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Israeli ‘human interest’ matters a lot more than Palestinian ‘human rights’ in Washington Post

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After 17-year-old protester Qusay al-Umour was killed by Israeli soldiers in occupied territory on Monday, friends waited to see how the American papers would cover it. The Times didn’t do a story on Tuesday. They did get to it Wednesday: “Video of Fatally Wounded Teenager Sparks Palestinian Rage.”

The Washington Post hasn’t covered the story in its print edition (though it has run two AP stories online). But yesterday the Post bizarrely ran this story instead, a feature story without any news peg about a blind golfer named Zohar Sharon who has won several international tournaments. Reporter Ruth Eglash went golfing with him:

We are playing a round in the affluent coastal town of Caesarea, which has one of just two 18-hole courses in all of Israel…

Sharon lost his eyesight in his early 20s during compulsory service for the Israel Defense Forces.

Dr. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute pointed out the discrepancy to me and said, “I have long argued that the way the US media covers the Israel/Palestine story is to present Israelis as full human beings with feelings and aspirations, while Palestinians are a problem to be solved. Running these Israeli human interest  stories and ignoring the Palestinian stories reinforces this frame.”

The golfer story is hardly an aberration. Israeli “human interest” stories pop up regularly in the Washington Post. And in other media as well. More examples:

Earlier this month, NBC’s Kelly Cobiella reported from Safed in Israel on Syrian wounded being treated by Israel after they got across the border at the Golan Heights. Salman Zarka, the head of the hospital, who coincidentally had just given a promotional tour in the United States, was interviewed; and the effusive report suggested that Israel’s help was the secret way to peace with its neighbors. Nothing about an occupation.

A few weeks ago Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times did an interview with futurist Ray Kurzweil at a Times idea festival, and Kurzweil bragged of sharing his energy ideas with his friend Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last month on Facebook, Dec. 19, 2016, Times reporter Jodi Kantor (who attended a Batsheva Dance Company fundraiser in 2007) offered a promotion of the Times series on Syrian refugees in Canada with a bit of piety:

Bayan and Batoul are Syrian refugees. Their buddy Ma’ayan is Israeli-Canadian. Just one of the many ways in which the Syrians we’re reporting on defy caricatures.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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4 Responses

  1. ckg on January 19, 2017, 5:38 pm

    “Rage”, as used in the NYT headline, is a race-loaded word. A Google search of the NYT web site yields 7 hits for the phrase “Israeli rage” and 3,950 hits for “Palestinian rage”.

    • Talkback on January 20, 2017, 3:19 am

      But that’s understandable. Jewish terrorism in Palestine has been systematic since the late 1930s.

  2. RoHa on January 19, 2017, 10:48 pm

    “friends waited to see how the American papers would cover it. The Times didn’t do a story on Tuesday. ”

    You’re slipping, Phil. The Times isn’t an American newspaper.

  3. genesto on January 20, 2017, 12:28 pm

    For the best documentation of the extreme bias in the Western, especially US, media towards Israel and against the Palestinians, check out Alison Weir’s body of work as founder and leader of ‘If Americans Knew’.

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