Monday, May 23, 2011

Wishful reporting?

On Thursday of last week, President Obama proposed that Israel and the Palestinians negotiate a border between them based on mutually-agreed changes to the 1949 Armistice Lines ("1967 borders"), a position not materially different from that of previous U.S. administrations and former Israeli leaders.  Here's how Reuters reported the news:
Egypt's U.N. envoy on Thursday welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's support for a Palestinian state based on Israel's 1967 borders, though he said it lacked specifics on how to restart peace talks.
-- Louis Charbonneau, May 19, 2011
He [Obama] called for a deal resulting in two states, Israel and Palestine, sharing the border that existed before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.
 -- Jeffrey Heller, May 19, 2011
President Barack Obama on Thursday backed a key Palestinian demand on the borders of a future state with Israel as part of his vision for a Middle East peace deal and sought to shape political change convulsing the region. Obama’s proposal — a policy shift that effectively calls for a negotiated Israeli pullback to 1967 borders that existed before it occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem ...
-- Matt Spetalnick, May 19, 2011
U.S. President Barack Obama’s endorsement of a longstanding Palestinian demand on the borders of their future state sets the stage for what could be a tense meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ...
-- Jeffrey Heller and Matt Spetalnick, May 19, 2011
Israel said the United States “does not understand reality” as its leader arrived in Washington on Friday after President Barack Obama endorsed a longstanding Palestinian demand on borders of a future state ...
-- Jeffrey Heller and Matt Spetalnick, May 20, 2011 
Hours before Netanyahu arrived in Washington for talks on Friday, Obama said in a keynote Middle East speech that any future peace deal with Palestinians would have to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war...
-- Crispian Balmer, May 20, 2011

Why did so many Reuters correspondents get it so wrong?  Because they heard what they wanted to hear and could so barely contain their gushing enthusiasm over what they perceived as a dramatic change in U.S. policy, one favorable to their precious Palestinians, they published a string of stories repeatedly misrepresenting Obama's words.

If Thomson Reuters were true to its Trust Principles, all of the above would be joining former Reuters Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Alastair Macdonald, at his desk job in London.

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