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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reuters again trivializes Israel's security concerns

More anti-Israel bias from Reuters, from a couple of days ago:
Filet mignon menu brightens fearsome West Bank wall

It might be a while before some future U.S. president prevails on Israel to "tear down this wall," so Palestinian restaurateur Joseph Hazboon printed his menu on it instead...in waterproof colors.

When Israel ran a towering concrete "security barrier" past the window of the Hazboon family's Bethlehem property a few years ago, it seemed liked the kiss of death commercially.

But Hazboon, 35, hit on the idea of transforming what was now a highly undesirable location into a lucrative attraction.

He renamed the place "The Wall Lounge" and, judging by the results, the setting is surprisingly popular with tourists.

...The barrier is made of razor wire-tipped fences, walls of the sort that block the sound from motorways, and mightier sections of concrete panels similar to those that East Germany once used to seal off the West, complete with watchtowers.

...Like the Berlin Wall, which Ronald Reagan famously demanded be torn down, the Israeli barrier has attracted artists, poets, spraypaint taggers and jokers, whose colorful works take some of the menace out of its hard gray concrete slabs.

Reuters again downplays Israeli reasons for building the fence, putting "security barrier" in scare quotes as if that could hardly be the reason Israel built the wall.

And taking its cue from the worst Israel bashers, Reuters explicitly compares the barrier to the Berlin Wall, when it is the exact opposite. The Berlin Wall was built by communist East Germany to stop East Germans from defecting to the West; the people it was meant to stop were the people seeking freedom. The people that Israel's barrier is meant to stop are terrorists. The barrier, over 90% of which is a fence, is meant to keep bad people out, not good people in. The sections that are concrete also help stop Palestinian Arab snipers from targeting Israeli citizens.

The comparison to the Berlin Wall is odious and obscene, and the positive results of the barrier are undeniable. In the three years before and while Israel started building the fence (2001-2003) about 450 Israelis were murdered in suicide bombing attacks alone; in the three years from 2005-2007 the number went down to 41. In 2002 alone the number of suicide bomb victims was 220; if it wasn't for the barrier and other Israeli countermeasures that are also roundly criticized there is no reason to think that we wouldn't be seeing hundreds such deaths every year.

As usual, the wire service trivializes Israeli security concerns - and real-life examples of the hundreds of lives that have been saved - and emphasizes the undeniable but comparatively minimal inconvenience to Palestinian Arabs that the barrier brings. (It also happens to be inconvenient to many Israelis, as are the checkpoints that Israelis have to endure in their daily lives when going to malls and other popular bombing targets, but that will never be reported.)

It would have been possible for Reuters to report on Joseph Hazboon's restaurant and his use of the wall in an accurate, fair and entertaining manner without its clear bias against legitimate Israeli security concerns. But why would Reuters want to do that?