You are currently viewing My Life As An AP Bureau Chief In Israel

My Life As An AP Bureau Chief In Israel

The wall separating Israel from the West Bank

And the truth about bias

When I led coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the world’s largest news organization between 2004 and 2010, my colleagues and I knew we were writing about the globe’s most scrutinized story. But we tried to take it in stride. As long as we angered each side equally, we surmised, we were doing something right.

So when we were falsely accused of “erasing” a video of a young Palestinian boy getting shot by an Israeli soldier, we decided not to give it credence by responding. And when these past few days, a former colleague stated, again falsely, that we buried key stories that made Israel look good, among other transgressions, my initial reaction was the same. Just let it go.

But there was something different about this accusation. For one, it came from a reporter whom I hired personally in 2006 in the middle of a war. And from a person who I thought then and still think now is a good writer.

Matti Friedman’s allegations, in a story in the Jewish publication Tablet, have gone viral, with more than 70,000 Facebook shares as of this writing. Eloquently written, it has the air of a ‘tell-all’ piece from a former insider. The article has struck a chord among Jews, despite its dubious central theme: that anti-Semitism thrives, even among non-Muslim communities in the West and especially among journalists.

With Israel’s public image reeling from the recent war in Gaza – and Israel supporters everywhere eager to counter the widespread criticism of Israel – the story’s timing was perfect.

Unfortunately, the story was little more than well-written hogwash.

Matti’s message was that Jews today – like their oppressed ancestors – have once again become “the pool into which the world spits.” Criticism of Israel, he argued, is the latest manifestation of old-style anti-Semitism, which has focused attention on Israel rather than the world’s true villains. The key to understanding this “hostile obsession with the Jews,” he wrote, “is to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.”

Matti didn’t mention names, but he was talking about me, and other leaders of the Associated Press bureau in Jerusalem. I’m no longer in that crowd. I left the AP nearly three years ago (to start the publication you’re reading now), which gives me something in common with Matti, who resigned around the same time I did. Both he and I can say whatever we want about those momentous years, without having to consult the AP or anyone else.

Matti’s article was essentially about bias – what he said was our bias against the Jewish state. If we are honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that bias, especially unconscious bias, is an inescapable part of the human condition. (The Nobel-prize winning Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman explained it elegantly in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, writing, “We are blind, and we are blind to our blindness.”)

It is true the conflict we covered can be framed in various ways: of downtrodden Palestinians facing off against powerful Israel, or of tiny Israel against the surrounding sea of 300 million Arabs. Often, I felt that attempting to “frame” it either way was not instructive. It was preferable to simply bear witness to what we saw unfolding before our eyes.

During my six-year tenure in Israel and the Palestinian territories, our staff was made up mostly of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims, with a smaller number of foreigners who belonged to neither or those two communities. Matti provided valuable, fair-minded input during those years, a voice that often helped ensure the Israeli viewpoint got a fair shake without belittling the other side. I was grateful for that, and for the other voices in the bureau who did the same for the Palestinians.

As bureau chief, I knew it was one of my key roles to fight bias in our reporting. Was this achieved all the time? I doubt it. But I know an honest attempt was made at all times. I always told our reporters not to deliver “milk toast” and to lay bare the raw passions of each side in all their glory, rather than trying to tone down the arguments. While fairness was of utmost importance, I told them, not every story had to be 50-50 (if you were reporting in 1930s Germany, I asked, would you be compelled to give half the space to the Jewish side and the other half to the Nazis?)

Matti states that the AP’s Jerusalem bureau – like all other major news operations based in Israel and the Palestinian territories – employs too many reporters because of this hostile obsession with the Jews. The truth is the story of Israel is that of a nation rising from the ashes of the worst genocide in human history, being attacked from all sides upon its inception. Depending on your point of view, it’s also a story about the persecuted becoming the persecutors. All of this, of course, is happening to the people of the Bible, the descendants of the Hebrew slaves who were led out of Egypt by Moses and from whose ranks emerged Jesus Christ. It’s as if a new chapter of the Bible is being written in our times. Whether you think the Bible is mythology or the word of God is beside the point. The point is we are all human beings who love a good story, and this one is particularly good.

In his article, Matti states that I personally suppressed stories that did not fit my narrative of Israel being bad, implying that I was a part of this worldwide media conspiracy against the Jews. It’s a large statement, and of course could only be true if I hated myself. The truth is I am not a self-hating Jew or any kind of Jew other than just a regular one.

