WaPo Presses Propaganda Button on Temple Mount

Last Friday, 45,000 Muslims ascended Temple Mount in Jerusalem for weekly prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Muslim officials later reported that the prayers went off without any incidents.

In view of some recent episodes of Palestinians hurling stones on Israelis from the Mount and Israel’s countermeasures, one might think that a massive, peaceful Muslim prayer session would be deemed newsworthy at the Washington Post.

Sadly, this is not the case.  Instead, William Booth, the Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, filed a lengthy article that turns events upside-down – blaming Israel for creating tensions at Al-Aqsa that threaten a serious rift with Jordan, whose monarch is guardian and protector of Al-Aqsa (“Troubles at holy site threaten Israel-Jordan ties” page A6, top of international news section, Nov. 24).

Here is Booth’s lead paragraph:

Jordan’s king and his people are bristling with anger over Israeli actions at a sacred site for Muslims in Jerusalem, threatening to turn a cold peace between Israel and Jordan into a deep freeze.

But what, pray, are these Israeli “actions” that supposedly threaten the peace with Jordan on Temple Mount?

Well, the third paragraph mentions Jordanian protests about Israeli police incursions and the “treatment of Muslim worshipers.”  But that still leaves readers to wonder exactly why there should have been Israeli police incursions and what sort of Israeli “treatment” Muslim worshipers have encountered.

It is not until the eighth paragraph that Booth deigns to lift his veil over Israeli actions.  Israeli officials, he writes, say they were forced to temporarily restrict access to the mosque “in response to rioting,” Booth writes.

More specifically, the ninth paragraph makes things clearer by noting that “Israeli security forces were trying to quell riots.”

So finally, readers get some idea of why those “Israeli actions” mentioned in the lead might have such supposedly explosive consequences – Israel has been quelling riots at Temple Mount.  In Booth’s upside-down view, it’s not stone-throwing Palestinian rioters who endanger Israeli-Palestinian relations.  Just the opposite – it’s Israel’s quelling of those rioters that allegedly are the fuse atop Temple Mount.

A classic example of Western liberal media coverage of the conflict that automatically puts Israel in the dock – regardless of the facts.

In this instance, Booth cites high up in his article comments by a Jordanian official to the effect that “Jordan could not afford to maintain its relations with Israel if the status quo is upended.”

But is the status quo – that Jews may not pray atop Temple Mount – really in great danger?

Not if you manage to get all the way to the 22nd paragraph, which belatedly points out that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “emphasized that Israel had no intention of changing a delicate ‘status quo’ agreement with Jordan.”  First, you slander Israel, and then you walk it back, but buried toward the end, where most readers never get to.

What Booth fails to report – the real reason why Jordan is making negative noises about its ties with Israel – is that Palestinians constitute about half of Jordan’s population.  From King Abdullah II on down, it’s good Jordanian domestic politics to slam Israel – without necessarily taking any serious actions.

Witness the ending of Booth’s piece, where he quotes Jordan’s information minister as saying, “His majesty has said we will use everything in our power.  We’ve told the world we are not going to take it.” 

But in the same breath, the information minister declares that the Jordanian government is “continuing to negotiate the Israeli natural gas deal.”  When it comes to a multi-billion-dollar affair that’s beneficial to Jordan, Amman is not about to abandon its own national interests.

Booth’s tendentious article is an affront to Post readers – feeding them not facts, but anti-Israel poison pills.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.

Last Friday, 45,000 Muslims ascended Temple Mount in Jerusalem for weekly prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Muslim officials later reported that the prayers went off without any incidents.

In view of some recent episodes of Palestinians hurling stones on Israelis from the Mount and Israel’s countermeasures, one might think that a massive, peaceful Muslim prayer session would be deemed newsworthy at the Washington Post.

Sadly, this is not the case.  Instead, William Booth, the Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, filed a lengthy article that turns events upside-down – blaming Israel for creating tensions at Al-Aqsa that threaten a serious rift with Jordan, whose monarch is guardian and protector of Al-Aqsa (“Troubles at holy site threaten Israel-Jordan ties” page A6, top of international news section, Nov. 24).

Here is Booth’s lead paragraph:

Jordan’s king and his people are bristling with anger over Israeli actions at a sacred site for Muslims in Jerusalem, threatening to turn a cold peace between Israel and Jordan into a deep freeze.

But what, pray, are these Israeli “actions” that supposedly threaten the peace with Jordan on Temple Mount?

Well, the third paragraph mentions Jordanian protests about Israeli police incursions and the “treatment of Muslim worshipers.”  But that still leaves readers to wonder exactly why there should have been Israeli police incursions and what sort of Israeli “treatment” Muslim worshipers have encountered.

It is not until the eighth paragraph that Booth deigns to lift his veil over Israeli actions.  Israeli officials, he writes, say they were forced to temporarily restrict access to the mosque “in response to rioting,” Booth writes.

More specifically, the ninth paragraph makes things clearer by noting that “Israeli security forces were trying to quell riots.”

So finally, readers get some idea of why those “Israeli actions” mentioned in the lead might have such supposedly explosive consequences – Israel has been quelling riots at Temple Mount.  In Booth’s upside-down view, it’s not stone-throwing Palestinian rioters who endanger Israeli-Palestinian relations.  Just the opposite – it’s Israel’s quelling of those rioters that allegedly are the fuse atop Temple Mount.

A classic example of Western liberal media coverage of the conflict that automatically puts Israel in the dock – regardless of the facts.

In this instance, Booth cites high up in his article comments by a Jordanian official to the effect that “Jordan could not afford to maintain its relations with Israel if the status quo is upended.”

But is the status quo – that Jews may not pray atop Temple Mount – really in great danger?

Not if you manage to get all the way to the 22nd paragraph, which belatedly points out that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “emphasized that Israel had no intention of changing a delicate ‘status quo’ agreement with Jordan.”  First, you slander Israel, and then you walk it back, but buried toward the end, where most readers never get to.

What Booth fails to report – the real reason why Jordan is making negative noises about its ties with Israel – is that Palestinians constitute about half of Jordan’s population.  From King Abdullah II on down, it’s good Jordanian domestic politics to slam Israel – without necessarily taking any serious actions.

Witness the ending of Booth’s piece, where he quotes Jordan’s information minister as saying, “His majesty has said we will use everything in our power.  We’ve told the world we are not going to take it.” 

But in the same breath, the information minister declares that the Jordanian government is “continuing to negotiate the Israeli natural gas deal.”  When it comes to a multi-billion-dollar affair that’s beneficial to Jordan, Amman is not about to abandon its own national interests.

Booth’s tendentious article is an affront to Post readers – feeding them not facts, but anti-Israel poison pills.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.