From honestreporting.com, Sept. 10, 2014
Expanding on ex-AP reporter Matti Friedman‘s take on media bias towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Seth Frantzman comments on domestic Israeli issues foreign journalists have bungled over the years.
Frantzman says the press corps’ reliance on Israeli media is a big part of the problem when it comes to coverage of domestic issues like poverty, religious-secular tensions, Bedouins, etc.
Israel’s problem is that members of the international media – such as AP bureau chiefs or others – who reside in Israel live within a milieu of Israelis who primarily lean to the left. They are fed information by NGOs such as Rabbis for Human Rights. Some of them already have the ready-made narrative of “giving a voice to those who have none” or “helping the weak.” A ready-made narrative of Israel already exists, set in stone since the 1960s, and tragically fed by former Israeli elites who dislike the current right-wing government and use foreign media to get back at it.
The international media thus naturally gravitates towards Israel’s critical press like Haaretz that has no problem publishing misleading stories such as the May 18 headline “settlers torch Palestinian orchard” for Lag B’omer which was subsequently corrected. In other countries, such as Russia, Turkey or the United Arab Emirates, the foreign media does the same, in terms of relying on local English-language media and NGOs for its stories, and the result is the same in each country: Where there is critical civil society and self-loathing left wing press, the international media will come away with negative stories, where there is censorship and forced patriotism, the media will parrot back patriotism.Rare is the foreign media that truly discovers a story for itself without handlers, fixers and the like.
On the other hand, the more interesting stories in Israeli society, such as about Jewish diversity, or about minority communities that don’t get media attention, such as the Druze, Circassians or Ahmadiya, are routinely ignored. Foreign media almost never expresses interest in things that galvanize large masses of Israelis, such as Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s funeral or Mizrahi musicians. The media simply is not attuned to Israeli popular society or its nuances; even its poverty, simply because Israeli media doesn’t care about this issue and doesn’t report about it in English.