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December 13, 2021 11:46 am
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Reuters Headline ‘Contextualizes’ Jerusalem Stabbing in Clear Display of Anti-Israel Bias

avatar by Emanuel Miller

Opinion

An Israeli security personnel secures the area following an stabbing attack in east Jerusalem December 8, 2021. REUTERS/ Stephen Farrell

“Palestinian girl facing Jerusalem eviction held on suspicion of stabbing Jewish neighbour.”

This is an actual headline by Reuters, an international news agency.

The story was shared by Yahoo News, which remains one of the world’s most widely-read news portals.

The story itself, by reporter Nuha Sharaf, is equally as bad. The very first paragraph opens by again referring to “A Palestinian whose family faces eviction,” thereby priming readers to view the terror attack through that specific, narrow lens.

HonestReporting immediately called out Reuters on Twitter:

The article also refers to the victim, Moria Cohen, 26, as a “Jewish settler,” because she resides in eastern Jerusalem, over which Israel officially declared sovereignty in 1980.

A significant proportion of Jerusalem’s Jewish residents live in eastern Jerusalem, which Jordan occupied in 1949 — until Israel gained control over the territory in the 1967 Six-Day War. With Jerusalem hemmed in on three sides (north, south, and east) by the old armistice line and by protected forest land on the other (west), the only way for Jerusalem to naturally expand is out beyond the old frontiers.

Yet media reports routinely ignore this reality and insist on referring to Jewish residents of Jerusalem as “settlers,” as if they do not belong there.

In fact, Jews have been living in Jerusalem for some 3,000 years. The city was only ever divided for a brief 19 years in its history, and it has always been the capital of the Jewish nation.

As is typical with reporting from the region, the article misrepresents the Palestinians’ territorial aims in a boilerplate paragraph, which states: “Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in a 1967 war. Palestinians want these areas for a future state.”

HonestReporting has previously investigated and found such descriptions to be categorically misleading, failing to make clear that Palestinian political and religious leaders routinely demand that Israel be dismantled for a Palestinian state to arise.

While there is space to mention the fact that the stabbing was perpetrated by an Arab resident of Sheik Jarrah/Shimon HaTzadik against her Jewish neighbor — and that the Arab resident is in the midst of a court battle over her right to live in a bitterly-contested property — this should never be the lead sentence in an article ostensibly detailing a terror attack. Such grievances never justify attacking a civilian, and giving them this degree of prominence serves to ‘contextualize’ the attack in a way that is inconceivable elsewhere.

Furthermore, the importance of accuracy in wire service reports is generally under-appreciated by the public.

News wire services underpin the media industry. It’s not feasible for every news outlet in existence to have a reporter in every hotspot across the globe. Instead, many outsource, turning to independent news agencies who allow newspapers and websites to reprint their articles for a fee.

Reuters is one of many companies that produce reports that are then republished on websites and in newspapers the world over. When these agencies get their reporting right, it means that many millions of people are exposed to good coverage. When these wire services get things wrong, however, millions are exposed to false or misleading reporting.

The author is a writer-researcher for HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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