Do You Think the Media Has Been Biased in Reporting on Israel?

I know I’m not the only 20-something who reads theSkimm on her phone during her commute to the office. I had been waiting for the reliable, daily, millennial-focused e-mail to talk about recent events in Israel, and last week they finally delivered.

But in a less-than-stellar way.

Let me back up. I’ve been displeased, to say the least, with the media’s reporting of the recent Israeli-Palestinian issue, which began when Israeli parents were shot dead in the West Bank in front of their children, and has continued with frequent random stabbings of innocent Israelis throughout Israel proper.

I know the Palestinians have suffered, and continue to suffer, under oppressive governments and impossible economic situations. When it comes to the recent stabbings, however, I’m at a loss.

The “occupation” is not ideal. In my opinion, settlements, and the continued construction of them, are wrong. So is banning Arab workers from Israeli schools in the name of “security” (or racism). But is this really about the settlements, or is this about deep-seeded hatred? I think it’s the latter.

These attackers have ranged in age, but the ones that stand out to me are the ones committed by Palestinian teenagers. Yes, teenagers. Clearly these 13- and 15-year-olds (and the list goes on) have grown up in a culture of hatred, which is most worrisome. If the settlements ceased to exist, and Israel was no longer an “occupying power,” these attacks would not disappear. The hatred is not limited to the Palestinian side, as extreme right-wing Jewish groups also preach hate. It’s discouraging and upsetting to realize this is about more than occupation. It’s about deep-seeded hatred permeating both Jewish and Palestinian groups.

Which brings me back to the media. The media is not helping things. The headlines fail to mention that most of the Palestinians fatally shot by Israelis were the attackers, and that attacking someone with a knife in the middle of a busy city is, well, terrorism. I think if someone attacked a person in Boston while preaching death to his or her ethnic group, the attack would be called terrorism, not “frustration with the current situation.”

theSkimm, a trusted, millennial-preferred summary of the news, did a less-than-admirable job explaining the rising tensions. Writers chose to call the knife attacks “the ushe” (stabbings are usual?) and included this sentence: “Israel officials say these nearly daily attacks are ‘terrorism’ and that Palestinian leaders have encouraged these ‘lone-wolf’ attacks.” Wait, so random stabbings against innocent Israeli civilians are only potentially “terrorism”? In quotes? OK.

I decided to write theSkimm an e-mail, something I don’t normally do because it seems slightly aggressive. I’m including part of my e-mail here to better illustrate where I’m coming from:

“The current situation is extremely upsetting, but theSkimm needs to be more aware of bias. While I understand that the Middle East is extremely confusing, particularly to report on, this is not ‘the ushe.’ Saying so minimizes the severity of what is happening. Not every attack, or ‘escalation of violence,’ is the same. Many innocent Israelis (both civilians and police/IDF) have been injured in stabbings, otherwise known as terrorism, not ‘terrorism’ (in quotes in your paragraph for some reason).”

Fortunately, theSkimm seemed to listen (and their staff was great in replying to my e-mail). Here’s what they reported in the newsletter a few days later:

“Palestinian assailants have been attacking Israelis almost daily, often by knife stabbings, often in Jerusalem, and often by young attackers. These attacks have resulted in many clashes with Israeli security; 9 Israelis and 41 Palestinians (including the assailants) have been killed in this latest wave of violence.”

I think theSkimm’s more recent assessment of the situation is much more balanced, and their thoughts could potentially open up beneficial dialogue about the topic. I would love to hear what you think. Do you think the media has been biased? Does the information being thrown at you from a variety of sources spur any questions or the desire for more dialogue?

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