Saturday, May 22, 2021

Good Coverage Takes Time

There has been over the past few days a wave of antisemitic violence that's targeted Jews in the U.S. and around the world, often styled as a "response" to Israeli activities in Gaza. For example, here's an L.A. Times article about several Jews getting jumped in front of a sushi restaurant in the Beverly Grove neighborhood. CBS has a story about a 29-year old Jew brutally beaten by pro-Palestinian protesters in New York City's Diamond District. The BBC covered terrifying racial abuse targeting Jews in London. CNN ran a piece about these attacks demonstrating a larger, nationwide trend. I could go on.

In short, it is not good right now. And one thing I've heard from many of my fellow Jews is frustration that these attacks are not appearing to get much coverage or attention, compared to other communities which have been the victims of hateful violence.

Now at one level, this is an unfair charge. I just gave links to coverage in the Los Angeles Times, CBS, BBC, and CNN. It would not have been hard for me to find more. But I'm going to make a perhaps more unpopular take, and simply say the following: news coverage takes time. Good news coverage takes more time. And most issues, affecting most communities, take time to percolate out from those communities and penetrate the broader social (and media) consciousness. 

There's nothing unique about Jews here -- we only notice it because it's our community so of course we hear about it before anyone else does. For example, the Los Angeles attack occurred in a largely Persian Jewish area, and from my time at Berkeley I had several students from that community. So I reached out to check in on them, and wouldn't you know it if they weren't friends with some of the Jews who were injured. Two degrees of separation between me and the victims. It is utterly unsurprising that I was going to hear about this before the national media. It would be wild if the Washington Post scooped me on this. My network and my friend group and my twitter feed mean I start seeing these when they're just reports or viral videos -- well before any national coverage could be expected to come in.

I've talked about this before. Within one's own group, one sees these issues from basically their inception. We know (or know who knows) the individuals involved. We're in the same social media network. We're tied into the local community coverage. And so we see every agonizing hour/day/week where these issues which are huge for us seem to be ignored by the broader public until finally, laboriously, belatedly they scratch their way into the mainstream. Meanwhile, for other groups, we don't have that level of integration and we don't see the process. Our awareness of the issue is essentially coterminous with when it reaches the mainstream media, and we thus mistakenly conclude that the mainstream media covered the issue from the moment it began.

But in reality, that's almost assuredly untrue. The reality there is going to be the same as the reality here -- the issue will be there, known to the community, the talk of the community, infuriating the community, for hours/days/weeks without it ever breaking into the mainstream until finally it does. It's the same dynamic -- the only difference is at what stage you become aware of the process. The Sheikh Jarrah controversy had been live for literally decades before 99.9% of you had ever heard of it, or it got picked up by international media outlets. Ditto issues of police brutality, or #MeToo, or anti-Asian hate crimes. In none of these cases was there no time lag between the issue being one of extensive knowledge and importance within the relevant community and its emergence in prominent mainstream media coverage. 

And I'll go even further still: part of the reason it takes time is because it inevitably takes time (for better or for worse) for a story that affects a particular community to penetrate the particular, rarefied air of the national media. But in addition, it takes time to do good coverage of that story. To verify accounts, to interview sources, to learn about the issue, to contextualize the situation. Good coverage takes more time than retweeting someone else's viral video. And so there's going to be an inevitable gap between when everyone in your Facebook group is talking about a thing that happened in Atlanta and when the Chicago Tribune puts an article about it on its front page. That's just the way it works.

Good coverage takes time. I'm not going to say all the coverage of the hate crimes targeting Jews right now is good. But the fact that we, in the Jewish community, are hearing about it and angsting about it and frightened over it well before most of it is showing up in the media sources our non-Jewish friends read -- well, that's normal.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

But What Is "Judeo-Christian"?

A fun story involving one my favorite students. As background, this student is (a) a somewhat recent immigrant to the United States and (b) Muslim.

Anyway, after class one day this student wanted to ask my opinion about some conservative radio shock jock he had read an article about. The radio guy had been defending some regressive gender ideologies on the grounds that they were mandated by his "Judeo-Christian" beliefs. My student asked me "what's 'Judeo-Christian'?"

At first I thought he was being arch, so I played along -- "LOL, I know right? What is 'Judeo-Christian'? I'm pretty sure it just means 'Christian'!"

