A New York Times graphic of 19 May, explaining the itinerary for President Donald Trump’s visit to the Middle East and Europe, appeared to place East Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall, as well as the entire city of Bethlehem, in “Israel.”
But the graphic was altered over the weekend to include the West Bank without acknowledgment of the original error.
Then, Monday, after an inquiry from The Electronic Intifada, this correction was added by the Times: “An earlier version of this article omitted labels for two places on Mr. Trump’s itinerary. Bethlehem is in the West Bank, and Vatican City is separate from Italy.”
The New York Times was only one of several major outlets to make Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory virtually disappear.
Being coy about facts
The correction makes clear that The New York Times recognizes the fact that Bethlehem is indeed in the occupied West Bank.
Less clear is the newspaper’s stance on East Jerusalem. The correction does not make explicit that the newspaper is willing to admit that East Jerusalem is also part of the West Bank.
This is strange, given that the role of a newspaper is to report. As a matter of incontestable fact, East Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and al-Aqsa mosque, are part of the West Bank that was militarily occupied by Israel in 1967.
The Western Wall plaza that Trump visited was created by Israel’s destruction of Jerusalem’s Moroccan Quarter, including the demolition of a 12th century mosque.
The newspaper is at best being coy: it uses a sub-heading of “Israel and the West Bank” to refer to Trump’s itinerary taking him from Tel Aviv to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall.
The New York Times acknowledges – at least indirectly – that these holy places are in the West Bank and not within Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries.
But a newspaper that in the era of Trump postures as a righteous defender of fact against the president’s lies, ought to say things directly, including when issuing a correction.
The foreign desk and public editor did not respond to two requests for comment.
Others omit occupation, Palestinians
On air, National Public Radio repeatedly referred to Trump’s trip to Israel.
The West Bank aspect was often omitted, particularly in regard to East Jerusalem.
An NPR article, “Trump arrives in Israel for second leg of international trip,” left readers with the distinct impression that Bethlehem and the Western Wall are in Israel.
To this point only having mentioned Israel, and not the West Bank, the article declares: “The president’s visit will include a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center, Bethlehem and the Western Wall.”
Politico also misrepresented the geography, stating that: “Trump prepares to travel Monday from Saudi Arabia to Israel – where he will visit the Western Wall, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.”
Several hours of reporting Monday morning by CNN included just one reference to “occupation” heard by this reporter.
In that case, correspondent Oren Liebermann reduced a 50-year military occupation merely to a Palestinian perspective. The term “disputed,” preferred by Israel and its lobby to muddy the legal waters, was more frequently used by CNN.
Regurgitating Israeli mythology
Anchor John Berman advanced Israeli propaganda when he commented on a tree that he said had been planted in honor of Trump.
“Obviously, when you plant trees in Israel, it’s of even greater significance, the planting of trees and making the desert green over the last 100 years is something that’s been very important to the Israeli people.”
Berman was repeating verbatim Zionist mythology which omits the reality that Israel’s founding entailed the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians and the destruction of vast areas of their cultivated land.
This destruction is ongoing. Since 1967, Israel has destroyed an estimated 800,000 olive trees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Even though it is one of the most contentious issues, CNN seems to have resolved the status of Jerusalem – in Israel’s favor. Anchor Jake Tapper stated, “President Trump making history in Israel by visiting the Western Wall.”
Similarly, anchor John King declared that there had already been a “packed day of diplomacy in Israel” and “already in Israel a bit of history, Mr. Trump, the first sitting president to visit Jerusalem’s Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism.”
The ongoing hunger strike by more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners – now more than a month old – was not mentioned over several hours of viewing CNN on Monday, and no Palestinian or Palestinian American voices were included during that time.
This means striving to “present the whole story, fairly and completely, so that readers and viewers may come to their own conclusions” based on receiving “a range of viewpoints.”
But it would appear that the only line CNN toes when it comes to Jerusalem is that of Israel’s government.
If CNN believes its anchors spoke in error, or if the anchors believe they did, then corrections should be issued.