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May 02, 2011

Truce or Peace? Washington Post Trips Up

Did Egypt under President Anwar Sadat and Israel under Prime Minister Menachem Begin make peace, or merely suspend hostilities? The Washington Post, in an April 29 article headlined “Egypt reasserting its role as regional power broker” confused the record.

A page one teaser said “Egypt: A more assertive stance could mean closer ties to Iran and a rethinking of the truce with Israel. [Page] A 8.” Correspondent Michael Birnbaum’s report referred to “the decades-long truce [emphases added]” between Israel and Egypt.

Birnbaum also wrote that “most Egyptians are skeptical both of the United States and of the 1978 Camp David accords with Israel ....”

CAMERA requested a clarification, pointing out that the relationship between Egypt and Israel is formally defined not by the ’78 Camp David accords but by the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty and is not a truce — which implies a temporary halt in hostilities — but rather a final settlement of their conflict and peace. CAMERA noted that the article did not mention the treaty or the peace.

The Post rejected the clarification request, stating that the word truce was used generically to indicate an agreement to suspend hostilities. The newspaper said that the reference to the ’78 accords conveyed to readers the sense that Israeli-Egyptian peace resulted from a formal agreement.

But what made the ’79 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty precedent-setting was precisely that it was not a truce, like those of 1948, ’56, ’67, and ’73. In the first three cases, issues unresolved by the truces contributed to renewed warfare. In the case of the post-’73 cease-fire, it required the peace treaty to move the relationship from a suspension of hostilities to peace.

On truce or peace between Israel and Egypt, The Post had a
Humpty Dumpty (“When I use a word ... it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less”) moment, at readers’ expense.

Posted by ER at May 2, 2011 05:53 PM

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