Last week Michael Bloomberg, the former NY mayor who owns a media empire, visited Israel to accept a prize, and met with an old friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu later described Bloomberg’s devotion to Israel, funding medical facilities in memory of his parents, though he also hinted that the two men had privately disagreed. According to New York Times coverage on the weekend, Bloomberg “called the growing international movement for a boycott against Israel ‘an outrage’ that is ‘totally misplaced,’ but ducked a question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Maybe because Bloomberg’s operation in Dubai is a cash cow.
What follows are leaked excerpts of two news memos to Bloomberg writers and reporters on how to treat the Israel/Palestine conflict. You will see that Palestine just doesn’t count in the world of Bloomberg News. “There is no such country.” It’s part of Israel, or it’s Jewish land: “The land historically belonged to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.”
I am told these notes were sent out by Matt Winkler, a veteran editor who co-founded Bloomberg News, directs the Bloomberg editorial staff, and ghosted Bloomberg’s memoir.
The more recent Bloomberg memo describes the land as historically Jewish and sees the West Bank in part as Israel.
MARCH 5, 2010
Palestine signifies different territory in different contexts. The land historically belonged to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Palestine represented the area west of the Jordan River
that was a British mandate from the 1920s until the creation of modern Israel in 1948.
Today, Palestine includes parts of Israel and Jordan. Use Palestine in the context of geography, not as a substitute for the Palestinian Authority, Palestine Liberation Organization or any other political body.
The earlier Bloomberg memo says there “is no such country” as Palestine.
MAY 16, 2002
Avoid referring to Palestine, as in “Israel’s incursion into Palestine,” because there is no such country. Instead, describe the occupied areas by their names, as in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Palestinian people or Palestine Authority is OK.
Someone who knows how Bloomberg works explains the significance of the memos:
The company pursues a very diligent and precise approach to its coverage globally, chastising journalists where they express any personal opinions or any remote sense of subjectivity. Those rules are not always adhered to when it comes to the coverage of Israel and the occupation of Palestinians. In fact very often they are completely ignored. When Hezballah and Hamas are mentioned they are always qualified as being considered terrorist organizations by the US. Hamas is rarely described as democratically elected, and rarely does Bloomberg use the word occupation.
Writes Scott Roth:
It seems like an attempt to avoid using the term Palestine in any way that would signify that it ought to be or can be a country on its own. In ’02 the policy was to call Palestine the WB and or Gaza. The ’10 directive is even stranger. It looks like something out of an AIPAC primer. The land historically belonged to ancient Israel and Judah? It also belonged to a lot of other people. Plus no reference to partition, ’48, ’67 occupation or millions of human beings living under Israel’s boot that have no vote.