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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 22:42 GMT 23:42 UK
Readers boycott 'biased' LA Times
Thousands rally in Washington in support of Israel
The protest follows a large pro-Israel rally
Around 1,000 Los Angeles Times readers have launched a one-day boycott of the US newspaper, accusing it of being biased against Israel.

Writing in Thursday's editions of the US daily broadsheet, LA Times officials said they had been bombarded with telephone complaints about the publication's coverage of the Middle East conflict.

Hundreds of readers who would normally have had the paper delivered to their doors had cancelled their subscriptions, some for one day, some for longer, the paper said.

Israeli celebrates 54th anniversary of independence
The boycott seemed timed to coincide with Israeli independence celebrations
They said the protest seemed to have been timed to coincide with the 54th anniversary of Israel's independence on Wednesday, when staff at the daily fielded 900 calls from dissatisfied readers in a single day.

"The protest reportedly was organised in the local Jewish community," the paper said.

"There's a feeling in the community that The Times clearly has been one-sided and biased in its reporting about the Middle East. People in the Jewish community want to express their anger," the paper quoted local doctor Joe Englanoff of UCLA as saying.

'Truly nauseating'

Tuesday's edition had carried an article by columnist Robert Scheer likening Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is now on trial for war crimes in The Hague.

Israel supporters wear flags at rally in Washington
The White House is under pressure from the Jewish lobby
In a response published on Thursday, reader Bob Korda accused Mr Scheer of adopting "a new level of Orwellian doublespeak" in the analysis, parts of which he described as "truly nauseating".

But other readers praised Mr Scheer for "honesty" and "courage".

LA Times editor John Carroll defended the paper's coverage:

"Our goal is to provide coverage that is both fair and complete," he said. "We feel that we serve our readership by covering all aspects and points of view.

"Some readers may take exception to specific articles, but I am confident that, over time, careful readers of this newspaper will get a full, balanced account of these unsettling events."

Jeering

The protest comes the same week as crowds at a pro-Israel rally in Washington booed Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz when he mentioned the suffering of Palestinians in the conflict.

He was interrupted with jeers on Monday as he told those gathered that "innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying as well".

The BBC's Michael Buchanan in Washington says the White House has been facing criticism from a powerful and well-organised Jewish lobby - backed by right-wing Christians - for the pressure it has been putting on Israel to end incursions into West Bank towns.

See also:

18 Apr 02 | Middle East
Israel accused of using 'human shields'
17 Apr 02 | Middle East
US drawn into Mid-East chaos
18 Apr 02 | Media reports
Mid-East press raps Powell
17 Apr 02 | Middle East
Analysis: 'War crimes' on West Bank
16 Apr 02 | Middle East
Arafat aide chides Arab leaders
16 Apr 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Inside ruined Jenin
16 Apr 02 | Middle East
Powell makes final ceasefire push
17 Apr 02 | Middle East
US puts funding pressure on Arafat
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