Reuters Correspondent Omits Crucial History

Readers without a solid understanding of Middle Eastern history would be misled by Reuters’ March 6, 2011 article about a damaged ramp near the Mughrabi Gate in Jerusalem.
Reuters correspondent, Allyn Fisher-Ilan makes several assertions about events that occurred in the past, omitting the context necessary for understanding them.

In identifying the area near the Mughrabi Gate, Fisher-Ilan describes it as Islam’s third holiest site, yet she never states that it is the single holiest place in Jewish tradition. The Temple Mount has been the focal point of all Jewish worship, and it is towards this sacred place that all Jews still turn in prayer today. Fisher-Ilan attributes three Muslim names to the area, yet she fails to mention even once that it is Judaism’s sacred Temple Mount, the location where the Temple of Solomon stood followed by the rebuilt Second Jewish Temple. Fisher-Ilan writes:

In September 2000 a visit there by Ariel Sharon, then Israeli opposition leader, triggered protests that led to years of Palestinian uprising in which thousands on both sides died.

Having already promoted the Muslim connection to the site while diminishing the Jewish one, the reporter depicts Sharon’s visit to Judaism’s holiest site as the provocation for the Arab uprising. In fact, there is clear evidence to the contrary. The historical record indicates that in September 2000, Yasser Arafat used Sharon’s visit as a pretext to launch a violent and bloody intifada against Israel that lasted for years.

The reporter further maligns Israel by turning reality on its head. She writes that, “Palestinians have argued that Israeli renovations could damage Islamic relics buried underground.”

In fact, Israeli archaeology and renovation in this area is subject to rigorous supervision, ensuring the protection of all holy sites—both Jewish and Muslim. By contrast, the Muslim Waqf (religious authority responsible for overseeing Muslim holy sites) for years has been responsible for reckless bulldozing on and under the Temple Mount, resulting in the destruction of unknown numbers of Jewish archeological artifacts found on Judaism’s holiest site.

Regarding Israel’s repossession of eastern Jerusalem, Ms. Fisher-Ilan again omits essential context. She writes:

Israel took East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a step that has not won international recognition. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they aim to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

An accurate account of the 1967 Middle East war would have reflected the fact that the Jewish state regained control of eastern Jerusalem in a defensive war forced upon a reluctant Israel, a fact affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly.

In the course of this defensive war, Israel liberated the eastern part of Jerusalem – an area from which Jews had been expelled and barred during the nineteen years of Jordan’s illegal occupation. This war also resulted in Israel’s regaining Judea and Samaria which Fisher-Ilan refers to as the “occupied West Bank,” “West Bank” being the name Jordan assigned to Judea and Samaria after illegally occupying it in1948. An historical account would have noted that Jordan’s occupation and renaming of Judea and Samaria as the “West Bank” was rejected by the international community with the exception of Great Britain and Pakistan.

Furthermore, the original Mandate for Palestine, ratified by a unanimous vote of the League of Nations, with the goal of “reconstituting” the Jewish people in their historic homeland, affirmed the legal right of the Jewish People to settle anywhere in this area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This right has never been superseded by any other legal document.

Fisher-Ilan’s omissions and misleading terminology, at best, paints a highly inaccurate picture of the history of the area, and at worst, promotes a biased view of the issues she raises in her article.

In this age of “historical narrative,” it is frequently the version most-often repeated that is deemed the authentic, historical account, regardless of its accuracy. We should expect and receive more from a credible news source.

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