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So, suddenly Israel isn't a story anymore?

When I got home last night from what was probably the largest demonstration in Israel since the first Lebanon war, I checked my usual websites to see how it was covered.

I also checked my usual two international papers, the New York Times and the Guardian sites. But there was nothing. Oh well, might be too early. I’ll check in the morning.

This morning, 7 hours after the demo ended, 10 hours after it began, nothing to be found on the homepages of both respectable outlets. Not a word.

Despite being  a leftie, I’ve always believed that there is some truth to the claims that international media focuses on Israel and the conflict much more than on other conflicts – just as bloody, just as unjust – if not more.

So when 150,000 Israelis, a huge number even percentage-wise, protest the cost of living, as they do in Madrid and elsewhere – suddenly it’s not a story? When it comes to Israel, it’s not interesting? We’re only occupiers, right? What kind of news editors are you guys holding up there? Seriously, are you telling me this isn’t a story?

Excuse my French, but… gey koken ahfen yam.

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    1. Dr.Bill

      You should know that in the USA this story has not been covered either, in any of the mainstream media. I too am surprised that protests by more than 100,000 people has not even been mentioned on any of the major networks, not CBS,NBC, ABC not even on FOX (or FAUX news as many of us like to call it.)
      One of the main internet portals in the US, The Huffington Post has also not mentioned the Tent cities or the striking young MDs.
      At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, this simply can’t be coincidental. I could understand if one or two outlets did not mention it because they needed the time to report on some British royal couple, but when it looks like a complete blackout of coverage, I havde to wonder what gives.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      How right you are.

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    3. Louis

      No Not only Occupiers… but the public sphere is occupied by inequality, social and economic apartheid, failed education and The Occupation… the Occupation, because it is a State power against occupied civilians in violation of every human rights and humanitarian law convention is what makes it compelling for international coverage… the Privileged (the Israelis vis-a-vis the Palestinians) suddenly waking up and realizing that Oppression is local, social and political is not so interesting… when these same 100,000 put Social + Occupation together that will be interesting for the Int. Press in the meantime it is our task – leftists who are for social democracy – to keep making the equation clear… The Occupation is not social and not democratic!

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    4. Man

      Nothing in the Spanish media too…

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    5. There is something dangerously socialist about that movement of doctor strikes and young people demanding that government interferes in free market house prices. Everything about those protests is against the narrative that has been weaved: Israelis demonstrating makes them look like they share Arab characteristics (“Arab Spring”) and that tarnishes the image of young secular Israelis being “like us”; It may need explanation about the system of government control of land – what is it – 93% , some of it held in perpetuity for Jews only? Again it smells horribly like socialism. Doctor’s strikes may require examination of subject of universal medical cover in Israel. Too communist an idea. And finally, the issue of horrendous increase in inequality in Israel, where 40% of country wealth has concentrated in hands of 27 families making whole generation of youths unable to fund their own place to live has dangerous similarities with what happened to western countries assets starting under Thatcher and Reagan. As this is predominantly Jewish Israeli protest, by definition, one have to be positive in one’s coverage.

      In short, the cognitive dissonance is too great. So they ignore it.

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    6. hobbs77

      There most assuredly is a news blackout however,most of the rest of the non Jewish/non rightwing evangelical world are not concerned about the hardships of the occupiers,regardless of news coverage…because the plight of the occupied people will remain the same no matter what goes on in Israeli society…just as the Arab street is not so concerned with American political/social problems…

