Thursday, October 12, 2006

11-Oct-06: Want to see how two news reports of one speech can lead to opposite conclusions?

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke last night to a gala dinner in Washington DC. Her speech is widely (though briefly) reported in the media today. Reuters and AP were both there, and both have sent out syndicated versions of the speech. But look at how different they are.

First, the AP version, as published in the British newspaper, the Guardian:

Rice: Palestinians Deserve Better Life
Thursday October 12, 2006 1:46 AM
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that Palestinians deserve a better life ``free of the humiliation of occupation'' and in a state of their own. "I promise you my personal commitment to that goal,'' Rice said at a dinner marking the third anniversary of the American Task Force on Palestine. ``There could be no greater legacy for America,'' Rice told the group, which describes itself as nonpartisan and supportive of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. ``The Palestinian people deserve a better life ... free of the humiliation of occupation,'' she said. Rice has made five trips to the region as secretary of state, looking for ways to promote President Bush's call for a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But peace talks are in suspension, and Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel, plays a leading role in Palestinian affairs. And yet, Rice said ``things are changing,'' that moderates are coming to the fore. She praised Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority with whom the Bush administration deals while boycotting Hamas. The militant group, which the United States and European governments have labeled a terrorist organization, must choose between remaining what it is or turning into a peaceful political party, Rice said. ``You cannot be both,'' she said.
That's the entire text. Solve the problem of the Jews humiliating the Arabs in Palestine and things will get much better.

Now, the Reuters version as published in this morning's Yediot Aharonot which starts with a headline reflecting the same imbecilic simplification but includes some rather more telling points.

Rice says US wants end to Palestinian 'humiliation'
During dinner party hosted by Palestinian-Americans, US secretary of state says Palestinians deserve better life, to be freed of Israeli occupation
Published: 10.12.06, 07:51
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday the United States would work hard to create a Palestinian state free of the "daily humiliation" of Israeli occupation. Speaking at a dinner hosted by Palestinian-Americans, Rice said she was committed to the goal of a Palestinian state where the people lived in peace alongside Israel as proposed under the stalled US-sponsored Road Map for Middle East peace. "The Palestinian people deserve a better life, a life that is rooted in liberty, democracy, uncompromised by violence and terrorism, unburdened by corruption and misrule and forever free of the daily humiliation of occupation," she told a dinner organized by the American Task Force on Palestine. "I believe there could be no greater legacy for America than to help bring into being a Palestinian state for people who have suffered too long, have been humiliated too long," added Rice, whose government is accused by Arab states of siding with Israel in the conflict. Rice was in Israel and the Palestinian Territories last week, where she met Israeli officials and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in what the Bush administration says is a new drive to revive the moribund Middle East peace process and bring in moderate Arab leaders. However, the trip did not appear to make much progress in attempts to bolster Abbas, who has failed to pull together a unity government with Hamas. The United States has cut off direct aid to the Palestinian Authority since the election of Hamas last January, but has continued limited humanitarian assistance via aid groups. "Either you are a peaceful political party or a violent terrorist group. You cannot be both," Rice said of Hamas. She said the Quartet of Middle East peace brokers was holding firm to the principle that Hamas had to meet three obligations - renounce violence, accept Israel's right to exist and recognize previous peace deals, including the US-sponsored Road Map. "I know that sometimes, a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel must seen like a very distant dream but I know too ... that there are so many things that once seemed impossible that after they happened they simply seemed inevitable," she said.
Again, that's the entire text. So in summary, Dr Rice says these are the things that need to be fixed for the Palestinian Arabs:
  • a life that is rooted in liberty
  • democracy
  • a life uncompromised by violence
  • a life uncompromised by terrorism
  • a life unburdened by corruption
  • a life unburdened by misrule
  • and to love "forever free of the daily humiliation of occupation"
Those are seven challenges. One of them is in the hands of Israel, sort of. Six of them are entirely in the hands of the Palestinian Arabs. How come the six are literally ignored by most of the media reports of this important speech? And can anyone see how the seventh might be conditional upon the first six?

Unfortunately time and again inadequate reporting and editing of objective reality (a speech) leads to not only inadequate understanding but wrong understanding of what happened. This is not mere quibbling but goes to the essence of why we need reporters, editors, photographers and media watchdogs. Dr Rice's speech, if it means anything, has now been hopelessly misunderstood by most of the people who know about it. Is this a problem? Yes, certainly, for those of us who want to see greater understanding and peaceful relations in this troubled place.

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