How to Write About Israel

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Writing about Israel is a booming field. No news agency, be it ever so humble, can avoid embedding a few correspondents and a dog’s tail of stringers into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, to sit in cafes clicking away on their laptops, meeting up with leftist NGOs and the oppressed Muslim of the week.

At a time when international desks are being cut to the bone, this is the one bone that the newshounds won’t give up. Wars can be covered from thousands of miles away, genocide can go to the back page, but, when a rock flies in the West Bank, there had better be a correspondent with a fake continental accent and a khaki shirt to cover it.

Writing about Israel isn’t hard. Anyone who has consumed a steady diet of media over the years already knows all the bullet points. The trick is arranging them artistically, like so many wilted flowers, in the story of this week’s outrage.

Israel is hot, even in the winter, with the suggestion of violence brimming under the surface. It should be described as a “troubled land.” Throw in occasional ironic biblical references and end every article or broadcast by emphasizing that peace is still far away.

It has two types of people; the Israelis who live in posh houses stocked with all the latest appliances and the Arabs who live in crumbling shacks that are always in danger of being bulldozed. The Israelis are fanatical, the Arabs are passionate. The Israelis are hate-filled, while the Arabs are embittered. The Israelis have everything while the Arabs have nothing.

Avoid mentioning all the mansions that you pass on the way to interviewing some Palestinian Authority or Hamas bigwig. When visiting a terrorist prisoner in an Israeli jail, be sure to call him a militant, somewhere in the fifth paragraph, but do not mention the sheer amount of food in the prison, especially if he is on a hunger strike. If you happen to notice that the prisoners live better than most Israelis, that is something you will not refer to. Instead describe them as passionate and embittered. Never ask them how many children they killed or how much they make a month. Ask them what they think the prospects for peace are. Nod knowingly when they say that it’s up to Israel.

Weigh every story one way. Depersonalize Israelis, personalize Muslims. One is a statistic, the other a precious snowflake. A Muslim terrorist attack is always in retaliation for something, but an Israeli attack is rarely a retaliation for anything. When Israeli planes bomb a terrorist hideout, suggest that this latest action only feeds the “Cycle of Violence” and quote some official who urges Israel to return to peace negotiations– whether or not there actually are any negotiations to return to.

Center everything around peace negotiations. If Israel has any domestic politics that don’t involve checkpoints and air strikes, do your best to avoid learning about them. Frame all Israeli politics by asking whether a politician is finally willing to make the compromises that you think are necessary for peace. Always sigh regretfully and find them wanting. Assume that all Israelis think the same way. Every vote is a referendum on the peace process. A vote for a conservative party means that Israelis hate peace.

The Israelis can also be divided into two categories. There are the good Israelis, who wear glasses, own iPads and live in trendy neighborhoods. They are very concerned that the country is losing its soul by oppressing another people. They strum out-of-date American peace songs on guitars that they play badly, but which you will describe them as playing “soulfully”, and they show up at rallies demanding that the government make peace with the Palestinians.

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  • hmpierson

    Thanks for telling it like it is.

    Like Bill Maher says, most of the media has no clue.

    "However, that prompted Maher to say the media are anti-Israel, pro-Palestine. And he offered a reason why.

    "I think most of them do because I think the media, to take up your point, mostly – is way too stupid to understand the issues," Maher said. "So what they do is they go toward, ‘Oh, who's a victim?' And yes, their situation in Gaza is tragic. But partly it is tragic of their own making."

    • gray man

      Unfortunately, you used one of the stupidest men on TV to validate your point.

    • gray man

      hmpierson, too bad you had to use one of the stupidest people in media to validate your point.

  • Grantmann

    Brilliant encapsulation. Thank you, Daniel.

  • marios

    Too sad but absolutely truth. Liberals are still thinking that they will be exclusion in Israel, US and Western civilization distraction (G-d forbid). Islam is political ideology of conquering the world. Islamists repeatedly said "Israel is small Satan, USA is big Satan"). Liberals prefer to be deaf and make living collaborating with those who are preparing to kill them and their children.

