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Media Analyses





Ha'aretz Pulls Tendentious, Plagiarized FIFA Story


The Ha'aretz English edition has pulled an article from its Web site after CAMERA's Israel office informed editors that the piece reported as fact a disputed claim about the shooting of two Palestinians. In addition, the shoddy March 31 article ("Report: FIFA gives Israel until summer to improve Palestinians soccer conditions") was largely plagiarized.
 
The article, attributed only to Ha'aretz, alleged that Israel's membership in the Federation of International Football Associations was in jeopardy due to "[f]ailure to deal with the problems experience by Palestinian soccer players" resulting from travel restrictions. A screenshot of the article, taken before it was pulled, appears below.
 
 
Earlier today, Tamar Sternthal, director of CAMERA's Israel office, sent the following email to editors:
I am writing concerning the March 31 article ("Report: FIFA gives Israel until summer to improve Palestinians' soccer conditions"), which reports a disputed Arab claim as fact, and which is largely plagiarized from Inside World Football. (The byline on the Ha'aretz article is attributed to Ha'aretz.)
 
The Ha'aretz article reports as fact:
Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot by Israel Defense Forces soldiers as they were walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in al-Ram, in the central West Bank, on January 31.
At the time, Ha'aretz's Amira Hass covered this incident, and made it very clear that the Israeli border police maintained that the two Palestinians were about to throw a bomb -- they were not just innocently walking home -- when they were shot. Hass reported on Feb. 3 ("Wounded Palestinian teens dispute border police claims"):
 

Two Palestinians have been hospitalized in Jerusalem since Friday after they were shot and arrested by Border Police forces amid claims they were going to throw a bomb. The two Palestinians are under guard in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, have been operated on for their gunshot wounds, and will remain there until their treatment is finished. They deny the claims made against them, and contend that the Border Patrol forces shot them, sent attack dogs to chase them, beat them with their rifle butts, and punched and kicked them.

Adam Jamous, 17, and Jawahar Halbiyeh, 19, are residents of Abu Dis, a town east of Jerusalem. Last Thursday evening they were en route to visit a friend in a neighborhood close to a Border Police base. An Abu Dis resident told Haaretz that before midnight, residents heard a lot of gunfire and saw dogs attacking the two men when they looked out the window. . . .

In response to inquiries, a Border Police spokesman said, “During operational activity, a group of individuals was seen just seconds before throwing bombs at security forces. When they saw the Border Policemen, the group attempted to run away and tried again to throw bombs at the policemen. The policemen initiated the protocol for opening fire in order to neutralize the threat. The suspects were apprehended, and a bomb was found on them, which has been deactivated.”

The response included a picture of the bomb, but did not include any answers to the claim that the suspects were beaten. (Emphases added)

Given that Ha'aretz has previously reported that according to the Israeli border police, the two were about to throw a bomb when they were shot, why does Ha'aretz now ignore this information? Have editors obtained information substantiating the Jamous and Halbiyeh's account, and disproving the Israeli spokesman's? If not, a clarification ought to be published making clear that the Israeli Border police dispute the Arabs' account that they were shot when they were doing nothing more than walking home. (We will be in touch with Inside World Football to request a clarification there as well.)

Additional contradictions exist between the March 31 Ha'aretz report and Hass' earlier report:

1) According to Hass' report, the two "were en route to visit a friend in a neighborhood close to a Border Police base." According to the later Ha'aretz account, "they were walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in al-Ram." (The fact that al-Ram is 13.3 miles from Abu Dis -- not exactly walking distance -- further complicates the picture.)

2) According to Hass, the two were shot by Border Police. According to Ha'aretz's later account, they were shot by Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

3) According to the more recent account, "the two were shot in the legs and set upon by dogs." According to Hass' earlier version, their lawyer said "one of them . . .was hit by many bullets and had a bite wound on his arm."

On a separate matter, at least nine paragraphs of the March 31 Ha'aretz story is reproduced, almost word for word, from Andrew Warshaw's March 31 account in Inside World Football.

