Thursday, October 07, 2010

Irish Times flunks its own standards (updated)

The Irish Times writes on its website about its journalistic integrity. Among the items they say they are scrupulous about are:

The truth is presented having made every reasonable effort to establish it on the basis of verifiable fact and reliable sources. During the reporting and editing process, every story is measured against taste, preference and inclination in an effort to eliminate any trace of partisanship.

We never go to publication without seeking both sides of the story. And if, in spite of our best efforts, we cannot get one side's version, we make it clear in our report that we have made every reasonable effort to secure that information.

Above all else, we commit ourselves to accuracy.

OK, let's see an example of these sterling qualities, in an article by Michael Jansen:
THE ROUTE from Jerusalem to Bethlehem takes us through Israel’s Har Homa settlement, constructed during the 1990s on formerly forested hills incorporated into Greater Jerusalem.

More than 4,000 Israeli families dwell in stone-faced multistoried apartment blocks in this urban colony. Buildings stand wall-to-wall in solid fortress ranks. Buildings are rising at the heart of Har Homa and on its flanks, invading the Bethlehem district, populated by descendants of the world’s first Christians.
Har Homa was built on land that no one had ever lived on previously. Ever.

The majority of Palestinian Christians did not descend from early Christians. Bethlehem Christians, for example, mostly came from the Arabian peninsula. Wikipedia links to this paper that has more details.

Most people traveling to Bethlehem would use the Tunnel Road. It would be odd to go to Bethlehem through Har Homa (h/t YM)

George Rishmawi of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement says: “Israel is interested in dealing carefully with Palestinian Christians although we don’t know what the Israelis have in mind for us.

“Christians are part of the Palestinian social fabric . . . and of Islamic culture. Palestinians do not differentiate between Muslims and Christians – who are less than 2 per cent of the population,” says Mr Rishmawi.

But Israel makes a key distinction designed to cause animosities.

“It grants West Bank Christians permits to travel to Jerusalem for Christian holidays . . . It is not the same for Muslims. For them it is difficult to get permits. This makes Muslims angry at Christians,” Mr Rishmawi adds.
The Irish Times is quoting a Palestinian Arab as to what the purposes of Israeli policy is - but doesn't ask any Israeli official. It then states that opinion as fact.

The policies are, of course, because of security - Christians never rioted against Jews from their holy places in Jerusalem.

“Israel makes no distinction between Christians and Muslims about land grabs. Most of Jebel Abu Ghneim [confiscated for the massive settlement of Har Homa] is Christian land."
Between 75% and 80% of Har Homa land was owned by Jews. The Arabs who owned land there were compensated for it. None of these relevant facts are mentioned in the article.

Israeli settlements and infrastructure are changing Palestinian demographics in formerly Christian towns. “Bethlehem is 50 per cent Christian, [neighbouring] Beit Sahour is 80 per cent Christian and Beit Jala is 60-70 per cent Christian,” says Mr Rishmawi.

The current Christian population of Bethlehem is much less than 50%. Yet, over the years, as Bethlehem's Christian population has decreased, its Muslim population has gone up, as has its total population. In other words, it is not Israel that is squeezing the Christians out of the territories - it is the Muslims, plus the intifada accelerated their flight.

Muslim oppression of Christians in Palestinian Arab territories is ignored in this article, even though it is far more relevant than anything written there. Gaza Christians are almost gone altogether.

Muslims have stolen land from Christians. Christians live in fear of their Muslim neighbors. Yasir Arafat directly threatened Christmas pilgrims in 1967. And the Christian population in Israel has increased while that in the territories has been decimated. (Just as the Lebanese Christians have also been pushed out by Muslims.)

This article is one-sided, inaccurate and untruthful. It directly violates the standards that the Irish Times proudly claims for itself.

(h/t Yisrael Medad. Also see a previous CAMERA report on the newspaper from which I found the Irish Times standards.)