“Sharon Hints Israel Might Alter Route of West Bank Barrier,” New York Times, Greg Myre, Jan. 19, 2004.
“Israel reconsiders path for security barrier; Thousands of Palestinians would face hardship,” Baltimore Sun, Associated Press dispatch, January 19.
“Sharon to reject world court role; But flexibility likely on barrier,” Washington Times, Matthew Tostevin, Reuters, January 19.
“Barrier route may change; Israeli prime minister cites hardships for Palestinians as well as legal problems,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, Associated Press, January 19.
“Israel may reroute security barrier in the West Bank,” USA Today, by Smita Nordwall with wire reports, January 19.
The first four were full news stories, the last a three-paragraph news brief.
Meanwhile, at the Washington Post…
The January 19th edition of the Postcarried no story about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s statement in a meeting with four senior cabinet members the day before that Israel might change the route of its planned security barrier in the disputed West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Sharon said Israel would reconsider because of hardships the planned route might cause Palestinian Arabs.
Post readers did not learn that, according to Sharon, if Israel did modify the path of the barrier it would do so for humanitarian reasons, not in response to a scheduled February 23rd hearing by the International Court of Justice or to a case before the Israeli Supreme Court.
But the Post’s January 19th issue did carry another widely-covered story — “Sharon Defends Envoy, Attack on Art ‘Appropriate.’” The paper ran an eight-paragraph AP story about Zvi Mazel, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, who vandalized an art exhibit featuring a Palestinian suicide bomber. Mazel claimed the work legitimized genocide.
When News About Palestinians is Not News
Following initial reports on the January 14th attack by a female terrorist that murdered four Israelis at Erez checkpoint between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the Washington Times published “Female bomber atones for adultery; ‘Purifies’ self with suicide attack,” on page one, January 20.
“Suicide attacks get personal; Women: Palestinian groups are using female bombers, who arouse less suspicion and have different motives from men,” ran on page A-2 of the January 21st edition of the Baltimore Sun.
Raeem Raiyshi, the 22-year-old mother of two, from a middle class Gaza family with business interests in Israel, committed the Erez attack. She became the seventh female suicide bomber out of 136 such attackers since the Palestinian Arabs’ terror war against Israel began in September 2000. Israel’s largest circulation daily, Yediot Ahronot, reported on January 18ththat Raiyshi’s husband, a member of the terrorist Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), forced her to stage the attack to redeem “family honor,” and that her lover, also of Hamas, supplied the bomb.
As of January 21st, the Washington Post had not published its own follow-up on the story.
What’s the problem?
As noted in CAMERA’s Washington Post-Watch earlier this month, one criticism of the paper’s coverage of Arab-Israeli news is that it too often seems skewed by covering what Israelis do to Palestinians — in particular actions or policy that can be portrayed as harsh — while downplaying or ignoring what Palestinians do to Israelis. Actions by Israel regarding West Bank and Gaza Strip Arabs that might appear thoughtful or positive vanish altogether. Statements, actions, and social aspects that might reflect negatively on Palestinian Arabs tend to be downplayed or ignore.
Omission of the January 19th report on reconsideration of the security barrier’s route, considered newsworthy by many other dailies, and lack of follow-up on the Raiyshi story, fit the pattern.