One of the things that has become increasingly clear to many of us who care about the well-being and the future of the Jewish state is the fact that the media is quick to rush to judgment, present partial stories, take things out of context and, in many other ways, slant stories against Israel. This is not to say that Israel is free from blame but it seems consistent that when there is a quick, snap judgment made it is to Israel’s detriment. And if a correction is made it is often too late. The damage has been done. (Just think about the lack of impact of a Page 35 retraction days after a Page 1 mistake and you get a sense of what Israel encounters over and over again.)
That is pretty much the case with what happened over the weekend with CNN. There was supposed to be a convergence of Palestinian activists on Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel but, because of some good preparation by Israel, it didn’t really seem to take off. Few activists actually showed up at the airport and those who did received a letter from the Israeli government that CNN initially referred to as “snide”. I will give it to CNN that the letter was a bit sarcastic but what the news outlet failed to do was to indicate whether it was factually accurate or not.
And the fact of the matter is, the accusations made by the letter are 100% accurate. The regime in Syria is savage. The Iranian regime is violently cracking down on anyone who speaks against it. Hamas brutal and constantly seeks to cause civilian casualties. And Israel IS the only democracy in the region, the only country that offers women equal rights, the only country with a free press and the only country that seeks to actively protect religious freedom.
All of those things are absolutely true and are clearly laid out in a direct, and admittedly sarcastic, letter. But did CNN seek to point that out or did they simply use the title to criticize Israel? Did CNN misstep or did they simply miss an opportunity to offer some clarity to what really is going on in the Middle East?
And if they stood by their decision to call Israel out on the tone of the letter rather than highlight the points it sought to make why did they, just a few hours later, change the story title to a more neutral “Israel detains pro-Palestinian activists”?
Yes, a “Page 35 retraction”… But the damage was already done.
Here’s the full story from Honest Reporting.
Flytilla Fails to Take Off
April 16, 2012 14:14 by Simon Plosker
It was meant to be a Palestinian PR dream. Over 2,000 activists scheduled to converge on Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, arriving on planes from around the world as part of a “Welcome to Palestine” flytilla.
Israel had done its homework, however. No-fly lists of potential activists sent to airlines prevented many from even boarding their flights at the point of departure. What could have been a major international incident turned from a flytilla into a floptilla, the lack of action described by The Times of Israel reporting from Ben-Gurion Airport:
But by mid-morning, nothing much was happening. Nothing had been happening for quite some time, reported an Associated Press TV cameraman in the arrivals hall who had replaced another cameraman who had watched nothing happen for most of the night. …
There were no fewer than 13 TV cameras and about 30 journalists around the terminal, bored and standing around in clumps. Anyone expecting Tahrir Square was presented instead with “Waiting for Godot.”
Indeed, the story barely registered on the radars of the US press, probably due to the fact that the majority of the activists were Europeans.
Snide headline of the day went to CNN:
Hours later, CNN updated the headline to something more neutral: “Israel detains pro-Palestinian activists”.
And what of the “snide letter” described by CNN? It’s worth noting as one of the means deployed by Israel to pop the activists’ balloons.
Dear activist, we appreciate your choosing to make Israel the object of your humanitarian concerns.
We know there were many other worthy choices. You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime’s daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives.
You could have chosen to protest the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world. You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double war crime by firing rockets at civilians and hiding behind civilians.
But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, where women are equal, the press criticizes the government, human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all and minorities do not live in fear.
Therefore we suggest to let you solve first the real problems of the region, and then come back and share with us your experience.
Have a nice flight.
Having seen the problems that supposedly “non-violent peace activists” could cause Israel, for example the Mavi Marmara flotilla, or regular protests and damage to the West Bank security barrier inflicted by foreign activists, it’s no wonder that Israel took this latest provocation very seriously and preferred to prevent these people from entering Israel at all.
A demonstration at Ben-Gurion Airport under the banner “Welcome to Palestine” is probably a more accurate reflection of the motivations of the activists. After all, most of the radical campaigns against Israel are less about Israeli policies and all about Israel itself and its very right to exist in the region. Rather than “pro-Palestinian”, the actions of many of these protesters is anti-Israel and does nothing to promote peace in the region.
This didn’t, however, stop Phoebe Greenwood, who also reports for The Guardian, from describing the campaign as a “protest against the expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territory” in the Daily Telegraph.
Harriet Sherwood in The Guardian termed it as an “attempted show of solidarity with the people of the West Bank.” She also couldn’t help but include a subtle dig at Israel:
Those suspected of being pro-Palestinian activists were taken first to a smaller terminal, with a “Welcome to Israel” sign above its doors, for interrogation and from there to a nearby prison.
While Sherwood may have portrayed it otherwise, the irony was not deliberate on the part of Israel. Rather, Ben-Gurion Airport’s Terminal One does indeed have a large sign greeting travelers as it has done for many years and not just for this particular occasion.
Overall, however, as the Israeli letter to the activists pointed out, other very pressing concerns in the Middle East continues to expose the obsessive and disproportionate and often hateful attention leveled at the region’s only real democracy. Thankfully, at least in this case, the international press also had better things to do with its time than pander to what turned out to be an expensive failure of a PR stunt.
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