Wed. May 29th, 2024

Why Israel is dominating the news  

Samantha Parker By Samantha Parker May28,2024

If Israel and issues in the broader Middle East are dominating your news feed, there are good reasons why. 

The war in Gaza continues — beyond the 200th day, with death, destruction and division in a region boiling over with rage. 

This week the U.S. Senate passed an aid package that contains $26 billion for Israel, if you include direct aid, money for replenishment of American stockpiles, and supporting U.S. operations in the region as well as humanitarian aid for Gaza and civilians in conflict zones — part of a $95 billion foreign aid proposal. 

Israel’s top intelligence official resigned for the failure to prevent the Oct. 7 massacre, when Hamas fighters attacked Israeli civilians, killing 1,200. 

Israel attacked Iran with drones last Friday, limited in scope but enough to send a message: Don’t engage us again. We can penetrate your air defenses. 

(Israel’s latest attack was in response to an Iranian attack on April 13, which was itself a response to an Israeli strike on Teheran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 1. Iran sent hundreds of drones and missiles — 99 percent of which were intercepted by Israel with assistance from the United States, Britain, Jordan and other nations.) 

And a United Nations report released on Monday said Israel has not provided sufficient evidence to support the charge that significant numbers of aid workers with the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees are tied to militant groups. The report did not address whether some employees took part in the Oct. 7 attack. 

It is fair to ask why America and its media industry are so obsessed with news about Israel — a country of less than 10 million in a world of 8 billion. What explains this seemingly outsized fascination related to one small place? 

It has nothing to do with conspiracy theories; American preoccupation with the Middle East war is driven by three factors. 

First, politics and history. 

Every U.S. president since the founding of the Israeli state in 1948 has stood firm in its support of Israel. President Harry Truman became the first world leader to recognize the Jewish state on May 14 of that year. When an issue has the attention of the American government, news follows, as it does today. 

What American administrations saw in Israel was the potential for an ally in the Middle East — a tough neighborhood. The Cold War had created animosity between the United States and the Soviet Union, which had backed Arab states in the region. Israel was a logical counterweight. 

Second, was the historic alignment of values. America sympathized, for the most part, with Jewish struggles against Nazism and intolerance, creating a shared set of democratic norms including an independent media. Today, with social media we can debate how “independent” media really is; reporters present many sides of the war. 

Third were the public diplomacy efforts of Israel. With an open media and an active strategy of citizen engagement, Israel told its story through “Hasbara” — the explanation of its policies and aspirations. It used public advocacy and information to build its case and a strong lobby in Washington, D.C. 

Which brings us to the present.  

The war in Gaza draws news coverage even with restrictions on media inside the war zone. 

The number of journalists — almost 2,000 reporting from Israel — far outweighs those reporting from other countries like Iran, which tightly controls media.  

As news consumers, we benefit from the work of journalists covering this war. Many correspondents have been killed bringing us information from the region—nearly 100 journalists and media workers. 

Has all this coverage of the war changed hearts and minds? 

According to the PEW research center, as of March 2024, “very few Americans (5%) said that the way Hamas carried out its October 7 attack against Israel was acceptable, but a somewhat larger share (22%) view Hamas’ reasons for fighting Israel as valid. 

Polling by the Gallup organizations shows that a majority of Americans disapprove of Israeli actions in Gaza. 

All this brings us back to what is driving interest in this war: its unending storyline of conflict in an identity-driven age of zero-sum politics obsessed with winners and losers. 

In a deeply polarized nation, violence makes news as concerns over antisemitism grow at an alarming rate while Jews around the world celebrate the holiday of Passover. The truth is that Israel and the region will continue to be a top news story until there is less conflict here and abroad. Peace is always harder to cover than war. And it is elusive. 

We must hope now for sensible diplomacy, careful decision-making and leaders who can see beyond old grievances and new cycles of revenge. We should continue to pay attention to this conflict. We always have. 

Tara D. Sonenshine is former U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs and currently is a senior fellow at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. 

Samantha Parker

By Samantha Parker

Samantha is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth behind the headlines. With years of experience in investigative reporting, she has covered a wide range of topics including politics, crime, and entertainment. Her in-depth analysis and commitment to factual accuracy make her a respected voice in the field of journalism.

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2 thoughts on “Why Israel is dominating the news  ”
  1. I think it’s concerning how the situation in the Middle East, especially the ongoing conflict in Gaza, is consistently making headlines. It’s crucial for all parties involved to prioritize peace and dialogue to prevent further devastation and loss of innocent lives.

  2. As an avid follower of Middle Eastern affairs, I believe that the ongoing conflict in Gaza is a complex issue that demands international attention and action. The recent aid package passed by the U.S. Senate for Israel underscores the importance of support for stability in the region. The resignation of Israel’s top intelligence official and the drone attacks on Iran reflect the escalating tensions in the area. It’s crucial for all parties involved to strive for peaceful resolutions and avoid further bloodshed.

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