Friday, August 19, 2011

Fitting stories into frames is dangerous

Crown Heights riots, 1991: the press reported an antisemitc pogrom as 'inter-racial clashes'

With thanks: Lily

It's got little to do with the Middle East, and nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict, but reading an article on the Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn gave me pause for serious thought today.

In Telling it like it wasn't, Ari Goldman reveals, 20 years after the event, how he was outraged when editors working for his employer, The New York Times, twisted his reporting of an anti-Jewish pogrom into something else - a racial clash between blacks and Jews.

"I am telling my story in print for the first time because it is important that we journalists examine our mistakes and learn from them, "Goldman wrote. "Fitting stories into frames - whether about blacks and Jews, liberals or conservatives, Arabs and Israelis, Catholics and Protestants or Muslims and Jews - is wrong and even dangerous. Life is more complicated than that - and so is journalism."

The BBC fits stories into frames all the time - only yesterday, its report of a terrorist attack killing eight Israelis was another sickening display of moral equivalence blurring victim and aggressor. But here in this cobweb-ridden corner of the Jewish 'narrative', our blog's story of forgotten Jewish refugees is not just distorted, it's omitted altogether.

The 800,000 Jews forced from Arab countries just don't fit the frame. If the truth were known, the frame would crumble like so much rotten wood. That's why it's never told, or the facts are twisted, or the wrong conclusions drawn. In any case, a lot of people are being seriously misled, and policy-makers are making decisions on the basis of one-sided information that is prolonging the conflict, not bringing it closer to a resolution.

For the ongoing struggle against the Jews of Israel, like the ethnic cleansing of the minorities of the Middle East, has never been about the clash of competing claims. It's always been about Arab and Muslim antisemitism and bigotry.

1 comment:

Heather said...

"In any case, a lot of people are being seriously misled..."

Deliberately misled. It isn't that people are being left to draw their own conclusions. Some group of someones consciously made a choice to set it up this way, and others have reasons to go along.

It's no coincidence that Farrakhan, Sharpten, Wright, et al and Q'daffies of this world are allies.