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Opinion

Three times pro-Palestine public figures likely made things worse for their cause

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Israel,Middle East,Media,Palestinians,Hamas,Becket Adams

Former MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal has made a name for herself recently by attacking Western news organizations as they cover the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Her criticism goes like this: The media is heavily biased in favor of Israel, journalists keep conflating Palestine with the terrorist group Hamas and there are not enough Western reporters of Arab descent covering the conflict.

Of course, considering some of the insane things that have been said in the public sphere by supporters of Palestine, the supposed dearth of representative voices in Western media may actually work to Jebreal’s benefit. That is, the fewer crazy people talking about wiping out the Jews, the closer Jebreal will likely get to whatever it is she wants from the media (more on that later).

But first, in case you thought I was overselling my case, here are three really insane things that have been said publicly by supporters of Palestine.

First, we have this gem from Lebanese journalist Christine Habib:

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Next, there is this ridiculous conversation between CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan:

Yes, Hamdan attempted to defend earlier comments about how the Jews at one time made matzoh with Christian blood, a claim commonly referred to as “blood libel.”

“We all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians in order to mix their blood in their holy matzoh. This is not a figment of the imagination or something taken from a film,” Hamdan said in a separate appearance. “It is a fact acknowledged by their own books and historical evidence.”

Keep talking. I’m listening.

Lastly, of course, are the Gaza-based television programs that argue in favor of Hamas’ tactic of using heavily populated areas to launch — and consequently receive — military attacks.

“Every soul has its time. [Gaza civilians] — their time had come, and they were martyred,” an Al-Aqsa TV host said last week, referring to Gaza civilians who have died in the crossfire. “They have gained [Paradise]. They have nothing in this world, especially in the Gaza Strip. There's no life in the Gaza Strip. What life can we have in the Gaza Strip? Being with Allah is better. Being with Allah is better. What we see is very hard but we won't surrender, Allah willing. The first to say it are the Martyrs' family.”

But what, exactly, are Jebreal’s complaints?

“I am Palestinian, I am Israeli, but my criticism comes from the fact that I think sometimes, especially in previous conflicts, we really failed our audiences,” the Israeli-born Jebreal said in a recent CNN interview. “We don’t challenge them on the settlements, we don’t challenge them on many other issues where Israeli press itself challenges Bibi Netanyahu and his government.”

“We are failing to tell the Palestinian story, which is not the Hamas story,” she added, referring to the deadly terrorist organization.

Of course, as noted by her CNN interviewer, the Palestinian people elected Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, handing the terrorist group power and authority. So it would seem at the moment that Palestine and Hamas are connected.

She also took her complaints to Fox News.

“It's very simple: look at not only how much airtime we give Israeli officials versus Palestinian officials. Without challenging the Israeli position, not on their narrative, but actually on the failing policies,” she said, before asking her interviewer, Geraldo Rivera, how many people of Arab descent are employed by Fox News.

“I don't know,” Geraldo answered.

“I'll tell you. Zero. And this is what we are lacking. This is the narrative that I think was never told. The story of people that lived for 45 years under military occupation and have one dream: To have a sovereign state or to live with dignity without soldiers telling them where to go and what to do,” she said. “This is only one dream. And if we don't manage to solve that issue and their aspiration, we will give them to hands of the extremists. This is my concern and my fear. If we don't question policies, extremists win.”

Now, although she raises an interesting question, whether Israeli officials are being pressed as hard as they should be by Western news groups, Jebreal’s complaint leave much to be desired.

First, her claim that Fox News employs “zero” people of Arab descent is likely untrue (I’m pretty confident the odds are in my favor). And if she is referring to the cable news network's prime-time lineup, which she probably is, it's still a weak point.

Is she saying that Fox is biased in favor of Israel because it doesn’t employ hosts of Arab descent? If so, is she suggesting then that Fox hire people of Arab descent to correct its supposed bias? Because that would mean that she is advocating the network hire bias to balance bias. It makes sense, sure, but it’s not as pure as she pretends it to be. Is she really concerned about media bias? Or is she merely interested in seeing her preferred bias represented more often?

Second, her claim that Israeli officials have not faced tough questions from Western journalists is simply not true. Two words: Jake Tapper. Indeed, the CNN anchor has caught heat from both sides for playing it straight and fair on the issue.

And he’s definitely not alone.

Many in the U.S. media have pressed Israeli officials with questions about foreign policy, national security and ongoing military operations in Gaza. Many news groups in the U.S. are also dutifully reporting on the number of civilians killed in Gaza. The White House has even publicly warned Israel about its military operations in Gaza and has worked to broker a ceasefire between the two groups.

Apparently, none of this is good enough for Jebreal.

It would appear that what Jebreal really wants, what is really driving her criticism, is that she would like to hear more criticism of Israel and hear more journalists, pundits and analysts offer their unwavering support for Palestine. She should be careful what she wishes for in regards to media figures offering their support for a country that willingly handed power to Hamas: Based on the three examples offered in the above, the result may have the opposite effect of rallying people to Palestine's cause.

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