I can understand how the ombudsman for a respected and influential American news organization would have a problem with the Mideast conflict, in the same way that people tend to dislike chronic degenerative diseases.
I can understand the ombudsman of the Washington Post having a particular problem with Israel – beginning with strident, even threatening letters from subscribers whose support of Israel is passionate to the point of extremism.
During the war, many of them were livid over the perceived imbalance of a powerful and important front-page photograph of a Palestinian father, wrenched in grief, cradling the swathed body of his 11-month-old boy, killed by an Israeli air strike.
The public has every right to its opinion. The pressure on anyone dealing with the story can be immense, as any journalist who covers it knows. You struggle to do your job faithfully describing the reality from close up as best as you can, while faraway armchair warriors on both sides do everything they can to sway you or stop you. We're only human. At that point, anyone might well lose control. I believe that at some point last week, the Post's ombudsman did just that.
After a reasoned defense of the use of the photograph, ombudsman Patrick Pexton wrote the following:
"I think we can all agree that the Gaza rocket fire is reprehensible and is aimed at terrorizing Israeli civilians. It’s disruptive and traumatic. But let’s be clear: The overwhelming majority of rockets fired from Gaza are like bee stings on the Israeli bear’s behind."
There it is. The Washington Post's Israel problem. Which is pretty much the same as the Israel problem of the left as a whole. From time to time, I readily confess, it's my Israel problem too: Anger blinds. Frustration oversimplifies. We lose it.
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