Reuters’ Major Bent

Dear Honest Reporting Member,

On Sunday, Jews around the world commemorated Tisha B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Holy Temples, and numerous historic calamities such as the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.

Future calendars can also mark it as the anniversary of Reuters declaring war on Israel.

Reuters is one of the world’s largest news agencies. It boasts that it provides “news content to more than 900 web sites and portals, and continues to serve the world’s leading newspapers, news magazines, radio and television broadcasters with instant news from everywhere.”

Consider the following Reuters’ stories:

1) In Temple Mount clashes this week, Reuters placed the blame squarely on Israel. Ammar Awad’s report, “Israeli Police Storm Sacred Site in Jerusalem,” charges that a radical Jewish group was the catalyst after bringing a “cornerstone” for the Third Temple to within sight of the Old City.

Factual error: Reuters claims that Israeli police fired “rubber-coated metal bullets” at the rock-throwers, a charge rejected by other reports. In fact, rubber bullets are fired from standard M-16 rifles, and there were no reports of any such shootings.

2) Reuters also published a photo with the following caption: “Palestinians hurl shoes as Israeli police storm Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque July 29, 2001. Police stormed the mosque after Palestinians threw stones at Jewish worshippers from the site where a Palestinian uprising started 10 months ago. The area is revered by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and is also Judaism’s holiest site.”

Factual error: The police never stormed or entered the mosque; they entered the surrounding Temple Mount compound. And note how Reuters adds as an afterthought: the area “is also Judaism’s holiest site.”

How should the Temple Mount story have been reported?

Veteran New York Times Reporter Clyde Haberman is back in Israel for a stint at his old beat, and his coverage is honest and accurate. His coverage of the Temple Mount clashes pointed out that first “Palestinians on an elevated Muslim compound hurled stones at Jews praying below,” an action that “provok[ed] a battle with the Israeli police.” The police reacted “after a barrage of rocks, some quite large, sent Jewish worshipers fleeing from the Western Wall.”

Haberman also reported on the demonstration by the “fringe” Temple Mount Faithful, but put the onus for the clash on Arab incitement: “[W]hile it had been clear for days that [the Temple Mount Faithful] would once again get nowhere near the Temple Mount, major figures among Palestinians and Israeli Arabs declared otherwise. They described the gathering as a genuine Israeli attempt to destroy Islamic shrines, and vowed to resist with bloodshed, if necessary. A ‘day of rage’ was ordered.”

Read Haberman’s account HERE.

3) Reporting on another incident, “Israeli Tank Fire Kills Six Fatah Men,” Reuters’ Atef Sa’ad quotes extensively from Palestinian spokesmen who charge that Israel “assassinated” the men.

Compare Reuters story with the Associated Press account which suggests the six men were killed as they prepared bombs: “An eyewitness said there were no Israeli helicopters in the area, and the blast blew the roof off the shack, indicating that the explosion came from inside the structure.”

If you feel Reuters’ coverage is biased, write to:

The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, cut-and-paste the following sample letter.

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

========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ===========

To the Editor of Reuters:

I have noticed serious errors in fact and tone from recent Reuters’ articles.

Articles and captions on July 29 charge that Israeli police “stormed” mosques on the Temple Mount/Haram el-Sharif. In fact, police did not enter any mosque; they pushed back and arrested stone throwers who were pelting Jewish worshippers.

Further, Israeli police did not fire any kind of bullets, including rubber-covered munitions, as your reporter claimed. Such projectiles are fired from M-16 rifles, and no report from the scene made such a claim.

Your coverage and headlines (“Israeli Police Storm Sacred Site in Jerusalem”) suggest that Israel was the aggressor when it was not. The police reacted only after Palestinians rained rocks down on Jewish worshippers. Palestinians had been incited to violence by Arab leaders, who deliberately exploited a cornerstone event that had been disallowed by the Israeli court.

Another Reuters story, “Israeli Tank Fire Kills Six Fatah Men,” claims that Israel was responsible for the explosion in a Palestinian munitions storage building. Other news agencies reported that the roof of the building blew off suggesting an internal explosion, probably a “work-related accident” as the men were assembling bombs.

Why is Reuters coverage so blatantly biased against Israel? Is it perhaps reflective of Reuters’ extensive use of Palestinian reporters, who seem clearly aligned with the Palestinian side?