Israel through a dark lens

Leo Rennert
In its June 22 edition, the Washington Post runs an article by Jerusalem correspondent Janine Zacharia that depicts Israelis mired in malaise about their country's "deepening isolation" -- with only an Elton John concert as a brief morale-booster.  To say the least, this is a jeremiad out of sync with reality.  It totally ignores Israel's many successes as a thriving player on the world stage ("In Israel, a deepening isolation -- Nation fears it may be in danger of losing its most improtant ally:  The United States" page A8)

Zacharia sets the funereal tone right from the start when she writes in her lead paragraph that "in Israel, where many feel more shunned than they have in decades, the legendary pop icon's decision to perform in Tel Aviv was cause for celebration."

And she goes on in the same vein that "after weeks of dreary reports about artists caving to calls to boycott Israel, Israeli diplomats being expelled by friendly allies, and even pressure from the United States to change course in Gaza, John allowed Israel an opportunity 'for three hours,' as one music reviewer put it, 'to be a normal country.'''

Well, we get the picture:  In Israel these days it's Oy Veh all the way, according to Zacharia.

However, her article is deeply flawed.  By selectively assembling a few international minuses, it presents only half the picture, at most.  And it turns into a caricature by carefully omitting and ignoring Israel's many international strengths and accomplishments.

For example, while some pop stars were boycotting Israel, the Jewish state gained admission to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, a prestigious club of the biggest economic players on the world stage.  Israel's OECD membership makes it even more attractive than it has been in recent years as a certified good deal for investments in its booming high-tech industry.  The Palestinian Authority pulled out all the stops in lobbying against Israel's OECD accession -- but failed.  So who's the isolated party in this instance, Ms. Zacharia?

Beyond its OECD certification, Israel has robust trade ties across the globe -- with China, India, Europe, Australia and the Americas.  International investors flock to its stock exchanges.  Its filmmakers are world renowned.  Its universities attract students, teachers, and researchers from near and far. And Israel doesn't lack for international interest in its medical and agricultural advances.

Isolated?  Tell that to the millions of tourists who flock to Israel.  Or to Darfur refugees, who at great personal cost and peril, traverse long distances in Africa to seek asylum in Israel. 

Zacharia is quite right in pointing out that, with Obama in the White House, many Israelis doubt the reliability of the U.S. as its main ally.  But there's a long history of ups and downs in Israel's relations with U.S. presidents -- without denting the basic, enduring relationship.

In sum, Zacharia demeans her profession by engaging in sophomoric journalism -- a well-known defect that starts with a one-dimensional premise (in this instance that Israel is more shunned than it has been in decades), scoops up a few examples that seem to buttress this premise, and ignores any and all evidence to the contrary.

And, voila!, there's the Post's way of covering Israel.
In its June 22 edition, the Washington Post runs an article by Jerusalem correspondent Janine Zacharia that depicts Israelis mired in malaise about their country's "deepening isolation" -- with only an Elton John concert as a brief morale-booster.  To say the least, this is a jeremiad out of sync with reality.  It totally ignores Israel's many successes as a thriving player on the world stage ("In Israel, a deepening isolation -- Nation fears it may be in danger of losing its most improtant ally:  The United States" page A8)

Zacharia sets the funereal tone right from the start when she writes in her lead paragraph that "in Israel, where many feel more shunned than they have in decades, the legendary pop icon's decision to perform in Tel Aviv was cause for celebration."

And she goes on in the same vein that "after weeks of dreary reports about artists caving to calls to boycott Israel, Israeli diplomats being expelled by friendly allies, and even pressure from the United States to change course in Gaza, John allowed Israel an opportunity 'for three hours,' as one music reviewer put it, 'to be a normal country.'''

Well, we get the picture:  In Israel these days it's Oy Veh all the way, according to Zacharia.

However, her article is deeply flawed.  By selectively assembling a few international minuses, it presents only half the picture, at most.  And it turns into a caricature by carefully omitting and ignoring Israel's many international strengths and accomplishments.

For example, while some pop stars were boycotting Israel, the Jewish state gained admission to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, a prestigious club of the biggest economic players on the world stage.  Israel's OECD membership makes it even more attractive than it has been in recent years as a certified good deal for investments in its booming high-tech industry.  The Palestinian Authority pulled out all the stops in lobbying against Israel's OECD accession -- but failed.  So who's the isolated party in this instance, Ms. Zacharia?

Beyond its OECD certification, Israel has robust trade ties across the globe -- with China, India, Europe, Australia and the Americas.  International investors flock to its stock exchanges.  Its filmmakers are world renowned.  Its universities attract students, teachers, and researchers from near and far. And Israel doesn't lack for international interest in its medical and agricultural advances.

Isolated?  Tell that to the millions of tourists who flock to Israel.  Or to Darfur refugees, who at great personal cost and peril, traverse long distances in Africa to seek asylum in Israel. 

Zacharia is quite right in pointing out that, with Obama in the White House, many Israelis doubt the reliability of the U.S. as its main ally.  But there's a long history of ups and downs in Israel's relations with U.S. presidents -- without denting the basic, enduring relationship.

In sum, Zacharia demeans her profession by engaging in sophomoric journalism -- a well-known defect that starts with a one-dimensional premise (in this instance that Israel is more shunned than it has been in decades), scoops up a few examples that seem to buttress this premise, and ignores any and all evidence to the contrary.

And, voila!, there's the Post's way of covering Israel.