Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Correcting a fact by calling it an "error"

I have read several takes on the fact that the BBC -- under pressure from Muslims -- said one of its reporters had erred in referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The situation is mind-boggingly stupid, and the BBC deserves to be pilloried for its assertion that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel. Bill Poser from the Language Log does an excellent job demonstrating why the BBC is wrong (and deftly responds to some critics of his post), so I felt he deserved a link.

Here is an excerpt:

There was no error. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Israel identifies Jerusalem as its capital., as do Jews throughout the Diaspora. The Knesset (parliament) sits in Jerusalem. The official residences of the President and the Prime Minister are in Jerusalem. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem. The Bank of Israel and various ministries have their headquarters in Jerusalem. The United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital. It is true that Muslims, wishing to claim Jerusalem for themselves, dispute its role as Israel's capital, and that many countries follow their wishes in not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but this is irrelevant to the question of whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Whether Jerusalem should be Israel's capital is a controversial political question; whether it is, is a simple matter of fact.


Update: Not surprisingly, lots of readers have reactions to this post. I'm not going to debate those who want to argue about Israel. This isn't the place, and that isn't the point. The rights and wrongs of Middle Eastern politics simply have nothing to do with the factual question of whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. If a country designates a city as its capital and locates its central governmental institutions there, that city is its capital. That is true whether or not you or I like that country's policies or approve of its choice of capital. The choice of capital is not, in international law, up to anyone other than the country itself.

Well said. I hope the BBC is listening to this instead of to people with bombs.

No comments: