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October 27, 2015

USA Today Turns Jerusalem 'Neighborhood' into 'Jewish Settlement'

USA Today’s “1 Single Street, 2 Worlds Apart? makes several errors that could potentially misinform readers. Reporter Michele Chabin describes two east Jerusalem neighborhoods. One, Jabel Mukaber, is Arab. The other, Armon Hanatziv, is Jewish. As the headline notes, the neighborhoods are separated by a single street. So why are they described as “worlds apart?? The article omits essential details that could have gone far in explaining why this is the case.

USA Today can’t seem to make up its mind on how to describe the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods. Beneath a large photograph depicting a young Palestinian girl running past a wall constructed to prevent Arab attacks on Israelis, a cutline describes Jabel Mukaber as a “Palestinian neighborhood.? By contrast, the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv next door is called a “Jewish settlement.? This contradicts the article’s own description of Armon Hanatziv as a “Jewish neighborhood.? “Settlement? implies a temporary, even colonial status when contrasted with “neighborhood.?

Chabin uncritically quotes Daoud Kuttab who claims “Palestinians in East Jerusalem pay the same national and municipal taxes as Jews in West Jerusalem but receive a fraction of the services.? A visit to these neighborhoods Kuttab says, “Show clearly a huge disparity.? USA Today fails to ask Kuttab why differences exist. CAMERA previously has noted that disparities between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem or Israeli Jewish and nearby Israeli Arab towns are sometimes the result of higher rates of Arab tax avoidance or failure to pay for municipal services and/or even accepting services from the Jewish state. In eastern Jerusalem some such instances may reflect an intention not to accept the legitimacy of Israel or reluctance or refusal to have any involvement with municipal politics (“East Jerusalem: Setting the Record Straight,? Nov. 21, 2013).

The reporter writes that residents of Jabel Mukaber “do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, territory Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.? In addition to failing to connect the dots as to how this leads to the “disparities? mentioned the article fails to inform readers about the Jordanian occupation of east Jerusalem. Jordan occupied East Jerusalem after it, along with other Arab allies, attacked the Jewish state upon its creation in 1948. From 1948 until 1967, Jordan illegally occupied these areas, its sovereignty recognized only by Pakistan and Great Britain. That Arabs living in the area objected and did not wish to cooperate with the obligatory military occupation that followed Israel’s successful defense in the 1967 Six-Day War is missing context.

Had USA Today pressed Kuttab—whom it calls a “Palestinian media expert?—it’s unlikely they would have got a straight answer. CAMERA has previously documented how Kuttab has worked as an apologist for Palestinian Arab violence directed at Jews and distorted facts to support propaganda (see, for example, “Daoud Kuttab’s Delusional Mahmoud Abbas Apologia in Washington Post,? CAMERA, July 17, 2014). In a March 26, 2007 Washington Post Op-Ed (“Obstacle or Opportunity?) Kuttab asserted that a short-lived coalition in the Palestinian Authority between the corrupt Fatah movement and Hamas, a U.S.-listed terror group whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, “offers a path to peace [with Israel].? One could be forgiven for thinking that the subsequent 2008 Hamas-initiated war with Israel may have changed Kuttab’s mind. Instead Kuttab wrote another Washington Post Op-Ed calling for the United States and others to “Extend a hand to Hamas? (June 5, 2010).

It’s not just a Palestinian propagandist and a Jewish neighborhoods that get misdescribed in the Today article: Jewish holy sites get short shrift as well. The newspaper writes that al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount is “considered the third holiest site in Islam.? However, it fails to note that the Temple Mount is Judaism’s most holy site.

USA Today’s Middle East reporting often is better than this. In this instance, however the reporter—whose work has previously been praised by CAMERA—and the paper failed.

Posted by SD at October 27, 2015 10:22 AM


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