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Media Analyses





Up Against a Brick Wall


For months, the New Yorker stonewalled regarding errors on a Dec. 15, 2003 article by Connie Bruck. Staff people at the magazine repeatedly handed off responsibility for fact-checking, and the corrections never ran. CAMERA’s letter to the New Yorker is reproduced here.

January 5, 2004

By fax:
Mr. David Remnick
Editor, New Yorker

Dear Mr. Remnick:

We are writing concerning two factual errors and some additional misleading information in Connie Bruck’s Dec. 15 article entitled “Back Roads." First, she erroneously reports: “If completed according to current plans, [Israel’s security barrier] will enclose the Palestinians within an area that amount to about fifty percent of the West Bank. . .” Bruck has seriously overstated this figure. According to a United Nations report, “Based on the route on the official map, including depth barriers and East Jerusalem, approximately 975 kilometers, or 16.6 per cent of the entire West Bank, will lie between the Barrier and the Green Line” (“Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/13,” Nov. 24, 2003). Pro-Palestinian advocates and others who cite Bruck’s figure of fifty percent are basing their estimate not on the official map, but on the assumption that Israel’s barrier will extend into the Jordan Valley. Assumptions are not tantamount to “current plans.” There are no published maps delineating construction in the Jordan Valley, so such projections are sheer speculation and should not be reported as fact.

Second, she erroneously refers to the Green Line as “the border that existed between Israel and the West Bank before the 1967 war.” The Green Line was an armistice demarcation line between Israel and Jordan, which illegally occupied the West Bank from 1948 to 1967. It was not a border between Israel and the West Bank. The armistice line was established April 3, 1949 by Article III of the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement and was never the border between Israel and the West Bank.

It is also highly deceptive for Bruck to have described the Temple Mount as follows:

Ariel Sharon, then the opposition leader, made a provocative visit to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem, which is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and is the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest shrines.

Why does Bruck note that the Temple Mount contains “the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest shrines,” without mentioning that the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, as the First and Second Temples once stood there? This is not an incidental point; clearly, a visit by Sharon to “one of Islam’s holiest shrines” would be provocative, unlike a visit to Judaism’s holiest site.

Bruck also misrepresents the chronology of events over the summer, falsely suggesting that Palestinian attacks halted for a period. She writes:

The region had been engulfed in a round of violence in previous weeks–the Israelis carried out targeted assassinations of Palestinian militants, and, in retaliation, on August 19th a Hamas terrorist blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing almost two dozen people.

Contrary to Bruck’s suggestion, the Palestinians did not sit quietly until they were finally driven to “retaliate” on Aug. 19. According to an Aug. 12 Associated Press report entitled “A list of some of the Israeli-Palestinian violence during 6-week cease-fire,” on Aug. 12, two Palestinian suicide bombings killed at least two Israelis and injured a dozen people in a central Israeli town and in a West Bank Jewish settlement. On Aug. 3, a Palestinian gunman ambushed a Jewish woman driving near Bethlehem, badly wounding her and her 9-year-old daughter, and slightly injuring two other children. On July 28, the body of an Israeli soldier missing for a week was found in northern Israel, apparently a victim of Arab terrorists. On July 15, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli man to death as he sat with his girlfriend near Jaffa. On July 7, a suicide bomber from an Islamic Jihad splinter group blew himself up in a private home in central Israel, killing an elderly woman. And, on June 30, a Palestinian shot to death a Bulgarian laborer working on Israel’s security barrier. Also, the AP report states: “Israel’s military says there have been 120 shooting incidents in the West Bank and 10 mortars fired on Israeli targets in the Gaza Strip since the cease-fire was declared” June 29.

We urge you to print corrections concerning each of these points. Thank you for your prompt attention and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

 Tamar Sternthal
Senior Research Analyst


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