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Media Analyses





WASHINGTON POST-WATCH: In or Out?


Some important Arab-Israeli news did not appear in the Washington Post at the end of October and beginning of November. For example:

1) The Post did not report the brutal murders of two Palestinians by other Palestinians for the alleged crime of being Israeli informants.

On October 24, New York Times’ Jerusalem correspondent Greg Myre opened a story headlined “Palestinian Group Executes 2 Suspected of Helping Israel” this way:

Masked Palestinian gunmen carried out execution-style killings yesterday of two Palestinians suspected of being informants for Israel and placed their bodies in the central square of the Tulkarm refugee camp in the West Bank. Palestinian militants have killed dozens of suspected informers or collaborators during the past three years of fighting. Such attacks often draw little attention, but the gunmen responsible for this shooting sought to publicize their deed both beforehand and afterward.

The Baltimore Sun, using the New York Times News Service, also published Myre’s story the same day under the headline “Two Palestinian informants killed by militants; Gunmen display bodies of men who helped Israel.”

2) The Washington Post did not cover news of increasing cooperation between two terrorist organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

On October 30, the Washington Times published, as front page news, an Associated Press story from Jerusalem by Ramit Plushnick-Masti, headlined “Hamas joins forces with Islamic Jihad; Groups form anti-Israel alliance“. Other dailies, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, also published the AP report that day. Terrorist cooperation, according to AP, was brought about in part by “Israel’s increasing military pressure” which put “their operatives on the run ....” The wire service also noted Israeli fears of growing involvement by the Lebanese Hezbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

3) The Washington Post did not report Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's official trip to Russia.

The Washington Post did not mention Sharon’s trip in its November 3 edition, nor did it publish preview or follow-up stories November 2 or 4, respectively.

On November 3 the Washington Times carried a Reuters News Agency story headlined “Israel: Sharon visits Putin to seek cooperation; Wants to stop peace plan vote in U.N.“ The article, illustrated by a photograph, covered Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s arrival in Moscow the day before.

4) The Washington Post omitted a key statistic.

Also on November 3, the Washington Post ran a two-paragraph news brief reporting that 6,200 Palestinian Arabs used newly-restored work permits. The Post brief did not mention the total of 15,000 permits reissued by Israel as a “confidence builder,” only the number used on the first day of availability. Not until November 8, in a story by Post Jerusalem correspondent John Ward Anderson about fighting in the Gaza Strip, was the larger figure noted. No indication was given that this news was five days old.

However, on November 3 the Washington Times published a 12-paragraph wire story headlined “Israel: Palestinians return to jobs; Travel restrictions are eased.” The article noted that the Jewish state had restored 15,000 permits for Palestinian Arabs to work inside Israel, despite continuing terrorism. The story also reported Sharon’s readiness to renew talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Credit when due: The Washington Post published a balanced about a Gaza Strip settlement.

On November 1, in a feature headlined “In Gaza, Citadel to Some, Island to Others; Attack at Isolated Settlement Reopens Debate Over Withdrawal Among Israelis,” the Post referred to Palestinian terrorists. Anderson’s lead sentence in a extensive report on Netzarim mentions “terrorists [who] had infiltrated this small Jewish settlement ....” Terrorists, not militants, activists or gunmen, in contrast with typical Post usage.

Anderson’s story includes a balanced variety of Israeli sources and is illustrated by two photographs and two maps. If anything, it lacks Palestinian Arab comment.


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