The Washington Post’s Jerusalem Bureau Eschews Reporting, Embraces Editorializing

The Washington Post isn’t short on words to describe Israel’s new government. And none of them are flattering. Yet, the Post’s decision to castigate the latest governing coalition evidences a complete disregard for journalistic standards.

A Dec. 29, 2022 report was entitled “Far-right Israeli government sworn in amid surge of resistance.” In that dispatch, correspondent Shira Rubin wrote, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurated the most right-wing government in Israel’s history on Thursday, launching a divisive chapter of national politics that pits newly influential ultrareligious, ultranationalist leaders against an opposition that warns democracy is in peril.” That’s quite the paragraph, replete with the sort of editorializing and value judgments that contravene standard practice in journalism. Worse follows.

The new government, Rubin writes, is “already pursuing plans to restrict the rights of minorities, alter the system of governmental checks and balances, hollow out the Israeli judiciary, exert influence over the army and security forces, and allow harsher treatment of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.” Again, this reads more like an opinion piece than the sort of straight reporting that the Washington Post pretends to pursue. After all, what sort of government doesn’t “exert influence over the army and security forces”? How exactly is that unusual? And what does the Post mean by “harsher treatment of Palestinians in Israel?” No details are offered. Further, a mere fraction of Arab citizens of Israel prefer to be called “Palestinian.” A 2020 survey by Tel Aviv University found that nearly a quarter (23%) of Israeli minorities define themselves as “Israeli,” and half (51%) self-identify as “Israeli Arab.” By contrast, only 7% choose to call themselves “Palestinians.”

Finally, the Post’s use of the term “occupied territories” is also incorrect. Jews are from Judea, or as Rubin calls it, the “West Bank.” They are indigenous to the land and have maintained a continual presence there that predates the Arab and Islamic conquests of the 7th century by more than a thousand years.

Further, Jews have a legal basis for residing on the land, whose status can most accurately be described as “disputed,” and not “occupied.” The League of Nations 1922 Palestine Mandate, Article 6 encourages “close settlement by Jews on the land” west of the Jordan River. That covered not only what became Israel in 1948 but also the West Bank (and Gaza Strip, though Israel chose to withdraw from that area in 2005). The U.S. Congress (1922), the U.K. (1924 Anglo-American Convention) and the United Nations 1945 Charter XII, have all reaffirmed the League of Nations 1922 Palestine Mandate.

By contrast, no Palestinian Arab state has ever existed.

Additionally, as CAMERA has frequently pointed out to Post staff, the term “occupied” is problematic and inaccurate. In fact, there is a strong historical and legal basis for Jews to live in Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

The co-authors of Resolution 242, US Under Secretary of State Eugene Rostow, US Ambassador to the United Nations Arthur Goldberg, and British ambassador Lord Caradon made clear, both then and later, that Jews and Arabs both had claims in the territories, and that no national sovereignty over them had been recognized since the end of Ottoman rule.

Indeed, the Washington Post itself, in a September 4, 2014 correction prompted by CAMERA, noted that, “the Israeli-occupied territories are disputed lands that Palestinians want for a future state.” In another CAMERA-prompted correctionThe Wall Street Journal acknowledged on May 16, 2020 “under the Oslo accords, sovereignty over the West Bank is disputed, pending a final settlement.”

Later Rubin asserts that Israeli premier Netanyahu “has repeatedly promised that he will rein in the far-right factions whose policies risk imperiling Israel’s democratic institutions.” The Post reporter also claims that, “many worry that Religious Zionism [a political party] will be beyond managing.” Again, this sounds like more like a press release from an opposition political party than an unbiased journalistic account.

In keeping with this theme, the Post bizarrely calls the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba a “hardline settlement.” The Post doesn’t offer specifics as to what constitutes a “hardline settlement.” Numerous Arab cities and towns that are ruled by the Palestinian Authority have streets that are named after terrorists. Or they host sports tournaments named after terrorists. Or they have actual monuments, including at universities and schools, which are named after terrorists. All of this has been widely documented by Palestinian Media Watch, a nonprofit organization that translates Arab media. Yet, CAMERA was unable to find a single instance of Palestinian towns, such as Ramallah, or universities such as Birzeit, being described as “hardline.”

In 2018, the municipality of Ramallah built a “martyrs monument” which memorialized terrorists who were killed while carrying out terror attacks. In January 2022, Birzeit University named a basketball championship after Marwan Barghouti, a convicted murderer and arch terrorist. Students, PMW documented, even played with jerseys emblazoned with Barghouti’s face.

The university has long been a focal point for celebrating terrorism. Yet in August 2016, the Post ran a glowing profile of a “museum” in the town, which was described as “nestled on a hilltop with panoramic views stretching to the Mediterranean Sea at Birzeit University north of Ramallah.” The previous December, students at Birzeit University decorated a Christmas tree with pictures of “martyrs” like Muhannad Halabi who murdered two Israelis and stabbed a two-year-old child in a terrorist attack on Oct. 3, 2015.

As a recent Gallup poll highlighted, trust in the media is at an all time low. One only needs to peruse the Washington Post to understand why.

Comments are closed.