WHEREAS the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and her Arab neighbors has occupied much of the attention of American journalism, in all of its forms, since the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948, making Israel a daily staple of print, audio and video news outlets; and
WHEREAS news reporting is a subjective art, where facts, events, visual images and opinions are selected by the reporter in order to construct a narrative of a news story that is of interest, and that the personal bias of the reporter always governs the subjective process of selection; and
WHEREAS numerous examples abound of gross violations of accuracy, imbalanced reporting and distortions of the truth in reporting about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, including:
- The use of misleading definitions and terminology, such as describing Yassir Arafat simply as a “revolutionary,” a “civil engineer,” and a trailblazing diplomat who was the first to be accorded special status at the United Nations. In fact, Arafat is a founder of a terrorist organization connected to acts of terror. Arafat’s Fatah and PLO were responsible for hundreds of deaths, airplane hijackings, bombings, mass murders – including the execution of American and Belgian diplomats, the Munich Olympics massacre, the Achilles Lauro hijacking, and mass murder attacks on civilians in Lod Airport, Ma’alot, Kiryat Shemona, and others.
- Reporting opinions disguised as news. For example, implying that Israel’s very existence is to blame for the conflict and advancing the old propaganda that Palestinians were left without a country of their own because Jews displaced them.
- Selective omission and distortion of facts. Some media outlets have explained the latest round of violence by reporting that the Palestinians, after the breakup of Camp David, turned to violence “in despair. ” In fact, Israel’s offer at Camp David gave the Palestinians every opportunity to realize a state on 95% of the land, overlooking mixed sovereignty in Jerusalem. Others have reported that the PLO was “created to liberate Palestine,” when the fact is that when Arafat joined the PLO in 1964, the West Bank and Gaza were fully in Arab hands and the PLO’s primary goal, as expressly stated in its covenant, was the annihilation of Israel. Still others have distorted history by reporting that until 1967, when Israel gained East Jerusalem, Jews were able to pray at the Western Wall. In fact, between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan held the old City, Jews not only could not pray at their holy site, they could barely view it from a distance.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon Jews everywhere to pay special attention to the way Israel is portrayed in the media and the conflict in the Middle East is reported.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that when a violation of accuracy or media bias against Israel occurs, that letters, emails and phone calls of protest be directed towards those media outlets and their sponsors.
Passed by Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, February, 2002