Crisis over Palestinian statehood bid is all Israel's fault

If you're looking for a classic textbook example of biased ''news'' coverage, look no farther than the Sept. 16 edition of the Washington Post, which features a front-page article on declining U.S. influence in the Middle East, as pointed up by the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N.  ("U.N. vote could test U.S. role in Mideast -- Leaders Brush off White House warnings on Palestinian initiative")

The article, by Joby Warrick and Scott Wilson, puts the entire blame on Israel for the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to heed Obama administration entreaties to skip the UN as the road to a peace settlement and instead resume direct negotiations with Israel.  Yes, even though it's the PA that defies Obama, it's still Israel's fault.  And only Israel's.

Here is how Warrick and Wilson manage to absolve Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas from any responsibility for the crisis with the U.S. and how they put the entire onus on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahua -- right up front, above the fold, in their lead paragraph:

"One week before a U.N. showdown over Palestinian statehood, the Obama administrtion is confronting the stark new limits of its influence in the Middle East, including with its chief ally in the region, Israel."

So, it's Israel -- not the PA -- that is undermining American influence.  Never mind that U.S. envoys have been making repeated trips to Ramallah, practically begging Abbas to desist.  The villain of the piece is Netanyahu.

In fact, Netanyahu is mentioned 11 times in the article as the uncompromising obstacle, while Mahmoud Abbas is never mentioned at all.  The erasure of Abbas from their piece is the Warrick-Wilson way of bestowing absolution on the Paletinian leader.  His skirts are kept entirely clean.

How do they manage that?  Here's their second paragraph:

"U.S. officials have warned Israel's hawkish prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Palestinian leaders, that the diplomatic clash over a U.N. vote to recognize a Palestinian state could further destabilize a region already in political tumult." 

Thus, Netanyahu is cast, first and foremost, as the "hawkish" actor in this diplomatic drama ("hawkish" in Wash. Post parlance is synonymous with "anti-peace"), while Abbas is hidden from view, shielded by an innocuous mention of "Palestinian leaders."  And no pejorative attached to those Palestinian leaders, God forbid.

The third paragraph similarly loads the dice against Israel:

"But those warnings have been ignored, not only by a Palestinian leadership that feels betrayed by the Obama administration, but also by an Israeli government that receives billions of dollars a year in U.S. military and other aid."  

When it comes to ignoring U.S. pleas, the Palestinians have a right to do so because they've "been betrayed by the Obama administration" but Israel is denied any such excuse.  Just the opposite, It's portrayed as an ungrateful ally pocketing billions of dollars in U.S. aid while giving the brush-off to Obama.  No mention that Uncle Sam is also generous in its assistance to Abbas's PA, which receives $500 million a year from Washington.  Ingratitude only attaches to Israel, not to Abbas and the PA.

The article goes downhill from there -- "Netanyahu is more afraid of a right-wing challenge at home than he is of an angry Obama,"

And Netanyahu won't let himself be pressured to apologize to Ankara for the killing of nine Turkish thugs on a Gaza-bound vessel last year when Israeli commandos were brutally attacked as they boarded the ship.  But that's not how Warrick and Wilson see it.  The ship, according to the article, was heading peacefully to Gaza, "which has been under the control of the armed Palestinian movement Hamas since 2007."  No mention that under Hamas, a terrorist outfit, Israeli towns and communities in southern Israel have been bombarded by thousands of rockets and mortar shells from Gaza.  According to Wilson and Warrick, Hamas is just a benign "armed movement."  The fact that it's used arms against Israel -- again and again -- is kept secret from Post readers.  So is any mention of the recent UN report that asserted Israel's right to blockade Gaza in view of Hamas's use of the territory as a launching pad for repeated attacks on civilians populations in Israel.

Since the article completely absolves Abbas and the PA from stoking regional tensions, why not also absolve Hamas of any fault or blame.  Bibi remains the real target -- the only target.

If I were teaching Journalism 101, this is one that would rank high on my syllabus on perverted news coverage.

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