Karl Vick, dishonest reporter

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Karl Vick

In our last couple of outings, we met Karl Vick of Time Magazine, who in recent months has made a fool of himself gushing over the “charm” of Havana’s rubble and enthusing over Cuba’s “social equality” – meaning, of course, that everybody there except for members of the top brass is dirt-poor.

But in fact Vick’s role as a useful stooge for Castro is a new one. For the past few years, serving as Time‘s Jerusalem bureau chief, he’s served in the same capacity in relation to various armed entities in the Mideast which, despite their unwavering hatred and violence, he continually represents as having turned over a new leaf. He assured readers that the reformist rhetoric of the “Arab Spring” was totally legit; he’s insisted repeatedly that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate force; and for years he’s been claiming that Hamas has turned friendly (or is about to turn friendly any minute now) toward Israel.

Meanwhile he routinely smears Israel.

Time cover-resizeTake his 2010 Time cover story “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” The article’s premise: while the world views Israel through the prism of “the blood feud with the Arabs whose families used to live on this land,” Israelis themselves are too busy “making money,” hanging around Tel Aviv cafes, and lying on the beach to care about the peace process. The Honest Reporting (HR) website gave Vick a “Dishonest Reporting Award” for the piece, noting that he “appears to subtly reject Israel’s historic claims to the land and to imply that Israelis are at fault in the conflict, since the land really belongs to the Arabs.” Also, he “distorts Israeli resilience in the face of a decade of rocket attacks and terrorism into an image of decadence.” While Israel, argued HR, had made numerous peace moves – “Ehud Barak’s offer of a state at Camp David, Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza, Binyamin Netanyahu’s settlement freeze” – Vick “blame[d] Israel for years of stalemate”; at the same time, “[w]hile there have been no parallel moves from the Palestinians to advance the peace process, only ever-increasing demands on Israel, Vick gives the impression that the Palestinians have been doing everything they can to make peace possible.”

HR wasn’t the only outfit to criticize Vick’s article; the Anti-Defamation League protested too, saying that Vick’s “insidious subtext of Israeli Jews being obsessed with money echoes the age-old anti-Semitic falsehood that Jews care about money above any other interest, in this case achieving peace with the Palestinians.”

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The article “Why Israel Doesn’t Care about Peace” featured this photo, captioned “Israelis at the beach in Tel Aviv”

A few months after Vick’s cover story, violent Syrians on the Golan Heights tried to charge across the Israeli border; Israel denied Syrian state media’s claim that IDF troops killed 22 of them. Vick reported it this way:

Television images on Sunday…showed apparently unarmed Palestinian civilians marching peacefully down a hill toward Israeli soldiers who had assumed firing positions. Then came a crackle of gunshots; bloodied bodies were then carried back up the hill. It went on for hours, with 20 people reported dead according to Syrian state television. The human cost was high but for a Palestinian movement trying to reframe itself, the footage at least set it on a course along on the lines of Birmingham, Soweto and Gandhi’s Salt March….

HR commented: “Aside from falsely presenting Palestinians as Gandhian acolytes, this description certainly does not correspond with other media reports that confirmed that the IDF had issued clear warnings in Arabic and fired tear gas before firing over the heads of the Palestinians in an attempt to convince them to halt. The use of live fire and then, only used selectively, was solely a last resort.”

A Palestinian woman and a child walk together on their way to a celebration for land that was recently returned to the Palestinians after Israel rerouted a section of it's controversial barrier which separates the Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit (seen in the background) and the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah July 1, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS)
This picture of a woman and child accompanied one of Vick’s articles on Palestinians

Not long afterward, a poll of Palestinians showed that 62% supported the kidnapping of IDF soldiers, 53% thought it was a good idea to teach children songs about hating Jews, and 73% approved of the indiscriminate killing of Jews. Most media reports on the poll downplayed these disturbing numbers, but Vick, according to HR, was the “[w]orst offender.” Recalling Vick’s article “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace,” based on “anecdotal street interviews with a few unrepresentative Israelis,” HR’s Simon Plosker asked: “what happened when Vick was presented with statistical evidence that it may be Palestinians and not Israelis who have issues with peace?” What happened was that Vick wrote the following:

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Vick’s articles about Palestinians are rarely if ever accompanied by pictures like this

Palestinians are trudging down the same long road as Israelis. Yes, they want peace. No, they don’t think the other side will play ball. So for now their priority is private life: Getting food on the table and keeping the kids safe.

As Plosker observed, this was quite a contrast to Vick’s portrait of Israelis in his 2010 cover story: When a few random Israelis prioritized private issues over diplomacy, they aren’t interested in peace according to Vick’s previous article. But in his latest offering, when Palestinians say the same thing, they are presented as pro-peace despite rejecting a two-state solution and expounding Jew hatred.”

We’re not done. More tomorrow.

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