Jonathan Cook, an independent British journalist living in Nazareth, Israel, has a must read piece here on journalism, censorship, the Israel lobby and attacks on the press in Israel/Palestine.
I would recommend reading the whole piece, but here’s the money quote:
Since the visible collapse of the peace process a decade ago at Camp David, Israel has been in the increasingly uncomfortable position of not only being but, more importantly, looking like the rejectionist party to the conflict. The impression that Israel has no interest in engaging in meaningful peace talks to create any kind of viable Palestinian state has grown with the almost complete cessation of Palestinian attacks, both the suicide bombers who were once dispatched from the West Bank and the Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza.
In order to justify continuing military assaults on the Palestinians in the occupied territories and its studious avoidance of real negotiations, Israel has had to invest an ever larger share of its energies in managing and controlling the narrators of the conflict—chiefly the Western news organizations and, especially, those in the United States.
Israel needs to maintain its credibility in the U.S. because that is the source of its strength. It depends on billions of dollars in aid and military hardware, almost blanket political support from Congress, the White House’s veto of critical resolutions at the United Nations, and Washington’s role as a dishonest broker in sponsoring intermittent talks propping up a peace process that in reality offers no hope of a just resolution. The occupation would end in short order without U.S. financial, diplomatic and military support. For that reason Israel makes significant efforts, as we shall see, to put pressure on the journalists themselves. It also targets their news editors “back home” because they make appointments to the region, set the tone of the coverage, approve or veto story ideas, and edit and package the reports coming in from the field.
One other thing worth highlighting: I’ve spent some time on this blog documenting the distortions and falsehoods in most Western reporting on Israel/Palestine. Cook’s piece is a great tool for understanding why it is that the press continues to be so tone deaf and blind on the conflict.
I have criticized Joel Greenberg, a correspondent for the Washington Post who writes on Israel/Palestine, and his shoddy reporting in a couple of places (here and here.) Apparently, Greenberg used to the work for the New York Times, and before that, the Israeli army.
Cook writes this on Greenberg, partially explaining why, perhaps, Greenberg’s reporting is so skewed in Israel’s favor (emphasis mine):
The NYT’s other Jerusalem correspondent, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli citizen and is married to an Israeli. A recent predecessor of Bronner’s, Joel Greenberg, did reserve duty in the Israeli army while he was reporting for the paper, apparently a fact known by the editors but also not considered a conflict of interest. Most of the NYT’s correspondents in the past two decades appear to have been Jewish.