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Media Analyses





WASHINGTON POST-WATCH: Palestinians vs. Palestinians? The Post Is Mute


When Israeli forces raided several West Bank institutions believed to be allied with Hamas (the terrorist Islamic Resistance Movement), The Washington Post made "Unease Over West Bank Raids; Israeli Crackdown on Charities Problematic for Palestinian Authority" its lead July 18 World News article. But when the worst fighting between Hamas and Fatah (Movement for the Liberation of Palestine) in more than a year left 11 people dead and 90 wounded — at least a dozen of them children — The Post ran a seven-paragraph dispatch "Infighting Escalates In Gaza Strip" deep in its August 3 World News section.

"Unease Over West Bank Raids," a week late compared to coverage of the same news by The Washington Times, was written by The Post's Jerusalem bureau chief, Griff Witte. "Infighting Escalates in Gaza Strip" was a dispatch by Ibrahim Barzak and Dalia Nammari of the Associated Press — The Post did not assign one of its own reporters to report the news.

Not Just Editing, But Slanting

An early version of Barzak and Nammari's AP coverage ("Hamas, Fatah clash in Gaza; 9 die, 88 hurt in infighting," Washington Times, August 3) ran at least 13 paragraphs and noted, among other things, that "Hamas also fired several mortar shells toward the nearby border with Israel, apparently in an attempt to prevent suspects from getting away. More than two dozen members of the Hilles clan [allied with Fatah] who fled the fighting were allowed through a Gaza crossing into Israel, Israeli military officials said." The lead on a later AP article stated that "more than 180 Fatah supporters who fled into Israel from the Gaza Strip were in Israeli custody Sunday [August 3], after a dramatic escape from a Hamas crackdown that left nine people dead in fierce fighting."
 
The New York Times' article, "9 Dead in Hamas Raid on Pro-Fatah Clan in Gaza" (August 3) began this way: "The worst intra-Palestinian violence in more than a year left nine people dead and scores injured in Gaza on Saturday [later updated to 11 dead and 90 wounded] as the ruling Hamas party cracked down on a clan loyal to its rival, Fatah. Israel stepped in to help Fatah by allowing 180 of its men into Israel and treating and hospitalizing two dozen of its wounded."

In The Washington Post, no mention of the Palestinian flight to Israel, of Israel's acceptance of the refugees at the request of Egypt and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, of heavy fire, apparently by Hamas, at a gate to Israel, or of Israeli hospitalization of Arab wounded.

Indication of Bias

CAMERA repeatedly has criticized Washington Post for forcing Arab-Israeli news into a narrow, distorting perspective, that of Israeli victimization of relatively powerless and therefore blameless Palestinian Arabs. This slanted approach, consciously or subconsciously, highlights Israeli shortcomings while minimizing if not ignoring positive Israeli actions. It simultaneously downplays or omits Palestinian failures, including incitement, corruption, and aggression, whether directed against Israel or other Palestinian Arabs.

Tardy, exaggerated mis-coverage of Israel's recent West Bank (Judea and Samaria) raids and the inadequate, incomplete, low-priority reporting of the latest Palestinian internecine clashes are examples of that distorting perspective. The recent Palestinian infighting called for coverage by The Post's Jerusalem bureau chief, and in a full-length article like that by The New York Times. If the bureau chief was not available, then coverage by another Post correspondent or stringer on direct assignment. And if that was not possible, then coverage by a fuller version of news service dispatches, like those in The Washington Times or on MSNBC.com on August 3.

Sderot, Barely

Arab-Israeli news, as glimpsed through Post blinders, consists too often of stories about Palestinian grievances against Israel. These grievances may be legitimate, exaggerated, imagined, or largely self-induced, though the newspaper rarely distinguishes, taking Palestinian allegations at face value. Insufficient coverage of Hamas-Fatah fighting, and omission of Israeli humanitarian aid to some of the fleeing and wounded, is not the only recent example.

CAMERA and others long have urged The Post to spend a day or two in Sderot, an Israeli town adjacent to the Strip and target of thousands of Palestinian rockets and mortars since Israel's Gaza withdrawal in 2005. Cover, like other major news media have, the impact of life under siege on residents young and old. This, with one partial exception, the paper's foreign desk has not done.

On July 31, The Post did report on a program of Washington, D.C.-area Chabad-Lubavitch centers and the Rohr Family Foundation that "provided Israeli kids with a summer escape from the threats of missile attacks and war that often rule their lives at home. The Gaithersburg [Md.] program was one of 13 in North America and Europe that hosted a total of about 160 campers." Two paragraphs, accompanied by a color photo, in some local zoned editions. Not much, not enough — but two paragraphs more than the paper has given to Palestinian summer camps, in which thousands of children reportedly are indoctrinated with hatred for Israel and hero-worship of suicide bombers, and receive mock terrorist training.

Covering news with blinders on means some news isn't covered properly, some not at all, and the result reads like bias.


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