"Throughout your article, however, the onus is placed not on Israel as the occupying power but on its adversaries. Famously, Israel does not have declared borders. Its approach to illegal territorial expansion has always relied on a fluid and expandable frontier. To omit this well-established context, as your article does – while alluding to some two-way threat of conflict across Israel’s northern frontier – is quite simply to mislead your readers."
August 17, 2023
James Mackenzie, Dan Williams, Maya Gebeily, and Laila Bassam – Reporters, Reuters
Brian Moss – Editor, Reuters
Steve Bartlett – Managing Editor, SaltWire
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express concern about your August 17 analysis, “Israel-Hezbollah tensions elevate risks of conflict.” More context and precision are needed to accurately inform your readers.
The very idea that there is a “risk of conflict” is misleading. We all know that what is often called the Arab-Israeli conflict, or phrases to that effect, is an ongoing reality: it is not a possibility, or a risk. What this piece describes as “Israeli-Palestinian violence” is at the core of the regional conflict, particularly, as this piece notes, involving Jerusalem.
As a matter of fact, (1) Israel is occupying East Jerusalem in violation of international law, (2) majority world diplomacy, including through the United Nations, condemns this Israeli violation, and (3) the pursuit of Middle East peace involves Lebanon and other regional actors as parties actively opposed to Israeli occupation and mob attacks in Jerusalem.
There is no “risk” of conflict. There is an ongoing conflict in which Israel would like to have a free hand to violate international law and basic norms of human decency in Palestine while blocking international interference. The indivisibility of diplomacy concerning the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and Gaza was a cornerstone of the Oslo peace process. We all know the terms of Israel’s engagement with its neighbours will also remain interwoven with these pressing world concerns.
So yes, there is real risk from those in Israel’s governing coalition who openly advocate the killing of Palestinian civilians and who incline as a matter of public record to a “Temple Mount” extremism aimed with increasing violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This does raise the specter of international war. But to address this risk accurately is to name it clearly.
Your readers should know that a certain level of violence in Jerusalem from those pursuing their illegal occupation could provoke a military response on what the language of your article would call Israel’s “northern front,” as well as from Gaza. This does not change or obscure the core problem: Israel’s escalating violations in Jerusalem and the seeming impunity that surrounds them. Regional peace is impossible without facing these facts.
Acquainting your readers with the facts that enable them to think realistically about these issues is precisely your responsibility. We ask only that you live up to it.
Throughout your article, however, the onus is placed not on Israel as the occupying power but on its adversaries. Famously, Israel does not have declared borders. Its approach to illegal territorial expansion has always relied on a fluid and expandable frontier. To omit this well-established context, as your article does – while alluding to some two-way threat of conflict across Israel’s northern frontier – is quite simply to mislead your readers.
You write that “Israel and Hezbollah have avoided war across the Lebanese-Israeli frontier since their last major clash 17 years ago, deterred by mutual threats of destruction.” This is terribly misleading. Words like “mutual” convey a demonstrably false sense of symmetry. It was Israel that invaded Lebanon in 2006 – following, lest we forget, a series of extreme Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Gaza Strip. The awkward writing needed to maintain this bizarre illusion of balance – e.g., “The 2006 war killed…,” a phrase of yours which reduces vividly documented Israeli atrocities to an implied passive – is the stuff of anodyne deception, as well as really bad prose.
Worse, where the balance tips, it tips in favour of Israel, the most dangerous belligerent in this ongoing conflict. For instance: To use any reliable metric to compare Iranian support for Hezbollah with United States support for Israel is to immediately recognize that it is above all the U.S. who has pumped weapons into this region, and Israel (on a scale that makes comparison with Hezbollah bizarre) that has been killing civilians with it. Why, then, the contrast “between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah,” as if (U.S.-backed) Israel were not allied with the more aggressive external belligerent?
In short, you are right to hint that Israeli provocations in Jerusalem are a dangerous element of an ongoing regional conflict with the Palestine problem at its core. Precisely because this is true, you owe it to your readers to better convey the reality of what this all means.
We respectfully insist that this false balance of tone be adjusted in the interests of professional accuracy.