Thursday, December 20, 2012

Journalistic malpractice on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Recent Washington Post report editorializes in obvious way

I wrote the Post again yesterday. Just a quickie to note that whatever the paper and its reporter intended,  a recent U.S. criticism of Israeli settlement plans was not also an expression of skepticism about Palestinians' willingness to negotiate peace. But it was gratuitous to say so, and a good example, at the very least, of sloppy thinking about the Israeli-Palesinian conflict.

Taken out of context, the mistake proves little. But it nevertheless fits nicely in the American media's decades long failure to grasp the fact that however much Zionism may express the legitimate longing of the Jewish people for a safe and secure homeland, it does not justify the creation of a Jewish state on territory belonging to others, nor does it place the creation of the state of Israel outside the judgement of international law.

Of course, Israel is not going anywhere. However much Palestinians may wish for a different outcome, there will always be an Israel. But it may one day negotiate compensation with Palestinians for the taking of their territory and the continued occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza; and it may also one day compromise its character as a Jewish theocratic state in the interest of a more democratic outcome.

In any case, here is the letter that I sent to the Post yesterday:

The third paragraph in Anne Gearan's Wednesday story, "U.S. condemns Israeli settlement plan," contains the observation that a U.S. criticism of Israeli settlement plans "reveals profound skepticism about whether the leadership of both Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank has the will to return to substantive talks," but it's hard to see how that statement can be correct. There is no mention anyplace else in the 12-graph story of U.S. suspicions about the "will" of Palestinians. Indeed, the entire story is about the negative effect that new and existing Israeli settlements have on peace prospects. Perhaps, Gearan wished to characterize Palestinians as equally guilty in an effort to maintain some sort of journalistic "balance," but the statement looks much more like bias and should have been edited out.

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