Bumps on the Roadmap

May 12, 2003 12:00 by

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is in the Mideast, promoting the ambitious new roadmap for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Both Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Abu Mazen received Powell graciously and expressed cautious support for the initiative.

Now what? Both the Americans and Israelis have repeatedly insisted that the first significant step in any meaningful peace effort is the elimination of Palestinian terrorist groups. Powell on Sunday called on Abu Mazen to “disarm and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure” — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and company, who have pursued a relentless 31-month campaign of terror against Israeli citizens.

Powell’s mandate comes from President Bush, who declared last June “the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.”

And the text of the roadmap itself indicates that all begins when “the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror.”

Now that the roadmap effort has begun in earnest, however, many media outlets suddenly allege that Israel’s firmness on uprooting terror is unreasonable, inhumane, and obstructs peace. Two typical examples:

The Philadelphia Inquirer claims that Sharon, historically “pigheaded and destructive… insists unrealistically on a complete end to Palestinian violence before Israel takes any of the actions the road map calls on it to do.”
Comments to: oped@phillynews.com

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel submits that since “it would be hugely difficult for a Palestinian leader to dismantle Palestinian terror groups,” it is Israel’s responsibility to act now through concessions. Anything else is “delaying progress toward peace.”
Comments to: jsedit@journalsentinel.com

Where are the op-eds clamoring for unequivocal Palestinian anti-terror action — the arrest of militants and the confiscation of illegal weapons — or at the very least declarations to that effect?

On the contrary, Palestinian leaders such as Information Minister Nabil Amr and Security Chief Rashid Abu Shbak have openly affirmed in recent days that they have absolutely no intention of disarming terror groups.

Why are the condemnations reserved for Israeli reticence in the face of terror-supporting Palestinian leadership?

HonestReporting encourages members to monitor their local media for unwarranted criticism of the essential Israeli and American demand for uprooting the terrorist organizations.

— GOODWILL GESTURES —

In truth, Sharon was willing to enact “goodwill gestures” even before an Abu Mazen crackdown on terror. Despite reservations about the roadmap, Sharon this weekend ordered the release of 180 Palestinian prisoners, committed to issue 25,000 Palestinian work permits, and began an easing of the Gaza and West Bank closures.

But the terror continued. On Sunday, an Israeli driver and father of six was gunned down by terrorists outside of Ofra, and Quassam rockets were again fired into the Israeli town of Sderot. On Monday, the IDF stopped an attempted homicide bomber in Nablus. Then, after warnings of more homicide bombers on their way from Gaza, the IDF reinstated the closure in that region.

This justification for the closure was accurately reported by the BBC.

Reuters, however, headlined its report of these events: “Israel Tightens Gaza Ban Despite Pledge to Powell.” The headline suggests Israel defiantly reneged on promises to Secretary Powell, when in fact humanitarian gestures had been well underway. Only in the fourth paragraph does Reuters mention the IDF’s reason for the closure — vague “security concerns.”

The Associated Press report, headlined “Israelis Seal Gaza Strip, Kill Three,” omits entirely the justification for the closure. The article therefore lacks essential context and suggests arbitrary Israeli violence. The reader must travel over 500 words into the AP article to learn that at least two of the Palestinians killed were not civilians, but rather armed militants attempting to bomb an Israeli tank.

Comments to Reuters: editor@reuters.com

Comments to AP: feedback@ap.org

==== JOURNALISTIC FRAUD ====

FYI — The New York Times published a startling admission on Sunday that one of its staff reporters committed “frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months.” An internal investigation revealed that Jayson Blair, among other infractions, invented quotes, fabricated personal accounts and “reported” stories from nationwide locations — without leaving his New York apartment. As The Times asserts, “Mr. Blair repeatedly violated the cardinal tenet of journalism, which is simply truth.”


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