Sunday 6 July 2014

Obsession, Exclusion and Double Standards – the points of prejudice in the Coverage of an emergent Third Intifada

Screen-grab of RTE lunchtime news and sports bulletin, 6th July 2014

RTE’s obsession and exclusion

On July 6th 2014, Ireland’s public service broadcaster, RTÉ, broadcast a Sunday lunchtime news programme (repeated cyclically on the RTE News Channel) featuring a report on the alleged beating of an Arab-Palestinian teenager, Tariq Khdeir, who possesses US nationality.

At two minutes, the length of the report was unusual because the entire Sunday lunchtime news and sports bulletin lasts only five minutes by convention. Indeed, the story of the beating came after the 45 second opening report on an exclusive interview with Richard Bruton, an Irish government minister. The story of the alleged beating was then followed by a 15 to 20 second slot on the murder of twenty-nine Kenyans in two terrorist incidents, and a shorter mention of a major parachuting accident in Poland that led to eleven deaths! The bizarre length of the feature represents a not-uncommon media obsessiveness with negative stories coming out of Israel, which trump far more significant stories from other parts of the globe, both near and far.

In RTE’s favour, the news report did acknowledge that Hamas neither confirmed nor denied that they were responsible for the kidnapping of three Jewish Israeli teens on June 12th 2014, after the state broadcaster had falsely stated in the previous reports that Hamas denied any involvement in the kidnapping.

However, RTE failed to include any response from Israel, after featuring a lengthy comment from the son’s mother. Whilst displaying the video of the beating, it failed to give anything but passing reference to the days of violence visited by masked “protesters”, upon Israeli citizens, of which Tariq Khdeir was likely one such rioter.

RTE consistently favours Arab-Palestinian narratives in its news reports. Regrettably, there seems little prospect of improvement.

Masked Arab-Palestinian rioters with catapult

Double standards

With RTE, and other news outlets, there has been a very notable trend in featuring almost generic reports of Arab rioting, since it gathered pace with the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir on July 2nd.

The conflict is presented, by the media, as constituting “running battles” between Israeli security forces and Arab rioters. Absent is any proper mention of Israeli civilian casualties, further attempted Jewish kidnappings, and attacks on numerous religious sites. Even the United Nations has not escaped the ire of rioters, despite its long-standing support for Palestinianism.

Remarkably, the murder of Arab-Palestinian youth, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, has been baselessly blamed on the Israeli state by some elements in the mainstream media. It perhaps stands as an implicit justification for the missile attacks from Gaza, and remorseless rioting directed against the Israeli security services.

The mainstream media has comprehensively ignored mass Arab-Palestinian support for the kidnapping of the three Jewish teens: Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel. The overt racial motifs of Palestinian Authority support was also ignored. Likewise, the media minimised Hamas’ praise of the abduction, after falsely reporting that Hamas had denied involvement in the kidnapping.

Further subtle justification could be found in the not infrequent media claims that the kidnap victims were all settlers when in fact only one lived in a Jewish settlement.

As news emerges of the arrest of six Jewish youths for the murder of Abu Khdeir, news has simultaneously surfaced that an Arab-Palestinian taxi driver has confessed to the murder of a 19 year old woman, Jewish Israeli national Shelly Dadon, for what is believed to be nationalistic reasons. This confession has received little or no coverage outside of Israel itself.

Similarly, there has been no noticeable mainstream media coverage of the murder of a 60 year old Jewish woman. Her body was found in a parking lot in Pisgat Ze’ev, a Jerusalem neighbourhood, after a violent Arab riot occurred in the area, where chants of “kill the Jews” were reported.

With friends like these…

Unfortunately, Israel’s ally, the United States has also contributed to this double standard. When reports of the alleged beating of US national Tariq Khdeir emerged, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated:
“We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force. We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force.”
The statement stands in rather stark contrast to the United States’ oddly weak response to the kidnapping one of the three Israeli’ teens, Naftali Frenkel, who also happened to be a US citizen. Rather than speak up clearly and loudly for this victim, who faced a considerably graver circumstance than Tariq Khdeir, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki instead chose to call for “restraint” on both sides:
“We recognize this is an incredibly sensitive and difficult circumstance on the ground, and we feel all sides should exercise restraint”
Such commentary echoes the attempts by news outlets, such as the New York Times, to place blame on Israel for attempting to rescue the kidnapped teens, since efforts to do so might destabilise relations with the Palestinian Authority and worsen conflict with Hamas.

