An Inquiry for The Philadelphia Inquirer

A Philadelphia Inquirer version (“Israel angered over diplomat’s comment,” Jan. 20, 2016) of a Washington Post article detailing comments by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro omitted key information. The edited result presented the ambassador delivering a one-sided anti-Israel harangue.

The article, by Post Jerusalem Bureau Chief William Booth, notes Amb. Shapiro’s Jan. 18, 2016 remarks at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies. Shapiro criticized Israeli settlements and claimed that there were two standards of laws for Palestinian Arabs and Israelis in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

Shapiro’s comments were delivered in the fifth month of terrorist attacks against Israelis incited in part, as CAMERA has noted, by Palestinian authorities. The ambassador spoke the same day as the funeral of Dafna Meir, an Israeli mother of six who was stabbed to death in her home—in front of her children—by a Palestinian terrorist.

Yet, this context—and much more—was missing from the abbreviated Inquirer version.

The Inquirer‘s condensation claimed that “Israeli leaders…sharply criticized” Shapiro’s remarks, but failed to note they were delivered the day of Meir’s funeral. In fact, not a single mention of the 30 Israelis killed and numerous others wounded in more than 110 stabbings, 38 shootings and 22 vehicular assaults by Palestinian Arab terrorists are mentioned by The Inquirer.

By omitting this key background the paper failed to inform readers as to why Israelis—and others—were upset by Shapiro’s remarks. The ambassador himself later admitted, “my timing was not ideal” (“U.S. Envoy Admits Timing ‘Not Ideal’ in Criticism of Israel,” The Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2016).

Instead, The Inquirer noted Shapiro’s claim that “too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities,” and subsequent criticism by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Shapiro’s remarks. The former charge absent the context of current Palestinian incitement and assaults potentially left Philadelphia readers with the impression that outrage by Israeli officials was unfounded or overblown.

By contrast, the original Post version (“U.S. envoy ignites a row in Israel,” January 20) noted the ongoing terror attacks by Palestinian Arabs. The paper details both the murder of Meir and statements by Israeli officials that complement the ambassador’s later admission of poor timing.
Questions for The Post

Yet, The Post’s article was not without its own problems.

Not for the first time (see, for example, CAMERA’s “Washington Post Obscures the Obvious—Palestinian Hatred of Jews,” Oct. 21, 2015) the paper pushed the “despair narrative” claiming that Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis are committed by “leaderless, angry and frustrated youths.” As CAMERA has noted, such explanations overlook the role of Palestinian leaders who glorify and encourage attacks. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, the U.S.-listed terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, has rejected such descriptions, saying, “This intifada is not the result of despair. This intifada is a jihad, a holy war.” (“Hamas: ‘Despair’ Is Not the Reason for Palestinian Violence,” Jan. 26, 2016)

The Post article noted Shapiro’s criticism of a lack of progress toward negotiations for a “two-state solution,” but omitted that Israeli and U.S. offers of such an agreement in exchange for peace with Israel were offered in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis conference. Each of these instances were rejected without so much as a counteroffer by Palestinian leadership—which also declined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2014 proposal to restart negotiations.

The Post concluded with statements critical of Israel by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Yet, it fails to inform readers about HRW’s anti-Israel history, which includes raising money in Gulf Arab states for targeting Israel. As CAMERA has noted, the organization’s descent from a Cold War-era human rights advocate to shrill, anti-Israel activism led to its founder, Robert Bernstein, publically repudiating the group (“Human Rights Watch Discredited Even By Its Founder,” Oct. 20, 2009).

In contrast to The Inquirer, The Washington Post version does quote an Israeli official, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, who called a forthcoming HRW report on Israeli settlements to be “one-sided and politicized.” Yet The Post failed to elaborate for its readers.

Two versions of the same article in major U.S. daily newspapers were deeply flawed. Yet, the omission by The Philadelphia Inquirer of Palestinian Arab terror attacks against Israelis, including one which explained Israeli outrage central to the report in question, should leave readers wondering why editors in Philadelphia chose to leave out Palestinian violence that was noted, if insufficiently, in the original Washington Post version of the same article.

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