Orla Guerin’s Lack of Contiguity

BBC correspondent Orla Guerin has long been criticized for her anti-Israel line of  reporting. One telling episode: When a would-be teenage Palestinian suicide bomber was apprehended at an IDF checkpoint in March 2004, Guerin’s BBC TV dispatch stressed neither the mortal threat that had been thwarted, nor the ongoing terrorist abuse of children, but rather dismissed the event as an Israeli PR stunt ? a picture that Israel wants the world to see.’ Following this Guerin report, Minister Natan Sharansky sent an official letter of complaint to the BBC, slamming Guerin’s ‘gross double standard to the Jewish State.’ So it came as a shock to media monitors when Guerin was recently honored with a special citation from the British government (via the Queen of England) for ‘outstanding service to broadcasting.’ One Israeli government official said awarding Guerin in this manner fits into a pattern that began in 2003 when the UK’s Political Cartoon Society awarded its Cartoon of the Year to a depiction of Ariel Sharon biting the head off the bloodied head of a Palestinian child.

GUERIN’S LACK OF CONTIGUITY

A recent Guerin report on development in eastern Jerusalem provides both an opportunity to see her bias in action, and to debunk one of the most widespread myths currently disseminated in media coverage of the region ? the claim that Israel is unilaterally eliminating the contiguity of a future West Bank Palestinian state.

Guerin’s April 28 BBC radio report addressed the proposed plan for future building in the Jerusalem suburb of Maale Adumim, a plan called ‘E-1′. (Here is a NY Times map of the proposed development project, including one proposed route for the security fence enclosing it.)

Guerin’s report is built around the statements of Jeff Halper, whom Guerin presents as a neutral party ? in her words, Halper is ‘an impassioned defender of human rights, and a critic of his own government’s policies.’ But as NGO Monitor notes, Halper is actually a well-known radical who ‘routinely uses terms such as “apartheid” and “war crimes” to refer to Israeli policy against Palestinian terror, supports a “one state solution”, and advocates sanctions and boycotts.’

In Guerin’s report, Halper

traces the outline of the planned expansion of Ma’aleh Adumim on a map, showing how it will close off East Jerusalem and split the West Bank in two, north and south.

“I do not believe there is any way back to a viable two-state solution,” he says. Looking at the lines on the map, it is hard to argue.

Actually, it’s very easy to argue, since Halper’s claim is manifestly untrue: Even if Maale Adumim were to be extended to its full municipal boundaries, an open channel of land would remain between northern and southern sections of the West Bank.

That channel of land would at its narrowest be 9 miles (15 km) ? the same sized ‘waistline’ that Israel has lived with in its central region for over 50 years. Traffic could easily flow through this region, so by no means would this development, as Guerin claims, ‘split the West Bank in two, north and south.’ CAMERA published a helpful map that illustrates this point.

This ‘contiguity distortion’ has appeared in many other recent media reports as well. For example, the Philadelphia Inquirer (4/13) claimed the proposed Maale Adumim development would ‘cut the West Bank in half,’ and syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer falsely asserted (4/19) that ‘Ramallah and Jericho… has no land connection with the southern section that includes Bethlehem and Hebron.’

ACTION ITEMS

1) Write to the BBC’s ‘Correspondent’ program to request a correction of Orla Guerin’s 4/28 report that claimed Maale Adumim development would ‘split the West Bank in two’: Click here to use the online form.

2) Be on the lookout in your local media for false claims that development of a Jerusalem suburb would ‘split the West Bank in two’, or otherwise deny Palestinians territorial contiguity in a potential future state.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias. HonestReporting

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