Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The symbolic fiction

When the facts belie Reuters partisan political views, you can be sure the agency's correspondents will offer readers one of their own invented notions supported or voiced by another party whom Reuters cites as an independent and usually expert source.

Indeed, a symbolic fiction is a propaganda technique whereby a false claim, endorsed by some reputedly respectable and disinterested party, is advanced by the propagandist (Smith, 1989).

Take for example the propaganda mantra peddled in nearly 100 Reuters stories over the last couple of years that Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") are illegal -- because the World Court says so.

In a story on the Palestinian Arabs rejecting an interim peace plan rumored to be coming from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Reuters correspondent Mohammed Assadi and Jerusalem Bureau Editor-in-Charge Jeffrey Heller repeat the mantra:
Palestinians say the settlements, deemed illegal by the World Court, will deny them a viable state.
As we've noted here, here, here, and here, Reuters' reference and deference to the World Court, on the question of the legality of Jewish settlements, is irrelevant and deluded.  The court's opinion, actually on the legality of the Israeli separation barrier rather than Jewish settlements, is entirely advisory and non-binding.  Assadi and Heller may as well cite the Organization of Islamic Conference in its opinion on Jewish settlements (this may be Reuters next recourse).

The only binding decision on the legality of Jewish settlements in the original territories of Palestine -- including the West Bank -- resides in the Mandate for Palestine, confirmed by the League of Nations on July 24, 1922, grandfathered across to the United Nations in 1946, and still legally operative today.  Article VI of the Mandate stipulates:
The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.
Reuters Jerusalem Bureau has, to our knowledge, never cited this exclusively authoritative resolution granting Jews the right to settle anywhere in historic Palestine west of the Jordan River.

For Reuters, symbolic fiction trumps tangible truth every time.

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