WASHINGTON POST-WATCH: Isolating an Isolated Israel

The Washington Post’sIn Israel, a deepening isolation” (June 22) is not incorrect. Yet much about it is not right.

The Post’s foreign desk, long a subscriber to “the Palestinian narrative,” has great difficulty getting Israel right. That is, in covering the Jewish state in full and not essentially as a backdrop to Palestinian melodramas.

The article by Janine Zacharia, the Post‘s Jerusalem bureau chief and roving Middle East correspondent, is undermined repeatedly by misleading but journalistically acceptable word choices . Among them:

1) “No matter how alone Israelis have felt in the past, they have routinely found comfort in  unconditional U.S. support [emphasis added].”

Unconditional U.S. support for Israel” is a common falsification in anti-Israeli propaganda often repeated uncritically by journalists.

  • In 1948, no sooner did President Truman recognize the new Jewish state than the U.S. government slapped an arms embargo on the region. This imperiled Jewish forces but the invading Arab armies since they had multiple weapons sources.

  • In 1956, the United States forced Israel to abandon gains from the Sinai campaign against Egypt and Egyptian-supported terrorists. It left the Jewish state outside the nuclear protection offered to France and Great Britain — Israel’s partners against Egypt — in response to Soviet threats.

  • In 1967, Washington warned Israeli leaders not to strike first, even as 80,000 Egyptian troops and nearly 1,000 tanks assembled near the Israeli border, Syrian forces gathered on the Golan Heights and Jordan placed its military at Egypt’s disposal while Arab leaders promise to destroy Israel. 

  • In 1973, the United States hesitated over re-supplying Israeli forces badly damaged in the Yom Kippur War.

  • In 1981, Washington joined most other capitals in condemning Israel’s destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak.

  • In 1991, the United States refused to give the Israeli air force American “friend or foe” codes that would have enabled Israel to retaliate directly for Saddam Hussein’s Scud missile attacks.

  • In the late 1990’s, Washington pressured Israel to continue Oslo “peace process” talks with Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization without insisting on reciprocity, even though the Palestinian side repeatedly violated its pledges to halt terrorism, end anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic incitement, and to promote peaceful coexistence.

  • No American government from Lyndon Johnson’s to Barack Obama’s has supported, let alone “unconditionally,” Israel’s construction of Jewish villages and towns in the disputed West Bank.

2) “Books have been written about the United Nations’ perceived antagonism [emphasis added] toward the Jewish state.

There’s nothing “perceived” about U.N. antagonism toward Israel.

  • From the 1975 General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism (repealed but not delegitimized in 1991) to the 2009 “United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict” (the Goldstone commission that charged Israel with intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians and alleged that it likely committed “crimes against humanity”) the United Nations incessantly has attacked Israel. First with an “automatic majority” led by the Soviet bloc, Arab League and “non-aligned movement,” more recently with one headed by the Arab League nations and countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the United Nations has adopted hundreds of resolutions and supported countless activities demonizing the Jewish state.

3) “With the peace process stalled, the international community turning a skeptical eye toward Israeli shows of force and pro-Palestinian groups eager to jump on the nation’s missteps, the stage was set for a furious reaction when commandos killed nine activists aboard a Turkish aid ship heading for Gaza [emphases added] on May 31.”

  • Weeks before the Post published “In Israel, a deepening isolation,” evidence showed the “nine activists” were affiliated with IHH, the Turkish “Humanitarian Relief Fund,” a Hamas-linked Islamic radical movement. It also demonstrated that the Mavi Marmara, the “Turkish aid ship heading for Gaza,” did not carry humanitarian aid but rather attempted to break Israel’s sea blockade on behalf of the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers. A Post editorial (“The flotilla fiasco; In a bloody fight off the coast of Gaza, Israel is the loser.” June 1), referred to “dozens of militants who swarmed around them [Israeli commandos] with knives and iron bars” and said “what’s plain is that the group’s nominal purpose, delivering ‘humanitarian’ supplies to Gaza, was secondary to the aim of provoking a confrontation.” For more evidence, see CAMERA’s June 4 Web site posting, “The Gaza Flotilla: Falsehoods and Facts.”

  • In “From proximity to peace? What to expect from the Israeli-Palestinian talks brokered by the Obama administration” (March 9), The Post editorial page observes “there is considerable cause for concern about this iteration of the seemingly endless Middle East ‘peace process.’” It notes, among other things, that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “already rejected a far-reaching peace offer” from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s predecessor. It’s past time the foreign desk notes the same thing, and either puts “peace process” in quotation marks also or simply refers to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.

4) “Rather than parrot the Israeli language that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, U.S. officials described the situation there as ‘unsustainable and unacceptable.’” [emphasis added]

Parrot, of course, implies mindless repetition, perhaps of falsehoods. But as Zacharia herself reported, “Getting what they need to live, but not to thrive” June 3, there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. So why “parrot” the U.S. officials without context the Post is well aware of?

Journalism is the timely and accurate reporting of relevant facts precisely expressed. “In Israel, a deepening isolation” featured imprecise expression and omission of relevant information. This blurred accuracy and offset timeliness.

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