There was a time years ago when the large media outlets avoided appointing Jewish people to lead news operations in Israel. Wouldn’t such a person be prone to taking the Israeli side? Or perhaps over-compensate by being too pro-Palestinian? Experience has shown those concerns were largely unfounded, and that Jewish bureau chiefs in Israel have been pretty much the same as anyone else. In my case, I have no doubt that my Jewishness gave me a keener appreciation of the Israeli cause. I also know that my intense feelings about Jewish persecution – and the fact that much of my own family was murdered in the Holocaust – made me even more sensitive to the plight of the weak, no matter who they were.

I was present in Pakistan when another Jew, Daniel Pearl, was murdered. I was chasing after an interview with the same militants who brutally ended his life, and at first I thought he was “lucky” when he beat me to them. I knew his fate could have been mine. I did not know Steven Sotloff, the Jewish journalist recently beheaded in Syria, but his personal story, too, was not unlike mine.

Yes, I have a strong Jewish identity. But what I believe in most is humanity.

One of my favourite memories of my time in Afghanistan is of a local AP colleague, a devout Muslim, driving around Taliban-ruled Kabul singing the Hebrew hymn “Shalom Aleichem.” I had taught it to him. In the morning, my children and I drink from ceramic mugs that were gifted to me by a Palestinian colleague in Gaza grateful that I secured him a hospital bed in Jerusalem when he suffered a medical crisis. The AP staff in Gaza and the West Bank all knew I was Jewish, and were all fiercely protective of me whenever I visited. Not unlike my colleague in Peshawar, Pakistan who helped me escape the clutches of the ISI when they detained me at the Afghan border, getting beat up for it in the process. One of my favourite Facebook messages is the one I receive every year from a former colleague in Gaza – no matter the situation on the ground – wishing me a Happy Passover.

I do not believe in suppressing good stories, and would never do so. Nor do I think Israel is bad.

If an article didn’t appear that Matti thought should have, it was not because it didn’t fit a pre-ordained narrative or because we had it in for Israel. Deciding which stories to pursue involves news judgment, and rare events are more newsworthy than common ones. Reporters do not write about all the houses that DON’T catch fire, and corruption in Sweden is more noteworthy than it is in Nigeria. (Though it must be stated that Matti’s assertion that the AP ignores Palestinian corruption and other aspects of Palestinian existence is untrue).

Matti stated that a female reporter in our bureau had access to maps showing the contours of a generous Israeli offer of a Palestinian state, but that the bureau’s leadership refused to run the story. The map he’s talking about was indeed shown by a Palestinian official to one of our reporters. It affirmed a longstanding Palestinian proposal for a land swap that had been part of the Geneva Initiative, and was old news.

During my years with the AP and other news organizations, I reported from some two dozen countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Colombia, Cuba and Israel. I have been threatened, shot at and shelled, and I have been present when colleagues were injured and killed. Were there times when we decided not to report a given fact because we thought it would endanger one of our reporters? Yes there were, and one of these incidents occurred when Matti was on the editing desk. But these events were extremely rare – perhaps only two or three times during my entire six-year stint in Israel/Palestine – and we withheld the information only after concluding that it would necessarily be traced to the reporter in question, thus jeopardizing his life.

Matti and I were in Israel at the same time covering the same news. I am grateful for the acknowledgment he gave me in The Aleppo Codex, the wonderful book he wrote on the stunning fate of one of history’s most important Hebrew manuscripts.

Of course I do question Matti’s belief that the international media is teeming with anti-Semitism. And I do wonder how a person with his intelligence and compassion can fail so completely to see the other side.

Except for one reference to an Israeli transportation service in the “occupied” West Bank, Matti’s 4,000-word story in Tablet did not mention the word “occupation.” That a sizeable percentage of the population making up the Holy Land live under Israeli military rule against their will did not merit a mention tells us something about the prevalence of bias.

No, media coverage of Israel is not the new face of global anti-Semitism. In every society I covered in my decades as a foreign correspondent, whistle blowers were dubbed traitors and defenders of the status quo were considered patriots. Matti seems to argue that Israel should be left alone because it’s not as bad as Bashar Assad or the Taliban. I believe there’s nothing wrong with giving voice to all those who believe the Jewish state can and should do better.

And I feel the same way about the Palestinians.

Matti writes, “If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate.”

