Feedback Loop: Covering Israel and Gaza

Friday, June 04, 2010 - 10:39 AM

Hundreds of Israelis demonstrate outside the Turkish ambassy in Tel Aviv on June 3, 2010, as relations between the two countries deteriorated after Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty)

After Israeli commandos raided a ship in international waters carrying aid to Gaza and killed nine people, unsparing criticism has poured in from all corners of the world, and Israel has a diplomatic and P.R. catastrophe on its hands. Turkey, Israel's closest ally in the Muslim world, recalled its ambassador from Israel earlier in the week and announced today that it may reduce its economic and defense ties with the Jewish state.  With news of another aid ship, the MV Rachel Corrie — named for a 23-year-old American student who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 — embarking for Gaza, all eyes are on Israel as the world awaits its next move.

In an effort to understand how Israel will move forward, we spoke with two journalists, Richard Cohen, of Vanity Fair and author of "Israel is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish State," and Jerusalem-based Andrew North of the BBC. We also had a conversation with Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, and that's where several Takeaway listener objected to our coverage.

Ian Macholl, from Detroit, commented on our website:

"Responding to Michael Oren's extremely warped view with such softball questions requires time devoted immediately afterward to a more enlightened guest."

Dave, from New York, was also unnerved by our conversation with Oren, writing: 

"I was left reeling from your so-called interview with Israel's US Ambassador Michael Oren. Never was there a mention of the issue of our country's financial and political support. Many Americans question whether continuing with billions of dollars in taxpayer money year in, year out is putting us in more harm's way, and antagonizing much of the world when that money is used to continue occupation and land annexation, as well as Gaza's blockade. These are questions that should be plainly, succinctly posed when you have an Israeli representative on your show." 

AJ from Detroit was also troubled by what he heard from Oren, commenting:

"After listening to the Israeli Ambassador this morning, I was sad to hear his disregard for the impact of the blockade on the people of Gaza and lack of respect for international waters. It was upsetting when, Oren was making statements with absolutely no evidence. Show me the weapons and call out the Hamas Members on the ship. I saw video the passengers had chairs.

"I hope you will interview a Palestinian or someone from an anit-blockade movement like Naomi Klein for more flotilla insight and historical context."

Finally, a listener called Ramzi, from Boston, had this to say:

"I just listened to Celeste's report on the Gaza blockade. You interview a person who is clearly sympathetic to Israel and then announce you will be speaking to Israeli ambassador, Oren, for further explanation of the situation. Can you explain why you do not interview any Palestinians, or even some of the organizers of the anti-blockade movements for their perspective? You are doing your listeners a disservice by only presenting one side of the story."

Our host, Celeste Headlee responded to Ramzi's comment, with a post that could be a reply to all of these listeners:

"Thanks for your comment. We have done several interviews with people who are critical of Israel, including an activist who was a passenger on the ship that was involved in the conflict on Monday. These conversations today are part of continuing coverage."

The coverage that Celeste is referring to can be found here.

We truly appreciate our listeners' feedback, especially when covering a subject as controversial as this one. As always, you can keep this conversation going. Leave a comment on any of the stories you’ve heard, call in to 877-8-MY-TAKE, check out our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and text us by sending TAKE to 69866.

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