If you read the opinion pages of the Washington Post, you’ll see an imbalance in the views expressed by their in-house as well as guest columnists on Israel. They are uniformly critical of the current government and continue to hammer away on a theme of the need for Israel to give up the territories of Judea and Samaria as well as part of Jerusalem to allow the formation of a Palestinian state. In doing so they are carrying water for the Palestinian Authority and its narrative of what’s going on in that part of the world.
But opinion pieces aside, not everyone recognizes how this bias influences news stories. My goal in this piece is to demonstrate that their news coverage rests on a narrative that is inherently biased against the Netanyahu government.
The piece I’m about to analyze appeared under the headline “Kerry warns of ‘chaos’ if Palestinian Authority collapses,” which appeared on Sunday December 6, 2015 on page A22 of the print edition.
The article, written by Karen DeYoung, reports on a talk John Kerry gave the day before warning Israel bad things are likely to happen if the Palestinian Authority (PA) collapses. Nowhere in the story, however, does DeYoung report the source of that possibility. In fact, she reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu is opposed to such a collapse. So why does Israel need to receive this warning? The danger of the PA’s collapse is something manufactured by the PA as a threat to convince world opinion to increase its pressure on Israel to withdraw its military presence in the territories the media calls the West Bank. Kerry’s warning is like telling a bully’s sister that bad things will happen to her if her brother keeps beating up other kids.
Instead of placing the blame where it belongs, DeYoung picks up another theme of the Palestinian’s narrative to explain the recent violence in which dozens have been killed or injured. Here, instead of blaming the PA for inciting violence against Israeli civilians, she states, “Clashes that began in early fall over a holy site in Jerusalem revered by both Muslims and Jews have ignited a wave of stabbings, shootings and vehicular assaults…” Yes, but the clashes didn’t begin for no reason. They began because members of the Palestinian Authority, including its leader Mahmoud Abbas, incited them with false claims Israel was about to do something to change Muslims’ status on the Temple Mount.
Later in the piece, she writes “Israel . . . has expanded its military presence in Palestinian areas and has allowed the growth of Jewish settlements on territory originally intended to be part of a Palestinian state.” The problem here is the word “originally.” Let’s assume DeYoung is referring to the 1947 United Nations resolution that led to the formation of the state of Israel which included a map dividing the British Mandate for Palestine into Jewish and Arab enclaves. The problem with blaming Israel for not honoring that map is that the Arabs (who didn’t called themselves Palestinians until the 1960s) rejected the boundaries in 1947, and they have rejected them over and over again, most recently by Abbas in 2008. So, how can Israel be bound by a map created 68 years ago that the Arabs/Palestinians have never accepted?
I’ll add one final example showing how DeYoung followed the Palestinians’ narrative. She paraphrases Kerry at the end of her article saying, “increased Jewish settlement activity and the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank ‘are imperiling the viability of a two-state solution.’” But why are Palestinian homes being demolished? Not so that Jewish settlements can be expanded, which is implied. The homes that have been demolished belong to terrorists who have attacked Israeli civilians, soldiers, and police as part of a policy to try to deter individuals from engaging in terrorist acts. If Kerry lumped demolished homes with settlement activity together, DeYoung should have separated them out. They are apples and oranges.
The author of this story can attribute the positions I argue are wrong and biased to the Secretary of State, but that’s a cop out to use a 1960’s phrase. The role of a journalist when reporting on a news event is not only to report what took place or in this case what the speaker said, but also to either talk to other sources when the speaker’s statements are controversial or fly in the face of accepted knowledge or appear self-interested or biased. In this case DeYoung helps Kerry out by drawing from the Palestinian narrative.
I don’t mean to pick on DeYoung because she is not the only Post reporter who has drunk of the Palestinian/Kerry cool aid. It starts with the editorial board, the editorial page editors and flows down into the newsroom. It’s why if you read the Post, do so with the foreknowledge that you will not get unbiased reportage on stories about Israel and the Palestinians.
Footnote: The Post is not the only media organization that is biased on Israel. See “Reuters reports lie that Israel changes status quo on Temple Mount.“