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September 06, 2009

JTA Questions Ha'aretz Reports on Israel-U.S. Relations

"Are inaccurate media reports hurting U.S.-Israel relationship?" is the headline of a JTA article by Eric Fingerhut questioning the accuracy of three articles by Ha'aretz's Barak Ravid.

President Obama told Jewish leaders in a July meeting that Israel needs to “engage in serious self-reflection.” Israel’s new U.S. ambassador was “summoned” to the State Department to be lectured about Israel's building settlements in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called two top aides to Obama “self-hating Jews.”

All of these reports appeared in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

And they've all been disputed or denied by the principals involved.

Nevertheless, the tales have become an important part of the day-to-day narrative on the U.S.-Israel relationship. Partisans and pundits on both sides of the political divide have seized on the anonymously sourced stories to herald their own preconceived notions of the Obama administration and Netanyahu government. . . .

With the Obama administration perceived in Israel as being more demanding than previous U.S. administrations, some conservative members of the Israeli government may be trying to manipulate the tension that has arisen over the settlement dispute by leaking stories to portray a more dire situation, observed Yoram Peri, director of the Gildenhorn Center for Israeli Studies at the University of Maryland and an expert in Israeli politics and media.

Peri cautioned that one must separate public rhetoric from real diplomatic process, which happens mostly behind closed doors.

He also attributed the problematic reporting to “the serious decline in the level of Israeli media.” Today's Internet-driven news culture -- where “scoops” are more highly prized than ever -- and the financial difficulties facing newspapers have contributed to a tabloidization of the news in Israel, Peri said.

“The Ha’aretz of today is not the Ha’aretz of 10 years ago,” Peri said.

For more on the Ha'aretz of today, see here.

Posted by TS at September 6, 2009 04:17 AM

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