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      Fundamentally Freund
      by Michael Freund
      An alternative approach to Israeli political commentary.
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      Michael Freund is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister´s Office under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He has lived in Israel for the past decade.
      Shevat 8, 5765, 1/18/2005

      The Media's Selective Hearing


      Hundreds of residents of Sderot, the Israeli town in the Negev that has been the target of repeated Palestinian rocket attacks, are today conducting a protest march that will take them to the Gaza village of Beit Hanun, from where the bulk of the rockets have been launched.

      Sderot4_a The people of Sderot are angry, and justifiably so – their lives have been disrupted by the near-daily assault on their city, and they are fed up with the government’s thus far empty promises to bring about an end to the rocket attacks against them.

      The campaign launched by Sderot’s residents has been the subject of intense coverage in the Israeli media in recent days. It has dominated the airwaves and the print media, and has led off the evening news. In-depth reports have looked at the psychological toll of the rocket attacks on Sderot, in addition to the physical and economic damage that have been caused.

      And this is how it should be – after all, it is the media’s job to be telling us this story, and drawing the public’s attention to what the residents of Sderot are being forced to endure.

      The responsible manner in which the media has been covering Sderot, however, stands in sharp contrast with the irresponsible way in which they have failed to adequately report on similar attacks against Jewish communities in Gaza.

      It is hard to escape the feeling that the assaults on Gush Katif and its residents just don’t seem to matter as much to the pundits and anchormen because the victims are “settlers” rather than “Israelis”.

      I sincerely hope this is not the case, but the very absence of balanced reporting on what the Jews of Gaza are going through does raise more than a few question marks.

      Regardless of what one’s position might be on the presence of Jews in Gaza, the fact is that they are Israeli citizens no less than their neighbors in Sderot, Tel Aviv or anywhere else. As such, they deserve the same amount of compassion, sympathy and – yes – coverage, as do other Israelis coming under attack.

      I am glad that the Israeli media has decided to hear the cry of Sderot and give its inhabitants a platform to reach out to the public. But it’s time for them to stop with their selective hearing (and selective reporting, as well) and to give the Jews of Gush Katif their fair share of exposure, too.