Dozens of journalists – working in vehicles like the Washington Post, the New Yorker and the New York Times – published an open letter on Wednesday (9) criticizing the coverage of the American press in Israel and Palestine. “We have an obligation – which is sacred – to tell the story correctly. Every time we fail to report the truth, we are betraying our audience, our mission and the Palestinian people, ”says the letter, which was signed by dozens of professionals.
One of the harshest criticisms of the manifesto is that the press does not adequately contextualize the information reported in this part of the world. It is not clear, the text says, whether Israel has occupied the West Bank militarily since 1967. Human rights organizations accuse the country of crimes against humanity, apartheid and ethnic supremacy, concepts which rarely appear in the media.
The letter also criticizes, in this sense, terms used by journalists to cover events in Israel and Palestine, such as the recent cycle of violence in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The press echoed the Israeli account that the crisis in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah was a land dispute, the text says – when in reality it was a forced eviction of residents, in violation of international law . Another word condemned by the signatories is “conflict”, because it does not show the disparity of forces between the actors. It was not a conflict, they say, when Israeli forces attacked protesters at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. It was an attack.
The publication of the letter is part of a larger context of reviewing public attitudes towards Israel and Palestine. Palestinians have taken to social media to criticize the way the press tells their stories. Renowned politicians and celebrities around the world have taken a stand, in a sudden change of attitude.
In the tweet below, an Associated Press reporter reinforces the uniqueness of this week’s text. “I’ve never seen a letter like this before,” he says. Particularly because the signatories are aware of the personal and professional cost of registering on the manifesto.
I have never seen a letter like this before, signed by a series of journalists who are well aware of the personal and professional explosion.
“From Journalists to Journalists: Why Reporting on Palestine Needs to Change.
– Aya Batrawy (@ayaelb) June 9, 2021