Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Only Man Banned by the AP was an Israeli Professor Monitoring Leftist Groups - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

The AP will interview and quote absolutely everyone including Hamas leaders. But everyone has to draw the line somewhere. And the AP draws the line at Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor.

The AP will interview and quote absolutely everyone including Hamas leaders. But everyone has to draw the line somewhere. And the AP draws the line at Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor.

So reports Matti Friedman, a former AP man dishing some of the dirt on how the news is made.
Around this time, a Jerusalem-based group called NGO Monitor was battling the international organizations condemning Israel after the Gaza conflict, and though the group was very much a pro-Israel outfit and by no means an objective observer, it could have offered some partisan counterpoint in our articles to charges by NGOs that Israel had committed “war crimes.” But the bureau’s explicit orders to reporters were to never quote the group or its director, an American-born professor named Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.
Friedman discusses that the reason for this is the thin white line between NGOs, various non-profit groups and the media.
This confusion is very much present in Israel and the Palestinian territories, where foreign activists are a notable feature of the landscape, and where international NGOs and numerous arms of the United Nations are among the most powerful players, wielding billions of dollars and employing many thousands of foreign and local employees. Their SUVs dominate sections of East Jerusalem and their expense accounts keep Ramallah afloat. They provide reporters with social circles, romantic partners, and alternative employment—a fact that is more important to reporters now than it has ever been, given the disintegration of many newspapers and the shoestring nature of their Internet successors.
In my time in the press corps, I learned that our relationship with these groups was not journalistic. My colleagues and I did not, that is, seek to analyze or criticize them. For many foreign journalists, these were not targets but sources and friends—fellow members, in a sense, of an informal alliance. This alliance consists of activists and international staffers from the UN and the NGOs; the Western diplomatic corps, particularly in East Jerusalem; and foreign reporters. (There is also a local component, consisting of a small number of Israeli human-rights activists who are themselves largely funded by European governments, and Palestinian staffers from the Palestinian Authority, the NGOs, and the UN.)…
In these circles, in my experience, a distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry.
It’s an interesting point and perspective. Friedman, who has plenty of experience on the ground, essentially argues that correspondents join an emigre community dominated by leftist NGOs who are anti-Israel. The bias is essentially baked in.

The international correspondent is embedded with the NGOs and one of the important points that Friedman makes is that of the “invisible camera”. The press doesn’t report on its own methods of reporting. It also doesn’t report on the NGOs who have become part of its infrastructure.
Many foreign journalists have come to see themselves as part of this world of international organizations, and specifically as the media arm of this world. They have decided not just to describe and explain, which is hard enough, and important enough, but to “help.”…
while international organizations are among the most powerful actors in the Israel story, they are almost never reported on. Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know, because these groups are to be quoted, not covered. Journalists cross from places like the BBC to organizations like Oxfam and back. The current spokesman at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, for example, is a former BBC man. A Palestinian woman who participated in protests against Israel and tweeted furiously about Israel a few years ago served at the same time as a spokesperson for a UN office, and was close friends with a few reporters I know…
International organizations in the Palestinian territories have largely assumed a role of advocacy on behalf of the Palestinians and against Israel, and much of the press has allowed this political role to supplant its journalistic function…
Think of the foreign correspondent as interchangeable with the activist. No wonder there was a ban on Professor Gerald Steinberg.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/the-only-man-the-ap-imposed-an-interview-ban-on-was-an-israeli-professor-monitoring-leftist-groups/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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