britain.

If your picture of Sharon as tyrant and warlord is not one more piece of propaganda, please explain why you see it as a glimmer of truth.

Crusader Jews

You compared Israel’s military operation, Operation Defensive Shield, to a religious crusade. The crusades were launched by Catholics from the 11th to the 13th centuries to capture the Holy Land from Muslims. To the knowledge of the average person the crusades were unprovoked attacks launched out of religious fervour.

a) Please explain in what way Israel’s offensive paralleled the Crusades, given your own statement that Israel was provoked by “wicked suicide bombings.”

b)   By drawing a parallel with crusading you infer that Israel, stoked with religious fervour, was invading Muslim land.  Exactly what part of the territory do you define as Muslim land? The West Bank? Gaza? East Jerusalem? All of Jerusalem?  Up to the 1967 borders? Beyond those borders? Or, do you go with the definition of the Palestinian people you agonize over: every square meter of Israel is Muslim land?

Question 3      Killer Jews

During the Intifada you filed another article on Israel’s ‘warmongering’ Prime Minister:

Can Sharon control his army? Can he stop them from killing children, leaving booby traps in orchards, or firing tank shells into refugee camps? Can Sharon stop his rabble of an army from destroying hundreds of refugee homes in Gaza… Can he stop his secret service killers from murdering their Palestinian enemies?

For a full statistical analysis on death tolls please refer to the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) 

(a)  Please tell how many children ‘Sharon’s army’ killed over the course of the Intifada.

(b) In what circumstances were these children killed?  Please break down the numbers into: (i) targeted children on their own and (ii) targeted militants with children in their company.

(c) On child-killing, you’ll recall the story with iconic photo, of the Palestinian boy shot while clinging to his father. And you’ll recall the follow-up story, after forensics proved that the boy was hit by Palestinian snipers. The photo adorned front pages the world over, including your paper, and became a global rallying symbol against Israel.

Al-Durrah incident

If it covered the forensic story at all, the Independent for sure did not treat it on the front page in the way it treated the big story that painted Israeli soldiers as cold-blooded killers. Now kindly address yourself to the following problem:

How is it possible for you to operate as a ‘glimmer of truth’ if your paper  shyly underplays a true story absolving Israel of a heinous act? If you insist that you can still operate as a glimmer of truth, despite the Independent running scared of the truth, kindly refer to any report you filed wherein you absolved Israel of crimes for which you, or your paper had earlier found it guilty.

Like a photo, statistics may lie. Palestinians killed versus Israelis, in far smaller number, is a popular stat with your paper. Details behind the stat are not. For the details please go to the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism.  Awkward it may be for you, but the devil is always in the detail.

  • Unarmed Israelis killed as % of total Israelis killed: 81%
  • Unarmed Palestinians killed as % of total Palestinians killed: 5%

You’ve never disclosed the tolls which lie behind the toll. For what reason do you consider them unfit for your role as a ‘glimmer of truth?’

You wrote in your report of Israeli killers murdering their Palestinian enemies. Both you and colleague Phil Reeves like to describe the Israeli military in these terms: ‘Terrorists;’ ‘Death Squads;’ ‘Assassins;’ ‘Extra-judicial executioners;’ ‘murderers.’ Your paper has never described the US military in those terms; or the Russian military; or the British, or Indian military. Yet like Israel, they’ve all fought Islamic militants.

Please explain your difference in treatment. What attributes make soldiers of Israel different from the others, for you to call them murderers, etc?  Why would it be a glimmer of truth to call Israeli soldiers murderers, but not soldiers of another country?

Your ‘glimmer of truth’ partner, Phil Reeves, owned up to defrauding the public with a hoax massacre. And he admitted to his personal feelings about Israeli Jews. Please explain how it’s in any way possible for a man like that to be a glimmer of truth from the Middle East.

Question 4  Suffer the children

You are to be commended for your passionate concern about children caught up in war – Arab children. Which brings me to a new question.

You’ve never taken up the plight of Israeli kids caught up in war. But have you taken up the plight of Palestinian kids? No – not caught up in the cross hairs of Israeli guns, but caught up by Palestinian leaders. As a know-all correspondent you would know of camps for training kids to be assassins, to kill Israelis, to be shahids, martyrs for Allah. Your own papers published a photo once. The AP caption on 1 December 2003 read:

A Palestinian boy carries a gun as he marches at the front of a small demonstration …in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian girls at training camp

You also know about Muslim clerics exhorting mothers to sacrifice their children for Jihad; and about mothers who obeyed them. And you know about the deployment of children for weapon smuggling.

