Palestinians regularly bewail their treatment in the media. Ray Hanania wrote a column about the lack of pro-Palestinian columnists in US newspapers recently. CNN has been dubbed ZNN (Zionist News Network) by anti-Zionists. Equally, Israeli partisans are disappointed by media coverage from our point of view. Everyone is no doubt right to some extent, and there are egregious examples to prove it.
On the Israeli side we may note at least the following:
Hillel Halkin reviews a new book by Stephanie Gutmann about treatment of Israel in the media, but he gives us much more than a book review.
Tellingly, Halkin points us to the 1927 work of Julien Benda.
The intellectual who no longer asked “Is this so?” but rather “What effect does saying this have?”—or, to put it more crassly, “Whose interests does saying this serve?”--was the intellectual, Benda wrote, who had betrayed his calling.
Is this not precisely what people like Ilan Pappe tell us they are doing, when they say that the facts and figures of history do not matter. Facts and figures are for pedants. The important thing is to support their beliefs. In fact, of course, people have been writing such "edifying" histories and accounts of events since rosy-fingered dawn illumined the battlements of Troy. They are hardly a creation of the last century or modern media.
In that sense, unless hasbara is conceived of as truly explaining, and not just as PR, Israel will continue to lose the war for public opinion. In the long run, the truth is its most reliable weapon, even if it is one that can only be wielded effectively by those willing to risk self-inflicted wounds.
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Moderator on 02.24.06 @ 01:16 AM CST [link]