During my time in the region, I worked hard to ensure the strength of AP’s coverage of the entire story, both in Israel and the territories. We upgraded our offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza City, and appointed a full-time senior staffer to oversee coverage of the Palestinian territories. Those moves continue to pay dividends, providing highly nuanced, well-researched insights into these areas (in recent weeks alone, the news agency ran stories on Palestinian nepotism, dissenting voices in Gaza, Hamas corruption and the arrest of a top Hamas official for financial misdeeds).

There’s no such thing as perfect balance and a complete lack of bias. Not when you’re dealing with human beings. But there is something called good faith, and I’m proud to say we had lots of it in Israel and Palestine. I say that in the spirit of fighting bias – not as a Jew, but as a journalist.

____

For a more detailed rebuttal of Matti Friedman’s two articles in Tablet, see here.

____

Steven Gutkin runs Goa Streets along with his wife Marisha Dutt

This Post Has 105 Comments

  1. Jason

    Richard Behar – Your article in Forbes and Matti’s article in Tablet are the two MUST READs from all of Operation Protective Edge. I want to thank you personally for writing about what I have been reading for years. Being a spectator to the Israel/Arab conflict has made me feel like a conspiracy theorist, until you both confirmed what I had been seeing for years. Thank you!

  2. Amy Rosenbaum

    Mr. Gutkin’s response to Matti Friedman serves to reinforce rather than rebut Friedman’s assertions. I am sympathetic to Gutkin’s tragic loss of family in the Holocaust, but like his self-described “strong Jewish identity,” that is neither a credential nor relevant to the essential problem identified by Friedman and others, which is the pronounced bias against Israel in the mainstream media. Gutkin writes of his “honest attempt” to fight bias, but one is forced to question both his credibility and competence as a journalist when he refers to “Israel/Palestine,” apparently unaware that no such place exists. Gutkin dismisses Friedman’s article as “hogwash” despite the overwhelming evidence of media bias against Israel available to any fair-minded reader of the AP, Reuters, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other mainstream news sources. (For a methodical analysis of this phenomenon, Gutkin might want to read Richard Behar’s article in Forbes: “The Media Intifada: Bad Math, Ugly Truths About News York Times in Israel-Hamas War.”) Certainly, we all have our biases but, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan eloquently stated, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” What Gutkin fails to understand is the profound failure of most journalists and editors to differentiate between facts and opinions in their coverage of Israel.

  3. Charles Weiss

    I, too, served as a bureau chief in Jerusalem (for Voice of America from 1976-1980 and 1987-1991). His experience has a very familiar ring to it, even down to the office space we shared with the AP in Rehov Hasoreg. In fact, for the professional journalist in these kinds of situations, bias is very much in the eye of the beholder — and you cannot escape it.

  4. Richard Alan Buckberg

    If you cannot see the profound and fundamental anti-Israel, and now clearly anti-Semitic, bias in nearly all world media, then you have lost any and all fair perspective you might have had. While your response MAY defend YOUR work, it does not change the fact that Israel is nearly always displayed as the imperialistic aggressor. That is not an accident or a representation of the facts on the ground. Rather, it is by design.

  5. John Richmond

    When one reviews the activities of the BDS movement and the recent press coverage of Gaza, it is unsurprising that some regard both as anti-Semitic and/or anti-Israel.

    The constant refrain that the Palestinians are somehow victims of Israeli aggression overlooks the many attempts, since the First Aliyah and in the run up to WW1 that Zionists made to establish cordial relations with the inhabitants of what was then Southern Syria. These included, Zionists standing for the Ottoman Parliament, Zionists providing free education and health care to Arabs. Yet, none bore fruit partly because, which is unchanging, the view of the Jews as dhimmi and therefore a people to be subjugated.

    If only the media would explain the background properly, it would resolve many of the misunderstandings as well as reveal the extent that today’s conflict has is rooted in the Great Powers strategy during WW1.

  6. Bhupinder S. Liddar

    Is the statement not true? During my visits to Gaza and West Bank, as a non-Jew, non-Muslin, non-Christian, the thought of “persecuted had become persecutors often ran across my mind”.

