Op-eds

Be patient with SA media

  • Howard Feldman 2018
By Wednesday morning, South African media had failed to acknowledge the historic signing of a peace agreement between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Instead, in the international sections, there were headlines like “Trump accuses Biden of taking performance enhancing substance.”
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Sep 17, 2020

It took until sometime on Wednesday before the peace agreement was acknowledged. News24, as an example, republished an AFP piece with an insert of a video link that showed Israel bombing Gaza.

It neglected to mention that Hamas had launched a barrage of rockets to protest the signing of the accord.

South African media, and most likely media around the world, are deserving of our patience. To date, they have been bombarded with a narrative that depicts Israel as the aggressor and the Palestinians as the victim. The narrative required them to ignore incidents that showcased the Palestinians in a negative light by simply neglecting to report on it.

This wasn’t a challenge given the magnitude of negativity of reporting emanating from the entire Middle East region. The Arab world was united until now in its disdain and contempt for the Jewish state. This meant that aside from Israeli media and perhaps some publications in the United States, the message and viewpoint was consistent and uniform.

But that has changed. With the UAE and Bahrain, with talk of Saudi and Oman as well as Morocco, the message from now on isn’t going to be a simple and uniform one. Already, since the signing, Bahrain has issued a statement on Israeli TV condemning the rockets fired by Hamas into Israel.

The UAE is embracing all things Israel, indicating that this isn’t going to be a cold peace, but rather a warm and real relationship. In no time at all, we can expect to see Israeli salespeople scattered throughout Dubai shopping malls selling Dead Sea products to poor and unsuspecting shoppers.

The signing of the accords will change how the media perceives and reports on Israel. But it will take time. As Hamas aligns itself closer with Iran, it will move further into obscurity. And as Israel friendly Arab media reports become more balanced and fairer, so we can expect the Palestinians to be exposed to information that they wouldn’t have been exposed to until now. Hopefully, this will add further pressure on the Palestinian leadership to consider peace with Israel as a viable option.

The other factor that might have contributed to the South African media approach is the fact that Donald Trump was a key player in the story. Acknowledgement means recognition that he has done well in this situation – something the local press will find very difficult to do.

As we end the Jewish year 5780, it’s worth noting where we are today in terms of media and revisiting this again as we end 5781. I believe that we will see a change in the right direction. We need to be patient and watch it happen, as it undoubtedly will.

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