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Associated Press writer reveals anti-Israeli bias

A fascinating bit of news reporting archeology uncovers an anti-Israel bias by Associated Press reporter Kristen Stevens that should get her reprimanded if not suspended from her position reporting from the Middle East.

In Stevens's early report [that ran in today's Berkshire Eagle on page A2], "Jewish extremist opens fire on bus," filed from Shfaram, the Israeli town in which an AWOL Israeli soldier tragically fired on a busload of Arabs, killing four, and was subsequently rewarded with vigilante justice (he was beaten to death), she ended the article with the preposterous claim that "There have been several incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Arabs over the years."

In order to support her claim, Stevens then had to dig back all the way to 1990 for one, and then to 1994 for another.

In other words, including yesterday's attacks, there have been three "terrorist" attacks by Israelis against Arabs over the course of 15 years.

Read her allegation again:

"There have been several incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Arabs over the years."

While this sentence is technically correct, in the context of the Arab-Israeli war, there have hardly been ANY incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Arabs when compared with Arab terrorists attacking Jews -- dozens of such attacks, if not hundreds, taking place EVERY YEAR.

Context is everything, but of course when it comes to reporting from Israel, context rarely if ever is a consideration, context being sacrificed on the altar of "balance."

But what is VERY interesting to note is that in "Israeli Police Brace for Possible Riots,"
an update of STevens's story, filed this morning at about 6 a.m. EDT, the offending sentence -- "There have been several incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Arabs over the years" -- has been extricated.

The article still includes reference to the 1990 and 1994 incidents, but mysteriously that false, distorted generalization has been removed.

Presumably it was pointed out to some editor at A.P. that Stevens's claim was obviously intended to draw some kind of equivalence between the daily, unceasing terror inflicted by organized groups of Arab terrorist militias on Israel, and the lone acts of Israeli madmen -- averaging about one every five years -- against Arabs.

The question remains -- will Stevens's obvious bias be allowed to stand with just the action of an editor's delete key, or will she be reprimanded or replaced?

Yes, the reporter is showing her bias, and yes terrorist attacks by Jews on Arabs are so rare as to rate the man-bites-dog treatment. But I thought it noteworthy that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned the attack and called it terrorism without the scare quotes you used. Terrorism is terrorism, no matter who does it or for what cause. The most terrifying part of the current war is its erasure of the line between combatants and civilians - it's something we've yet to come to terms with.

Dan Bellow, Great Barrington.

If one is interested in the distortion in Arab/Israeli relations where in this asymetrical battle the Palestnians are winning hands down.Incidents like the one cited are reported on regularlyby many excellent watchdog sites including Boston's Camera and the one I recieve weekly honestreporting.com.The AP,Reuters ,BBC maybe the most flagrant and repetitive but NPR,the New York Times,and may other outlets are also offenders in either distortion or just plain poor reorting.Some newspapers like the Washinton Post are repeat offenders.The "truth" in the middle east peace process does not have parenthesis it is simply the fulllest poosible investigation and reporting of the facts.Truth is not relative in this conflict nor in any other though inhernet in any dispute will be at minnimum a "spin" or shaping of events to the extreme of lies and the puruit of repoters to become polemists or propogandists(As an aside I always wonder why the conflict is called "The Middle East Peace Process" when the conflict between the two parties is not the entire middle east as the term impliesErgo ourr war in Iraq.How those who report on the area have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the Palestinian line ( for instance the reported massacre of "hundreds" by the IDF in Jenin last year which turned out to be false)may they think that they help the cause for Palestinian justice is beyond me.All itseems to do is make the Israelis more wary and intrangigent.It makes the Palestians feel that false propoganda will serve in the place of good faith negotiations.Buit ultimately it does not move things foward for both peoples and has made antisemitism as virulent and widespread than it has been for many years.As I write this I am listening to the radio about a story how a preist in his 80's whol assisted jews durring the Holocaust was stabbed in front of his congregation durring a mass presumably by an individual who may in fact been influenced by the reporting concerning Israel from sourses like Al-Jazeera to the aforementioned mainstream outlets.Given the conditions I find it sadly ironic that those the sympathies which cause reporters to abandon their objectivity and professionallism hurt all parties including the the Palestinaians who seek a fair peace and justice for themselves while asisisting those on either extreme who seek this conflict to in fact never end.If more of chalenged the the AP and it's so called "professional journalists" like Ms.Stevens the institution of media and it's credibility as well a justice based on facts has the greatest potential to help both Arab and Jew live in a peacefull co-existence which most in both communities desire.
Charles Katz

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