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How AIPAC Corals American Journalists Into Pro-Israel Camp – OpEd

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Journalists don’t quite maintain a code of silence when it comes to covering professional misconduct in their own business, but there’s clearly a general reluctance within the press to scrutinize itself. No one wants to look treacherous or close doors to their own career advancement. So, the following report from The Forward is unusual in shining a spotlight on willingness of American journalists to take guidance from the Israel lobby.

The report focuses on the operations of the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), an AIPAC offshoot which funds Congressional trips to Israel, but their propaganda efforts are not just directed at the so-called representatives of the American people; they also manipulate the so-called Fourth Estate:

Israel - United States Relations
Israel – United States Relations

AIEF takes more than just members of Congress on trips to Israel; it takes journalists, too, on a regular basis. Discussing the latest Sea of Galilee events, Chris Matthews host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” said on August 20: “I’ve been there a number of times, a trip sponsored by a pro-Israel group, Jewish group, very educational trips. They show you a lot about the geography of the land and the situation they’re facing with the Palestinians.”

MSNBC did not return several calls requesting comment on Matthews’ participation in these trips and the network’s policy on joining press junkets.

A spokesman for AIEF would not provide details on the number of reporters hosted by the group in Israel, but there are estimates based on reports of participants indicating that dozens of journalists have participated in pro-Israel junkets throughout the years.

“It’s a super-effective strategy,” said David Plotz, editor-in-chief of the online magazine Slate. Plotz attended an AIEF trip in 2007. He noted that while the junket was “incredible fun,” with business class travel and fancy hotels, organizers packed the agenda with informative tours and “amazing interesting people,” including Israeli President Shimon Peres, top officers of the Israel Defense Forces and a senior Palestinian representative. Participants were free to quiz their hosts and to pose tough questions, but still, Plotz said he left Israel with the impression that “Gaza is a mess, the [security] wall is serving its purpose and that — oh, my God — Iran is six months away from nuclear weapons.” Slate does not have a policy prohibiting participation in junkets as long as reporters clearly state where the funding came from.

Many other American publications do not prohibit trips paid for by businesses or interest groups, though it is common to require full disclosure when reporting on topics relating to the tour. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and all major TV networks insist on paying for their own expenses in all cases, as does the Forward.

“A responsible journalist has no business taking a free trip to Israel — or to any other country, or to a Hollywood film studio’s junket at a resort, or to any other destination that is involved in the subject matter that the journalist covers or is likely to cover in the future. Period,” said Samuel Freedman, a journalism professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and an expert on media ethics. Freedman stressed that even if the free trips do not create actual bias in the reporting, “they absolutely create the perception of bias, and that perception is just as corrosive to a journalist’s credibility.” Larry Lorenz, professor emeritus of journalism at Loyola University New Orleans, agreed that receiving free trips is wrong regardless of whether reporters write about the issue. “Journalism organizations should be concerned about giving the appearance of being bought,” Lorenz said.

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Paul Woodward - War in Context

Paul Woodward describes himself by nature if not profession, as a bricoleur. A dictionary of obscure words defines a bricoleur as “someone who continually invents his own strategies for comprehending reality.” Woodward has at various times been an editor, designer, software knowledge architect, and Buddhist monk, while living in England, France, India, and for the last twenty years the United States. He currently lives frugally in the Southern Appalachians with his wife, Monica, two cats and a dog Woodward maintains the popular website/blog, War in Context (http://warincontext.org), which "from its inception, has been an effort to apply critical intelligence in an arena where political judgment has repeatedly been twisted by blind emotions. It presupposes that a world out of balance will inevitably be a world in conflict."

One thought on “How AIPAC Corals American Journalists Into Pro-Israel Camp – OpEd

  • August 26, 2012 at 9:25 am
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    Palestine is occupied by Israel. Weimar Germany was occupied economically and politically by excesses of its monied Jewish minority. America is similarly occupied right now. Our entire electoral system has been corrupted by Netanyahu’s Israel, AIPAC, Israel Firsters and ingenious distribution of enormous amounts of Jewish money. This criminal treachery and treason must be stopped and the perpetrators jailed. The Government of the United States must again serve American interests, not Israel’s relentless pursuit of invulnerability, territorial conquest and apartheid supremacist empire in, and beyond, the Mideast.

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