When a newspaper reports that the government of Israel will build a small community for 40 displaced families, what is the most accurate way they can show the plan?
The New York Times decided that the best way was to show readers the announcement of the new 40 person town was by printing a big picture of the city of Maale Adumin, a city of 40,000 people.
It is true that Maale Adumim sits on land that was not a part of the State of Israel prior to 1967. So , it is referred to as a “settlement.” But with schools, factories, shops, parks, and residences, plus tens of thousands of residents living in a variety of neighborhoods, it has little in common with the plan to move the small community of Amona.
While the plan would technically be a “new settlement,” it should not be reported as a huge break in policy. The Israeli courts had ruled that the village of Amona had been built illegally and that the homes should be demolished.
Yet Amona was established over 20 years ago and many of the 40 families had been living there for decades. To try and minimize the trauma of displacing these families, while still complying with the orders of the Israeli courts, the government decided to create a new town where the families will be able to live.
The new town will simply be a replacement, built not far from where the original one was located. The decision to build it was the key component of a compromise between the government and the families in Amona.
There is no way that the proposal to build a new town for these handful of families should be reported as a decision with far reaching national implications. And it certainly should not be represented with a picture of one of the biggest cities in the disputed territories.
One has to ask the question, is the Times using its image selection as a way of influencing public opinion against all Israeli settlements?
Of course, the Times picked experts to comment on the Israeli government’s decision. First was Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO Executive Committee. She gave readers the following valuable information about construction of the new town for 40 displaced families:
Today’s announcement once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace.
If that was not enough, the Times wanted readers to hear from Saeb Erakat, an official with the Palestinian Authority, so they would know that the new town was in the “heart of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.”
To provide an alternative view of the implications of this new tiny new town, the Times sought out a quote from……. no one.
(No counter opinion to the idea that the new community would destroy the peace process.)
Even if the Times chooses to use sources who have been vocal critics of Israel for decades, they have an obligation to also provide an explanation that presents readers with a different view of the situation.
The issue of “settlements” is real and should be reported. But pictures of a city of 40,000 and quotes from those adamantly opposed to any Israeli presence in the disputed territories is not giving readers a true and accurate representation of what is happening.
For more, read The CAMCI.Report.