  7. sam

    An Arab is a justice on the Israeli Supreme Court.
    An Arab was one of the three Justices that convicted former Israeli president Moshe Katzav. Arabic along with Hebrew is an official language of Israel . Arabic is found on the currency ,stamps and road signs in Israel even though Arabs can speak and read Hebrew. An Arab was awarded the first prize at the Jerusalem film festival.An Arab heads a medical department at a major Israeli hospital.
    Arabs are found in all professions and trades. Twelve Arabs are members of the Israeli parliament(Knesset). These activities are some of the examples of the cultivation of Arab culture in Israel certainly not rascist. Africans mostly from Sudan and Eritrea sought refuge in Israel not in Egypt or any other African or Arab country because Israel and Jews have a reputation of being kind and helpful.The number of African refugees in Israel is over 60,000. African refugees make up ten percent of Tel Aviv ‘s population . Israel is small ; half the size of Costa Rica . Its total population is 8.2 million, 1.6 million(20%) are Arabs. Israel can only absorb a certain amount of refugees and is trying to find jobs and housing commensurate with its size but a point may be reached when Israel will have to limit the number.In the 1980’sand 1990’s Israel became the only country in history to go into Africa and ship out tens of thousands of Africans(Ethiopians)not to make them slaves but to give them freedom and a better life .About 120,000 Ethiopians now live in Israel.
    Over the centuries Jews have lived in many countries and have come to be open and appreciate a wide variety of human peoples and cultures. When we say Jewish State we don’t mean a place where non- Jews will serve Jews. When we say Jewish State it is similar to, Elephant Sanctuary ,that is- a place where an endanger species (of humans) can seek refuge . And just as in a wildlife preserve we find all manner of creatures living and thriving there so too in Israel all manner of peoples live there. But in a sanctuary no hunter of the endangered species are welcome. Sanctuary means holy place in Latin and what makes the Holy Land, holy today, is that it preserves life. Also because the security wall saves human lives.both Arab & Jewish it is holier than the Western Wall . God considers nothing more precious than the human who was created in the image of God.
    Leaders of the Palestinians people stop firing rockets and start launching friendship and love at Israel , as did Anwar Sadat, and you will not be shamed or disappointed by Israel’s response.

  8. Bhupinder S. Liddar

    The so-called “apartheid wall” is a reality and speaks louder than a thousand words! What is wrong with the picture?

  9. Bhupinder S. Liddar

    What a insightful and refreshing read! Glad you responded rather than duck Matti’s allegations.
    Keep up the good work and as a humanist keep up the good work for justice and regard for human beings.

  10. Brian from Toronto

    Richard,
    I read your piece in Forbes. It was excellent. Thank you for the excellent work.

  11. Marvin Katzen

    If all of what you say is true, why do we not see Hamas terrorists setting up and shooting off rockets from schools and hospitals? Why do we not hear about Iran sending military equipment to arm the poor Palestinians? Why is so little effort put into crafting stories about what the Israelis have done to appease the Palestinians? Why are all the victims of Israeli military response innocent civilians? Where are the terrorists? Somebody has to be shooting rockets, building terror tunnels, planning raids into Israel. It’s as if they don’t exist! So, who is shoveling the bullshit?

  12. Max Neiman

    Actually, why would you expect 70,000 people to read Steve’s response to Matti? However, there are plenty here who do. The central criticism is that Steve really doesn’t address Matti’s direct, specified arguments, but in nearly every instance merely dismisses the points made by him.

  13. Max Neiman

    I sympathize, but you’ve not addressed Matti’s direct claims. You dismiss them. Moreover, Matti made it clear that he opposes and objects to Israeli settler and occupation policy, but that it wasn’t his central point. I too believe Israel’s occupation and settler policies are illegal, immoral and corrosive. I also believe that the world’s obsession with Israel’s conduct and the “disproportionate” response in part has contributed to Israel’s hardening views and to the destruction of Israel’s left.

    Respectfully,

    Max

  14. Howard Jaeckel

    I agree completely. Concluding that American media coverage of Israel is driven by antisemitism may be a reach, but it is merely descriptive to point out that coverage of that country — a vibrant, diverse, remarkably productive and existentially-threatened democracy — is overwhelmingly negative. I tend to think that this phenomenon is more attributable, at least in the U.S., to mindless third-worldism than antisemitism. People on the left — and that definitely includes most journalists — tend always to side with the wretched of the earth, no matter how utterly wretched they may be.

