Molly Moore, half of The Washington Post’s two-person Jerusalem bureau — husband John Ward Anderson shares the assignment — returned to the paper after a month-long absence with a June 24 feature. It’s headlined “‘Breaking the Silence’ on West Bank Abuse; Israeli Soldiers Exhibit Depicts Mistreatments of Palestinians by Troops, Settlers in Hebron” and is prominently displayed on the first page of The Post’s World News section.
The Post plays catch-up
Agence France Presse (English service) reported the exhibit’s opening on June 3, The Baltimore Sun on June 5. Nineteen days later, Moore closely parallels much of Sun Israel correspondent Peter Hermann’s dispatch, “Images of the brutality within.” However, Moore’scoverage lacks the balance Hermann provided.
The show reportedly features 80 photographs and videotapes of Israeli troops, Jewish residents, and Palestinian Arabs in Hebron between 2001 and 2003.
Where Hermann’s language generally is straight-forward, Moore tends to editorialize, caricaturing Israelis. For example:
Hermann writes that “one photo shows Palestinian children playing soldier. Four youngsters stand with their hands against a wall, their legs outstretched. Two others stand guard, as a real Israeli soldier watches in bemusement.” Moore reports that “in one of the most arresting pictures, two stick-wielding Palestinian boys play a game of ‘hands up,’ pretending they are Israeli soldiers lining up four other Palestinian children, including a female toddler in a pink suit, against a wall. An Israeli soldier stands nearby, grinning, an assault rifle cradled in his arms.”
Hermann reports that the Israeli army announced “an investigation into the abuses depicted in the exhibit” and that it says it “educates its soldiers to act according to high moral standards and will continue to investigate and take serious measures in exceptional incidents.” Moore quotes one of the organizers as charging that their questioning by the army was meant “to keep us quiet and scare us away.” It ends by citing an 18-year-old girl “who will begin her mandatory army service next year.” She “stood transfixed before the photos. ‘It’s pretty shocking,’ she said.”
The Post’s hateful settlers
Hermann reports that “nowhere other than Hebron do the two warring sides live so close together. And nowhere are the roles for soldiers more blurred. One moment they are fending off militant fire, and the next they are protecting Palestinians from settlers’ wrath.” He mentions the notice to viewers, posted at the start of the exhibit, which says soldiers in Hebron were “exposed to terrorism’s ugly face” and confronted “suicide bombers who didn’t hesitate” and saw? a Jewish family “murdered around the dinner table.”
Moore also cites the exhibit’s introductory notice. But she omits its references to Palestinian terrorism, suicide bombers and a murdered Jewish family. However, she includes — as does Hermann — a reference to settlers “breaking into Palestinian homes and confronting physically and verbally the army and police.”
Moore claims that “photographs in the exhibit capture the hatred of Jewish settler graffiti — ‘Arabs to the Gas Chambers!’…” Hermann writes without editorializing that “Another picture shows graffiti: ‘Arabs to the gas chambers’.”
The exhibit apparently does not substantiate anything approaching widespread Israeli crimes against Arabs in the disputed territories. Neither The Post nor The Sun demonstrate that it confirms anything beyond the views of its three organizers, recently discharged draftees, and the relative few they quote on tape. If it did deserve coverage, it was coverage like that found in The Baltimore Sun, not in The Washington Post.