As Jonathan noted, in their misguided attempt to take down J Street, members of the Knesset have managed to get the organization the best press it’s had in awhile. Here’s how the New York Times described the hearings:
On one side were members of the Israeli Parliament and advocates who argued that there was only one legitimate way to support Israel from abroad — unconditionally. On the other were those who insisted that love and devotion did not mean withholding criticism.
The Times’ also claimed that the Israeli government is undergoing “a turn rightward,” and, according to J Street, these developments are “driving many” young Jews away from Israel. Other news coverage was equally sympathetic to the typical J Street talking points.
This outcome was both completely avoidable and completely predictable. Previous controversial Knesset hearings have also resulted in bad PR for Israel, and good PR for Israel’s enemies. Yet Israeli lawmakers continue to make the same mistakes again and again.
And the Times reports that the Knesset has another hearing planned. This one will apparently examine whether the foreign media is “fair” to Israel, by comparing the coverage of last year’s flotilla with the coverage of the recent Itamar massacre – which is like begging the press to draw an equivalency between the two incidents.
What is the point of this exercise? Of course the foreign media is biased against the Jewish state. And of course J Street’s “pro-Israel” claims are a fraud. These questions don’t require parliamentary inquiries, they just require common sense.
The J Street hearing should be a lesson for the Knesset. And the investigation into media bias has the potential to be an even bigger problem.