Our friends at CAMERA wrote the following, in a post titled ‘Where’s the coverage? Israel the Only Free Country in the Middle East‘, Jan. 23, the day after yet another free and fair Israeli election.
Maybe they were too busy bemoaning the state of Israel’s democracy to do any actual reporting, but the mainstream news media [as well as the Guardian] completely ignored a report by Freedom House, an independent watchdog group dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, that rated Israel as the only free country in the Middle East.
As we noted in a post on Jan. 22, predictions by Guardian journalists, analysts and commentators that Israel’s democracy was in decline – and that the Jewish state was lurching towards an extreme right political abyss – were proven wildly inaccurate.
In the 2013 edition of its annual report, “Freedom in the World,” the organization wrote: “Israel remains the region’s only Free country. In recent years, controversies have surrounded proposed laws that threatened freedom of expression and the rights of civil society organizations. In most cases, however, these measures have either been quashed by the government or parliament, or struck down by the Supreme Court.”
In other words, Israel’s democracy works. By contrast, both Gaza, under Hamas, and the West Bank, under the Palestinian Authority were rated “Not Free,” as was Jordan. Lebanon and Egypt ranked as merely “Partly Free.”
To look at a map of world freedom, click on this link. You’ll have to enlarge it quite a bit to see the sliver of green freedom that is Israel in the sea of yellow (“partly free”) and purple (“not free”) that is the Middle East and North Africa.
Here’s a snapshot of the Freedom House political freedom map, with a red arrow pointing to the sliver of democracy in the Middle East.
Given the hyper-focus on Israel by the press, one might expect news outlets to at least mention this positive evaluation of the Jewish State. However, although Israeli and Jewish outlets reported the Freedom House study, CAMERA could not locate any mainstream news media that covered it. More embarrassing still, even Egypt’s Daily News wrote: “Egypt is now one of six countries in the Middle East that is classified by Freedom House as “partly free”. Eleven are classed as “not free”, while Israel is the region’s only “free” country.“
A newspaper in a country that has only recently been upgraded to “partly free” covered Israel’s “free” ranking but news outlets in “free” countries did not.
One has to ask, why the hesitancy to report something positive about Israel’s democracy?
While there are many factors which explain why the Guardian ignores evidence of Israel’s clear democratic advantages in the region, one of the most central is the ideological orientation of the Guardian Left which typically reduces complicated political phenomena down to a binary David vs. Goliath paradigm.
Such framing nurtures coverage of the region which routinely characterizes Israeli leaders, even in the context of fair and free democratic elections, as extremely “right-wing”, while avoiding such pejorative depictions of even the most reactionary Palestinian leaders.
Indeed, as Simon Plosker observed, such a political orientation inspired the Guardian to describe Mahmoud Abbas, in one editorial, as the “most moderate Palestinian leader”. Abbas is similarly framed as a “moderate” by Guardian journalists and CiF commentators despite the fact that the Palestinian President is currently serving the 8th year of a 4 year term, has engaged in Holocaust denial, and leads a government which promotes martyrdom and antisemitic incitement, and severely oppresses women, gays, religious minorities, critical Palestinian journalists and political opponents.
Further, it simply strains credulity to imagine that a new independent Palestinian Arab state in the West Bank would be truly democratic, any more liberal, or nominally respect the human rights of its citizens.
However, as long as Israeli politics are myopically viewed through the ideologically skewed filter of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, even the most intuitive evidence regarding the extreme right political center of gravity within Palestinian society on one hand, and the Jewish state’s liberal, democratic advantages on the other, will continue to be downplayed or ignored.
- Racist double standards watch: Guardian ignores Palestinians’ extreme right drift (cifwatch.com)
- The Guardian gets it wrong: Exit polls indicate no rightward political shift in Israel (cifwatch.com)
- Harriet Sherwood ‘Likes’ Facebook group which ‘pokes’ at Israel’s legitimacy (cifwatch.com)
- New Year’s Resolutions We’d Like the Media to Make (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian editorial on Israeli vote ignores their own erroneous political predictions (cifwatch.com)
- The curious case of the Arab vote in the Israeli elections (cifwatch.com)