  • oldschooltwentysix

    Damn, that was a great article.. It is too bad that the intended audience will not see it. As was said:

    "Write about the hills and the blood-red sunsets, mention all the armies that probably passed over them in a history you never bothered to learn."

  • Sage on the Stage

    …and whatever you do, don't read Naomi Ragen's book, "The Covenant."(It's about how an Israeli family handles Islamic kidnapping and suicide bombers)

  • Ghostwriter

    This article sounds like the way people like Schlomotion describe Israel in their infantile posts. They don't care about Israelis,they just want them dead. The only peace they care about are the cemeteries filled with Israeli dead and bloodthirsty Palestinians never satisfied until they get their fill of Israeli and/or American blood.

  • dave

    Daniel is the Man!

  • dougjmiller

    Daniel, you are a good soul, a passionate defender of Israel and the Jewish people. But when you post an article, entitled, "How to write about Israel", that's what you should do. Instead of repeating all the lies and slander spread in the media by anti-Semitic bigots who masquerade as journalists, tell your troops in the field what to do. You need to lead by telling us to go on the offensive. Tell us to point out that the Arab/Moslems occupying land in and around Israel lust, not for a 22nd Arab/ Moslem controlled country, but to destroy the one and only Jewish state. Point out that the focus of Arab/ Moslems is the annihilation of Israel and the extermination of the Jewish people. Point out that radical Islam desires world domination and to end all religions other than their perverted version of Islam. Point out that the Islamic leaders teach Islamic supremacy, preach hatred, incite violence and practice imperialism. If we want to prevent the next Holocaust we need to go on the offensive.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Satire is going on the offensive.

  • Nakba1948

    You want to write about "Israel"? OK, I'll write about Israel:

    1. Did you know that non-Jewish Israelis cannot buy or lease land in Israel? A Jew from any country in the world is guaranteed citizenship in Israel, while the Palestinians who have been there for centuries are oppressed and persecuted.

    2. Did you know that instead of sewing an insignia on clothing to distinguish race (like the Germans did to the Jews before WW2), Palestinian license plates in Israel are color coded to distinguish Jews from non-Jews?

    3. Did you know that East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights are all considered by the entire world community, including the United States and the United Nations, to be occupied territory and NOT part of the State of Israel?

    4. Did you know that Israel allots 85% of the water resources for Jews, and the remaining 15% is divided among all Palestinians in the territories? For example in Hebron, 85% of the water is set aside for about 400 Jewish settlers, while the remaining 15% is distributed among Hebron's 120, 000 Palestinians?

    5. Did you know that the United States awards Israel $5 billion in aid each year from American tax dollars?

    6. Did you know that US aid to Israel ($1.8 billion annually in military aid alone) exceeds the aid the US grants to the entire African continent? This aid is used both to buy American weaponry and to buy arms made in Israel.

    7. Did you know that Israel is awaiting an additional $4 billion worth of American military hardware, including new F-16s and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters. As Israel's main ally and supporter internationally, the United States is committed to maintaining the Jewish state's "qualitative edge" in weapons over its neighbours.

    8. Did you know that the U.S. administration has notified Congress on numerous occasions that Israel has violated the rules on how US-supplied weapons are used? (In 1978, 1979 and 1982 during fighting in Lebanon, and once after Israel's bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.)

    9. Did you know that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and bars international inspections from its sites?

    10. Did you know that high-ranking military officers in the Israeli Defence Forces have admitted publicly that unarmed prisoners of war have been summarily executed by the Israeli forces?

    11. Did you know that Israel blew up an American diplomatic facility in Egypt and attacked a US warship in international waters (the USS Liberty), killing 33 and wounding 177 American sailors and the US did nothing about it? (Imagine if an Islamic country like Iraq did this!)

    12. Did you know that Israel stands in defiance of 69 United Nations Security Council Resolutions?

    13. Did you know that Israel is explicitly dedicated to the policy of maintaining a distinct Jewish character?

    14. Did you know that Israel's former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, was found by an Israeli court to be "personally and directly responsible" for the Sabra and Shatilla massacre in Lebanon where more than a thousand innocent Palestinian men, women, and children were axed to death or lined up and shot in cold blood?

