By John Aravosis, April 4, 2002
Considering the American media is always accused of having a pro-Israeli bias,
it’s surprising to note this time around they’ve been decidedly pro-Palestinian.
Perhaps the word “bias” is a bit strong. I think the media tends to buy
whichever story is spun better by the public relations experts, and this time
around, the Palestinians are doing a much better job than the Israelis. And let’s
face it, when you have pictures of guys in military uniforms shooting guys
dressed like civilians, it’s hard not to see the civilians as the sympathetic underdog.
(Until, of course, you realize that many of those little guys are
responsible for strapping bombs on 16 year old girls and sending them to kill
men, women and children at Passover dinners in Israel. Suddenly, they become
a lot less cuddly.)
A perfect example of the pro-Palestinian tilt is the recent coverage – or lack
thereof – of how Palestinian gunmen have taken over the Church of the Nativity
in Bethlehem. (This is the site where Christ is thought to have been born, and is
one of the most sacred places in all of Christianity.)
Two hundred armed gunmen literally shot their way into the church,
against the protests of the priests inside, and are now hunkering down,
sleeping in pews with their weapons. The net effect of the invasion of the
church is that several nuns, priests, journalists and Palestinian civilians are now
How has the media reported on this?
- The Associated Press says that the gunmen are “hiding” inside the
church, as though their actions were a game of peek-a-boo.
- Reuters says that the Palestinians have “taken refuge,” insinuating
they’re good guys hiding from bad guys.
- The BBC (I know they’re British, but the example is still illustrative)
reports that the Palestinians have “taken refuge” but that the Israelis are
“besieging” the church – it’s clear who they’re siding with. The BBC goes on to
quote a priest complaining that the Israelis have “touched the holy sites” in
Bethlehem, completely ignoring that the Palestinian gunmen have done more
than “touch” our most holy site, they’ve invaded it and intentionally put it in
- The Washington Post quotes Arafat accusing the Israelis of “surrounding”
the Church of the Nativity, without quoting anyone on the other side, who
would of course explain that the Israelis are surrounding the church because
armed gunmen have taken it hostage.
- And even the New York Times, accused by anti-Semites the world over of
being a haven of evil Jews, describes the gunmen as “seek[ing] refuge,” and
the Israeli troops as “trapping” the Palestinians inside.
What should the media be saying?
How about reporting with outrage that Palestinian gunmen are holding
Christianity’s most sacred shrine hostage as a human (so to speak) shield.
How about noting the hypocrisy that after months of whining about how
the West always disses Islam by attacking a Muslim country (Afghanistan)
during Ramadan (again Afghanistan), by putting sanctions on another Muslim
country (Iraq), and by having troops in the same country as Islam’s most holy
shrines (Saudi Arabia), the Arabs turn around and commit an offense against
Christianity that is a thousand times worse.
They have forcibly taken over, and held hostage, one of Christianity’s
two most sacred sites. The location where Christ was born, no less – and only
two days after the Catholic Easter.
Can you imagine the outrage in the “Arab street” if armed Israeli soldiers
stormed Mecca and held it hostage? The “arrogant infidel dogs” would be the
top story in every paper, and every TV channel, around the world (and you bet
it would be non-stop coverage on Al-Jazeera). How many of those media
outlets would be talking sympathetically about the poor Jews who simply