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US: Journalists open letter on US bias media coverage of Palestine

13th Jun 2021
US: Journalists open letter on US bias media coverage of Palestine

By Islam Dogru

 

NEW YORK (AA): More than 500 journalists working at US media outlets released an open letter about American media coverage of Palestine.

Journalists spoke up against the narrative used by the media that “obscures the most fundamental aspects of the story: Israel’s military occupation and its system of apartheid.”

“An open letter on U.S. media coverage of Palestine,” also demanded an end to “this decades-long journalistic malpractice.”

It was signed by 514 journalists, including reporters from leading organizations such as The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

“Finding truth and holding the powerful to account are core principles of journalism. Yet for decades, our news industry has abandoned those values in coverage of Israel and Palestine,” according to the letter.

‘Israel’s systematic oppression … must no longer be sanitized’

Underlining the need to change course in the American media for the sake of readers, viewers and the truth, the letter said: “We have a duty to change course immediately and end this decades-long journalistic malpractice. The evidence of Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians is overwhelming and must no longer be sanitized.”

The letter referred to a Human Rights Watch’s report published April 27, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution”, citing, “the report documented ‘Israeli authorities committing ‘crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.’”

“We, as journalists, need to examine whether our coverage reflects that reality,” it said, adding that terms such as apartheid, persecution, ethnic supremacy “are increasingly gaining institutional recognition after years of Palestinian advocacy.”

Exemplifying the language used in US media regarding events in Palestine with the coverage of East Jerusalem neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah, it said, “Media outlets often refer to forced displacement of Palestinians living there – illegal under International law and potentially a war crime – as ‘evictions.'”

We have sacred obligation ‘to get the story right.’

Journalists also drew attention to media outlets’ uncritical repetition of Israeli military claims about its assault on Gaza. “We are calling on journalists to tell the full, contextualized truth without fear or favor, to recognize that obfuscating Israel’s oppression of Palestinians fails this industry’s own objectivity standards.”

The letter also underlined that journalists have an important mission to inform the public correctly.

“We have an obligation — a sacred one — to get the story right. Every time we fail to report the truth, we fail our audiences, our purpose and, ultimately, the Palestinian people,” it added.

Israel’s attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 10 ended May 21 after a cease-fire with Hamas.

A total of 254 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, were killed in the bombing of Gaza.

[Photo: Palestinians stage protest against Israeli court’s decision to evacuate the homes of Palestinian families in the town of Silvan ahead of the pre-trial action at the Israeli Central Court upon the objection of the Palestinians in East Jerusalem on June 10 2021. Photographer: Eyad Tawil/AA]

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