Wash. Post slants coverage of new housing for West Bank city of Ariel

Leo Rennert
In its Aug. 16 edition, the Washington Post features a dispatch by Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg about Israel's decision to proceed with construction of 277 homes in the West Bank town of Ariel ("Israel announces new construction in West Bank" page A7).

Here's how Greenberg begins his article:

"Israel on Monday announced approval for construction of 277 homes in a large Jewish settlerment deep in the West Bank, the third announcement this month of building on occupied land.

"Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the construction in the settlement town of Ariel...."

Right at the top, in his lead, Greenberg injects an anti-Israel poison pill -- that Ariel is located on "occupied" land.  The clear inference is that this land doesn't belong to Israel, that it belongs to someone else  Guess who?  The Palestinians quite clearly.

Except that the Palestinians never had sovereign ownership of this land.  The last sovereign to rule over the West Bank -- then more appropriately called Judea and Samaria -- was the Ottoman Empire, which vanished after World War I -- nearly a century ago.  Since then, the West Bank has been an area waiting for inclusion in a permanent, sovereign country.

And when it comes to a sovereign pedigrees, Israel beats Palestinian claims by a country mile.  Not only was there a 3,000-year Jewish presence in this land, including sovereign Jewish rule for one millennium; in more recent times, this was land reserved for a national Jewish home by the League of Nations, with concurrence by the U.S. Congress.

Instead of calling it "occupied" -- a highly charged and unwarranted term -- it would behoove the Washington Post not to carry water for the Palestinians and to use instead a more appropriate adjective for the current status of this land, such as "disputed."  Since Israel, under any conceivable two-state solution, will keep Ariel and the Palestinians want it for a state of their own, there's clearly a "dispute" here.  It's not the job of Greenberg and the Post to poison the well in the meantime.

Nor should Greenberg, again in his lead, question the legitimacy of Ariel by calling it a "large Jewish settlement deep in the West Bank."  The inference here again is that Israeli retention of Ariel would somehow block creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.  But a look at the West Bank map makes it quite clear that there still would remain ample territory beyond Ariel all the way to the Jordanian border for a contiguous Palestinian state.

The reality is that Jewish settlements occupy less than 5 percent of the entire West Bank and most of them would be evacuated under any realistic two-state deal.  But Ariel, a  vibrant city of 20,000 inhabitants would remain on the Israeli side.  It's been around since the 1970s and in the meantime has built one of Israel's largest universities with an enrolment of 8,000 students -- Arabs and Israelis, secular and religious.  In fact, 70 percent of its student body comes from the Greater Tel Aviv area, Israel's liberal, secular heartland.

Greenberg, apparently aware that he has loaded the dice against Israel at the start of his article, moves back a couple of steps toward the end of his piece when he writes that Prime Minister Netanyahu "has urged an immediate resumption of negotiations to discuss outstanding issues, including the future of the settlements."  And that Ariel is one of the "large settlements that Israel would seek to retain in a future peace deal with the Palestinians."

 

Quite so.  But why the customary Post pattern of loading the dice against Israel at the top of the article and present Israel's side only at the end?  Why this back-of-the-bus journalistic treatment of Israel in the Washington Post, which so taints its own credibility?

And when it comes to biased reporting, the worst aspect at the Post actually resides in what it does not report, especially  the fierce, incessant anti-Israel incitement by Mahmoud Abbas, who teaches Palestinian kindergarten kids the pleasures reserved in Paradise for terrorist "martyrs" who blow up Israeli kids.  One would think that the Palestinian Authority's internal and external propaganda war against any Israeli claims to any part of the Holy Land is at least as noteworthy an obstacle to a peace deal as building a couple of hundred homes in Ariel.

Yet, such lack of Palestinian commitment to a real peace doesn't qualify as news with Greenberg and the Washington Post

In its Aug. 16 edition, the Washington Post features a dispatch by Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg about Israel's decision to proceed with construction of 277 homes in the West Bank town of Ariel ("Israel announces new construction in West Bank" page A7).

Here's how Greenberg begins his article:

"Israel on Monday announced approval for construction of 277 homes in a large Jewish settlerment deep in the West Bank, the third announcement this month of building on occupied land.

"Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the construction in the settlement town of Ariel...."

Right at the top, in his lead, Greenberg injects an anti-Israel poison pill -- that Ariel is located on "occupied" land.  The clear inference is that this land doesn't belong to Israel, that it belongs to someone else  Guess who?  The Palestinians quite clearly.

Except that the Palestinians never had sovereign ownership of this land.  The last sovereign to rule over the West Bank -- then more appropriately called Judea and Samaria -- was the Ottoman Empire, which vanished after World War I -- nearly a century ago.  Since then, the West Bank has been an area waiting for inclusion in a permanent, sovereign country.

And when it comes to a sovereign pedigrees, Israel beats Palestinian claims by a country mile.  Not only was there a 3,000-year Jewish presence in this land, including sovereign Jewish rule for one millennium; in more recent times, this was land reserved for a national Jewish home by the League of Nations, with concurrence by the U.S. Congress.

Instead of calling it "occupied" -- a highly charged and unwarranted term -- it would behoove the Washington Post not to carry water for the Palestinians and to use instead a more appropriate adjective for the current status of this land, such as "disputed."  Since Israel, under any conceivable two-state solution, will keep Ariel and the Palestinians want it for a state of their own, there's clearly a "dispute" here.  It's not the job of Greenberg and the Post to poison the well in the meantime.

Nor should Greenberg, again in his lead, question the legitimacy of Ariel by calling it a "large Jewish settlement deep in the West Bank."  The inference here again is that Israeli retention of Ariel would somehow block creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.  But a look at the West Bank map makes it quite clear that there still would remain ample territory beyond Ariel all the way to the Jordanian border for a contiguous Palestinian state.

The reality is that Jewish settlements occupy less than 5 percent of the entire West Bank and most of them would be evacuated under any realistic two-state deal.  But Ariel, a  vibrant city of 20,000 inhabitants would remain on the Israeli side.  It's been around since the 1970s and in the meantime has built one of Israel's largest universities with an enrolment of 8,000 students -- Arabs and Israelis, secular and religious.  In fact, 70 percent of its student body comes from the Greater Tel Aviv area, Israel's liberal, secular heartland.

Greenberg, apparently aware that he has loaded the dice against Israel at the start of his article, moves back a couple of steps toward the end of his piece when he writes that Prime Minister Netanyahu "has urged an immediate resumption of negotiations to discuss outstanding issues, including the future of the settlements."  And that Ariel is one of the "large settlements that Israel would seek to retain in a future peace deal with the Palestinians."

 

Quite so.  But why the customary Post pattern of loading the dice against Israel at the top of the article and present Israel's side only at the end?  Why this back-of-the-bus journalistic treatment of Israel in the Washington Post, which so taints its own credibility?

And when it comes to biased reporting, the worst aspect at the Post actually resides in what it does not report, especially  the fierce, incessant anti-Israel incitement by Mahmoud Abbas, who teaches Palestinian kindergarten kids the pleasures reserved in Paradise for terrorist "martyrs" who blow up Israeli kids.  One would think that the Palestinian Authority's internal and external propaganda war against any Israeli claims to any part of the Holy Land is at least as noteworthy an obstacle to a peace deal as building a couple of hundred homes in Ariel.

Yet, such lack of Palestinian commitment to a real peace doesn't qualify as news with Greenberg and the Washington Post