Photojournalists in Israel. (Ruben Salvadori/Flash90) (Ruben Salvadori/Flash90)
Foreign press

Israel has been encountering biased and unfair foreign press coverage of the events transpiring in the country and has many examples as evidence, but the foreign media still blindly insists their conduct is professional and their reports reflect the truth.  

The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on Legal Warfare discussed on Tuesday the foreign media’s biased coverage of the current wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel which have claimed 30 lives and wounded over 300.

Subcommittee Chairperson Member of Knesset (MK) Tzipi Livni convened the session after CBS ran a contentious headline following last week’s murder of border policewoman Hadar Cohen near the Damascus Gate, which stated “Three Palestinians killed as violence grinds on.” CBS subsequently was forced to modify the false headline in wake of an international outcry.

”We are forced to treat the international media arena as a hostile arena,” Livni said. ”I do not think the State of Israel should not be criticized, that is the media’s job. The problem lies in those cases where Israelis and Palestinians who are killed in the same incident are placed in one package. This conduct creates the sense that these murders are not linked in any way, to the point where they are viewed as road accidents.”

Michael Oren

MK Michael Oren. (AP/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

MK Michael Oren noted the media’s disproportionate fixation on Israel, pointing to the fact that that ”the number of foreign journalists is huge in relation to those who are covering Syria. Moreover, whenever there is an incident in Iraq with casualties, the headline is much smaller in relation to a much less significant incident that occurs in Israel.”

Government Press Office (GPO) director Nitzan Chen said that Israel “is a free country with freedom of expression” and that quality of news reports published on Israel is not examined.

Chen noted that when CBS ran a similar offensive headline following a December 24 terrorist attack, the president of the network apologized and said junior staffers had made mistakes.

However, CBS failed to apologize after this incident, Chen said.

”Since October, most reports of the foreign press have been reasonable,” Chen told the lawmakers. ”There have been four or five incidents in which headlines after a terrorist attack were so twisted that news consumers in that country would have received the opposite impression.”

Besides the CBS headlines, Chen singled out a BBC headline from October which read ”Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two” – about a Palestinian terrorist who was killed after murdering two Jewish civilians in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Foreign Press on the Defensive

Reuters Luke Baker

Reuters’ Luke Baker at the Foreign Affairs and Security committee. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Reuters` Jerusalem Bureau chief and Foreign Press Association head Luke Baker rejected the claims of unbalanced or biased coverage by the foreign media. “We go through a very rigorous process whenever news happens, where you have to speak Hebrew in contact with police, the army and many spokespeople and people who are on the ground,” he said. ”This is a pretty rigorous process of reporting and checking facts.”

Baker noted that since the beginning of the current wave of violence, Reuters has published 700 headlines, only one of which turned out to be problematic and was subsequently corrected.

”I clearly don’t think the foreign press is biased,” he stated. ”I don’t think anyone is denying there have been errors, problems from time to time. Sometimes it’s been harder to correct them than others.” The many news organizations operating in Israel put out a “huge amount of coverage with very few factual errors,” he asserted.

”I fail to see the media has something to answer in terms of systemic bias.”

However, numerous documented incidents of media bias and unprofessional journalism demonstrate that there is indeed a systemic bias on the part of the foreign press in Israel.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel