Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Media Bias undermines truth and peace: Suicide Bombings 1-05-05

Media bias undermines truth and peace
Arab American Media Services Jan. 5, 2005
By Ray Hanania

One of the reasons why there is no resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict is that the media, mainly the pro-Israel American media, continues to distort facts, exaggerate stereotypes and lie.

What’s new, you might ask? The American media has been doing that forever, but not as much as it does on behalf of Israel. Much of the bias comes from reporters who have a religious affinity to Israel, or reporters who simply are racist.

But oftentimes, most of the bias is the result of journalistic laziness, or worse, convenient ignorance that goes hand-in-hand with the propaganda of Israel’s more extremist supporters.

One of the most egregious distortions is the canard that Arabs reward suicide bombers by giving their families monies.

In fact, I heard this exaggerated lie repeated by Jack Cafferty, CNN’s capable, resident curmudgeon. Cafferty’s whole shtick is to act and sound like an angry old man. His cynicism helps audiences understand the issues that bombard Americans and other CNN viewers. It’s actually a service.

But occasionally, he goes astray and simply says something that is just untrue, because it is so much easier to say the lie than to offend Israeli supporters with the truth.

Cafferty reported this week on how Saudi Arabia increased from $10 million to $35 million its charity to the Tsunami victims. Cafferty noted the Saudis planned a telethon that might raise as much as $150 million.

If this were about Israel, the story would be a banner headline in 72 point type across the front pages of every major American newspaper. But because the story is about Saudi Arabia, it was buried in most papers and passed off with cynicism.

Cafferty was no exception when he said he knows they can raise that much because they have for suicide bombers.

I thought, okay, let’s find out if that is true.

And here is the complicated truth the Israelis don’t want the American media to report or Americans to understand.

All victims of Israeli violence receive financial support from the Arab countries. Usually, families are given $10,000. And, that includes families of suicide bombers.

But the majority of funds go to families who lost relatives, fathers, mothers and siblings who were murdered when Israel has attacked alleged militants but instead killed scores of innocent civilian bystanders.

A young girl was murdered months ago by Israeli soldiers. Her family received money. She wasn’t a suicide bomber.

A dozen other innocent civilians were murdered by Israel when they blew up an apartment building of an alleged militant several years ago. Those families got funding.

If we use Cafferty’s claim that Saudi Arabia gave $150 million, and we calculate that there were about 75 suicide bombings in the past four years of the Intifada, that means $750,000 went to families of suicide bombers, but $149,250,000 went to families of civilians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Now, the Israelis and their legions of media allies scream that the families of suicide bombers should not be "rewarded" when a member of their family commits a suicide bombing and kills scores of innocent Israeli civilians.

I agree that the support should not be a reward. I oppose suicide bombings and believe they are wrong and immoral.

But the fact is, when a suicide bomber kills an Israeli, the Israelis go to the homes of the suicide bomber’s family members who have nothing to do with the suicide bombing and they destroy their homes, their neighbors’ homes, and they uproot their farmlands.

Most of these innocent victims of a bad conflict are tossed into the street and forced into poverty. Israel calls this collective punishment.

In many instances, Israeli soldiers have destroyed homes while Palestinians were still in them, killing them.

So, it’s okay for the Israelis to punish, without trial or morality or the rule of law, relatives of suicide bombers who had nothing to do with the suicide bombers.

But it’s not okay for the Arabs to intervene and help these distressed families who are much the victims of Israeli violence as the Israelis are the victims of terrorism.

That’s not logic. That’s bias, bigotry and the kind of one-sided media coverage that you can expect from even a good media organization like CNN. It’s worse elsewhere in the American media.

When the lie is more convenient to tell than the truth, it helps explain why the conflict continues to drag on endlessly.

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American syndicated columnist and author. His columns are archived at www.hanania.com.)

END

1 comment:

Hatcher said...

Ray, thanks for a very good post.

You raise points that I've been trying to make at my blog Crossroads Arabia about how Arab generosity works regarding both Palestinians and tsunami victims.

While I frequently disagree with some of your op-eds in the Arab News, I certainly agree with you on this!