It’s no secret the U.S. media is tilted far in favor of Israel. Just look at how two very similar events are treated in the NYTimes, one about a country deemed “bad guy” by U.S. policy, the other “our greatest friend and ally.”
Syrian military forces killed 42 people Wednesday, including a 10-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl, in raids on a string of towns around the central city of Homs as the government continued trying to crush a three-month-old popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, human rights activists said.
Troops and tanks moved against the towns of Talbiseh, Teir Maaleh and Al-Rastan on Saturday after large antigovernment demonstrations on Friday, said Razan Zeitouneh, a rights activist whose organization, the Syrian Human Rights Information Link, collected the names of 42 people killed in Al-Rastan. Though figures for other towns were not available, Syrians reached by telephone described widespread arrests of men and neighborhoods besieged by tanks and snipers.
Now here’s how the same newspaper treats a comparable event:
Israeli forces fired at pro-Palestinian protesters on the Syrian frontier on Sunday as they tried to breach the border for the second time in three weeks, reflecting a new mode of popular struggle and deadly confrontation fueled by turmoil in the Arab world and the vacuum of stalled peace talks.
Wave after wave of protesters, mainly Palestinians from refugee camps in Syria, approached the frontier with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israeli soldiers opened fire on those who crossed a new trench and tried to attack the border fence near the towns of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights and Quneitra in Syria.
By nightfall, the Syrian news agency SANA reported that 22 protesters had been killed and more than 350 had been wounded. Israeli officials said that they had no information on casualties but suggested that the Syrian figures were exaggerated.
…“What would any country do if people from an enemy country were marching on its borders?” asked Dan Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. “We tried all other possible means to stop them.”
The Syrian military “killed 42 people” including children in “raids” responding to “popular uprisings” for “human rights.” These Golan Heights protesters were “fueled by turmoil in the Arab world” and “tried to attack the border fence” with Israel, and the Syrians are likely to have “exaggerated” the death toll. No such statement was taken from Syrian officials, but I’m sure they would have said the same about the military justifications for the offensive: “What would any government do if ‘internal enemies’ were marching on its streets? We tried all other possible means to stop them.” We don’t get such a justification in the Syrian report, but there it is in the Israeli one. The events are similar: government military forces opening fire on unarmed, peaceful civilian protesters. But we wouldn’t necessarily know it from reading the NYTimes. They of course mentioned the children that the Syrian military attacked. But seemed to have forgotten to include that detail, reported here, from the Israeli offensive. The report even goes so far as to blame Syria for the protests:
Syria’s decision to allow the protest appeared to reflect a calculated strategy to divert attention from its own antigovernment uprising.
…anything to absolve Israel from too much blame. These differences can be subtle word changes and alterations in emphasis, but they help uphold a strong pro-Israeli mindset throughout the American electorate.
Update: It seems the Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has been rather explicit about harsh military responses to Palestinian uprisings (via FPIF):
There is a focal player in the Middle East – the street – and it is clear to us that in the coming months we can find ourselves in broad popular demonstrations, which gain public resonance. The IDF is preparing for these demonstrations….we will act with great fire power and full force at the very beginning of the confrontation. Anything the camera can stand or could stand in the first three days of fighting – it will not be prepared to put up with thereafter.