A pro-Israel article in the Washington Post? Not exactly

Leo Rennert
In the Oct. 13 edition of the Washington Post, correspondent Joel Greenberg writes how Israel deploys considerable resources to protect Palestinian olive groves in the West Bank from vandalism by extremist Jewish settlers.

"Military authorities in the Wet Bank have developed an elaborate plan to protect Palestinians working in groves near Jewish settlements and outposts," Greenberg reports.  "Dates and locations of work are coordinated with villagers, and border police and soldiers are posted to deter settlers and guard the harvesters.

"Lt. Amir Koren, spokesman for the Civil Administration, the Israeli military government in the West Bank, said that extensive resources and manpower had been devoted to securing the harvest.

"Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said that the damages and theft of olives were 'not a phenomenon' that was widespread and that there had been similar complaints by settlers reporting property damage by Palestinians.  He said that investigations had been opened and several suspects questioned.

"Avigdor Shatz, the security chief of the Jewish settlement in the area, drove by in his jeep.  'The police are weak in all directions,' he said, referring to responses to complaints by settlers and Palestinians.  'There are extremist elements on both sides.  We condemn any damage.  Everyone should be able to harvest their olives.

"A spokeswoman for the settlers' regional council, Tamara Asraf, said that in the vast majority of locations, even inside settlement limits, Palestinians were harvesting without incident in coordination with the security forces."

Finally, a pro-Israel article in the Washington Post?  An article that carefully and evenhandedly calibrates instances of settler vandalism of Palestinian olive groves with extensive Israeli security precautions to protect Palestinian farmers and their crops?  An article that gives Israel its rightful due?

Well, not exactly.

All the excerpts about Israeli protection of Palestinian olive trees, cited above, are effectively buried in the second half of Greenberg's article.  The vast majority of Post readers who look only at the headline and the first half dozen or so paragraphs are apt to leave with exactly the opposite impression -- that Israeli vandals rampage through defenseless Palestinian olive groves.

The headline reads:  "In the West Bank, harvesting conflict -- Palestinian farmers say Israeli settlers are vandalizing olive groves."

And Greenberg's lead paragraph sets the real tone of his piece: 

"When members of the Shalabi family went out recently to harvest their olives, they discovered that a few dozen trees had been chopped down, their branches hacked by vandals.  In other groves belonging to this Palestinian village, there were scores of dead trees that had been apparently poisoned, with holes drilled in their trunks."

And to drive home the real point of his article, Greenberg concludes by quoting another Palestinian olive grower about settlers stealing some of his olives:  "The settlers wanted more than just olives.  They want to evict people and take the land.  All of it."

So what could have been a fair "pox on both their houses" critique of vandalism by Jewish and Palestinian extremists in the West Bank turns out, after all, to be just another anti-Israel "hit" piece in the Washington Post.

Two final observations:

--While the Washington Post in this instance focuses on West Bank vandalism by extremist Jewish settlers, it has yet to report massive Palestinian vandalism of Jewish holy sites under the control of the Palestinian Authority, including the destruction of Joseph's Tomb near Nablus, the desecration of an ancient synagogue in Jericho and repeated sniper firing at Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem.  And, in all these instances, Palestinian authorities -- unlike their Israeli counterparts -- offered absolutely no protection to guard against such vandalism.

--By a strange and interesting coincidence, the New York Times, also in its Oct. 13 edition, runs an almost identical article about Jewish settlers vandalizing Palestinian olive groves, focusing on the same village in the West Bank.  Are the Times and the Post bureaus in Jerusalem now coordinating their respective anti-Israel "hit" pieces?  Or was this a case of saving a few shekels by sharing a taxi ride?

Just wondering.
In the Oct. 13 edition of the Washington Post, correspondent Joel Greenberg writes how Israel deploys considerable resources to protect Palestinian olive groves in the West Bank from vandalism by extremist Jewish settlers.

"Military authorities in the Wet Bank have developed an elaborate plan to protect Palestinians working in groves near Jewish settlements and outposts," Greenberg reports.  "Dates and locations of work are coordinated with villagers, and border police and soldiers are posted to deter settlers and guard the harvesters.

"Lt. Amir Koren, spokesman for the Civil Administration, the Israeli military government in the West Bank, said that extensive resources and manpower had been devoted to securing the harvest.

"Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said that the damages and theft of olives were 'not a phenomenon' that was widespread and that there had been similar complaints by settlers reporting property damage by Palestinians.  He said that investigations had been opened and several suspects questioned.

"Avigdor Shatz, the security chief of the Jewish settlement in the area, drove by in his jeep.  'The police are weak in all directions,' he said, referring to responses to complaints by settlers and Palestinians.  'There are extremist elements on both sides.  We condemn any damage.  Everyone should be able to harvest their olives.

"A spokeswoman for the settlers' regional council, Tamara Asraf, said that in the vast majority of locations, even inside settlement limits, Palestinians were harvesting without incident in coordination with the security forces."

Finally, a pro-Israel article in the Washington Post?  An article that carefully and evenhandedly calibrates instances of settler vandalism of Palestinian olive groves with extensive Israeli security precautions to protect Palestinian farmers and their crops?  An article that gives Israel its rightful due?

Well, not exactly.

All the excerpts about Israeli protection of Palestinian olive trees, cited above, are effectively buried in the second half of Greenberg's article.  The vast majority of Post readers who look only at the headline and the first half dozen or so paragraphs are apt to leave with exactly the opposite impression -- that Israeli vandals rampage through defenseless Palestinian olive groves.

The headline reads:  "In the West Bank, harvesting conflict -- Palestinian farmers say Israeli settlers are vandalizing olive groves."

And Greenberg's lead paragraph sets the real tone of his piece: 

"When members of the Shalabi family went out recently to harvest their olives, they discovered that a few dozen trees had been chopped down, their branches hacked by vandals.  In other groves belonging to this Palestinian village, there were scores of dead trees that had been apparently poisoned, with holes drilled in their trunks."

And to drive home the real point of his article, Greenberg concludes by quoting another Palestinian olive grower about settlers stealing some of his olives:  "The settlers wanted more than just olives.  They want to evict people and take the land.  All of it."

So what could have been a fair "pox on both their houses" critique of vandalism by Jewish and Palestinian extremists in the West Bank turns out, after all, to be just another anti-Israel "hit" piece in the Washington Post.

Two final observations:

--While the Washington Post in this instance focuses on West Bank vandalism by extremist Jewish settlers, it has yet to report massive Palestinian vandalism of Jewish holy sites under the control of the Palestinian Authority, including the destruction of Joseph's Tomb near Nablus, the desecration of an ancient synagogue in Jericho and repeated sniper firing at Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem.  And, in all these instances, Palestinian authorities -- unlike their Israeli counterparts -- offered absolutely no protection to guard against such vandalism.

--By a strange and interesting coincidence, the New York Times, also in its Oct. 13 edition, runs an almost identical article about Jewish settlers vandalizing Palestinian olive groves, focusing on the same village in the West Bank.  Are the Times and the Post bureaus in Jerusalem now coordinating their respective anti-Israel "hit" pieces?  Or was this a case of saving a few shekels by sharing a taxi ride?

Just wondering.