November 29, 2015

AP BLOCKED REPORT THAT PALESTINIANS REJECTED ISRAELI STATEHOOD OFFER. In 2009, “a long-time Jerusalem reporter learned of an Israeli offer that would give a majority of the West Bank and all of Gaza—including a corridor between them—to the Palestinians. But his scoop was blocked,” as former AP man Mark Lavie writes in his article at Tablet:

In March 2009, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was interviewed in Arabic on Al-Jazeera. When I saw the MEMRI translation I immediately understood its significance: Erekat disclosed that Abbas had turned down an offer that would have given the Palestinians a state in almost all of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and parts of Jerusalem. Then I found out about the map. No one else had the story.

Excited about this scoop, I raced into my bureau chief’s office at the AP in Jerusalem. Imagine my shock when I was told it’s not a story—and I was banned from writing about it. It just couldn’t be a legitimate story, in line with the new definition of journalism.

The profession I joined in the 1960s wasn’t about helping anyone. It was about reporting and explaining the news. This new definition of journalism, apparently requires choosing sides. This became clear to me as long ago as 1988, at the beginning of the First Intifada, when I saw a reporter jump out of her car in the middle of a Gaza riot and shout at the Palestinians throwing rocks at the vehicle: “Why are you doing this? I’m trying to help you!” Like most Western media sources, she wanted to frame the uprising—the Palestinians as people—as helpless victims, to pillory the Israelis as the cruel oppressors. Stories that didn’t fit that framework had a hard time seeing the light of day. Even a peace offer.

So, naturally, despite the fact that Israel offered the Palestinians a state twice—in 2000 and 2008—the world saw Israel as the intransigent side. The 2008 proposal was largely unreported in world media.

Unexpectedly.

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