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June 04, 2007

Balancing the Divide: LA Times' Jerusalem Feature

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem, the Los Angeles Times' features an online multimedia three-part series on the holy city and its many divisions. By and large, it is balanced.

The first article "A Holy City Still Divided," contains several important facts about Jerusalem often neglected by the mainstream media. For instance:

Heavy immigration had made Jews a majority in the city decades [before 1948], and by 1948 they accounted for 60% of its population.

Frequently the media diminishes the importance of the Temple Mount in Judaism by wrongly stating the Western Wall is the holiest site in Judaism. LA Times reporters Ken Ellingwood and Richard Boudreaux get it right:

Once again [after the war Israelis] had access to the holiest Jewish site: the plateau that Jews revere as the Temple Mount, which abuts the Western Wall and lies atop the ruins of the ancient Jewish temples.

And, unlike the New York Times, the LA Times makes clear that Palestinians building in eastern Jerusalem is on a massive scale, both legal and illegal.

It also allows the Jerusalem mayor to comment on the issue of disparity in infrastructure between eastern and western parts of the city:

[Mayor Uri Lupolianski] said East Jerusalem lagged because it was not developed under Jordanian rule, then grew so fast that Israeli officials couldn't keep up.

"The problem between East and West is a give," Lupolianski said. "We have to remember that we did not invent this situation. In 1967, a large part of East Jerusalem didn't have infrastructure such as running water and electricity."

Again, unlike the New York Times, the LA Times states clearly that east Jerusalem Arabs are entitled to receive Israeli citizenship:

Israel offered citizenship to Palestinians in East Jerusalem after the war, but few accepted.

The video for part 2 is also balanced, spelling out the inconveniences and difficulties for Arabs in eastern Jerusalem and the surrounding area due to the construction of Israel's security barrier, as well as discussing the context of Palestinian terror attacks against Jerusalem citizens and pointing to the dramatic reduction in these attacks thanks to the barrier.

lat.Jerusalem wall.jpe

The barrier proves to be an incovenience for many Arabs and a literal lifesaver for Israelis

In an interesting bonus, the LA Times provides pdf's of the front pages of the June 5-11, 1967 editions.

But there the multi-part feature has problems, too.

Most glaringly, no mention is made about the city under Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967, when the longstanding Jewish population was entirely expelled and synagogues and tombs were systematically destroyed and desecrated.

Also, at least twice in the videos, the reporters allow false Arab claims to go unchallenged. First, in "One City, Two Worlds," Wadi Joz neighborhood activist Moaz Zatari parrots the false canard:

It's impossible to get permission and if you build without permission, they'll fine you 300,000, 400,000 shekels and they'll destroy it anyway.

Similarly, in the video "Building Divisions," an Arab resident justifies his community's hostile rejection of their isolated Jewish neighbors by asking rhetorically:

If I go and buy a house on the Israeli side you think they will let me live there?

The answer is yes, although Ellingwood and Boudreaux don't say so there. They do report, however, in the article for part 2 that:

Rents [in eastern Jerusalem] have shot up, prompting some families to move into predominantly Jewish neighborhoods.

The last section of the series will be published tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Posted by TS at June 4, 2007 05:42 AM


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