Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spin, slant, and sucker

Reuters publishes another one of its infamous "Factbox" series on the Middle East conflict, this time focusing on political risk for the region.  There are so many gross mischaracterizations in this slanted piece, so much misleading and loaded language, it would take a lengthy critical monograph to fully address all of its fatal flaws.  For the time being, we'll simply paste an excerpt with emphasis added followed by our own "clarifications":
Peace prospects look bleak, with a rightwing Israeli government dominated by advocates of Jewish settlement on occupied land, the Palestinians weak and divided, and few signs of progress in U.S.-mediated, indirect talks that began in May. Israel deeply angered one-time Muslim ally Turkey when its naval commandos killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists on May 31 in a melee on board an aid ship running an Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, territory run by Hamas Islamists. Turkey's robust rhetoric and downgrading of ties with Israel won it many friends in the Arab world, underlining Ankara's growing diplomatic and economic clout in the region.
- "a rightwing Israeli government dominated by advocates of Jewish settlement on occupied land"

Reuters consistently characterizes the current Israeli government this way as if it were extreme or unique in its view on the future of Israeli communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.  But the fact is, by a large majority, Israelis of all political stripes support settlement construction and even the relatively left-wing Kadima party advocates for a united Jerusalem.  And of course, the current Israeli Defense Minister (and de facto Foreign Minister), Ehud Barak, is a member of the even more extreme left-wing Labour party which itself supports retaining major settlement blocs in the disputed territories.

- "the Palestinians weak and divided"

As an appeal to pity, this facile characterization forms the core of Reuters Palestinian advocacy agenda.  The Palestinians are perpetually portrayed and consequently perceived by the global community as weak, destitute, divided, and oppressed by the Israelis who are alternatively painted as mighty and rapacious, intent on stealing land and keeping the Palestinians disenfranchised.  This false narrative must be maintained at all costs or thousands of journalists, UN agency bureaucrats, and "human rights" jobbers would be plunged out of work.

- "pro-Palestinian activists on May 31 in a melee on board an aid ship"

As is now well-known, dozens of passengers on the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara were armed members of the jihadist group İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH).  They had planned violence, prepared weapons, and embraced martyrdom.  The ship itself, carried no humanitarian aid whatsoever.  It's time to end the charade about "activists" and "aid".

-  "Turkey's robust rhetoric"

Nice euphemism; the Turkish Prime Minister has referred to Israel as "a festering boil in the Middle East".  But the Turkish government, which, if it did not dispatch, certainly permitted the Mavi Marmara to sail despite Israel's many exhortations to interrupt it, is clearly complicit in the violence and deaths that resulted from the attacks on the Israeli boarding party.  Yet, in more than 500 stories on the incident appearing on its website, Reuters has yet to even broach this subject.  Perhaps the news agency doesn't wish to arouse Turkish ire.  One never knows what "robust rhetoric" Erdogan might dream up for Reuters correspondents.

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