The Huffington Post has set a precedent for its Israel section of covering artists deciding to perform or not perform in Israel. Readers may remember the Elvis Costello article, in which Costello announced his decision not to perform his scheduled concert in Tel Aviv. On Thursday of last week, though, Elton John performed his concert.
At first, I expected the HP to simply not cover the event, as it doesn't fit their agenda of showing only good news on the Israel divestment front. But lo and behold, they did. And what was the headline? Israel's Battered Image and Cultural Isolation Fueled by Withdrawal of Diplomats, Pop Acts. Even in a news event that shows good news for people who support Israel (which the HP, by claiming to be balanced, should publish), the HP has to argue that the "cultural isolation" of Israel is still working despite John's concert. The article reports on the John concert in an objective way, but then launches into a litany of the various PR hits Israel has taken over the recent weeks, such as the expulsions of diplomats, the cancellation of other concerts, and the condemnation over the flotilla raid. As you may not be surprised to hear, the article did not cover all the evidence to the contrary of its thesis, such as Israel's admission into the OECD and the recent concerts of Metallica and Rhianna.
One of the most annoying things about this article is that it's an opinion piece disguised as news. The HP is, of course, allowed to publish opinion pieces and it does frequently, but that's what the blog post section is for. This news article makes it seem like a fact that Israel is culturally isolated and does not give the HP readers any evidence to contradict its main point. I think the extent to which Israel has become culturally isolated is a matter of debate, and you may disagree, but as a "balanced" news source the HP has a responsibility to present both sides of the issue. The only Israelis interviewed in the article agree that Israel is becoming isolated, and as I mentioned before, some of the cultural events in Israel are simply not mentioned. This is not balanced reporting.
It's pretty sad that the HP cannot even publish good news for Israel without trying to editorialize and make sure its readers still know Israel's in trouble. It shows a great lack of journalistic integrity.