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The Role of Bias in Distorted Media Coverage

Placing the Fox in Charge of the Hen House
Washington Post Book Reviews on Israel

Brian Hennessey
December 11, 2006

To review Jimmy Carter's book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, the Washington Post chose a Jewish Israeli citizen who willingly moved from his American birthplace to volunteer to become a soldier in Israel, working as a prison guard at one of Israel's worst prisons, where International and Israeli human rights organizations have documented a lack of process, inhumane conditions and torture for the hundreds of Palestinians (many women and children) who are held there indefinitely and without charge.

It's possible to learn these facts about Jeffery Goldberg (which should appear as a boxed editorial warning of conflict of interest) by reading a previous review of his prison memoir, Prisoners, that was positively reviewed in the Post by Haim Watzman, who is also a Jewish Israeli citizen who willingly moved from his American birthplace to volunteer to become a soldier in Israel. In turn, Watzman's story is divulged in a Post review of his memoir Lonely Soldier: The Memoir of an American in the Israeli Army that was positively reviewed by Michael Oren in the Post. Need it be said that Oren, too, is a Jewish Israeli citizen who willingly moved from his American birthplace to volunteer to become a soldier in Israel? (It's probably worth mentioning that serving in the armed forces of a foreign government is grounds for loss of US citizenship . . . unless it's Israel's.)

All this is relevant because, while Goldberg's negative review, “What Would Jimmy Do?” Dec 10, attempts (and largely fails) to ridicule Carter's constructive criticism of Israel, Goldberg lets stand one of Carter's most controversial statements: "because of powerful political, economic, and religious forces in the United States, Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned, voices from Jerusalem dominate in our media, and most American citizens are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories."

One can see why Goldberg would perhaps let that pass without comment as it seems his review could only endorse Carter's claim.

Just to use Carter's Apartheid analogy, is it imaginable that a cabal of self-reviewing white Afrikaner government soldiers would be used to review books about South Africa's brutal suppression of blacks in the 80s?

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Resources

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