Tuesday, November 26, 2002

It's not the same
Nathan Guttman in Haaretz writes about former UK Guardian correspondent to Israel and the PA, Suzanne Goldenberg, who has moved to Washington DC. She says, among other things: "I think it is fair to say, if you look at most of the European coverage, it's probably less critical than Ha'aretz and not more critical, on occasion, than Yedioth Ahronoth or other commentators”.

Not fair at all. Israeli reporters never imply that Israelis are themselves to blame for a suicide bombing in the very same story that reports the details of the said suicide bombing (It sounds so tasteless put like that, doesn’t it? But the foreign media do just that regularly). Terrorists are never called militants in Israeli newspapers. Acts of terrorism are never condoned or "understood". Israeli newspapers often publish articles giving completely opposite points of view side by side, even Haaretz sometimes (well, occasionally). It must be understood that the Hawkish viewpoint is so widespread and understood in Israel that the press exposing Israelis to alternative viewpoints is acceptable, even positive, if not taken to extremes (Haaretz has definitely been going a bit overboard for the last year or so). In Europe, most people never get the other side of the picture. Many have no idea one exists. That's why Haaretz's English language edition gives foreign readers such a distorted view and is so harmful. In Israel, people who read Haaretz also listen to the news on the radio and watch the news on TV, at least a few times a day. Some even read other newspapers as well. Haaretz isn't anyone’s only source of information and readers can confront the ideas and views expressed in the newspaper with other ideas and views. Haaretz often reacts to things happening and being said in Israel that the foreign reader is completely unaware of. Criticism in the Israeli media is in a certain context.

People like Ms. Goldenberg are completely ignorant of this context, of course, but still have no problem being judgemental. Ms. Goldenberg says: "I think that the foreign press coverage of the conflict is presenting people with the facts they don't want to see. I think it's hitting too close to home - people just don't want to be confronted with what's going on.".

Actually, we do know what's going on.

But tell me this: Why should we be receptive to views expressed by people who tell us that it is understandable for Palestinians to be blowing up Israeli babies, given their dire circumstances? There's a limit to how many times we can hear what a terrible time the Palestinians are having, even if we know it’s true, while buses explode every other morning blowing Israeli schoolchildren into little pieces.

Ms. Goldenberg claims “Israelis are resistant to hearing or seeing anything that challenges their version of events”. This would be true had there not been any Oslo Accords and had there not been any generous offers at Camp David in the summer of 2000. As it is, it’s Ms. Goldenberg and her friends who are “resistant to hearing or seeing anything that challenges their version of events”, not us. We went out on a limb to try and not only hear and see another version, but actually live it. Our reward is suicide bombings.

There's a lot more to be said in reaction to her claims. Another time.