Op-Ed: MEDIA MATTERS: Media Bias Against Israel
Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPRThe author is CEO of 5WPR, 1 of the 25 largest PR Agencies in the US.
Through the years, the media has had repeated continual bias against Israel. As one who works closely with the media owning a leading PR Firm, there are many who criticize the media, from inside and outside the Jewish world.
This media coverage is biased, and does so much damage to Israel and the Jewish people worldwide:
-An adviser to Natan Sharansky, the head of the Jewish Agency, said a few years ago, "You can't brainwash people for four years that Israel is an illegitimate country and that Israelis are like the Nazis and that Israelis are monsters and expect that nothing will happen to Jews." He is right – words and actions have grave consequences.
-“The discrepancy between what actually happened and the version of what happened provided by sources is an enormous gray area.” Jay Epstein.
-Prime Minister Netanyahu was recorded in an interview as saying the two main enemies of Israel are the New York Times and Haaretz. He commented, ‘They set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read them every morning and base their news stories … on what they read in the New York Times and Haaretz.’”
-“The quack, the charlatan, the jingo, and the terrorist can flourish only where the public is deprived of independent access to information. But where all news comes at second-hand, where all testimony is uncertain, men cease to respond to truths and respond simply to opinions. The environment in which they act is not realities themselves but the pseudo-environment of reports, rumors, and guesses. The whole reference of thought comes to be what somebody asserts and not what actually is.” Walter Lippman, Liberty and the News
-“We are still fighting, not just against terrorism, but for fair treatment in the media. Given the overwhelming influence of the media on public perception, this is a battle we must win.” Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
-“If newspapers are useful in overthrowing tyrants, it is only to establish a tyranny of their own.” James Fenimore Cooper.
-“WHEREAS the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and her Arab neighbors has occupied much of the attention of American journalism, in all of its forms, since the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948, making Israel a daily staple of print, audio and video news outlets; and WHEREAS news reporting is a subjective art, where facts, events, visual images and opinions are selected by the reporter in order to construct a narrative of a news story that is of interest, and that the personal bias of the reporter always governs the subjective process of selection; and WHEREAS numerous examples abound of gross violations of accuracy, imbalanced reporting and distortions of the truth in reporting about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians…THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon Jews everywhere to pay special attention to the way Israel is portrayed in the media and the conflict in the Middle East is reported. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that when a violation of accuracy or media bias against Israel occurs, that letters, emails and phone calls of protest be directed towards those media outlets and their sponsors.” Rabbinical Assembly of America
-“Is it not obvious that society cannot continue indefinitely to get its news by this wasteful method? One large section of the community organized to circulate lies, and another large section of the community organized to refute the lies! We might as well send a million men out into the desert to dig holes, and then send another million to fill up the holes.” Upton Sinclair, The Brass Check
-“A lot of this hatred and intolerance comes from ignorance. People don’t know the facts…Israel can do no right in the UK press. Israel always is wrong and everything has a very negative slant. It has become very black and white, where the Palestinians are right, and Israel is wrong… It is helping poison people towards Israel because they are not being told the truth of the conflict. I think there is a case of if you tell a lie enough times, people accept it as being true.” Kasim Hafeez, Muslim Zionist
-“Some people in the press, I think, are just lazy as hell. There are times when I pitch a story and they do it word for word. That’s just embarrassing. They’re adjusting to a time that demands less quality and more quantity. And it works to my advantage most of the time, because I think most reporters have liked me packaging things for them. Most people will opt for what’s easier, so they can move on to the next thing. “ Kurt Bardella, former press secretary for republican congressman Darrell Issa.
So many of us read the media regularly and yell at the TV, or throw the newspaper down in disgust. Wrongly disgraced former United States secretary of Labor Ray Donovan asked the court when he was acquitted of false charges that ruined his career: “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”
Israel needs to visit that same place.
One of the reasons I who grew up in the Betar youth movement of Ze’ev Jabotinsky chose to work in public relations was to influence the words of the media. In 1932, Jabotinsky said:
“Who were the first to teach us to always interfere in matters that are not ours, to judge people and nations, even though we were never chosen for the position of judge? The work of the publicist is a legacy from the Prophets of Israel…Our passion is to speak, to proclaim—“Shouting” is what the same audience calls it, ‘we have no need for words, give us actions.’ One thing that audience forgets is that speech is also an action – Perhaps the most authentic of all other actions. Cities have been destroyed, and more will fall, but what was shouted in the wilderness thousands of years ago is alive and still relevant. The world was created by the Word. The world will be mended by the Article.”
Media bias harms Israel – and anyone who knows right from wrong has the obligation to speak out. In today’s world, we found out about the killing of Gadhafi or Bin Laden – and so much other relevant news from people sharing media themselves.
With the rise of digital media, and other tools, everybody today is a journalist, and everybody today is in media. Everybody has access to making a statement, to saying something, and that’s good and exciting, but also scary.
We all must help improve Israel’s public image and help Israel however we can.