Israel, the Media’s Hard Bigotry of ‘High’ Expectations and the Obama Intifada
Some in the chattering class have argued that jihadism is understandable or even the “only option” for supposedly disenfranchised Muslims seeking to overturn the status quo political order in the Middle East. This view evinces a soft bigotry of low expectations.
Conversely, the idea that Israel’s response to jihadism is always and everywhere “disproportionate” – that unless Israel acts in a self-righteously suicidal manner it is in the wrong – evinces a hard bigotry of “high” expectations. I put “high” in parentheses because the idea that sacrificing oneself to one’s enemies is a high and moral standard is among the most perverse and low ideas.
Never has this hard bigotry been better illustrated than in the media coverage in recent weeks of the Third Intifada being perpetrated by Arab jihadists in Israel – an Intifada deemed by some the Obama Intifada.
While Muslims attack Jews daily with knives in and around Jerusalem, the media has been unsheathing its own figurative knives, mimicking jihadist savages by stabbing Israel with the pen rather than the sword. In spewing what is in effect Arabist propaganda in the form of blatantly misleading and/or asinine headlines, the questioning of proven historical fact (let alone re-writing of it) or the outright manufacturing of stories, the media is in effect engaging in ideological warfare against Israel, whether wittingly or unwittingly.
The media’s narrative begins from the pretense that Arabs are attacking Israeli Jews based on an alleged change in the “status quo” with regard to the Temple Mount. The acceptance of this intellectually dishonest premise is based in part on the Arabs’ masterful manipulation of Western intellectuals. Arab propagandists play to the principle pathology of Western elites that there must be some external reason why jihadists attack; the jihadists; doctrinally-backed desire to kill the infidel in general and the Jews of Israel in particular is of course ignored, as is the very meaning of the word “jihad” itself. If the Temple Mount were not the “proximate cause” for the murdering of Jews in Israel, there would be some other “provocation” legitimizing Arab offenses.
To believe otherwise is to ignore what the “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on September 16th of this year: “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.” Apparently this is news to our media, which like our president seems to take the ignorant view that the political representative of the Arabs of Palestine “has proven himself to be somebody who has been committed to nonviolence.”
While anti-Israeli sentiment in the press is nothing new, the nature of the vitriol towards Israel is qualitatively and quantitatively different in these Obama years. As liberal AP reporter Matti Friedman stated during a speech that built upon his must-read articles regarding the media’s systematic malpractice during and after the 2014 Gaza conflict in Tablet and The Atlantic:
In my time in the press corps I saw, from the inside, how Israel’s flaws were dissected and magnified, while the flaws of its enemies were purposely erased. I saw how the threats facing Israel were disregarded or even mocked as figments of the Israeli imagination, even as these threats repeatedly materialised. I saw how a fictional image of Israel and of its enemies was manufactured, polished, and propagated to devastating effect by inflating certain details, ignoring others, and presenting the result as an accurate picture of reality.
… The international press in Israel had become less an observer of the conflict than a player in it. It had moved away from careful explanation and toward a kind of political character assassination on behalf of the side it identified as being right. It valued a kind of ideological uniformity from which you were not allowed to stray.
More pointedly as he noted in Tablet:
When the people responsible for explaining the world to the world, journalists, cover the Jews’ war as more worthy of attention than any other, when they portray the Jews of Israel as the party obviously in the wrong, when they omit all possible justifications for the Jews’ actions and obscure the true face of their enemies, what they are saying to their readers—whether they intend to or not—is that Jews are the worst people on earth. The Jews are a symbol of the evils that civilized people are taught from an early age to abhor. International press coverage has become a morality play starring a familiar villain.
…You don’t need to be a history professor, or a psychiatrist, to understand what’s going on. Having rehabilitated themselves against considerable odds in a minute corner of the earth, the descendants of powerless people who were pushed out of Europe and the Islamic Middle East have become what their grandparents were—the pool into which the world spits. The Jews of Israel are the screen onto which it has become socially acceptable to project the things you hate about yourself and your own country. The tool through which this psychological projection is executed is the international press. [Emphasis mine]
This mindset explains the insanity of reports from the likes of the Washington Post counting Arab jihadists in Israel as casualties of attacks, as if they are equal victims to the Jews they have murdered in cold blood.
This mindset explains tweets from CNN deceptively portraying jihadist desecration of Biblical sites as incidental and not explicitly caused by said jihadists.
This mindset explains the passive language of the New York Times in outrageous headlines like “Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem.”
As the Lutheran pastor and courageous Nazi resistor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Not to speak is to speak.” Today he might say of Israeli-Arab coverage, “Not to judge is to judge.” That is, in trying to appear “even-handed,” the media actually explicitly judges when it comes to Arab jihadists versus Jews in Israel.
In drawing moral equivalence between two morally unequivalent sides, the media downgrades Israelis while upgrading jihadists, and worse judges the Israeli as the oppressor and the Arab as the oppressed. The media judges jihadist savagery as tolerable, but Jewish defensive action as unacceptable. The media judges the Arab right to a state (for a Palestinian people that has never existed) as inviolable, but Israel’s right to exist as unconscionable.
President Obama has been perhaps the leader among all leaders in the West in creating a climate under which jihadism, and its apologists, dupes useful idiots and agents of influence have flourished. One of the president’s most poisonous legacies in connection therewith is in the mainstreaming of an unfounded moral equivalence between the Arabs of Palestine and Israelis, and out-and-out Arabism in the face of a longstanding alliance with America’s only ideological kindred spirit in the Middle East. This policy is euphemistically known as “creating daylight,” but one suspects that is not how it translates into Hebrew.
Moreover, President Obama has paved the way for the acceptance of anti-Jewish rhetoric often masquerading as legitimate anti-Zionist “criticism” as the consensus view among progressives specifically, and increasingly Democrats generally. This represents a secular shift on the Left, the implications of which have yet to be fully appreciated.
In the final analysis, the Obama Intifada is about far more than the acceptance of Muslim violence against Jews and other infidels. It is about in effect complicity with those who wish to destroy the very Judeo-Christian edifice on which Western civilization relies. It is a pox on America’s house, and a blight on her soul.
Ben Weingarten is a frequent commentator on economics, politics and defense, and Founder & CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication advisory firm. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Previously, Ben was a publishing manager and editor at TheBlaze. He began his career in investment banking, specializing in bankruptcies and restructurings. Ben is a graduate of Columbia University, where he majored in Economics-Political Science.