WaPo Rains on Rolling Stones Parade in Tel Aviv

The Rolling Stones concert in Tel Aviv, their first in Israel, was a huge success -- musically and politically. Mick Jagger shrugged off pleas to cancel from the usual anti-Israel suspects. The Israel-boycott movement was left with another defeat.

The Washington Post took notice and devoted almost an entire page, including a four-column color photo of Jagger and Keith Richards, plus another photo of delirious concert-goers. (“Defying boycott call, Stones roll into Israel -- Decision highlights limited success of pro-Palestinian push for artists, intellectuals to shun country as an apartheid state” June 5, page A6)

At first blush, it might seem that the Post’s account fairly covers all the relevant bases -- the rapturous success of the concert and the setback dealt to the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, which failed to get the Stones to cancel their concert.

But while these major points are reflected in the headline and in the article, Post correspondents William Booth and Ruth Eglash also added a few anti-Israel poison pills of their own. Such as:

  • There’s actually very little in the way of reporting about the concert per se. A mere four or five paragraphs in a 25-paragraph article. No up-close and personal vignettes, no interviews of concert-goers. No description of the concert itself.
  • Far more space is devoted to the BDS boycott-Israel movement, which is described in highly favorable terms -- “The movement seeks to apply international pressure on Israel to end its military occupation of the West Bank, guarantee the right of Palestinian refugees to return to homes they fled or abandoned after 1948, and grant full rights and equality to Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
  • This BDS formulation leaves out a few things -- that the movement ‘s agenda is to eliminate the Jewish state, that in 1948 Israel at its founding was attacked by half a dozen Arab armies intent on achieving this lethal objective, and that Arab citizens of Israel already enjoy full legal and civil rights, as was demonstrated, for example, when an Israeli Arab judge, George Kerra, sent an Israeli president, Moshe Katsav, to jail for rape.

Along with the headline, Booth and Eglash refer to pro-Palestinian advocates as employing tactics against Israel similar to those used against the “apartheid” regime in South Africa. “Apartheid” is a highly toxic libel that’s totally at variance with facts on the ground. Black Africans abound in Israel since the absorption of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. If Booth and Eglash are seeking examples of “apartheid” on their beat, they’d be far more successful in looking at the Palestinian side. They would find that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas already is on record as insisting on a Judenrein Palestinian state. Not a single Israeli would be allowed in Palestine. That’s real “apartheid” -- not the fictional type cavalierly used about Israel.

Summing up, the  article quickly deviates from the Rolling Stones concert in Tel Aviv -- a feather in Israel’s cap -- to a smorgasbord of reactions and far-afield observations to remind readers that, even during a few glorious hours, Booth and Eglash can’t resist injecting some anti-Israel poison pills in their coverage. A sad journalistic ploy to use the Rolling Stones to rain on Israel’s parade.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

The Rolling Stones concert in Tel Aviv, their first in Israel, was a huge success -- musically and politically. Mick Jagger shrugged off pleas to cancel from the usual anti-Israel suspects. The Israel-boycott movement was left with another defeat.

The Washington Post took notice and devoted almost an entire page, including a four-column color photo of Jagger and Keith Richards, plus another photo of delirious concert-goers. (“Defying boycott call, Stones roll into Israel -- Decision highlights limited success of pro-Palestinian push for artists, intellectuals to shun country as an apartheid state” June 5, page A6)

At first blush, it might seem that the Post’s account fairly covers all the relevant bases -- the rapturous success of the concert and the setback dealt to the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, which failed to get the Stones to cancel their concert.

But while these major points are reflected in the headline and in the article, Post correspondents William Booth and Ruth Eglash also added a few anti-Israel poison pills of their own. Such as:

  • There’s actually very little in the way of reporting about the concert per se. A mere four or five paragraphs in a 25-paragraph article. No up-close and personal vignettes, no interviews of concert-goers. No description of the concert itself.
  • Far more space is devoted to the BDS boycott-Israel movement, which is described in highly favorable terms -- “The movement seeks to apply international pressure on Israel to end its military occupation of the West Bank, guarantee the right of Palestinian refugees to return to homes they fled or abandoned after 1948, and grant full rights and equality to Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
  • This BDS formulation leaves out a few things -- that the movement ‘s agenda is to eliminate the Jewish state, that in 1948 Israel at its founding was attacked by half a dozen Arab armies intent on achieving this lethal objective, and that Arab citizens of Israel already enjoy full legal and civil rights, as was demonstrated, for example, when an Israeli Arab judge, George Kerra, sent an Israeli president, Moshe Katsav, to jail for rape.

Along with the headline, Booth and Eglash refer to pro-Palestinian advocates as employing tactics against Israel similar to those used against the “apartheid” regime in South Africa. “Apartheid” is a highly toxic libel that’s totally at variance with facts on the ground. Black Africans abound in Israel since the absorption of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. If Booth and Eglash are seeking examples of “apartheid” on their beat, they’d be far more successful in looking at the Palestinian side. They would find that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas already is on record as insisting on a Judenrein Palestinian state. Not a single Israeli would be allowed in Palestine. That’s real “apartheid” -- not the fictional type cavalierly used about Israel.

Summing up, the  article quickly deviates from the Rolling Stones concert in Tel Aviv -- a feather in Israel’s cap -- to a smorgasbord of reactions and far-afield observations to remind readers that, even during a few glorious hours, Booth and Eglash can’t resist injecting some anti-Israel poison pills in their coverage. A sad journalistic ploy to use the Rolling Stones to rain on Israel’s parade.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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