"It is misleading to refer to a “religious divide” among Israel’s citizenry. This report of yours falsely presents a Muslim/Jewish divide as such. In fact, historic Christian centres of Palestinian society – is it enough to name Nazareth – are integral to this society: the divide between Jewish Israeli and Palestinian civic life has secular determinants."
October 20, 2023
Geoffrey York, Reporter, Globe and Mail
Sandra E. Martin, Standards Editor, Globe and Mail
Angela Murphy, Foreign Editor, Globe and Mail
Chritine Brousseau, Assistant Managing Editor, News, Globe and Mail
Dear Geoffrey York, Sandra E. Martin, Angela Murphy, and Christine Brousseau,
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, cjpme.org) to ask for correction of your October 20 report, “For Arabs in Israeli town of Abu Ghosh, a life ‘caught in the middle’ of the religious divide.”
This story is framed misleadingly and uses language ill suited to the subject at hand.
First, it is misleading to refer to a “religious divide” among Israel’s citizenry. This report of yours falsely presents a Muslim/Jewish divide as such. In fact, historic Christian centres of Palestinian society – is it enough to name Nazareth – are integral to this society: the divide between Jewish Israeli and Palestinian civic life has secular determinants. The basic sociology of civic life in this area is misrepresented by your article.
Second, while one can claim that Palestinian Arab civic identity is contested, the fact that Arab citizens of Israel often consider themselves Palestinians is quite simply incontestable: this is a point which Miriam Berger authoritatively helped to establish in Foreign Affairs.
It follows, as you can read on the website of the International Journalists Network, that journalistic reference to this form of Palestinian self-identification in Israel is necessary:
“Do not use the identifiers ‘Arab-Israeli’ or ‘Israeli-Arab,’ unless requested by the individuals described. Instead use ‘Palestinian citizen of Israel’ if that applies, or ‘Palestinian.’ Also recognize Palestinians represent multiple faith backgrounds, including Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Samaritan, Baha’i and others. Ignoring this diversity perpetuates the misleading notion that the conflict is a religious one between Jews and Muslims rather than political in nature.”
Please add, therefore, some mention of Palestinian Christians and those of other faiths to your article, and identify Palestinian citizens of Israel as one self-identified group. Without these changes, you are misleading your readers on crucial political matters of substance.
I hope that you will edit this story and adapt your future coverage in light of the facts. Feel free to contact me at 438-380-5410 if you would like to discuss this further.
PhD, University of Exeter
Postdoc, Canada Research Chair in Québec and Canadian Studies
Director of Strategic Operations
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East/
Canadiens pour la Justice et la Paix au Moyen-Orient