Two Minutes of Hate: Israel in The Media
The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, has written an op-ed in The Washington Times, What Happened to Israel’s Reputation?,” attempting to chronicle the rise of Israel’s delegitimization on the world stage.
Mr. Oren cites an article from may of 1973 by Life magazine that gives this rather emphatic and swooning analysis:
“This year Israel is celebrating . . . a series of accomplishments that have surely exceeded the expectations of its most visionary founders. It is one of the most powerful small nations in history. . . . [It] has tamed an arid wilderness [and] welcomed 1.25 million immigrants. . . . The Israelis themselves did the fighting, the struggling, the sacrificing in order to perform the greatest feat of all—forging a new society . . . in which pride and confidence have replaced the despair engendered by age-long suffering and persecution.“
Mr. Oren then rightfully elucidates the disparity between what was said in 1973 in reference to Israel, and what is said now. Although in different words, he examines that in 2012 the likelihood of reading the above prose about the Jewish state in any non-Jewish magazine publication , and even in some Jewish ones as well, is so small that we can assume that, upon it being published, pigs would begin discussing aerodynamics, drag coefficients, angles of attack, and lift to weight ratios.
Unfortunately, his erudition falls short of determining the necessary cause of the current media flood in which Israel finds herself drowning. That there is a difference between then and now, Mr. Oren demarcates well. The cause of the difference, however, is glossed over. It should be noted that the diplomatic position that Oren occupies causes him to be as reserved in analysis as can be possibly maintained. Mr. Oren knows exactly what the cause of current media mendacity is, he just can’t say it. Therefore, Mr. Oren’s ostensible lack of insight should not be assessed as any failure on his part, but rather attributed to the fact that there is hardly any self critical discourse on media involvement in spreading malicious misinformation against Israel; examination of this can only be done by third party NGO’S. For Oren to say the media is complicit in the deligitimization of the Jewish Sate in a media forum, is comparable to a published article in which the very publication is properly and publicly trounced. Suffice it to say, this does nothing to invigorate circulation numbers.
Mr. Oren continues with a pithy but correct rundown of the history of the Israel-Arab conflict and the current state of the standoff. He shows that Israel has mostly acted in self defense, has made considerable land concessions, set up the infrastructure for the existence of the Palestinian State, and still desires a peaceful solution to the conflict in spite of the continued terror and demagoguery of the Arab and Palestinian leaders. These conditions all being true, he quizzically asks, “Given all this, why have anti-Israel libels once consigned to hate groups become media mainstays?”
The answer lies in the systematic delegitimization of the Jewish state. Having failed to destroy Israel by conventional arms and terrorism, Israel’s enemies alit on a subtler and more sinister tactic that hampers Israel’s ability to defend itself, even to justify its existence.
It began with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat’s 1974 speech to the U.N., when he received a standing ovation for equating Zionism with racism—a view the U.N. General Assembly endorsed the following year. It gained credibility on college campuses through anti-Israel courses and “Israel Apartheid Weeks.” It burgeoned through the boycott of Israeli scholars, artists and athletes, and the embargo of Israeli products. It was perpetuated by journalists who published doctored photos and false Palestinian accounts of Israeli massacres.
All this may be true, but it doesn’t answer the question of why the media has sought to enable and propagate this awful crime. That journalists have doctored photos and blatantly lied in their reporting is not new information and it is not revealing either. What is at issue is why the media machine has found a profitable pastime in undermining the Jewish state. As with any historical event, we may never truly know why. But I will here advance a theory.
In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to think of the media in terms of a huge sociological monster. Like science sycophants, media profiteers like to announce that the media is self critical and devoted to truth, that it is the very essence of a liberal and open society, that it brings to the everyday man the power of information and that thus, in some way, its analysis should be worshiped. The media never sees itself as part of history, but removed, like a metaphysical Zeus hurling lighting bolts and moral judgement on any who dare question his sacredness.
Reality, however, hums a discordant tune. The media has never been in the business of advancing truth, but ideology; and if not ideology, it advances itself. And to advance itself, it generally requires both bad news and an oppressed people. The media is like a tick on the body of civilization. It feeds on any imperfections that can be found, and slowly kills its host.
