As a former reporter for the Associated press in Tel Aviv, I was interested when CNN discussed the media’s disproportionate focus on Israel with Matti Friedman. The former AP correspondent highlighted the press corps’ obsessive attention to Israel and groupthink. It’s worth reading his article here, as well as watching the CNN interview here.
Even as far back as my time with Reuters between 1975-80, Tel Aviv was one of the top bureaux in the world to get a posting to. Sometimes I think some journalists were willing to sell their grandmothers in order to end up based in that tiny sliver of land. A lot of what Friedman writes is correct, and yet one can’t help feeling that the Arab-Israel conflict is much more than a ‘sideshow of a sideshow’ (to steal T.E. Lawrence’s famous quote about his role in the Great War). Let’s face it, Yasser Arafat’s PLO spawned the rampant terrorism that engulfs the world today. He set the standard to which all of today’s jihadis aspire. So whenever I enter airport security, I remember it was all down to old rubber-lips, whose imbecilic grin captivated so many governments, as well as the western media. Indeed, one BBC reporter even cried at his funeral (bias, what bias?). Is the media obsessed with Israel. Of course, Mr Friedman, for, after all, it’s been the same throughout history: if it ain’t Jews, it ain’t news.