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July 19, 2007

Post Omits Bush's Palestinian Requirements

President George W. Bush proposed restarting the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” with a regional conference this fall. In covering the president’s speech, The Washington Post omitted key conditions the president said the Palestinian Arabs had to meet. Bush stated that

“To make this prospect [resumed diplomacy about a West Bank and Gaza Strip state] a reality, the Palestinian people must decide that they want a future of decency and hope — not a future of terror and death. They must match their words denouncing terror with action to combat terror. The Palestinian government must arrest terrorists, dismantle their infrastructure, and confiscate illegal weapons — as the [2003 international diplomatic] ‘road map’ requires. They must work to stop attacks on Israel, and to free the Israeli soldier held hostage by extremists. And they must enforce the law without corruption, so they can earn the trust of their people, and the world.”

That is, one general and six specific requirements: 1) rejection of the Palestinian culture of death, 2) arrest terrorists, 3) dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, 4) confiscate illegal weapons, 5) stop attacks on Israel, 6) free Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, believed held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and 7) end widespread corruption under the Palestinian Authority.

The Post’s page one article, “Bush Renews Mideast Efforts” by staff writers Peter Baker and Robin Wright, ignored all six specific presidential expectations for the Palestinian Arabs.

The Post reported that Bush also outlined what he considered to be Israel’s responsibilities. “Israel, he said, should support Abbas, remove unauthorized outposts and halt settlement expansion in the West Bank.”

That is, the newspaper did report one general and two specific presidential expectations regarding Israel.

The speech was a fifth-anniversary return to the subject of Bush’s June 24, 2002 address. In it, an American president voiced public support for the first time for a “two-state solution” based on Israel and a democratic West Bank and Gaza Strip state “side-by-side and at peace.” The Post gave Bush’s text itself short-shrift, directly quoting it in only five of 19 paragraphs, two of the citations being sentence fragments, the other three brief quotations. Most of the article focused on reaction to the speech and intra-Palestinian developments. The two concluding paragraphs were given to University of Maryland Prof. Shibley Telhami and Arab American Institute President James Zogby. Telhami was skeptical, Zogby critical.

Speech coverage, including that of presidential addresses, need not be stenographic. Follow-up, including informed reaction, provides context. But neither should important addresses be pureed in a journalistic blender. – M.B. and E.R.

Posted by ER at July 19, 2007 03:42 PM

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