The Three Rules of Western Discourse and Why The Media Must Always Blame Israel

It is truly astonishing how, it often seems, Western media coverage must blame Israel for everything that "goes wrong" in the Middle East, including murderous hostility to Israel.

Sentences often seem carefully formulated to push this claim and exclude any possibility of balance, much less accuracy. And no matter what the subject, it seems, this message must be snuck in.

Consider these two paragraphs in a Washington Post story about the Egyptian government's cancellation of a Jewish pilgrimage to a site in Egypt:

The government’s move underscores the changing relationship between Israel and post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt. The former president maintained relations with Israel, as laid out in the 1979 Camp David peace treaty, in part by curbing civil liberties with his expansive police force. Since his ouster last winter, anti-Israeli sentiment driven by Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has risen to the surface, and Israeli-Egyptian tensions have grown.

Relations soured further in the fall after a mid-August cross-border attack from Egypt led to the killing of at least five Egyptian border guards as Israeli troops pursued alleged militants. Many activists called for revisions of the peace treaty and protests outside the Israeli Embassy turned violent when some demonstrators stormed the building.

Let's list the subtle points made in these few sentences:

1. Egyptian resentment toward Israel and the treaty supposedly emerges from the use of repression to maintain it. So is Israel or peace with Israel responsible for the lack of democracy and free speech in Egypt under Mubarak? In fact, of course, there was a huge amount of criticism of the policy toward Israel and the latter country was continually attacked in the strongest language by both opposition and government circles. Since Mubarak was the dictator he could maintain relations with Israel if he wanted to do so. Hence the statement that he maintained them by repression is just false.

2. In fact, the relationship was called a "cold peace" precisely because the Mubarak government limited it (official boycotts of Israelis; harassment of Egyptian firms that wanted to do business with Israel; continual extremist anti-Israel propaganda in the state-controlled Egyptian media; denial of visas to Egyptians -- mainly Christian pilgrims -- who wanted to go to Israel, etc.)

2. Why has anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt risen in the last year? Because, we are told, Israel treated the Palestinians so badly. What about the ideological changes in Egypt? If Israel had done nothing, the same result would have happened. And how has Israel treated Palestinians badly in the last year? It has been a relatively quiet year actually.

3. No mention of historic levels of hatred toward Israel and Jews in Egypt, or of the emergence of revolutionary Islamist groups that -- including the two leading parties in the election -- openly call for Israel's extinction and use extensive antisemitic rhetoric.

4. Eight Israelis, six of them civilians on a bus, were killed by terrorists operating from Egypt. Those terrorists enjoy wide popular support because of the worldview and politics of most Egyptians. But we are to believe that hatred only rose because Israel accidentally killed Egyptian soldiers during the ensuing battle? The terrorists wore Egyptian army uniforms and were being pursued in the same area. Moreover, Israel even hushed up the deliberate murder of an Israeli soldier inside Israel by Egyptian soldiers in order to try to reduce tensions. Incidentally, the article says "at least" five Egyptian soldiers were killed. I don't think there is any doubt as to the number but it is hinted that there might have been more. What was a terror attack on Israel is thus turned into an Israeli attack on Egypt by the article?