Italian-Palestinian journalist and former MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal caused an uproar this week with comments about American media’s “disgusting” pro-Israel bias.
Ronan Farrow invited Jebreal and the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake to discuss to conflict in Israel. Farrow mentioned Secretary of State John Kerry’s hot-mic comment, in which Kerry sarcastically called Israel’s military policy “a hell of a pinpoint operation.” He asked his guests what they thought of this gap between “American officials’ public versus private thoughts when it comes to Israel.”
Jebreal responded with a rant about how American media is “disgustingly biased” against Palestinians.
Audiences around the world have seen “hundreds of hours of airtime devoted to Palestinian casualties,” he explained, and “the focus on the Palestinian casualties without context serves a Hamas media strategy.”
This strategy that Hamas has used again and again, Oren said, is “to depict Israel as the indiscriminate killer, as callous, and ultimately to arouse public opinion throughout the world, put pressure on governments to go to the U.N. and get Israel condemned for war crimes so that Israel can’t defend itself while Hamas fires rockets at Israel.”
Oren said U.S. media have downplayed Israel’s extraordinary efforts to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties. “Without that context, those reports are serving the Hamas media strategy designed to delegitimize Israel,” he said.
“Hamas knows it can’t destroy Israel with its rockets or tunnels,” he explained, “but it can create a legal and international situation where Israel can no longer legitimately defend itself. It does that by arousing public opinion using an international media.” Hamas has, as a result, received millions of dollars in international aid.
Though her statistics are absurd and her claims unfounded, Jebreal sparked an important conversation about the media’s bias in this conflict. She is also correct that media play a crucial role in shaping public opinion, and ultimately public policy. But she’s wrong that the U.S. media, at least as of 2014, are excessively pro-Israel in their coverage. Her own newfound celebrity shows that.
— Molly Wharton is an intern at National Review.