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August 20, 2009
WaPo hypocrisy on Israel's security barrier
In its Aug. 20 edition, the Washington Post features an article by correspondents Linda Gradstein and Howard Schneider about Israel's counter-terrorism barrier along the West Bank. The story is spread across four columns, with a four-column photograph of the barrier, plus a couple of maps ("Momentum Slows for Israel's Barrier -- Cost, Legal Concerns and a Drop in Violence May Leave Controversial Project Unfinished" page A10).
Gradstein and Schneider describe the barrier as "one of Israel's more controversial undertakings," although the only beef OF most Israelis is that it's taken much too long to build it. The article quotes Israeli officials as crediting the barrier with a decline in suicide bombings and mentions that it was started in 2002 amid a "violent Palestinian uprising." But it strangely fails to tell Post readers whether any Israelis actually were killed and/or injured as a result of this uprising. Had the authors mentioned that the intifada claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Israelis as a result of terrorist attacks originating from the West Bank and wounded several thousand more, Post readers perhaps might have gotten a better idea of why the barrier was so critically needed.
Gradstein and Schneider go on to quote a UN official as calling for the removal of the barrier during the "debut of a short UN documentary on the barrier, narrated by Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters." One wonders if this promo for the film sparked this article in the first place. Whatever their intentions, the authors of the article fail to inform Post readers that the British rocker isn't exactly an impartial observer. Instead, he is a passionate pro-Palestinian propagandist. So much for UN impartiality. And, naturally, Gradstein and Schneider dutifully report for the umpteenth time that Palestinians refer to the barrier as an "apartheid wall."
Nevertheless, despite all these many shortcomings, I wouldn't really have any great objection to this article -- were it not for the fact that I've lost count of how many previous articles, all critical of the barrier in one fashion or another, have appeared in the Washington Post over the last seven years, while the paper never has devoted similar coverage to many other security barriers around the world.
The Post would have greater credibility in running yet another negative piece about the barrier IF it also had shown similar interest in:
--A 112-mile-long barrier -- with concrete, barbed wire, watchtowers, minefields and ditches -- that has sliced through Cyprus since 1974 to separate Turkish Cypriots from Greek Cypriots.
--A security barrier built by India through disputed Kashmir that runs hundreds of miles to blunt intrusion by Pakistan-based terrorists.
--Saudi Arabia's barrier to prevent infiltration of terrorists from neighboring Yemen -- also built in areas under dispute.
--The barrier that separates Protestants and Catholics in Belfast, which somehow has escaped any pejorative description like "apartheid wall." It's commonly known as the "Peace Line" -- a label that equally fits Israel's security barrier along the West Bank.
--The "Wall of Shame" -- a sand and stone barrier, mined in some places -- that protects Moroccans from Polisario terrorists in the Western Sahara.
--And let's not overlook the U.S. barrier along the border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants -- a barrier that hasn't gotten a fraction of the coverage the Post has devoted to Israel's security barrier.
So what are we to make of the Post's singular obsession with Israel's barrier?
I'm reminded of what Larry Summers, President Obama's economic guru, said when he was president of Harvard and under pressure from some faculty members and students who wanted the university to divest from companies doing business with Israel. Summers, in rejecting their demands, declared that, since they were singling out only Israel for punitive action, their campaign amounted to "anti-Semitism in effect, if not in intent."
As the saying goes, if the shoe fits....