Hockstader and the Blood Libel

Dear HonestReporting Member,

Last week, Abu Dhabi TV broadcasted a despicable satire of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon thirsting for a bottle of Palestinian blood. Perhaps that scene was fresh in the Washington Post correspondent Lee Hockstader’s mind when he wrote an article, “Once Again, Children Bear the Brunt in the Mideast,” which describes the Israeli and Palestinian fighting and the ‘two sides’ appetite for killing.”

Appetite for killing??

The occasion for Hockstader’s accusation was the tragic death of five Palestinian children who played with an Israeli explosive device in a combat zone in Gaza. The Israeli army admitted that an elite unit placed the bomb in a spot where Palestinian sniper and mortar fire has been repeatedly directed against Israeli civilians and soldiers. The Israeli tactics are defensive, a necessary response to the Palestinian terrorist threat to Israeli cities and Jewish settlements. The children apparently played in the area and triggered the bomb.

But readers of the Washington Post would have to be 600 words into the story before hearing Israel’s side of the story.

Instead, Hockstader gives us tired cliches like “dusty, desperately poor Gaza,” and quotes a Palestinian man who justifies suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, because “Every night they are shooting, killing our kids.”

Worse of all, Hockstader misses the real significance of this story: Upon hearing the news of Palestinian deaths, no Israeli politicians praised the deaths, no rabbis thanked the Lord, no Israeli mobs danced in celebration, nobody shot their rifle joyously in the air, no Israeli editorials extolled the operation, and no sweets were handed out to children.

Just the opposite.

Senior officials of the Israeli Defense Forces expressed condolences and launched an investigation. Regrets and condolences were extended by Israel’s president, defense minister, minister of transportation, and the leader of the opposition. There were wide-scale calls for an inquiry.

So how did Hockstader report Israeli sorrow over the incident? By quoting a few words from an unknown army spokesman.

Hockstader’s comparing the Palestinian “appetite for killing” with Israel’s compassion and sorrow represents a serious distortion, and calls into question the very credibility of the Washington Post as an objective news source.

And as for the blood libel? Hockstader summarizes: “No matter how it happened, they say, Israel is responsible and should pay the price in blood.”

If you find the article biased, write to The Washington Post at:

The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, use the following letter as a basis.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.


========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ============

To the Editor:

Lee Hockstader’s report on the Palestinian children killed by an Israeli bomb (Nov. 23) equates Palestinian and Israeli motives, claiming that both sides have “an appetite for killing.”

Israel’s entire leadership quickly expressed their regrets and condolences over the death of the children. The fact that the children were playing at a site used by Palestinian gunners and snipers to shoot at Israeli civilians and soldiers did not diminish the Israeli expressions of remorse, which was wide-felt and genuine.

Compare those reactions to the Palestinian joy and celebrations over suicide bombers blowing up families in a pizzeria or teenagers at a disco.

Hockstader’s claim that Israel shares “an appetite for killing” is mindful of the recent Abu Dhabi TV satire showing Israel’s prime minister thirsting for Palestinian blood. One hopes the Washington Post would use better discretion.