  15. Art Hister

    But what you don’t address, and what is so central to the charges against the media, is the unbelievable focus on Israel and what it does, when much worse atrocities are committed elsewhere every minute.
    Just consider the number of stories in AP (and other new outlets) on and from Syria versus how many have run on Israel, when the number of refugees and deaths in the former is so much greater than and about Syria where the number of atrocities (civilian deaths, summary executions, refugees) dwarfs anything that has ever occurred in Palestine.
    Where are the daily reports and regular updates about civilian deaths in Syria?
    As a liberal Jewish son of Holocaust survivors who could never never accept this until recently and who fervently wishes it weren’t so, there is a (huge) disproportionate amount of negative attention on Israel, and there can be only one reason why

  16. marvin steiner

    Reconciling differences between Gutkin and Friedman is like trying to find a pony in a pile of horse manure.From each of their perches they both try to shed light.

    I don’t question Gutkins motives,but I believe he failed as I believe most of the main stream press fails to present balanced coverage.My view is conditioned by reading mainstream press since 1938.In all those years I have become amazed at how little I know.The more I read,seemingly the less I know. That’s true of the press also, the more they write the less they know worse yet the less they understand.All exacerbated by prior influences and conditioning.

    For the 12th time maybe the 20th time I finished Joseph Roth’s Wandering Jew.The cultural acceptance of the Jew as the other is so universally accepted it’s almost in our DNA.Roth is correct when he describes anti-sematism among Jews.He speaks not of self loathing,but of the shoena Yiden’s view of themselves.Goitein and others describe the “dhimmi” status of the Jew in the Muslim world.Together Roth and Gotein present a Jew who is in the minds of those we lived and today live among as some one less then they,who have not reached their level of attainment.

    Despite evidence to the contrary Jews have reached their level and in so many cases have exceeded their level.How then do those who see us as less explain Israels accomplishments?.Alternatly the US gave them everything because of AIPAC,others claim Israel stole everything from the US and on it goes.The Jew,grasping and greedy in their historic view,a client of a super power,bullies and takes from the guiltless poor and down trodden.How else can these despised inferiors win war?It’s a hang over shared by the world,even some Jews.

    Maybe Nietzsche looked in the wrong place for his”superman”.
    .

  17. Rosette Liberman

    In his response to Matti Friedman’s exposé of media bias against Israel, Steven Gutkin quotes psychologist Daniel Kahneman (“We are blind, and we are blind to our blindness.”) A careful reading of Steven Gutkin’s “My Life As An AP Bureau Chief in Israel” reveals that he is indeed blind to his own bias in favor of Palestinians and against Israelis.

    He calls Matti Friedman’s story “hogwash” (a sweeping condemnation from a self-professed fair-minded man) but counters directly and persuasively only one of Friedman’s accusation: the one about possible the threat to a reporter’s life. All his other assertions

    • that he lost family in the Holocaust
    • that he is not self-hating
    • that he has Muslim friends and colleagues
    • that he likes Matti Friedman personally
    • that he almost never killed pro-Israel stories
    • that he knew Daniel Pearl

    are just that, mere assertions and irrelevancies that evade Friedman’s accusations instead of responding factually and directly to them.

    What is revealing is his anti-Israel rhetoric. “Depending on your point of view, it’s [Israel] also a story about the persecuted becoming the persecutors,” writes Gutkin, and the implication is clear that this is his viewpoint.

    Gutkin goes on to question “that the international media is teeming with anti-Semitism.” Either he never reads French and Spanish newspapers or listens to the BBC, or he is the victim of selective blindness and deafness.

    Gutkin’s use of the word “occupation” makes clear his belief that the West Bank is Arab territory rather than disputed territory whose ownership has yet to be determined through negotiations and mutual compromises. He also ignores the fact that Gaza from which Israel withdrew voluntarily has, since the withdrawal, been shelling Israel and threatening genocide against all Jews instead of making peace. Obviously “occupation” is not the problem.

    Gutkin writes that his family members’ deaths in the Holocaust have made him “even more sensitive to the plight of the weak, no matter who they were.” Consider the shocking implications of that statement inserted into his commentary on Israeli-Arab relations. Given Israel’s military might, Gutkin is likening Israel to Nazi Germany and the Palestinians to the Jews in the Holocaust — a transparently fallacious straw man analogy. Unlike Palestinians, European Jews never declared war on Germany, never taught their children to become suicide bombers and consequently never celebrated the deaths of their sons and daughters who murdered innocent civilians in quest of heavenly rewards, never danced in the streets and handed out candy when Germans experienced hard times, never taught their children that Germans were subhumans, never threatened Germans with genocide (as the Hamas Charter does), never shelled German civilians with missiles. In arrogating his sympathies, Gutkin considers only the identity of “the weak,” not their behavior — as if “weakness” justifies brutality and bigotry. Now there’s a view strongly conducive to biased reportage.

