Honest Reporting

With every new terrorist attack, and all the more so with every new rocket barrage from Gaza, comes the simultaneous grappling with the media and its bias against Israel.

Relatively speaking, the coverage of two days of Gaza rocket attacks and IDF retaliations have not elicited egregious distortions for the pro-Israeli media watchdogs to highlight.

To be sure, the big purveyors of news carry on in their routine mischaracterization of terrorists as “militants.” The BBC, for example, called Baha Abu al-Ata, whose assassination by Israel triggered the current fighting, a “top militant.” The New York Times for some reason sidestepped the terrorist/militant issue this time with the more minimalist i.d., “Islamic Jihad Commander”; only his followers were termed “militants.” This fastidiousness ignores the reality that Islamic Jihad has officially been designated a terrorist group by the European Union, United States, Canada, Japan and other countries.

Thanks to the vigilance of the pro-Israel media watchdogs who demand honest reporting on the Middle East, we are kept informed about the subtle and not-so-subtle slanting of news to favor the Palestinians and blame Israel for the tragedy of endless bloodshed.

While the appeals to news publishers and editors to revise their terminology mostly still availed us nothing, in specific instances media outlets have agreed to correct distortions and inaccuracies after complaints were lodged. And there can be no doubt that their efforts have forced newsmen to think twice before smearing Israel.

But the watchdogs, too, are biased, albeit in a different way. Coverage in the media, including by those who are pro-Israeli, is biased toward a materialistic, military-oriented version of events.

Of course, the fear and suffering experienced by hundreds of thousands of civilians must not be minimized. However, b’chasdei Shamayim, the loosing of more than 360 rockets against Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday by the bloodthirsty terrorists in Gaza yielded meager results, from their point of view: No deaths, only a few dozen civilians who had to be treated for light injury or shock.

The news media duly reported those figures, as well as the deaths of 26 Palestinians in Gaza, at least half of whom were Islamic Jihad operatives. But they failed to take note of the remarkably low number of casualties in Israel, even though residential buildings were struck and severely damaged.

The question was not asked: “Why were the rocket barrages so ineffective?” The public is told that we have the Iron Dome air defense system, air raid sirens and bomb shelters to thank.

But how to explain a rocket that landed on Route 4 in Gan Yavneh in the middle of vehicular traffic on Tuesday, that failed even to add to the light injury count?

From the video footage of the attack, it looks impossible for the cars to have driven right through the impact site without harm.

And if anyone doubts the visual images (film can be edited to deceive; perspective does play tricks on the viewer), there was eyewitness testimony:

Daniel Hazan, a bus driver who narrowly missed being hit, told Israel’s Channel 12: “I was at the intersection. Suddenly, when I was drinking my coffee, I heard the [rocket] alarm and did not stop to get out of the bus — and I saw the explosion.”

“I was stressed. I didn’t know how to function,” Hazan said. “Baruch Hashem, no one was on the bus. I drove away, I panicked. After 200 yards I stopped and I saw that the bus was hit by shrapnel: All the windows were shattered. My heart is still pounding — it’s scary. After seeing something like that with your own eyes, you feel more afraid. My body is still shaking.”

It was not the only such incident. A factory warehouse in Sderot went up in flames and smoke, destroying everything inside — but no one was hurt. In Netivot, a rocket landed on a private home — but the family arrived at the bomb shelter seconds before it hit. In Ashkelon, a rocket landed right in front of a house — and nobody was hurt.

Hamodia covered this part of the story (though few others did). This, too, comes under the heading of “honest reporting.” To honestly report that the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael perceive the Hand of Hashem in what is happening.

Journalists and politicians from the prime minister on down, gave thanks — to the IDF, rather than to Hashem.

In the Netivot incident, it took a resident, Batsheva Hadad, to tell things as they really were: “It’s a big miracle, I have no words,” she told Channel 13. “Thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. It isn’t self-evident that we’d enter the shelter on time, that we’d close the door on time. Although there was damage to property, thank G-d [there was] not to lives.”