Media hypocrisy when it comes to Israel
- İBRAHIM ALTAY,
- Jun 11, 2018
A couple of weeks ago we started our article by welcoming the holy month of Ramadan. It was a bitter welcome. Now we are on the eve of its departure but the reasons to be bitter continue to this day. Throughout the month we witnessed numerous incidents where Israel's violence in Palestine did not let up.
Last time we focused on the media aspect of the ongoing conflict and how major mainstream media organizations have swept the truth away with lies, manipulations and word choice.
This week, we will look into another aspect of the distortion of truth in the media. On May 20, in our "Lying with facts" article, we said:
"There are two ways to go about it when it comes to subtle manipulation. The first one is easy: Turning a blind eye. This can be done in a variety of ways. By not giving air time to an event you wish to obscure or feel that it is not in line with your goals and worldview, you can smother the information from reaching the masses.
Similarly, media organizations can bar people from appearing on their channels or publish their statements or interviews. Thankfully though, these types of information control methods are losing their effectiveness."
It appears that even though this method is being used less these days, it is still relevant enough to look into.
Let's take Dieter Hanitzsch for example. He is a German cartoonist born in 1993. He has been drawing caricatures for Süddeutsche Zeitung, a longstanding German newspaper for quite some time. He depicted numerous politicians in less than flattering settings, including the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. During that time, his newspaper stood behind him despite criticism, saying it was covered by the freedom of press and freedom of speech. After all, criticizing political figures with the power of satire and drawings is part of the job description of cartoonists in newspapers.
This firm stance of the newspaper crumbled in a flash when Hanitzsch "dared" to draw another political figure. He drew Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the caricature, Prime Minister Netanyahu was depicted holding a missile in his hand while wearing the dress of Israeli singer Netta Barzilai, who won this year's Eurovision contest. A speech bubble above the prime minister reads: "Next year in Jerusalem."
Süddeutsche Zeitung, the newspaper that stood firm in the name of the freedom of the press before, couldn't get rid of Hanitzsch fast enough, especially after the cartoonist rejected calls to apologize. Instead, the newspaper's Editor-in-Chief, Wolfgang Krach apologized for the caricature. In the course of a day, the cartoonist went from being a figure who represented press freedoms with his cynical caricatures to "anti-Semitic."
If you think this was an isolated incident, well, you better think again. Hanitzsch was just another name in the long list of people who dared to be critical of Israel and were promptly removed, defamed, fired and lynched on social media.
One of the most prominent names who underwent a similar set of events was the famous Nobel Prize winning author Günter Grass. After penning a poem titled "What Must Be Said" which criticized Israel back in 2012, the famous writer was called all manner of names from a wide range of circles, from politicians to artists, along being lynched on social media.
Or we might turn to Charlie Hebdo, the satirical weekly that was repeatedly at the center of lawsuits and criticism due to their content that always skirted close to the edges. Yet the defenders of Charlie Hebdo and its content under the right of free speech, seemed to turn a blind eye when the magazine fired Maurice Sinet, after a remark in one of his pieces that made a quip about the engagement between Jean Sarkozy, the son of the former President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, and a Jewish heiress of one of France's biggest electronic goods chains, Jessica Sebaoun-Darty.
We can add more to these examples about the media's overzealous approach to real or perceived anti-Semitism. Yet we fail to see even a fraction of the same diligence when it comes to Islamophobia. Not only that but we often see majority of the mainstream media go in the other direction – as shown during the coverage of last month's attacks by Israel.
At the very least, as the Diogenes said to Alexander, "stand out of my sunlight." Instead of inventing new fictions to justify Israel's actions, at least try to cover the situation without preconceived biases, because the hypocrisy can become unbearable.