Thursday, September 1, 2011

What's the Point, You May Well Ask? An Email to Isabel Kershner

In today's New York Times Isabel Kershner has a news story entitled "Activists Aim to Revitalize Israeli Protests."  She managed to write an entire story which focuses on the issue of the Israeli social protest movement and its relationship to Israel's "security threats." The word "occupation" does not appear, nor even a hint that Israel's "security threats" might just be somehow connected to its own policies and behavior. 

Among specialists and serious critics of Israel, I wrote to her, it is obvious that most  New York Times stories seriously downplay the dreadful nature of the Israeli occupation and repression of the Palestinians.  Invariably when this is pointed out, the Times or its reporters will respond that they get just as much criticism from the right--as if this proved that its coverage is "balanced."  

In fact, Kershner's news stories are among the worst offenders, and will some day--I hope but don't expect--cause her to look back in deep shame.   I wrote: "I am moved to write this because of your story in the Sept 1 issue on the Israeli protest movement.  Suppose you were a reporter for a Soviet newspaper in 1956, or 1968?   Would you be embarrassed to write about the "security threats" to the Soviet Union from the Hungarian and Czech revolutions, without mentioning that these "threats" were a consequence of Soviet occupation and repression?" 

I could think of even more painful analogies, but it is almost always wise not to go there.

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