The subject of biased and even false reporting of the Arab-Israeli conflict by foreign and international media outlets is never far from the headlines.
Just this week, an absurd allegation by AFP – that Israel had flooded Gaza by opening a damn in southern Israel – went viral among world media outlets, despite the fact that there are no dams in southern Israel to be opened.
That such blatantly untrue allegations can make headline news, in many cases without even bothering to ask for an Israeli response, has been pointed to by some media watchdogs as proof of the kind of entrenched anti-Israel bias famously (and repeatedly) exposed by former AP reporter Matti Friedman.
Of course, it's impossible to definitively know precisely what biases are at work inside the heads of individual journalists – unless they make them known publicly, as was the case with Irish Times reporter Kitty Holland Wednesday.
Holland had penned an article entitled "Amnesty International report labels 2014 ‘devastating’ for human rights," which included the following questionable statement:
"The report outlines the human rights situations in all 160 countries it investigates.
"It describes the July assault on Gaza by Israel, in which 2,000 Palestinians were killed and where war crimes were committed [emphasis added], as being marked by “callous indifference”."
Simon Plosker, who heads the Honest Reporting media watchdog, questioned Holland on her unqualified claim that "war crimes were committed" by Israel. In fact, as Plosker pointed out, no such crimes have been proven – only alleged (by one party). Therefore, at the very least, from an editorial point of view the statement should have been placed in quotation marks.
Not so, countered Holland, and the exchange continued.
All fairly harmless, if a little surly – until Holland issues her parting shot:
Of course, it is totally Holland's choice whether to engage with critics or not. But writing off "Zionists" – i.e. people who support the State of Israel/Jewish independence – in such a way reveals a bias so fundamental it raises questions about how such a journalist can write objectively about anything to do with Israel.
In a statement, Plosker decried the response as "disgusting."
"Kitty Holland’s tweet is absolutely appalling and speaks volumes about her attitude not only towards Israel but also the majority of Jews who consider themselves to be Zionists," he said, in comments posted on Honest Reporting's website.
"Someone who purports to be an award-winning journalist should not be engaging in this disgusting behavior."
With so many influential journalists harboring such deep-seated and intense anti-Israel biases, is it any wonder Israel finds itself in a situation of dammed if you do, dammed if you don't?