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Some people can't tell a lie, other's can't tell the truth and others can't tell the difference.

How The Washington Post Misreports Middle East News

"A statesman is an easy man,
He tells his lies by rote;
A journalist makes up his lies
And takes you by the throat;
So stay at home and drink your beer
And let the neighbours vote."
William Butler Yeats 

"Mere flim-flam stories, and nothing but shams and lies."
 Miguel De Cervantes

1. GENERAL APPROACH: The Washington Post consistently mischaracterizes the Arab-Israeli conflict as: (1) primarily a dispute over land in the West Bank and Gaza, rather than what is, in reality, a continuing attempt by the Arabs to annihilate Israel that began long before Israel was in control of the West Bank and Gaza; (2) then, mischaracterizes the land as "Palestinian land," illegally occupied by Israel, instead of disputed territory to which Israel has legitimate claims; and, (3) finally, mischaracterizes Israel's military and security tactics as inhumane and in violation of international norms, when they are probably the most protective of human rights in the history of warfare. All three of these fundamental mischaracterizations by The Post are developed in more detail below.

2. NATURE OF THE STRUGGLE: In mischaracterizing the nature of the struggle as being over land in the West Bank and Gaza, rather than a continuing Arab campaign to annihilate Israel's Jews, the Post has withheld many facts. Some of the non-reported facts include:

  • Massive and unrelenting propaganda in the media and schools by all Palestinian factions encouraging the slaughter of Jews, glorifying suicide bombers, and promoting one state of "Palestine" from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River; 

  • Palestinian celebrations after the massacres of Jewish civilians;

  • Palestinian polls taken by Palestinians that consistently show overwhelming support for continuing suicide bombings and terror against Jews, even after they receive their hoped for state and even if it includes all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. For instance, one such poll conducted in early 2003 by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, found that 80 percent of Palestinians agreed with the statement: "The rights and needs of the Palestinian people cannot be taken care of as long as the State of Israel exists" and;

  • The insistence by all Palestinian factions that they would reject a settlement that does not give over three million Palestinians the right to "return" to Israel, which would immediately destroy that State from within and put an end to a two-state solution.

All of these unreported facts are inconsistent with the presumptions inherent in all of The Post's stories and editorials that the Palestinians are willing to accept a settlement based on two states peacefully coexisting, side-by-side. 

These presumptions are also at variance with the historical record, of which the following are significant events: 

  • Continuous Arab attempts to massacre Jews in pre-1948 Palestine, with notable massacres occurring in 1920-21, 1929, and 1936-39;

  • Arab attempts to annihilate Israel in the 1948 and 1967 wars, at a time when Israel was not disputing Arab control of all of the West Bank and Gaza;

  • The adoption of the National Covenant of the Palestine Liberation Organization on May 28, 1964, three years before the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem were captured by Israel in the 1967 War. Since there was no West Bank and Gaza Strip to be liberated at that time, what did the Palestine Liberation Organization hope to liberate? The avowed aim of the PLO at its creation was to eliminate the State of Israel;

  • The Arabs' rejection of all attempts by Israel between 1949 and 1967 to make peace on the basis of the 1949 Armistice lines, which would have left the Arabs with all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which they had seized and occupied in the 1948 War; and,

  • The Palestinian Authority's rejection, without even a counter-offer, of the Israeli proposal at Camp David in July 2000 and Taba in January 2001 to make peace on the basis of ceding all of the Gaza Strip and almost all of the West Bank to the Palestinians, or on the basis of any other territorial settlement.

3. TERRITORIAL DISPUTE: Having transformed the struggle from one in which Arabs have continuously attempted to commit genocide against the Jews of Israel to one falsely depicting the land in the West Bank and Gaza as the source of the conflict, the Post then mischaracterizes that land as indisputably "Palestinian land" by (a) falsely claiming that Israel illegally "seized and occupied" that land and violates the "boundaries" contained in the 1949 Armistice agreements, and (b) falsely suggesting that Israel had no presence in those territories before the 1967 war and dispossessed Palestinians to build its settlements. 

The following historical facts are what The Post fails to disclose:

  • The West Bank and Gaza Strip were part of the League of Nations' Mandate (1922-48) as a home for Jews;

  • The Arabs came into possession of that land by Jordan's and Egypt's illegal seizures in the 1948 War, a war that they initiated after rejecting the UN General Assembly's recommended Partition Plan;

  • That Israel merely defeated the usurpers of that land in the 1967 War, and did not "seize and occupy" land that "belongs" to the Arabs. It is, at most, disputed territory to which both sides have reasonable claims, especially to land on which their people live or work;

  • That, at the insistence of Egypt and Jordan, the 1949 Armistice Agreements specifically excluded the later use of the truce lines for political boundaries;

  • That there was a significant Jewish presence in the West Bank before the 1948 War, in the Etzion bloc of settlements, whose inhabitants were either killed when the settlements were overrun or were subsequently mutilated and tortured to death after their capture; and

  • That all of the current Jewish settlements were built on vacant land, not land that had been worked or lived on by Arabs.

The need for accuracy by The Post in reporting on the territorial dispute is all the more pressing because of the public's (and sometimes the reporters') misperception that the regional title "Palestine" means that the land originally belonged to Palestinians and was taken away from them. Few people are aware that the term "Palestinian," as used in the first half of the 20th century, referred generally to the Jewish population of British Mandatory Palestine, and that it's use as a label for Arab people living in the region is only of recent vintage.

4. ISRAELI TACTICS: As for Israel's military tactics, they are more precise than any in history in targeting not merely combatants, but those terrorists who actually participated in the murders of Israelis, while seeking to spare civilians. The Post's articles, on the other hand, focus on the relatively few civilian casualties, suggest that it is possible to be 100% accurate and suggest that Israel is inhumane in not preventing all civilian casualties. With regard to those civilian casualties, the Post pretends that Israel's conduct in inflicting those unintentional casualties is more heinous than the deliberate murders of Israeli civilians by the Palestinians. The Post's major technique is to flood the paper with human interest stories and photos of Palestinian victims, while virtually ignoring Israeli victims, even though the former became victims by accident and the latter were deliberately targeted for killing (with attendant celebrations by Palestinians ... usually unreported by The Post).

5. THE POST'S METHODS: In numerous ways, both consistent with and in addition to the general methodology summarized above, the Post's journalists regularly denigrate Israel's leaders, Israel's actions and Israel's motives, while at the same time promoting those of the Palestinians, including their most notorious terrorists, who it never labels as such, nor their deeds as "terrorism," no matter how heinous. The most blatant offenders among news reporters are Molly Moore and John Ward Anderson and among columnists, Jackson Diehl and Jim Hoagland. The Post's prior Middle East reporter, Glenn Frankel, who now only occasionally writes on Israel, uses somewhat more subtlety. Rather than improve, The Post's anti-Israel bias has only worsened over the years.

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