Apr
16
2010

A Political Correction at the NYT: Using the Wrong Euphemism

The New York Times had an odd correction today (4/16/10):

A picture caption on Thursday with the continuation of a news analysis article about a shift in the Obama administratio's Middle East policy referred incorrectly to Ramat Shlomo, the name of a Jewish housing development that Israel says it is expanding despite objections by the United States and the Palestinian Authority. It is a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, not a settlement in the West Bank.

Ramat Shlomo is, in fact, in the West Bank, defined as that part of the Palestine Mandate that was controlled by Jordan from 1948-1967 and occupied by Israel since the '67 war. East Jerusalem is that part of the West Bank that Israel claims sovereignty over–a claim that is not recognized by the rest of the world, except, apparently, the New York Times.

The word "neighborhood" is a euphemism promoted by the Israeli government to foster the impression that it is normal and proper for a country to move its citizens onto territory captured in war. In fact, this is contrary to international law. The regular term for these illegal communities is "colonies"; in the Occupied Territories, they are usually referred to as "settlements," which was originally a euphemism but no longer functions as such because it has become too associated with the ugly reality.

So to say that Ramat Shlomo is a West Bank settlement is perfectly correct. It is, however, politically incorrect to say so at the New York Times.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.