The 'Silent Intifada' and the collapse of decent Journalism

Thursday, October 23, 2014 |  Tsvi Sadan

Nir Barkat mayor of Jerusalem on Tuesday night accused the minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovich, for not doing his job in protecting the citizens of Jerusalem from Palestinian riots that have been raging in the city since last May. Despite the severity of these riots the Israeli media has only been sporadically reporting these daily riots and went even further by terming them a 'silent Intifada' – an oxymoronic term that communicates a tacit understanding for the motivation of the rioters. As a whole the mainstream media have chosen not to report countless cases of vandalism to Jerusalem's light-rail carriages and stops, countless cases of stone throwing, Molotov cocktail attacks and even sniper fire on cars, buildings and people. Riots have also become frequent on and around the Temple Mount.

The inadequate coverage fails to mention that this current wave of violence started a month before the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers. Since May more than 107 policemen have been injured and more than 700 Palestinians have been arrested. By ignoring these important details, the media continues to give the impression that this 'silent Intifada' resulted out of the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Khdeir was a victim of rage committed after the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers. When the riots continued, during and after operation Protective Edge, the Israeli media conveniently explained that the violence was being expressed due to the military operation.

The scandalous media coverage is not limited to silence over the ongoing violence in Jerusalem; it also adds insult to injury by referring to sporadic Jewish acts of retributory violence as racial or hate crimes while continuing to claim the Palestinian violence as nationally motivated. The murder of Abu Khdeir, as an example, was reported by the Walla website as a racial crime while ignoring the fact that the murderers clearly said that it was an act of revenge for the murder of the three Israeli teenagers. This kind of journalism implies that Jews are racists while Palestinians are fighting against the occupation. It further gives the impression that Jewish violence is as widespread as the Palestinian violence. The fact is that Jewish violence, as bad as it is, comes in response to the ongoing Palestinian riots.

To bring some kind of proportion, Ir Amim, a Left-wing organization that closely monitors violence in Jerusalem reported 19 cases of physical attacks against Palestinians during July. The same organization, that is so concerned with Jewish violence, fails to mention the hundreds of cases of Palestinian violence against Jews during the same month. It also fails to mention that the rising Jewish violence is directly connected to Palestinian violence in the city. Ir Amim, as does the Israeli media, also fails to mention that while Jewish violence is condemned by Jewish officials from across the board the Palestinian authority is doing whatever it can to inflame the situation.

The Israeli media is not unique in its fantastic failure to present accurate and unbiased reporting of reality. It is particularly alarming when the Israeli media succumb to journalism that actually brings harm to Israel. Though the Israeli media usually prides itself for being the "watch dog of democracy," this very type of poor journalism will place this very democracy in danger. More and more Israelis are thinking that if democracy is that which the media reflects, they are better off without it. Most Israelis cannot relate to a journalist who says on the evening news that the Temple Mount is no more than an expensive piece of real estate. Many resent the media's portrayal of the conflict as Israeli racism against Palestinian nationalism and the majority of Israelis still think that Jewish democracy takes precedent over multicultural democracy. In this light the collapse of decent journalism is not only a form of malpractice but an actual threat to Israeli democracy.

Editor's Note: This article was written before the terror attack on Jerusalem's light-rail tram that resulted in the death of the 3 month-old baby girl!

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