Sunday, November 30, 2014

Picking Sides

Many freshly arrived reporters in Israel, similarly adrift in a new country, undergo a rapid socialization in the circles I mentioned. This provides them not only with sources and friendships but with a ready-made framework for their reporting—the tools to distill and warp complex events into a simple narrative in which there is a bad guy who doesn’t want peace and a good guy who does.
Matti Friedman “How the Media Makes the 'Israel Story'
So, tell me, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which side do you think is which? One of the impressions that I get from the whole affair is that each side is do convinced of the self-evidential nature of their status as the good guy who wants peace that anyone who thinks otherwise must have been brainwashed by a biased media that is too busy sucking up to someone to "do their jobs."

In the end, as far as I see it, the problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn't that either of side would rather go on fighting this conflict forever. It's that both sides would rather go on fighting the conflict than living with a peace that looks like losing the conflict, because they understand themselves to be fight for what is right on a fundamental level.

When I talk to people here in the United States who have adopted a strongly partisan stance on either side of the issue, they often appear to have difficulty understanding that there is any reasonable way for someone to disagree with their view of the subject. And they can point to media articles that back them up, while at the same time decrying an overall media environment that they feel is deliberately hostile to their point of view. I suspect that a lot of this comes from the fact that both sides of the issue are fairly media-savvy, and adept at packaging the simple narratives that Friedman speaks of - that they're the good guys who want peace and are fighting a war for their very survival against the bad guys on the other side who don't.

I am not an analyst of such things, so I wouldn't know if the overall coverage of the conflict is what one would considered balanced in any workable sense. And I don't know how one would calculate such things in any event. But it does seem to me that each side has made enough credible accusations of bias that to say that "the media" has clearly chosen one over the other is dubious.

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