Attaboy.ca

Over There (in the UK)

December 15, 2001 at 3 PM

Lessons in Newsmaking, Volume XXIV

If you’ve never wondered if you were getting the whole story from your newspaper, it’s about time you started. Compare, if you will, these two lead paragraphs:

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Israel welcomed, but the Palestinians condemned, a United States veto on Saturday that killed a U.N. resolution urging international monitors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

— a Reuters article headlined “Israel Lauds, Palestinians Slam U.S. Veto of UN Draft.”

UNITED NATIONS, Saturday, Dec. 15 — The United States used its veto power on the Security Council early this morning to block an Arab-sponsored resolution reaffirming the “essential role” of the Palestinian Authority in any Mideast peace negotiations.

The New York Times article headlined “U.N. Resolution on Palestinians Vetoed by U.S.”

So which is it? Was this a resolution calling for UN-sponsored peacekeeping monitors in a war-torn Middle East? Or is the truth that, “In addition to describing the Palestinian Authority as ‘the indispensable and legitimate party for peace,’ the proposed resolution demanded an ‘immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation and destruction.’”

The truth is never clear in this era of war, but never more so than when you only read one side of the story.

* * *

The vetoed resolution doubtless managed to squeeze pro-Palestinian propaganda between genuinely peaceful calls for international monitors. But, while I like the idea of monitors in principle, I suspect they would do little in this particular climate. And who would monitor? Few nations are completely neutral in this conflict; the Americans are always seen as pro-Israel, while Europe generally falls more on the Palestinian side. Obviously it wouldn’t do to have monitors from, say, Egypt or Tunisia, the two countries that sponsored the resolution. And then there is the generally questionable efficacy of UN presence anywhere, historically speaking (Rwanda, anyone?).

Regardless, the two news articles neatly reflect the difference in attitude between the US and nearly every other Western power. Europe generally chooses to ignore (or in the case of France, just outright encourages) the inflammatory, anti-Israeli text of these resolutions, while supporting the otherwise peaceful intent. The US meanwhile sees the intent as a mere cover to the jabs at the expense of Israel; that is to say, these resolutions are almost always biased towards the Palestinian side (the UN has done more than anyone to give Yasser Arafat political legitimacy).

But while the NYT article explains in-depth why the US cast its vote, it totally fails to mention the idea of monitors in the first place. Reuters, meanwhile, downplays the possibility of any bias in the resolution. Journalists and editors see what they want to see, and write and print what they choose to believe.

For further evidence, look to the fact that the Reuters article refers to “Palestinian President Yasser Arafat” while the NYT article says only “Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority.” In short, the former implies a legimitate state and head thereof, the latter a self-appointed leader running his own little fiefdom.

Comments

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Previously: Microsuck

Subsequently: Let It Snow

December 2001
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