Media Matters

News Not Fit To Print

Oprah would have loved this one, one would think.

By 5.3.10

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If the governments of Israel and Jordan joined forces to save the life of a three-year old Palestinian child -- and if the three-year old child happened to be the daughter of a top Hamas official -- that would be big news, right? It would be covered by all the major American newspapers, right? Oprah might even talk about it, right?

If you answered "right" to any of the above, dear reader, you are living on another planet.

Here is a brief summary of the story, as reported in the April 27 issue of the Hebrew-language weekly, Sha'ar LaMathil

The young daughter of Fathi Hamad, one of the heads of Hamas and its government in the Gaza Strip, was in urgent need of medical attention in a Jordanian hospital. King Abdallah of Jordan requested the Prime Minister and Defense Minister to facilitate the girl's transfer to a hospital in Amman.

Israel acceded to the request. A Red Cross ambulance transferred the girl from a hospital in Gaza to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, and from there a Jordanian helicopter transferred her to Amman. The heads of Hamas ordered all the Gaza Strip media not to publish the story.

This is just a bare-bones version of what happened. A more detailed account might have mentioned that the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon was a frequent target of Hamas rocket attacks; that the child received emergency medical treatment at Barzilai Hospital to stabilize her condition before being flown on to Amman; that she is just one of hundreds of Gazans who receive medical care in Israel; that her father, Hamas' Interior Minister and a leading advocate of suicide bombing, publicly thanked King Abdallah, but omitted any mention of Israel; and that the Jordanian press also left out Israel's role. But let's not get bogged down in petty details.

Here is how much coverage the story received in the American mainstream media:

 

 

Whether because of self-preservation (journalists who seriously annoy Hamas tend to have short life-spans), bias (the press likes to cover Israel's oppression of the Palestinians; anything else is off-message), or sheer incompetence, our media has joined the Palestinian media in blacking out a most interesting story. A pity.

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About the Author

Joseph Shattan is the author of Architects of Victory: Six Heroes of the Cold War.