Monday, May 21, 2007

Media bash

Those of you who know me know that I don't normally rant about the bias of foreign media when it comes to reporting the Middle East but there's something about the way the Sderot-Gaza crisis is being reported that is infuriating.
This is a photo of a burning car that was hit by a qassam missile today in Sderot. One woman was killed there today and another suffered medium injuries. Sderot, a town of some 20,000 people, has been under intensive rocket attacks from the northern Gaza Strip for 7 days now. The Sderot area has been hit by 150 rockets in the space of a week. It has suffered from sporadic salvos for 7 years. The government has just promised to provide security rooms in all homes but it's too late; the local residents have had enough. Thousands have either fled or have been evacuated for 'rest and recreation' and those who stayed behind live in constant fear.

Near Sderot, on kibbutz Nir Am, a group of young people built an Indian restaurant - Namaste - out of wood. Two nights ago we saw them on TV in their flowing Indian clothes. As the air raid sirens wailed they hung around in their empty restaurant. Since they hadn't built a shelter there was nowhere for them to hide. Yesterday their restaurant suffered a direct hit and was burned to the ground. We saw them again on TV this evening, in shock, but vowing to rebuild it on the same spot.

None of this is as bad as what is happening in Gaza but surely it should be newsworthy. Not so. Apparently, the Sderot drama, a huge story here of course, has caused barely a ripple abroad. When asked why, a foreign correspondent reportedly said, "not enough blood".

The Israeli air strikes aimed at ending the rocket attacks on Sderot have already caused more loss of life and done more physical damage than those 150 rockets and therefore they 'deserve' to be the bigger story But the news cannot be understood without context and the context of this particular round of fighting is the Hamas qassam offensive on Sderot. By ignoring or downplaying that, the media failed dismally in its duty to report.

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