Monday, April 12, 2010

Is something afoot at Reuters Middle East Bureau?

Our apologies for the dearth of posts over the last few days but frankly, the Reuters Middle East Bureau has been very quiet over the same period.  Whereas the Reuters websites normally average at least 1-2 stories per day on the Middle East conflict -- nearly all anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian in their content and tenor -- Reuters 70+ correspondents and editors in the region appear to be largely on vacation.  Of course, with the Passover and Easter holidays over the last couple of weeks, that is a distinct possibility.  Still, the quiescence is curious.

Even more curious perhaps, is a subtle shift in Reuters rhetoric embedded in one of the few stories about the conflict to appear on its website:
Netanyahu's decision last week to cancel a planned trip to Washington comes at a time when bilateral ties are strained between Israel and the United States over matters such as Israeli construction in Jerusalem and the disputed West Bank.
A quick search on the Reuters website yields only one previous reference to the disputed West Bank.  By contrast, there are 6,100 references to the "occupied West Bank".  For those unfamiliar with the history of the conflict and UNSC resolution 242 which signaled the end of the 1967 war between Israel and the Arab states, the territory sandwiched between Israel and Jordan -- known to Israelis as Judea and Samaria but renamed the "West Bank" by Jordan following its conquest in the earlier 1948 war -- constitutes the last remaining unallocated parcel of Mandatory Palestine.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Arabs claim the land but as it has not been recognized in the modern era as sovereign to either Jew or Arab, it is most accurately described as "disputed" rather than "occupied".  As noted above however, Reuters Middle East Bureau consistently refers to the territory as the "occupied West Bank", thus prejudging the outcome of negotiations between the belligerent parties.

The Reuters story we cite which describes the territory as "disputed" comes out of the agency's Washington Bureau; that may explain the anomalous handling.

1 comment:

  1. It is worth noting that the land was disputed between Israel and Jordan for 45 years until Jordan ceded it to Israel, at which point it suddenly became disputed between Israel and the PLO under the doctrine that "Arab land cannot be bought or sold." It is also worth noting that the PLO's founding charter explicitly renounced any claim to the land because it was Jordanian.

    The media's bias on this issue, to the point of inaccuracy and dereliction of the reporter's duty to inform the public, is evident in the paucity of reports mentioning these facts compared to the number of reports quoting someone calling it "occupied territory".