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May 25, 2011

USA Today Hits Rare Media Bull's-Eye

USA Today’s detailed feature article, “Israelis ambivalent about Arab world’s uprising; Some see opportunity for peace, prosperity; others fear onset of aggression” does what much coverage of Arab-Israeli developments does not: It treats Israelis as human beings with newsworthy concerns. In doing so, it also sheds light on what too many reports have misleadingly termed “Arab democracy movements.”

Writing in USA Today’s May 23 edition, correspondent Oren Dorell, tells readers that “Many Israelis .... look at the popular uprisings that began in Tunisia and have burned across the military backed dictatorships of North Africa and the sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf and see the resurrection of the Arab dream of destroying Israel.”

Dorell provides readers with a range of Israeli opinion, from both men and women in the street to that of academics and former senior officials: “‘God help us, you look at the map, it’s scary,’ says kindergarten teacher Liat Ben Yaacov ....” “‘You’re having very quickly a massive weakening of U.S. posture in the Middle East, with ally after ally falling by the wayside,’ [Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post columnist] says. ‘As an Israeli looking at this, it’s terrifying.’”

The reporter quotes Arab protest leaders who underscore Israeli concerns: Though Egypt can’t confront Israel now, once it is strong, “‘the regional situation will be different because there will be Turkey, Egypt and Iran. When these three are strong and allies, Israel will chose to go away,’” says Tarek Khouly, “a coordinator for the April 6th youth movement in Cairo, [who] is illustrative of the mixed message being sent to Israel.” “Ayman Nour, president of the liberal Al Ghad Party in Egypt, says peace with Israel should be preserved. His son, Nour Ayman Nour, calls Israel ‘a fascist regime influenced by religion that wants to eradicate’ Palestinians.”

USA Today’s feature puts the Jewish state in regional context. Among other things, it notes: “Israel has more than 61 companies on NASDAQ [the high-tech stock market listing], more than the entire Arab world combined and trailing only the USA and China ....”, “Arabs living in Israel have more freedoms than their brethren in any Arab state, according to Freedom House, which advocates democracy around the world” and “For years, people in the Arab world have been fed a daily diet of anti-Israel propaganda ... the U.S. State Department says.”

What seems to be a factual error, a reference to “the Arab military movement to wipe out the Jewish state in 1949, 1968 and 1972” probably refers to the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973. Otherwise, “Israelis ambivalent about Arab world’s uprisings” is a timely, three-dimensional look at the Middle East through Israeli eyes, a rare counter-point to media default coverage of Israel through Palestinian Arab filters.

Posted by ER at May 25, 2011 02:45 PM

Comments

and to be fair in 1973, at least from the Egyptian point of view, it was strictly a limited war.

Posted by: Danny Black at May 26, 2011 08:51 AM

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