Reuters denies using anti-Israel rhetoric

By JONNY PAUL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
March 14, 2011 02:42

Global news agency called IDF "the Israeli occupation forces"; Honest Reporting accuses BBC of burying story of Itamar massacre.

2 minute read.



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Reuters logo 311. (photo credit:courtesy)

LONDON – The global news agency Reuters has denied it used terminology associated with anti-Israel activists after it referred to the Israeli army as “the Israeli occupation forces” in a report on Saturday.

Reporting on the terrorist attack in Itamar on Friday night, in which a couple and their three children were killed by a lone terrorist, Reuters stated: “Troops from the Israeli occupation forces set up roadblocks and were searching the area around the settlement of Itamar, near the Palestinian city of Nablus, for the suspect.”

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The phrase was subsequently taken out of later editions of the story.

“Israel Occupation Forces” or the acronym “IOF” are often used by vehemently anti-Israel activists as part of the demonization campaign against Israel.

The editor of the story was Alastair Macdonald, specialist desk editor on the world desk at Reuters in London and former bureau chief of Reuters in Jerusalem. He edited it from reports from Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Damascus and Washington.

He told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that he did not use the phrase capitalized or the acronym.

Macdonald said the phrase is one Reuters tries to avoid, “particularly when capitalized or used with the acronym ‘IOF,’ [which has] become a term associated with the language used by those on one side of this conflict.”

“We do, of course, routinely refer to the ‘Israeli occupation’ of the West Bank, ‘Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank’ and many other permutations of those terms in order to explain to readers the political status of the territory and the mission of the Israeli forces there,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BBC has been accused of burying the Itamar attack, focusing instead on the settlement issue.

Jerusalem-based media watchdog organization Honest Reporting said that most media outlets gave prominence to the terrorist attack while BBC focused on the settlement issue with no dedicated reportage of the attack.

Honest Reporting described the BBC treatment of the incident as “shocking” and “callous,” saying that while the news cycle moved on, most media outlets gave prominence to the attack even as part of a story relating to settlements.

“The BBC, however, virtually buried the Fogel family’s massacre, once again demonstrating its obsession with the settlement issue above all other issues relating to the Arab- Israeli conflict,” said a statement issued by the watchdog.

“No dedicated reportage of the brutal attack was featured elsewhere on the site. Instead, subsumed in a story of settlements, it warrants only a few lines. The BBC does, however, report that the attack ‘has shocked many Palestinians.’

“Of course, the BBC failed to mention that Hamas described the attack as a ‘heroic operation’ while candies were handed out in Gaza in celebration,” Honest Reporting added.


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