Amidst the coverage of John Kerry’s attempts to prevent a collapse of the peace process, a number of media outlets mentioned the approval of over 700 housing tenders for the southern Jerusalem suburb of Gilo.
The Daily Telegraph refers to the “East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo” while The Independent refers to the “Gilo settlement in East Jerusalem” and the BBC the “Jewish settlement of Gilo in East Jerusalem.”
The descriptions of Gilo are symptomatic of the journalistic laziness surrounding the entire issue of settlements and precisely what these actually refer to. After all, many media outlets do nothing to dispel the largely mistaken image of all Israeli settlements as a collection of isolated homes on windswept hilltops. In the case of Gilo, this is as far from the truth as could be possible.
As Maurice Ostroff, writing in the Jerusalem Post, explains:
The $64,000 question then, is whether Gilo is in fact a settlement and if so, what type of settlement it is. To all who prefer to analyze a situation before arriving at a conclusion it is important to look at the facts in context. …
The reality is that Gilo is very different than the outposts in the West Bank. It is not in east Jerusalem as widely reported. It is a Jerusalem neighborhood with a population of around 40,000. The ground was bought by Jews before WWII and settled in 1971 in south west Jerusalem opposite Mount Gilo within the municipal borders. There is no inference whatsoever that it rests on Arab land.
At least the Washington Post gives an example of more nuanced language, referring to:
708 housing units in the Jerusalem area community of Gilo, which sits on land captured by Israel in the 1967 war and later annexed by the Jerusalem municipality.
To the Palestinians, Gilo is a Jewish settlement built on occupied land in East Jerusalem and, therefore, illegal by international law. Israel disputes this.
Those media outlets that cannot even be bothered to place Gilo in a correct geographical context let alone a political one are doing their readers a disservice that points to lazy journalism and a lack of objective and accurate reporting.