A couple of hours ago, Israeli military judges sentenced IDF soldier Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison for killing an incapacitated Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last year. The case drew widespread media attention both in Israel and abroad. Sure enough, the Guardian published a report on the verdict, by their Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont, less than 30 minutes after it was announced.
The article wasn’t especially problematic.
However, one element of the Guardian’s coverage of the incident was extremely telling, and speaks to a larger problem relating to British media coverage of the region.
Here’s how the Guardian’s home page has appeared since the story broke.
Remarkably, Guardian editors gave more space on their home page to the Azaria manslaughter verdict than to a report on 74 dead migrants washing up on shore in Libya this morning. Is a story surrounding the death of one Palestinian terrorist of greater news value to Guardian editors than the deaths of 74 innocent migrants?
In fact, just a few days ago, Yiftah Curiel tweeted the following:
— Yiftah Curiel (@yiftahc) February 20, 2017
The question of whether the Muslim states in the region are as newsworthy – to editors in London and elsewhere – as the one Jewish state is one which was brought to prominence by former AP correspondent Matti Friedman in a groundbreaking expose in 2014.
Here’s a passage from his essay concerning the disproportionate coverage:
Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. Israel is not one of the most important stories in the world, or even in the Middle East; whatever the outcome in this region in the next decade, it will have as much to do with Israel as World War II had to do with Spain. Israel is a speck on the map—a sideshow that happens to carry an unusual emotional charge.