CAMERA criticisms of the Washington Post often stem from errors of omission within news coverage, or failure to cover certain news altogether. The result is a pattern of reporting that highlights Arab claims and grievances while downplaying Arab culpability but does the reverse to Israel. During the first week of April, the pattern held. For example:
• On April 7, The New York Times published “On a Screen in the West Bank, Gandhi’s Message of Nonviolence.” Correspondent Greg Myre reported on the first showing of an Arabic version of the 1982 movie “Gandhi” in the West Bank. The free screening attracted several hundred people, including a number of Palestinian cabinet ministers, Myre wrote. “[Western] Organizers of the ‘Gandhi Project’ plan to show the film throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip …. Beginning next month, the film will be presented to the large Palestinian refugee communities in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.” Palestinian viewers debated the applicability of Gandhian non-violence against Israel; Myre said that “opinion polls have consistently shown that a large majority of Palestinians have supported attacks against Israel ….”
• On April 6, The Baltimore Sun ran “Making their last stand in Gaza; Settlers: Despite recent setbacks, resident of towns targeted for evacuation are encouraged by newcomers moving in to help them hold their ground.” Sun correspondent John Murphy’s news-feature was timely, detailed, and avoided stereotyping Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip and their spokesmen by reporting their diverse views.
The Los Angeles Times’ same-day article, “Sharon meets with settlers from the Gaza Strip,” by correspondent Ken Ellinwood, also detailed the settlers’ predicament as Israel’s July withdrawal from Gaza nears. In addition, it noted opposition from environmentalists to the settlers’ proposal that they move en bloc to terrain much like that of their Gaza homes in an Israeli coastal nature preserve.
Belatedly, The Washington Post followed the lead of The Sun and LA Times, publishing a similar news feature on April 13, “Israel Has Few Assurances for Gaza Settlers; As Pullout Nears, Relocation Plans Remain Unclear,” by correspondents Molly Moore and John Ward Anderson.
• The Los Angeles Times, on April 5, published another Ellinwood dispatch, “Lawlessness Has Abbas Going After the Law.” It told of the Palestinian leader’s attempts to consolidate ineffective multiple security forces and ensure that they crack down on gunmen. The latter have resisted police control, refused to turn over weapons, and shot up restaurants and other Palestinian business to make their point and casting doubt over Abbas’ attempt to fulfill a key Israeli and American expectation.
• USA Today’s April 6 edition included reporter Andrea Stone’s article, “Israel considers barring Palestinian workers; Vice premier comes to US to promote aid plan.” The story told of Israeli consideration of a plan that would reduce mutual dependence of Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, especially when Israel is to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and while “Israel security officials regularly apprehend would-be attackers at border crossings.” The article noted that before the Palestinians launched their second “intifada” in September 2000, 150,000 worked inside Israel, but the violence led to Israeli counter-terror measures including a reduction to 30,000 for Palestinian workers inside Israel; self-inflicted Palestinian unemployment has jumped from10 to 40 percent.
During this period the Post published three briefs on the differences between Israel and the United States over linking Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem, one including the wounding of four Arabs by Israeli guards protecting the West Bank security barrier; a brief on two Israeli police punished for beating a pair of Arabs; and a brief noting that Syria’s military withdrawal from Lebanon before the end of the month will meet U.N. demands.
The New York Times‘ report on showing “Gandhi” to West Bank audiences makes clear that the Palestinian Arabs’ fight against Israel has not been non-violent, and that the terrorism has public support. Baltimore Sun and Los Angeles Times’ articles about the settlers portray them as human beings. The Los Angeles Times’ story on intra-Palestinian violence reflects the absence of rule-of-law in the Palestinian Authority and, by implication, the risks Israel takes in relying on the word of the PA. USA Today’s report notes the economic devastation the Palestinians inflicted upon themselves by the past four and a-half years of anti-Israel terrorism, and that they continue to attempt such terrorism.