National Geographic Israel-bashing

11.23.02

According to CAMERA, National Geographic has been up to more these days than simply counting the percentage of Americans who can’t pick their own country off a world map. Namely, printing a ten-page article by Andrew Cockburn entitled “Lines in the Sand: Deadly Times in the West Bank and Gaza”, which appeared in the October 2002 issue and spent, apparently, most of the time bashing Israel and misrepresenting its history.

The ten-page National Geographic piece, filled with maps, chronologies and anti-Israel dogma, casts that nation as either overtly or indirectly guilty at every turn for the Arab-Israeli conflict, while Arab aggression is almost entirely omitted.

I remember back more than ten years, to the Gulf War. I was eleven and in the fifth grade, and, like most fifth-graders, more preoccupied with friends and schoolwork than international politics (although I remember being terrified that Saddam Hussein would launch a missile through my bedroom window). My Hebrew teacher was trying to explain why Iraq was launching missiles at Israel, and why Israel wasn’t fighting back. She said something like (and forgive the paraphrasing) “historically, Israel’s always been the “good guy” at war but the “bad guy” in world opinion. By exercising restraint this time around, Israel’s becoming the “good guy” in world opinion and the “bad guy” at war.”” I was very confused at the time, because since I was old enough to remember, Israel had been riding a high in terms of international opinion, and I was yet unaware that there were people who hated Israel.

Sadly, it appears she was right. By reading the National Geographic piece, one could easily forget that Israel was defending itself against annihilation in 1948, 1967, 1973 (the article doesn’t even mention the Yom Kippur War on its timeline), and now again. It seems that Israel’s act of goodwill in the Gulf War was quickly forgotten by a world with an extremely short memory, and all that Israel accomplished by not striking back was to look all that much weaker to its enemies.

The following comment is from the Canada-Israel Committee’s Q&A:

The Jerusalem Post recently observed that “If the Palestinians put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence; if Israel put down its weapons today, there would be no more Israel.” Palestinian terrorist groups work from a different set of rules, viewing Israeli concessions as signs of weakness. Previous experience suggests no reason to believe that unilateral Israeli concessions will end Palestinian violence.

Whenever I hear people comment that Israel doesn’t consider world opinion enough, or that it is too aggressive in its policies, I need only remember all the concessions that Israel has made, and how they have been met by rebuffs and step-ups in violence. If anything, Israel is being far too restrained – much more so than, say, the United States’s reaction to September 11th. Had Israel reacted to earlier terror attacks by launching all-out military incursions against the Palestinian terror groups and hunting down Arafat the way the US is hunting down Osama Bin Laden, there would surely have been an international outcry that far surpassed what we are seeing today. There would also be no more terror attacks against Israel. And, with the terrorist networks disbanded, the stage would be set for real negotiations with the Palestinian people.

This National Geographic article is hardly unique, but serves as a bitter reminder of how the history of the past 50 years has been rewritten.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Stan Brin 01.01.04 at 2:37 AM

A question — why does no one picket the National Geographic, or other anti-Semitic media?

They pay no attention to emails and letters to the editor.

Why am alone on this?

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