Sunday, December 23, 2007

O little settlement of Bethlehem

OK, granted. It's hard to know the status of any particular square yard of the territories captured in the '67 war without a scorecard (which isn't an argument for resigning yourself to cluelessness; it's an argument for running the scorecard more often). That said, the AP and any member papers* that ran this graphic committed the sort of blunder that could have been headed off with a quick burst of common sense.

The trouble is the bizarre egalitarianism of the map's color coding, which labels areas of Israeli and Palestinian "settlement." It's half right. The Israeli settlements in the West Bank represent settlement (as in the Big Book, "The act of settling as colonists or new-comers; the act of peopling or colonizing a new country, or of planting a colony"). The Palestinians are the people who already lived there. If you haven't already figured out that Bethlehem is a fairly well established town, rather than a "settlement," should we send some carolers around to remind you?

You're welcome, as always, to your own opinions about the goodness or badness of any particular situation. And you're welcome to your own opinions about how to move toward a peaceful solution that addresses the legitimate interests of all parties. But you don't get to make up your own facts. Particularly if you're supposed to be providing information that purports to help other people form their opinions.

* Originally spotted on dead pine trees in the op-ed section of the Columbus Dispatch, but it appears from the intertubes to be rather widespread.


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