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    7. As someone who has worked for international news outlets for more than a decade, let me chime in to offer and insight to the practical logistics.
      1) This is not yet an international story, or not yet one with clear international impact. So convincing an foreign desk editor who is sitting in New York on London or Atlanta that it is worth covering (i.e. spending money on it) isn’t that easy.
      2) Many journalists based in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem just aren’t here right now. Most have been spread too thin covering the Arab uprisings, and if they aren’t, are probably taking some much-deserved days off (or long summer holidays). That’s not to say there’s NO COVERAGE, but many of your regulars are gone right now. I could list on two hands the number of news outlets here that are essentially operating on skeleton stafing.
      3) The large protests on Saturday night, while inspiration to Israelis, are still nothing compared to what’s happening elsewhere — meaning, the story isn’t as interesting as others. Sorry.
      4) This is the weekend, and most headquarter “A” teams work Monday-Friday. A weekend assignment editor will be less inclined to make a coverage decision unless it is truly breaking news — for example, if the protests turned violent and even deadly. I can guarantee you he/she is not going to call their boss on Saturday night and say “hey, a bunch of people protesting in Israel about rising housing costs. what do you think?” News maybe 24/7, but coverage is staggered for a number of reasons.
      Hope that insight helps. I’m not saying it justifies the lack of coverage — rather, it’s meant to reflect some of the behind-the-scenes (at least in TV) that most people might not consider.

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    8. NK

      .. from an Israeli living in the US – this is not a conspiracy – probably a combination of three things:
      a. There is no “news” – meaning (thanks god) no violence, police brutality, clashes etc – nobody in the US is really following the demonstrations in Spain and Greece for the same reason
      b. Nobody really knows whether to take this protest seriously – they have been fed in the last years that Israel is an “economical wonder” – so it is hard for many to grasp the real significance of this benign protest of the “Middle Class”
      c. Media is overwhelemed with other things from the Massacre in Norway, to the debt debate and looming default to the most important end of NFL lockout..

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    9. Ruthie

      Roee – thanks for the insight, but I do not find most points convincing. here’s why, point by point:

      1) How can it not yet be international news? Spanish tent cities were news at this point. Egyptian protesters were news at this point. What makes this not news?? We’re in the news as is. We’re protesting against a prime minister whose name is well-known enough to have celebrity status in the news. Why not here?
      2) If the journalists are covering the Mideast uprisings right now, and that’s why their not here, that’s all the more reason to report this – it ties in perfectly into the story. Even Israel, the mideast’s sore thumb, is influenced by the revolutions.
      3)”The large protests on Saturday night, while inspiration to Israelis, are still nothing compared to what’s happening elsewhere” – while 150,000 isn’t 1 million in numbers, it’s at least that in terms of percentage of the population. It’s definitely not nothing compared to anything.
      4) Weekend reporting is indeed different, but the difference should not be (and rarely is) between great coverage and none at all.

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    10. In Germany the state financed tagesschau (http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/israel1068.html) and the sozial democratic Süddeutsche (http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/demonstrationen-fuer-mehr-soziale-gerechtigkeit-gegen-netanjahus-politik-1.1126453) wrote about it this morning (again, they all wrote about the protests before). So two of the biggest news agencies mentioned the protest.

      But I have one question: the tagesschau wrote it was the first time yesterday that the arab minority took part in the protests. What about that? Is this a right information? And how did they participate?

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    11. Roni Hirsch

      forget the international media, at least we got coverage in the one that counts: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/07/201173020161903849.html
      beyond the occupation, which was promoted and upheld cynically to facilitate internal oppression (and a racist ideology, I won’t deny), it is important to stress the connection between this uprising and the rest of the Middle Eastern struggles. The middle East is rising against neo-liberal oppression – I’m glad to see the Israelies have decided to be on the right (read – left) side of history.

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    12. Shelly

      With all due respect to the insights and experience derived from “over a decade” of international news experience, I still agree with Ami (whose news experience also spans a decade), that this story, while not necessarily meriting front page coverage, deserved mention at the very least. If you think about it, the ramifications of these demonstrations could very well have “international impact” into the future, as Israelis of all ages show big-time their disatisfaction with the current government and overall situation. The demonstrations reflect the mood of a country whose every (bad) move receives mega-coverage.
      If only they weren’t so peaceful, if only there were gunshots or even rape (as in Cairo) maybe there would have been a line or two.

