On the index page of the magazine, the article was summarized as follows: "Divide and rule. Lauren Booth on murder, fear and ritual humiliation: daily life on the West Bank." On page 24, where the piece itself began, the headline words, in inch-high type, read: "Strip-searched. Interrogated. Threatened. Just another week on the wild West Bank."
Those doing the dividing and ruling, the strip-searching and the interrogating, the three-page report went on to made clear, were not the Palestinians, a people "struggling to survive on 22 percent of their original homeland." They were, rather, the Israelis, who rounded off the author's 10-day visit testing the West Bank's political waters ahead of the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council by detaining her for two hours as she prepared to fly home from Ben-Gurion Airport.
She was questioned, Ms. Booth told her readers, by a "small, sinister interrogator" named Yanni, because "despite obeying Israel's 'laws,' I had, it seemed, not respected some unwritten 'rules'" - specifically by making contact with workers from a Palestinian charity that "Israel deems 'illegal.'"
For those not sufficiently engaged to read the entire article, the magazine provided what are known as "pull quotes" - text extracted from the piece, and prominently presented in much larger type. The first of the two "pull quotes" selected ran like this: "'This is Israeli security,' said the voice on the line. I was then subjected to six minutes of thinly veiled threats."
And this was the second pull quote: "I ask about Tony Blair. 'We hate him. He is Bush's tail.' I ask how we could help Palestine. 'Kill Blair, of course.'"
Helpfully, there was a range of photographic illustration, too: Palestinian "militants" demonstrating, guns in hand, in Rafah. The author, pictured leaning on Israel's West Bank "security wall." A Palestinian running for cover after throwing stones at an Israeli tank in the West Bank. The author, a second time, this time snapped through a coil of barbed wire.
Palestinians lined up at a Nablus checkpoint. Palestinians burning an American flag in a refugee camp. And a Palestinian man carrying a badly wounded Palestinian child "moments after an Israeli missile strike on a refugee camp." There were, needless to say, no photographs of Israeli victims of Palestinian suicide bombers or shooting attacks.
Booth's feature appeared this past Sunday, in the glossy "Live" magazine that comes free with the big-selling tabloid Mail newspaper in the UK. The newspaper itself plugged the feature with a full-page news article, accompanied by another photo of Booth at a Jerusalem stretch of barrier wall, and headlined: "How I was strip searched by Israeli policeâ€¦ and given just a piece of loo paper to cover my modesty."
In this news piece, in which Ms. Booth was the interviewee rather than the writer, she was quoted as saying: "Israel wants to harass those of us who are going to bear witness to the intimidation in Palestine. I refused to be intimidated so I was actually quite amused [during the questioning at Ben-Gurion] as I stood there naked with toilet paper wrapped around my groin."
And: "There were 15 people looking at me and my baggage, a quarter of whom were armed. I felt I was being treated like a terrorist. Every bit of make-up, a cake I'd bought for my daughter, absolutely everything was examined. It was just pure persecution."
The Mail, ironically not usually included among those British media sources determinedly hostile to Israel, also gave Ms. Booth the platform to express her assessment of Hamas. In what, as far as I could see, was the paper's only reporting that day on the aftermath of the PLC vote, she declared: "Having met so many erudite and well-spoken members of that [Hamas] organization I feel confident that if they feel this [the election victory] represents a chance for peace they will be happy to renounce violence."
Were the readers given any hint of the ludicrous partiality of this assessment? Indeed, was there any Israeli voice in this news piece, any basic attempt at journalistic balance? Well, there was this final sentence: "No one from the airport or the Israeli Embassy," it read, "was available for comment last night."
Ever wonder why Israeli diplomats attempt to protest an absence of fair-mindedness and context in so much reporting from our conflict? Ever wonder why so much of international public opinion is so hostile to Israel's narrative of what is unfolding here?
Ms. Booth's reporting, and her newspaper's presentation of it, are just a small part of the answers.
Oh and, incidentally, Lauren Booth isn't just any old reporter. She's the half-sister of Cherie. Cherie Blair, that is. Wife of Prime Minister Tony.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>