Economical Words, Blatant BiasNovember 26, 2000 12:00 by ManagingTeam
Shown below is an article from the Economist, entitled “It began as a popular uprising but is developing into guerrilla war.” The Economist is a magazine printed in the UK, but with about two-thirds of its readership in the U.S. (We cannot do this as a link because their site requires a password.)
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“…Instead, his Fatah movement called on Palestinians to ‘realise sovereignty’ by liberating the West Bank and Gaza from Israeli occupation — which currently entails the ‘siege’ of eight cities and a blockade on their goods, services and people…”
This is imbalanced reporting. Nowhere does the Economist mention the reason for this ‘siege’ — the fact that for over 6 weeks, Palestinians have been attacking Israeli soldiers and civilians with stones, firebombs and guns, resulting in almost 30 Jewish deaths.
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“…A battle it surely is, as Israel uses ever greater military and economic force to suppress the Intifada (uprising)…”
The Economist does not mention the fact that Israel only uses ‘ever greater’ force in response to the Palestinians doing so. The Economist makes it sound as though Israel’s strategy is to gradually escalate the conflict.
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“…The Israelis, say the Palestinians, are determined to impose a military solution, thus forcing the Palestinian side back to the negotiating table on Israel’s terms. As evidence, the Palestinians list a number of things. First, the scale of casualties — so far, over 200 Palestinians have been killed (eight people, one a German doctor, on Wednesday), and 7,000 wounded. Then the economic blockade and the blasting, by helicopters and tanks, of Palestinian residential areas near Jewish settlements in order to clear away the inhabitants, and prevent gunmen moving in…”
Since when are number of casualties and amount of damage evidence of blame? By these criteria, anyone looking at Berlin in 1945 would clearly conclude that the allies were ‘determined’ to ‘impose’ a military solution upon poor old Nazi Germany.
Does the Economist have evidence that Israel fires on houses in which they do not suspect there to be gunmen? This is pure conjecture.
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“…In Hebron, she saw 40,000 Palestinians kept under curfew for six weeks so that 235 Jewish settlers, armed to the teeth, could go about their business…”
The Economist does not mention that the reason for the curfew is because Palestinians have been firing indiscriminately on settlers. If the Palestinians would stop shooting, there would be no curfew. The settlers carry guns to defend themselves. They are no more armed than most of the local Palestinian militia. ‘Armed to the teeth’ is an emotional phrase, which gives the impression of trigger-happy ‘settlers’ ready to shoot at a moment’s notice.
If this were to be balanced and fair reporting, the Economist would have an Israeli spokesman respond to Palestinian accusations. The Economist has made no effort to do so. Presenting the arguments of only one side is a clear violation of media objectivity.
We would expect an international magazine of the caliber of the Economist to be above journalism that is sloppy and unprofessional at best — and insidious at worst.
The Article From “The Economist”:
18 Nov 2000
ISRAEL: It began as a popular uprising but is developing into premeditated guerrilla war.
WEDNESDAY, November 15th, had been one of the dates pencilled in for Yasser Arafat to declare an independent Palestinian state. Instead, his Fatah movement called on Palestinians to “realise sovereignty” by liberating the West Bank and Gaza from Israeli occupation-which currently entails the “siege” of eight cities and a blockade on their goods, services and people. It is, said a Fatah flyer, “a battle between the will of the soldiers and settlers, and the will of the Palestinian masses.”
A battle it surely is, as Israel uses ever-greater military and economic force to suppress the intifada (uprising), and the Palestinians use guerrilla methods to keep it going. Mr Arafat himself shows no willingness to quell the intifada on Israel’s behalf. On the contrary, he is travelling the globe to ensure that his people’s “uprising of truth and justice” remains high on everyone’s mind.
His latest stop was at the Islamic summit in Qatar, held on November 12th to 14th. The 56 members of the Islamic Conference managed only an “invitation” to Islamic countries to sever ties with Israel, rather than any sort of obligation to do so. As at the Arab League summit in October, Mr Arafat had to be satisfied with the promise that there would be no peace in the Middle East without Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem, plus pledges of financial support to his beleaguered people.
The cash is sorely needed. Even before Israel imposed the latest clampdown, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was estimating losses of about $10m a day since the violence erupted on September 28th. The main cause has been the loss of 125,000 Palestinian jobs in Israel, and the drying up of revenue from their taxes. The European Union gave an emergency loan to pay the salaries of the PA’s 100,000 or so employees last month, and similar donations have come this month from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The common Palestinian refrain is that “this is not an intifada, this is war.” The Israelis, say the Palestinians, are determined to impose a military solution, thus forcing the Palestinian side back to the negotiating table on Israel’s terms. As evidence, the Palestinians list a number of things. First, the scale of casualties — so far, over 200 Palestinians have been killed (eight people, one a German doctor, on Wednesday), and 7,000 wounded. Then the economic blockade and the blasting, by helicopters and tanks, of Palestinian residential areas near Jewish settlements in order to clear away the inhabitants, and prevent gunmen moving in. There is also the summary execution of people believed to be the leaders of the uprising, and the bombing of their offices. After a Fatah leader (and two women) were killed by rockets launched from helicopters on November 9th, three more Fatah men were shot dead in Gaza.
A similarity with Lebanon emerges. During its 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon, Israel appeared to hope that if it lopped off the head of the resistance, the tail would eventually wither. And the consequence, too, is eerily similar to Lebanon’s: Fatah groups increasingly forswear “peaceful” (stone-throwing) protests in favour of armed guerrilla assaults on
Israeli soldiers and settlers. The Palestinian aim is as premeditated as Israel’s. “We are moving the front line away from Palestinian civilian areas to the settlements and military camps,” says a PA security source.
It is a move that is having a Lebanon-like effect on Israeli opinion, or so the Palestinians hope. Between November 10th and 14th, six Israelis, four of them soldiers, were killed by Palestinian roadside attacks in Gaza and the West Bank (bringing the total number of Israeli deaths in this bout of violence to 24). Each one of those soldiers died defending outposts and settlements that most Israelis are aware will probably be removed in any negotiated agreement with the Palestinians. On November 13th, Israel’s Peace Now movement and Meretz party explicitly called for these outposts to be removed. The same sentiment can be read on the faces of the soldiers who guard them.
The Palestinians believe that Israel cannot sustain losses incurred by keeping hold of settlements deep in the heart of Gaza and the West Bank. But can the Palestinians sustain their own losses? In this cruel war of attrition, the answer to that is also uncertain.
Mary Robinson, the UN human-rights commissioner, gave one response when she toured the territories last weekend. In Gaza, she saw children in hospitals whose eyes had been blown out by Israeli bullets. In Hebron, she saw 40,000 Palestinians kept under curfew for six weeks so that 235 Jewish settlers, armed to the teeth, could go about their business. At a meeting of Palestinian human-rights groups in Gaza, Mrs Robinson remarked that rarely had a people been in so obvious need of international protection.
(c) The Economist Newspaper Limited, London 2000. All rights reserved.