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Media Analyses





New York Times "Correction" Fails to Correct Blumenthal Error


After publishing Max Blumenthal's anti-Israel rant, The New York Times unsurprisingly had some errors to correct. But at least one of the corrections failed to redress the error, and only served to put the newspaper's own fingerprints on Blumenthal's misinformation.
 
Here are the changes editors made to Blumenthal's piece, in chronological order:
 
1) Blumenthal claimed the so-called Prawer Plan, meant to address the problem of unrecognized Bedouin villages scattered throughout the Israeli desert, was implemented, and that countless Bedouin were "expelled" as a result. After readers pointed out Blumenthal's falsehood, the newspaper made the following change:
 
Original: And as Marzel mentioned, there is the Jewish National Fund, a para-governmental group founded by Theodore Herzl to provide land exclusively to Jews which recently oversaw a program of mass Bedouin expulsion called the Prawer Plan.
 
Amended: And as Marzel mentioned, there is the Jewish National Fund, a para-governmental group founded by Theodore Herzl to provide land exclusively to Jews which recently oversaw a program that would have led to mass expulsion of Bedouin called the Prawer Plan.
 
The newspaper appended the following text to the article: "Correction: An earlier version indicated that the Prawer Plan had been fully implemented."
 
Obviously a correction was necessary, and The Times took a small step in the right direction, but the amended language is still rather murky. Putting aside Blumenthal's spin on the Prawer Plan — the word "expel" is disingenuously vague, and would likely lead readers to believe the Bedouin would be forced out of the country, rather than relocated to new and existing housing in approved villages — what exactly does it mean that the plan was not "fully implemented"? Was it partially implemented? Actually, the bill never became law. Its leading proponent in the Knesset shelved the draft. So how exactly was a stillborn plan "overseen" by anyone?
 
2) The second change was made after readers pointed out an error about proposals for a "Jewish State" law.
 
Original:Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is advancing a “Jewish state bill.” In Netanyahu’s words, the bill will provide “national rights only for the Jewish people.” Further, it will “make “Jewish tradition” and “the prophets of Israel” a primary source of legal and judicial authority.
 
Amended: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is advancing a “Jewish state bill.” In Netanyahu’s words, the bill will provide “national rights only for the Jewish people.” Some versions of the bill would make "Jewish tradition" and the "prophets of Israel" sources of legal and judicial authority.
 
For some unknown reason, the newspaper did not acknowledge the change in the article's "correction" line.
 
3) After correspondence with CAMERA, a third "correction" was made to Blumenthal's article.
 
Original: Marzel is a leader of Lehava, a group funded in the past by the Israeli government that campaigns against romantic relationships between Jews and Arabs.
 
Amended: Marzel is a leader of Lehava, a group indirectly funded in the past by the Israeli government that campaigns against romantic relationships between Jews and Arabs.
 
Editors updated the correction line to note: "Correction: An earlier version indicated that the Prawer Plan had been fully implemented and that Lehava had been directly funded by the government."
 
But the Israeli government has never funded Lehava, directly or "indirectly." It has funded Hemla, a separate organization with a separate mandate, and the funding was earmarked for a specific project at Hemla related to "treatment, support and personal and social rehabilitation" of at risk girls staying at the hostel.
 
It is simply false, and certainly misleads readers, to describe funding to Hemla, a group Blumenthal does not mention in his Times article, as "indirect" funding to Lehava. It is false even if  Lehava's "leading and prominent activists are connected to" Hemla, as Blumenthal's source link asserts. It is false even if Hemla's executives are extremists.
 
If Blumenthal wanted to refer to the government's funding to Hemla in his New York Times piece, of course he could have. (Indeed, he does so in his book.) But he did not. He decided he would get more bang for his buck by lying.  
 
After their unhelpful "correction," CAMERA asked a Times editor: "Has Lehava received government money, directly or indirectly? Is there any record of Hemla transferring funds to Lehava?" The newspaper has yet to respond to this straightforward query. Meanwhile, Blumenthal's error remains, changed but uncorrected.
 
These aren't the only falsehoods in Blumenthal's piece. For more details about these and other lies, see CAMERA's analysis here.

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