The Demonization of Ariel SharonFebruary 14, 2001 12:00 by ManagingTeam
In a classic case of “pack journalism,” reporters are running after the same story to discredit Sharon, resorting to the same violations of media objectivity. Specifically, they disguise their opinions as news, selectively omit important facts, or use true facts to draw false conclusions.
This is not completely unexpected. After the 1977 elections, Time Magazine wrote that “Begin rhymes with Fagin.”
The issue is not whether you support Sharon or agree with his politics. The issue is that news agencies are sensationalizing the picture, while not showing basic respect for the elected leader of a democratic nation. Sharon is being demonized in a way that Yasser Arafat has never been.
We encourage you to read the 3 articles cited below. Incredibly, two of them use the Palestinian Arab village of Kibya as the launching pad for their journalistic attacks. Kibya was the site of a Sharon-led retaliation raid in 1953 where 69 civilians were unintentionally killed. All articles refer to the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre carried out by Christian Arabs – and quote Palestinian Arabs who accuse Sharon personally for the deaths. And finally, the articles accuse Sharon of igniting the intifada by visiting the Temple Mount in September, 2000.
Please read our critique below. You may want to respond to the newspapers cited, or respond to your local newspapers if they join the “pack” in unfairly attacking Sharon. The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words, or you may cut-and-paste the critique below.
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Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bas.
Here are the 3 articles:
- “An eye for an eye,”06 Feb. 2001, by Flore de Preneuf, Salon magazine. Calling Sharon “the truly bad guy of the Middle East,” Salon’s Mideast correspondent suggests that “Sharon will take on the role of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader and widely reviled war criminal.”
- “From butcher to ‘Lion’ to Prime Minister of Israel,”04 Feb. 2001, by Jason Burke, The Observer (UK). Burke reports from Qibya (sic), and refers to the raid 50 years ago as “a typical Sharon operation. It was thorough, violent, ruthless, attention grabbing and deeply controversial.” The paper charges without citation that “Sharon’s motto has been the same — always escalate.” The term “butcher” in the headline is presumably the newspaper’s own; it is never quoted within the body of the article.
- “Warrior Instincts,”28 Jan. 2001, by Matthew McAllester, Newsday. The article details the Kibya attack in 1953 and the Christian Lebanese attacks on Sabra and Shatila in 1982, quoting residents of both areas. McAllester suggests that in the face of new threats, Israelis support a “man with Kibya and Sabra and Shatila on his resume.”
To the Editor:
As Israel has chosen its democratically-elected leader in the only free elections in the Middle East, your publication chooses to demonize Ariel Sharon, portraying him as a belligerent, violent warmonger.
While your publication is quick to demonize Sharon, nowhere do you refer to Yasser Arafat in comparably derogatory terms — despite Arafat’s public record of reneging on signed agreements, ruling corruptly and despotically, releasing bombers and terrorists from jails, and permitting attacks by his personnel against Israeli civilians. Is it not revealing that Sharon never took credit for killings, whereas Arafat has always been proud of his terrorist attacks against civilians?
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USING TRUE FACTS TO DRAW FALSE CONCLUSIONS
The 1953 Kibya raid was part of an Israeli government policy to respond to deadly terrorist raids by “fedayeen” terrorists sponsored by neighboring Jordan and Egypt. Hundreds of Israeli civilians had been killed, and the government responded by sending Sharon’s 101 Unit to hit the fedayeen, the army bases that supported them, and the villages that housed them. As the force approached the village, hundreds of Kibya residents were seen fleeing. The force believed that all residents had fled. According to the official IDF Encyclopedia, the soldiers found a young girl in one house and an elderly man in another. They were quickly chased away. Soonafter, IDF sappers blew up dozens of Kibya houses. No one knew that 69 civilians were hiding inside the homes. Their deaths were not deliberate.
To connect Sharon’s actions as Prime Minister to those of a young IDF officer is unfair and misleading. Israeli-caused civilian casualties during those raids 50 years ago were not intentional — though Arab attacks on Israelis were.
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DISTORTION OF FACTS
In 1982, Moslem Arabs, directed by Syrian intelligence, killed the Christian president of Lebanon. Christian Arabs retaliated by entering the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut and massacring several hundred Moslems. This was a case of Arabs killing Arabs — yet Ariel Sharon is implicated in your article as if he was the one who pulled the trigger or ordered the massacre.
In truth, Sharon was blamed by the Kahan commission for not having the foresight to realize that one group of Arabs would so brazenly massacre another group of Arabs. Today, Sharon is calling for the release of all classified documents from the Kahan commission, insisting that he would be vindicated if they were released.
I would appreciate a reply to explain why you allow such inaccuracies to appear in your publication.