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Today’s media bias against Israel

Along Israel's border with Lebanon, east of Metulla, some bushes were pushing in on the border fence. The fence is set in slightly from the border precisely so that Israeli soldiers can work on it. The IDF called UNIFIL and informed the UN that this work was going to be done today so that they could tell the Lebanese army that there was no aggression going on but just routine maintenance. Soldiers from UNIFIL came to observe and can be seen standing next to Israeli soldiers in the photos. Photographers were also standing by to film the operation.

But Lebanese soldiers opened fire on the Israelis who were working and in no way acting aggressively. The fact that journalists were standing next to the Lebanese soldiers shows that they knew Israel was going to do this maintenance and were observing. After the Israeli soldiers were ambushed, they returned fire. One Israeli officer was killed, another seriously wounded; three Lebanese soldiers, and a Lebanese (?) journalist were killed.

So how did Reuters and Yahoo report this? By saying that Israeli soldiers had crossed into Lebanon and been fired on, thus implying the Lebanese army was acting in self-defense! Other news agencies merely reported: Israel says the soldiers were inside Israel; Lebanon says they were on Lebanese territory.

Reuters: "An Israeli soldier is seen on a crane on the Lebanese side of the Lebanese-Israeli border near Adaisseh village, southern Lebanon August 3, 2010. Israeli artillery shelled the Lebanese village on Tuesday, wounding two people, after Lebanese Army troops fired warning shots at Israeli soldiers."

Yahoo: "A Lebanese officer spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said the clash occurred as Israeli troops tried to remove a tree from the Lebanese side of the border." No Israeli is quoted.

AP also missed explaining the story properly: "The violence apparently erupted over a move by Israeli soldiers to cut down a tree along the border, a sign of the high level of tensions at the frontier where Israel fought in 2006 with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah....There was no sign of any extensive Israeli preparations for a large-scale operation - an early indication the clash might not trigger a wider conflict."

By the way, AP was so "accurate" as to correct the name of their photographer but not the biased inaccuracy of its facts!

The New York Times also takes a "neutral" approach: "Each side blamed the other for the flare-up, trading accusations of violating the United Nations Security Council resolution that underpins the four-year cease-fire." But what is most amazing is the additional information that tells us more about contemporary journalism than almost anything you can read:

"Israel said that its forces were engaged in routine maintenance work in a gap between the so-called Blue Line, the internationally recognized border, and its security fence, and that it had coordinated in advance with the United Nations peacekeeping force in South Lebanon, Unifil."

Hello? Can't the mighty New York Times contact the UNIFIL offices and find out that Israel's story is true? Indeed, isn't it indicated by the UNIFIL presence as observer? Well, it isn't surprising since the same newspaper is unable to find the evidence, publicly available, that the Turkish IHH group that organized the Gaza flotilla had a history of being a terrorist-supporting group.

Oh, and then there's this amazing little example of bias in the article:

"Israeli and Lebanese army troops exchanged lethal fire on their countries' border on Tuesday, in what was the fiercest clash in the area since Israel's monthlong war against the Lebanese Hezbollah militia in the summer of 2006."

So, there's no mention of the cause of the war: a Hizballah attack into Israeli territory, killing several Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two who were taken into Lebanon. According to the great "newspaper of record," Accorfing to the Times, Israel just arbitrarily attacked Lebanon in 2006, just as it is said to be doing in 2010.

The truth, however, is easy to ascertain--did Israel announce the maintenance, permit the photographers and UN people to watch and then cross deliberately into Lebanon?--but Israel is being portrayed as an aggressor that caused the outbreak of fighting. So millions of people will either believe that Israel was at fault or that the event is in question.

The narrative, however, is simple: In an unprovoked attack, Lebanese soldiers fired on Israelis and murdered one soldier.

If the mass media cannot get this right how can it report accurately on other situations like the following:

2000: Israel offers to return the entire Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for full peace. Syria refuses.

2000: Israel offers to accept an independent Palestinian state in all of the Gaza Strip, almost all of the West Bank, and most of east Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority refuses.

2008: Hamas tears up a ceasefire, begins massive mortar and rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, Israel defends itself.

2010: A Turkish pro-terrorist organization trying to help Hamas, a genocidal and antisemitic terrorist group, sends self-described jihadis on a ship who chant slogans about killing Jews and being Jihadi martyrs. When Israeli soldiers land, the Jihad warriors attack them with weapons and kidnap several. Israeli forces rescue the soldiers, killing nine attackers in the operation.

