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January 14, 2011

Tablet on Missing Media BS-detector


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On the Tablet Magazine website, journalist Lee Smith provides his take on questionable allegations that Jawaher Abu Rahma died due to the inhalation of tear gas at a recent violent protest in the West Bank town of Bilin.

It’s not clear why both the [New York] Times reporter, Isabel Kershner, and her editors at the foreign desk failed to treat the story with more circumspection: If the chances of dying from inhaling tear gas in an open space were not infinitesimal, wrongful-death suits would prevent police forces from using it as it they do throughout the United States and Europe to disperse riotous crowds.

If journalists won’t run narratives like the death-by-tear-gas tale through the most rudimentary BS-detector, it makes it harder not to conclude that they are willing to believe the worst about Israel. At the least, this is evidence of a lazy press corps that ought to take its work a little more seriously; at worst, it means that the Western media knowingly participates in a campaign to slander and libel a U.N. member state.

Outside of the Palestinian fable, floated in the late 1990s, about the Zionist chewing gum that made Palestinian women both sexually intemperate and sterile, it’s hard to think of a whopper that the Western media has not swallowed whole. Among other exaggerations and outright fabrications was the so-called “massacre” at the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. The Western press dutifully followed the lead of the Palestinian news agency, Wafa, and reported that thousands, or hundreds, of Palestinian civilians were killed. Even as subsequent reports, including a U.N. investigation, revealed the truth of the matter—56 Palestinians were killed, the majority of them armed combatants—the narrative describing Israeli soldiers as war criminals and wanton murderers stuck.

You can read his entire piece here. And for a brief history of Palestinian mythmaking, see Presspectiva's column in Israel's Yisrael Hayom, translated to English here.

Posted by GI at January 14, 2011 12:50 PM

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