Robert Hirschfield was wrong about media coverage of Israel and about the media watchdog organization CAMERA (“Peering Through the Wall,” November 2009). But if you’re trying to sell the patently false idea that the U.S. media treats Israel with “kid gloves,” it surely can’t hurt to simultaneously sling mud at the organization that has demonstrated otherwise.
First, there is the absurdly false charge that CAMERA is “pro-occupation.” We are nonpartisan, and take no position with regard to ultimate solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. No less disingenuous is the author’s caricature that CAMERA “attacks” reporters “it determines to have been insufficiently positive about Israeli policies.” In fact, we encourage journalists to abide by the journalistic codes of ethics that responsible media organizations have aspired to follow ever since the American Society of Newspaper Editors penned its “Canons of Journalism” in the mid-1920s. Foremost among these ethical guidelines is accuracy, something CAMERA’s research staff focuses on extensively and raises in cordial discussions with editors at major media organizations worldwide. These discussions often yield important corrections, which only help the media’s accuracy and credibility.
As to the wider argument of the article, anyone who reads the mainstream American press—not to mention Sojourners—realizes there is no shortage of criticism of Israel. And anyone who reads CAMERA’s Web site understands that many of these criticisms are overzealous, biased, and inaccurate.
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Robert Hirschfield responds:
I sense Mr. Ini is less concerned with “accuracy” than conformity. Where Israel is concerned, CAMERA decides what accuracy constitutes, and it pressures those in the media who do not conform to its standards, which are anything but “nonpartisan”—to which Boston’s WBUR and a slew of throttled newspaper and magazine editorial boards can attest.
Mr. Ini refers to the “patently false idea that the U.S. media treats Israel with ‘kid gloves,’” but offers no specifics to back that up. To offer such specifics would be to invite a democratic dialogue on the subject, to engage in a give and take, to open the “facts,” so called, to dispute. For CAMERA, sadly, this particular dispute is not open to dispute. I would like to have from Mr. Ini a list of which, if any, of Israel’s Palestinian policies can be legitimately questioned or criticized. Does Israel, alone among nations, get a free pass for its policies based on historic exemption? If so, who has ratified that exemption?