An American woman and her husband tried for three years to have a child before their daughter, Chaya Zissel Braun, came into the world four months ago. To show their gratitude to G-d for this precious gift, they traveled to Israel and took their little bundle of joy to the Western Wall for the first time on Oct. 22. While they were waiting for the train to take them back home, Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi intentionally swerved off the road and rammed his vehicle into the crowded train station, murdering the three month old baby and injuring her parents. He then proceeded to exit his vehicle and attempted to escape by foot, but was shot by a police officer.
The Associated Press decided to run the following headline for an article describing the incident: “Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem.”
Apart from besmirching the memory of Chaya Zissel, flagrant media bias such as this can have and does have adverse effects on Jewish communities all over the world. This brand of skewed reporting is comparable to libel and slander that have plagued the Jewish nation throughout history. Although the Jewish world has come to expect (at best) anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias, and (at worst) blood libel and vicious canard from the media of unfriendly countries, even more affable states are guilty of unfairness.
This past summer, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to yet again stem the flow of rockets launched from Gaza into Israel. Among the media of English speaking countries, British publications were notorious for savagely criticizing Israel while completely ignoring the crimes of the other side. The British publication, The Guardian, described Israel’s actions as “Mike Tyson punching a toddler.” The commentary forgot to mention, however, that the toddler had kidnapped and murdered Tyson’s three teenage sons and peppered Tyson with missiles for over a decade. No opinion articles explaining the Israeli side were featured on The Guardian’s website.
This kind of one-sided and twisted reporting led to an upsurge of anti-Semitic activity all across the world this past summer. On July 26, firebombs were thrown at the security booth of a Jewish community center in Toulouse, France; on July 29, firebombs were thrown at a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany.
Unsurprisingly, the highest amount of anti-Semitic activity took place in the country with the media most notorious for its anti-Israeli bias: Great Britain. This July, we witnessed the second-highest level of anti-Semitic incidents on record since the Community Security Trust began to document anti-Semitic attacks in the United Kingdom in 1984.
Although many of us think that anti-Israel bias can only be found overseas, it can strike — and has struck — much closer to home than we realize. The Nov. 3 edition of the Daily Bruin featured Students for Justice in Palestine’s plan for yet another divestment resolution on its front cover, above the fold. The fact that the Daily Bruin gave such prominent coverage to a student group above the fold, while pushing national elections below the fold should give any alert reader pause. While the latter has direct consequences for UCLA, the former is merely symbolic — what does this say about the priorities of our student media?
When our campus’ most widely read publication is party to unfair and skewed reporting such as this, we must be aware of the consequences that can follow. We have already seen the effects of anti-Israel media bias in Europe. Exposing UCLA Bruins, the future leaders of this country, to the same kind of prejudiced bias can have ghastly consequences for the future of the Jewish community.
As students of this university and citizens of this country, we must make sure that our media, which in some ways represents us, is as fair and objective as possible. Whenever we see a skewed headline or an unfair talk show host, we must contact the proper authorities and do our best to fix the issue. For the sake of Chaya Zissel Braun’s memory, and to ensure that no more innocent children share her fate, we must do all we can to put an end to any kind of media bias wherever it may be found.