Czech group challenges media bias against Israel

Media critics say they'll launch a watchdog website to counter bias against the Jewish state.

Gaza on Fire 20 Nov 390 (photo credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)
Gaza on Fire 20 Nov 390
(photo credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)
BERLIN – A group of Czech media critics are slated to establish a media watchdog website to counter journalistic bias against the Jewish state in the central European country.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post from Prague on Wednesday, Ivo Cerman, a pro-Israel media analyst,said that “Czech coverage never mentions the names of Israeli victims” of Palestinian terrorism.
He, along with fellow activist Matous Zoubek, are working on a long-term project to form a civic association for monitoring their country’s press coverage of Israel and the Arab- Israeli conflict.
Cerman noted that “Israelis are always shown as the offender, never as the victim – the media disregard events that contradict this image and select those which confirm it.”
He cited the example of the Itamar attack in March 2011, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered five members of the Fogel family in their residence in the West Bank Itamar settlement.
Cerman said the Fogel family “was not even mentioned by any of the Czech media” and the “missile attack on the school bus that killed Daniel Villfrnic in April 2011 was ignored… whereas the death of the Italian pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arigoni [on April 15, 2011] was given ample media attention.”
“The entire coverage of Operation Cast Lead was biased and focused on depicting the operation as a mass murder of Palestinian children; hateful speeches of spokesmen of Hamas were broadcast without any critical comment,” Cerman continued.
Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 sought to end the Hamas rocket fire on Israel’s southern periphery that had been going on for months beforehand.
Zoubek commented on the Czech media depiction of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, which took place earlier this month. He told the Post that the media “never used the word ‘terrorist’ to describe the activities of Hamas leaders or fighters.”
He added that the media mixed up cause and effect, saying, “They described the conflict so that Israel started this by killing the leader of Hamas and Gaza answered with rockets.”
Israel’s government has stated that it was compelled to protect civilian life and respond to over 100 Hamas rockets with aerial attacks on Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
Zoubek said the Czech media tended to use photography to depict Gazans as homeless and landless and Israel as a country of soldiers. Nonetheless, he added, that “in this latest conflict, our media also showed destroyed houses in Israel. But let’s take this as an exception.”
Zoubek and Cerman were part of the first pro-Israel rally in Prague on Sunday to support Israel’s right to self-defense.
The rally, which took place at Wenceslas Square, was organized by the League against Anti-Semitism. The demonstration attracted 300 people, including Sen. Jaromir Stetina from the Czech upper chamber of parliament and Roman Joch, a former advisor for international affairs and human rights to the Czech prime minister.
Stetina held a banner reading “Hamas are murderers, Israel must defend itself, don’t lie media!” Joch said that Israel is the only democratic state among the totalitarian Arab nations.
“When Israel withdraw from the Gaza Strip years ago, it was a time when they could start up a new nation-state. But they don’t want their own state. Their goal is to annihilate and destroy Israel as a Jewish state. Israel gave them land with prosperity and in great condition. And Gaza could be a pearl of the Middle East. But they don’t want it,” Joch added.