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March 7, 2010
How WaPo slants the news against Israel
Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel bias was on full display in the March 6 edition of the Washington Post in an article about Arab rioters, who were goaded by an inciteful sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque atop Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and emerged after services, hurling stones on Jews praying below at the Western Wall. Riot police had to be called to quell the riot, which resulted in injuries on both sides. The riot forced evacuation of Jewish worshippers from their holiest shrine.
Except that's not how the Post reported this incident. In a six-paragraph piece carefully and selectively culled from a lengthier Associated Press dispatch, the Post rewrote the AP version so as to tamp down the extent of the riot and report only Palestinian injuries, while blaming Israel for setting off this violent protest and totally ignoring calls by Palestinian religious and political leaders for another intifada against Israel. ("Violence erupts at contested holy sites" page A8).
Here, in brief, is the Post's version:
The lead paragraph reports that Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian stone-throwers at two contested holy sites and in a West Bank village, "seriously injuring two Palestinians."
The second paragraph reports that, in Jerusalem, a Palestinian woman was hospitalized in serious condition after a violent clash at Temple Mount.
The third paragraph reports that a 14-year-old boy, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, was critically wounded by a rubber bullet and that skirmishes also broke out at a holy site in Hebron.
The fourth paragraph reports that the March 5 events "were sparked, in part, by rising anger over Israel's decision to add two shrines in the West Bank to its list of national heritage sites" -- a move perceived by Palestinians as an indication that Israel wants to hold on to large parts of the territory. Note, the "in part" qualifier, in the Post's version of what sparked these clashes -- the only time the Post article gives readers an inkling of who was to blame -- namely Israel. The Post version omits any other "parts" of what sparked the clashes, such as the more immediate Palestinian incitement from Mahmoud Abbas on down, and the Al-Aqsa imam's Friday sermon, which pumped up Arab youths to start the rampage.
The fifth paragraph mentions that Hamas called for a new uprising, but makes no mention of Abbas's role in sparking the violence, or use of the Al-Aqsa pulpit for an inciteful sermon.
The sixth -- and final -- paragraph reports that U.S. envoy George Mitchell is due to arrive in the region to launch indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks.
And the entire article is attributed to the Associated Press.
Except there are glaring differences between the Post and AP reports. The AP at least made some effort to file a balanced piece, while the Post edited the AP dispatch by removing any and all elements that might point a finger at Palestinian culpability for the riots.
1. The AP version mentions that hundreds emerged from prayers and threw stones at policemen and Jews "praying below at the Jewish shrine known as the Western Wall." The Post carefully removed that part from its own version. The Western Wall and Temple Mount are Judaism's holiest sites, but the Post saw no need to point out this essential fact about the riot.
2. The AP version makes clear that the rioters threw stones at Jewish worshippers. The Post excised this bit of information, mentioning only that stones were thrown at contested holy sites, but leaving out the fact that Jews at prayer at their holiest site were the target. Throwing stones at a site is one thing, but throwing stones at civilians at prayers in quite another thing. The Post, however, is not interested in factual precision.
3. The AP version mentions that Israel's decision to include two West Bank holy sites on its list of national heritage shrines, in part, sparked the riots. So does the Post. But the AP threw in an important qualifier -- that Israel's decision "has no immediate consequences" -- a bit of information carefully removed by the Post in its editing of the AP dispatch. The fact is that at one of the sites, the Cave of the Patriarchs, Israel ensures access to both Muslim and Jewish worshippers and that Israel recently completed access improvements for Muslims, ahead of such renovation work for Jewish worshppers. The other West Bank shrine, Rachel's Tomb outsie of Bethlehem, has been a Jewish holy site for several thousands of years, while Muslims only sought to connect it to Islam 10 years ago -- in the meantime using it repeatedly for target practice. But such facts don't interest Post editors in pursuit of their anti-Israel agenda. Pro-Palestinian myths take precedence over Jewish history at the Washington Post.
4. The AP version, when it comes to the critically wounded teenager in Nabi Saleh, quotes Israeli officials as saying that police fired rubber bullets "to disperse a violent riot." The Post makes no mention of Israel's explanation of why it fired rubber bullets in the village.
5. The AP version, while pointing to two Palestinians who ended up with serious injuries, mentions that 18 Israeli policemen were also hurt. The Post makes no mention of injuries to Israeli police.
One wonders how Washington Post readers would have been informed if the paper also had displayed such biased, one-sided journalism in reporting the shooter incident at the Pentagon. Would the Post have carried a headline reading, "Violence erupts at Pentagon, one person dead"? Followed by a lead that might have read, "Shootout claimed one life at the entrance to the Pentagon" without mentioning that a conspiracy-addled shooter opened fire at two Pentagon policemen, who returned fire and killed him?
I don't think so. Why? Because such gross distortion at the Post is specially reserved for its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians.