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Media Analyses





Haaretz Corrects Misinformation on Knesset Session About Biased Media Coverage


CAMERA's Israel office prompted correction of a page-one Haaretz article on the special Knesset session last week concerning international media coverage of Palestinian violence. The English version of the article (online here), entitled "Foreign media summoned by Knesset committee to explain 'biased' coverage," erred in the very first sentence:
A subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee called in members of the Foreign Press Association yesterday to discuss their reporting of terrorism and the occupation in Israel. (Emphasis added.)
This CAMERA researcher, who testified at the session in question, informed Haaretz editors that, in fact, international media coverage of "occupation" was not discussed at the session, which focused on coverage of Palestinian attacks against Israelis (and, even more specifically, on misleading headlines which falsely depicted Palestinian attackers as victims).
 
Haaretz reporter Jonathan Lis got it right in his original Hebrew article, in which he accurately wrote (CAMERA's translation):
A subcommittee of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee called in representatives of the foreign press today (Tuesday) in order to explain how they cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The English edition's insertion of misinformation — in this case turning a Knesset session on international media coverage of Palestinian terrorism into a session on international media coverage of terrorism and occupation —  which had not appeared in the original Hebrew Haaretz article is a hallmark of what we call "Haaretz, Lost in Translation."
 
Following communication from CAMERA, editors quietly revised the online article, but did not append a note alerting readers to a change. The corrected text now states:
 
A subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee called in members of the Foreign Press Association on Tuesday to discuss their reporting of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The mistranslation of the meeting's agenda was not the only difference between the Lis' original Hebrew article versus the translated English version. Lis' Hebrew article was balanced, including quotes representing the FPA's view, as well as quotes from MK Tzipi Livni, who chaired the session.
 
The English edition, in contrast, gave a completely one-sided account of the polite debate, entirely cutting out Livni's remarks. While the English edition did not at all quote Livni, or any of the many other speakers critical of the international coverage for failing to deliver professional coverage, it devoted seven full paragraphs to the FPA position, including the statements that "this looks like an attempt at a witch hunt," "Efforts to clamp down on the media . . . are the sort of actions usually associated with authoritarian governments in places such as Russia, Turkey or Saudi Arabia," and more.  
 
Livni's comments that appeared in Haaretz's Hebrew edition, but were cut from the English paper are (CAMERA's translation):
 
I clarified at the beginning that this discussion will be based on examples and facts and is not intended to be an outlet to vent frustration. . .
There is a point of view, not only in the international media, that in the international image of the conflict, that Israel is the aggressor and the Palestinians are the victim. Our feeling is that this formulation percolates down to the level of basic information, and despite the fact that in a specific incident a terrorist was the aggressor and the soldier was the victim, this information is not made known. I would request the editors' attentiveness in order to raise this point.
Why exactly did someone at Haaretz decide to falsely inject "occupation" to the Knesset discussion, and delete all of MK Livni's remarks, leaving only extensive coverage of the FPA point of view? While we may never know, a Haaretz editorial last week slamming the Knesset session gave some interesting insight into the mistaken thinking of some at the paper, and gross misunderstanding (or deliberate distortion) of the issues. Among other faulty claims, the editorial alleges ("Israel must end its inquisition of the foreign media"):
 
The foreign media in Israel are often accused of bias against Israel, partly because of a local failure to differentiate between news reports and opinions.
 
In light of the insertion of false information, together with the omission of a point of view shared by many Israelis and voiced by MK Livni (that, in fact, the international media is biased against Israel), it seems that, indeed, someone at Haaretz's English edition is having a hard time keeping their opinions out of news.
 
For additional Haaretz corrections prompted by CAMERA and Presspectiva, CAMERA's Hebrew website, see here.

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