Where are the headlines?

by | Apr 21, 2022 | Trending News

Words matter. So do images. We see and feel the impact of words and images in cascading form in this age of technology driven social and journalistic media. As we were reminded at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, people, nations, and institutions pay the price when misleading words are spewed as truth or presented in skewed fashion.

For too many years to count, Israel has suffered from a media, writ large, that portrays a set narrative regarding the struggle for peace and self-determination in Israel. The country that started out in 1948 as a miraculous story of courage, determination and ingenuity—the little country that could—now suffers from a consistent narrative portraying Israel as the unsympathetic oppressor. Whether overt or subliminal, this long-standing and skewed media perspective has created the kindling often ignited by a movement like BDS or by endemic antisemitism.

Media coverage of the current spate of murderous attacks on innocent civilians in Israel provides the latest example. On March 22 in Beersheba, four Israeli civilians were stabbed or rammed to death by a known ISIS supporting terrorist. Five days later in Hadera, two 19-year-old police officers were killed at a bus stop in an attack ISIS has taken credit for.

On March 29 in Bnei Brak, a religious suburb of Tel Aviv, five people were killed by an Israeli Arab, including two Ukrainian citizens and an Arab-Israeli police officer responding to the attack. On April 7, in the heart of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, two 27-year-old Israeli life-long friends and a 35-year-old father of three young children were gunned down and others critically wounded by an Arab-Israeli terrorist.

Each of these horrific incidents was reported in our Virginian-Pilot newspaper as part of a cursory “News Briefing” section. Evidently, innocent Israelis getting killed on four occasions over a two-week period isn’t considered headline worthy. Worse, on two occasions The Pilot featured the Israeli reprisal to the terrorism as a headline article; the second of which was titled, Israeli forces kill Palestinian militant in raid.

The photo accompanying the second headline story shows Israeli military vehicles rumbling down the streets of Jenin, a Palestinian city that is often a hotbed of terrorist planning. There were no photos of Eytam Magini, one of the 27-year-old friends killed in Tel Aviv, who had just gotten engaged and was planning his wedding. There were no photos of Barak Lofen, also killed in Tel Aviv, who was a two-time Israeli Olympic kayaker. There were no photos of the Chesed Shel Emet teams gathering the bodies in Beersheba, Hadera, Bnei Brak or Tel Aviv after the murders.

No, once again the media—our media—chose to downplay the killing of Israelis and instead feature Israel as the aggressor. One has to wonder why this portrayal has become the narrative for The Pilot and for journalists worldwide. Does this narrative attract more subscribers? Is there visceral or intentional antisemitism at work?

It is hard to say. What is readily apparent is that this skewed reporting has an impact. It affects people’s opinions consciously and sub-consciously; especially those who only know the Israel presented by the media.

We can hope that there will someday be peace in Israel—a time when terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, and ISIS lose their grip on the population of the West Bank and Gaza and people who want security and economic stability can negotiate a peace similar to the agreements Israel shares with Egypt and Jordan.

But as long as the murder of Israelis is trivialized and Israel’s rightful defense of its population is portrayed as heavy handed oppression, there will be no incentive for Palestinians to curtail the rocket attacks, stabbings, shootings, and vehicle attacks that terrorize the Israeli population and prompt a necessary reprisal.

Reporting matters.

Jay Klebanoff is a past president of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

Jay Klebanoff