Thursday, August 09, 2012

Explaining Why Israel Is More Prosperous Than Palestinians Highlights Media Bias

His [Romney's] comparison of the two economies did not take into account the stifling effect the Israeli occupation has had on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — areas Israel captured in 1967 where the Palestinians hope to establish a state.

In the West Bank, Palestinians have only limited self-rule. Israel controls all border crossings in and out of the territory, and continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, but has invested much less heavily there than in Jewish west Jerusalem.
Kasie Hunt, AP, Romney comments at fundraiser outrage Palestinians

Putting aside how Kasie Hunt and the Associated Press fabricated the original story about Romney's "culture" quote, the deeper issue is the failure--or refusal--of the media to understand why the Palestinian Arabs are nowhere near as prosperous as Israel.

Middle East expert Barry Rubin writes that the media's bias prevents it from understanding why the Palestinians fail:
Yet in choosing to blame Israel, the media generally showed no interest at all in additional factors which are equally or more valid.

I’m not suggesting that journalists and editors thought through the following list of factors and deliberately decided not to mention them. I think that these things never entered their minds. Yet how can that be? Some of these points require knowledge of the situation on the ground and its history. Still, many should be obvious to those who have read past newspaper accounts or just use logic, not to mention research.
Rubin provides 12 points to explain the lack of Palestinian prosperity.
Here are 3 of them:
  • The most devastating problem for the Palestinian economy has been the leadership’s refusal to make peace with Israel and to get a state. Most notably, the opportunities thrown away in 1948, 1979, and 2000 doomed both countries to years of suffering, casualties, and lower development. Today, in 2012, both Palestinian leaderships—Fatah and Hamas—continue this strategy.

  • And incidentally remember that Israel also had to cope with war, terrorism, and defense needs unequaled by the burden faced by any other democratic state in the world. Moreover, it could not trade for most of its history with any of its neighbors–and commerce is still limited–or any of the countries in the Arabic-speaking world that surrounds it. In addition, it has almost no natural resources. So while Israel received a lot of U.S. aid most of that went into defense and not economic development. In other words, Israel’s has handicaps as impressive (or almost as marked) as the Palestinian ones.

  • Finally, compare the Palestinians to the Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, or Lebanese. In those places the excuse of it’s all Israel’s fault is hard to sustain yet the Palestinians have done as well or better than those other Arabs who share a very similar political culture.
Read the whole thing.

Points such as these were simply not mentioned by the media in their frenzy to jump all over Romney's remark. Furthermore, the media's unquestioning acceptance of the Palestinian talking points is common and pervasive in its coverage of Israel in general. The incident with Romney is just one example of the media's fixation on blaming Israel.

Rubin concludes:
Often, one suspects there are a lot of people in the mass media and academia who are totally uninterested in presenting anything other than an anti-Israel narrative.
One example is The Guardian, which decided on its own that Israel's capital is in Tel Aviv. The absurdity of a newspaper thinking it can designate where a foreign country can have its capital makes sense in the context of what passes for journalism at the Guardian.

The problem is that the Guardian does not have a monopoly on anti-Israel articles.

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