The Telegraph publishes fair & balanced report on Israeli settlement ‘growth’

telegraphOur increasing commentary on Israel related coverage by sites such as The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, The Economist and the Irish Times is often helpful in properly contextualizing coverage at the Guardian.

Regarding The Telegraph, though we have criticized them on occasion, the coverage of Israel by their regional correspondent Robert Tait is often much more fair and professional than the pro-Palestinian activism consistently peddled by the Guardian’s outgoing Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood.

Indeed, a March 4 Telegraph story, titled ‘Israel issues figures on huge settlement expansion‘, by two other correspondents (Inna Lazareva and Peter Foster) deserves some credit for citing various views on the announcement, from both the Left and the Right.

The report begins by citing “a new report by the Israeli Bureau of Statistics” which revealed “that Israel increased settlement construction in the West Bank by as much as 123% in 2013, compared with the previous year.”  Then, after quoting Israeli left-wing critics of the increased settlement construction, and right-wing critics complaining that there wasn’t enough construction, the report cited the Israeli Housing Ministry’s explanation that the “higher rate of settlement construction [represents] the cumulative effect of the building backlog dating back to the 2009 ten-month long settlement freeze, and subsequent delayed constructions in the following years”.

Then, there was this interesting passage:

Other critics were quick to point out that, while 2013 was indeed an exceptional year for West Bank settlement construction, overall the rate of building in the settlements over the nearly five years that Mr Netanyahu has been in power has actually decreased by nearly a quarter, compared to the five years prior to him assuming the role of Prime Minister.

We’re not sure who exactly they are referring to by “critics”, but, as you may recall, just yesterday (about 9 hours before the Telegraph story appeared) we published a post titledWhat the Guardian won’t report: West Bank settlement building has DECLINED under BiBiwhich included this passage:

Though housing starts did increase dramatically in 2013, based on numbers from the previous year, construction for the nearly five years Netanyahu has been prime minister shows a decrease from the previous four years when Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon were in power.  From 2009 through 2013, there were 7477 housing starts in the West Bank, while from 2004 through 2008 there were 9293 starts.  So, under Netanyahu, there has been a nearly 20% decline in West Bank construction in comparison to the five years before he became prime minister

In short, The Telegraph provided the kind of context and nuance that professional reporters owe their readers when reporting from a region awash in clichés, hyperbole, agitprop and Guardian-style activist journalism.

We commend The Telegraph for their largely fair and balanced report.

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11 replies »

  1. To be completely fair, journalists should make immediately clear to the reader the distinction between housing starts within existing settlements (which Palestinians at Geneva and Taba have agreed to swap to Israel) versus “new” settlements.

    • All settlements beyond the Green Line, in the Palestinian territory, are in breach of international law and illegal, whether new or old.

      • Njet, dream on, Natzie boy. Your lies don`t get true by repeating it according to the Goebbels mantra.

      • You mean in territory being claimed by Palestinians. Those areas are disputed – Israel having the strongest legal claim. But Israel is willing to work something out with all those who recognize her rights and advance peaceful coexistence. The only breach in international law would be inciting the destruction of a U.N. member state. Your desire to act criminally is noted.

  2. “West Bank settlement growth has declined under Bibi” = Illegal West Bank settlement building has continued in violation of international law under Bibi, further jeopardizing the peace process and the two-state solution.

    • Hey Jmarra – I actually agree with you.

      I don’t think that continuing to expand Israeli towns across the green line at any rate is helpful (although I would question the raw stats – e.g. how many of these permissions are replacements of old buildings or re-developments or even simply extensions to existing homes), but I do dispute just how much of an obstacle they are to the peace process. I think it is more of a straw (man) which the Palestinians and their propagandists have desperately clung onto to excuse their total lack of any effort to engage constructively in dialogue or the search for a mutually satisfactory outcome.

      The truth is, the FUNDAMENTAL factor that is really “jeopardizing the peace process” is the repeatedly stated and unabashedly promoted policies of both Hamas and Fatah that advocate the destruction of the State of Israel (within ANY borders) and the constant demonisation and propaganda they pump out in their media and education systems that condemn yet another generation to hate the Jews more than they want peace.

  3. This is a very interesting article. It shows the difference between honest journalism and the blatant propaganda that the Guardian publishes.

    In its long-running campaign against Israel, the Guardian has abandoned every last shred of journalistic integrity. Their reporting about Israel consists of half-truths, deliberate distortions and outright lies. They had to be forced- forced – to retract the assertion that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. You might expect that degree of childishness in a left-wing student magazine. In a national newspaper it is an embarrassing disgrace.

  4. ” overall the rate of building in the settlements over the nearly five years that Mr Netanyahu has been in power has actually decreased by nearly a quarter, ”

    What I like about this quote is the use of the word “in” (building in the settlements). This a subtle difference than using the phrase “building new settlements” which is the standard fare of most articles. Building in the settlements is the truth and it gives the correct image of what is happening.