But after a few moments, it became clear the question was meant in earnest. He thought "Judeo-Christian" must be a particular sect of Christianity -- like "Orthodox Christian" or "Lutheran Christian" -- and wanted to know more about it, because he hadn't really heard of it before except in contexts like "right-wing shock jocks justifying being misogynist" (in his home country, which was predominantly Muslim and had virtually no Jews, the term was not I imagine in regular circulation). What was this branch of Christianity that was always being deployed by right-wing reactionary public figures?

So I told him that the "Judeo-" was meant to refer to "Judaism", and the term was meant to connote a shared tradition supposedly common to Jews and Christians alike -- though, I hastened to odd, 99% of the time it's really just "Christian". The shock jock in question, unsurprisingly, was Christian and not Jewish, and was just adding "Judeo-" to rope us into his own, 100% Christian, gender ideology.

My student was abashed that he hadn't put the obvious two-and-two together. To be clear, it wasn't that he had thought "Jewish" was a subsect of Christianity -- he knew Judaism was its own religion -- it just genuinely never occurred to him to link "Judeo-" and "Jewish" (it seems obvious, I know, but I can absolutely imagine it being one of those things you just never put together until it's stated and then it slaps you in the face). There were, he had thought, Jews and Christians, and then among Christians there were Catholic Christians and Orthodox Christian and Assyrian Christians and Judeo Christians.

But, in his defense, he found the "real" explanation -- that it was a sort of merging of "Jewish" and "Christian" together, by people who inevitably identified with one religion or the other, but not both -- even odder than his initial misapprehension.
"But those are two separate religions!"

"Yes."

"It'd be like me saying 'Islamo-Christian'!"

"Yes!"

"That's stupid! I'd be really annoyed if someone of another religion tried to rope in my religion to justify his misogynistic beliefs."

"Yes!" 

Anyway, mystery solved, we had a good laugh about the uselessness of the term "Judeo-Christian" and how terrible the shock jock was. The end.

Three Rooms: An Immersive Jewish Experience

Years ago -- I think I was still in college -- I had an idea for an exhibit about a particular Jewish experience. It is by no means comprehensive, it does not tell a complete story. That's not its ambition. Its purpose would be to try and simulate a specific feeling or anxiety that I think many Jewish people have for a non-Jewish audience that often seems unable to understand it.

My idea for this exhibit never got beyond the level of an idea -- sadly, a fate that befalls many of my "ideas" -- but it's always been crystal clear in my head. So I describe it here. Who knows? Maybe one day it will be created somewhere?

The basic layout is a series of rooms. Attendees would enter the exhibit in small groups, one group at a time, starting in the first room. The room would have various exhibits, writings, pictures, and other illustrations of Jewish history in Israel -- both contemporaneous and of the deep past. Nothing especially out of the ordinary.

After some amount of time -- not immediately, but just quick enough to feel like an imposition -- an attendant would emerge to politely tell people it was time move on to the next room. They'd be ushered in to see another room, similar in many ways to the first, except this time with exhibits illustrating Jewish experience in the diaspora -- in Europe, in the Middle East, in America, and around the world. The attendant would leave them there, and return back to the first room.

Soon, however, a second attendant would come out. He would not be rude, but perhaps a bit brusque. This room, the second room, was not ready for them. Please return to the first room. He'll let you know when this room was prepared.

Upon filing back into the first room, the original attendant would evince surprise, then annoyance. What are you doing here? Didn't he already tell you it was time for you to leave? Go back to where you came from! This room is closed now. Protests about what the other attendant said would be ignored or brushed aside, as the group is shooed back into the second room.

The attendant in the second room would show himself immediately. He is no longer "brusque", or surprised, or annoyed. He is furious. Are you deaf? How dare you come back here! This is not your room! Get out, now, all of you. I'm done playing games with you. If you can't be here, and you can't be there, then go over there -- he would point to a different door from the one dividing the first and second room. The group -- trapped between the first attendant and the second attendant, seemingly unable to do right -- would scamper to escape, and enter the third room.

The third room would have no attendants. The third room would be entirely quiet and still. The third room would simply be pictures and exhibits of Jewish genocide: the Holocaust, the pogroms, the Inquisition, the Farhud. In that room, the group would finally be left alone, unbothered, for as long as it desired.

