Over the weekend Jodi Rudoren of The New York Times wrote a story from Gaza about the rise of Islamic Jihad: “Islamic Jihad Gains New Traction in Gaza.” It was scary, featuring photos of martyr murals and guys in ski masks carrying shoulder-fired grenades.
Smaller and less known internationally than the militant Islamic Hamas faction that has ruled since 2007, Islamic Jihad and its Al-Quds Brigades are having something of a renaissance. Last month the group captured global headlines by firing a barrage of 100 rockets toward Israel in less than an hour.
Not till the 16th paragraph of the story did you discover that it has fractional support:
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found 5 percent of Gaza residents supporting Islamic Jihad in December and 4 percent in March, up from 1 to 3 percent in recent years.
I.e., Islamic Jihad’s support might have grown as little 1 percent in recent years. And it’s gone down between December and March! As James North wrote to me, alerting me to the story: “It is fake and melodramatic.”
Speaking of The New York Times, Victoria Brittain has an excellent piece up at Open Democracy on the rapidly shifting media narrative of Israel Palestine, and the role of the internet in rocking the old paradigms.
She pits the two forces. First, there’s the “western press’ long-standing compliant relationship with the official Israeli version of progressive dispossession of the Palestinian people over more than 60 years…”
Against this powerful current in recent years a modestly-financed series of initiatives in new media has begun a kind of guerrilla intellectual war challenging the old dominance.
Dents in the old master-narrative of Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East, and with no interlocutor among the Palestinians, who threaten its existence, are visible in many areas.
And Brittain itemizes the erosion of the New York Times’s authority, citing our site among many others doing this work.
One strand of this is a tireless scrutiny of the New York Times. The paper’s bureau chiefs and reporters on Israel/Palestine are invariably based in West Jerusalem and some have had personal connections with Israel (for example: former bureau chief Ethan Bronner’s son served in the IDF ). The Washington DC-based Jerusalem Fund/Palestine Centre, the Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss systematically launch detailed challenges to the NYT reporting. They take on the NYT professionalism – making dents in the credibility of the key US paper of record, and having these critiques amplified by an incalculable number of new media links.