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The big picture

Forced to express our anxiety over Israel at a distance, powerless to affect the political and military outcomes there, and deeply troubled by a world that just doesn’t seem to get it, American Jews often turn their wrath on the media. True to form, many outlets continue to repeat the sins of biased or distorted coverage. In reporting and editorializing on Operation Pillar of Defense, too many newspapers and broadcast outlets continue to insist that Israel’s response to Hamas rockets is “disproportionate,” or confuse cause or effect, or treat every Israeli military decision as a political ruse as opposed to a national responsibility.

But if it is any consolation, Americans tend to be impervious to what many pro-Israel advocates insist is anti-Israel bias. Poll after poll concludes that Americans overwhelmingly take Israel’s side over that of the Palestinians. Like Israelis themselves, they regret the loss of lives, but instinctively accept the logic that no nation can sit by while rockets rain on its citizens.

Political leaders reflect this wide consensus. The White House has been strongly supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself in the current clash. The Senate passed a unanimous resolution supporting Israel. New Jersey’s congressional legislation clearly understands that, in the words of Rep. Bill Pascrell, “No one should have to live with the constant fear that a terrorist’s rocket could take the life of a loved one.”

Bard College professor Walter Russell Meade, blogging for The American Interest, suggests Americans are historically inclined to appreciate Israel’s strength and resolve, and to revile Hamas for inflicting so much fruitless pain and suffering on their own people. “The whole situation,” he writes, “strengthens the widespread American belief that Palestinian hate rather than Israeli intransigence is the fundamental reason for the Middle East impasse, and the television pictures that drive much of the world away from Israel often have the effect of strengthening the bonds between Americans and the Jewish state.”

Remember that as you watch the news and grit your teeth in frustration.

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