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Media Analyses





Second Update: Journalists Ignore Threat to Public Square


In response to Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, a number of anti-Israel rallies have taken place in North America. At these rallies, pro-Hamas protesters have called for Jews to “go back to the oven,” accused Israel of “genocide,” and have called for the destruction of the Jewish state. They have assaulted pro-Israel and anti-Hamas protesters in an obvious attempt to drive Israel’s Jewish and non-Jewish supporters from the public square in the United States and Canada. If left unchecked, this hostility will encourage violence against Jews, as it has in Europe.

 

Media outlets have failed to report on this troubling development, but videographers have stepped into the breach. Ironically, some of the videographers are anti-Israel activists who apparently have no problem showing their hostility toward Jews and support for Hamas to their fellow citizens in North America.

 

Fort Lauderdale

 

The most troubling footage was obtained by activist Tom Trento, who filmed events at  which took place on Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 30, 2008. Trento documented protesters at this rally as they chanted “Nuke, Nuke Israel,” and “Go to Hell Israel.” One young woman even called on Jews to “go back to the oven. You need a big oven. That’s what you need.” As the pro-Hamas rally ended, participants attempted to disrupt a pro-Israel rally taking place nearby, but were stopped by the local police.

 

None of this animosity made it into the Sun-Sentinel’s coverage of the rally, which merely reported claim and counter-claim by participants in the two rallies. Readers who rely on the Sun-Sentinel for its information about the rally are ill-served by the paper’s refusal to address the crowd’s animosity.

 

San Francisco
 
Similar hostility has been evident in San Francisco where protesters have displayed signs equating the Star of David with the Nazi swastika, accused Israel and the United States of “genocide” and have asserted that conditions in the Gaza Strip in 2008 are similar to conditions in Warsaw in 1938 with a sign that reads (“Gaza 2008 = Warsaw 1938”). They have also displayed flags in support of Hamas and knocked American and Israeli flags to the ground.
 
This behavior was documented by videographers here and here.
 

 While The San Franscisco Chronicle has displayed on its website one photograph that provides some indication of the anti-Jewish animus exhibited at these rallies, its written coverage of these rallies is superficial and one-sided. On Jan. 3, 2009, the paper published an article by staff writer Marisa Lagos who described how one protester “held an olive branch in one hand and a Palestinian flag in another.”

 

And on Jan. 6, 2009, the Chronicle published an article that portrayed a crowd’s efforts to enter the Federal Building. Very little of the crowd's animosity made it into the pages of the newspaper or its website.

 

 

Toronto

 

Another troubling episode occurred at a Jan. 3, 2009 rally in Toronto, Canada where a protester chanted “You are the products of pigs! You are the products of monkeys!” while his fellow protesters chanted Allahu Akbar or (“God is great”) at a group of pro-Israel protesters across the street. At the end of the video where this behavior is documented, another anti-Israel protester says on camera “Hitler didn’t do a good job.” When asked to explain himself, the protester apparently struck the camera out of the videographer’s hand.

 

Another video of this rally, available here, indicates that a few of the protesters were supporters of Hezbollah – a group which has called for Israel’s destruction and which according to this article in The Toronto Star, had hopes of perpetrating acts of violence in Canada. (This video was apparently posted by a supporter of the anti-Israel rally.)

 

The Toronto Star published a brief article about the rally which provided little information about the anti-Israel crowd’s hostility.
 

Why It Matters

 

These episodes are emblematic of how anti-Zionism in North America has encouraged public expressions of anti-Semitism, just as anti-Israel protests in Great Britain and continental Europe preceeded a measurable up-tick in hostile acts against Jews during the Lebanon War of 2006 (as documented by the Community Security Trust, a non-profit that promotes Jewish safety in Great Britain).

 

Newspapers and other media outlets have an obligation to report on the behavior of authoritarian movements that use the right to free speech to incite hostility in the public square. Sadly, it appears reporters and editors are not taking this responsibility seriously.
 
Update -- Jan. 8, 2009
 
Chicago
 
Ugly anti-Jewish motifs were also on display at rallies in Chicago where there were efforts to portray Israel as the equivalent of the Nazi regime in Germany. Multiple videos here, here, here, here and here show protesters carrying signs that equate the Star of David with the Nazi swastika. (The last video reveals one protester leading the crowd in the following chant: “Hey Olmert, You can’t hide, We charge you with genocide.”)

 

Another video reveals protesters chanting, “Bush and Hitler are the same. The only difference is the name.” And yet another video begins with the chant “Die, Die, Die Israel.”
 
Coverage
 
Some outlets are starting to cover the ugliness. Fox News issued a report on the rally on Jan. 8, 2009 and Pajamas Media published an opinion piece on the issue of anti-Jewish hostility at rallies on Jan. 7, 2009. Michelle Malkin and Glenn Reynolds discussed at length the mainstream media's refusal to cover the issue on the same day.
 
Second Update -- Jan. 13, 2009
 
On January 10, 2009, Azzam Tamimi, a prominent Muslim cleric in London, called for the destruction of Israel at a rally reportedly attended by 10,000 people. During his speech, Tamimi yelled “Israel has dug its grave. Zionism has dug its grave.” He also stated that people can “count the years” until the Israeli embassy will be replaced by a Palestinian embassy. “The Zionists, the Zionist flag will come down and the flag of Palestine will go up.”
 
Searches on Nexis and Google news conducted on Jan. 13, indicate that Tamimi's comments went largely unnoticed in the print media.

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