More Media Bias: Arab Buildings Matter More Than Israeli Lives


By Adam Levick 

Here’s the sensational headline that accompanied a February 17 article at i100 (The Independent’s BuzzFeedstyle website) by Bethan McKernan

“An Israeli newspaper columnist actually asked whether the country should ‘flatten’ the whole city of Beirut”

Shocking, isn’t it?!

Well, no, actually.

The February 15 Haaretz op-ed that i100 cites was written by Amitai Etzion (an 86-year-old Israeli, who served in the IDF in the late 1940s), and addresses the challenge presented by a future war with Hezbollah, and how best to neutralize the group’s stockpile of more than 100,000 rockets — most of which are hidden within the civilian infrastructure.

Etzion, who’s been living in the US since the 1950s, explores the possibility of using Fuel-Air Explosives (FAE), which reportedly “cause massive explosions and flatten buildings over a large range,” thus capable of destroying most of the Hezbollah rockets.

However, as even i100 makes clear, such a weapon would only be used after Lebanese civilians had the chance to evacuate the area.

So, while i100 found that op-ed, written by someone not associated with the Israeli government, worth publishing, it’s quite telling that neither i100 nor any brand associated with The Independent saw fit to report a threat by Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, that same week. Based on reports in the Israeli and Lebanese media, Nasrallah boasted that, in a future war with “the Zionist entity,” he’d launch a strike on Haifa’s ammonia storage tanks that would kill tens of thousands of Israelis.

Naturally, the mental picture painted by the i100 article about the “shocking” Haaretz op-ed by Etzion comports perfectly with the narrative about Israel advanced by the Indy and rest of the UK media — a militaristic country that has become a cruel Goliath, reacting “disproportionately” to imagined regional threats.

If such media outlets would take Arabs seriously as moral actors who pose serious threats to the lives of Israelis, and consistently report such threats of mass murder against Jews, the narrative of Israeli aggression they’ve spent so much time nurturing would be seriously undermined.

Finally, we’re often asked if such double standards — and other examples of biased reporting — are motivated by antisemitism.

It is the belief of this writer that this usually is not the case.

More often, editors, journalists and contributors at major British publications seem wedded to an ideological orientation that views events in the region through a myopic, morally binary framework — “habits of mind” that inform an instinctive anti-Israel prejudice.

The pattern of bias, inaccuracies, double standards and selective moral outrage we’re continually documenting is a natural consequence of this cognitive process.