Foreign Policy Blogs

A West Bank Story

The recent flurry of media coverage on a town in the West Bank called Nablus has a definite positive ring to it. Things are changing for the better there, in an area that has been described by the media as a “former ghost town.” It is also described as a “former militant strong hold”.

Most heavily emphasized among positive changes are the economic advances made in Nablus. They have their first movie theater in 20 years, just set a new Guiness record for the world’s largest pastry, the choking of Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints is easing, and law and order after years of trauma and chaos. It seems all is well in the world of Nablus.

But look a bit more closely, and there’s a problem with all the adulation about the dawn of a new economic era in the West Bank. An article that ran on the front page of The New York Times, “Signs of Hope Emerge in the West Bank” is laced with subtle suggestion that the West Bank is easily understood by outsiders. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just the lead photo on the article alone shows a deliberate attempt to paint a picture that is easy for Americans to relate to: young women with short sleeves, tight jeans, and uncovered hair at the movie box office. About 1 percent of the women in Nablus would dare to walk around dressed in such a way and with their hair uncovered. They are stylish, but extremely demure and are typically covered from head to foot. Is The New York Times and the media in general trying to say that becoming like the west is equal to recovering from war and economic trauma?

Although economic recovery in Nablus–albeit slow–has become somewhat of a bright spot in the West Bank, it’s curious that so much media coverage that is so positive is coinciding with the recent calls from the U.S. for Israel to halt Jewish settlements in the area. In fact, there have been two days of violence against Palestinians near Nablus after Israeli authorities evacuated some illegal Jewish settlements. The Jewish settlers burned and cut down scores of Palestinian olive trees in retaliation, a practice known as a “price tag.”

Coverage of the West Bank is a case in point of why any reader of the news should be cautious discerning about what they read and believe. Readers rely on reporters to be discerning and honest in what they write. And they rely on the media to not distort the final article with misleading photos and information.

To find the real story on the West Bank and Nablus, don’t rely on any one media source, even if it is one you consider highly reliable. There’s no telling when a story could be wrong, even if its printed in a newspaper.



Genevieve Belmaker

Genevieve Belmaker is a freelance journalist and contributing editor with The Epoch Times ( She also contributes to Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists and Her blog on journalism is

Genevieve has traveled throughout the U.S., Asia, Central America, Israel and the West Bank for reporting assignments, including major investigative reports on the recovery of New Orleans, the encroaching presence of China in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the dangerous import of melamine-contaminated milk into the U.S. and settlement outposts in the West Bank. She regularly reports on issues related to journalism, and the work of journalists.

She holds a BA from the University of Southern California in International Relations, and has been a member of several prominent national and international professional media organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the New York Press Club, and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel with her husband and son.

Areas of Focus:
New Media; Journalism; Culture and Society