Chemi Shalev doesn’t deny that Israel’s subjected to disproportionate media scrutiny. But maybe it’s a good thing:
When you take the population of various countries and divide it by the number of times they are mentioned in Google News, you get a measurable index of media coverage per number of people. A random check carried out this week showed that there is one citation on Google News for every 50,000 Chinese or Indians, 20,000 Bangladeshis, 8,000 Pakistanis, 5,000 Russians, 3,400 Egyptians (in the midst of horrific soccer riots) or 1200 Syrians (although the regime in Damascus is doing its best to improve its rankings by steadily decreasing the number of living Syrians). But it takes only 300 Israelis for each Google News item on Israel, clear proof that the country is being singled out for disproportionate coverage.
But is this disproportion really such a bad thing? Is it something to be fought, or rather cherished and preserved? And while Natan Sharansky has brilliantly copyrighted “three D’s” that define the “new anti-Semitism”, do “double standards” really belong up there together with demonization and delegitimization?
Because disproportionate coverage of Israel is, in many ways, the flip side and the natural outgrowth of the disproportionate support that Israel enjoys, especially in America. And the “double standards” are but a consequence, aren’t they, of the “shared values” that Americans and Israelis love to boast about. And bias, you must admit, can cut both ways.
Interesting thought. Brings to mind a conversation I once had with a kibbutznik during the early, heady days of Oslo. Ruben, a thin, middle-age European immigrant with pepper-gray hair and round glasses that somehow accentuated his bursting intellect, would sometimes vent about Big Media’s fixation with Israel.
But in a moment of candor, Ruben observed that it would be more painful to him if the world were indifferent to Israel. He broadly swept his hand to the right — overdramatically, I thought — as if to draw my attention to The Rest Of The World, as he emphatically told me:
“This tiny little country matters to the people out there.”
Shalev echoed Ruben, and I can’t deny that fundamental point.
But why Israel matters, and to who, is a bigger discussion I’ll have to entrust to the readers.
What do you think?