A cranky op-ed appeared in last week’s Atlanta Journal Constitution, entitled “Even in Airport, Pro-Arab Argument Gets Nowhere.” Writer Robert Jensen — a professor of journalism at the Univ. of Texas — composes an airport scenario where his own “rational, intellectual” pro-Palestinian argument is pitted against a pro-Israel boor, who “scowls” and calls others “racist.” The crux of Jensen’s argument is a far-fetched comparison of Gaza to North Dakota.
Jensen bases his position on what he calls “two fundamental facts”: “the ethnic cleansing of about 700,000 Palestinians in 1948,” and Israel’s “illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.”
In fact, neither of these “fundamentals” are “facts.” In 1948, six Arab nations attacked Israel, instructing the local Arabs to evacuate so they could “drive the Jews into the sea.” Israeli leaders publicly implored the local Arabs to stay. Those who remained became Israeli citizens with full rights of citizenship — enjoying far more personal freedom than Arabs in any other Mideast country. Meanwhile, 22 Arab countries turned their backs on the “refugees,” leaving them to fester as political pawns.
As Khaled Azam, the Prime Minister of Syria in 1948, wrote in his memoirs: “We brought destruction upon a million Arab refugees by calling on them and pleading with them to leave their land.”
A far cry from Jensen’s claim of “ethnic cleansing.”
Jensen’s second fundamental non-fact refers to Israel’s “illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.” Actually, UN resolution 242, which calls on Israel to relinquish captured lands, also recognizes Israel’s right to defensible borders and to hold at least some of the captured lands.
Jensen’s characterization of the territories as “occupied” is even more erroneous in light of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s recent assertion hat the territories are NOT “occupied.” And certainly prior to 1967, Arabs did not describe the West Bank and Gaza as “illegal occupation.”
HonestReporting questions a professor of journalism publishing an article filled with “fundamental facts” that are little more than unfounded propaganda spin. If this is the quality of today’s journalism professors, that may explain in part the poor quality of journalism we see from so many these days.
Don’t think that Jensen’s article — just because it appeared on the op-ed page — is beyond criticism. James Hill, managing editor of the Washington Post Writers Group, explains:
“You have to hold columnists to the same standard as anyone at the newspaper. If a column writer is making egregious errors in the process of stating his or her opinion, eventually it’s not the columnist who’s doing that, it’s the paper that’s doing that.”
Read Jensen’s op-ed at:
Comments to the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Comments to the author:
Letters to the editor should always include full name, address, and phone number.
Thanks to HonestReporting member Charles Gruenspan of Cleveland for the alert.
===== DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS =====
Jerusalem Post editor Bret Stephens chimes in with an excellent piece, “Department Of Corrections” (Aug. 22), where he examines The New York Times’ corrections column, and reports:
“In a more normal world, a newspaper’s mistakes, particularly in its political and diplomatic reporting, would more-or-less be randomly distributed… Yet while a search of NYT corrections over the past two years discloses the usual measure of forgivable bloopers, not once has the paper erred on the side of Israel. A pattern of bias, maybe?”
Read the entire article at:
===== MEDIA BLUNDER OF THE WEEK =====
Reuters weighs in with the following photo caption:
“Jordanian Islamists dressed as Palestinian suicide bombers ride horses during a pro-Palestinian protest in Amman, August 21, 2002. Thousands of Islamic Action Front Party members, the main Jordanian opposition party, staged a rally on Wednesday in memory of the burning of the Jerusalem Dome of the Rock and to support the two-year-old Palestinian uprising against the Israelis.”
Reuters’ implication is that Israel has — either now or in the past — set fire to Dome of the Rock. Of course, no such event has ever occurred; Israel is the one Middle Eastern country that consistently respects the sanctity of all holy sites.
Perhaps Reuters is referring to an Australian Christian who tried to blow up the nearby al-Aqsa mosque in 1969. But Reuters, in the context of mentioning an anti-Israel demonstration, should make that information explicitly clear, in order to avoid mistaken impressions.