When words in the Middle East have no meaning

The following directive was just sent out internally by SBS News and Current Affairs:

As Middle East peace talks gather momentum once again, it is important that all programs take care in the language used to describe the Occupied Territories.

Recently the SBS Ombudsman ruled the use of the term “Palestinian land” in a World News Australia story was a breach of Code 2.2 which states:

Reasonable effort should be made to ensure news and current affairs programs are balanced and impartial ,,,”

In making the ruling, the Ombudsman said: “The land concerned remains the subject of protracted and deep dispute and therefore the reasonable viewer could consider that the use of the term “Palestinian Land” indicates a lack of impartiality as required under the Codes.”

The status of Israeli settlements on the West Bank is controversial, and is the subject of ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

When discussing territory whose status remains the subject of negotiation, care must be taken to ensure that the language used is neutral and cannot be interpreted as being favourable to one side over another. The best way to achieve this is to describe the geographic location of the settements e.g. “Israeli settlements on the West Bank” or “Israeli settlements on the outskirts of Jerusalem” or similar. We should avoid describing them as “on Palestinian land” or “on disputed land”.

If anyone is in any doubt on this issue, please refer upwards.

The fear of “not taking sides”. Only Israel accepts its claim over the Palestinian territories. Jewish settlements are illegal under international law and many under Israeli law, too.

But let’s not offend the Zionist lobby by being honest.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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