Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CAMERA - Ha'aretz Leads and AP Follows in Defaming Israel

21 November '11


Ha'aretz journalists -- with Akiva Eldar frequently leading the pack -- are so eager to publicize controversial stories about Israel that they often rush to press without thoroughly checking out the facts or bothering to get the full story. The mainstream media could not be happier to let the Israeli daily do its dirty work for them. After all, what can be better than using an Israeli source to dig up dirt on Israelis?

Last Friday, Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz's chief political correspondent, wrote an article alleging that, for the first time, Palestinian land was absorbed by Kibbutz Meirav, an Israeli kibbutz within the country's 1967 borders. The message was clear: Palestinian land was being grabbed not only by so-called "settlers" but by Israelis within the 1949 armistice boundaries.

AP's Diaa Hadid eagerly jumped on Eldar's story, and enhanced it with quotations by anti-settlement activists and Palestinians with an axe to grind against their Israeli neighbors. No one from the Kibbutz was interviewed or cited, because they "weren't immediately available for comment because of the Jewish Sabbath." And obviously Hadid couldn't let a juicy anti-Israel story possibly elude her by taking the time to hear both sides of the controversy or take the risk that the story might be debunked. So she ran with the unsubstantiated claims. And many mainstream media outlets ran her story.

Had she actually bothered to adhere to journalistic norms and get the other side of the story, AP's Hadid would have been told that "the land in question has a long-term lease and actually belonged to neighboring Kibbutz Maaleh Gilboa (not Palestinians)for 25 years." But of course, presenting two sides of a controversy would weaken Hadid and Eldar's defamation of Israel.

To those who are curious about the other side's point of view, see here.

Is it any wonder, with so many journalists more concerned about being the first to expose dirt than about doing their job, that the public is increasingly distrustful of what they read in the mainstream press?

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