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Media Analyses





New York Times Alert: Small Words with a Big Impact


Words matter.

In the “Week in Review” section of Sunday's (Dec 8) New York Times, a deceptive, opinion-laden adjective was included in a news-brief written by reporter Michael Wines:

“After 26 months of Palestinian suicide bombings and pitiless Israeli retaliation, is there light at the end of the tunnel? ...” [Emphasis added]

“Pitiless” is a word for those who blow up Israeli toddlers, school children and grandmothers going about their daily lives. Why is it applied to Israelis who are acting in self-defense against the savagery directed against them?

Nor is it true that the Israeli response to the terrorism has been “pitiless.” In fact, the military has, at risk to the lives of its own soldiers, tried to minimize civilian injury while targeting terrorists.

The cumulative effect of such false terminology is the insidious blackening of Israel's character.

Please urge the Times to refrain from using such unfair and prejudicial descriptions of Israel's self-defense measures.

Another example of one word subtly but powerfully casting doubt upon Israel's integrity is Michael Wine's use of the word “contended.” In an otherwise informative and fair article (Dec 10, “Israelis Kill A Palestinian And Arrest 25 Others”) Michael Wines wrote:

The arms-smuggling affair caused an uproar last winter after Israel contended that the financing of the shipment, 50 tons of Iranian-made rifles, explosives and short-range rockets, could be traced to the Palestinian Authority.

The uproar wasn't caused by Israel's CONTENTION, but by the FACT of the PA's arms-smuggling, which the American government, like the Israelis, saw as contrary to a serious commitment to peace. Wine's use of the word “contended” deceptively cast the proven PA involvement as merely a questionable Israeli allegation.

[In the alert, action items and contact information were listed here.]

The excerpts appear below.

*************
Excerpt from New York Times Week In Review
December 8, 2002

Dec. 1- 7
MIXED SIGNALS IN MIDEAST
After 26 months of Palestinian suicide bombings and pitiless Israeli retaliation, is there light at the end of the tunnel? Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, said that the so-called road map to Palestinian statehood was ¡reasonable, realistic and, I believe, attainable,” with some changes. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, talked to Palestinian leaders in Tel Aviv and said that he saw a new yearning for peace among Arabs as well. But officially, Palestinians rejected Mr. Sharon's statement as nothing new. And a Palestinian branch of Al Qaeda posted a message on a Web site announcing its formation. Its involvement could plunge the search for peace back into darkness. [emphasis added]
Michael Wines

----------------------------------

Excerpt from New York Times
Dec 11, 2002
“Israelis Kill A Palestinian And Arrest 25 Others”
Michael Wines

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority's high court drew a sharp rebuke from Israel after it ordered the release from jail of Fuad Shubaki, a former finance officer for the authority who was accused in January of trying to smuggle a boatload of arms into Israel...

The arms-smuggling affair caused an uproar last winter after Israel contended that the financing of the shipment, 50 tons of Iranian-made rifles, explosives and short-range rockets, could be traced to the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Shubaki was jailed in a British-supervised cell in Jericho last summer as part of a deal that ended Israel's siege of Mr. Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. [emphasis added]


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