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CAMERA Chronicles NCR’s Anti-Israel Bias

6 Aug

For Immediate Release

(BOSTON, MA - August 5, 2008) The National Catholic Reporter does not offer its readers an accurate or comprehensive view of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but instead allows its staff and commentators to use its pages to demonize Israel.

That's the assessment of CAMERA's Christian Media Analyst, Dexter Van Zile, who recently wrote an essay ("Walking With Angels at the National Catholic Reporter") about the publication's coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"The publication's correspondent on Church politics, John Allen, covers the policy disagreement within the Church in an even-handed, factual and nuanced manner, but when it comes to Israel, the publication's writers traffic in ugly polemic, factual misstatements and distortions," he said. "The NCR has one standard of journalism for the Church and another for Israel. What gives?"

Van Zile wrote the essay in response to Fr. Raymond Schroth's lionization of The Independent's Robert Fisk. The piece provides an historical recounting of Fisk's factual inaccuracies and blatant anti-Israel reporting. It also reveals an overarching bias throughout the NCR's coverage of the Middle East.

"Robert Fisk's numerous factual errors and faulty logic has invited so many devastating detailed rebuttals in the journalism community that his last name has become a verb meaning "to deconstruct an article on a point by point basis in a highly critical manner," explains Van Zile. "And overall, the National Catholic Reporter offers its readers an ideologically driven narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict that demonizes Israel and excuses and minimizes the behavior of those who seek its destruction. This is not journalism, it is defamation wrapped in the mantle of religiously inspired journalism."

In 'Walking with Angels,' Van Zile summarizes how NCR's columnists and writers have engaged in a persistent campaign to delegitimize Israel. In particular, he shows how Rosemary Radford Ruether uses an outdated anecdote about a confrontation between peace activists and Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip (from which Israel withdrew in 2005) to 'prove' Israel uses the Holocaust to justify "taking land." He also chronicles how Opinion/Arts Editor Margot Patterson donated to Friends of Sabeel North America and has adopted the group's dishonest "end-the-occupation-and-the-violence-will-end" narrative in her own journalism. He also highlights how Neve Gordon ignores the facts to push a narrative of Israel starving its neighbors.

To read the full text of 'Walking with Angels at the National Catholic Reporter,' please visit: http://camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=1518. To interview Dexter Van Zile on this and other topics related to Christian issues in the Middle East, please contact Isabel Smith at Isabel@camera.org.

CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, is a national research, educational and activist organization that monitors media coverage of Israel and the Middle East, working to promote accurate, balanced and complete reporting. Knowing that public perception of events ultimately shapes public policy, CAMERA believes it is vital to ensure Americans are provided factual and fair portrayals of Israel. Many of CAMERA's 60,000 members actively participate in communicating the facts about Middle East issues to media outlets, encouraging sound coverage and countering error and bias. CAMERA also supplies accurate information directly to the public as well as to the media on key topics frequently in the news. The organization is not aligned with any political party, nor does it take positions on policy issues. For more information, please visit www.camera.org.

To interview Dexter Van Zile on this and other topics related to Christian issues in the Middle East, please contact Isabel Smith at Isabel@camera.org.

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