Is HuffPo Bad on Israel?

In light of the recent refusal of the Huffington Post to publish AJC Executive Director, David Harris’ article on the upcoming Gaza flotilla, I found myself concerned with the way Huffington Post chooses to report its news and with what sort of reporting it was deciding to conspire.  I had always been aware of the website’s leftist backbone (which unfortunately often carries along with it misguided anti-Israel sentiment), but then again, Harris has been a blogger there for nearly two years, and so I had concluded that HuffPo encourages a variety of opinions (both anti- and pro-Israel) to be expressed.

I was foolishly naive.  Upon further investigation following the Harris incident, I discovered that this was, in fact, not the case.

Let me first make something clear.  I am not attacking the Huffington Post’s broader political agenda, biases, or tendencies, and if I were, it would be done in a separate article.  Israel policies, issues, and concerns should not be a Democrat vs. Republican matter, and I am increasingly irked that Israel’s case has become such.  It seems as if a prescribed understanding of “facts” about the Israeli-Palestinian situation has become merely a given for many credulous liberals, including self-proclaimed “progressives” and “human rights activists,” who instead of learning the real facts simply comply with their party’s supposed “beliefs.”  Thus, my critique of the Huffington Post now is not that it is a liberal outpost, but rather that it is a hotbed of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic susceptibilities.

So The Huffington Post rejects a blog.  Fine.  I’m sure they decline many blogs – can’t take them all.  But why is a blog of unarguable facts, logic, and reason deemed “not for us” by the website?  My first inclination is that the blog is presumably contradictory to HuffPo’s agenda.  Consequently, my next discovery is that their agenda must not be one of wholesome truth and fact.  Furthermore, the rejection of the article must also derive from fear of losing a certain type of (large and influential) audience upon its posting. And what audience might that be?  Hamas supporters and cyber-jihadis disguised as Pro-Palestinian human rights activists?  Anti-Semites and ill-informed radicals hiding behind nice masks like “Americans for Peace”?  It seems that cowardice dominates the editors who decided that an intelligent and compelling rebuttal to the ignorant supporters of the flotilla – according to the Red Cross, there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza – is not fitting for their website. That in itself reveals an agenda of its own.

Coincidentally, the Huffington Post has had no problem posting articles of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel sentiment, which you can follow in detail on the Huff Watch blog.  As a quick example, two weeks ago an article is posted about the clash between Palestinians and Israeli police when Palestinian rioters began pelting Israel police with rocks at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. What’s wrong with the way HuffPo plays out the story?

  1. The story depicts Israel as the aggressor and Israel’s attackers as victims by choosing a photo of an Israeli soldier overlooking Palestinians innocently praying behind an iron fence  (that apparently is not even from this event).
  2. No picture of Palestinians hurling rocks at Israelis is posted.
  3. The original headline actually read, “Israeli Police Quell Palestinian Protests At Jerusalem Holy Site,” playing these Palestinians as mere “protesters” and not instigators of violence.  It was only later changed to its current standing headline.

And while HuffPo supposedly has a strict “zero tolerance policy” for hate speech and offensive content, this comment on the article (among many other inciting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments) was reviewed, approved, and published: “In Israel…Palestinians are not allowed to protest, even on their own land.  Jews however have the right to not only protest, but to steal, commit arson, and generally brutalize the indigenous population.”  If this isn’t offensive, erroneous, anti-Semitic speech, then I don’t know what is.

The Huffington Post has experienced an accelerated rise in traffic in the past year (it’s ranked more popular than Amazon.com!) and is currently the #1 blog in the world, as well as a top 10 U.S. news site.  HuffPo is especially attractive to people like me: young, free-spirited, college-aged, open-minded, peace-loving, and eager to find a voice in the political activism scene.  That is why the growing anti-Israel sentiment on the website is frightening.  The Huffington Post is respected by my generation, and people (particularly young, vulnerable minds) want to trust and believe what they read.  If more than one opinion isn’t presented, (in other words, if HuffPo doesn’t allow both pro- and anti-flotilla opinion articles to be posted), then that defeats the purpose of letting the reader discern fact from fiction.

Arianna Huffington said, “Too many reporters have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth, consequences be damned.”  No Huffington, you are the one who has forgotten what it means to uncover the truth.

Candace Mittel is a summer associate at Gather the Jews.  The opinions express in this piece belong solely to Candace.