Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Man bites dog; Reuters suggests it's an epidemic

This is one for the journalism textbooks. In a story on the arrest of Ya'acov Teitel for alleged murder and hate crime attacks, Reuters' Ori Lewis and Alastair Macdonald craft a piece of propaganda worthy of the finest work of Joseph Goebbels.

The first item of note is their use of the word "terrorist" in the headline, bullet points, and lead paragraph. This, from a media organization which eschews at almost any cost, the use of the same term when describing Palestinian Arabs who have murdered Jewish civilians.

Let's compare for example, the Teitel story with this Reuters' story from July of 2008 on the Palestinian construction worker who used a bulldozer to kill 3 Israelis and injure 40 in Jerusalem. In that act of Arab violence, more people were murdered and wounded in a single day than the number of victims attributed to Teitel over 12 years. Yet, the word "terrorist" does not appear once in the earlier Reuters' story -- with or without quotation marks.

Next to be noted in the Lewis and Macdonald story is the glaring omission of Teitel's hate crimes directed at Jewish homosexuals and Messianic Jews (Jews for Jesus). The writers refer only to attacks on "Israeli leftists". Why the omission? Well, as non-political violence aimed at Jews, the former attacks underscore Teitel's criminal pathology as centered around a wide range of complex religious and moral issues as well as political issues. This clearly distracts from the facile message Lewis and Macdonald are desperate to convey, i.e., "how far settlers may go to stop Israel trading land for peace with Palestinians".

Lewis and Macdonald attempt to generalize Teitel's criminality to the entire community of Jewish settlers by citing the two most sensational incidents amongst the few cases of Jewish extremist violence over the last 40 years: the assassination of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir and the killing of 29 Arabs by Baruch Goldstein in 1995. No mention of course, of the thousands of Arab terrorist attacks on Jews over the same period.

And in crafting their op-ed masquerading as news, Lewis and Macdonald fastidiously employ the voices of others to make their points for them:

So concluded many Israelis...

Analysts were quick to compare...


Former Israeli secret service agents warned...

Note the use of sweeping and anonymous sources, a violation of the Reuters Handbook of Journalism.

In the spirit of a Tom Clancy novel, Lewis and Macdonald cite one of those sweeping, anonymous sources to offer readers the intrigue of an imagined violent revolt by Jewish settlers against government moves to relocate them:

Former Israeli secret service agents warned of a "Jewish Underground", dormant and ready, out in the wilder edges of the West Bank hilltops, that has the weaponry to make good on hardliners' threats to resist with violence any move by Israel's government to end its 41 years of military occupation, or even to evict settlers from some of their fringe "outposts".

No mention of the tortured and brutal government evacuation of 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005 which was met with only non-violent resistance.

Having tarred with the same brush the entire community of Jewish settlers, Lewis and Macdonald grant an opportunity (in the second to last paragraph) for "SETTLERS' DEFENCE":

Danny Dayan said: "Any person of conscience ... must rise up in indignation against such acts -- and against any despicable attempt to use them to gain political capital by blaming an entire community."

A revealing contrast to the response of a Hamas spokesman following the Palestinian bulldozer attack cited by Reuters in the 2008 article above:

There is a continued aggression against our people in the West Bank and Jerusalem and so it is natural that our people there will respond to such aggression.

And following the same incident, this quote from Palestinian Islamic Jihad:

The Jerusalem Brigades bless the heroic operation in Jerusalem as the natural reaction to the crimes of the occupation.

One would think a comparison of the two mindsets -- Arab and Jewish -- following heinous acts of violence would be of value to an understanding of the conflict. But apparently, not Reuters.

Finally, Lewis and Macdonald deliberately obfuscate Israeli public opinion on Jewish settlements:

Netanyahu, however, highlights the strength of opinion among settlers as a limit on what concessions he can offer -- even when many among the majority of Israelis who do not live on occupied land express little sympathy for hardline colonists.

In fact, a large majority of Israelis support settlement construction and two-thirds either oppose any evacuation of Jewish settlements in a final peace deal or say only a small number of communities should be dismantled.

Nice try, Reuters.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post.