Middle East politics

Palestinian Christians: Why so little coverage outside of Easter and Christmas?

Palestinian Christians: Why so little coverage outside of Easter and Christmas?

Mainstream news coverage of the persecution of Middle East Christians -- including the lack of such coverage -- receives lots of attention here at GetReligion. Here's a sample in the form of one of our "Crossroads" podcasts.

Elsewhere, the level of coverage tends to ebb and flow with the degree of brutality accompanying the persecution. When a large number of Christians are murdered -- say, by the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq -- the coverage spikes. When the discrimination is merely pervasive but not violent in a spectacular way -- such as that endured by Egypt's Copts -- the coverage recedes.

Here are two examples of journalistic attention to the issue.

One is an editorial from Britain's The Guardian. The other is a news piece from Fox News.

Note that the latter underscores the possibility of the eradication of the Middle East's ancient churches from the lands that birthed them. (More recently arrived Protestant churches also are under assault, of course.)

What you generally hear less about is the plight of the Christian minorities living under Palestinian rule in the West Bank and Gaza. And when you do see a story it's likely to be timed to Christmas or Easter, when Palestinian Christians are most visible to the international media and a Holy Land dateline is a beloved trade hallmark, even if that means ignoring the fact that many Christians in this region are using the older Julian calendar and, thus, celebrate Christmas and Pascha later than the churches of the West.

Here's one Christmas piece published a few years back on the Wall Street Journal website. And here's 2015 Christmas story in The New York Times.

Why do Palestinian Christians living under Palestinian rule get so much less attention?

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Flawed Pew survey question produces flawed answer on how many Israeli Jews want Arabs kicked out

Flawed Pew survey question produces flawed answer on how many Israeli Jews want Arabs kicked out

A Pew survey released last week had all the ingredients for another damning story about Israel and its Jewish citizens. Nearly half of Israeli Jews surveyed, Pew reported, said they favored the expulsion or transfer of Arabs out of Israel.

Given the superficial manner in which most news media, American and otherwise, cover the extraordinarily complicated, and sadly dehumanizing and deadly, Middle East -- and its long-running Israel-Palestinian subplot in particular -- the Pew story seemed a natural headline-grabber.

It turned out to be otherwise. Nonetheless, it did underscore the importance of raising journalistic red flags when reporting on dumbed-down, highly generalized and potentially inflammatory survey questions that purport to accurately measure real-world complexities.

Let's start with these telling New York Times stories about the survey. Click here to read the first one. Then click here to read the second.

Why are they telling?

Because The Times'  initial Web offering was a standard wire service report that led -- predictably -- with the international red-meat angle, the more easily written expulsion aspect that, given the hostility to Israel in much of the world, was virtually assured of gaining wide play.

But also because the second piece, written by a Times' Jerusalem bureau staffer that ran in the dead wood edition the following day, buried the expulsion angle and led instead with the more complicated to report survey results dealing with the deep religious and political rifts within Israeli Jewish society.

The expulsion angle wasn't mentioned until the eighth paragraph.

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Another week, another Israel story -- Iran nuclear deal. What's an overworked journalist to do?

Another week, another Israel story  -- Iran nuclear deal. What's an overworked journalist to do?

That hue and cry emanating from the Jewish community of late sounds, to me, a lot like, "See! See! I told you so!"

Told you what? 

That President Barack Obama is happy to throw Israel under a bus if that's what it takes to cement ties with his newly minted Iranian friends and burnish his foreign policy legacy in a Neville Chamberlain-ish manner.


That Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a warmonger oblivious to American concerns and ungrateful for all the UN cover and financial aid Washington's given Israel under Obama and for decades?

Well, which is it?

Take your pick. Your choice is likely to depend upon where you get your news and opinions. Or perhaps I should say your opinion-infused news, which is closer to the reality of what the information industry churns out. But that's just my opinion.

I wrote last week about the media's focus on the soul-searching in Israel following back-to-back Jew-on-Jew and Jew-on-Palestinian attacks. I planned to write more about that this week, given the continuing developments, covered here by The New York Times and here, from another angle, by The Jerusalem Post.

But as is too often the case with Middle East crisis news coverage, events quickly pushed the story forward, leaving journalists little opportunity to circle back and report more in-depth on the first round coverage's more compelling angles.

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Intended consequences -- The Times & Jewish Jerusalem

Choosing determines all human decisions. In making his choice man chooses not only between various material things and services. All human values are offered for option. All ends and all means, both material and ideal issues, the sublime and the base, the noble and the ignoble, are ranged in a single row and subjected to a decision which picks out one thing and sets aside another. Nothing that men aim at or want to avoid remains outside of this arrangement into a unique scale of gradation and preference.

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