At some point, the attendants would reemerge, just to confirm that the attendees had not actually done anything wrong, they had done exactly what they were expected to have done, and the attendants were just playing a role. But the sensation of being chased, of being told that wherever you are, you are wrong for being there, buffeted back and forth between "homeland" and "diaspora", until the only place you're allowed to be left alone in peace is your own grave -- that sensation, so familiar to Jews, so seemingly foreign to so many non-Jews would, I hope, have been evoked just a little bit.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Pick Your Stick

Negotiation is, oversimplified, a matter of carrots and sticks. Give to encourage and induce, take to discourage and punish. In international diplomacy, we have carrots: foreign aid, diplomatic friendliness, open trade, even "symbolic" statements of support or encouragement. And we have corresponding sticks: sanctions, blocked sales, bolstering rivals, or just ordinary harsh messages and dressing-downs.

America's Israel policy has primarily been one of carrots. To be clear, the carrots can and often were in service of good things. For example, investing in pro-peace NGOs and people-to-people peacemaking initiatives is an inducement, but an inducement towards something quite positive. I very much like giving that sort of carrot. Funding Iron Dome is a carrot, but a carrot that saves lives. I'm not anti-carrot. But carrots are carrots, and carrots can't do everything. Sticks -- supporting condemnatory UN resolutions, limiting military assistance, reducing aid, placing settlement organizations on terrorist watch lists, sanctions -- have largely been out of the picture.

One of the lessons many Democrats have internalized over the past few years of observing Israel's ever-rightward shift is that a policy of all carrot, no stick towards Israel is not working. That doesn't mean we should swing all the way in the other direction of all stick, no carrots. Nor does it suggest that each and every potential "stick" is a viable or valid policy choice. But it does suggest that certain sticks at least need to be on the table. We can't just preemptively declare "no matter what happens, we will never deploy any stick."

The question this raises, then, is which sticks should we self-consciously add to our repertoire? Imagine a hypothetical meeting between a representative of the new mainstream progressive consensus and the major pro-Israel Jewish groups in Washington. The former poses the following to the latter:
It has become clear that, at least some of the time, the United States needs to be able to credibly threaten to deploy "sticks", not just "carrots", in order to demonstrate the unacceptable of certain Israeli governmental conduct and to induce changes in Israeli behavior; just as we have both "sticks" and "carrots" to respond to behavior of Palestinian parties or any other government. That said, we understand and are sympathetic to your concerns that some potential "sticks" may be unacceptable, a bridge too far, outright dangerous, or fostering of antisemitism here or abroad. The last thing we want to do is use those sticks. It would be helpful, then, if you could tell us what sorts of sticks are permissible and "in bounds", so that we build our policy around them and not ones that will provoke an unnecessary crisis.

This, in many ways, is a variant of the question I asked of some Jewish Mid-East policy experts during a break in Yom Kippur services a few years back: if we're saying "no BDS', what might we say "yes" to? It's fine to say a particular "stick" is off-limits, but only if one can credibly say "but this other stick that would be okay." 

If, by contrast, the groups refuse to answer -- if they say "sorry, but there are no sticks we could ever approve of" -- the main consequence will probably be that the progressives will simply stop consulting with the pro-Israel Jewish groups on the subject of sticks. Why bother, if you've already decided a stick is necessary but you know that nothing will come out of the conversation other than "not that, and not that, and not that either"?

Hence, if they want to stay relevant to the conversation, the difficult, uncomfortable, but necessary task for pro-Israel Jewish groups is going to be deciding what sticks are okay -- and (this is crucial) credibly commit to defending them as okay. The old model of carrots or bust won't work, the old reliance on (in Jeremy Ben-Ami's words) offering nothing more than "thoughts and prayers" isn't going to cut it. These groups are going to have a very tough internal conversation, the conclusion of which has to be telling Democratic politicians "if you support X 'stick' as a response to bad Israeli behavior, we think and we will publicly affirm that it will be in-bounds." And then (perhaps this will be even tougher) sticking -- no pun intended -- to that commitment even in the face of the predictable caterwauling and fulminations that will unfold at the very idea of using a stick.

What sticks should be given this, if not endorsement, then at least kashering stamp? I can't answer that -- it's something the relevant Jewish pro-Israel organizations will have to decide for themselves -- but I can think of some candidates. I think conditioning foreign aid or limiting certain weapons sales is an obvious one. Certain forms of sanctions on settlement activities, in particular (especially American charities which fund such activities), might be another. No doubt there are other options. Persons with more clout and influence than I can figure it out. And the thing is, once one identifies some of these sticks and can be explicit in saying that "no, we're not saying no to everything -- in fact, we should rally behind these specific sticks in conjunction with these specific carrots", I think the groups will find significant receptivity among progressive politicians if they then say "but this particular stick" (say, an academic boycott of Israel as an obvious one) "is still an absolute no-go."

