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January 18, 2011

This Just In -- The Washington Post, Upside Down

On January 7, the Palestinian Authority — committed by agreements with Israel to eliminating terrorist infrastructures — released five Hamas members it had detained for two years. Several hours later, Israeli forces recaptured the quintet.

During the round-up, the Israelis shot and killed a Palestinian Arab, mistaking him for one of the wanted terrorists — organizer of a fatal bombing — who lived in the same building.

Washington Post coverage (“Palestinian mistakenly slain by Israeli troops; Unit searching for Hamas suspect shoots neighbor in building,” January 8, by special correspondent Joel Greenberg) turned the news upside down. Instead of highlighting major elements — the PA’s dubious and perhaps duplicitous freeing of the Hamas men in the first place and Israel’s quick, successful apprehension of them — the newspaper emphasized the tragic killing of a civilian. It did so by:

* Featuring a three and a-half column color photograph headlined “Mourning a Palestinian slain in a case of mistaken identity” at the top center of the front page. The cutline read: “Palestinians pray over the body of Omar Qawasmeh, 66, who was killed in the West Bank city of Hebron when Israeli troops, seeking a Hamas militant in a pre-dawn raid, mistook him for the wanted man. The two lived in the same building. Story, A-5”;

* Relying heavily on the dead man’s wife and relatives, and relatives of “the wanted militant” (typically for The Post, no reference to Hamas’ designation by the United States, Israel, Canada and other countries as a terrorist organization) for its account of the shooting; and

* Highlighting in the center of the text as a “pull quote” (the story topped page A-5) an allegation by the dead man’s wife: “They didn’t ask a thing -- what his name was or whose house it was -- and immediately started shooting.”

It’s virtually impossible to imagine The Post covering the killing of Afghan, Pakistani or Iraqi civilians in the course of operations by U.S. and allied forces against Taliban or al-Qaeda members in the same inverted

manner
. But for Arab-Israeli reporting, the paper’s Palestinian-centric template remains in place.

Posted by ER at January 18, 2011 02:20 PM

Comments

And we are surprised by this absurd reporting style by the Washington [Com]Post because...?

Posted by: ben at January 18, 2011 04:04 PM

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