In a twisted declaration of intent, a group of reporters including several from the prestigious LA Times pledged to report to tell only “the truth” about Israeli “military occupation” and “apartheid.” A prominent media watchdog called out the reporters for violating the most essential principles of journalism.
Reporters pledge to “tell the truth”
The open letter titled “From journalists, to journalists: Why reporting on Palestine has to change” was signed by 500 media practitioners, including nine Times journalists (two of them anonymous). In it, the signatories pledged to report on the Middle East through the prism of “Israel’s military occupation and its system of apartheid.”
Ironically, the letter opened by claiming that “truth and holding the powerful to account are core principles of journalism.” It could be argued that this statement is self-contradictory as reporting the truth should take place even when the “powerful” are not at fault. In any case, the letter goes on to lament that the media is guilty of “journalistic malpractice” in its failure to tell the true story of “Palestine” by not focusing on “the most fundamental aspects of the story: Israel’s military occupation and its system of apartheid.”’
The letter refers to a report published by Human Rights Watch, an organization that has a long record of being anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic.
The report also cites B’Tselem, an anti-Israel NGO posing as a humanitarian organization. It should be noticed that in this context, CAMERA debunked claims by B’Tselem that Israel is an apartheid state, characterizing them as “a mess of factoids, fibs, and fraudulence meant to inflame and misinform, and which tells us more about the organization than about Israel.” In the article, B’Tselem described Israel as a state built on “white supremacy.”
The open letter signed by the journalists also cites the UN as the basis for not recognizing Israel’s territorial claims to Jerusalem. Citing B’Tselem again, the open letter claims that Israel has a “well-documented” agenda of establishing “ethnic dominance over Palestinians.”
Last conflict was Israel’s fault since Hamas rockets don’t count
The letter referred to Arab riots on the Temple Mount in May that led to postponing the annual Jerusalem Day festivities. The violence was accompanied by thousands of Hamas rockets, several targeting Jerusalem.
“During the last few days of Ramadan, Israeli forces violently attacked worshippers at the Al Aqsa mosque compound with tear gas and rubber-tipped bullets,” the open letter claimed. “Journalists didn’t call this an ‘attack’ or ‘assault’ on Palestinians, but rather a ‘clash,’ as if both sides shared equal culpability and agency in the escalation.”
This representation of the clashes that took place neglects to mention that the Arabs did initiate the violence, storing rocks and fireworks inside the mosques on the Temple Mount.
The letter also lamented that the reporting on the ensuing conflict did not place the blame entirely on Israel. Israel was guilty, in the reporters’ opinion, because it had sufficient military strength to defend itself. It discounted the over 4,600 rockets fired at Israeli civilian centers because they “caused significantly less damage than Israeli airstrikes.” The letter claimed that the reporting of the conflict was faulty because it was “objective.”
The letter closes with an absurdly twisted conclusion that is grammatically and logically challenged:
“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 stated. “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.”
LA Times paying for cursing Israel
In 2002, Israel was coping with the Second Intifada which included suicide bombings targeting Jewish citizens. Over 1,000 Israelis were killed. Despite the LA Times editors claiming that their reporting was “both fair and complete”, the news outlet was hit by a wave of cancellations and a protest against the LA Times was staged.
“There’s a feeling in the community that The Times clearly has been one-sided and biased in its reporting about the Middle East,” a report stated. “People in the Jewish community want to express their anger.”
Media watchdog: they are publishing propaganda
The Committee for Accuracy in Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), a media watchdog website, sent an open letter directed at the LA Times slamming them for the declaration signed by their journalists in which they openly committed to tailoring their reporting to be biased against Israel. CAMERA published a rebuke, slamming the signatories:
“By signing onto such a politically motivated and bigoted statement, they are taking a disgraceful stand against the ethical framework that has guided responsible journalism for the better part of a century: namely, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics (SPJ Code), which clearly sets forth the position that ‘impartiality should still be a reporter’s goal,’ even in today’s “superheated political environment.”
CAMERA points out that this approach to journalism has led to widespread public distrust of media. Citing a recent report published by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, CAMERA notes that the US media ranked lowest of 46 countries surveyed in public trust in media.
CAMERA called on the LA Times to denounce the declaration of intent signed by its journalists to abandon “essential adherence to fact, impartiality and balance.”
“[The open letter] urges you to substitute propaganda for objectivity and fact,” CAMERA wrote.