CAMERA Prompts NY Times Correction on Flotilla Raid

After CAMERA’s communication with editors, the New York Times corrected a recent story about an al Qaida financier that had misrepresented the violence on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was part of a 2010 flotilla to the Gaza Strip

The story initially stated that in 2010, the al Qaida operative “was a student activist in Australia who was shot when Israeli naval commandos killed nine activists on a ship that was carrying aid to Gaza.”

The suggestion that Israel arbitrarily killed activists seeking to deliver aid is egregiously misleading. The Mavi Marmara was not carrying aid for Gaza. And while other ships in the flotilla did carry aid, a UN report questioned the “true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers.” 

No less important is that the flotilla was seeking to breach a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. That blockade was a “legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law,” the UN report found. The Mavi Marmara ignored several warnings and demands that the vessel turn back, and when Israeli forces boarded the ship, they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers,” the UN report explained. Three Israeli soldiers were captured, and several were injured in the violence.  

In short, the passengers on the Mavi Marmara weren’t killed because they were charity workers. They weren’t killed because they were part of a flotilla delivering aid. They weren’t even killed because, as the UN report put it, they “acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade.” Instead, they were killed during a frenzied battle, in which they initiated the violence. The Times story ignored all of this. To refer to the death of the passengers without mentioning their violent attacks is to flagrantly mislead readers.

The corrected version of the story does better. It states of the al Qaida operative: “In 2010, he was a student activist in Australia who was shot when Israeli commandos confronted a Turkish-based aid flotilla that breached Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.” Here, the paper informs readers why the ship was confronted — its attempt to breach a blockade — and avoids referencing the nine deaths in the absence of information about the violence initiated by the passengers. A correction now appended to the story explains that the ship in question carried no aid. 

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