Again, this will be very hard. It is not the conversation most American Jewish pro-Israel groups want to have. They'd rather not think of pressuring Israel at all, or at the absolute most they will look for circuitous carrots that side-step Bibi and Likud to invest in more favorable peacemaking organizations. Those projects are well and good, and they deserve continued support. But they're not going to be sufficient anymore. We're going to need to start picking some sticks.

We Do/Do We?

This post mostly speaks for itself, but there is one point that does need to be emphasized: the moral punch of the below only works if you accept the left column. Hypocrisy is a two-way street -- the right column has force because of how it depends upon accepting the principles in the left, and vice versa. The case for indicting those who fail the demands of the right column falls apart of I weren't willing to defend the insistences of the left.

Indeed, there are probably people in my community who could read this entire litany in reverse -- start from the right column, and then ask "do we?" of the left. They are welcome to do so. I happen to speak to more persons who should read from left to right. And there are other communities, with other internal dynamics, whose members should write their own litanies altogether. 

But this post is, and I will cop to the point, very much an exercise in "these and these". If your thought upon reading it is to complain of "false equivalence" or "both side-ism" or any related concept, consider your objection logged and noted.

* * *

We in the Jewish community do reject the peddlers of "one state from the river to the sea" when the vision of statehood the put forward is one where Jews are a marginalized, barely-tolerated minority.

Do we reject one state-ism and its promoters when it promises a state where Palestinians are deprived of equality, citizenship, and voting rights?

We do insist on people having awareness of antisemitic tropes, and refusing to tolerate them as part of legitimate "criticism" of Israel.

Do we show vigilance in recognizing anti-Palestinian tropes, educating ourselves in what they are and scrupulously calling them out when they appear in "criticism" of Palestinian actors?

We do hope that people will not hold all Israelis, or all Jews, or all "Zionists", responsible for every horrible action taken by any yahoo who has the temerity to drape himself in the garb of a defender of the Jewish state.

Do we refrain from holding all Palestinians, or all Arabs, or all Muslims, or all those who support Palestinian rights, responsible for every extremity and indecency done by anyone who claims to act under the banner of a "free Palestine"?

We do call for nuance and complexity when discussing Israel's flaws, and avoiding simplistic slogans and reductive explanations -- that Israel is naught but bloodlust, or white supremacy, or invasion.

Do we resist the temptation to indulge in simplification and sloganeering when they appeal to our political tastes -- "a people without a land", "Palestinian rejectionism", or "if Arabs laid down their weapons, there would be peace"?

We do object to those who place the entirety of the blame for the present conflict on Israel, and who reject any Palestinian agency or responsibility for harmful or oppressive choices.

Do we object to those who engage in one-sided blame entirely of Palestinians, holding Palestinian actors solely responsible for why a just peace has not been reached and who fail to acknowledge any Israeli agency or responsibility for entrenching the conflict and the oppression?

We do feel it is past time for those who wish to talk confidently about Jews know something about Jews, and commit to learning about Jews as we know ourselves, rather than through the distorted histories and narratives others have proliferated about us.

Do we refrain from talking confidently about Palestinians or Arabs unless we truly do know about them, not just the distorted histories and narratives promulgated by others but the histories and narratives they would recognize as their own?

We do think that outsiders should be appropriately deferential to those who have actual "skin in the game".

Do we acknowledge that Palestinians have just as much skin in the game, and that deference to those most effected does not and cannot mean deference only to Israeli judgments?

We do demand zero tolerance from other communities in harboring antisemites, and are deeply grieved when those who harbor hatred for us appear to retain places of honor and influence in other communities.

Do we show zero tolerance for the bigots and haters in our midst, expunging them from our communal organizations and rendering them nullities in our politics?

We do condemn those who deny the Jewish people's real and genuine connection to the land of Israel, presenting us as foreign interlopers or even an outright invented people.

Do we condemn those who deny Palestinians' connection to the land, who treat them as fictitious or even place their very name in scare-quotes?

We do refuse to accept that one can satisfy one's obligation to talk to Jews by only cherry-picking the favorable few who already match one's preferred politics.