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    13. Ruth

      I have to say I agree with Ruthie. This is a strong news story and it is shocking but not surprising that the international media — which loves any negative coverage of Israel — has not yet picked it up.

      Although, as Social Welfare Reporter for The Jerusalem Post, I am even surprised that Israeli media has picked up.

      Sadly, in the media — if it bleeds, it leads.

      I have been trying for years to get social stories on the front pages of the media and get international outlets interested in these stories. Of course, I mostly wrote about those who have nothing, the real poor in this story.

      Now the middle class are crying and the students, so everyone here is a little more interested….

      Reply to Comment
    14. Social news are never major news outside one’s country, unless they put government in danger. When this happens, everyone will pick up this story.

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    15. Deïr Yassin

      Had it been in Iran, we’d heard about it by now!

      Looking back on the media here in France in the beginning of what is popularly called the Arab Spring: the difference in media covering between the huge revolts in Tunisia, not covered for weeks, and the minor ones in Algeria who got coverage right from the start confirms that the MSM covering is only based on politcal interests.

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    16. Shelly

      Strange, since this morning I recall headlines in Ha’Aretz, for example: “Bye Bye Bibi Bye Bye” – which would lead me to believe that the current government, especially the PM, just may be in danger.

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    17. Oz Osman

      It’s covered in facebook, and ppl take care to translate it to English. So it’s covered- and ppl know about it.

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    18. Jenny

      honestly, this is what i think it is (I’m in Australia, can only speak for here): most people here I know are aware of what’s going on. But they think (and I agree, more or less) that the protest will be remembered more for what it isn’t about than what it is. What it IS about isn’t being clearly conveyed (no punchy pitch, no news). The protest numbers aren’t big, by our standards (we had nearly 10 times that amount turn out nationally against Iraq war; the politicians here dismissed it with a wave of the hand). And, from what is being conveyed, it seems like a domestic issue; complaints from a people who are neither subject to the grotesque repressions which gave rise to the Arab spring, nor willing to speak out against the far greater injustice of the occupation.
      People generally here don’t understand why normal Israelis are so helpless against their political leaders, and those I have spoken to about it think that the protests are motivated by self-interest, and so fundamentally a bit hypocritical. It’s clear that the protesters themselves are not, en masse, linking their situation to settlement development, frankly, in not doing so, they seem dense and ignorant.
      Harsh, but this is the way it seems, even to me, I’m afraid.

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    19. Jenny

      and I should add – In Australia, given our atrocious attitude to immigration and multiculturalism, we’ve been pretty pre-occupied with the Norway atrocity. No conspiracy there.

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    20. Dom

      It was covered by Al Jazeera International. News corp not owned by zionists, or their allies. Was beautiful.

      So where are all the Israeli activists with uploaded images, blogs, tweets, etc. Learn nothing from Tunisia and Egypt? It is upto us to make the news happen.

      Feel so sorry for people of Israel and USA, when you wake up from continual reinforced fear around security threat lies and continual propaganda, most people are going to be so shocked to learn how badly their governments have been screwing them.

      Israel mostly gets negetive media cause Israel goverment mostly does negetive shit. So nice to see Israeli people doing positive shit.

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    21. gedaliah

      because you participated it should be printed?

      This is a left wing uprising that only shows the lefts desperation ion having a voice in this country…that is all.

      It is not news worthy.

      Reply to Comment
    22. I think the events merit some international press if only for the prospective electoral impact.

      But, there is a lot of competing news for press coverage:

      1. US debt crisis
      2. Massacres in Syria (that also doesn’t get much coverage proportional to its severity and regional impact)

      Finally, I think the press is getting bored with Israel. The insistence that the New York Times covers an Israel or Palestinian story 5 days/week is not consented to by editors.

