It is difficult to find a subject on which the Western media is more monolithic in its view than the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite the uncontroverted fact that the latest round of fighting – like virtually all the other rounds of fighting – was unquestionably started by the Palestinians, and that the Palestinians have rejected a cease fire, the media are virtually unanimous in claiming that this conflict and all other conflicts in the region are the fault of the Israelis. See, for instance, the New York Times, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, and so on. This view seeps out regularly in the media’s allegedly objective reporting of the conflict, which repeatedly informs us that only one Israeli has died from Hamas rocket fire in the conflict, while conveniently omitting that this isn’t for lack of trying on the part of the Palestinians, who have fired over 1200 rockets towards Israeli territory, only to see the vast majority of these thwarted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Yet despite this fact, American attitudes toward the conflict have remained essentially unchanged – by a huge margin (51-14), American sympathies side with Israel in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Despite the fact that American distrust of the media is (justifiably) at an all-time high, this is still one of the few issues on which such a substantial disconnect between the opinion of the public and the opinion of the press has been able to subsist. A good example of the reasoning for this can be found in this post by Wikipedia regurgitation site Vox.com, which is helpfully titled “Yes, Gaza militants hide rockets in schools, but Israel doesn’t have to bomb them.”
Yes, the title is helpful because it signals to the average American right off the bat that you’re about to say something that they don’t have to take seriously. Once they get to the seventh word of the title of a post like that, they have all the information they need to form an informed judgment as to who really is at fault in spite of what their moral betters in the media might be about to “explain” to them. It is one of the reasons continued hope for the future of American can be allowed to exist; that at least on this one issue, moral clarity still exists in America. As Charles Krauthammer points out today in the Washington Post, the scenario really calls for only one conclusion:
Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.
“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
* * *
Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.
Read, as they say, the whole thing.
And yet, not all is necessarily well on this front. As Ed Morrisey points out, support for Israel, while it remains overall very constant, is becoming slightly polarized, with Republicans becoming more likely to support it than Democrats, whereas in the past it was more of a bipartisan issue. The end result of such polarization can only be bad news for the Israelis and for moral clarity in general, since Democrats will believe literally anything (including that the U.S. Government knew about/caused 9/11) if they believe it can help their partisan cause.
America has a chance here to continue support of the unquestionably right side in the Middle East, in spite of the media’s attempts to sway public opinion to the contrary. Here’s praying that we take it.