Do we refuse to indulge in tokenizing those in other communities whose claim to prominence is no more than that they say what we already wish to hear?

We do hold that a pure right of return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants is not compatible with a two-state solution, and that a comprehensive agreement ending this conflict probably means that not everyone will be able to live on the precise acre of land they'd most prefer.

Do we hold that Jewish settlements in the West Bank, no matter how rooted the settlers' connection may be to the land, is also not compatible with a two-state solution, and that they, too, may not be able to live on the precise acre of land they desire?

We do call without reservation Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and other groups which target civilians for death terrorist organizations.

Do we call without reservation "price tag" militants, hilltop youth, Lehava, Otzma Yehudit, and Kahanists terrorist groups?

We do condemn those who traffic in hatred and incitement against Israel's Jewish population, riling up the fires of sectarian division and generating predictable dividends of mistrust, division, and violence that can poison entire generations.

Do we condemn those in Israel who traffic in hatred and incitement against the Palestinian people even -- especially -- when they occupy high places in Israeli society or government, and forthrightly call out their responsibility for spreading poison in the hearts and minds of the people?

We do understand that the indiscriminate rocket fire raining down on Israeli towns is a war crime that cannot be justified as "resistance", "liberation", or any other banner.

Do we understand that strikes which disproportionately injure or harm civilians, or collective punishment of communities, are also war crimes which cannot be justified under the banner of "deterrence", "self-defense", or anything else?

We do insist on recognizing Israel's right to exist, and the Jewish people's inviolable rights to security, freedom, and self-determination in our historic homeland.

Do we recognize Palestine's right to exist, and the Palestinian people's inviolable rights to security, freedom, and self-determination in their historic homeland?

Do we, as a community, do all these things? Truly? Can we say in solemnity that we do do them, with equal force and equal commitment and equal heat? That we do them without hedges, indulgences, caveats, or apologetics, in the right column as much as in the left?

Do we?

We must do. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

How Doomed is Roe v. Wade? (Answer: Pretty Doomed!)

The Supreme Court has granted cert in a Mississippi case which provides a clear vehicle for overturning Roe v. Wade.

So how doomed is Roe? Answer: Pretty doomed! There are essentially two possibilities for what the Court will do. One is that Roe is overturned, simple as that. It's easy to find at least five votes for that position, and the current generation of conservative jurists view not just Roe but Casey as a political betrayal. So that has to be the front-runner out of the gate.

The second possibility is that Roe dies in life -- nominally "upheld", but in such a minimalistic and strangled form that it effectively does nothing. Mississippi's law bans abortions at 15 weeks; if it strikes you as impossible to uphold that law and say you're not overturning Roe, take a look at what the Court just did with its juvenile life-without-parole precedents. As I've said on many occasions, this is a John Roberts special -- he'll maim precedents and then brag about not killing them. But Roberts now is only the fourth vote on the Court, so the question is who could he even bring along to fulfill this charade? Kavanaugh? Gorsuch? Barrett? It sure as hell won't be Thomas or Alito.

If you asked me to put numbers on it, I'd say the probability of Roe being overturned outright is over 50%, and the probability of it being either overturned or neutered beyond recognition is over 90%. The likelihood of even preserving the Casey status quo is close to negligible.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

In Praise of Getting Out of the Way (If You're Not Going To Lead)

It's been noted by several sources that mainstream Democratic politicians have been considerably more vocal in calling out Israeli behavior during the latest round of hostilities to grip the holy land. This includes criticisms of Israeli conduct in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount, as well as in the ensuing conflict with Hamas in Gaza. We have nearly thirty Democratic Senators, led by Sen. Jon Ossoff, calling for a ceasefire to stop further loss of civilian life. A cadre of Jewish lawmakers, including some stalwarts like Jerry Nadler, specifically called out Israeli police violence as a precipitator of the conflict,  and condemned evictions as well as the "deepening occupation". This, in many respects, is a far more interesting development than the more predictable harsh condemnations emanating out of folks like Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, or AOC.

To be clear: there's been no meaningful hesitation among the bulk of Democrats to condemn Hamas or to stand with Israeli civilians under fire. But, far more than in years past, these statements are existing side-by-side with vocal declarations of Palestinian rights. It's getting to the point where folks have begun noticing just how far behind President Biden is from the bulk of the party. 

