Monday, 26 October 2009

Today's Journalism Scores: Times - 1, Guardian - 0

As everyone is aware, there have been clashes at the Temple Mount between Israeli police and Palestinians looking for trouble. The Times report mentions that "The police action... came after local Muslim leaders claimed that Jews were attempting to conquer the mosque and claim it as their own." It includes a quote from a Palestinian:
"A 22-year-old, who gave his name as Amar, said he had been detained last week for hurling stones at a passing Israeli patrol, but had returned again yesterday. 'They start this. They incite this, and then we respond and they make it look like we are the bad guys... We are protecting something very important to us, and they know that this is important, and that’s why they try to make us angry by sending their settlers there'."
and from an Israeli police officer:
“These are kids that have been whipped into a frenzy by something they believe is happening here. This is all unnecessary, and at the end of the day serves no one.”
It explains why this all started:
"Local Arabic radio stations began broadcasting at the weekend that Jews were planning to enter the site to pray, or dig under the compound and harm buildings there, prompting calls for Muslims to go and defend the site."
and gives Israel's response to the accusations:
"Israeli officials said that they had carried out archaeological excavations in the area, but that the work did not threaten existing structures. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, said the accusations against Israel were lies."
It even gives a bit of historical background as to why the Temple Mount is holy to Muslims and Jews, as well as stating "It is only open for Muslims to pray, though there are several hours each day that tourists, including Jews [if they can take the stoning and won't dare to pray there], can visit.", and quoting the head of the Jewish Temple Mount Institute saying "I will be tolerant to Muslim prayer on Temple Mount, but in this democratic country everyone has the right to pray in the holiest site in the world". The Guardian, meanwhile, paints this picture:
"Israeli forces stormed up into the compound behind riot shields and crowds of Palestinians fled, some taking sanctuary in the al-Aqsa mosque." "Palestinians have been increasingly concerned about right-wing Jewish settlers entering the compound and about rumours - denied by Israel - of excavations near the site."
That second quote was only added much later today, and doesn't really get across the fact the concern wasn't about "Jewish settlers entering the compound", but the rumour that they were going to "conquer" it, or that Musilms leaders on Arab radio encouraged Palestinians to riot at the mosque to defend it. One more detail was missed out by both newspapers, that the original "storming" of the compound by the Israeli police only happened when Palestinians began throwing rocks at the regular patrol that were already there. Still, the Times wins that round.

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