Another Front-Page Gaffe at Ha’aretz

Less than two months after Ha’aretz published, and then corrected, a wildly inaccurate front-page article falsely claiming a survey found that the majority of Israeli Jews support apartheid in Israel, egregious factual errors once again appear on the front page. Today, in additon to a tendentious headline about plans for additional housing units in Jerusalem, a grossly mislabeled map on page one of the English print edition again raises the question: Where were Ha’aretz editors last night before the paper went to press? Isn’t there one or more editors tasked with reviewing the front page one final time? Here is the top two-thirds of today’s front page:

A close-up of the map, which also appears on Ha’aretz‘s Web site, follows:

There are three significant errors:

1) The key misidentifies the municipal boundary of Jerusalem, which is the turquoise line delineating the territory shown here, as the Green Line (the 1949 armistice line). In reality, the Green Line is represented by the thin gray line surrounding the area defined as “West Jerusalem.”

2) The key misidentifies the red areas as “Jerusalem municipal boundaries.” In actuality, they are the areas designated for new building, expansion of Ramat Shlomo and Givat Hamatos construction.

3) The middle red area, mislabeled as “Jerusalem municipal boundaries,” but actually apparently meant to represent an area planned for building, should not be there at all. As the article discusses, expansion is slated for Ramat Shlomo in the northern end of the city, and Givat Hamatos in the south. The article does not address any building plans directly north of Har Homa.

The Hebrew print edition also ran this map, but its key is correct. Moreover, in the Hebrew edition, there is no red area, meant to represent new planned construction, immediately north of Har Homa:

In the Hebrew key, the red areas (two, in Ramat Shlomo and Givat Hamatos, not three) are correctly identified as areas planned for new construction. In addition, the Hebrew key correctly identifies the turquoise line as the municipal boundary of Jerusalem, and not the Green Line.

Tendentious Headline

Moreover, Ha’aretz English editors once again display their penchant for provocative headlines that are more demagoguery than reporting. Thus, the headline in the English print edition reads: “Jerusalem okays new housing in move ‘designed to eliminate chance of deal with Palestinians.'” In the Hebrew print edition, the headline reads: “Changing the Jerusalem map: Planning committees approve extensive building beyond the Green Line.”

The Hebrew headline deals with facts, while the English headline features an opinion. Whose opinion about the implications of the planned construction warrants a quote in the headline of the lead story? This figure must be pretty important if his/her opinion garners the most visible space in today’s paper. President Barack Obama? U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas? Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi? United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon? In fact, the quote does not originate which any of these prominent figures, but with a  relatively minor official: Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yosef Alalu of Meretz. While the Hebrew edition quotes him near the very end of the article, in the tenth paragraph, the English article pushes him up to the third paragraph: “This is a move that was planned in advance from above, that is designed to eliminate any chance of an agreement with the Palestinians.” Only in the 12th paragraph does the English edition get around to providing an opposing view, stating:

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office played down the Ramat Shlomo project, saying the housing units weren’t new in the sense that “the plan to build them was released years ago, and what happened today was just a hearing on opposition to the plan.”

“This is only an additional planning stage, not the start of construction,” the official said.

For the Hebrew version of this article, please see Presspectiva.

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