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Media Critique #28 - Arafat's Rehab at the Times

Media Critique #28 - Arafat's Rehab at the Times

After being denounced by the world as an obstacle to peace, Yasser Arafat is now rehabilitated by the Western media.

by

The effort to rehabilitate Yasser Arafat is in high gear.

Early this week, we exposed the distortions of former Clinton staffer, Robert Malley, who argued that Arafat was not to be blamed alone for the failure of Camp David talks last year.

Subsequent to Malley's articles, The Washington Post's Lee Hockstader presented on July 24, "A Different Take on Camp David Collapse," as expressed by Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qureia ("Abu Ala"). On the same day, Akiva Eldar of Ha'aretz reprinted a Palestinian position paper in his article, "What went wrong at Camp David - the official PLO version."

Now, The New York Times' Deborah Sontag has written the mother of all Arafat-rehab articles -- a front-page, 6,000-word tome entitled, "Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why It Failed."

Sontag's article has many serious flaws, but one stands out as particularly glaring and biased: She fails to include the opinion of the key Israeli player, Ehud Barak. Sontag reports that Barak refused to grant her an interview and "was unwilling to talk."

But talk he did. On July 19, a full week prior to the publishing of Sontag's article, Barak gave a major address before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. A full transcript of Barak's remarks can be viewed at: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org.

The Washington Post and other major publications covered the Barak speech. The Post (July 20) quotes Barak: "I read in these kind of revisionist... writings about Camp David that Arafat was suspicious that someone was trying to push him into a trap, trying to impose on him a peace, an all-or-nothing peace," Barak said... "What is the kind of trap we're talking about? It is a trap of reconciliation, putting an end to a conflict."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22969-2001Jul19.html

It should be noted that Sontag freely quotes others who did not speak with her directly. She cites a speech by Malley, as well as a Dennis Ross interview with The Jerusalem Post. Yet despite the fact that Barak's position was made in a high-profile public address -- the content of which was surely known and available to Sontag and her New York Times editors -- they gave no fair representation to this key Israeli position.

Read Sontag's report at:
http://nytimes.com/2001/07/26/international/26MIDE.html

Read a hard-hitting critiques of Sontag at:
http://www.smartertimes.com

If you believe Sontag's article is biased, and/or the Times' failure to report on Barak's address is a serious omission, send your comments to:
letters@nytimes.com

The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, cut-and-paste the critique below.

====== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ========

To the Editor of The New York Times:

The Deborah Sontag analysis "Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why It Failed" has many serious flaws, but one stands out as particularly glaring and biased: She fails to include the opinion of the key Israeli player, Ehud Barak.

Sontag reports that Barak refused to grant her an interview and "was unwilling to talk." But talk he did. On July 19, a full week prior to the publishing of Sontag's article, Barak gave a major address before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which was covered by The Washington Post and other major publications.

Sontag freely quotes others who did not speak directly with her; she cites a speech by Malley, as well as a Dennis Ross interview with The Jerusalem Post. Barak's position was made in a high-profile public address -- the content of which was surely known and available to Sontag and her editors.

So why did the Times fail to give fair representation to this key Israeli position?

 

Published: July 29, 2001


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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) George Kurtinitis, August 18, 2001 12:00 AM

Arafat vs. Sharon

Sharon is easily labeled a terrorist by the media since his campaign. I would love to see an article giving a clear history of Arafat's terrorist background. I have always believed he is a terrorist at heart, but has he got any actual history of being a terrorist? Thanks, George

(1) Morris Weiswasser, July 30, 2001 12:00 AM

praising murderers is not helping peace

Yassir Arafat will at times present his position as one of accepting israel as a neighbor in the land between the jordan river and the sea. but that is not what he teaches his children. those lessons are and have always been his true intentions. to pretend otherwise is dangerous delusion which has the potentenial of setting the stage for another orof killing jews. morris a. weiswasser

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