Sunday, October 4, 2009

A tale of two tales

Compare this line:

"Israeli police shut a compound housing Islam's third holiest site..."

with this line:

"Israeli security forces had beefed up security as Jews attended prayers for the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles holiday at the Western Wall, a remnant of an ancient temple seen as Judaism's holiest site..."

and you get an idea of the lengths to which Reuters' writers will go to to avoid being even-handed in their reporting on the Middle East conflict.

Both lines are drawn from a story today on new violence at the Temple Mount/al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Note how Reuters' writers simply, declaratively, characterize the mosque as "Islam's third holiest site" while tying themselves into knots to avoid the same straightforward reporting when referring to the Temple Mount.

Judaism's holiest site is the Temple Mount itself -- not the Western Wall -- where Jewish worshipers must now be escorted by police to protect them from Arab stonethrowers, and "an ancient temple" (in Reuters' parlance) actually refers to the Jewish Temple built on the Mount and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

As we pointed out in our previous post on the matter, these distinctions are not simply semantic; they are at the core of the conflict between the Jews of Israel and the Muslim Arabs. And Reuters writers and editors well understand this. Yet, they repeatedly revert to form by employing language clearly intended to assign ownership ("Arab East Jerusalem") and unquestioned religious significance ("Islam's third holiest site") where Arab/Muslim claims are involved while undermining the claims of Jews to ownership ("annexed as part of its capital in a move not recognized internationally") and religious significance ("seen as Judaism's holiest site").

No comments:

Post a Comment