***Editors Note: These two articles were featured in our April issue of the California Review.
Terror Terror Everywhere, But Not a Voice To Speak
The Middle East is ablaze with the fires of revolutions, the hope for change, and the dream of freedom. From Tunisia, to Egypt, to Jordan, to Bahrain people are demanding an end to corruption, and the Western world is vocal in their support. President Obama has demanded that Former President Mubarak step down and leave Egypt. A coalition of forces is attempting to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi by using military force. These calls for progress and peace can be heard echoing in countries around the world. Yet somehow, for some reason, when people are oppressed in the State of Israel, there is a deafening silence.
In the past month there have been clear acts of terror designed to tear at the very fabric of Israeli society committed throughout the land. A closer examination of three of these events will lead to a disheartening realization regarding the international community. The most earliest of these three events is the tragic murder of the Fogel family. At 12:45am a little girl knocked on her neighbors’ door, no one was answering at her house and she knew her family was supposed to be home. The neighbor rushed over and checked the house for anything suspicious. As they walked into a bedroom they saw the little girl’s two year old brother shaking his bloody parents, crying, begging them to wake up. The father and mother had each been stabbed to death in their bed, as three of their children, the youngest being three months old, were also stabbed to death. The two people responsible for this attack are still at large, as they escaped long before the incident was discovered. Amidst the tears and pain of the new orphans and the decimated community, the Prime Minister called upon the international community to stand up for justice, and peace, to vigorously guard the memory of these innocent Israelis, of the children who were murdered in cold blood, but the response was predictable; unanimous silence.
Around that time, at 5:30 am the red alert siren blasted in the southern city of Be’er Sheva. Two rockets fell on the civilian city built around the outstanding university of the southern desert. Schools were canceled, buses stopped, and businesses were temporarily closed. The entire city came to a screeching halt because two rockets were fired from the Gaza strip into the civilian city. This is the first time since operation Cast Lead, which took place in 2009, that rockets have reached the city of Be’er Sheva. It is a clear act of intimidation, and under the United Nations charter provides the sovereign State of Israel the right to defend her citizens from incessant rocket barrage. What was the world’s response? What has the United Nations Security Council done? Nothing. The deafening silence is both hypocritical and biased.
Most recently a bomb was detonated across the street from the central bus station in Jerusalem. Luckily a man noticed the suspicious object and called the police immediately after distancing everyone from the package. Half way through his emergency call, the bomb exploded, killing one person and injuring twenty. If this bomb had been anywhere else the in world, the international community would stand in solidarity against the aggression and attack. For those old enough to remember, this bombing reminds everyone of the uprising against Israeli civilians which began around September of 2000, when children on their way to school became targets of homicidal bombings. Market places, restaurants, movie theaters and other public arenas became hosts to horrific decimation of innocent civilian life. It was only after this bombing that President Obama took a stance against the terror spreading in Israel.
Aside from the indifference and silence of the international community, the common theme that unites these tragic events is the intent to cripple the daily life of Israeli civilians. If a family is not safe in their shelter of their home, if a three month old baby girl is not safe in her crib, where can anyone seek refuge? If an entire city is brought to a standstill to wait out a bombing what can they accomplish?
Of the twenty most recent resolutions brought before the most recent meeting of the United Nations, six were condemning the State of Israel, but none mentioned these atrocities. The silence of the community speaks louder than any condemnation, and reveals an undeniable bias. Only by first standing with real injustices, may we move together towards a peaceful resolution.
Daniel Friedman is a junior in Revelle College majoring in political science. He also serves as a Campus Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
American Media: The Ostrich in the Sand
Israel. Just the mention of this New Jersey-sized country overlooking the Mediterranean is enough to stir heated debate. Sentiments about the country by people in the newsroom and in the break room differ immensely. In recent times, there has been a discernible aspect of misrepresentation by the mainstream media in addressing the topic of Israel. The concern is that the media reports on Israel-centric issues and happenings misconstrue what is actually going on; this error rate in reporting is not limited to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The problem lies not in the over-discussion of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but rather in the lack of discussion of other staggeringly important events in Israel.
This lack of media attention towards critical events in Israel has been especially noticeable in recent years and striking examples from recent weeks exemplify this problem in reporting. Within the last month alone, there was a family murdered in their beds, a bomb exploded on a bus in Jerusalem, and more than the “normal” number of rockets have begun falling upon Israel once again. These attacks should not be taken lightly, and are being taken seriously by many government officials, the Israeli population, diplomats, etc. However, the American media does not seem to be as concerned as it should be. It is detrimental to America’s understanding of Israel when our media does not give this crucial country and its people justice by not reporting critical events and by not highlighting the magnitude of the recent attacks. Misrepresentation through omission and bias presents Israel through a distorted lens in which more cogent issues are ignored in favor of hysterical, trumped-up stories (Charlie Sheen, anyone?) that stunt the general public’s knowledge of Israel.
When I visited Israel over winter break, I became acquainted with Daniel Shibley, a graduate of Clark University; he is now studying to be a rabbi in Jerusalem. I kept in touch with him and received his personal insight on the recent bombing in Jerusalem and attacks on the country. He left me with this analogy to mull over: “Between January 1 and today, 100 rockets fall on Richmond, Virginia, children go to school in bunkers, and the range of the rockets is increasing thanks to shipments coming in from Florida; then, a bomb explodes in Washington DC. Why is this acceptable in Israel?”
He makes an important point: this consistent and recent increase of attacks and offenses against Israel is not acceptable. However, the lack of reporting on the situation in Israel gives the illusion that these events can be taken lightly and can be accepted as commonplace for the country. This double standard takes away from the severity of events such as the murder of a family living in Israel. The family, who lived in a West Bank community, consisted of two parents, two young boys aged 11 and 4, and a baby girl only 4 months old; they were horrifically murdered in the middle of the night in their own home. The coverage of this event by our media could only be described as “negligible”. Japan and Libya are prevalent in our headlines, and understandably so; both countries are experiencing very different sorts of upheaval, both of great magnitude in importance. However, Israel, a crucial American ally, is also in the middle of a disaster. Does the American public not deserve to fairly know what is happening in a country that has received a sizeable amount of their tax dollars through foreign aid?
An unpleasant possibility, illustrated by the rockets from Gaza and the bomb at the bus stop in Jerusalem, is that this increased violence and rising tensions could escalate to another war. The bomb in Jerusalem, which killed a woman and injured 30, is reported as the worst attack on the city in years. The mortars and rockets coming from Gaza have caused schools to be closed and Israel’s military must frequently respond to the attacks. These recent events are not as shocking and unexpected as they would be if they were between, for example, Scandinavian countries, yet they are still important to report thoroughly because of what they might escalate to. If tensions do escalate to the point where the media decides to start substantially reporting on Israel, on which side will the support of uninformed readers fall?
The inability of American news outlets to thoroughly report on Israel amounts to one thing: bias by omission.
Kelsey is a sophomore in Revelle College majoring in earth science.