In the case of Israel, we need only look to the words used to describe it in 1973
The Israelis themselves did the fighting, the struggling, the sacrificing in order to perform the greatest feat of all—forging a new society . . . in which pride and confidence have replaced the despair engendered by age-long suffering and persecution.“
They themselves did the fighting , the struggling, the sacrificing. One wonders if the writer found it anachronistic that they “themselves” fought for themselves. To a bigger point though, the code phrases “new society”,and “suffering and persecution”, are the heavy lifters here. As long as the media had plenty of other oppressed and suffering individuals to focus on in 1973 — the civil rights movement was not over, the Vietnam war raged, and hippies were being arrested for public indecency — and as long as Israel was still considered a member of this group and was still mostly secular and maintained collective and socialistic rather than religious habits, constituting a “new society”, she was accepted as a legitimate progressive pioneer. Further, Martin Luther King Jr. had declared a decade earlier that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. To question King at the time was to question God.
What is more relevant, though, is the fact that this article was published in May of 1973, before the October Yom Kippur war of the same year. Also, at this point the United States had given little, if any, military or economic aid to Israel. These chronological and political conditions played a role in the empathetic tone of the article as well.
When the United States airlifted supplies to the overwhelmed Jewish State later that year, the Arab nations instituted an oil embargo in response, making it a little more difficult for media pirates to the attend the nascent disco dance halls. That is, Israeli problems became American ones. During the cold war, especially during Vietnam, the media was fond of making America appear as atrocious as the Soviet Union, constituting a well choreographed dialectic of moral insanity and relativism that was not eclipsed in intensity until the Cable News Network developed an infatuated affair with Islamic terrorism.
As soon as its arch-nemesis, the Untied States, began actively and consistently supporting the Jewish State, the revelry on display in the Life magazine article receded into the sullen despair like that which overwhelms a playboy leaving a party unescorted. Having been rejected, the media examinations of the region became more transfused with angst and embitterment on the realization their “new society” may just be an extension of American society or worse, that it may be a society devoted to moral clarity and strict definitions.
As the Vietnam war ended, and the civil rights movement was winding down, the media noticed that there existed fewer people who were oppressed by western powers. The Soviet Union was untouchable when it came to criticism, as the whole of its foundation was congenial with the profligacy and eroticism with Marxism in both media and academic circles. After south Africa was finally liberated from the oppressive regime of Apartheid, very little moral failings of the western ethic could be found and emphasized. There was a lack of outrage, which means the media business was on the decline. In Israel the struggling media found an oppressor, carefully crafted as a western power, and in the fictitious Palestinian narrative they found their victim. The media thus had a job to do, to liberate Palestine. And the job paid well.
What made the situation more gratifying and too appetizing to pass up is the fact that Israel is a Jewish State, which means it is a state dedicated to a specific cause and culture. In media thinking, this is okay when it comes to Native Americans, any African country, the Tibetans, ironically the Palestinians, or any other non-western, non – Judeo/Christian culture. But Israel is a Jewish State. Its ethical and cultural foundations are the biblical narrative and the one true G-d, a philosophy of life that exerts purpose and meaning into the world. At a time when the culture of America and Europe was overdosing on heroin, cocaine, and general apathy, Israel’s existence constituted a threat to the continuity of a world without meaning except that which the media conjures as the latest outrage. Like Goldstein in 1984, Israel was and is the subject of the western media’s “two minutes of hate,” an outrage so carefully and malignantly designed as to constitute nothing less than a protracted propaganda campaign to keep the media itself in power.
So to answer Mr. Oren’s question, the fact that the media has endorsed the Palestinian narrative, coddled it, raised it, and cherished it, is because the media needs it. It needs a western, capitalist, and increasingly religious culture to be an oppressive monster. In his article, Mr. Oren presents the chronology of the “two minutes hate” as being one in which the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement came first and the media just tagged along. The reality, however, is that if the liberal media had been more willing to present the facts of the region with less bias and more consistency, maintaining some semblance of journalistic integrity, the BDS movement and Apartheid weeks on university campuses would never have gotten off the ground, much less to the soaring heights they now occupy. People like Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi would have been mocked as the lunatics they are and were, Noam Chomsky would have continued his career as a brilliant linguist rather than a excruciatingly idiotic demagogue, and Jimmy Carter would have lapsed into the obscurity that he should certainly reside. If we are to find the reason for the media’s foul ethical conduct as it relates to Israel, and increasingly everything as the Zimmerman case highlights, then we need to blame the media first, not last. Short of resorting to characterizing the media as entirely anti-Semitic, which based on their behavior one can easily maintain, this is the only theory that can explain such a bizarre sociological and psychological phenomenon.