21 August 2003
Mr Charles Moore,
A comparison between the Daily Telegraph's reporting in today's paper of Tuesday's tragic events in Jerusalem (al-Quds) in which 18 people died including several young children and the editorial column ('Unholy Terror') in the same paper is puzzling..
In today's paper we read your Middle East correspondent Alan Philps explaining why it is wrong of the Israelis to blame the Palestinian Authority for the bombing and even giving a possible reason why the tragedy occured: namely, Israel's continued policy of assassinating Palestinian activists even in the face of the announced truce by the main Palestinian groups:
"The suicide bomber came from Hebron, which is controlled by the Israeli army. The Palestinian police cannot be directly blamed for failing to stop a terrorist attack from a place where they do not operate. Israel has never joined the truce announced by the Islamic factions...The army has continued to launch raids in Palestinian towns on an almost daily basis. It was in response to one of these raids, in which an Islamic Jihad operative was killed, that the organisation vowed vengeance, which was duly carried out in Jerusalem."
Mr Philps then acknowledges that the Israeli government has not been serious in its acceptance of the current 'road map' and has no intention of allowing the creation of a Palestinian state:
"The fact that the "road map" is going nowhere is hardly a surprise. Mr Sharon's Right wing would be bolting from his government if it believed that the prime minister really intended to follow the map all the way to the creation of a Palestinian state. It trusts Mr Sharon to stay on the right side of Washington while ensuring that the Palestinians get the blame for the failure of the diplomatic effort."
Then your reporter Inigo Gilmore reports criticism of the current ceasefire agreement saying it was "fundamentally flawed as it did not get Israel's commitment to stopping its targeted killing of [Palestinian] militant leaders."
Indeed, in the first 50 days of the agreed ceasefire, the Israeli army has killed 20 Palestinians.
Yet the Daily Telegraph's editorial column - in contrast to the reports from your own correspondents in the region - makes no mention of any failings on Israel's part and places all the blame for the continued violence in the region squarely on the Palestinians. From reading your editorial one would think that it is the Palestinians who are actually illegally occupying Israeli land and routinely humiliating the native population, rather than the reverse which is actually true.
Last night we saw television images of the family home of Tuesday's suicide bomber, Raed Misk, being blown up by the Israeli army in revenge. Why are the Daily Telegraph's editorial writers silent about this form of collective punishment which is clearly against all international norms of accepted behaviour?
The Israeli-Palestinian dispute has now been going on for over 55 years. Surely it is time to avoid making matters even worse by propagating partisan views on the conflict in the editorial column of a national newspaper.
Mr Inayat Bunglawala,
The Muslim Council of Britain