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    23. mariam

      although understanding your point
      – and obviously or maybe sadly those protests do not fit into international news values yet (now we might argue if they are good or bad but first they just are existing) –
      your point is also a bit narcissistic, no?

      how much did the international media cover the macedonian protests against police brutality and the governments reactions? and how many more protests against incredible injustice do we oversee?

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    24. Michelle

      It was in the global section of NYT under Middle East, albeit not one of the leads in the section.

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    25. Ben Israel

      The Jewish Left generally views themselves as the most important people in the world and the ideological trend-setters for the rest of humanity. Thus, it is natural for them to assume that what they do in Israel is of earthshaking importance for everyone else. I will repeat the joke I have mentioned here before regarding Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of the “progressive” Reconstructionist movement in Judaism in the US, but it applies to the Jewish Left in general:

      The Jewish Left believes that they are divinely chosen people whose heavenly-mandated mission to mankind is to teach the world that there is no deity and the Jews are no different than anyone else!

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    26. @Ben Israel – if you could be a bit more patronizing in your next comment, that would be great. Thanks!

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    27. Naomi

      Roee has it right, this is a question of journalistic priorities. Half the news section in every American paper is devoted to the debt default and the circus in Washington…

      Also, Americans are less interested in Israeli issues we have ourselves. The issues that are peculiarly Israeli — conflict, human rights, settlements, ultra-Orthodox hegemony — those are interesting. Housing costs? Do you know what it costs to live in NY or SF or DC? We got our own problems, buddy.

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    28. @Naomi, Roee, Noam – For those who thought I was hoping for a 4,000 word feature on the demo – you got it all wrong. I wasn’t expecting the demo to be the lead story of the NYT website. That is rightly saved for Obama and GOP. I’m not asking for switching stories.
      Unfortunately, I also have some journalism experience. And I would have expected a mention, a link to an AP piece, something, on the home page. I wasn’t expecting coverage – I know also that there are other burning things in America, and England.
      But do you honestly believe that a link to a piece, “below the fold” even, is not a correct thing to do for this story?

      A good journalist would have put something up there.
      In fact. I think most editors, when it comes to Israel, go on automatic pilot: if it’s not Is\Pal issue, it’s just not important.
      So, sorry to disagree with you guys – but I think it’s just simple, bad journalism.
      150,000 people, Netanyahu sweating like hell, biggest demo in decades, same stories covered and mentioned in other countries – and you honestly think this demo didn’t deserve a small link on the homepage??? Come on….

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    29. Shoded Yam

      Can you people be anymore self-absorbed? Do you listen to yourselves? “Why aren’t they talking about us?” In the grand scheme of things, your little tent thingie is just not that important. You know what they say; “If it bleeds, it leads. My advice; go kill something. 😉

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    30. Mitchell Cohen

      Shoded Yam has a point. I for one couldn’t care less whether or not these demonstrations make the NY Times or the Huffington Post. I ONLY care whether OUR corrupt leaders (unfortunately, corruption doesn’t discriminate between left and right in our government) take notice and do something about it.

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    31. The reason is that the US corporate controlled media don’t want to show people rebel against their government.
      It’s OK to show it as long as these are brown people in a desert, that’s something that a normal American can’t identify with. But white people revolting, in a western city? That can be dangerous.
      The same goes for the mayhem in Greece and Spain. It is not being reported either.

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    32. Amir-Ras

      I have to agree with the Pirate on this one, despite the impressive attendance there the Israeli protests are barely noteworthy.

      Calling to replace the current head of state in a representative republic one year before the elections is not as earth shuttering as the demonstrators would like to pretend, furthermore, the costs of living for bourgeoisie Israelis is nothing anyone outside of Israel should concern himself with.

      I was at the demonstration yesterday, the desperate attempts by the organizers to remain apolitical and consensual have stripped this protest from any of its radical potential, frankly I felt somewhat ashamed to take part in such a banal protest.

