"The use of the word “captured” when referring to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is misleading, suggesting that Israel has a strong claim to or ownership of these territories. International law never uses the term “captured” when referring to land appropriation, and the international community has never diplomatically acquiesced to Israel's ongoing military presence in the West Bank."
August 17, 2023
Tia Goldenberg, Journalist, The Associated Press
Wafaa’ Shurafa, Journalist, The Associated Press
John Daniszewski, VP and Editor at Large, The Associated Press
Rob Roberts, Editor in Chief, The National Post
Aileen Donnelly, News Editor, The National Post
Dear Ms. Goldenberg, Ms. Shurafa, Mr. Daniszewski, Mr. Roberts, Ms. Donnelly,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express concern regarding AP’s article “Israeli troops kill a Palestinian militant in a gunbattle outside a West Bank bakery” published by National Post on August 17.
First, your article mentions the actions of the Israeli army against an alleged Palestinian militant. You write:
“Witnesses told Palestinian media that Israeli special forces surrounded the bakery and the home above it, opened fire and struck the home. Video on social media showed piles of debris scattered beneath a sign reading ‘Al-Nour Modern Bakery.’”
It should be mentioned that attacking the militant’s family home is a practice that human rights groups, such as B’Tselem, amounts to collective punishment. This is essential context for readers, as it makes clear this is a persistent practice, not a one-time event.
I urge you to include this context. In past articles you have written, and should again include:
“Israel says demolishing Palestinian attackers’ homes serves as a deterrent meant to prevent future attacks. But human rights groups say the practice amounts to collective punishment and leaves relatives who had nothing to do with the attack homeless.”
Second, the use of the word “captured” when referring to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is misleading, suggesting that Israel has a strong claim to or ownership of these territories. International law never uses the term “captured” when referring to land appropriation, and the international community has never diplomatically acquiesced to Israel's ongoing military presence in the West Bank. The UN Charter outlaws explicitly the acquisition of territory by force. As such, according to numerous legal interpretations, there is no concept of legal “capture” of sovereign territory.
By using "capture" instead of "occupy," the Palestinian people and their claims are effectively erased. I would ask that you rectify this error and adapt your future reporting to use the correct terminology when referring to the occupied Palestinian territories.
Finally, and on a different note, I would like to thank you for providing more context when discussing Jenin. Describing the refugee camp as a bastion of “armed struggle against Israel” helps balance the reductive and overused description of the Jenin refugee camp simply as a “militant stronghold.”
I would encourage AP’s future coverage to move away from language that presents entire Palestinian populations as engaged in violence by default.
Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Director of Strategic Operations, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East