Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Arab East Jerusalem"

In previous posts, we have noted Reuters' repeated use of the racially loaded epithet "Arab East Jerusalem" to describe the eastern part of the city of Jerusalem. We have pointed out that it is factually incorrect to refer to the area this way as, 1) there is not today and never has been a distinct city formally recognized as "East Jerusalem", 2) depending on the data source, 42-44% of the population in the eastern part of the city is Jewish, and 3) the Jewish population in this area would today likely be even greater had the Jordanian army not killed or ethnically cleansed many thousands of Jews living in the eastern part of the city when it invaded in 1948. In fact, the phrase "Arab East Jerusalem" originated as a result of that ethnic cleansing to describe the situation on the ground.

Now a disclaimer: we are not big fans of the British Broadcasting Corporation as their reporting on the Middle East Conflict is often as biased or more so than that of Reuters. For example, the BBC too, employs the (capitalized) term "East Jerusalem" in its online stories which we feel is a misnomer for the reasons stated above. It's interesting however, that following a 2006 investigation into the impartiality (or lack thereof) of BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the BBC Governors advised their correspondents to:

Avoid the phrase "Arab East Jerusalem", too, unless you also have space to explain that Israel has annexed the area and claims it as part of its capital. East Jerusalem is sometimes referred as Arab East Jerusalem, partly because it was under Jordanian control between 1949 and 1967.

Thus, even the BBC Governors recognize that the phrase "Arab East Jerusalem" is both artificial and anachronistic -- referring to a period which lasted only 18 years -- and should be omitted from BBC reporting.

Will Reuters own up to its use of an ahistorical and racially loaded misnomer and follow suit?

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