Protesters rally against media coverage of Israel
The offices of the Los Angeles Times were closed to the public Nov. 1, but that did not stop a group of about 40 demonstrators — many of them Jewish high-school students — from expressing their outrage at how the newspaper has been covering the recent wave of violence in Israel.
“I’m really upset about what the media has been saying — not just the L.A. Times, but many media outlets,” Danielle Younai, a junior at de Toledo High School in West Hills, told the Journal at the Sunday rally.
The 16-year-old, who carried a sign featuring a blown-up version of the Oct. 10 Times article headlined “Four Palestinian teens are killed in Israeli violence,” denounced how the media have portrayed “Palestinians as victims, when they are the ones stabbing.”
For several weeks, deadly incidents have taken place in Israel almost daily, many of them involving knife attacks by Palestinians on Jews. Israeli authorities have responded with lethal force in many cases.
Reacting to what he sees as unbalanced media coverage of the aforementioned events, Milken Community Schools senior Joseph Levy organized this past weekend’s demonstration outside the L.A. newspaper’s downtown office at the intersection of First and Spring streets.
“We feel like there’s a lot of media bias and that this pushes people against Israel and also pushes some people to be a little anti-Semitic,” Levy said in a phone interview before the event. “So we want the media outlets to give more honest news about Israel and what’s going on there, so they really give people an opportunity to understand the conflict and [how] it’s not all one-sided, and there are two sides to it.”
Another Jewish high school represented at the event was Harkham GAON Academy (formerly Yeshiva High Tech).
Rabbi Menachem Weiss, director of the Israel Center at Milken Community Schools and an associate rabbi at Nessah Synagogue, turned out as well. Equipped with a megaphone, he led fiery chants that included, “Stand for truth, cancel L.A. Times.”
The rabbi spoke out against the newspaper, as well as the new ABC drama “Quantico.” It features a character who is an Israeli soldier and who expresses remorse for actions he took in the Gaza Strip. Weiss said the show misrepresents the responsibility Israel bears for the violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The most popular show on television today is brainwashing our teenagers and our young adults, our college students who are watching this show,” he said of the ABC program, speaking into his megaphone. (The Zionist Organization of America has released a statement denouncing the television show as well.)
The rally began at 1 p.m. and lasted for three hours. It drew the attention of two Los Angeles Police Department officers who were on the scene, parked about one block from the demonstration.
“It’s a permitted demonstration, so we’re just making sure they’re safe,” one of the officers said, declining to provide his full name.
On Nov. 8, a pro-Israel rally named “Stand With Israel” is scheduled to take place at the Federal Building in Westwood, a more popular locale for such demonstrations and the site of a large rally opposing the Iran deal this past July. The rally, which is being organized by a group that includes Miss International Israel 2012 Yael Markovich, is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Last weekend, many cars driving by honked in support of the demonstrators. Levy, who is a member of his school’s Israel advocacy club, said he organized the demonstration as a way to galvanize support for the Jewish state among his peers.
“We’re trying to get youth to act on what we feel is unjust in the media. We have a club at our school. … We want to teach students skills they can take with them to college … for whatever causes they want to advocate,” he said.
Others who turned out Sunday to express outrage at the media included Sharona Hassidim, a young Iranian-American Jew who graduated from UCLA and who said she is looking to become a physician’s assistant. At one point, she joined with Henri Levy, 55, Joseph’s Levy’s father, a French Jew based in Beverly Hills, and together they carried a large sign denouncing not only the Los Angeles Times but also the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, ABC and others. The sign culminated with the words, “Stop unfair international media bias against Israel.”
“I think the media are totally against Israel for no reason,” Henri Levy said. “They lie about the situation in Israel.”