    Steven Gutkin claims that he’s “fighting bias – not as a Jew, but as a journalist.” His readers have news for him. He’s not fighting bias in any capacity — he’s promoting it, and his article merely confirms Matti Friedman’s accusations.

  18. Mark Wisan

    i’M ONE OF THE 70,000 WHO forwarded Matti’s story in Tablet. I was a reporter during the Vietnam War. I left journalism because there were news organizations clearly against the war that had few sponsors. News organizations clearly in favor of the war had more advertisers. The news organizations with the most advertisers did not present their readers and viewers with the real complicated truth. They presented some fascinating stories that were pro-war and some that were not. They did not present stories which explained why we were in the war because these stories were not as fascinating. We journalists failed in Vietnam because we relied on sponsors who needed to sell their products to our readers. The story that most Palestinians do not want all the Jews dead is boring. The few who do want all the Jews dead will never give an honest interview. Reporters who report on what the leaders of Hamas don’t want known are sometimes killed, but more often are simply shunned and thus deprived of their livelihood – reporting from “Occupied” areas.

  19. Anonymous

    oh dan, you are so obsessed with Israel !!

  20. Joe

    Treating Israelis with closer scrutiny and holding them to a higher unspecified standard specifically because they are Jews and because of Jewish is history is anti-Semitic. Gutkin used Judaism as a justification to purposefully set a uniquely high bar at an amorphous height and then found them wanting. It seems as if there is no bar short of self-destruction that Israel can attain to satisfy its critics in the media. In short it is “because they are Jews they did not do enough and we should bash them, but we are not anti-semitic.”

  21. Karen

    Thank you for your insight into this joke of an article. We need more reporters like you.

  22. Bruce Richards

    I’m grateful that you both are free to write. Those living the reality of the Middle East need thoughtful advocates. We all pray that the people can find more effective leaders…the conflict must end.

  23. earld

    Nice story, really and so what. News organizations routinely send more reporters to Israel than any other Arab nation for at least 2 reasons: reporters feel safer in Israel and in Israel the can at least hope for a headline, while in those other Arab trouble spots they might only get a ‘neck line” (after the beheading)
    On a more serious note, Israel uniquely understands religious persecution and it is in its true nature to show this mightily by inviting the tormented Yasidis of Iraq to live in Israel until it is safe for them to return to their homeland – all it might take is some ‘equally understanding’ neighbours to get the Yasidis to Israel’ safe harbour!

  24. Wendy Leibowitz

    Hi, Steve. Interesting response that addresses the accusation of anti-Semitism, but doesn’t address the majority of observations in Matti Friedman’s piece. Please look at the photo you use for this column. How about adding a photo of a victim of a suicide bombing, since the wall/barrier was erected to prevent suicide bombings?

  25. fairbrit

    I agree with you. Gutkin must be unaware of the unbelievable anti-Israel stance that British journalists take, both by journalists and news reporters. It is painful to witness night after night this slow drip drip feeding of myths, lies and misinformation disseminated to the public about Israel. Matti Friedman is saying something taboo. Perhaps Gutkin [and other journalists] are afraid to go there.

  26. william bilek

    Your allegation is incorrect:
    “The Hague Convention of 1907 specify that “[t]erritory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.” The form of administration by which an occupying power exercises government authority over occupied territory is called “military government.”

    Under NO legal definition can Gaza be considered “occupied”. You might also note:
    “Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar confirmed Tuesday there is no Israeli occupation of Gaza, according to a report published by Ma’an, a Bethlehem- based Palestinian news agency.”

  27. William Bilek

    Based on your experience “as a former reporter and editorial writer, ” perhaps you could elucidate for us exactly when, and by what law or legal process, the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria became “Palestinian territories”. As for being “occupied”, you might remind others on this thread that the occupation came about as a result of the Arab attack in 1967, and their subsequent and continuing refusal to negotiate a mutually agreed peace.

  28. stephan

    See Kashmir’ Spanish Morocco… Hattay, N Cyprus… all of wich get (proportional to their population, geopolitical degree of danger..) the same space as GAza/Israel occupation. And not to make a to large a point we will not talk about SSilezie’ Sudetten land’ Ukraine’ Voivodina’ Basque country’ Corsica…

  29. Stephan

    actually’ “from territories”, not ALL territories. Please let the facts spoil your beautiful story!

