Thursday, August 10, 2017

Spain: El País newspaper's "unapologetic hatred for Israel”


El País cartoon depicting an orthodox Jew, to illustrate an op-ed article by Mario Vargas Llosa, claiming 
that Breaking the Silence, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass are some of “The Righteous of Israel.”
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is “moderate” and “pragmatic,” while Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu leads a “radical” and "extremist" government.
PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) member Leyla Khaled, who hijacked two passenger planes in the late 1960s, is someone who “comes from a traumatic life experience: the occupation that as a child, in 1948, expelled her and her family from Haifa,” along with “millions of refugees who were forced to leave their homes.”
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict “emanates from the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank” and “the subsequent blockade of the Gaza Strip.” “After the 1967 war, Israel hasn't stopped colonizing.”
These descriptions are all from the news pages of the largest and most influential newspaper of the Spanish-speaking world, El País, and represent its approach to reporting on the region. 
For years, El País advanced an anti-Israeli narrative, at times even toying with overt anti-Semitism, to the point where, in 2009, fourteen US congressmen sent a letter to then-Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to express their concern about El País'  systematic publication of “articles and cartoons conveying crude anti-Semitic canards and stereotypes.” 
That same year, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (a notoriously harsh critic of the Israeli government) published Yoav Sivan's article “Bias in black and white” which noted that “Even in minor stories unrelated to the conflict, El Pais displays a unique combination of sloppiness and unapologetic hatred for Israel.”
The year 2009 marked a turning point. The newspaper changed its approach to the region with more balanced reporting. Tel Aviv ceased to be incorrectly identified as the capital of Israel and articles from the Middle East began to include viewpoints from both sides of the conflict. 
Over the past year, however, El País has drifted back to its previous pattern, disregarding the voice of one of the parties in the conflict. (...)
An Op-Ed by the lawyer Jerónimo Paez (“Unreason and Tragedy”), published on February 9, 2017, deserves a special mention. It insinuated that all the problems in the region originated with the Jewish state, which was blamed for rejecting peace from the beginning of Zionism. Zionists attacked “their British allies.” They were responsible for political Islam. For dislocating Lebanon. For the rise of an Iranian theocracy. For exacerbating the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. For fomenting “hatred of the West,” “jihadist madness,” 9/11, the Syrian civil war, “Erdogan despotism,” and the“end the Kurdish people...”  
And if Israel is the root of all evil, then Palestinian terrorism in reaction is perfectly acceptable. And so the piece went on to justify Palestinian violence: 
One wonders, especially if he is Andalusian, what would have been our response had the heirs of the Syrian Umayyads decided, following the tragedy they are suffering, to settle in Andalusia, the homeland of their ancestors. It is not necessary to go very far to predict the violent rejection that this would have generated. 
Of course, Andalusia was never the homeland of the Umayyads. But at El País, truth is apparently expendable in the pursuit of demonizing Israel.
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