Note, though, that the Times discounted the video of Israeli soldiers being attacked by claiming--with no evidence--that perhaps Israeli forces had been shooting beorehand at unarmed civilians on the ship!

But if the media cannot even get right a previously announced, UN-approved, maintenance activity on Israeli territory then what hope is their getting right anything more complex?

Here's a video of the attack from Reuters.

To its credit, the Canadian Broadcasting Company issued a correction saying that the tree's location is disputed and changing the photo caption to say the tree is "near" the border rather than on the Lebanese side.

We now have a UNIFIL official on record as saying that the Israeli soldiers who were attacked were on Israeli territory. Which mainstream media outlets will or won't cover this fact?

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Tell us what you think The above is the English version of Israel Today. It says it all

Posted by Danny on 2010-08-04 13:53:12 GMT

Trying to answer Ralph"s question: There is some wonder in Israel now about the presence of photographers on the Lebanese side as well as the deliberate targeting and murder of Commander Harari who was shot by sniper fire. Defense Minister Barak said an hour ago that he doesn"t hold much weight in the theories on the presence of photographers on the Leb side, but he is concerned that all the evidence points to a deliberate provocation by the Lebanese army - and this is a rare event. Apparently the incident was not approved by the Leb military command nor Hezbullah - it sounds like a local Lebanese officer decided to pick a fight with the Israelis and ended up with dead on both sides. I"m not sure that the Lebanese "leveraged" this into a media event - the media are just looking to blow up (sorry for the pun) another story, ever hungry for headlines. No one is stopping the media on the Israeli side from covering it. However, so many, many foreign journalists are based in the center, especially in Jerusalem, where they can dine and drink in luxury at the American Colony Hotel (where the always devious Chaim Ramon was taped recently advising Saeb Erakat to refuse peace talks with Netanyahu). From the bar at the American Colony, they can get to Ramallah in the north or Hebron in the south - literally within minutes. The Lebanese border is usually quiet and is a few hours drive away, so there is less press presence there. The journos here are basically very lazy. People who charge their drinks bills to the boss and expect "danger pay" for eating in fancy restaurants every day are the same kind of people who will happily write dishonest news reports. Creative accounting and creative journalism. It all goes together. Don"t be surprised.

Posted by Jake in Jerusalem on 2010-08-04 08:39:06 GMT

I am noting with interest that Palestinians, living in camps in Lebanon and Jordan, have no rights, and live in great poverty and difficult conditions, Is this of any concern to the rest of the world? Finally some of the officers involved in the Shatilla camp massacres are now in the government of Lebanon.

Posted by Allen on 2010-08-04 06:00:37 GMT

If Israel throws reporters out, and the Palestinians (and their allies) allow reporters, guess what the result will be.

Posted on 2010-08-04 05:59:09 GMT

Israel ought to throw all the reporters out, especially during a war.

Posted by Shoshanna Silcove on 2010-08-04 05:30:28 GMT

Roberta is right; Israel needs to get tougher with (mis)reporters. In no conflict have hostile reporters reported from behind enemy lines. Lebanon does not allow reporters to file hostile reports even when they are merely reporting facts. Israel needs to give reporters the choice: either your reports or editors publish the truth or corrections for misreporting, or you are expelled from Israel and if you are an Israeli, your reporter"s credentials are cancelled. An open tolerant society like Israel must not cooperate in authoritarian, idealogical attacks upon itself.

Posted by paul2 on 2010-08-04 05:20:58 GMT

Author Barry Rubin's original title for this article was "Today's RIDICULOUS Media Bias against Israel." Instead of "Ridiculous" it should have said "Malevolent". It is time to "take off the gloves" and aggressively confront the media. Maybe one or two of them will mind. As for Lebanon "astuteness" I ascribe that more to the 24/7 Islamic propaganda machine. Israel mourns its dead. Islam uses every opportunity to bring death.

Posted by Roberta on 2010-08-04 03:12:04 GMT

A question in my mind is: If the Lebanese side were astute enough to be able to leverage the incident into a media event, how come the IDF did not invite the international press to cover it on the Israelis side?

Posted by Ralph Zwier on 2010-08-04 01:31:04 GMT

Those pesty little facts do get in the way of the mainstream media"s obsession with hating Jews/Israel.

Posted by Shoshanna Silcove on 2010-08-04 01:19:13 GMT