The latest print edition of the Jerusalem Report runs a feature article “Watchdogs on the Media Battlefield” with substantial input from and focus on the work of HonestReporting.
The article interviews HR Managing Editor Simon Plosker, whose photo working at his desk in HR’s International HQ in Jerusalem takes up a two-page spread.
Vocal critics of Israel dismiss all noise about perceived anti-Israel bias in the media as just another bogus claim of hasbara (literally “explanation,” but often used as a synonym for “Zionist propaganda”).
Pro-Israel media watchers do call on their readers to fire off letters of complaint to “offending” news organizations. Honest Reporting openly engages in such pressure techniques. “Often, the sheer weight of the numbers of people sending complaints or just the exposure of an instance of bias can force a change,” Plosker acknowledges. “This can be anything from a simple correction or retraction all the way to, for instance, the firing of CNN’s senior Middle East editor Octavia Nasr [in July 2010] after she tweeted her admiration for Hezbollah founder Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah upon his death.”
Plosker, however, cautions against crying wolf all too readily. “Some people attribute [all] anti-Israel media bias to outright anti- Semitism, but that’s an unsophisticated answer to a multifaceted problem,” he says.
“Occasionally, anti-Semitism does rear its ugly head, but the reality is far more complex.
The Palestinian narrative has become dominant in Western discourse, particularly in academic and liberal circles. Today’s journalists graduated from campuses where the norm is a postmodern narrative that denies Israel’s rightful historical place in the Middle East.”
That’s how the usual red herrings have taken unshakable hold, especially in op-eds: Israeli “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “neo-colonialism.” Ironically, however, it’s Israeli society’s openness, not its “racist” insularity, that can work against it, Plosker stresses. “Israel is a free society and journalists are at liberty to pursue stories without hindrance from the state,” he says. “This is much less so in the Palestinian territories, where journalists are more wary of reporting negative stories about the Palestinians for fear of losing access or, in the worst cases, because of intimidation and threats of violence.”
And so, for pro-Israeli media watchers, the media war carries on. “Our existence keeps the media on notice and ensures a level of accountability that would not otherwise exist,” Plosker says. “Many battles, if left unfought, would lead to a far worse situation for Israel’s image in the media. We can’t let that happen.”
It is gratifying that the Jerusalem Report has chosen to highlight the important work of media monitoring organizations such as HonestReporting. Beyond that, the article expands on the context of behind this work and is definitely worth reading in full.
Read the full article here.