It comes as no surprise that Jordanian officials believe that Israel bears responsibility for tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But is it proper for The Washington Post to believe it, too?
The Post is well within its rights to make this assertion on its editorial page. I may disagree with its arguments, but opinion journalism is designed to offer these arguments. The classic model of Anglo-American journalism, however, mandates a news story offer both sides of a story equal time.
I have my doubts about a recent article by the Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief entitled “Relationship between Israel and Jordan grows warier amid tensions in Jerusalem." My reading of this piece leaves me wondering if it is unbalanced, incurious, incomplete or lacking in context. Could it have been written from an editorial mindset that blames Israel first?
Or is there something more at work here? The Post appears to be ignorant of the change of religious Zionist sentiment in Israel. Could the Temple Mount be a flashpoint between Muslim Arab and Israeli Jews in 2014 because Judaism has changed?
The story with a dateline of Amman opens with the Jordanian perspective on the recent clashes over the Temple Mount. The lede states:
Jordan’s king and his people are bristling with anger over Israeli actions at a sacred site for Muslims in Jerusalem, threatening to turn a cold peace between Israel and Jordan into a deep freeze.
After defining the issue from the Jordanian perspective, the second sentence states why this is of consequence.
The rising animosity between Jordan and Israel, whose governments are tethered by a peace treaty, could undermine U.S.-led efforts to fight Islamist extremists. It also threatens a multibillion-dollar natural gas deal that is important to both countries.
The story continues with analysis, ending with the line: “A king who cannot protect the mosque or that delicate arrangement may lose the support of his people.”
A quotation from a Jordanian official closes out this section, placing the blame on the changing “status quo” on the Israelis.
“The Israeli extremists are playing with fire.”
A counterpoint from unidentified Israeli officials is offered that serves to identify the actions in question.
Israeli officials say they were forced to temporarily restrict access to the mosque in response to rioting, after a Palestinian’s recent attempt to assassinate a prominent activist who agitates for Jews to have the right to pray at the site. The first and second Jewish temples once stood at the site, a spot considered the holiest in Judaism.
If the article ended at this point, the lack of balance would not be as problematic.