Good to see Ben White calling out reporter Matthew Kalman over his prejudiced use of language in the Guardian, after he referred to those who oppose SodaStream’s factory in the occupied West Bank as “anti-Israel” rather than being pro-Palestinian or anti-settlement. Kalman then tried to defend the indefensible, as Ben correctly points out.
It’s not surprising behaviour from Kalman, who is suffering from what I’ve termed elsewhere as “partisan reporter” syndrome: i.e. a condition where one’s liberal Zionism is just below the surface and difficult to hide.
Not, I hasten to add, that I am against partisan reporters – not only am I one myself, but in fact all reporters are partisan in the sense that they have their own biases and value systems.
(My chief partisanship, if you’re asking, is a belief that my children should have the same rights in Israel as Jewish kids. Many other reporters, it seems, are dispassionately guided by the belief that their children should dutifully serve in an occupation army ruling over the Palestinians. Yes, that’s right I’m talking about you, Ethan – or is it Eitan? – Bronner, among others.)
What I am against is:
a) partisan reporters claiming bogusly that they are following only a professional code, one that they argue makes them incapable of bias.
b) the huge preponderance of partisan reporters on one side of the conflict – Israel’s – and not the other.
Let’s be honest, admit journalists have their biases and then ensure we have a real diversity of reporters covering the conflict. Lots of Palestinians, and Arab Americans, reporting for the NYT, CNN, and so on. The reality is it won’t happen – but that’s another story. (For more on that, see here)
None of this excuses Kalman’s prejudicial language. Only someone who can’t see beyond their Zionist conditioning would have written “anti-Israel” in this case and, worse, then tried to defend the phrase. In Kalman’s small world, there is only one way to support Israel – and it seems to preclude any support for liberating Palestinians from the yoke of occupation.
Kalman, it should be noted, is covering for the Guardian while they decide who is going to replace the recently departed Harriet Sherwood. Let’s hope they make a quick (and good) decision.