Over-stretched Western news services rely heavily on arrangements with Palestinian free-lance writers and photographers who know the West Bank: the terrain, the language, the people, the mores. For better or for worse, Big Media coverage of the West Bank would grind to a halt without stringers.
One such writer on my radar is LA Times stringer Maher Abukhater. Calling for greater EU political involvement in the peace process is fair enough. But Abukhater’s out of bounds when he writes in today’s Daily Star of Beirut:
Unlike the U.S. (which has a policy of blind support for Israel for various reasons but mainly due to control by the pro-Israel lobby of the U.S. Congress that as a result ties the hands of the White House), Europe has actually adopted policies toward the Middle East far more advanced than those of the United States . . .
Thus, Palestinians share part of the blame for keeping Europe away because of their mistaken belief that only the U.S. can deliver Israel. But with the U.S. administration’s hands tied because of the strength of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, neither has the U.S. been able to deliver and Palestinians have been left alone in the cold.
Let’s get a few things straight.
1. US Jews, like all Americans, are entitled to lobby their elected leaders on whatever issues concern them, whether we’re talking about, for example, health care reform, tuition vouchers, the environment, etc. That’s Democracy 101.
2. The US public strongly identifies with Israel because of so many common values: life, liberty, equality, democracy, freedom of speech, accountability, and more. You don’t find those values in the Palestinian Authority.
3. To say a group of Jews is capable of controlling Congress and tying the White House’s hands to the extent Abukhater describes is, at best, small-minded ignorance, and at worst, anti-Semitic conspiracy-mongering.
4. HonestReporting has exposed How Palestinian Fixers Manipulate Their Media Bosses and taint Western news coverage. See also The Influence of Palestinian Stringers on Foreign News Reporting.
Abukhater’s entitled to his views. But a major US daily like the LA Times shouldn’t rely on any journalist who peddles such trash.