Saturday, August 14, 2010

Propaganda 101

With hundreds of comments and reams of supporting evidence we've posted since August of last year, it should be apparent to any balanced observer that Reuters is emphatically not an independent and impartial reporter of news in the Middle East.  On the contrary, the agency is very much a partisan in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, promoting a highly tendentious view of that conflict, and employing a host of rhetorical devices including propaganda and logical fallacies to advance its view and influence its audience to adopt the same perspective.  This level of advocacy journalism is both wholly unethical for a professional news organization and a violation of the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Part and parcel of Reuters advocacy journalism efforts on behalf of the Palestinians is image-making.  That is, creating and promoting a public image for an individual or people that is consistent with an agenda of deliberately shaping public perceptions.

Over the last few weeks, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has consistently refused to enter into direct peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, correspondents in Reuters Jerusalem Bureau have systematically sought to portray Abbas as a leader who is "wary of walking into a trap", "doubtful" of Netanyahu's desire to "make an offer the Palestinians can accept", and someone who simply wishes to establish a "clear agenda" for talks before committing.  We've demonstrated -- by quoting Abbas directly -- that his reluctance to enter into talks is actually due to his insistence that Israel be coerced to accept a Palestinian state on all territory beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.  And that this capitulatory concession by Israel be agreed prior to the start of any direct talks.  Reuters has repeatedly failed to report on this essential fact. 

In the last couple of days, the busy little propagandists in Reuters Jerusalem Bureau led by writers like Douglas Hamilton, have been attempting to suggest that the Quartet proclaimed on March 19th, 2010, that a Palestinian state be created "on the basis of the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war".  In fact, here is what that statement from the Quartet actually said:
Reaffirming the fundamental principles laid down in its statement in Trieste on June 26, 2009, the Quartet welcomes the readiness to launch proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The Quartet emphasizes that the circumstances which made it possible to agree to launch the proximity talks be respected. The proximity talks are an important step toward the resumption, without pre-conditions, of direct bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues as previously agreed by the parties. The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors. The Quartet reiterates that Arab-Israeli peace and the establishment of a peaceful state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is in the fundamental interests of the parties, of all the states in the region, and of the international community. In this regard, the Quartet calls on all states to support dialogue between the parties.
Note the affirmation of talks "without pre-conditions" and reference only to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and GazaThere is absolutely no call by the Quartet for that state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 war.  (Indeed, there are no such borders; there are only armistice lines drawn on a map in green ink by world powers which served to separate Israeli and Jordanian armed forces in 1949).  Reuters has fabricated a demand which was never issued.

It is easy to see where Reuters is going with all of this.  First, portray Abbas as a reasonable leader who simply wishes to establish an agenda for direct talks but is doubtful of Netanyahu's good will.  Then, manufacture expectations for talks and falsely assign these expectations to world powers.  Finally, if and when Abbas rejects direct talks, apologize for him and lay the blame on Netanyahu because he failed to meet the fabricated expectations.

This, from a news agency which asserts that it is "dedicated to uphold the Trust Principles and to preserving its independence, integrity and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of information and news."

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