|An imaginary newspaper report about 9/11|
1) Your job is to report facts, not reinforce a narrative. Really. The facts matter – they form the basis for judgments. So here are some facts for you, meticulously documented and updated (with details and graphs worthy of a data scientist) in a shared Google spreadsheet by Nehemia Gershuni-Aylho. According to his data, in the fifty days from September 11 through October 31, there have been 1,315 Arab Muslim attacks on Jews, including stabbings, bombings, rock-throwing, etc. That’s about 26 attacks per day resulting in the murder of 11 innocent Jews. Adjusted for the US population, that’s over 1,000 knife, bomb and other attacks per day that kill 440 people during fifty days of terror. How would the US react to that?
2) Remember that the weaker party can be wrong. Actually, when a Palestinian man stabs a 70-year old woman, he’s not even the weaker party. Sometimes Palestinians do indefensible things. Sometimes Israel is guilty of only trying to protect its citizens from insanely hateful violence. And as an honest reporter, you should try to show this.
3) Properly identify the terrorist and the victim when reporting on casualties, and describe the main causal sequence of events with relevant context. That’s how you avoid headlines like “Jewish man uses his neck to attack the blade of Palestinian’s knife.” The BBC’s distortions were actually not far from that when they effectively turned terrorists into victims. The BBC’s bias is so egregious that even its former chief complained.
4) Do your homework on this region. Learn its basic history so that you don’t moronically suggest (as the NY Times did) that Jews have no historical connection to the Temple Mount. Otherwise it looks like you’re trying to support Palestinian revisionism against basic facts and endless archaeological evidence (including what a 10-year old recently discovered).
5) Learn the history of this conflict enough to know that Pallywood has been actively deceiving journalists for at least 15 years now, in an effort to delegitimize Israel. Before publishing “information” fed to you by fixers and “eyewitnesses,” realize that even Amnesty International has admitted the unreliability of “eyewitnesses” in this conflict. The most galling Pallywood example from this latest round of Arab terrorism is the inflammatory lie – by “moderate” Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas – that Israeli forces had “executed” a 13-year old. The truth: he was treated in the same Israeli hospital caring for the boy he tried to murder.
Such lies can kill. Because when it comes to this conflict, Arab leaders know that violence replaces reason at the slightest provocation – like hooligans at a football game incited to attack the opponents of their beloved team. So inciting lies are very much a weapon. The media should know this and expose the falsehoods, rather than blindly proliferate them. Journalists should know that “reporting” inflammatory claims can produce mob violence, and should therefore be doubly careful about checking facts, unless of course their goal is to trigger riots (which do produce more sensational news stories).
6) Learn the history of this conflict enough to know that Arab Muslims have been killing Jews in this area for over a century, with shifting excuses over time.
7) Stop trying to use the latest of those shifting excuses to justify the unjustifiable (here, too, the BBC is an offender). No alleged grievance warrants randomly stabbing people in the street. The average Syrian is infinitely worse off than anyone in Gaza or the West Bank, but Syrian teens aren’t randomly stabbing civilians. Countless refugees from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere have risked their lives for the hope of a better future in Europe. And yet there are virtually no Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza among the millions desperate to reach Europe. So random stabbings don’t reflect some miserably unfair existence – they are the product of raw hatred and incitement.
8) Take note of nuances. Ninety-two Israeli Arab Muslims have committed terrorist attacks. They are not under occupation (and have better freedoms and living standards than most of the Arab world has). So clearly these attacks are not about any political dispute; they are driven by the same hateful incitement that rejects any state for the Jews.
9) Show cause and effect (ideally one before the other), and not just effect. When you show only Israeli responses to attacks, it makes Israelis look as if they wake up every morning asking how they can hurt Arabs. Israelis actually have better things to do with their mornings. Like cure cancer and stuff. But when people are trying to kill them, they understandably get a bit distracted. If the world could keep Israelis safer, cancer might get cured faster.
10) Articles should contain a logical subject and verb, preferably in a way that indicates who did what. According to CNN, Joseph’s Tomb spontaneously “catches fire.” CNN would rather change the laws of physics than blame Muslims for trying to burn a Jewish holy site. But there is a long list of non-Muslim sites that have been desecrated or destroyed by Muslims – from the Buddhas of Bamiyan razed by the Taliban to the countless monuments and churches destroyed by the Islamic State. History is also littered with Islamic conquests that converted non-Muslim holy sites into mosques.
11) Israeli lives matter. Getting both sides of the story means including photos and profiles of Israeli victims of Arab terrorism at least as often as you include photos and profiles of Arab attackers who were killed while trying to murder innocent Israelis. In case you’re not sure what it’s actually like to survive a stabbing attack, Kay Wilson’s TED Talk is a must-watch for some valuable context (and a reminder of what a life-affirming culture looks like, as opposed to the death cult trying to stamp it out).
12) Don’t be afraid to present Gazans as they present themselves (brandishing butcher knives and calling for Jewish blood). Show this Palestinian mother who celebrates that her child was killed trying to murder Israelis and who hopes that she and her other children all die for the same “cause.” Showing the Palestinian death cult of Jew-hatred that runs from crib to coffin might help observers understand why there’s still no peace.
Just for some context, when was the last time that you saw a video of a Jewish mother hoping that she and her children can all die for the sake of murdering some Germans to avenge the German Nazi murder of six million Jews (which seems a bit worse than praying on a contested holy site)?
13) If you want to falsify information to sanitize Palestinian terror, as NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin did, try not to do so on live TV, because you’ll look really biased (and stupid).
14) It’s better to research whether the maps you display on your “news” broadcast were produced by anti-Israel propagandists BEFORE you broadcast them, because otherwise you’ll look as biased (and stupid) as NBC/MSNBC did.
15) To ensure that your reporting is fair and consistent, consider how a similar event was covered in other countries/contexts. For a strikingly convenient example, contrast how differently NBC News (again!) reports on airstrikes taking place in two neighboring Mideast conflicts, within just eight days of each other:
On October 3, NBC News used this headline to report that 60 Russian airstrikes in Syria killed 39 civilians: “Russia Launches New Wave of Airstrikes in Syria.” On October 11, NBC News used a much more personalized headline – with victim profiles – when reporting on one Israeli air strike that killed two civilians: “Israeli Strike in Gaza Kills Palestinian Woman, Child as Violence Continues.” So are two Gazan civilians more worthy of attention and sympathy than 39 Syrian civilians?
Ironically, despite your endless bias in favor of Palestinian terrorists, they thank you by posing as journalists in order to stab Israelis – a deceit that only undermines the trust that combatants have in the label “PRESS” and potentially endangers true war correspondents.
Each small instance of bias may seem like a mere “journalistic microagression” against Israel, but its cumulative effect is toxic and sometimes deadly. At best, the persistent anti-Israel bias poisons many millions – from voters to policy-makers – against Israel. Even worse, it can lead to anti-Semitic violence, by mobs and/or individuals thugs, as is so often the case in Europe.
You journalists are key to a fair and civilized world. Start acting like it.
Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.