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Media Analyses





Hague Ruling Front Page News; Palestinian Attack Takes Second Place


No sooner did the Hague’s International Court of Justice (on Friday, July 9) rule Israel’s security barrier illegal and unjustified by military exigencies or by the requirements of national security, than Palestinian terrorists associated with Yasir Arafat’s Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade (on Sunday, July 11) claimed responsibility for a Tel Aviv terrorist bombing which killed a 19-year old Israeli and wounded 20 others.

Palestinian Reaction
Despite the claim of responsibility by his group, Arafat condemned the bombing and suggested that Israel itself staged the terrorist attack within its own borders in order to discredit the International Court of Justice ruling.

Israeli Reaction
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rejected the court’s non-binding ruling, saying the bombing sends a deadly message that encourages terror and prevents countries from defending themselves.

Several Israeli-Arabs who had hitherto rejected Israel’s security fence went on record to voice support for Israel’s security barrier and to question the Hague’s ruling.

("Some Arab Israelis find fence beneficial," by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service)

Media Coverage

Most major print media outlets covered the Hague’s court ruling in front page articles, but did not accord the same attention to the terrorist attack.

The major newspapers varied in the amount of context given and in the emphasis of the article. Most named the Israeli victim of the Palestinian terrorist attack. The notable exceptions were the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe. Some portrayed the bombing as an excuse for Israeli Prime Minister Sharon’s to defy international law. Below is a round-up of how major newspapers presented the bombing as aftermath to the ICJ ruling.

 

New York Times
Hague Ruling   Palestinian Terrorist Bombing
Headline: "Major Portion of Israeli Fence is Ruled Illegal"   Headline:"Bombing in Tel Aviv Kills a Soldier and Wounds 20 Israelis"
Placement: Front Page   Placement: Page A10
 

While the article by Greg Myre was relegated to the back of the front (international) section, the article is accurate. It named the victim, included a photograph of Israeli mourners, as well as details about Arafat’s outrageous implication that Israelis were behind the bombing, and the reaction of an Israeli Arab who voiced support for the fence. The article quoted Mr. Sharon’s rejection of ICJ opinion that "completely ignores the reason for the construction of the security fence –murderous Palestinian terrorism."

Washington Post
Hague Ruling   Palestinian Terrorist Bombing
Headline: "U.N. Court Rejects West Bank barrier. Israel says security fence will stay."   Headline:"Attack shows need for wall, Sharon says. Court ruling condemned after fatal blast in Tel Aviv."
Placement: Front Page   Placement: Page A10 (first page in World section)
 

The article by John Ward Anderson focused primarily on Prime Minister Sharon’s reaction to the bombing as a consequence of "the deadly message that encourages terror on the one hand and prevents countries from protecting themselves on the other, " but whitewashed the Palestinian reaction.While it quoted a second tier politician (chief of staff to Qurei) condemning the attack as "a counterproductive terrorist act,’ it said nothing about Arafat’s blaming Israel. Nor did it include information about Israeli Arabs who support the fence. The article named the Israeli victim.

Chicago Tribune
Hague Ruling   Palestinian Terrorist Bombing
Headline: "Judges condemn W. Bank barrier; Palestinians say non-binding ruling highlights injustice of the wall; Israel argues world court has no jurisdiction and work will continue"   Headline:"Sharon defies world court; Blames barrier ruling for fatal Tel Aviv bombing"
Placement: Front Page   Placement: Page A3
 

The headline and the article by Joel Greenberg portrayed the bombing as secondary to, or an excuse for what is described as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s "defiance" of the Hague ruling. The article did, however, include Arafat’s accusation and the reaction of a wounded Arab who said he now supports the fence. The victim was named.

Philadelphia Inquirer
Hague Ruling   Palestinian Terrorist Bombing
Headline: "U.N. court: Israeli fence violates law; The surprisingly tough opinion urged that it be torn down. Israel gave no sign it would comply. "   Headline:"Citing Tel Aviv attack, Sharon says fence to stay; A bus-stop blast killed a soldier. The prime minister linked it to last week’s U.N. court ruling."
Placement: Front Page   Placement: Page 4
 

This Associated Press article by Josef Federman focused on Ariel Sharon’s defiance of the Hague’s ruling and his linkage of the bombing to it. This is one of the few articles that did not identify the victim. It referred instead to the killing of "a soldier" whereby suggesting that this might have been a military rather than a terrorist attack in nature. The Palestinian reaction, as well, was whitewashed, described only as "Palestinian officials condemned the attack. ‘We are against all bombings like this,’ Arafat said." Arafat’s implicating Israel in the bombing was ignored and nothing was mentioned about Arabs supporting the fence.

Boston Globe
Hague Ruling   Palestinian Terrorist Bombing
Headline: "World Court Rules Israeli Barrier Illegal"   Headline:"Sharon says bombing shows need for barrier. Tel Aviv attack is first inside Israel in months"
Placement: Front Page   Placement: Page A6
 

The Washington Post article (mentioned above) was used in shortened version, omitting identification of the Israeli victim.

Los Angeles Times
Hague Ruling   Palestinian Terrorist Bombing
Headline: "World Court Says Israel Should Demolish Barrier; The nonbinding ruling calls the West Bank fortification a 'de facto annexation' of land that violates the rights of Palestinians."   Headline:"Israel to Move Ahead on Barrier; Sharon points to a deadly Tel Aviv blast in condemning the world court's ruling calling for the demolition of the West Bank divider."
Placement: Page. 5   Placement: Page 3
 

The article identified the victim, included information on the Arab victim who supported the fence, but omitted Arafat’s accusation against Israel and referred only to Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei condemning the bombing, "saying such violent acts threatened to undercut the legal victory won at The Hague."


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