Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who's Afraid of the 'O' Word?

Even if a reader knows virtually nothing about East Jerusalem and its travails, to know that it is occupied (whether by Israelis, Hottentots or Martians) is the very least he/she needs to know to grasp the settler-colonial dynamic of the struggle going on there. To chart the presence or absence of this essential contextualiser in the Fairfax (Sydney Morning Herald) and Murdoch (The Australian) press, I thought it might be useful to compare excerpts from recent reports on the subject:

"... 1600 apartments would be added to Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem." (End of the line: Abbas set to pull out of talks, Jason Koutsoukis, SMH, 12/3/10)

Note also that the SMH correctly identifies the apartments as part of a settlement project.

"... a huge new housing development in the Arab area of East Jerusalem." (Israel 'wrecks' Mid-East peace talks, John Lyons, The Australian, 12/3/10)

In The Australian it's just a harmless housing development.

"... Israeli housing construction in East Jerusalem... " (Israeli PM moves to placate furious US, Abraham Rabinovich, The Australian, 15/3/10)

"... a new development of 1600 apartments in East Jerusalem." (Furious US turns up heat on Israel, The Australian, 16/3/10)

"... its building of Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem..." (Netanyahu defiant over new settlements, Jason Koutsoukis, SMH, 17/3/10)

"... plans to build in disputed East Jerusalem... " (Israel defies the US over East Jerusalem buildings, John Lyons, The Australian, 17/3/10)

Note the use of the weasel word disputed to suggest a legitimate struggle over the same land by two equal parties.

"... 1600 housing units in municipal Jerusalem... " (The settlements are not the problem, Brett Stephens, The Australian, 17/3/10)

"... 1600 new settler homes would be built in annexed East Jerusalem." (Clinton seeks Natanyahu truce, Simon Mann, SMH, 18/3/10)

"... 1600 new Jewish homes in Arab-dominated East Jerusalem... " (Clinton backs Israel as mobs riot, John Lyons, The Australian, 18/3/10)

Arab-dominated. So the Arabs (not Palestinians) are the problem?

"... 1600 new housing units to be built in East Jerusalem... " (There's scope, and hope, for closer ties with Israel, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 18/3/10)

And the hands-down winner is... the Sydney Morning Herald.


Anonymous said...

"disputed East Jerusalem"

Well, sort of. The Palestinians say that the settlements are illegal under international law. The Israelis dispute the relevance of international law when 'might is right'.

MERC said...

The Palestinians "say" because international law says. The Israelis employ an arsenal of weasel words like "dispute" to ward off and blunt criticism of their behaviour. "Dispute" is used to fool the rest of us into believing that there might in fact be some validity to their claims. Everything they say should be taken with a mouthful of salt.