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November 24, 2014

'Tiny Tunisia' Joined by U.A.E. -- Israel Still Big

“Tiny” Tunisia returned to the pages of The Washington Post, this time joined by the “tiny” United Arab Emirates. As for Israel, much smaller than either Tunisia or the U.A.E., its size apparently still lacks newsworthiness.

As CAMERA pointed out two years ago this month, The Post found it important to tell readers that at least eight countries geographically larger than Israel, including Tunisia, were “tiny,” without reminding them of the Jewish state’s comparative—and stragetically vulnerable—smallness of. Make that nine.

In a front-page article headlined “A Quiet, Potent Ally to U.S.; American generals call the UAE ‘Little Sparta’ for its ability and willingness to fight” (November 9), Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran writes “as a tiny nation on the Arabian Peninsula comprising seven sometimes-fractious emirates led by different royal families, the UAE could have opted to go the way of other small [emphases added] countries in its neighborhood by building a modest military focused on domestic security and instead turning to the regional powerhouse—Saudi Arabia—for protection from Iran and other external threats.”

Instead, its leaders have bought “the most advanced weapons the Emirates can obtain” and “chosen to use what it has acquired.”

The UAE’s land mass is 32,000 square miles, approximately four times bigger than Israel’s. Its population, estimated at close to five million (less than half are citizens) is smaller than Israel’s eight million plus.

As for Tunisia, in The Washington Post, it’s still tiny. In an Op-Ed headlned “Tunisia, a democratic anomaly” (October 27), the newspaper’s deputy editorial page editor, Jackson Diehl, wrote that “nowhere did the voting matter more, however, than in tiny [emphasis added] Tunisia—the North African state where the Arab revolutions began nearly four years ago, and the only place where civil war or a renewed dictatorship has not been the result.”

Two days later in The Post, Tunisia grew from tiny to “small.” Correspondent Kevin Sullivan’s news feature, “How Tunisia’s Arab Spring has fueled the Islamic State; New religious freedoms, then a crackdown, have stirred radicalism” (October 29) informed readers that “Tunisia, a small North African country of 11 million people, has become the largest source of foreign fighters joining the Islamic State and other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq…”

As we noted previously, Tunisia’s 63,170 square miles makes it eight times larger than Israel, with at least three million more people. Israel has the land area of New Jersey but is just four miles wide west of Jerusalem in the 1949 armistices lines and barely nine just north of Tel Aviv. Regardless, news media run the newsworthiness of Israel’s geographic “tinyness” and vulnerability in the Middle East through the distorting filter of “big Israel oppressing tiny Palestinians.” So long as they do, readers, viewers and listeners will lack the context necessary to understand the conflict.


Posted by ER at November 24, 2014 02:12 PM

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