That's all very notable, but there's a particular angle I've noticed that I think is worth flagging specifically: as Democratic politicians have evinced this shift, there's been relatively little pushback against it from mainstream Jewish organizations. I've seen a bit a sniping at the rhetoric from the furthest-left, "squad"-aligned wing of the caucus, but by and large it's been pretty quiet. Liel Leibovitz  wrote a characteristically sophomoric hit job on Jamaal Bowman, but it got no traction. I haven't seen any serious recriminations against folks like Nadler, or Ossoff, or Raphael Warnock, or Jan Schakowsky, Steve Cohen, or Chris Van Hollen, or Ro Khanna, or any of the other folks who seem to be increasingly comfortable articulating the new Democratic Party line. Groups like the AJC and AIPAC are tweeting out generic messages thanking congressfolk for "standing with Israel" when they condemn Hamas rockets, but they aren't outwardly attacking members of Congress who pair those messages with ones strongly criticizing Israeli actions and insisting that a change is necessary.

Now, to be clear, these Jewish organizations are by no means leading on the subject. But at the very least, they're not standing in the way of those folks who are. I'd rather they lead, but if they're not going to do that I'll settle for them getting out of the way. 

If that seems like a low bar, maybe it is, but I think this actually matters a great deal for at least two reasons. Conceptually, it matters because it falsifies the notion that anyone who criticizes Israel in the slightest way will face the unbridled fury of the entirety of the Jewish Lobby. It turns out "the Jewish Lobby" seems relatively okay about criticism framed in this way, and the more that everyone internalizes that truth (both so criticisms of this sort become more standard parts of our politics, and so that we might finally rid ourselves of the self-pitying "calling me antisemitic because I said Israelis are the new Nazis is just another case of how any 'criticism of Israel' is forbidden" mewls) the happier we'll all be. And practically, the muted response signals that the sort of politics that's becoming the Democratic consensus is a viable one to hold -- it won't cause some deep intra-party crackup, it won't be the fodder for devastating attack ads, it won't make moderate Democrats vulnerable with either swing voters or middle-of-the-road Jewish voters. 

This politics can work -- which is good, because it should work and it must work. And we should take the time to notice that it is working.

The Headliners

Here is a current headline up on NBC News: "Despite cease-fire pressure as dozens die in Israeli strikes, Netanyahu pledges 'full force'".

I have no particular problem with this headline. It certainly sets a tone of Israeli aggression in the face of pleas for peace, but that's not necessarily inappropriate in this context. Certainly, it's within the bounds of fair presentation. There is cease-fire pressure, dozens have died in Israeli strikes, and Bibi has nonetheless so far been implacable in continuing the attack.

Why do I mention it? Well, one sees a lot of commentary on social media picking apart western media headlines and claiming proof that they're always biased in a pro-Israel (or anti-Israel) direction. While anyone can play journalism critic, one inherent problem with this genre is that any headline will necessarily be incomplete and fail to paint a comprehensive picture, and so by picking one or two out of the void one can "illustrate" virtually any trend one wants.

On top of that, this genre of commentary has yielded what I think is one of the more obnoxious social media trends I've seen in recent weeks. One sees a headline that says something like this:

Israeli strikes kill six in Gaza as conflict continues.

Followed by someone smarmily saying "let me correct that for you" with this:

Israeli Apartheid Isra-hell strikes massacres kill slaughter six innocent babies in besieged Gaza as conflict genocide continues.

And the thing is -- they're 90% earnest! It's not that there aren't cases where one can't pick at choices of words or framing, but there are folks who think that if a newspaper fails to run the below headline, they're reflecting a pro-Israel bias.

In slightly more modest fashion, one sees this from quite serious people. Consider a tweet from NYU journalism professor, objecting to headlines in the coverage of Israel's strike which destroyed a media building in Gaza. Here's what he says is "the most obvious and clear headline": 

"Israel Destroys Gaza Media Tower"

But here's the Washington Post headline he finds woefully insufficient: 

"Israeli Strike Hits Gaza Media Tower as Violence Intensifies"

That's essentially the same thing! The only substantial difference is "strike" versus "destroy", but in the subheading the first sentence begins "The airstrike destroyed a tower ..." Sure, one can squint and twist to find small differences in connotation between the two, but they're all within the bounds of legitimate journalistic presentation (same as with the NBC headline above). To pull this out as an example of flagrant media bias is baffling to me.