The Washington Post's passive-voice propaganda smears Israel
With the headline "Sacred Jerusalem church is shuttered amid tax dispute" (2/26/18), the Washington Post uses the passive voice to slyly imply, but avoid directly stating, that Israel shuttered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for tax evasion. Reinforcing this impression, the article begins, "The doors of Jerusalem's sacred Church of the Holy Sepuchre were shuttered Sunday amid a growing dispute[.]"
The second paragraph starts with the following: "The unprecedented move at a site that each day draws thousands to the place where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and later resurrected comes after the Jerusalem municipality took steps to collect taxes on church properties in the city." The fourth paragraph speaks of a "news conference in front of the church's bolted wooden doors." The fifth paragraph is a quote repeated in the article from a church leader complaining of a "systematic and offensive campaign" by Israel.
The seventh paragraph starts with this: "Closing the church's doors comes at a highly sensitive time after a potentially destabilizing decision by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv." The Post reemphasizes the closing of the church's doors and throws in its daily anti-U.S. administration agenda wherever possible.
And what is with this "potentially" destabilizing decision? The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital hasn't destabilized anything. Another example of how the newspaper of record in the nation's capital injects opinion into the facts of its reporting.
The Post agenda continues: "Local Muslims and Christians have said that such a move [moving the embassy to Jerusalem] could upset the religious balance in Jerusalem, a city holy to all three Abrahamic religions." What does this have to do with the tax dispute, other than side-stepping the issue and taking a cheap shot at the U.S. administration? The side-stepping and cheap shots in the article continue with the Post remark that the U.S. State Department alienated the Palestinians by announcing the exact date of the embassy move and that the Palestinians now feel that it is "impossible for the United States to be a fair broker in any future peace process between them and Israel." And the link with the tax dispute is...?
Sixteen paragraphs in, we learn Israel's view of the dispute: "Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the new policies would not affect the churches and would cover only properties belonging to church authorities that are used for commercial purposes." Sounds like much ado about nothing! Unless the objective is to sensationalize the news and bash Israel and the U.S. administration. The perfect trifecta!
This solves the question of the tax dispute – it's not with the church itself, but with commercial (non-prayer) properties the church owns. Finally acknowledging a point in Israel's favor, the article states that "the Israeli parliament agreed to hold off discussing the legislation to ease tensions with church leaders in Jerusalem and find a compromise." Reasonable – even more than reasonable!
So to the essence of the article, what's the story with the sacred church closure, disappointing so many? Why was it done? There is only a vague clue when the article states, "The site's closure is also a response to the proposed legislation[.]" It was a response? "Response" by whom?
We don't learn the answer in the article but have to look for it the very next day in another Post article entitled "Sacred Jerusalem church to reopen after Israel backtracks on tax properties" (2/27/18). The first sentence states, "Christian leaders in the Holy Land said Tuesday they would reopen the sacred Church of the Holy Sepulchre after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped in to resolve a dispute with the Jerusalem municipality over the taxation of church property."
So contrary to sneaky implication of the passive-voice headline and the structure of the entire article, it was the church's own leaders who "closed" or "shuttered" the sacred church, not Israel. But only diligent readers of 16 paragraphs will learn the truth.