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Media Analyses





The Washington Post: Missing Middle East News


Headlines from disparate recent Middle East news reports:

1) “Children used as pawns by terrorists,” The Washington Times, March 17, 2004 (Page A-1) and “Palestinian Child Conscription Draws Ire,” Associated Press dispatch on same story, March 16

2) “New Talks Ruled Out by Sharon After Attack,” The New York Times, March 16; and “Israel’s Sharon rules out talks with Palestinians; Leaders do nothing to halt bombings, premier says,” The Baltimore Sun, March 16

3) “Palestinian workers prevented attack at Erez,” Ha’aretz,March 12, 2004

4) “A mayor resigns in protest; Nablus: The chaos in this once-promising West Bank city has driven its longtime leader to step down,” The Baltimore Sun, March 11

5) “Educational center to straddle Mideast border; Israel, Jordan to share scientific institution,” The Baltimore Sun, March 9

6) “Rare Syria protest broken up; Human-rights activists are arrested after urging country to release political prisoners,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 9

7) “U.S. warms to Sharon proposal for Mideast; Plan would pull Israel out of Gaza, close some West Bank settlements,” Baltimore Sun, March 8 (Page A-1)

8) “Jewish suburb backs protest; Barrier blocks access to farms,” The Washington Times, March 6.

But these varied subjects did have one thing in common. None were covered as stand-alone news stories in The Washington Post. Most did not see print even as a news brief. Virtually none of the material in these articles was mentioned in The Post from Saturday, March 6 through Wednesday, March 17.

The Post — like most other news media — did cover the stories it headlined “6 Killed in Failed Attack in Gaza; Palestinian Gunmen Attempted Assault on Israeli Checkpoint,” on March 7, “At Least 14 Palestinians Killed in Firefight in Gaza; Battle Ensues After Israelis Attempt Incursion,” March 8, “Israeli Troops in Disguise Kill 5 Palestinian Gunmen in West Bank” on March 11, and “Israeli Airstrikes Kill at Least 3 in Gaza; Fresh Campaign Follows Suicide Attack on Sunday,” March 17.

In the March 11 report, thePost Jerusalem correspondent Molly Moore, in a passing reference to 5), “Educational center to straddle Mideast border,” wrote:

On Tuesday, Sharon said during a public reception to unveil a joint scientific project involving Israel and Jordan that he would be meeting soon with Jordan’s King Abdullah .... [but] Abdullah told Israeli reporters that no meeting was planned.”

In the same story, in a similar reference to 7) “U.S. warms to Sharon proposal for Mideast,” Moore in the last sentence said American officials were coming to Israel “to discuss details of Sharon’s orders to plan a possible withdrawal of Jewish settlements and Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.”

Overall, the news the Post didn’t cover would have told readers about the murderous cynicism of Palestinian terrorists toward Palestinian children; growing Palestinian anger toward terrorists who undermine their opportunities to work in Israel; rising intra-Palestinian violence due to the failure of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to engage in nation-building instead of anti-Israel terrorism; the start of a potentially significant joint scientific venture between Israel and Jordan; continuing refusal of Syria’s dictatorship to begin reforms; positive U.S. interest in Israeli security-diplomatic plans; and support by Israelis in a Jerusalem suburb for their Arab neighbors on the other side of the proposed route of Israel’s security barrier.

CAMERA previously has faulted Washington Post coverage of the Middle East for focusing on what Israelis do to Palestinian Arabs but minimizing what Palestinians do to Israelis, let alone to each other. For example, a Washington Post-Watch last November noted that the Post did not report — as did the Washington Times— Israel’s assertion that Yasser Arafat gave a “green light” for intensified anti-Israel terrorism early in 2001. The Post also downplays general Arab attitudes and actions toward Israel, and the behavior of Arab states toward each other. The result — omitting coverage of U.S. involvement in Iraq — is an unbalanced portrait of the Middle East. It generally features Israel as the main actor and a bad one, the Palestinian Arabs as the aggrieved victim, and the surrounding Arab and Islamic states the scenery. Coverage from March 6 through 17 indicates that the problem continues.


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