I've sometimes had issues with pro-Israel media “monitors” who have made a cottage industry of blasting every newspaper, TV outlet and Internet news site that doesn't cover the Middle East conflict to their satisfaction and provide extensive “context” to every story – which sometimes means slamming every story that doesn't agree with their own personal politics.
But I'm also driven totally crazy by media outlets that sometimes prove the monitors correct.
Jewish Week editor and publisher has already blogged about the scurrilous Time Magazine cover on “Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace,” so I won't add my two cents except to say that it's hard to see how any professional editor could justify a headline that so dramatically misrepresented the actual content of a story.
I know times are tough in journalism, but I didn't realize they were promoting high-school newspaper editors to top jobs at Time.
Now there's a BBC fact sheet on the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that pretends to be a balanced, objective listing of the key concerns of the two sides and the United States.
Helpful, right? It's nice to know where everybody stands.
But the very first section, on Jerusalem, reveals that objectivity isn't what the editors had in mind.
Here's what they say about the Palestinians:
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which was controlled by Jordan before being captured by the Israelis in 1967, as the capital of a Palestinian state. The Old City contains the third holiest place in Islam, the al-Aqsa mosque, and the Dome of the Rock, from where Mohammed is said to have visited heaven on his winged steed Burak.
Here's what the BBC says about the Israel position:
The Israeli government is unwilling to divide Jerusalem, held to be the political and religious centre of the Jewish people. It stands by the 1980 basic Israeli law that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel". In the past there has been room for manoeuvre on the margins. In talks in 2000 and 2007, the then Israeli governments proposed exchanging some outlying annexed districts.
First: Jerusalem is “held to be (my italics) the political and religious center of the Jewish people” by the Israelis, suggesting a dubious claim, at best.
Then: Jerusalem “contains the third holiest place in Islam, the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, from where Mohammed is said to have visited heaven on his winged steed Burak.”
Cool. But what about the ancient Jewish connection to the city? What about the Temple? The Western Wall?
Bottom line: Israel= stubborn, unreasonable, with unjustifiable claims to its own capital. The Palestinians: religious, reasonable, deeply connected to the city.
I've defended the BBC in the past on charges of flagrantly biased reporting about the Middle East, but this one is pretty hard to defend.
Biased reporting is biased reporting no matter what the nature and origin of the bias. All that features like this BBC gem do is provide aid and comfort to those who want to view the Middle East conflict and maddeningly complex issues like Jerusalem strictly through the lens of ideology. And they boost those pro-Israel activists who say any negative information about Israel in the media is “bias.”
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