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    33. Zohar

      Israel is interesting abroad since it is the locus of an armed conflict that has endangered world stability for decades. Anything else about Israel is as interesting, for anybody who’s not an Israeli or a Zionist Jew, as the internal affairs of the Maladive Islands.

      We (Israelis) are currently very excited of these dramatic and potentially life-changing events. Would we care about similarly dramatic uprisings in the Maladives?

      Our only significance for the world is as troublemakers.

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    34. Taoist


      The blackout in the US is almost TOTAL. I checked last night and double checked this morning for news on Israel’s largest protests to date, and no news were to be found on any major newspaper in the US, i.e., The Washington Post, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Christian Science Monitor, etc. The Huffington Post, a political website, was about the only one with some news…in the Business section of the site. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/31/israelis-protest-high-cos_n_914264.html

      This is not a coincidence. Behind this self-censorship you will find the Israeli-American machinery at work, using the media to create, hide, obscure, or distort reality for us, i.e., the Murdochs of the world. Ironically, Israel’s neighbors continue to occupy front-page displays in the World news section of all those papers I mentioned, i.e. Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, etc.

      Israel, however, has ceased to exist for the Western media…until after the protests, or the next rockets on Sderot.


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    35. John

      This comment was deleted and the user has been banned from the site

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    36. Anne O'Nimmus

      Patience dear Ami, old chap! As Joe notes, it is in the Guardian now, and appears on the home page too!

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    37. @Anne – better late than never 🙂
      Yet, it’s the tardiness that is also unnerving. Especially in the day of easy-updating a news site.

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    38. Philos

      Well, since “free press” is a relative idea there shouldn’t be any surprise. Western press is freer than say Chinese press but it still isn’t free. Anybody remember Wikileaks and the active participation of so many journalists in one of the following activities:
      a) slamming Wikileaks for endangering lives yet simultaneously claiming that there’s nothing of value in the documents
      b) claiming that NYT, Guardian, etc should be ashamed for publishing the documents and engage in self-censorship
      Along with Amazon and others cooperation with the US authorities to suppress the Wikileaks site what transpired was nothing short of the entire weight of the military-media-academic-capital complex trying to crush the leak. So, Ami, my belief in all these social protests is a conspiracy of silence is the desired media narrative until there’s violence. When they turn violent, usually to police provocation, sic London student protests, the entire media participate in a scandalous defamation of the protesters as drunks or anarchists. Thus distracting the non-protesting majority from the legitimate message of the protesters. The same in Israel. Once it turns violent they’ll say something and it won’t be about the message of the protest movement.
      In dictatorships they haven’t quite mastered this sublime and efficient form of repression. Free press? Free West? Yea if you’re worth $1million in liquid assets.
      Oh and lets not forget the hypocrisy in reporting on the Arab Spring where its legitimate to fight back against the legally legitimate authority of the state in a riot because there aren’t elections and illegitimate in a liberal-democracy where the elected government abandoned all its election pledges (Spain, Greece, & UK)
      I hope the protests spread to every part of the world! Fraternity, liberty, equality! Workers and middle-class throw off your chains!

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    39. Maflah Ghassani, Haifa

      Of course. Did you think the West really cares about you? That Europe, after planting you here, is going to care about the rent you pay, or anything unrelated to its East-West imaginary clash?

      What’s more ironic is that nobody here is asking about how the Arab media (local inside Israel, in the West Bank, international Arab satellite channels)is covering the situation (which they are). But again, why should you care?

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    40. Too little, too late. The criticism was about not addressing the demo as it was happening, as breaking news.

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    41. btw – the fact that these papers are finally publishing something 24-36 hours after the demo just proves my point. If it’s important enough to write about ow, why wasn’t it important to put on a homepage when it was happening?
      I’ll tell you – because the editors have a gross misunderstanding of how important this demo was. And secondly, as I mentioned before, when it comes to Israel – there’s an autopilot going on in their heads: if it ain’t Is/Pal, it didn’t happen.

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