Joel Orr's Radio Weblog

HonestReporting: Arafat's non-speech

HonestReporting Communique
10 September 2002

In a rambling, hour-long speech on Tuesday, Yasser Arafat's "major policy address" to Palestinian legislators failed to explicitly condemn suicide bombings -- omitting a key point which had been included in a draft of the speech circulated to journalists.

Many foreign leaders expressed dismay that Arafat had, once again, missed a critical opportunity to disengage from terror.

HonestReporting is amazed at the vast difference in how the media reported on Arafat's speech. Some reports made this non-speech sound like a major historical advancement toward peace, quoting Arafat's words: "After 50 years of struggle and bloody suffering, enough is enough. Enough of the struggle and enough bloodshed."

Other media outlets gave the speech a big thumbs-down.

For example, some media pointed out that while Arafat condemned terror "against Israel civilians," this really amounts to little, since Palestinians do not consider any Jew who lives in the disputed territories as a "civilian." This non-civilian group includes many neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and amounts to a total of 380,000 Israelis.

Further, Palestinians do not consider any Jew who has served in the IDF as a "civilian." This includes an additional million-plus Jews. (In the past, Palestinians have also included children in the "non-civilian" category, referring to them as "future IDF conscripts.")

It is worthy to note that Arafat said his call to reduce violence was because of "our national interest and the necessity to maintain international support..." -- and not due to any moral considerations.

The following survey of how some major media handled Arafat's speech gives insight into the power of a headline to sway a story one way or the other.

HonestReporting encourages members to monitor your local media to see how they reported this issue, and to write leters to the editor based on the above points.

===== THE GOOD =====

"Arafat Fails to Call for End to Bombings"

Comments to:

* * *

"Arafat Avoids a Call to Ban Terror Attacks"

Comments to:

===== THE BAD =====

"Arafat Condemns Acts of Terror"

Comments to:

* * *

REUTERS headline:
"Arafat Condemns Attacks on Israeli Civilians"

Comments to:

* * *

"Arafat Calls for End to Civilian Terror",,251-409985,00.html

Comments to:

===== THE WORST =====

LOS ANGELES TIMES headline not only erroneously reports an Arafat condemnation of suicide bombers, but also includes a negative focus on Israeli policy:

"Arafat Decries Suicide Bombers, but Denounces Israel's Attacks"

Comments to:

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Last update: 9/10/02; 8:32:18 PM.