Friday, November 18, 2011

How to write a straight story on the Middle East conflict, a lesson for Reuters

When it comes to reporting on the Middle East conflict, systematic bias can be seen in the stories of a great many publications and news agencies, including the Associated Press (AP).  In the race to advocate for the Palestinian Arabs and demonize Israelis however, Reuters proudly leads the pack.

Consider for example, this AP story, published on Wednesday, about Israel allowing building materials into Gaza for the reconstruction of privately-owned factories.  The story is basically balanced, straightforward, factual, and provides contextual detail necessary to understand how and why events have unfolded:
Until now only international projects have been allowed to import such materials, which Israel restricts because of concerns they could be used by Gaza militants who regularly launch rockets at Israeli towns.
Although AP refers to Palestinians who deliberately fire rockets at civilian communities as "militants" when they would more accurately be identified as terrorists, there is at least an acknowledgement that Gazans are regularly launching rockets at Israeli towns.  Not so with Reuters, which in dozens of recent stories, either omits mention of these Palestinian attacks or overtly lies about the situation by asserting that Palestinian terror factions have been observing a "de facto truce" with Israel.

AP continues:
Hamas-ruled Gaza is subject to an Israeli and Egyptian blockade that includes restrictions on the movement of goods and people.
Reuters prefers to demonize Israel by almost always failing to mention that Egypt too, has been blockading the Gaza Strip.

More from the AP story:
The factories being rebuilt were destroyed or damaged in fighting in 2009, when Israel invaded to try to stop near-daily rocket salvos.
Yes, Israel invaded Gaza to try to stop near-daily rocket attacks.  Reuters correspondents on the other hand, systematically employ the propaganda mantra "Israeli offensive" to describe the Gaza war and only rarely associate Israel's defensive operation there with the thousands of precipitating Palestinian rocket and mortar blitzes.  Indeed, readers following Reuters would likely come to believe that Israel regularly launches unprovoked attacks against its neighbors.

And unlike Reuters, AP pulls no punches on the support for, or status of, Hamas:
Hamas, an Iran-backed militant group, is considered a terror organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union. It has ruled Gaza since 2007.
It's not difficult to write a straight story on the Arab-Israeli conflict -- unless of course, you're a twisted news agency.

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