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http://www.commentarymagazine.com/9802/febltrs2.html#WP

The Washington Post responds to CAMERA's Andrea Levin

Commentary, 02/1998. (Ms. Levin's 11/1997 article to which WP responds maybe found here.)


The "Washington Post" vs. Israel


TO THE EDITOR:

Readers of Andrea Levin’s "The ‘Washington Post’ vs. Israel" [November 1997] deserve to know more about the organization she represents, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America,or CAMERA, than they were told by the editors of Commentary. CAMERA represents itself as an impartial media-watchdog group, but it isn't: it is a political-advocacy organization aligned with one faction in Israel’s domestic political debate. Its literature strongly defends Israeli land confiscations and settlement construction in the occupied territories; condemns the Oslo accords and the peace process they spawned; and depicts Palestinian eaders uniformly as terrorists committed to Israel’s destruction. Its critiques of coverage of the Middle East are directed entirely at reports that fail to support that agenda.

CAMERA and Andrea Levin, its president, misrepresent the separation of opinion and reporting at the Washington Post. Contrary to her insinuation, the news staff has no role in preparing the Post’s editorials; our correspondents are committed to fair and balanced reporting without editorial comment.

Mrs. Levin claims the Post’s coverage is "littered with factual errors," but her article does not cite a single one. Instead, she attempts to dispute the incisive and, in fact, accurate reporting of the Post’s award-winning Jerusalem correspondent, Barton Gellman, with polemics drawn from CAMERA’s own position papers, which are themselves full of misrepresentations.

For example, Andrea Levin and CAMERA have repeatedly asserted that the percentage of Jerusalem’s population that is Jewish has fallen since 1967. This position is manufactured by comparing two different Jerusalems: the Jerusalem that existed inside the 1967 city boundaries with the one created by Israel’s post-1967 expansion of the city limits, which had the effect of including inside the city large numbers of West Bank Palestinians who have lived in the area all along. In fact, if the same two territorial areas are compared, the percentage of Jews in Jerusalem has significantly increased since 1967, and now stands at over 70 percent.

She also says that the East Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood of Neve Yaakov was built on land owned by Jews before 1948. In fact, the largest expropriation of land for that neighborhood, in August 1970, included 12.2 square kilometers, ten of which the government acknowledged to be owned by Arabs.

She says the number of Arab apartments in Jerusalem has risen by more than the number of Jewish apartments; in fact, while there were no Jewish apartments in East Jerusalem in 1967, there are now nearly twice as many Jewish apartments as Arab apartments in that part of the city alone—not to mention the growth of Jewish West Jerusalem.

Mrs. Levin also misrepresents what the Post has published. She says a graphic published last September 11 omitted Palestinian obligations under the Oslo accords; in fact, the first item listed in the graphic as an issue in the peace process is Israel’s security, with an accompanying explanation about recent suicide bombings and U.S. and Israeli demands for Palestinian action against terrorists. She claims that Gellman has not written about Palestinian "violations" of Oslo; but Gellman has written literally dozens of articles about the human-rights abuses, corruption, and propaganda of the Palestinian Authority, a fact Mrs. Levin herself acknowledged in a 1996 Jerusalem Post article that praised his "admirably hard-hitting stories." She claims that the Post ignores Israeli victims; but last year she herself hailed the Posts coverage of suicide-bomb victims, saying it "gave a context to the calamities individual Israelis have suffered in the wave of atrocities."

Why the sudden change from praise to excoriation of the Post? Last year Andrea Levin and CAMERA targeted the New York Times, and found the Post a convenient foil. This year, in search of a fresh subject, CAMERA has rather mechanically inverted the formula. While that may make good reading for those who share the group’s political agenda, it is not honest journalistic criticism.

JACKSON DIEHL
Assistant Managing
Editor/Foreign
Washington Post
Washington, D.C.


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