Why do most photos show Palestinian suffering?

Question: Having recently returned from a business trip to Israel, I notice a distinct disconnect between the events there and your (and the news services') coverage. The killing of six Israeli soldiers in a bombing of a military personnel carrier was described in the Jerusalem Post with an emphasis on Hamas using civilian neighborhoods as the operations center and an accompanying photo showed the terrorists with remains of the soldiers and vehicle. In Spokane, we read about the Israeli army besieging a refugee camp with the emphasis and photo (real or staged?) of Palestinians treated for injuries in the raid.

In the past three weeks, I've observed that at least 75 percent of your photos from the region depict Palestinian civilians hurt by Israelis. The inciting cause related to terrorists using the camps to develop their campaign and "hiding behind the skirts of women and children" is raely addressed by the media. The Israeli military campaign to protect its citizenry and other Westerners is normal and never questioned if the country is France, England (remember the Falkland Islands and sheep) etc.

I strongly urge your editor(s) to visit the Middle East and see the situation first-hand rather than blindly harvesting slanted stories from others. I believe you'll feel more secure, as an American, in Israel vs. Egypt, Jordan etc. and begin to understand better the tenuous existence of Israelis. They live the 9/11 disaster every day.

If a visit is not possible, then peruse your feeds from the wire services to obtain a more balanced reporting. Ask yourself ' why is the Israeli military responding in the first place' and are the photos legitimate? -- Joseph Harari, Spokane

Answer: U.S. newspapers often are criticized for their coverage of the Middle East, particularly on stories and events involving Israel and the Palestinians. Most of the major newspapers, such as The New York Times, have their own correspondents in the Middle East and can provide unique coverage for their readers. Unfortunately, most newspapers, The Spokesman-Review included, are solely dependent on the Associated Press and the secondary news services for coverage of international news.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most complex and contentious news stories on the international scene and itís difficult for papers like ours to consistently monitor and reflect the various issues and subtext of the ongoing developments.

As for your comments about our photo selection, you make a valid point about the photos we have published. Unfortunately, the decisions about which stories and photos to publish are often influenced by the number of victims involved or the unusual nature of the violence or protest. In the most recent instances that I am familiar with, the number of Palestinian deaths have far outnumbered those of the Israeli military.

We would like to be able to send our own staff members to Israel, but itís really not economically feasible. Our main mission each day is to provide the best local news report possible, so most of our resources are devoted to covering the Spokane area and North Idaho. We also strive to provide national and international coverage, but that news is secondary to our mission. -- Gary Graham, managing editor

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