  30. Anonymous

    Actually, its 97% fence. The walled sections are to stop snipers from shooting at Israelis. Israel has removed some of the sections where attacks have stopped.

    As for the “Green Line”, that was never the actual border. Its an arbitary line “in the sand”. You should know that from all the accurate reporting coming out of the region! Oh, wait…
    Human bombs have been used against Israel from well before it took administrative control (as described and decreed by the UN) of these areas. They are and remain disputed areas, again, considered as such by the UN. Too bad the press doesn’t mention these facts. I wonder why?

  31. Stephen

    First, it is administered areas (as stated and defined by the UN), and not yet Palestinian lands as there is no present country with that name. The press may have filled your head with this incorrect belief, but chalk it up to poor reporting.

    Also, Israel is not occupying Gaza. It pulled out all military and civilian presence in 2005. In return it has been attacked from Gaza by 23,000 rockets and mortars since then. Something generally unreported by the press.

    As for the “West Bank”, the PA controls 97% of the area. Hardly “occupied”, but you generally won’t find that mentioned in Western media.

    Further to occupations, when Gaza was illegally annexed by Egypt in 1948, as did Trans-Jordan the “West Bank”, they were never consider occupied; they were considered Arab lands and the people there as Arabs. Palestinian was a term used to describe Middle-Eastern Jews and considered to be called such an insult to the Arabs of the region. At least until 1967 when Arafat decided to call these Arabs “Palestinians”. Something else forgotten by reporters reporting from the region.

    But what of the various real occupations around the world? Tibet, where ethnic Chinese are shipped in from China to displace the Tibetans? Or Turkey’s occupation of half of Cypress? When do we hear or read anything about those real occupations and the displacement of locals? Turkey’s attacks upon Kurds? The various other wars where Christians are being slaughtered or forced out? You hear crickets. But have an Arab claim his knee was scratched because an Israeli pushed him, and the press jumps into the story, publishes the story, and weeks later when the story turns out to be unsubstantiated and just a lot of hot air, the retraction is slow (if at all) to come out.

    You know, some of those intellectual Jewish friends of your could be intellectually dishonest.

  32. relda

    More AP reporters in Israel in peacetime than in all of the rest of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa because it’s just so darn interesting.

  33. Anonymous

    Dan Verg, you speak with authority about the awful Israeli racism etc. I assume you know israel and israelis very well! If you do, then i feel sorry that you hate your own people and culture so much, refusing to see the good and the light in the israeli (jewish and muslem) people! If you don’t know the country or culture, then I suggest you shut up, or maybe buy a ticket to isael..and find out for yourself!! Unlikely! You’d rather express your ignorant opinions!!

  34. Sharon Gordon

    I assume you are aware that in 1948 there were far more jewish refugees (not talking about post holocaust europe, I know you know about that) thrown out of arab lands than the total number of arabs leaving Israel due to the Independance war, instigated by the arab world! Interested in that? I doubt it!

  35. Sharon Gordon

    All the jewish credencials and years of journalism doesn’t change the fact that to the layman/woman (we don’t have journalism jobs to protect or journalist group mentality) the press is absolutely totally biased ahaonst Israel and has been since the early 1980s!!! If you don’t see that, how can you call yourselves fit to be reporters…ney, ‘objective’ reporters!!??

  36. Sharon Gordon

    Agree completely!

  37. Sharon Gordon

    You know, it’s amazing how the ex colonialist of the entire world feel they have the right to a moral judgement about…anything! Yes, there IS more important and offending news than Israel’s response to hamas rocket fire! But it doesn’t seem as interesting as Israel fighting to defend its right to exist! Nor do you feel ‘obligated’ to moralise as you do about Israel. Hypocricy, double standards, anti semitism…and of course, inherent bias against the jewish state that puts most of europe to shame, when it comes to truth, history and morality.

  38. Sharon Gordon

    “STORY” being the right word! This appeasing, cheap, economically viable type of journalism (“everybody loves a good story”…especially if it can bash Israel ) is in a large part, responsible for the huge rise in anti semitism nowadays! It has made this new anti aemitism into an art form/ high fashion among the pseudo and pretentious. As a jewish journalist, this writer, in my opinion, fails on both counts.

