Reality Check

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 14, 2003 / 17 Tishrei, 5764

The Cult of Objectivity

By Jonathan S. Tobin

Hypocrisy on 'terrorism' gives lie to media's self-image | The headline across the front page of The New York Times on what was for Jews, their Day of Atonement, told its readers all they needed to know about the Arab-Israeli conflict. "Israel Attacks What It Calls a Terrorist Camp in Syria," the gray lady screamed on Monday, Oct. 6.

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By using the phrase "what it calls," the Times left no doubt about its opinion of the credibility of the claim, and the rights and wrongs of the conflict. The same article could have been headlined something that was actually neutral about the story, like "Israel Attacks Syrian Base" or "Palestinian Base," or it just could have called it a "camp," as did the unusually sober Philadelphia Inquirer on the same day. That would leave readers to make up their own minds.

The editors of the Times are entitled to express their opinion (as they did the following day, when their editorial page condemned both the attack and President Bush for rightly saying that Israel had a right to defend herself), but the principles of objective journalism should have prevented them from inserting it into a headline.


That the Times would provide us with such a blatant example of the lack of objectivity in Middle East reporting is interesting, given that there is a lively debate going on in the news business over how journalists should label the sort of people who hang out at what Israelis call "a terrorist camp."

Virtually ever major American newspaper, including the Times and the Inquirer have decided, as a matter of policy, that members of Palestinian terrorist groups — such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade — should be called "militants," rather than "terrorists." Nor should, we are told, the organizations that claim credit for massacres, such as last week's bombing in Haifa that took the lives of 19 Israelis, be referred to as terrorist groups. Doesn't this fly in the face of accurate reporting and common sense? Journali sts answer that "terrorism is an "emotive" term that compromises their objectivity.

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This was hard enough to defend before Sept. 11, 2001, but the aftermath of that event has further exposed the hypocrisy in their approach to covering terrorism.

Why? Because virtually all of the newspapers and broadcast networks that refuse to call Palestinian killers of Israelis terrorists have no compunction about calling the 9/11 murderers terrorists.

How do journalists get away with this double standard? They employ sophistry, obfuscation, and what Christine Chinlund, the ombudsman of The Boston Globe, admits is "hairsplitting."

Chinlund and Michael Getler, her counterpart at The Washington Post, have both recently penned articles explaining this policy and deriding their critics as "partisans" of Israel who don't understand journalism or the Middle East.

Chinlund asserts that to "tag Hamas, for example, as a terrorist organization is to ignore its far more complex role in the Middle East drama." Getler chimes in by quoting the Post's style manual as saying that "we should not resolve the argument over whether Hamas is a terrorist organization."

Huh? To even entertain the notion that there is a debate about whether a group that targets innocent civilians for death is a terrorist organization is itself an act of partisanship that gives murderers an unearned legitimacy.


Both newspapers are prepared to call specific Hamas attacks "terrorist" attacks, but insist that to attach this label to the group or its members would be wrong. Such a rickety standard is hard enough to defend, but their position is complicated by their approach to the "terrorist" Al Qaeda network. Chinlund defends this practice because "the definition of Al Qaeda in the Unit ed States is almost solely based on the 9/11 attacks," making it an "allowable exception."

And what, we might ask, is Hamas known for in Israel, or anywhere else, except as the slaughterers of innocents?

Getler goes further and betrays his paper's bias by asserting America's innocence in contrast to Palestinian resistance to a "humiliating Israeli occupation." Yet isn't Getler's reference to Israel and its actions itself an acceptance of a slanted view of reality that takes the Palestinian point of view and rejects that of Israel?

In other words, according to Getler and those who agree with him, Israelis deserve to be blown up in cafes and buses, but Americans do not deserve to be killed.

So much for objectivity.

Far more honest was the Orlando Sentinel's Manning Pym, who meekly admitted that "the horse is out of the barn on the labeling of Al Qaeda." He understands his readers would be outraged by the paper's calling the 9/11 killers "militants," as it does to those who kill Jews in Israel. From this frame of reference, when it comes to their reporting of Al Qaeda and Hamas, American journalists are merely provincial rather than biased.

Ironically, one of the few who dispute this nonsense works for The New York Post, a paper whose news pages are notorious for their lack of objectivity.

Post columnist Eric Fettman recently asserted that the media's take on terrorism is a pretense that suggested "terrorism doesn't really exist and that words aren't important. They are, and using the word 'terrorist' is not unfairly taking sides — it's acknowledging the reality of a genuine and dangerous ongoing threat."

He's right. Hypocrisy over terrorism gives the lie to the cult of objectivity that animates so much of the American media's puffed-up self-image. Those who defend the double standard have no honest answers for their critics.

They will tell you that "yellow journalism" is confined these days to tabloids like the Post, but the truth is that bias is just as virulent at the Times and at its lesser cousins, like the Inquirer. That this is so is an ongoing scandal that American journalists ignore at the peril of their profession's standing with the public.

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here. In June, Mr. Tobin won first places honors in the American Jewish Press Association's Louis Rapaport Award for Excellence in Commentary as well as the Philadelphia Press Association's Media Award for top weekly columnist. Both competitions were for articles written in the year 2002.

© 2003, Jonathan S. Tobin