    15. Did you know that on May 20, 1990, a group of unarmed Palestinian labourers were lined up and murdered by an Israeli solider as they sat waiting for transportation back to Gaza? The terrified labourers who gathered in an area of southern Israel known as Rishon Lezion (known to Palestinians by its Arabic name Oyon Qara) handed their ID cards to the Israeli soldier. The soldiers ordered the distressed labourers to kneel down and face the ground and unexpectedly showered them with a barrage of bullets, killing seven and wounding many others. Needless to say, the soldier was not charged with any crime.

  • Nakba1948

    16. Did you know that until as recently as 1988, Israelis were permitted to run "Jews Only" job ads?

    17. Did you know that the Israeli Foreign Ministry pays six US public relations firms to promote a "positive image" of Israel to the American public?

    18. Did you know that Netanyahu's coalition government includes a party–Molodet–which advocates ethnic cleansing by openly calling for the forced expulsion of all Palestinians from the occupied territories?

    19. Did you know that recently-declassified documents indicate that David Ben-Gurion approved of the forced expulsion of Arabs from all Palestinian territory in 1948?

    20. Did you know that the former chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, who is also a founder and spiritual leader of the religious Shas party (Israel's third largest political party) openly advocates a 'Final Solution' to annihilate the Palestinians? Speaking at the widely broadcast sermon marking the last Passover, he declared of the Palestinians: "The Lord shall return their deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable."

    21. Did you know that Palestinian refugees make up the largest portion of the refugee population in the world?

    22. Did you know that Palestinian Christians are considered the "living stones" of Christianity because they are the direct descendants of the disciples of Jesus Christ? And the Palestinian Christians stand united with their Muslim brethren in the struggle against the Israeli occupation.

    23. Did you know that despite a ban on torture by Israel's High Court of Justice, torture has continued unabated by Shin Bet interrogators on Palestinian prisoners?

    24. Did you know that despite every Israeli attempt to disrupt Palestinian education, Palestinians have the highest ratio of PhDs per capita in the world?

    25. Did you know that the right of self-determination is guaranteed to every human being under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [December, 1948], yet Palestinians were/are expected to negotiate for this right under the Oslo Accords?

    26. Did you know that despite what is widely perpetuated and written in the history books that the Arabs attacked Israel in the 1967 war, it was Israel who attacked the Arab countries first, capturing Jerusalem and the West Bank, and called the attack a pre-emptive strike?

    27. Did you know that, as an occupying power, Israel has a particular responsibility under the Geneva Conventions to protect Palestinian civilians?

    28. Did you know that, despite Netanyahu's public call for a unilateral ceasefire, Israeli soldiers have not stopped shooting, killing or bulldozing Palestinian homes? The most recent example of this is the murder of three innocent women who were shot by an Israeli tank as they sat in their tent!

    29. Did you know that the Zionists have been trying to destroy Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock for the last 50 years by digging underground tunnels beneath the sites to weaken its foundation causing it to collapse?

    30. Nelson Mandela called the Israeli government an apartheid regime, just like South Africa used to be.

    • Western Canadian

      Utterly amazing, the ignorance and hatred this sack of s*** lives by, breaths and tries to con others with. As long as anyone can be raised on as much ignorance and hatred as this pathetic failure as a human being, the human race is a risk. His list consists of fiction, lies, distortions, accusing israel of the crimes commited against it, smears from any and all sources, and is without exception, completely without merit. He is either a victim of islam/arab hatred, or is merely evil.

    • ziontruth

      "…while the Palestinians who have been there for centuries…"

      The non-Jewish "Palestinian nation" fraud was cooked up just over 50 years ago. The only real Palestinian nation, from Biblical times, is the Jewish one.

      "…are all considered by the entire world community,…"

      Lemminghood is not a thing to be proud of.

