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June 15, 2016

Tribune Newspapers Contradicts Themselves in Refusing to Correct

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Tribune Newspapers (including The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun) offered a contradictory refusal to a request by CAMERA for a correction to an article calling disputed territories, some of which are held by Israel, “Palestinian lands.”

The Tribune report “John Kerry joins French-led Middle East peace push,” by correspondent Tracy Wilkinson, appeared in The Baltimore Sun, The Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune (online June 3). It says, among other things: “…participants in Friday’s talks, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and about 25 senior European and Arab diplomats, urged Israelis and Palestinians to ‘genuinely’ commit to a two-state solution and to create conditions for ‘fully ending’ Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands [emphasis added].”

However, as CAMERA pointed out in its correction request, there are not now, nor have there ever been, “Palestinian lands.” Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, no power has exercised recognized sovereignty over the land in question. Its status is to resolved by negotiations anticipated by U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian interim accords, the 2003 international ‘road map’ and related diplomatic efforts taking 242 and 338 as reference points.

It would be more accurate to describe the status of the territories as disputed, not Palestinian. As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeline Albright stated in March 1994: “We simply do not support the description of the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 War as occupied territory.” That is, neither occupied Jordanian (the West Bank, 1948-1967) or Egyptian (the Gaza Strip, 1948-1967) land, nor occupied Palestinian territory.

Other newspapers have, if infrequently, noted as much. For example—following contact by CAMERA—The Washington Post updated a Sept. 5, 2014 article (“Washington Post Corrects on West Bank ‘Palestinian Land,’ Sept. 7, 2014, CAMERA). That update acknowledged that The Post article "incorrectly referred to Israel's occupation of 'Palestinian lands' in the West Bank." Further, it added “the Israeli-occupied territories are disputed lands that Palestinians want as a future state.” Similarly, after contact from CAMERA, The New York Times offered a correction on Feb. 20, 2014, over what the paper acknowledged was “imprecise” wording.

However, Tribune newspapers refused to correct its use of “Palestinian lands.” Instead, its rejection claimed—bizarrely—that the “article makes it more than clear that these lands are in dispute—it’s what the discussions are about.” Except it doesn’t; the incorrect term “Palestinian lands” implies a fait accompli regarding the status of those territories, voiding any need for negotiation. Readers might well wonder what is there to negotiate if the lands are already “Palestinian.”

It is worth noting however that Tribune, while affirming its choice in terminology, didn’t contradict CAMERA’s pointing out that the status of the lands are disputed. In fact, the chain agreed, asserting that “countless others [articles] we have published on the peace process, makes it more than clear that these lands are in dispute.” Countless others, but not this one.


Posted by SD at June 15, 2016 03:15 PM

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