From the Desk of Avi Benlolo: Should the Media Be Held Accountable?

June 16, 2017

eNews

Editorial in the Times of Israel

Should the Media Be Held Accountable?

This week, the Toronto Star published yet another pernicious opinion piece against Israel and Jewish Wonder Woman superstar, Gal Gadot. An attempt to disguise the article as an academic treatise on feminism, its author Azeezah Kanji instead smeared Gadot and of course, Israel.  

According to Kanji, "Gal Gadot's support for Israel's violence against women, children, and men of Palestine has received minimal attention as a matter of feminist concern…" apparently taken out of context over a post Gadot made in support of Israel's defensive efforts to protect Israelis from Hamas rocket attacks and tunnel infiltration. Kanji omits that Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by Canadian authorities and most western countries.  

Kanji's article however is part of an international conspiracy to boycott Israel and pro-Israel Jews in general, especially if they are part of the culture industry (eg. Matisyahu). A number of Arab nations including Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan have either threatened or banned Wonder Woman because its lead actress is Jewish. Here at home, anti-Israel groups that have frequently been accused with antisemitism have also launched a boycott campaign against Gadot – including York University's Students Against Israeli Apartheid group that launched the infamous "YUDivest" last year. 

What responsibility does the media have in ensuring that it does not fall prey to propagandists with ulterior motives? To staying true to the person's talents and skills (in this case acting) rather than picking on their nationality - which is racism? Much has been written about Breitbart news and its lean toward the so-called "alt-right" white nationalists. What about media that often and sometimes disproportionally leans to the "alt–left" which may inflame antisemitism and incitement against Israel unfairly?

The community has been feeling unfairly targeted lately. The anti-Wonder Woman article was published on June 15th. Ten days earlier, The Star published another article by Izzeldin Abuelaish and Michael Dan provocatively entitled, "Ending the Occupation is the path to Palestinian and Israeli Freedom." As my friend and FSWC Director eloquently states in his commentary below about the article, "Israel has offered peace proposals on several occasions, but the Palestinians have not. Israel's dream is to live side by side peacefully with its neighbours, including the Palestinian nation. Unfortunately, Palestinians have only themselves to blame for the fact that they do not have a nation."

This is the true narrative. Most Israelis want peace and want the Palestinians to have a state living side by side with Israel in peace. Unfortunately, Israel and by extension the Jewish people, are continuously portrayed by the media as "occupiers" with "enthusiasm" for war. Nothing could be further from the truth as Israeli leaders encouraged by Jewish communities around the world have been "In Search of Peace" since the very beginning.

The empowerment of women is of utmost importance, especially in the Middle East. Gal Gadot is an accomplished actress who had every opportunity growing up as a female in Israel – going to school (including law school), joining the army and launching a successful career. That’s because Israel celebrates women's rights and motivates them to be thoroughly accomplished and independent. Now that would have been an interesting article!

Shabbat Shalom,

Avi

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