      "Did you know that Israel is explicitly dedicated to the policy of maintaining a distinct Jewish character?"

      Wow! A nation-state actually doing something to protect its resident nation, imagine that! Of course, that's like a red cloth in front of the anti-nationalist multiculturalists' eyes, but that can't be helped. If anything, their ire is proof of being on the right track.

      "Did you know that Netanyahu's coalition government includes a party–Molodet–which advocates ethnic cleansing by openly calling for the forced expulsion of all [Arab colonists] from the [Arab-]occupied territories?"

      And the Arab colonists' terrorist entities in both Gaza and Judea and Samaria call for genocide of the entire Jewish population of the Land of Israel, with the full backing of the vast majority of the Arab settler-colonist populace (that of the pre-1967 Israel as well).

      "Did you know that [Arab settler] refugees make up the largest portion of the refugee population in the world?"

      Did you know that refugee status is not inheritable?

      "And the Palestinian [Arab] Christians stand united with their Muslim brethren…"

      A textbook example of what Vladimir Lenin called "useful idiots." As shown in the wake of Pope Benedict riots (after he quoted a Byzantine writer on Mohammed), this alliance of stupidity cannot possibly last—not even up to having served its purpose.

      "[Arab settler-colonists in Palestine] have the highest ratio of PhDs per capita in the world?"

      The Edward Said school of grievance-mongering academics. Not the same as those PhDs who actually contribute something to the world in material, scientific progress.

      "Did you know that the right of self-determination is guaranteed to every human being under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [December, 1948]…"

      Yes, and it should apply to real nations only—not to malicious contrivances like the fictitious non-Jewish "Palestinian nation." The Arab nation has more than enough, and is not entitled to the little that belongs rightfully to the Jewish nation.

      "Did you know that the Zionists have been trying to destroy Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock for the last 50 years by digging underground tunnels beneath the sites to weaken its foundation causing it to collapse?"

      Wrong. We're using UFOs for that job. Get your conspiracy theories straight.

      "Nelson Mandela called the Israeli government an apartheid regime, just like South Africa used to be."

      Naturally he would—he's a Communist, and those are not likely to view Israel any more favorably than do Arab imperialists like you. As a Communist, he should never have been allowed near the seat of power (same holds true for another Communist in power right now, on the other side of the world). Marxism and Islam are the prime sources of today's political turmoil.

    • Has Been To Israel

      Citation Needed. For all of the above.

      One example of the post being wrong…Palestinians have different drivers licenses than Jewish or Arab Israelis, as far as I'm aware. That's because…they're not Israeli. It has nothing to do with being Jewish.

  • SoCalMike

    After following and learning about Israel and the Palestinians first hand, I finally realized American and European media are LIARS.
    Until that point I thought they were merely lazy and stupid but at this point in time after Palestinians repeatedly refuse to even recognize Israel and walked away from so-called Peace Talks to initiate war without even making a counteroffer, it is clear that these so-called "peace talks" are for the express benefit of PARASITIC Western diplomats and reporters.
    Thomas Freidman and company at the NY Slimes and Dennis Ross and US State Department parasites come to mind.
    This fraud is for their benefit and the benefit of Jew-hating Palestinians whom Freidman and Ross think they can turn around if only they French-kiss and kitty-lick just right.
    Such malignant parasites are nauseating self-serving liars who speak the language of service and caring…
    And at the end of the day Ross and State help Palestinians try to finish what Hitler started…

  • Ghostwriter

    Ironically enough,this article is a perfect summation of people like Nakba1948. They hate Israelis and want them dead. They hate Americans and want us dead too. They don't want peace with anyone. They just want to wage war on the rest of the world.

  • Shlomo Hayim

    "It includes in its actual plan of action, at the very moment the criminal act is carried out,it already incorporates its own denial.The revisionist act is contemporary of the criminal act"..

    "C’est qu’il intègre dans son dispositif même, dans le moment même où il opère son geste criminel .İl intègre déjà sa propre négation.L’acte négationniste est contemporain de l’acte criminel."..Shalom mi Israel.