The Washington Posts Jan. 26 edition carried a
news brief headlined Hamas Leader Suggests Truce In Exchange for Israeli
Withdrawal. The Post item read:
A top official of
the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, said Sunday it could
declare a 10-year truce with Israel if the Jewish state withdrew from territory
occupied since 1967.
Abdel Aziz Rantisi said: We
accept a state in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. We
propose a 10-year truce in return for [Israeli] withdrawal and the
establishment of a state. He spoke in a telephone interview from hiding
in the Gaza Strip.
His comments appeared to
strengthen signs of a political shift by a group sworn to destroy Israel.
Israeli officials have dismissed any talk of Hamas moderation as a smoke
screen, and have said if would be impossible to return to the pre-1967
The Posts brief was based on a Reuters news
service dispatch headlined Israel scorns Hamas proposal of 10-year
truce. The second paragraph of the Reuters item read:
Top Hamas official
Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi told Reuters late on Sunday Hamas had come to the
conclusion that it was difficult to liberate all our land at this stage,
so we accept a phased liberation.
Other elements of the original dispatch omitted by the
Post included the following:
Rantissi said it would not mean that Hamas
recognized Israel or spell the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rantissi said the truce could last 10 years, though
not more than 10 years.
Hamas has led a suicide bombing campaign that has
killed hundreds of Israelis during more than three years of violence.
and Israel dismisses any hint that Hamas might be
softening its stance, particularly after a suicide bombing killed four Israelis
at a border crossing on January 14.
CAMERA member and co-chair of the Washington, D.C.-based
EyeOnThePost, Inc., Robert Samet, first caught the differences between the full
Reuters report and the Post brief. In a letter to Post Chairman
Donald Graham, Mr. Samet pointed out that the paper was virtually alone
among media outlets in dropping these important qualifying statements.
The cuts, Samet observed, slant the news to make Hamas appear to be more
moderate than it is. When you then follow it up in the same article by
reporting that Israel dismissed any talk of Hamas moderation as a smoke
screen, your readers are misled into believing Israel is being
The Orlando Sentinel, for example, reduced the
Reuters story to a one-paragraph brief but managed to include both
Rantissis truce offer and his quote that it was made because it was
difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we accept a phased
The Independent [London], added in its own reporting
that Rantisis words are seen by observers as an indication of how
weakened Hamas has become following an onslaught of Israeli assassination
attempts against its leaders and stem from Palestinian fears
that Israeli construction of a West Bank security barrier and threats of
unilateral withdrawal have undermined their position.
In cutting reports for length, the essence of the news must be retained. Otherwise, the result -- as is apparent in this case -- is partisan by omission.