  39. Sharon Gordon

    Yes, the correct term is ‘disputed’ territory. Calling it occupied is a perfect example of mefia bias! It is not objective and lends credence to arab propoganda, lies and manipulations…and this jewosh journalist denies anti Israel bias?? Please!!

  40. Sharon Gordon

    I agree too! Self justification and nothing more!!

  41. Jon

    I agree with the comments that while this editorial is written decently, it fails to address the overall point that Israel is over-represented in the news (and usually in bad light). To explain why Israel is so over-represented, the answer is that it is a good story. Seriously, that is the best you can come up with? There are no stories just as fascinating going on throughout the world, that Israel needs a permanent representation greater than all the other countries in the Middle East combined?
    As for the argument that AP does not suppress but rather goes for “new” stories, what exactly is new with the same stories of settlements building new bathrooms in existing apartments and “innocent” stone-throwing Palestinians being shot by troops, mainstays of the AP and other news organizations in Israel? For crying out loud, can’t any new reporting take place? How about positive reporting on Israel, where Palestinians are treated in Israeli hospitals, the cultural sites of Israel which are world-renown, or a nice story on every day citizens? After all, if you have so many reporters stationed in Israel, they can’t all be reporting the same stories each day.
    Matti’s story did not mention “occupation” because that was not the point of his story. The point was that Israel is over-represented. Period. By you pointing at Occupation, you prove his very point that this is really what it is all about. After all, there are plenty of other Occupied countries. How many reporters does the AP have stationed in Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, or Tibet?
    While you point to recent weeks where the AP has run “highly nuanced, well-researched insights into” Palestinians and their society, and how that was all after an upgrade, as yourself – how much of this was taking place in the past, and how many more articles has the AP investigated and ran about the Israeli side over the Palestinian side?

  42. Vandoren

    Steven, simple question: why in many MSM including AP during 50 day war in Gaza we did’t see a single photo of Hamas terrorist? Why all videos and photos were only dead children,destruction and IDF. Strange, but israeli civilians also were not shown.Please, name a single othe war conflict where other side (military) was never shown? And you still talk about no bias? It’s not bias but info war on side of Hamas. I’m from Russia and must say that lsraeli reporters for russian tv channels (expect RT) were well balanced and some even pro-israel.

  43. Yael

    See: A person who has never stepped foot in an Israeli school, or met a single Israeli child.

  44. nedjacobson

    Dan:by that simplistic logic, Gaza remains occupied by apartheid Egypt. Please explain?

  45. Atique

    “Depending on your point of view, it’s also a story about the persecuted becoming the persecutors”. This single line is the reason, Israel depict you as antisemitic, but this is true. You did a good job, a professional job. Wish you success.

  46. Menachem Shanowitz

    You fail to address Matti’s core arguments, instead, you spend much of the article badmouthing Matti, attempting to portray him as some Pro-Israel fanatic, whose great writing skills are what makes the article relevant, and asserting your Jewishness, as an attempt to cover for your Anti Israel bias.

    Matti’s main proof of argument was not the occasional Anti-Israel story, it was the absolutely overwhelming, widely disproportionate bias on the Palestinian side.

    The fact that Israel has “more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined” and more “than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted” cannot be explained simply because Jews are the people of the bible returning to their homeland.

    The fact that none of the many mainstream news organizations in Gaza did not provide any photo or film of (dead or alive) Hamas terrorists, or any of their activities, cannot be explained away simple because of the reporters safety, especially when it isn’t addressed even after their reporters have left the area.

    The fact that there is zero criticism of the Palestinians in proportion to the overwhelming criticism of Israel, cannot be explained with the idiotic 50-50 argument.

    The fact that every single mention of the West Bank needs to be preceded by the word ‘occupied’ (something that Matti does as well in his article) cannot be explained as providing relevant information that the reader may not be aware of.

    And I could go on and on..

  47. Zvi

    You wrote: “Depending on your point of view, it’s also a story about the persecuted becoming the persecutors.” I sense that among your other associations you have about Israel, this mental model governs your actions. And I think it’s wrong. This model is out of context, historically and big-picture-wise. I will not bother supporting my view with evidence, as it may not do any good here.

  48. ann bar dov

    I agree with you, Jon Yank. Matti Friedman’s piece had a lot more “meat” to it. It’s nice and all that Steve Gutkin’s non-Jewish contacts looked out for him in so many different ways, but this does not change the larger (depressing and infuriating) picture that Friedman presented.

Comments are closed.