Given the News They Consume, Who Can Blame Europeans for Hating Israel?

Given the News They Consume, Who Can Blame Europeans for Hating Israel?

JERUSALEM -- In Britain, the University and College Union has just announced it has to cancel plans to boycott all Israeli academics and promote Palestinian views because the boycott, surprise of surprises, would break anti-discrimination laws. The British government, as well as fellow academics around the world, criticized as immoral, inappropriate and counterproductive the union's one-sided approach to the complicated Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But who can blame Europeans for hating Israel, really? After all, when you look at the news they read and watch, it is clear that Israel is a country run by vicious and malevolent thugs.

News coverage from Israel in the European press is often little more than a parody of honest journalism. Israelis have complained about this for decades, but more evidence of what you might call atrocities against journalism surface every day in European courtrooms and in the research of scholars.

To highlight at least one of the techniques used by European -- and some American -- news organizations, one Israeli has launched his own news parody. "Bad News from the Netherlands," run by Manfred Gerstenfeld, reports on the Netherlands by focusing exclusively on negative news. By the time you run through the clippings -- all real news stories -- the usually placid Netherlands sounds like the abode of the devil himself: Dutch soldiers suspected of torturing prisoners and killing civilians; soldiers beating an immigrant to death in the street; Dutch politicians guilty of incitement against foreigners. The list goes on, with items pouring into Gerstenfeld's inbox every day from his fans in the Netherlands and from the Dutch newspapers he reads.

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