Should Israel Let The News Media Into Gaza?

Dennis Prager says no on his radio show Tuesday (20 minutes in and here).

The NYT editorialized: "Israel must immediately allow foreign journalists access to Gaza, as the Israeli high court ruled on Dec. 31. As in every war zone, reporting by journalists — and human rights monitors as well — can discourage abuse and is essential to full public understanding of the conflict."

Dennis: "There is nothing more desirable than the truth… The world media have served in the case of the Middle East and in Iraq as a great aid to the most evil people in the world at this time. The deterioriation of the media in my lifetime is one of the saddest stories of my lifetime… It’s one of the reasons many Americans now get their news from Comedy Central… Jon Stewart probably gives a more accurate view of the world than Keith Olbermann.

"The New York Times has repeatedly reported phony stories about US servicemen in Iraq, way overblown the atrocity stories. Abu Ghraib was a disgusting exhibit of behavior by American troops, but 31 days in a row it was on the front page?

"Maybe one in 300,000 Americans know what Abu Ghraib really stood for? The torture center of Sadam Hussein’s universe. Now it is known only for the American abuse of prisoners.

"You then have The New Republic reporting on atrocities by US troops that it then withdraws.

"The NYT reported on American troops coming back from Iraq committing homicide and suicide when they commit homicide and suicide at lower rates than people their own age who never went to Iraq.

"Then they cry, ‘Let us in or the world won’t know the truth.’

"If showing pictures of Gazans weeping, and of course it is true, it is happening, but does it give you a sense of proportionality? What if during WWII, the media had only shown Germans weeping? Plenty of Germans were weeping over the vast numbers of German civilians who died. What if 90% of the reporting was weeping Germans and .1% was about Aushwitz? Would you say that was true?"

"Thousands of rockets were sent over from Gaza to kill as many Israelis as possible… Can you imagine if this happened to us from land in Mexico? You don’t think we would invade?"

"The media are the least self-critical group in the world. Very few groups criticize themselves. There is no self criticism of the media that I am aware of…except for talk radio criticizing themselves and the general news media."

"Do you see any pictures of those Hamas tortured to death? No."

"Five million people in the Congo have been killed since 2003… Do you have any pictures of that? No. The world media are allowed into the Congo. Why don’t they go? Why don’t they have any pictures of the Congo? Why are five million deaths less significant than the deaths of Hamas leaders? Because they know what people are interested in. Because it sells. If they were interested in the truth, they’d be in the Congo. They have no interest in the Congo. A reporter would rather give up his role than cover that. It’s blacks killing blacks and this is of no interest to the Western world."

"I salute Israel’s decision to not allow the propaganda troops for Hamas aka the world media into Gaza. If you took a vote among the free people of Israel and the terrorist supporters among the Palestinians, how do you think the vote would go? Because Hamas supporters are in love with the truth and Israelis who have a free press are not in love with the truth? Because you don’t get truth from the world media, you get propaganda. Did you get the truth when Dan Rather interviewed Saddam Hussein?"

Prager reads from this news article in the NYT:

Israelis say the war is being reduced on television screens around the world to a simplistic story: an American-backed country with awesome military machine fighting a third-world guerrilla force leading to a handful of Israelis dead versus 600 Gazans dead.

Israelis and their supporters think that such quick descriptions fail to explain the vital context of what has been happening — years of terrorist rocket fire on civilians have gone largely unanswered, and a message had to be sent to Israel’s enemies that this would go on no longer, they say. The issue of proportionality, they add, is a false construct because comparing death tolls offers no help in measuring justice and legitimacy.

There are other ways to construe the context of this conflict, of course. But no matter what, Israel’s diplomats know that if journalists are given a choice between covering death and covering context, death wins. So in a war that they consider necessary but poorly understood, they have decided to keep the news media far away from the death.

John Ging, an Irishman who directs operations in Gaza for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, entered Gaza on Monday as journalists were kept out. He told Palestinian reporters in Gaza that the policy was a problem.

“For the truth to get out, journalists have to get in,” he said.

Prager writes:

Harvard Law Professor Alan M. Dershowitz is that rare individual who is both a highly respected academic and well known to the general population.

But in another regard he is even rarer. He regards himself as a man of the left, yet on one of the defining moral issues of our time, attitudes toward Israel, he has nothing in common with the left. He is not only one of Israel’s staunchest supporters, he spends much of his time defending Israel. He has written innumerable articles and four books defending Israel: “The Case against Israel’s Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace,” “The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved,” “The Case for Israel,” and “What Israel Means to Me: By 80 Prominent Writers, Performers, Scholars, Politicians, and Journalists.”

This past week, Dershowitz wrote two eloquent columns defending Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza. One was titled “Israel, Hamas, and Moral Idiocy,” published in the Christian Science Monitor and the other, “Israel’s Policy Is Perfectly ‘Proportionate,’” was published in the Wall Street Journal.

In his Monitor column, Dershowitz describes “three types of international response to the Israeli military actions against the Hamas rockets” — “Iran, Hamas, and other knee-jerk Israeli-bashers,” “the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and others who, at least when it comes to Israel, see a moral and legal equivalence between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that responds by targeting the terrorists,” and “the United States and a few other nations that place the blame squarely on Hamas.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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