Once again Matti Friedman has delivered the goods with another devastating exposé of journalism related to Israel, this time in The Atlantic. The article is large and covers multiple, interrelated topics but I’m going to draw on one general theme and it’s one I’ve looked at before.
The number of NGO’s and UN agencies which collect money from (mostly) outside Israel and then fly to nice, relatively safe, Jerusalem to come and bash Israel and the Jews, is astonishing. The sheer amount of money ($2b per year) sloshing around is beyond belief and it puts the Palestinians at or near the top of international aid recipients anywhere in the world. Nearly all of this wealth passes through the hands of NGOs in Israel.
What do the NGOs do with all this money? It would appear they use it to employ pampered westerners who drink very expensive coffee and cocktails at swanky hotels in “occupied East Jerusalem”. Somewhere along the line they find some time to write fact-lite reports that twist information to ensure Israel and Jews look bad.
Once they’re done with their carefully crafted propaganda, they pick up the phone or What’s App whichever journalist they slept with last and are still on speaking terms with. As I wrote at the Times of Israel about the NGO Human Rights Watch:
HRW crops up in the next, more serious recent case. Again it concerns what the AP considers newsworthy, timely and how they present the work of agenda driven sources. On September 12th the AP released a piece under the headline “Evidence growing that Hamas used residential areas”. Founder and blogger at Israellycool, Aussie Dave, pulled this tendentious story apart with ease. AP’s story is little more than a public relations stunt by Hamas, helped along with copious reliance on the widely discredited Human Rights Watch, one of AP’s favourite sources. HRW is a source so tainted its own founder loudly denounced its biases in a New York Times article in 2009.
This time around Matti has a story specifically about HRW and trying to report the 2009 denunciation of its activities by its own founder. He tried to write something gently critical about them, only to have the story squashed by editors. Matti writes:
My article was gentle, all things considered, beginning like this:
JERUSALEM (AP) _ The prickly relationship between Israel and its critics in human rights organizations has escalated into an unprecedented war of words as the fallout from Israel’s Gaza offensive persists ten months after the fighting ended.
Editors killed the story.
I’m left wondering which editor at the AP would have been in trouble with his girlfriend/boyfriend had the AP bashed a sacred cow like HRW.
That rolls nicely into which organisations the AP would never speak to. Matti lists NGO Monitor and specifically Gerald Steinberg, its President, as being completely black-listed by AP in Jerusalem. The following statement is absolutely astonishing (my emphasis):
Around this time, a Jerusalem-based group called NGO Monitor was battling the international organizations condemning Israel after the Gaza conflict, and though the group was very much a pro-Israel outfit and by no means an objective observer, it could have offered some partisan counterpoint in our articles to charges by NGOs that Israel had committed “war crimes.” But the bureau’s explicit orders to reporters were to never quote the group or its director, an American-born professor named Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.
HRW: OK. NGO Monitor: not OK. That’s the press in Jerusalem. And the same applies to an alphabet soup of anti-Israel NGOs whose work is always reported and whose backgrounds and motivations are never checked or questions. The AP is nothing more than a Press Release agency for these people.
As usual, it’s not only about what the journalists at the Associated Press write: even more important is what they don’t write. What is left out? Who don’t they speak to? What reports will they never cover?
I’m sure NGO Monitor will have a response later today. I hope they’re considering legal action.