It is easy to pin the blame for the media reactions to the flotilla affair on Israel’s faulty PR. It was slow to react, and the IDF spokesman failed to take full advantage of the new media — although they have upped their game, releasing videos that would have once remained classified and clearing a commando who took part in the raid for interviews.
But such arguments are beside the point. As an isolated Western democracy fighting against terrorists and tyrants, Israel is at a permanent structural disadvantage. Facts must be checked, truth must force its way through a pulsating tide of lies — lies that are far easier to manufacture than to refute. Israel does not have the luxury of fighting fire with fire. So, just as it faces an “asymmetric” kind of violence in the form of terrorism, the media war is even more so.
The real question is why so many Western journalists, especially in Europe, continue to play along, abandoning all pretence of integrity, effectively turning themselves into footsoldiers for the anti-Israel war machine. Make no mistake. Such ideological decisions are, as often as not, made by editors in Paris and London who deliberately play to a pro-Palestinian audience, rather than flowing naturally from the raw reporting on the ground.
The classic image of skeptical, intrepid journalists who trust few and double-check everything in order to get the story right — the professionalism, in other words, upon which informed public discourse depends — has become an increasingly rare commodity in a world where Israel’s right to defend itself is never a given.