My initial reaction to the news that Ethan Bronner’s son had joined the IDF was a shrug. I have found Bronner’s reporting to be biased toward Israel, but only a reflection of the deeply entrenched institutional biases that control our media. Bronner is biased for the same reason that Israel, with an advantage in military capability over Hamas that would conjure up a New Orleans Saints – middle school football game, is seen as the party grappling with the problem of "asymmetric warfare." It’s the same reason that the deaths of 3000 civilians on American soil is seen as the greatest calamity to befall mankind, while the US military’s toll of at least many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians is seen as an unfortunate byproduct of war. It’s the same reason that anti-Iraq-war commentators on TV trickled from a small handful to near zero after the 2003 invasion. It’s the same reason that nuclear Israel’s overtly-belligerent statements against Iran are treated as the legitimate discourse of self-defense against the dire "threat" of Ahmadinejad’s musings that the "Jewish State" will transform to a state of equal citizens. It’s the same reason that when Ali Abunimah draws an equivalence between the IDF, which is capable of killing millions and has killed thousands in the past four years alone, and Hamas, whose strength and death toll are minuscule by comparison, most Americans would be outraged at the insult to Israel.
If Bronner’s son were a pacifist or if Bronner were childless, would his reporting be appreciably different? If Bronner were reassigned to cover China or Iceland, would his replacement, Jewish or not, be appreciably different? Undoubtedly, the answers are no. But while the camel’s back already has been badly broken for a very long time, Bronner’s son just may be a last straw that exposes the grotesquely skewed US media coverage of the Middle East. Maybe, hopefully, it will be the start of some reactive movement in the opposite direction.