The Anti-Bibi hysteria isn’t working

“Top Story” with Jonathan Tobin with guest Tom Gross, Ep. 83

American media coverage is the main source of misinformation about Israel and the Middle East conflict, says JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin. Persistent bias and acceptance of the foreign policy establishment’s faith in failed policies has fueled reporting about recent events that treats Palestinian terrorism and Israeli efforts to foil terrorists as morally equivalent, he argues.

The same liberal outlets, he says, also are treating efforts to topple Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government the same credulous coverage they gave the Russia collusion hoax, whose purpose was to undermine the Trump administration. Those smearing Netanyahu as anti-democratic are giving ammunition to pro-Palestinian and antisemitic sources that lie about Israel being an “apartheid state,” he says.

Tobin is joined by veteran British-Israeli journalist Tom Gross, who notes that much of the coverage of the conflict in publications like The New York Times is biased and filled with distortions and mistakes, especially with respect to the scrupulously moral actions of the Israel Defense Forces. But he also believes that there is reason for optimism, due to the fact that Israel and the Middle East are no longer the top foreign policy obsession of the international media, as well as because of Israel’s successful efforts to establish normal relations with countries in the Arab and Islamic world.

While Gross predicts that the debate about judicial reform in Israel will end in compromise, he thinks the “hysteria of the Israeli left” about the supposed threat the proposals pose to democracy is “crazy.” Israel remains among the most democratic countries in the world, he says. The trouble, he argues, is that Israel is “too democratic,” since its proportional election system lends itself to instability and frequent changes of government.

Part of this is rooted in anger against the Orthodox, he says, but adds that it is unproductive. The liberal elites “should have a positive, proactive approach, not an approach of rage and hysteria that convinces no one and makes it hard to listen.”

Gross also thinks that the willingness of the opposition to demonize Netanyahu and his coalition and to hyperbolically accuse him of authoritarianism—much like the resistance to Donald Trump’s presidency in the United States—can do real damage to the effort to defend the Jewish state abroad.

“I think a lot of Israelis don’t quite understand that if they scream the word fascist, fascist, apartheid, apartheid, apartheid, it will be very difficult for American Jews to criticize those who smear the Jewish state like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Jeremy Corbyn,” says Gross. “I think there is a lack of awareness that they’re making themselves less secure.”


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