Media, with few exceptions, took a severe beating last night on charges that they are not fairly representing Israel in their news and editorial columns.

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Benjamin Brafman, one of three panelists speaking at the 5th Avenue Synagogue before 263 people, said Israel is “unfairly ostracized” in the media, a view that was shared by the other two panelists, James Taranto, editor of the Wall Street Journal’s online opinion page, and Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations.

5W Israel/Media Event
Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier Photos: Jack O'Dwyer
Brafman, a criminal defense attorney whose clients have including Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Jay Z and Plaxico Burress, said that getting media to correct erroneous reports was nearly impossible.
Taranto also found much evidence of media bias against Israel and said the only medium that supported Israel’s 1981 bombing of the Baghdad nuclear reactor was the WSJ.

WSJ, which presents a balanced view of the Mideast, is the only paper in the U.S. that is “growing,” he added.

Torossian also declared that media bias against Israel is obvious but that the country is making fundamental mistakes in PR.

Military veterans don’t belong in PR posts and diplomats should be able to speak the language of the country to which they are assigned, he said.

5W Israel/Media Event
Ronn Torossian, James Taranto, Benjamin Brafman.
Israeli PR people are hampered by having no expense accounts, he said, while PR pros in other Mideast countries have them.

England’s BBC was said to be habitually unfair to Israel and treatment of Israel in French media was said to be worse.

Bias Found in NYT

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week rejected a request from the New York Times for an op-ed piece, saying via senior advisor Ron Dermer, that NYT has a long record of unfair treatment of Israel, said story in the Dec. 15 Jerusalem Post.

Netanyahu as well as many in the audience last night were upset over a column by NYT’s Thomas Freidman Dec. 13 in which he said that an “ovation” for Netanyahu in Congress earlier this year “was bought and paid for by the Israeli lobby.”

Dermer wrote that a study of 20 op-eds about Israel in the NYT and its subsidiary the International Herald Tribune in the last three months found that 19 were “negative” about Israel.

NYT also has failed to heed Senator Daniel Moynihan’s view that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion but no one is entitled to their own facts.”

Cited was the issue of Palestinian statehood. The Dermer letter said an NYT story in May “turned on its head” the fact that the Palestinians rejected the UN partition plan in 1947 that was accepted by the Jews and then joined five Arab states in launching a war against Israel.

Algemeiner Leads PR Drive

5W Israel/Media Event
Algemeiner, which says it’s the “fastest-growing Jewish newspaper in America,” co-sponsored the panel with the Gershon Jacobson Foundation.

Torossian has contributed numerous articles about Israel’s PR and other matters to the paper.

Says Algemeiner:

“Our modern day challenge is ignorance, misinformation and a gross lack of positive and pro-active communication about Israel and the Jewish people.”

The paper has built a worldwide team of entrepreneurs using an online and social networked media platform that will use “the most advanced media tools” to reach a worldwide audience.

The guiding principle, says Algemeiner, is that “in order for Israel to have an impact in the arena of global opinion, the Jewish people need to write our own story, define our own headlines, and frame our own narrative. In place of a reactive and defensive mode, we strive to be at the forefront of every story, proactively ensuring that Israel’s empowering voice is heard, and influencing other outlets in kind.”

The Torah Café videotaped the program and will make it available for viewing on its website.