The End of Media Outrage
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The End of Media Outrage

The End of Media Outrage

If nothing we do changes the world’s opinion of us, then perhaps we should start caring less about it.

by

Once again, Israel finds itself at war. And once again, the injury of the conflict is compounded by the insult of a prejudiced world press and a slanted international response.

So once again, Israelis – joined by their Jewish brethren around the world – gnash their collective teeth at the infuriating injustice of having to defend themselves for defending themselves.

It is indeed infuriating. But there was something else bothering me about this; something apart from the stubborn ignorance of the truth and the selective picking of facts and the jaw-droppingly lopsided comparisons; something I had difficulty putting my finger on.

You see, my faith in humanity compels me to believe that the media bias, or at least most of it, is not the product of rampant anti-Semitism. Perhaps it is just my naiveté, but I believe that this prejudice is a symptom of classic underdog cheering; an understandable human foible that at some point mutated into an entire school of journalism. The underdog can do no wrong. Strong equals wrong. It is the same sentiment that holds the adolescent serial killer blameless because “he’s just a child.”

This journalistic weakness might be excusable – certainly as an alternative to the charge of anti-Semitism – but for this vexing irony: Why now?

We Jews were the undisputed world underdogs for nineteen centuries. We had no land, no army, no government, not even the saving grace of geographic proximity. And during that time we were beaten up by almost every bully in history. You name an empire; we’ve been persecuted by it. Throw a dart at a map of Europe, and we've probably been expelled from that country. And through it all, we enjoyed the unwavering and resounding support of exactly nobody.

Now, after almost two millennia of being trampled by a nearly continuous stampede of the world’s nations, we finally – finally – bulked up a little. We got a small piece of land, a sometimes functional government, and a respectable fighting force. And now the enlightened people of the world wake up and say, “You know who we should really pay attention to? The underdog.”

We could have really used this attitude back then. It would have been so useful to have a Huffington Post homepage story on, say, the conditions in the Warsaw Ghetto, or a BBC Special Report on the communities ravaged by the Crusades, or a New York Times feature on the nearly one million Jews forced to leave the Arab countries in the twentieth century (the other unnamed Middle East refugee crisis).

We get bad press when we are strong. And we get bad press when we are weak.

So we get bad press when we are strong. And we get bad press when we are weak. We get bad press when we do something, and we get bad press when we do nothing. It is hard to escape the conclusion that no matter what, we are going to get bad press. If the State of Israel succeeds in landing the first human being on Mars, the world media would immediately condemn it for “territorial expansionism” and the UN would swiftly call for a Two Planet Solution.

It may be time to consider that if nothing we do changes the world’s opinion of us, then perhaps we should start caring less about the world’s opinion. Not completely, of course; we cannot entirely ignore the injustice and need to make appropriate protestations. But some of us have become so consumed with outrage at the media that at times we appear more upset with the BBC than with Hamas.

The anger we feel these days towards the media and world opinion is driven in part by a feeling of betrayal; after all, we want to believe that the New York Times and the BBC will live up to their vaunted journalistic reputations, particularly when reporting on those things we care deepest about. It is bitterly galling to see facts skewed so badly by those whom we want to trust as impartial guardians of truth.

The urge to feed our anger at this betrayal is understandable, but it is ultimately futile; no media outlet is going to convince us that we are wrong, and it seems outstandingly unlikely that anything we do will change the opinion of any media outlet. It is a stalemate, and getting ourselves riled up about it just serves to distract us from the real dangers.

We need to focus on what we know is right, regardless of what others say; to embody Kipling’s verse, “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you”.

We must defend ourselves. We know this. We need to support our troops so they can succeed in their mission and make the land safe for us and our brethren. This is what matters.

The enemy here is the side firing rockets, not the ones sending tweets.

In this spirit, I have composed a poem of my own:

Sticks and stone,
Meet Iron Dome
And words,
They're just exhausting.

Published: July 26, 2014


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Visitor Comments: 25

(22) Mattie Scobie, July 30, 2014 10:07 PM

God willing we will see the end of Hamas soon

(21) Moshe Zarach-Shemesh, July 29, 2014 4:26 PM

Bravo, my brother!

Ezra,

Your essay is not only squarely accurate, but handsomely delivered and a delightful read.

Unfortunately, journalism has become the domain of the left, who hold hostage more than just the conscience of their readership and viewers. They have also been insidiously reaching out to anyone with a penchant for writing and a gift with the written word, and insisting that they belong firmly in their camp. It's gotten to the point that aspiring writers and journalists have no choice but to accept that they must already be liberals, and their choice of occupation proves it. From there, the rhetoric flows.

It is inspiring to see an article written by one of our own with all the charm of Bryson, the vernacular of Saffire, the wit of Barry, and the substance of Buckley.

Keep writing, Ezra. Talk with crowds and keep your virtue.

We're counting on you, brother.

(20) Rick, July 29, 2014 3:55 AM

Some media outlets still see clearly

Thank G-d for Fox News and many conservative radio talk show hosts who see, and convey the truth, very clearly and support Israel very loudly.. They don't mince words. We're not alone at all and we should take every opportunity to thank our friends that we do have in the media.

(19) Bernerd Lowenthal, July 29, 2014 1:56 AM

British hypocrisy is unending and unbelievable.

The Palestine brigade--15,000 Jewish soldiers--fought for England in the deserts of North Africa; they defended England. What did they get for it? An England that armed, equipped and led the Arab Legion that did its best to crush the new state of Israel. The Brits are unrepentant anti-semites who have absolutely no loyalty or gratitude. I won't put up with any moral posturing from them on the subject of Medinat Yisrael.

(18) David, July 28, 2014 5:20 PM

That's a great poem!

You're right that the press' sympathies are unwinnable in a world patently governed by the halacha that Eisav sonei Yisrael. Still US public sentiments are favorable to Israel and whatever efforts can be maintained to preserve and foster that would seem to fall within under the rubric of hishtadlus.

What's interesting, though, is the contrast between Israel's apparent fixation with seemingly irretrievable foreign opinion, and parties like Turkey, N. Korea and Syria that essentially tell the world to take a hike and the world obediently averts its eyes. Maybe taking a different tact could be a productive experiment.

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