Jerusalem in 10 Words or Less

Yarden Frankl,

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Yarden Frankl
Yarden Frankl is the Executive Director of the Center for Analysis of Media Coverage of Israel. His work appears in the Times of Israel, the Jewish Press, the Algemeiner, as well as Israel National News. He was a senior editor for HonestReporting for 11 years. He also blogs at ...

"The Palestinians have long claimed East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 war, as their capital in a peace deal." (New York Times)

"Israel seized Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed the city unilaterally, a move the international community does not recognize." (CNN)

"Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and formally annexed the area in 1980."  (BBC)

The above desc‎riptions of Jerusalem, which are typical of the way the city is referred to in the press, are completely accurate.

Yet they are completely misleading at the same time.

Israel DID capture Jerusalem in the 1967 war. The city, at least the so-called "eastern" part, IS claimed by the Palestinians as their future capital.

So if these desc‎riptions of Jerusalem are accurate, what's the problem?

The problem is that by neglecting to put things into proper context, even accurate statements create a less than accurate impression.

While Israeli forces did take the city by force in 1967, they were taking it back from the Jordanian Legion which had conquered it just 19 years earlier.

And yes, while the Palestinians do have all kinds of visions of Jerusalem being their future capital, it is essential for readers to be told that not only is the city the capital of the State of Israel today, but it has been the historical, political, and spiritual capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years.

I'm not arguing that journalists have to write the entire history of the city whenever it is mentioned. I accept that reporters must be concise in their use of language. And since it is a key issue, Jerusalem is mentioned in news coverage of Israel on a daily basis.

But if the media want to provide accuracy and still keep desc‎riptions of Jerusalem to 10 words or less, may I suggest the following:

"...Jerusalem, which Israel reunited in 1967 after 19 years of Jordanian rule..."


"...Jerusalem, the historic and current capital of Israel..."


"...Jerusalem, the 3,000 year old center of Judaism..."

Just using these simple phrases would go along way toward promoting accuracy and honesty in media coverage of Israel.

What do you think? If you were a journalist, in 10 words of less how would you describe the city of Jerusalem?