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Is the media being unfair to Israel?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Israel pounds Hamas targets A Washington Post cartoon depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly punching a Palestinian baby (Credit: Washington Post/Ann Telnaes)

{source}<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #C0C0C0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/KtmUL4IVIq4?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}If you love Israel, you’re probably frustrated by the way many in the media are covering the current conflict with Hamas.  The number of Palestinian casualties typically leads every story, with little reference to the fact that Hamas positions its missiles in civilian areas to use the population as human shields, escalating the casualty numbers.

One reporter noted that Israel’s Iron Dome is protecting its people from many of Hamas’s missiles, then quickly moved to images of Palestinian civilians in Gaza with the sympathetic words, “But these people have no such protections.”  It is as though Israel is at fault for protecting its own citizens.

A Washington Post cartoon depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly punching a Palestinian baby.  A BBC reporter recently claimed that Israel’s policies toward Gaza have made “a concentration camp of 1.8 million people.”  A CNN reporter sent a tweet calling Israelis “scum.”  CNN apologized and reassigned the reporter to Russia.  But imagine the outcry if she had called Palestinians, or Muslims, “scum.”

A BBC reporter in Gaza blamed Israel for the fact that “no one has any electricity” there.  In fact, only 70,000 Gazans (out of 1.8 million) were without power.  The unreported reason for the outage was that Hamas—not Israel—fired a rocket that hit a Gaza power line.  In one week, at least 100 Hamas rockets accidentally hit targets in Gaza.

Journalistic coverage of the conflict in Gaza is just one example of an anti-Israel bias in Western culture.  Anti-Israel protesters in France recently marched on synagogues, burned an Israeli flag, and destroyed Jewish-owned shops.  More Jews have left France for Israel in 2014 than at any other time since the Jewish state was created in 1948.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recently voted to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions, claiming that these companies sell products to Israel that help promote violence in Palestinian territories.  The Jewish Anti-Defamation League responded: “Over the past ten years PC(USA) leaders have fomented an atmosphere of open hostility to Israel within the church, promoted a one-sided presentation of the complex realities of the Middle East, and permitted the presentation of a grossly distorted image of the views of the Jewish community.”

Why is an anti-Israel bias growing in Western culture?

Joshua Muravchik is a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and author of Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel.  Dr. Muravchik explains that liberal ideology used to view political struggles as class conflicts between rich and poor.  Now, their ideology views modern political struggles as between ethnic groups: the predominantly white West against the non-white rest of the world.  “The rest against the West” is their worldview.

As a result, Israel (the “Western” or “white” group) is automatically wrong, while the Palestinian (the “anti-colonial” or “non-white” group) is automatically right.  By contrast, conservatives value Israel as a democracy and ally of the United States.

Muravchik comments on this phenomenon: “A genuine liberal must be pro-Israel.  Israel—and not its enemies—is democratic, observes freedom of speech and worship, tolerates minorities, sanctifies the rights of women, and constantly reaches out to the other side with humanitarian gestures, such as the six Gazan babies who were transported to Israel this week, amidst the rocket fire, for free operations to repair congenital heart defects.  To be anti-Israel is not to be liberal; rather it is to embrace the worldview of the radical Left which is totalitarian, anti-freedom, and anti-faith.”

I have been to Israel some 25 times, and am a personal supporter of the Jewish state and the Jewish people’s right to a nation.  At the same time, I believe that the Palestinian people deserve a state as well.  My point is not that Israelis are inherently more valuable than Palestinians, or that Israel as a nation is above criticism and accountability.  God loves all people equally, whatever their racial, regional, or religious demographics.  His Son died so that all people, Jews and non-Jews, can turn to him and find salvation by grace through faith.  In Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female” (Galatians 3:28).

My point is that believers need to be praying for Israel, for Palestine, and for peace in the Middle East with greater passion than ever.  If an anti-Israel bias is able to weaken American support for the State of Israel, the repercussions in the Middle East and around the world will be catastrophic.  If Iran and other enemies of the Jewish state believe that America will not support the Jewish people in war, they will be much more emboldened to attack Israel.  A true world war could result.

Words matter.  What we say about Israel tells the world what we will—or won’t—do to support Israel.

Have you prayed for world leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2) and for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) today?