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Israeli media troubles opportunity for Arab world
Saudi Gazette Newspaper, Sunday, October 14, 2012
By Ray Hanania
In the biased world of the pro-Israeli American media, the public could sometimes turn to a few newspapers in Israel to get close to the truth.
Newspapers like Haaretz and Maariv, while not totally objective, would offer balance.
That’s changing, not only in Israel but in the American media, too. A recent New York Times analysis shows how partisan politics combined with big money is destroying the small pockets of journalistic integrity in Israel, something that has been happening in the American media for years.
As in the United States, Israel’s media is steadily trending towards extremism, with the more professional media being pushed out by well-financed extremists like Sheldon Adelson who published the “free” Daily Hebrew language newspaper, Israel Hayom.
We always knew that Israeli media was fundamentally skewered. Israeli society is driven by hypocrisy. The rule of law only fully applies to Jews in Israel, while the rights of non-Jews are often compromised.
Israel has gotten away with this by using the Western media as a “human shield” of sorts against truth. During its 65 years of existence, Israel has fashioned its own news media built on bias, pulled punches and incomplete facts.
Adelson’s economic exploitation is merely the next logical step in the disintegration of objectivity in Israel. He is helping create a modern day “Big Brother State” where the denial of rights to non-Jews is portrayed as a normal part of their “democracy.”
Now, 65 years later, we are beginning to see the cracks widen in Israeli society, cracks that offer an opportunity for the Arab world to do to Israel what Israel has done to the Arab world.
That Israel has repeatedly violated international law is undeniable. The name “Israel” has become synonymous with “oppression” and “brutality”.
Israel has escaped judgment because it is protected by a wall of American media propaganda.
Israel’s media is changing much like its society, becoming more and more rightwing, fanatic and unreasoned.
That deterioration has created an opportunity for the Arab world to right the wrongs of Israeli injustice, correctly redact Israeli history and educate the uneducated Americans about the truth.
It’s ironic that just as Israel is experiencing its collapse into darkness, the Arab world is beginning a new potential renaissance. Granted the “Arab Spring” is struggling under the weight of historical oppression imposed by the West, but Arabs have a better chance of achieving true democracy and freedom than most Israelis who live in an insulated dream world of fantasy and self-delusion reinforced by their military power and Western media bias.
For years, the Arab world spent much of its time speaking to itself in Arabic. That made it easy for Israeli propaganda to dominate the hearts and minds of those in the West.
In communications, message is important. But more important is delivery of the message to the right audience. Today, Arabs speak to American audiences and the West in their language, English, the official language of democracy.
And just in time, too. There is a direct correlation between the rise of fanaticism and the collapse of Western economies. Economic hardships feed xenophobia.
As society drowns in economic chaos, panic stampedes the mainstream media to overreact by compromising on journalistic ethics even more than it already does in order to pander to moneyed audiences.
The health of a society is reflected in the health of its media. Rising economic hardships mean rising conservatism. Instead of informing the public, the media feed racist notions and stereotypes in order to survive.
That’s why Adelson’s politically partisan newspaper in Israel is succeeding, while the more enlightened newspapers like Haaretz and Maariv are dying.
One of the biggest challenges facing the Arabs in 1948 was not only their backwardness or the fact that America and the West were directly nurturing Israel’s success, but that Israel had the advantage of the Western media.
The media was biased. Its reporters, many of them pro-Israel, protected Israel, downplayed Israel’s atrocities and exaggerated the wrongs of the Arab world. Myths were built including claims that Arab leaders were behind the Holocaust, while real tragedies like the Jewish massacre of Arabs at Deir Yassin were downplayed and swept under the rug of “routine” reporting.
As Israel’s media begins its collapse, the Arab world media needs to grow, targeting the West and especially Americans, not in Arabic but in English.
Any investment to expand English language reporting from the Arab world can actually nurture a movement for justice for Palestine. And justice for Palestine would open the door to justice for the entire Arab world.
Life’s pendulum swings both ways. Now is the time for Arabs to make a difference.
— Ray Hanania is an award winning Syndicate columnist with Creators Syndicate. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com
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Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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