Fair is fair.
We are justifiably quick to criticize members of the international media when it reports about Israel in a false and misleading manner, so we must also have the intellectual honesty to compliment them when they report about Israel with accuracy.
And that happened during last week’s flare up with Gaza.
The BBC, one of the primary offenders when it comes to anti-Israel reporting, ran the following headline when this round of fighting came to an end: “‘Ceasefire’ after hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza into Israel.” This headline was perhaps the most accurate of all, placing all of the blame on rocket fire from Gaza. The article then explained that “It comes after a weekend during which Palestinian militants launched hundreds of rockets into Israel prompting retaliatory air and artillery strikes.” Clear cause and effect. Palestinian militants are responsible for what happened this past week.
The headline in The Guardian, another outlet notorious for its anti-Israel slant, read: “Israel launches multiple airstrikes after Palestinian rocket attacks.” The sub-headline then explained: “Six people have been killed in Gaza after Israel responded with airstrikes and tank fire to about 250 rockets being fired over the border by Palestinian militants.” They made it clear that the Palestinian militants were the instigators, and that Israel’s airstrikes were a response to these attacks.
In the United States, the Washington Post headline declared: “Death toll rises as Gaza militants fire hundreds of rockets into Israel which responds with airstrikes.” The article then explained it: “Israel and Hamas hurtled into their deadliest bout of fighting in nearly five years on Sunday as Palestinian militants launched a barrage of more than 600 rockets and Israel responded with airstrikes on more than 300 targets.” Hamas fired first. Israel responded. Clear and true reporting of the facts.
Perhaps most remarkably, the headline in the New York Times – which has been under serious attack lately for its portrayal of Jews and Israel – read: “Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, and Israel Responds with Airstrikes.” The headline so accurately placed the blame on the Gaza militants that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib felt the need to quote it and tweet the following reply: “When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free? Headlines like this and framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress and target Palestinian children and families #FreePalestine.” The moment the virulently anti-Israel Tlaib criticizes the Times for its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Times must have gotten it right!
This accurate reporting, emphasizing that the militants in Gaza started by firing rockets into Israel and that Israel’s airstrikes were merely responses to these attacks, didn’t happen in a vacuum. The myriad of Israel advocacy organizations and pro-Israel tweeters and “Facebookers” who work day and night to call out the anti-Israel rhetoric and demand accuracy are having an impact. The truth is the truth, and no media outlet wants to be called out for reporting falsehood and inaccuracies, as challenging as it may be for them to portray Israel as being in the right.
It should also be noted that the surprising tone regarding Israel was not limited to the media. Democratic senator and candidate for president Corey Booker broke away from lukewarm or outright anti-Israel messaging heard from some of the democratic candidates and commented: “We support Israel’s right to defend itself, full stop. You have a terrorist organization that actually suppresses its own people, conducts acts of violence and human rights violations against people who live in Gaza. And so Israel has a right to defend itself and it should do that. But for the people that live in Gaza, this is not about them. It’s about the terrorist organization that is attracting such violence, that is using children hospitals and schools as shields for their insidious aims, which is the destruction of the state of Israel.”
These types of comments also don’t happen in vacuum. Pro-Israel groups and pro-Israel constituents who send letters and meet with members of congress have significant impact.
Throughout my years of involvement in Israel advocacy, naysayers have asked me why we bother. “They are out to get us and will never listen” is a mantra which I hear on a regular basis. The accurate coverage regarding this latest round of Palestinian attacks and Israeli retaliation proves that all is not lost and that there is hope. We must continue to call out and challenge all sources of falsehood regarding Israel, and remain committed to educating anyone who is willing to listen to the facts and truths about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.