Sweden’s Queen Silvia made a stand against this abuse of children, why have you not?  At the UN World Childhood Foundation (November 27, 2000) the Queen said:

I condemn Palestinian parents and leaders for exploiting children and risking their lives in a political fight.  As a mother I’m very worried about this.  I’d like to tell them to quit. This is very dangerous. The children should not take part.

 In your role as a glimmer of truth, and with your concern for Arab children, why have you not written about the abuse of Palestinian kids for jihad. Please explain your silence.

Pilger’s plot

You were enamoured by John Pilger‘s documentary, Palestine still the Issue. You wrote that you had “three times been through the documentary and found the detail correct in every respect.”  An emphatic endorsement, you’ll agree. You and Pilger are of one mind. And that being so, you’ll not protest when your mind is thrown open to readers.

John Pilger

1948 war of Independence

John Pilger interprets the War in a special way.

In 1948 the Arab world rose up, when Palestinians were forced to flee from their homes in a blitz of fear and terror.

You have reversed roles and events, have you not? Instead of the Arabs rejecting the UN partition of Palestine and then invading Palestine to kill off the new-born Israel, you and Pilger slot Israel into that role. Please explain how making Israel the instigator of the 1948 war, and not the Arabs, offers a glimmer of truth.

Juggernaut Jews

In his documentary Pilger said:

For much of their resistance, the Palestinians have fought back courageously with slingshots and stones.

You, Robert Fisk, verified that three times over, to make sure. Please answer the following questions, both of you:

  1. You will know of the Hebron riots of 1929 when 67Jews were murdered. Please tell how they were murdered: by slingshots and stones or by weapons?
  2. Over the period 1951-55 more than 3 000 attacks were launched against Jewish civilians, resulting in the killing of 922 Israelis and foreign tourists. Please tell how killed: by slingshots and stones or by weapons?
  3. During the ‘Oslo peace’ period 1993-2000, 300 Israelis were killed by militants. Please tell how killed: by slingshots and stones or by weapons?
  4. In the last Intifada more than 5,000 Jews were injured and 780 killed. Please tell by what means: slingshots and stones or bullets and bombs?

So, outside of the wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973, thousands of Jews were killed or maimed in thousands of attacks. Slingshots and stones!                Is it not David and Goliath, dear sirs, with your hero Palestinian playing David, and your villain Zionist playing big horrible Goliath.

Explain that glimmer of truth, if you please.

‘Remember what the Nazis did.’

So entreated John Pilger to sum up his film. “Remember what the Nazis did.” Nodding sagely you remembered, and going through Pilger’s script  three times over, you remembered and compared Israeli deeds with the Nazis.

Let’s bring the US State Department into it. Attend to how it defines anti-Semitism:

Criticism of Israel goes into anti-Semitism when it demonizes Israel or vilifies Israeli leaders through a comparison with Nazi leaders and through the use of Nazi symbols to caricature them. This indicates anti-Semitic bias rather than a valid criticism of policy concerning a controversial issue.

Everyone hates the Nazis, don’t they? And seeing that Israeli Jews remind Pilger, and yourself, of the Nazis, then everyone ought to hate Israeli Jews.

Explain, if you please, what glimmer of truth you’ve provided here.

Return of Noam Chomsky 

After 9/11 Chomsky implored the US to try to understand Al Qaeda’s motives.

Bin Laden has been interviewed extensively over the years by highly reliable Middle East specialists, notably the most eminent correspondent in the region, Robert Fisk, who has intimate knowledge of the entire region and direct experience…

 Now, if Chomsky tells us to trust, as he does, the highly reliable and intimate knowledge of Fisk to explain 9/11, and what ever goes down in the Middle East, while Fisk at the same time is obeying the constructs in Chomsky’s model of media bias, surely the great man finds himself embarrassed.

Are journalists anti-Semitic? The jury is out.

About the Author
The writer is a prolific author of novels and non-fiction, essayist and commentator on ‘Enemies of Zion’ which happens also to be the title of his latest book. His works are The Paymaster, 1998; Hadrian’s Echo, 2012; Contributor to ‘War by other means: Israel and its detractors’, 2012; Enemies of Zion, (for publication 2017); and Balaam’s curse ( a novel in progress)