Friday, September 4, 2009

Reuters' broken boilerplate

Peruse almost any Reuters article on the Middle East conflict where the Road Map peace plan is discussed -- like here, here, and here -- and you will find virtually the same boilerplate used to describe the responsibilities of the Israelis and Palestinians, respectively. Per Reuters, Israel is required to definitively "end all settlement activity" while the Palestinians are merely asked to "crack down on militants" or "rein in attacks". Let's see how well this represents the reality as specified in the Road Map.

Dusting off a copy of the 2003 plan, we read in the overture:

As a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations outlined below.

Taking a look at what is required of the parties in the first phase of the plan:

GOI [Government of Israel] immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001. Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).

Fair enough; Reuters seems to capture the Israeli commitment with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Although to be precise, Israel is actually only required to "freeze" not "end" all settlement activity. Now, let's compare the Reuters' translation of Palestinian commitments above with their actual obligations as stipulated in the Road Map:

Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.

Hmm, "rein in attacks" in Reuters' parlance doesn't exactly equate to "dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure". In fact, it's not even in the ballpark. As for confiscation of illegal weapons, or a security authority free of association with terror and corruption, well, Reuters is silent on these Palestinian commitments.

By repeatedly misrepresenting Palestinian obligations in each of its relevant articles, Reuters is clearly engaged in an effort to drum into the minds of its readers a false understanding of the facts and diminish public expectations of Palestinian performance while holding Israel to a strict, and much higher, standard.

1 comment:

  1. Just look at the weasel words! They "begin" ... operations "aimed at" confronting all those engaged in terror .... This includes "commencing" confiscation of illegal weapons ...

    In fact their duty was not to begin, but to conclude. The aim of the operations is not the point: they were required to succeed. And commencing confiscation is not the same as actually doing it.