Trump, Jerusalem and 'hidden news'

European responses to Trump's Jerusalem announcement have not been taken in kind.

By ELI POLLAK
December 23, 2017 20:36
Trump, Jerusalem and 'hidden news'

After signing, US President Donald Trump holds up the proclamation that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy there, during an address from the White House in Washington, US, December 6, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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US President Donald Trump’s policy announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was and is a milestone in the history of Jerusalem. With two weeks’ hindsight it is evident that the city has not only been recognized as a capital but that its deep link to the Jewish people has also been acknowledged. The US veto in the United Nations this week was not only a resounding reconfirmation of the policy, but evidence of the strong antipathy toward not only Israel but also the United States at the UN. As US United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley reiterated, no other country would tolerate a dictate concerning where it puts its embassies.

That the Arab nations, including Egypt, would try to roll back the American position is a given. Islam cannot accept that Jerusalem is ruled by infidels. But what about Europe? Why are countries like France, Germany and Great Britain going so far as to demand and vote for retraction? The easy answer is that the “old” Europe is rearing its head, but that is too easy.

Most of us know and are friends with many Europeans who we know are not antisemites, yet they too believe that the US has gone too far by creating unilateral facts rather than allowing the two sides to negotiate a result.

The irrational European opinion that the only solution to the Middle East problem is the so-called two-state solution underlies Europe’s actions.

Not only the leaders of those countries, but also the citizens of those countries believe that the Palestinian people have a right to exist as an independent nation. The ongoing Israeli occupation is in their eyes immoral and this includes the city of Jerusalem, where Israel has unilaterally created facts on the ground.

There are many good, rational and convincing answers to this ill-informed and unrealistic attitude, but they do not come to the forefront. A major player in this struggle is the media, which in Europe sides clearly with the Palestinian Authority. This attitude became apparent during the past two weeks.

For example, the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) outdid itself in bashing Trump and Israel. The following is a partial list of headlines: On December 7, Jochen Stahnke’s article was titled “The Right of the Mighty” and the subtitle was “Two states for two people? With his decision ... Trump has only strengthened the radicals.”

On the same day an op-ed article by Atef Abu Saif was titled “We no longer believe in peace.” On December 8 Frauke Steffens writes “The Dealmaker does not have the political concept” and she continues, “Trump’s decision endangers America’s role in the region.”

We could find not one article on the website that provided a balancing opinion.

The Swiss Neue Zueriche Zeitung on December 15 had an article by Martin Zahringer with the lead: “The West Jordanland is a powder keg and the one-sided recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel is a political fuse. This conclusion must be reached also by a political layperson when reading 26 reports, essays and travel descriptions under the title ‘Olives and Ashes’ from authors from all over the world.”

It goes without saying that the rest of the article is written in this spirit with no attempt at all to be fair handed and consider that to any dispute there are two sides.

An editorial in Austria’s Die Presse was titled “Days of Folly.” It opened with: “The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a statement of fact. But it also ignores a people’s right of self-determination and creates a completely unnecessary provocation.”

This style of unbalanced writing is not limited to the major newspapers. Smaller, more regional ones do the same.

Elisabeth Hausen’s review of the media in the PRO Christian Media Magazine on December 7 concluded that “German-language media against Trump’s Jerusalem decision.”


The situation in Britain is not much different.

The Guardian’s December 7 headline was “Defiant Donald Trump confirms US will recognize Jerusalem.” Why defiant? Who is he defying? The Guardian? But at least the Guardian did publish some defense of the decision on December 8, with an article headlined “Differing views on Jerusalem as a capital.”

It read in part, “Palestinian claims to Jerusalem as their capital have no basis in fact or history, says Joshua Rowe. Trump and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu know the west’s response is all wind and fury, says Christopher Sterling. It’s hard to argue with Israel’s assertion that Trump is simply acknowledging the reality, says Leon Rosselson.”

But note that the Guardian took it for granted that the reader would understand that these responses differ from the mainstream.

The Telegraph was not better. Its headline on December 9 was “Trump’s decision on Jerusalem shatters the Palestinian old guard.”

On December 7 it was “Saudi Arabia blasts Donald Trump’s shift on Jerusalem.”

If one reads though the Israeli newspapers or listens to the Israeli media, one would not know about this at all. Our media does not make it a habit to round up international response to happenings in the Middle East.

Is it because this does not interest the average Israeli? We doubt it. Most Israelis are aware that the State of Israel is not accepted worldwide, but do not know or understand the extent. Not for lack of interest but lack of knowledge of languages and lack of time to browse through the various media outlets.

But more damning, if more Israelis were aware of the specifics, they would do something about it. We have Zionist journalists and they would respond with their op-ed articles which would reach the international papers and provide some balance. The foreign media in Israel is sensitive to professional criticism, but instead of providing the balance, at best, outlets such as Haaretz simply pour oil into the fire. Zvi Hauser, former Israeli government secretary, tweeted on December 7: “nine measures of character went into print last night in Haaretz. Not one spoke positively about Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

It is not only the media which is responsible for the disaster. As we wrote many times in this column, our Foreign Ministry is incompetent. It sends out ambassadors to countries even though they do not speak the local language. How can they defend Israel? They are too often not even aware as to what is written against us. But our media is also to blame.

We have many programs which purport to expose shortcomings of government. Nary a one of them has taken the Foreign Ministry to task. When deputy minister Tzipi Hotovely made a remark about American Jews, it was plastered all over. The meetings of Supreme Court justices with reporters filled our headlines this week, but no one asks how many reporters were wined and dined by Israel’s representatives in Europe.

To our mind the damage done to Israel by the inaction and incompetence of the Foreign Ministry is a strategic threat to Israel’s future. But our media is complacent and ignores this threat. All of us pay the price, even the president of the United States.

The authors are members of Israel’s Media Watch. (www.imediaw.org.il)

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