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November 29, 2010

Jerusalem Post: Media "Silent" on Fatah Intransigence

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The Fatah emblem

An editorial in today's Jerusalem Post, which describes the uncompromising positions staked by Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party at its recent convention, argues that the media's indifference to the group's intransigence betrays readers and perpetuates prejudice. Below is an excerpt. You can read the whole thing here.

THE FATAH council’s articulation of such an extremist position has far-reaching ramifications for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. That’s why Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh’s report on the council’s decisions appeared at the top of this newspaper’s front page on Sunday.

By bizarre contrast, the vast majority of local and international news outlets have so far refrained from reporting at all on Fatah’s hard-line declarations. While news media usually respond quickly and amply to steps taken by Israel that are perceived as potentially detrimental to the peace process, the silent treatment of the Fatah decisions reflects a media norm, in which Palestinian incitement and intransigence is often downplayed or completely ignored.

Just last Monday, for instance, this paper was the first to report on the PA Ministry of Information’s outlandish “study” claiming that the Western Wall, known to Muslims as Al- Buraq Wall, constitutes Wakf property and that “the Zionist occupation falsely and unjustly claims that it owns this wall.” Some other news outlets reported this several days later; others not at all.

Similarly, a survey commissioned by the Israel Project, indicating highly antagonistic Palestinian attitudes toward Israel, barely received media attention when it was released earlier this month.

Two-thirds of Palestinians living on the West Bank and Gaza agreed that “over time, Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state.” Sixty percent said that “the real goal should be to start with two states but then move it to all being one Palestinian state.” Fifty-six percent agreed that “we will have to resort to armed struggle again.”

When news reporters and editors fail to give the proper space to revelations of Palestinian extremism and intransigence, they help perpetuate prejudices against Israel. Not only is skewed journalism a betrayal of the profession and those who rely on it, in this case it hurts the peace process by untenably misrepresenting the imperative for compromise by the Palestinian leadership and their public, thereby dooming hopes for negotiated progress.

Posted by GI at November 29, 2010 03:57 PM

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