“Palestinian village to be encircled by barrier” is a mixed bag if ever there was one.
At first sight, it seems a mainly fair, balanced report with some inflammatory language, but not the worst in the world. Is this impression justified? Let’s sort the problems and strong points in it and then make up our mind again.
Anti-Israel bias by highlighting
- Walajeh is an old and prominent hobby-horse of the anti-separation barrier lobby, ever from 2004. http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/place.php?plid=64 . Not clear what has happened or should be about to happen that justifies AP to bring up the subject
- Israel has started construction on a new section of its West Bank separation barrier. In truth, the finishing of the fence has come to a screeching halt, because of the legal procedures and financial hardship.
- None is as closely encircled as Walajeh, said Ray Dolphin, a U.N. barrier expert in Jerusalem (paragraph # 15). In other words, this report picks out the most extreme exception to depict an atypical case as regular.
- Besides, the route withstood a challenge in an Israeli court four years ago, so that makes us ask ourselves what’s the value of all the complaints?
- The community of about 2,000 – In 2006 there were maximum 1,700 inhabitants.
- The barrier, running much of the length of the West Bank – The barrier is only 60 % build, mostly in the Jerusalem area – much of the West Bank is not fenced off yet.
- Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen have killed hundreds of Israelis – actually over a thousand.
- the Palestinians refuse direct negotiations without a complete freeze on settlement building – that is just a pretext & not connected to peace nor the scope of this report.
- east Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinians for a state – the PA only claims the predominantly Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem but not the new Jewish quarters like Har Nof, Gilo, Har Choma, Pizgat Zeev, Ramot, French Hill, Talpiyot.
- the barrier runs for more than 250 miles (400 kilometers) through the West Bank and east Jerusalem – 20 % is actually ON the green line, so around the West Bank.
- half a million Israeli settlers – 300,000; people in the new Jewish quarters of Jerusalem are not colonists.
Anti-Israel bias by choice of words
- The barrier has already disrupted lives in many Palestinian towns and villages in its path. “In its path” – doesn’t that sound like an onrushing ruthless monster? But it threatens to outright smother Walajeh – worse than disrupting lives it will cost lives (figuratively).
- Only in the fifth paragraph Israel is given a voice, stating with a disclaiming “Israel says” – implying that is disputable while it’s factual.
- Israel began building the barrier in 2002, saying – again the same qualifier. Israel makes claims, Palestinians state the facts.
- grabbing land by scooping up dozens of Jewish settlements – building on the old image that Jews are hoggish thieves; the word grabbing is especially familiar.
- occupied territory – what’s wrong with disputed territory?
- the West Bank and east Jerusalem, war-captured territories – some clever phrase! In fact these lands were recaptured from Jordan that illegally occupied them in the Israeli War of independence.
- settlers – as if the Jews came there new and so many Arabs always lived there; until recently these grounds were almost empty; the economic boom of Zionism has attracted many Arabs.
- Jordanian controlled West Bank – but when it concerns Israel it’s occupied.
- settler road – doesn’t it sound terrible? Left out that murderous drive-by shootings by Palestinians had made it necessary to separate the roads.
- the latest blow for Walajeh – Walajeh’s fate appears to be sealed – etc.
- 1948 Mideast War – Israel’s War of Independence – cannot be named?
Anti-Israel bias by leaving out parts
- The delay in the building of the fence is actually because the army needs to find a balance between Jews’ security needs and the needs of the local Arab populations, and court cases for the Israeli High Court of Justice to weigh the success of their balancing act take much effort and time.
Anti-Israel bias by prominence or imbalance
- The other side is only briefly mentioned in the fifth paragraph and immediately flooded with disputations. Before any nuance is mentioned about the grievances, a whole drama is constricted on how bad the situation is.
- Lengthy details on how bad the fence is for the Palestinian village – not a word on the Israeli death toll that necessitated this costly barrier. (Compare: A vile villain is convicted to life in jail after a long & fair trial. A news report then goes to highlight the suffering of his good wife & innocent children. What have they done wrong to deserve this? To never be together with their husband and father again! How can anyone justify the hurt done to these exemplary, beautiful people? Is this justice? Not a word about what really happened, how he orphaned and widowed many. A news report or propaganda?)
- The barrier has made it harder for tens of thousands of Palestinians – while it has saved a 1000 Jewish lives the last 5 years.
- the barrier’s zigzag through the West Bank brought allegations – followed by a slew of accusations without any word if these incriminations are justified.
- grabbing land by scooping up dozens of Jewish settlements – the anti-Israel claims are made – not a word about if the insinuations have any ground to them.
- Almost as an afterthought in paragraph seven Israel gets to say that the barrier is crucial for keeping it safe, and that it doesn’t draws a border with it.
- The last 15 (!) paragraphs spell out Palestinian suffering, on and on and on, full of hearsay.
Anti-Israel bias by needlessly adding to prejudice
- death knell – another accusation of Israelis being murderous; even the figurative use of the word reconfirms the stereotype. No respectable anti-Semite will still say that Jews are G-dkillers, but their murderous character needs to be mentioned.
- Right from the start this report is an accusation, harping on how wrong Israel is. This is the pattern in AP Mideast reporting: Israel is wrong, Palestinians are wronged. One sided, even before we consider of there is any space for counter-arguments.
- The other side of the story (only in the fifth paragraph ) is stated with a disclaiming “Israel says” – implying that is disputable while it’s factual and fortifying that Jews / Israelis can’t be trusted.
- grabbing land by scooping up dozens of Jewish settlements – building on the old image that Jews are thieves; the word grabbing is especially familiar.
Factual while often mistaken
- West Bank separation barrier – the correct term because 95% of the barrier is a fence, not a wall.
- The barrier is meant as a temporary bulwark against Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen who have killed.
- The International Court of Justice said in a nonbinding ruling.
- Israel gets to say that the barrier is crucial for keeping it safe, and that it doesn’t draws a border with it.
- The barrier is almost two-thirds complete.
Pro-Israel bias by any cause
The last two categories cannot save this report. A little truth cannot save a pack of lies.
Even without milking all the mistakes in it, it became clear that our initial impression that this was a more or less reasonable report was wrong.