CAMERA’s Israel office has prompted multiple corrections to National Geographic’s Sept. 8 article entitled “This is Tourism in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” In the opening paragraph, the article had initially overstated the length of the West Bank security barrier, claiming that it “stretch[es] a total of 440 miles.
While the planned route runs approximately 440 miles, only some 64 percent – or 282 miles – of the construction has actually been completed. (See the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and The Jerusalem Post).
Following communication from CAMERA, National Geographic amended the wording, which now states that the barrier is “planned to stretch a total of 440 miles.” (Emphasis added.)
In a separate correction to the same article, National Geographic commendably removed an incorrect present day reference to “Palestine.” The article had originally stated: “Palestine offers plenty of more enjoyable things to visit …”
CAMERA noted that misleading references to Palestinian-controlled territories as “Palestine” are inconsistent with National Geographic practice, and that the media outlet has in the past year repeatedly corrected this point.
The amended text no longer refers to “Palestine.”
Finally, a photo caption accompanying the text had euphemistically referred to “Leila Khaled, a Palestinian activist credited as the first woman to hijack an airplane.” Khaled, as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – a group designated as a terror organization by the European Union and the United States, as well as Israel and Canada – hijacked a civilian airplane, which makes her a terrorist, not an “activist.”
Editors agreed that the characterization of Khaled as an “activist” was problematic, and commendably removed it. A screen capture of the amended caption follows:
In another instance of prejudicial language, however, National Geographic refused to budge. A separate photo caption accompanying the article (photo 9/14) refers to the West Bank barrier as “the towering wall of segregation.” As the article notes, Palestinians consider the barrier “racial segregation and apartheid” (despite the fact that Israeli Arabs, of the same race as Palestinians, can cross back and forth as freely as Israeli Jews). Israelis, on the other hand, consider the barrier essential to preventing terrorism. Why then, does the photo caption adopt the partisan Palestinian terminology instead of using the neutral term “West Bank barrier”? (The reporter refers to the barrier as a “wall,” or “massive concrete wall” throughout the article, but according to the United Nations, the vast majority of the barrier – over 85 percent – consists of “fences, ditches, razor wire, groomed sand paths, an electronic monitoring system, patrol roads, and a buffer zone,” and not a concrete wall.)
For additional National Geographic corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.