Thus, Warshaw wrote:

The Israeli security forces have accused the Palestinians of using football to hide the movement of terrorists and equipment within the region. The Palestinians have denied this and point to the inability to get footballers to training and matches which they say is a deliberate act of oppression.

FIFA have set up a mediation Task Force and Palestine football's leading figurehead Jibril Rajoub has already met with his Israeli counterpart Avi Luzon and FIFA President Sepp Blatter to try and resolve the long-term issue of access to and from Palestinian territories.

Blatter, who is due back in the region next month, wants Israel and Palestine to sign a formal co-operation agreement at or around the FIFA Congress in June but Rajoub has implied this is some way off while travel permit restrictions continue to be imposed by Israel on everyone from players to consultants.

Kemer, however, implied the debate has been far too one-sided.

"I don't think we will be expelled from FIFA because we are making good progress with the Palestinians," he said. "I would say we are on the right track."

Despite his comments, earlier this year two teenage Palestinian footballers were shot by Israeli security forces in the West Bank and were told it is unlikely they would play again.

Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot by Israeli soldiers as they were walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in al-Ram in the central West Bank on January 31. The incident served as a graphic reminder of the situation on the ground and was recently taken up by FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein during a briefing with reporters.

"I am not promoting or defending any side (but) I am in a very difficult situation where I have to take two boys from Palestine at my own expense, for treatment in Jordan," said Prince Ali, head of the Jordanian FA.

"These are the two who were shot in the legs and set upon by dogs. Why is this happening? Under FIFA statutes you cannot say one country can do one thing and another country can do something else. All we are asking is to allow our young boys and young girls to play the sport."

The Ha'aretz account follows. All the text that is word for word identical with Warshaw's copy appears in red:

Inside World Football reported that Israel'ssecurity forces have accused the Palestinians of using soccerto hide the movement of terrorists and equipment within the region. The Palestinians have denied this and point to the inability to get soccer players to training and matches, which they say is a deliberate act of oppression.

FIFA has set up a mediation Task Force and Palestinesoccer's leading figurehead, Jibril Rajoub, has already met with his Israeli counterpart Avi Luzon and [Warshaw's account gives Blatter's full name and title here] Blatter to try and resolve the long-term issue of access to and from Palestinian territories.

Blatter, who is due back in the regionin April, wants Israel and Palestine to sign a formal co-operation agreement at or around the FIFA Congress in June, but Rajoub has implied this is some way off while travel permit restrictions continue to be imposed by Israel on everyone from players to consultants.

Kemer, however, implied the debate has been far too one-sided. "I don't think we will be expelled from FIFA because we are making good progress with the Palestinians," he said. "I would say we are on the right track."

Earlier this year, two teenage Palestinian soccer players were shot by Israeli security forces in the West Bank and were told they are unlikely to play again.

Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot byIsrael Defense Forces soldiers as they were walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in al-Ram, in the central West Bank, on January 31.

The incident served as a graphic reminder of the situation on the ground and was recently taken up by FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein during a briefing with reporters.

"I am not promoting or defending any side [but] I am in a very difficult situation where I have to take two boys from Palestine at my own expense, for treatment in Jordan," said Prince Ali, head of the Jordanian FA.

"These are the two who were shot in the legs and set upon by dogs. Why is this happening? Under FIFA statutes, you cannot say one country can do one thing and another country can do something else. All we are asking is to allow our young boys and young girls to play the sport."


Ha'aretz's text is virtually identical to Warshaw's aside from minor changes like substituting "soccer" for "football," placing paragraph breaks in slightly different places, updating dates, and the like.

Again, we urge Ha'aretz to publish a clarification making clear that the Israeli border police have said that the two players were about to plant a bomb when they were fired. (Additional background information on this case, including Jawhar Nasser's affiliation with the DFLP, supports the Israeli spokesman's account.)

Thank you in advance for your follow up on these points.

Ha'aretz editors have commendably pulled the article, but readers are not informed as to why the article is no longer available. A visit to the now blank page results in a message that says "Error 404 - resource not found," and nothing more.
 
While this is not the first instance in which Ha'aretz has reported disputed Arab claims as fact, it is the first known case in which this particular journalistic malpractice resulted from plagiarism. 

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