Although it isn't a blue moon, it might as well be. In this September 3 article, the AP ditched the generally obvious anti-Israel bias and gave rare insight into what it is like to be on the receiving end of Gaza's rockets in Israel. Not only did the AP describe the difficulties and fears the Sderot townspeople endure, but the wire service even made available a photo of Israeli school children sitting under desks during a rocket-attack drill (photo to the right*). The AP usually saves that kind of sympathetic reporting and imagery for the Palestinians.
Surprisingly, the AP named those responsible and labeled them with the “I-word,” Islamic. Even more amazing, AP writer Yaniv Zohar did not blame Israel for the shelling and did not focus on Palestinian children in this unusual article (emphasis mine throughout):
A Palestinian rocket exploded Monday next to a day care center crowded with toddlers in southern Israel, sparking anger and panic in the frequently targeted town of Sderot and bringing warnings of retribution from Israeli leaders.
No one was hurt, but the blast and the panic underlined Israel's ineffectiveness in the face of the primitive rockets, which fall daily despite frequent Israeli airstrikes and occasional ground offensives.
Terrified mothers rushed to comfort their screaming babies, schoolchildren ran for cover, and angry parents said they wouldn't send their children back to school until they get classrooms outside town.
The AP set the picture of chaos in this town of 22,000 being bombarded from Gaza and then did something so simple, yet so foreign to many in the media. It named the group which fired some of the rockets and linked it to the religion that motivated them, writing, “Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for launching seven rockets at Sderot. Hamas, the larger Islamic group that rules Gaza, was bracing for retaliation.”
Islam's role is often pointedly ignored by the media, even when obvious. The industry often pretends there is no association, but the AP had a rare moment of frankness and actually noted the religion of a group advocating Holy War. That's an improvement, but it's low hanging fruit.
The AP didn't rest after the opening paragraphs and delved into the effects of the rockets on the Israeli town, particularly the effect on the children:
On Monday, rockets exploded near several schools in town, just a day after the school year began. Images of students ducking into shelters, young schoolchildren wailing uncontrollably, and teachers shielding terrified toddlers with their own bodies outraged parents.
Batya Katar, head of the Sderot Parents Association, said parents were pulling all 2,500 of the town's students out of school.
"Buses are already on the way to pick up students who haven't been taken home," she told the Associated Press by telephone, the voices of panicked parents clearly audible in the background.
"Of course I'll take them out. Should I leave them in the hands of Hamas?" Nahum Bitton said as he arrived to fetch his children.
The Education Ministry announced that studies would continue, but Katar said parents would not allow their children to return to school until the government moved them to classrooms out of rocket range.
"The school year is over. We can't hold on any more," Katar said.
This distinct departure from the AP's typical coverage was a welcome change, but how likely is it the trend will continue? Maybe the AP should use more of Zohar's pieces, which thanks to the cannibalization of the wire services, could let this kind of reporting spread throughout the media. That would only be good.
Contact Lynn at tvisgoodforyou2 at yahoo dot com