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Media Analyses





WASHINGTON POST-WATCH: “Relative Calm”


The Devil's in the details; The Sun has them, The Post doesn't.

The August 13, 2003 Washington Post page one story, “Suicide Blasts Rock Mideast; Attacks Kill 2 Israelis and Put Peace Process in Peril,” states in paragraph two that “the blasts broke six weeks of relative calm, in which a cease-fire declared by several Palestinian militant groups sharply curtailed such attacks ....”

The rest of the long story by Washington Post Jerusalem correspondents John Ward Anderson and Molly Moore gives no information about the “six weeks of relative calm,” except to note last week’s Israeli raid in the same refugee neighborhood from which one of Tuesday's two bombers came.

The August 13th Baltimore Sun’s page one story, “Back-to-back suicide blasts kill 2 Israelis, rattle Mideast truce; Palestnian militants claim responsibility for attacks,” also reports that the bombings “came after more than a month of relative quiet.” However, in his long article, The Sun’s Israel correspondent, Peter Hermann, attempts to define “relative quiet”:

Since three Palestinian terrorist groups announced a three-month “cease- fire,” five Israelis and one foreign national have been killed in sporadic attacks .... [Israeli] Army and police officials said they have arrested 10 suicide bombers on the way to attacks since the end of June.

In fact, according to figures released by the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman’s office on August 13, Palestinian Arabs committed two suicide bombings in June, 19 were thwarted (the “cease-fire” began June 29); in July, 1 suicide attack took place, 14 were thwarted; in August through yesterday's bombings, 2 attacks took place, three have been thwarted. Overall, the IDF said, “180 terrorist attacks have been recorded since the cease-fire was declared, including 120 shooting attacks .... At the same time, Israeli security forces ... prevent[ed] 40 attacks during this time period.”

Perhaps The Post's implied credit to the “Palestinian militant groups” for the “relative calm” is misplaced. In any case, a similar “relative calm” in the United States — 46 times larger than Israel — would push the terrorism alert level to its “code red” peak.

 


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