Small world

A small, but important observation by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) in their Snapshots blog:

The Washington Post’s ‘Little Kingdom’ is Four Times Bigger than Israel

Describing Jordan in an article headlined “Beneath the civility, Jordanians simmer; Growing frustrations threaten the stability of key U.S. ally” (May 8), The Washington Post referred to “this little kingdom….”

The land area of Jordan, Israel’s eastern neighbor, totals 34,500 square miles. Jordan’s population is 6.5 million. Israel comprises 8,019 square miles and its population totals 7.6 million (all figures from the CIA World Fact Book). That makes “this little kingdom” more than four times larger than the Jewish state.

Jordan ranks 112th by size out of more than 200 on the list of countries. Israel is 154th. If Jordan is, accurately, “this little kingdom,” then readers should expect journalistic descriptions of Israel as “this tiny democracy.”

But as CAMERA has noted, although The Post and other news media repeatedly refer to countries larger than Israel – often much larger – as small, little or even tiny, the Jewish state rarely if ever rates descriptions in the diminutive. This even though they would be accurate and often relevant.

Why the functional if not intentional double standard? One reason may be that if, as we have suggested, Israel is seen primarily through the filter of Palestinian complaints, it appears to be the larger party. And as the larger party, responsibility for existing problems and to make concessions to solve them would fall primarily on it.

But if Israel is placed in context of the surrounding Arab and even greater Islamic world, most of which unreconciled to Jewish equality and sovereignty, then it is the smaller, indeed tiny party. And primary responsibility to “take risks for peace” would lie with its neighbors.

There may be another explanation: sloppy journalistic standards. It’s one reason why, a long time ago, I stopped taking everything I read in the press, or saw or heard in the media, at face value. Unfortunately, too many people fail to regularly exercise their critical facilities on a regular basis. And that’s another reason why, on top of bad journalism, the slings and arrows of outrageous propaganda are repeatedly sent in Israel’s direction – because many anti-zionists understand that there are plenty people out there who will believe such nonsense. (Examples include the massacre at Jenin that wasn’t, and the al-Dura crossfire killing that wasn’t.) Organizations like CAMERA are one way of fighting back, but I have often wondered (purely as an exercise in intellectual conjecture) if it would be a successful strategy for Israel to start telling fibs, porky-pies, lies; the bigger the better. Without that approach, we must soldier on with the truth.