Posts filed under ‘Media’
The nation is in a state of shock.
Rumor has it that similar scoops are to be expected in the following days, revealing that water is wet, the sun is hot and Elvis is dead.
On June 26 2006, Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas in a cross-border raid into Israeli territory. Since then, he’s been kept imprisoned in the Gaza Strip with no contact what so ever with his family or even representatives from the Red Cross.
It’s been more than four years.
The Shalit family has done just about anything to secure the release of their son, but so far to no avail. In a last-ditch attempt to secure a deal between the government and the kidnappers, they’ve organized a march from their home in the north all the way to Jerusalem. There, Noam and Aviva Shalit have pledged to camp out in the political center of the nation until Gilad will return home.
The media has been very sympathetic to the plight of the Shalit family from the very beginning. Various outlets have extensively covered the struggle for Gilad’s release, including this last initiative. Every day since the march left for Jerusalem last week, there have been items in the papers and on television talking about various aspects of Gilad’s captivity, political and psychological implications and what must be done to bring him back home.
That is until today.
Today the march will reach Tel Aviv, and all of a sudden it’s treated as a traffic problem.
As predicted, yesterday saw huge Haredi demonstrations in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Imanuel. According to estimates, some 100,000 people took to the street in protest against the Supreme Court ruling that those responsible for the continued discrimination in a girls’ school in Imanuel be sent to prison.
The media of course reports non-stop on the issue. This is as it should be, and I have no objection to that. There is, however, one aspect of this massive coverage that surprises, and irks, me.
We never hear from the victims. No one even talks about them or tells the story from their perspective.
Instead, the media – TV, press and radio – presents the whole affair as a clash between the Haredim and the state. It’s as if everyone had forgotten that the core issue here isn’t that the judicial system is sending poor, distraught parents to prison. The core issue here, is that the discrimination and prejudice against Mizrahi Jews in the Haredi sector is so widespread and accepted, that Ashkenazi Haredim aren’t even willing to let Mizrahi girls study with their daughters.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is racism. And it’s illegal.
By ignoring this, the media buys into the Haredi narrative of an aggressive state gratuitously harassing innocent people who just want to live their lives in peace and quiet.
Another thing that puzzles me is where Shas is in all of this. This is a party whose raison d’être is to fight Ashkenazi racism and discrimination against Jews of Middle Eastern origins. Where are they now? How can they abandon the girls in Imanuel and sleep at night?
Last week, legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas resigned amidst a storm of criticism following statements she recently made at, oh the irony, a Jewish heritage event in Washington.
This is big news of course, and the Swedish Public Radio show Medierna (“The Media”) aired a segment on the events on June 11. Unfortunately, the item hasn’t been published on the internet yet, so I haven’t been able to listen to it. I did, however, read the accompanying text on the homepage of Medierna, and was a little puzzled by the description of the affair.
According to the text, Ms. Thomas had to go “after harsh words about Israel’s policies.” It might be a typo, or maybe the good people at Swedish Public Radio never heard what Ms. Thomas actually said, or maybe they just don’t understand English. She wasn’t forced to resign because she was critical of this or that Israeli policy. She resigned because she wanted to abolish the state of Israel per se – not modify its policies.
An interesting aside to this story is the one comment left on Medierna’s homepage by a listener. The listener, as opposed to the person who wrote the text on the homepage, has at least understood Ms. Thomas – and since she’s of Polish descent she’s terrified by the prospect of her homeland being swamped by unwanted and ungrateful Jews who don’t belong there. She finds this to be nothing but “a bad joke” considering how the Jews “left the Polish nation to its fate” after the War, despite the fact that the Poles always have been so good to the Jews.
At journalism school, we spoke less about it and judging by the coverage of the Flotilla to Gaza, I would say that those responsible for training Swedish journalists could add a little more emphasis to the aspect of critical evaluation of sources. Just one example is this statement from Professor Mattias Gardell, whose assertion that the Israelis carried out premeditated murders on the “Mavi Marmara” was reported without any critical follow-up questions – even though the honorable professor himself admitted that he hadn’t seen it, only heard about these alleged murders from others.
Those who lament this lack of critical thinking among journalists, however, may be happy to know that this willingness to swallow any bubbe meise thrown their way is not a universal trait in the Swedish press corps.
Evidence of this came yesterday, when the Turks – not Israel but, nota bene, the Turks – released pictures of injured Israeli marines aboard the “Mavi Marmara”. A gullible journalist might have jumped to the conclusion that this would indicate that the Israeli claims that their soldiers had been attacked by the Turkish “peace activists” were true. But no, the sharp-minded Swedish reporters have suddenly learned to exercise caution in their evaluation of sources, and now say that it’s unclear whether the pictures show Turkish activists attacking the Israelis, or helping the poor injured marines.
Of course! They’re helping them! That makes so much more sense. Why didn’t I think of that?
Read the article and look at the pictures here. Pay special attention to the picture of one of the nice Turkish activists using a knife to help a bleeding Israeli.
The boarding of the ships in the so-called Freedom Flotilla has caused quite a stir, not least in Sweden. The coverage in the media there is massive, and since I hope to publish on the topic in another forum I wasn’t going to delve deeper into that issue at the moment.
Per Gudmundson writes on the opinion blog of Svenska Dagbladet criticizing Swedish support for the Flotilla, saying that they in fact share some of that responsibility for what happened off the coast of Gaza.
He points out that it was obvious that IHH, the Turkish organization that organized the flotilla, wanted to provoke a violent confrontation with the Israeli marines. IHH has well-known connections to Hamas and even al-Qaida, and – even more specifically – before departing Turkey, IHH’s hired hooligans recorded video messages where they hollered antisemitic slogans and called to violence.
Peace activists, indeed.
This was so obvious that even the Swedish supporters of the Flotilla, however filled with self-righteous rage against Israel they might have been, should have understood. Since they ignored all this and instead pretended as if they were all just on a peaceful humanitarian mission, they legitimized the violence and strengthened the extremists.
I couldn’t agree more. This whole expedition is a highly reckless exercise that does nothing to advance peace in the Middle East – and if the Swedish supporters of the Flotilla really want peace they should reconsider their support for this kind of actions.
On International Workers’ Day earlier this week, the mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, participated in the traditional demonstration in Malmö. The tabloid Expressen noted that he marched under the slogan “Stop the occupation of Palestine”, and the paper’s reporter asked Mr. Reepalu if he didn’t think that to be ill-advised, considering the criticism that has been directed at him due to his positions on the Middle East conflict over the last few months. The mayor answered that it was his right to express how he felt about this issue and that he had no intention of hiding it.
And I agree with him completely.
The reason I do, is that – whatever Expressen might claim – no one has questioned Mr. Reepalu’s right to express the opinion that Israel should end the occupation of Palestinian lands. What people have been criticizing, is the fact that the mayor called Zionism a supremacist ideology, indicated that the local Jews in Malmö are to blame for antisemitism directed against them, that they should speak out against Israel if they want to avoid harassment, and that some hidden Israeli lobby is directing a campaign to shut him up.
That’s the problem – not that he wants the Palestinians to have a state of their own. If the support of a Palestinian state was an indicator of antisemitism, then I would be an antisemite too – and so would the majority of Israelis, for that matter.
One could have hoped that Expressen wouldn’t conflate the two quite separate issues.