Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reuters cites Saudi-funded HRW to demonize Israel

As we noted here, Reuters correspondent Ori Lewis follows the company line when it comes to systematic violations of the Reuters Handbook and the use of propaganda devices in an effort to delegitimize Israel.

In his latest project, Lewis trumpets his story with the headline:
Israel deprives Palestinians in West Bank 
Lewis has a nasty habit of asserting claims from NGOs, particularly discredited NGOs, as fact and only later in his stories explaining that these are merely disputed claims.  And the Reuters correspondent apparently never does his own fact-checking on these claims, nor does he provide readers with background material on the NGO making accusations which might otherwise cast doubt on the credibility of the organization behind the claims.

So, we'll do Lewis' job for him.

The NGO cited by Lewis in this story is Human Rights Watch (HRW) which, as we have documented, solicits and receives a portion of its funding from groups and nation-states which are openly hostile to Israel's very existence.  HRWs own founder, Robert L. Bernstein, has condemned the NGO for irrational anti-Israel bias.  HRW directors were last seen objecting to Israel's call for full transparency with respect to their funding sources.

Now let's have a look at the material aspect of HRWs claims against Israel:
"Israeli policies in the West Bank harshly discriminate against Palestinian residents, depriving them of basic necessities while providing lavish amenities for Jewish settlements," the New York-based organization said...
... Carroll Bogert, a spokeswoman for the group, said Israel was carrying out "systematic discrimination merely because of (Palestinians') race, ethnicity and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools and access to roads."
These are serious charges which, as a purportedly objective reporter for the largest news agency in the world, Lewis should be investigating rather than simply parroting.  Had he done so, Lewis would have discovered (and presumably reported) that first, Israel is not responsible for providing "basic necessities" to Palestinians living in the "West Bank".  Those Palestinians classified as "refugees" are supported by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) which is funded to the tune of over a billion dollars annually, coming mainly from US and European taxpayers.  Indeed, the Palestinians receive more aid money than any other refugees in the world.  As well, Palestinians not classified as refugees are the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas and work for their basic necessities, as do Israelis.  The government of Israel is not "depriving" anyone.

With respect to infrastructure like electricity and water, Israel has spent billions of dollars since 1967 building and supplying electrical power and clean drinking water to both Jewish and Arab communities in the territory.  That HRW cites a single Arab village with 150 denizens which cannot apparently get connected to the electrical grid (for security reasons) is hardly evidence of, "systematic discrimination... because of (Palestinians') race, ethnicity and national origin", which after all, is the same as that of millions of other Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank who are connected to the power grid.

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