With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies?
By Arlene Peck
March 17, 2003
You know, sometimes people just can't "get along", no matter
how many times a mother, or a Rodney King can plead, "Play nice. Don't
fight." Sometimes, there has to be something more. They know the
figures. It's a
fact that whenever Israel has ever acted against the Palestinians,
was named directly in the headline 78% of the time. Yet, let the
Palestinians ever strike against the Israelis, and that includes their
terrorist bombs, they are identified in only 19% of the headlines. In
all the more than 50 recent attacks by "suicide bombers" and gunmen,
which killed hundred of Israelis, not once did the newspaper use the
term, "Palestinian suicide bomber." They are always "gunmen" or
"militants" or "activists".
Recently, I attended a forum at the University of Judaism, which
was sponsored by their Dortort program entitled, "Is the media biased or
balanced? Friend or foe? Pro-Palestinian or pro-Israel? What underlies
the decisions that dictate the oft-berated coverage of the bloody
enduring conflict between Israelis and Palestinians?" And folks, is
there any doubt?
I covered the war in Beirut as a journalist in June of 1982.
While there, I learned firsthand how the press is totally biased
against the Jewish state. I watched while the BBC and CNN set up a scene
with little Arab boys throwing stones so the IDF would give the
impression of being a Goliath. I know the bias of the press and, as a
member of that body, it pains me greatly.
Basically the panel of journalists spent three hours defending
anti-Semitic rhetoric, which they engage in daily in their paper.
the only one I liked on the panel was Pulitzer Prize winner Harold
Rosenberg. He writes the television column for the Los Angeles Times and
is basically not very political. He won me over when he introduced
himself by saying that the late Irv Rubin once commented to him that he
had such self-loathing that he didn't even deserve his circumcision. I
respect honesty in a man.
I think I spent the first hour listening to the seven reporters on
stage who had covered the Middle East and been invited to the
"conference" biting my knuckles and gritting my teeth. I found it too
difficult listening to them justifying how fair and evenhanded they are
when they write about Israel. However, I took some pretty good notes
that I just want to share with you. At one point, I couldn't hold myself
back any longer and stood up in front of an audience of about 600 and
asked, "Why do you continuously refer to terrorists as "militants"?
I waved that morning's paper and quoted from it about an Arab "gunman"
who had murdered Israeli civilians. In their article, I also referred
to the "terrorist Zionist organization who had killed the Hamas
terrorist." I tried to be polite to these so-called colleagues in the
media but could barely contain myself when I brought up to them how they
delight in calling homicide bombers "suicide" bombers. What suicide?
They kill everybody in their path for pay. In my book, that's a
We never really found out their names as there were no programs
but one answered my question, "Well, I never use the word terrorist. I
wouldn't refer to an individual as a terrorist. Who is a militant? It's
difficult to know if a person is a terrorist until the bomb explodes."
No darling, it's not difficult to know who a terrorist is when those
getting killed are usually innocent Israelis.
I wonder? Since everyone that the LA Times apparently writes
about seem to be militants, who were Hitler's SS? Would they have
considered them militants or terrorists? Her answer to that was,
"Terminology is something that's difficult to describe. You have to
allow your readers freedom to think." That's about the time I began to
chew on my hand again. One of her colleagues answered me, "One cannot
commit terrors on a soldier on your land." I gathered that Israeli
soldiers were fair game because they were on "occupied" territory. And,
according to these "fair and unbiased" reporters from the local press,
when it comes to the Middle East coverage, those who are living in the
so-called West Bank and Gaza are settled in "occupied" territories, not
"disputed" mind you, but land that is "occupied". So, when you see
things from that dubious vantage point, then no matter what they see, it
is going to be written from that perspective. But, hey, how can they
think differently when our own President refers to Judea & Samaria,
which is settled by almost a quarter of a million Israelis, as "occupied
territory." He just doesn't "get it".
Recently, a key Hamas terrorist was killed--a man who was
responsible for the killing of dozens of innocent Israeli civilians and
probably hundreds more wounded. Yet, the author saw fit to describe the
killer of the Hamas terrorist as a "terrorist Zionist organization",
thereby characterizing Zionists as a terrorist entity. I've always
believed that the Jewish people have every moral and legal right to
inhabit what is only a small part of the territory that was originally
promised to them under the Balfour Declaration. More so, the original
deed was promised, in writing, by G-d. Yet to this bunch, their doing
so as Zionists makes them "terrorists". However, in my view, the only
"occupation" of the land in question is by Arabs, not Jews.
Recently, I read an op-ed column by novelist Jack Engelhard about his
frustrations with the same topic called, "The Sword is Mightier than the
Pen." I know his pain, and as a fellow-journalist, we try to actually
believe that what we write can make a difference. Then we see the
"killing machines" against the Jews on a regular basis and wonder why
the rest of them aren't reporting what we are seeing. Of course, we kept
hearing over and over the same refrain from this group of "balanced"
reporters. We're not self hating. We're not anti-Semitic. We're just
good honest people trying to do an honest job. Well, folks, I just don't
buy it. I wanted to shout at them, "Where is the honesty, decency and
integrity in your reporting?" The voices from both the right and left
are now playing with total joy the tune of the anti-Semitism card as
the Jews for America's war with Iraq. I knew that would happen the day
the rumor came out that the Jews stayed home from work the day of 9/11
as they were behind it.
Of course, since the living conditions are so disgusting on the Arab
side, most of the journalists who are covering the Middle East are
living on the Israeli side--a circumstance that I believe works against
the Jewish state. Because according to them, when they lived on the
Israeli side it was so easy to side with Israel. That's why they felt
they had to show more of the Arab side. Why don't they realize that when
it comes to people who have no souls and who are born and reared and
paid to create death for others, there isn't another side?
Since Arafat turned up the flame of terrorism against the Israelis
in 1994, just after receiving the Nobel "Peace" Prize, close to 2,000
Israelis have been slaughtered, and many more injured. The overwhelming
majority of these victims of Arab terror were civilians, including
babies, students and pregnant women. The IDF are working around the
clock to thwart another 50 terrorist attempts per week. Israel is
sitting in wait for that Hitler in Iraq to lob his scuds over
the border. The crisis there is critical to the Jewish people and we
cannot let it be denigrated, as it was in the Gulf War, to just being,
"That other Middle East crisis." This time, the press has to report the
news, not create it!