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November 06, 2007

“Tiny Eritrea,� Un-Tiny Israel

Sometimes a word is worth a thousand pictures — if attitudes could be pictured, that is.

The Washington Post foreign service, in an article headlined “Ethiopia, Eritrea on Verge of Border War, Report Says� (November 6), told readers that “Eritrea, a tiny [emphasis added] country with one of the largest armies in Africa, has about 12,000 troops near the disputed border ....�

Eritrea, according to the CIA World Fact Book, is “slightly larger than Pennsylvania,� encompassing 121,320 square kilometers (nearly 40,000 square miles), with a population of 4.9 million people.

Israel, the Fact Book relates, is “slightly smaller than New Jersey,� encompassing 20,770 square kilometers (about 7,000 square miles) with 6.4 million people. (Israeli census figures estimate the population at just over 7 million.)

Other “tiny� countries, according to Post foreign news coverage in the past three years, include the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan (47,000 square kilometers, “about half the size of Indiana,� in the CIA’s description, or more than twice as large as Israel); Israel’s neighbor to the north, Lebanon (10,000 square kilometers, “about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut�); and Albania, Gambia, Luxembourg, and Malta.

But not Israel. In an “Outlook� section (The Post’s Sunday commentary pages) interview, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said “Israel is a tiny country.�An “Outlook� essay asserted that the Jewish state’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, wanted to secure nuclear weapons for his “tiny, poor and often friendless� country. But as beheld in the eyes of The Post’s foreign news staff, the Jewish state, if not actually large, is at least untiny.


Posted by ER at November 6, 2007 03:39 PM


Thank you for exposing this deliberate but often unnoticed misinformation. it is meant to belittle and thereby help undermine this resilient nation.
I have always wondered why western media choose to write that way about Eritrea and not about the much smaller Israel. well it's deliberate, and I choose to let it passby.

But a reminder: Eritrea is not going to stumble and be distracted by any amount of conspiracy, regardless of the number of opportunists that side with enemies ...

Posted by: Henok at November 7, 2007 06:54 AM

i think this confrontation have no sense, the eritreans they like to be compared with Isreal because it is tiny but they don't know they are underdeveloped . the American journalist are war- mongers we have seen them during the Eritrea's liberation front time. they have supported Eritrea's indipendence , and now the result is as we see.
please Yanki stop to divided the people of Abyssinia with your dirty game.
it is not enough what you have done until now

Posted by: Dr . Woldeghiorghis at November 7, 2007 09:08 AM

Thanks for pointing out such an interesting observation. I often contact journalists who report saying "Tiny" Eritrea. And they often acknowledge the unnecessary usage/adjective. Yet due to most journalists' 20-second attention span, they resort back to using their favorite term "Tiny Eritrea". It's a frustrating scenario. It one of those things that makes you miss reading accurate & honest news reportage.

Posted by: IKM at November 7, 2007 12:11 PM

Acknowledgement of how Western media takes Africa for granted is evident when journalist not only take un-contextual angles but choose to use language that is contorted and coercive in its approach. It’s a thoughtless disregard for an entire group of people and indirectly the largest continent on earth.

Posted by: Saba at November 7, 2007 03:13 PM

Much appreciation to the author for such an interesting and usually overlooked vantage. The truth has always been skewed when it comes to Eritrea. But the pride of this wonderful nation will not be tarnished by such redundant expressions.

Posted by: mickey at November 8, 2007 09:37 AM

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