The Reasoned Review

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Israel, The Times, and Al-Jazeera

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The New York Times and Al-Jazeera give us dramatically different news reports on what ostensibly should be a straightforward affair. The issue in question – Israel’s recent decision to go ahead with its illegal settlement project despite the opposition of the entire rest of the world (including, surprisingly, the US) – would appear to present an open-and-shut case for news providers. By demolishing Palestinian  homes and constructing on illegally-occupied territory, Israel is, after all, expressly violating international law. It is therefore interesting to examine how the two news organizations decide to present this.

The NYT opens with:

The Israeli move to push forward the building plans in Jerusalem comes as the Palestinians have begun seeking support for a plan to win the United Nations Security Council’s recognition of a Palestinian state, without Israel’s agreement, in the lands Israel won in 1967. Palestinian officials said they were pursuing the idea in an attempt to break the impasse in peace talks.

It is important to note the use of the word “won”, which, very subtly, legitimizes Israel’s claim to the swaths of Palestine annexed in 1967. Nowhere in the NYT article will you find mention of the fact that this annexation was expressly against international law, and has been the subject of repeated efforts for repatriation by the UN.

Again, the NYT attempts to legitimize Israel’s position with the utmost delicacy:

Disagreements over settlement building are in large part the reason that the negotiations, which have been stalled for months, have not resumed. The Palestinians demand a complete freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank and the parts of Jerusalem taken over by Israel in 1967; the Israelis have rejected that.

You see, it’s merely a disagreement! Never mind the fact that the entire rest of the world (including the US, even though they’re unwilling to do anything about it) considers the settlements a violation of international law and Palestinian human rights, or that Israel stands alone and defiant in insisting on their continuance. By saying that the negotiations have not resumed due to “disagreements”, the New York Times makes the tacit case that both sides are equally to blame for this impasse, when instead it is rather clear that Israel is the sole impediment to a peaceful and just solution to this dilemma.

Now, then, let’s contrast with Al-Jazeera. They, of course, are kind enough to offer a FAQ on the subject, in addition to their general article. In it, one finds the vital question:

Are the settlements legal?

The United Nations, World Court and European Union have all deemed both the official settlements and the outposts to be illegal under international laws, including the Geneva Conventions, which set out the basis for international humanitarian law.

After Israel’s seizure of West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, the UN Security Council said the “Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”.

And again:

What impact do the settlements have on Palestinians?

Amnesty International has argued the settlement policy violates Palestinian human rights.

“As well as violating international humanitarian law per se, the implementation of Israel’s settlement policy in the Occupied Territories violates fundamental human rights provisions, including the prohibition of discrimination,” it said in a report in 2005.

Not to mention the fact that:

Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have documented violence against Palestinians by settlers, including “frequent stoning and shooting at Palestinian cars”.

“In many cases, settlers abuse Palestinians in front of Israeli soldiers or police with little interference from the authorities,” it said.

All of these statements, of course, are beneath The New York Times’ purview. The most we get from them on the subject of legality is at the very end of the article, tucked away in a secondary clause:

[The settlements] are in Gilo, an area in southern Jerusalem considered by Israel to be a neighborhood of the city and by the Palestinians and much of the world to be a settlement that violates international law. Israel claims sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.

They are “considered” to be a violation of international law because they are a violation of international law. That the NYT fails to qualify this, nor to give the name of the UN resolution that de-legitimizes the settlements (Resolution 446) betrays quite vividly their true feelings on the subject.

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