Endemic racism

The mother of one of the prime suspects, in the kidnapping and murder of the three Jewish teens, denied her son was involved, but nonetheless expressed pride should he have committed the act:
“If he did the kidnapping I’ll be proud of him,” she said. “I raised my children on the knees of the (Islamic) religion, they are religious guys, honest and clean-handed, and their goal is to bring the victory of Islam”
Her statement is redolent of the praise lavished upon the Nazi SS — cleanliness, obedience and duty. It stands as further evidence that the Arab-Israel conflict concerns religion rather than the supposed deprivation of land, constituting the reason Yasser Arafat walked out of the Camp David talks. A peace plan including shared sovereignty of Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount with the Jewish State could not be tolerated, despite the favourable concessions to almost all Arab-Palestinian territorial demands.

Ultimately, the stark dichotomy, whereby Arab-Palestinians celebrate the kidnap and murder of three Jewish teenagers, whilst using the tragic murder of an Arab-Palestinian youth as an excuse to initiate a Third Intifada, demonstrates starkly the abiding racism of Arab-Palestinian society.

Humanity is by definition a universal concept, but to Arab-Palestinian society that humanity would seem to exclude the Jewish people. Many within Jewish-Israeli society rightly protested the probable revenge killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir whilst Mohammad Zoabi, an Arab-Israeli teen, one of the few to express solidarity with the kidnap victims, was gravely threatened by his adult relatives, and mother. Meanwhile, his relative, Knesset member of parliament Hanin Zoabi, sympathised with the kidnappers, and Hamas.

Regrettably, prejudicial diplomacy, and wholly biased media coverage, continues to reinforce this appalling double-standard. It fuels an ancient genocidal hatred, rather than helping to confront it.

Published at Crethi Pleth.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for such an accurate assessment of the biased media reports against Israel. Unfortunately, it isn't limited to RTE--it's typical of the BBC and Sky.
Regarding the rioter who resisted arrest and the subsequent response by the US State Dept. spokeswoman, ironically, I read this article just after reading a report on an American great mother who was beaten senseless by an LA trooper. What did the White House have to say about that incident, I wonder? What pure hypocrisy.

Read at:

Well done on the great analysis.


Rob Harris said...

Hi Nora

Thanks very much for your positive feedback, and welcome to the blog. Absolutely of the broadcasters – SKY and especially the BBC are extremely prejudicial – you probably know of - Euronews and France24, two other widely available broadcasters, also have big issues unfortunately.

Shocking story of an LA trooper brutally beating an elderly woman who was probably in a highly disorientated mental state. I expect theWhite House had nothing to say of the incident, and the excuses for repeatedly punching her in the head are extraordinary. The blows to Tariq Khdeir when he was on the ground cannot be justified but it is still far less blameworthy in a situation where there is sustained violence of a genuinely grave nature against these security forces (the use of high powered catapults and petrol bombs etc., by hundreds of rioters is not the picnic in the park that many pro-Palestinians would have us believe), of which Tariq Khdeir was very much a likely participant, despite his denials.

Liza said...

I recently emailed the CBC (Canadian) with the same complaint of anti-Israeli bias in their reporting. Right now, however, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has made his and Canada's support of Israel a non-negotiable issue. He has also refused to speak out strongly against the prison sentences handed down to the Al Jazeera reporters who also happen to be dual Canadian citizens. Under his leadership, Canada and Canadians will have the freedom to speak out against the Islamic scourge that is infecting the world and that is making its presence felt in Canada with the discovery of Jihadi recruitment in cities such as Calgary.

Rob Harris said...

Hi Liza, thanks for your comment. Maybe if there were very extreme examples of bias at CBC then you could mention it to a relevant group supportive of Israel!

It is great to see Stephen Harper's support for Israel - too few leaders are brave enough to do so since it would earn displeasure in various influential circles at the UN etc.

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Rob Harris said...

Hello Kabbalah,

Thanks for the positive comment. I hope to post further articles in the coming weeks, after a long delay. I must view your site through a translator.