Scott McConnell has observed the European and alternative media coverage of Wednesday’s race riots in Israel directed against African immigrants and wondered if the press if the US is reporting what took place. Well, the short answer is “no.” The New York Times and the Washington Post have avoided the subject as has NPR and the Los Angeles Times. Using Google and also going to individual media websites, I could not find any reference to the riots in any mainstream publication nor on any news television channel. The best coverage in the English language media was in Britain’s The Guardian, which described how African immigrants and asylum seekers were attacked by an angry crowd in Tel Aviv, leading to a number of injuries, widespread vandalism, and seventeen arrests. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu helped trigger the confrontation last Sunday when he described “illegal infiltrators” who were “flooding the country” and threatening both Israel’s security and its identity as a Jewish state. The actual violence on the streets may have been sparked by an Israeli parliamentarian telling the crowd that the Africans were a “cancer in our body.” The Israeli newspaper Maariv called what followed an “unbridled rampage.”
English language newspapers in Israel, including Haaretz, did cover the story, which was also picked up by Jewish media in the US. A number of American Jewish organizations expressed their disapproval of the violence while also noting the legitimate concerns over rising crime and lawlessness. Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League expressed his concern at the “lawlessness and violence committed by and directed against the immigrants” and then three times more noted that the lawless and violent immigrants were creating security problems for Israelis. He also praised Netanyahu’s “condemnation of the inflammatory comments and the violence…,” not mentioning that it was Netanyahu who had initially given support to the protesters.
Steve Sailer has noted that Foxman is a lot tougher on immigrants in Israel than he is on their counterparts in the US. In May 2010 he referred to Arizona’s illegal immigrant legislation as an example of “nativism” and “bigotry,” manifestly “mean spirited” and xenophobic.
The media underreporting of any unpleasant news coming out of Israel is a long standing American journalistic tradition. Friends of Israel would and frequently do argue that Israel is being held to a higher standard than any of its neighbors and is subject to unfair criticism. But the problem is not that Israel is held to a higher standard than its neighbors. The reality is that it is all too often not held to any standard at all by most of the US media and congress. The consequences of immigration, both legal and illegal, has become a serious issue in many countries and worthy of discussion. But somehow, in this case, anti-immigration sentiment arising from Israeli racism cannot be mentioned lest it somehow tarnish the legitimacy of the Jewish state.