The Incomplete Media Debate on Iran

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On January 25, the New York Times Sunday Magazine published a lengthy article by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman that conveyed the views of multiple Israeli officials about Iran in order to conclude that an Israeli attack is likely. That the entire article was filled with quotes from Israelis meant the piece served as a justification for such an attack while masquerading as a news story about whether the attack would happen. Indeed, the very first paragraph contained this bit of manipulative melodrama: “‘This is not about some abstract concept,’ [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak said as he gazed out at the lights of Tel Aviv, ‘but a genuine concern. The Iranians are, after all, a nation whose leaders have set themselves a strategic goal of wiping Israel off the map’.” Note that we are told that Barak uttered this article-shaping blatant falsehood “as he gazed out at the lights of Tel Aviv.” So solemn, contemplative and profound.

Yesterday, the NYT published an Op-Ed by Amos Yadlin, one of the Israeli Air Force pilots who attacked the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and then became chief of Israeli military intelligence, arguing for the necessity of an attack on Iran and warning that Israel will do it if President Obama does not give absolute commitments of his intent to do so. Today, the NYT has a news article by incoming Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren summarizing the views of Israeli President Shimon Peres that an attack on Iran is imperative (“This is an unavoidable situation. It’s not exactly the Nazi situation, but my God, what a catastrophe”) and warning Obama that “if the White House [is] not resolute, Israel might have to go it alone.” Also today, the NYT has a news article by outgoing Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner summarizing the views of Netanyahu and other Israeli officials in advance of their meetings this week with Obama: “Israel will not outsource what it views as its vital security interests based on an American promise to take military action if sanctions fail. Israel’s goal is an American attack on Iran, but it seems unlikely to wait till it no longer can do it by itself.”

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