...So why run an incomplete account of what really happened, except that the Post again threads softly in reporting – or misreporting – the Palestinian side of this intractable conflict? And when it comes to writing about Palestinians, there are only “militants” in their midst. Palestinian terrorism remains a big secret.
14 March '14..
The Washington Post, in its March 13 edition, runs two articles by Mideast correspondent Ruth Eglash. Each comes with anti-Israel poison pills.
For starters, there’s a dispatch about enactment by Israel’s Parliament of a law requiring a public referendum on any peace agreement with the Palestinians. The two-column headline takes an immediate shot at Israel -- “New Israeli law may snarl any peace deal.” Thus, it’s Israel -- and only Israel -- that supposedly poses a new obstacle to peacemaking.
In this same vein, Eglash goes right to work in her lead paragraph, telling readers that this new controversial law “will require a national referendum on almost any peace deal reached with the Palestinians.” And she elaborates in her second paragraph that the new law “might present an obstacle to peace if current U.S.-sponsored negotiations ultimately lead to an agreement that includes land swaps -- giving Palestinians Israeli land in exchange for retaining Jewish settlements in the West Bank -- or any division of Jerusalem, which Israel considers its territory.”
Eglash’s article then proceeds with supportive comments from “hard-line” cabinet minister Naftali Bennett, plus an analyst from the Israel Democracy Institute, who opines that the referendum, rather than constituting a “stick in the wheels” of peace-making, actually might turn out to be a “double-edged sword” by lending greater legitimacy to a peace accord.
Conspicuously missing from both the headline and the two top paragraphs, however, is the fact that Israel merely was playing catchup in enacting a referendum requirement to seal any peace deal. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that any peace agreement also would be submitted to a popular Palestinian vote.
Even Eglash has to concede this point, which she briefly makes much farther in her article, in paragraph six to be exact – “In September, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas also said that he would take any peace deal enacted with Israel to the Palestinian people for approval.”
But did the Post and Eglash ever run a piece, headlined: “Palestinian referendum may snarl any peace deal”? Absolutely not. At the Post, fault-finding targets only Israel.
What’s also missing from Eglash’s report is any comment or explanation of the referendum law by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Post readers are not told that Netanyahu led the push for a referendum for the simple reason that a peace agreement with the Palestinians would be of such existential consequence for Israel that it needs to be ratified by a popular vote.
Moving right along to Eglash’s other article in the March 13 edition: “Rockets fired from Gaza bring response.” Eglash reports that the flare-up in violence “marks the most severe escalation since a one-week war between Israel and militant groups in November 2012 that left more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.”
Eglash fails to mention that the 2012 one-week war was triggered by incessant Palestinian rocket fire against Israel -- again taking pains to avoid criticism of the Palestinian side. Instead, she makes it seem that Israel used superior force to kill “160 Palestinians” while limiting its fatalities to just half a dozen Israelis.
But the 160-to-6 fatalities count, it turns out, is highly misleading. It fails to break down Palestinian fatalities between combatants and non-combatants. Even Gaza officials reported at the time that the one-week war left a Palestinian death count of 79 “militants” and 53 civilians -- a higher toll of Palestinian terrorists than of civilian casualties. A critical distinction, absent from Eglash’s reporting.
Instead, she resorts to an apples-and-pears comparison with her 160 Palestinian fatalities and six Israelis dead by failing to differentiate between combatants and noncombatants. So why run an incomplete account of what really happened, except that the Post again threads softly in reporting – or misreporting – the Palestinian side of this intractable conflict?
And when it comes to writing about Palestinians, there are only “militants” in their midst. Palestinian terrorism remains a big secret.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers
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