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January 06, 2011

Palestinian Filter Makes News Brief Major Story

The Washington Post’s “The World” page featured “Israeli troops kill Palestinian laborer at West Bank checkpoint” as its second article January 3. By Post special correspondent Joel Greenberg, the report devoted the first 10 of its 14 paragraphs to the shooting of a Palestinian Arab. Soldiers opened fire after the man, who was carrying a bottle, ignored an order to halt.

The article’s last four paragraphs told of an Israeli air strike responding to a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip and of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s offer of talks on “core issues” with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The New York Times gave the shooting the opening three of 11 paragraphs in a same-day report headlined “Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Man in West Bank”. Most of the article dealt with official Israeli and Palestinian statements on possible negotiations. Among other U.S. dailies, The Baltimore Sun covered the shooting in a three-paragraph brief. USA Today and The Washington Times didn’t mention it.

The Post referred to the victim as “an unarmed Palestinian man.” It reported that “the army said he had been holding a bottle and was shot according to the military’s rules of engagement.” The Sun item noted that “a Israeli military spokeswoman said she did not know the contents of the glass bottle. ‘The soldiers apparently felt threatened,’ she said.”

The shooting was news, though not a leading foreign news story of the day. Post judgment on this score seems quixotic, especially given the paper’s shrunken space for international news. The top January 3 “World” page article, “As drug life pervades culture, masked men keep it out of the ring,”dealt with professional wrestling in Mexico. For the print edition, the page one articles “Barren Iraqi park attests to U.S. program’s flaws” and “Pakistani government at risk after shifting in ruling coalition” plus a column of briefs, Mexican wrestling, and the account of the West Bank shooting comprised all the international news.

What might have been another West Bank shooting was reported under the headline “Palestinian family sends mentally ill son to settlement in hope IDF shoots him; Boy caught near central West Bank settlement of Beit El, said family forced him at gun point to go to settlement in hopes he would be killed.” This news brief was published on December 31. Not in The Washington Post, but in the English-language version of Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper. This man-bites-dog story didn’t pass The Post’s Palestinian-centric filter.

Posted by ER at January 6, 2011 02:36 PM

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