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Journalists





NBC's Cal Perry and Ayman Mohyeldin Flub Settlements Story


The intense focus on Israel in the context of the U.S. abstaining in a U.N. vote against the Jewish state and Secretary of State John Kerry's speech has prompted another rash of sometimes incoherent reports on settlements. Among these, video interviews and a web posting by NBC's Cal Perry and Ayman Mohyeldin have included a number of distortions and errors that betray either ignorance about basic facts or extreme partisanship.
 
The December 29, 2016 web report ("Israeli Settlements Controversy Explained — And Why It Matters") by Perry and Mohyeldin had already attracted attention online for its factual problems. But if some corrections were made after the feedback, other serious errors remained. For instance, the writers claim:
The West Bank and East Jerusalem are still in Israeli hands, although they are nominally governed by the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah.
The authors are said to be seasoned journalists. Why would they not be aware of the obvious fact that under the Oslo Accords, only Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40% of that territory, are governed by the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah. Area C, which is 60% of the territory is under complete Israeli control, not that of the Palestinian Authority. Area C, the bulk of the West Bank, is not "nominally governed" by the PA in Ramallah. Additionally, 90% of Palestinian Arabs live in Areas A and B. Likewise, eastern Jerusalem is not "nominally governed by the Palestinian Authority." Jerusalem is under the full control of Israel.
 
Perry and Mohyeldin repeat a particularly offensive propaganda charge which was also aired in a video version. They claim:

 The settlements have a lot of security measures including Jewish-only roads and restrictions that split up Palestinian territory, often making it difficult for people to get to work, visit family or even go to the hospital when they are sick. [emphasis added]

There are no "Jewish-only roads." There are some roads restricted at times to those with Israeli license plates (whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian Israelis) during intense periods of terrorism. This is a serious error that's been corrected multiple times, such as in these examples of corrections by the AP, Boston Globe and Washington Post.

Additionally, it's notable that the article contains no reference to terrorism. Israel's security barrier and "security measures" that inconvenience Palestinians are a response to often deadly violence against the men, women and children living in West Bank communities. There would be no security measures, including a barrier, if there had not been extensive anti-Israel violence. Why did Perry and Mohyeldin exclude essential information?
 
Equally unprofessional, the reporters cast the absence of a Palestinian state as solely the fault of Israel, repeating Arab accusations and demands and a charge of "bad faith" by Israel. They write:
3) What is the two-state solution?

The two-state solution envisions a Palestinian state made up of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem existing alongside an Israeli one. It has been the government of Israel's stated policy, but Palestinians accuse the government of negotiating it in bad faith because it has allowed settlements to grow.

Every time a settlement is built, Palestinians say, a little more is taken away from a future Palestinian state. The possibility of peace seems to grow less and less likely, and Palestinians accuse Israel of confiscating lands and taking away resources from the areas that Palestinians want for their statehood.

The distorted list of Palestinian charges omits the crucial fact that Israel has multiple times offered the Palestinians a state (in 1947, in 2000/2001 at Camp David/Taba and 2008 by Olmert). Neither Palestinian Chairman Yasir Arafat nor PA President Mahmoud Abbas even counter-offered when Israel proposed far-reaching concessions that included measures to address the settlements.
 
How is it justifiable journalistically to include a section on the lack of a two-state solution, accuse Israel of "bad faith" and omit that Israel had offered detailed proposals, brokered by American leaders that Palestinians rejected?
 
Perry and Mohyeldin seemingly harbor personal biases regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that they've allowed to impinge on their coverage. The question is why NBC risks its reputation as a credible news source in airing this kind of shoddy, error-filled reporting.

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