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Media Analyses





Monitor Muddles Terrorism and Fence Building


“Suicide bombings jolt Mideast peace hopes” (August 13, 2003) treats the Israeli victims of the recent Palestinian suicide bombings as an afterthought, despite the fact that two civilians were killed, including a teenage boy, and more than a dozen were wounded. But to the Christian Science Monitor, the tragedy seems to be that the suicide bombers “threatened to undermine the Palestinian Authority’s campaign to stop Israel’s barrier.”

The first paragraph of the article mentions the cease-fire and the fence, but not the victims of the attack :

Attacks by two Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel and the West Bank Tuesday dealt a serious blow to a tenuous six-week cease-fire, and threaten to undermine the Palestinian Authority's campaign to stop Israel's barrier and settlement building in the West Bank.

Author Ben Lynfield, the paper’s correspondent in Jerusalem, seems unaware that the road map demands the dismantling of the very groups that are dictating the terms of the cease-fire. The primary requirement in Phase I of the agreement is for the Palestinian Authority to “immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence,” to “arrest disrupt and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks” and to begin “dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”

Likewise, the reporter never mentions that the Palestinian suicide bombings are a clear violation of the road map, while there is no proviso against Israel building a barrier.

The story also adds the oft repeated, but erroneous claim that settlements are illegal. The media has restated the Arab claim so often that it is incorrectly regarded as fact. (See Backgrounder: Jewish Settlements and the Media) Lynfield incorrectly asserts:

But with attention now focused on the attacks, and the barrier posited as the remedy, the Palestinian case may now be more difficult to press, especially with Israel blurring the distinction between protecting towns in Israel and fortifying Israeli settlements – illegal under international law – in the West Bank.

Lynfield then again redirects the article’s focus to the fence:

The PA's arguments against the barrier, which stress humanitarian issues and the slicing of the West Bank into noncontiguous cantons, had gained the attention of Washington, largely because of the dramatic reduction in attacks since Palestinian factions announced a cease-fire on June 29.

The fence is a response to, not a cause of, terrorism. Dennis Ross who negotiated the Oslo Accords during the Clinton years remarked that “truth be told, those responsible for the fence are Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.”

Moreover, the barrier does not necessarily define borders. Territorial issues can be negotiated, and  the fence can be moved or removed once the terrorist infrastructure is dismantled as the road map stipulates.

The article also fails to note that while hundreds of Israelis, Jews and Arabs, have been killed by terrorists from the West Bank, not one suicide bomber has successfully penetrated the fence around Gaza. A West Bank separation fence that was similarly effective would benefit both Israelis and Palestinians by, for example, obviating the need for many, if not all, Israeli incursions into the West Bank. The fence could also allow the removal of many security checkpoints, and might permit Israel to admit many more Palestinian workers into Israel, thereby helping the beleagured Palestinian economy. 

The bottom line that is ignored by the Monitor: A fence can always be torn down, but those killed by terrorists can never be brought back to life.


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