By Jake Novak
Pictures of crying children on the newspapers.
Online video of menacing looking law enforcement agents confronting crowds.
Sounds of screaming and crying on the radio and TV.
Question: Do the above examples describe, A) The news media’s current coverage of the situation at the U.S. southern border or, B) The decades of coverage that the same media has used to depict the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Answer: All of the above.
And that’s the problem.
Any American who has paid close attention to the news coverage of these two different stories over the years must be amazed by how similar they’ve been covered. Just as amazing is how similarly skewed, biased, and inaccurate that coverage so often is.
There are countless examples to choose from to prove this point, but perhaps the best is the stunning parallels that connect this past week’s cover of Time magazine and the infamous case of Muhammad Al–Dura in Gaza in 2000.
By now, hopefully you’ve learned that the crying illegal immigrant toddler girl superimposed on the Time cover beneath a downward-looking President Donald Trump was not actually separated from her parents at all. It turned out that the two-year-old girl was detained with her mother at a facility in Texas. We also learned that the girl’s mother had previously been deported back to Honduras after arriving in the U.S. illegally in 2013 and was trying to breach the border again. The Honduran government confirmed this version of events to Reuters.
But those facts didn’t get in the way of using that image to demonize President Trump and by extension, just about anyone who favors a truly secure southern border. Time didn’t even bother to replace the cover or back down from the story. It did issue a short correction about the facts surrounding the picture, but stood by the picture saying, “Our cover and our reporting capture the stakes of this moment”… whatever the heck that means.
Flash back to 2000, when the world was pushed to support the brutally violent and unnecessary Palestinian Intifada thanks to the stunning picture of a Muslim man seemingly cradling his 12-year-old son, Muhammad Al-Dura, apparently killed by Israeli troops in Gaza.
Unfortunately for Israel and its supporters, the truth of the Al-Dura incident didn’t fully come out until years later. But it turned out the Israelis didn’t kill the boy. By all accounts he is still alive and was never shot by anybody at all. It was just a staged photo, done for effect. And for the anti-Israel movement, it worked to perfection.
Sadly, the similarities don’t end there.
Just like the images of Israeli victims of terror are almost never published in newspapers or splashed on screen, the victims of illegal immigrant crime in the U.S. are routinely ignored by the same news media.
Just like the history and root causes of Palestinian terror and protest are never mentioned in the media, the 60-plus year saga of America’s broken border issues are ignored.
Just like media talking heads with no core knowledge of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its history are routinely allowed to pontificate on the air and in print about the latest news, we also see “drive-by” journalists and so-called experts commenting and emoting ad nauseam about illegal immigration.
Just like the overwhelming majority of Israelis are often portrayed as anti-Muslim, Americans who simply want a secure border with orderly legal immigration are called racists.
None of this is a coincidence. The left believes nationalism of any kind is bad, fears the higher bar set by capitalist achieving countries, and likes to assume that no crime committed by a racial or religious minority isn’t at least somewhat justified. That’s a witch’s brew that’s led the left to become simultaneously anti-Israel and anti-American with increasing ferocity. And it uses the exact same media tools to fight its propaganda war against both.
What can American Jews do about this? Besides the many efforts to get the truth out about Israel that many of us fight every day, it’s also crucial to be aware that these same dishonest and unfair tactics being used against Israel appear across a wide spectrum of other stories and coverage of other issues. We’ve been aware of how this works with unfair Israel “reporting” for about 45 years. But we need to consider the possibility even we have been swayed to support or oppose any number of other ideas or political philosophies because of those same tactics. For all those people that we all know who support Israel but embrace every other major leftist cause, there’s a good chance they’ve been persuaded to do so thanks to same skewed propaganda machine.
This month, we’re seeing that more clearly than ever with the stark similarities to the immigration story. But next month, the same ingredients from the corrupt anti-Israel formula may become just as evident in the coverage of stories about gun violence, the economy, climate change, etc. Of course, one can only say it “may become evident,” because a lot of us haven’t been paying enough critical attention to notice the similarities.
It’s time to really open our eyes.
Jake Novak has been a TV news producer and editorial columnist for more than 25 years, with expertise in political, economic, religious, and cultural issues. He has produced shows at CNBC, CNN, FOX, and several local stations across the country. Novak is a graduate of the Yeshivah of Flatbush, has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University, and a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny and watch out for future columns on 5TJT.com.