In the world according to U.S. media, the high moral ground in the Middle East belongs to Israel’s government, even when it assassinates over 60 Palestinian leaders in the past 12 months– three of them in the past 48 hours. In news coverage, Palestinian leaders that are assassinated are always labeled “militants.” yet when an Israeli leader is assassinated he is labeled an “official.”
Israel’s most crucial allies include the mass media of the United States. Together with top officials in Washington, news outlets keep reinforcing the assumption that the Israeli government can do little wrong.
Yet media spin cannot change past history of the Israeli minister’s treatment of Palestinians. If anyone should be labeled a militant, Zeevi may be deserving more than any Palestinian. He gained notoriety for comparing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to Adolf Hitler and for his policy of “transferring”, or expellind PePalestinians from the occupied territories, including the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. He also referred to some Palestinians – those working in Israel – as “lice” who must be stopped like “cancer spreading within us”. If this isn’t a militant, then the word should be retired from the English vocabulary.
The news media must put aside “political correctness” even if the impartial use of the “militant” label would mean sometimes affixing it directly on the Israeli government. But as long as news organizations are not willing to do so, Americans will never get the true picture of the activities, both by Israelis and Palestinians, that have caused so much violence in the Middle East. There is no doubt that the Israeli government has a huge stake in American public opinion, both for economic and political reasons. Vigorous debate about Israeli policies, however is not on the media agenda.
James J. David is a retired Brigadier General, and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, and the National Security Course, National Defense University, Washington DC. He served nearly 3 years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969.