One day after Ha’aretz‘s clarification, Gideon Levy himself publishes a column in which he apologizes for his earlier report in which he falsely claimed that the majority of Israeli Jews support apartheid in Israel. Not only is his apology incomplete, but it also reveals that he really has no clue why his original “apartheid” report generated such an outcry.
In today’s column, entitled “Errors and omissions excepted,” he writes,
The Hebrew headline of the news article describing the survey results (“Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel” ) was misleading. Most Israelis do support apartheid, but only if the occupied territories are annexed; and most Israelis oppose such annexation. Haaretz explained this in a clarification published in the Hebrew edition on Sunday.
(The English headline on the influential Ha’aretz Web site was very close to the Hebrew, and also was clarified yesterday. The original formulation was: “Survey: Most Israeli Jews support apartheid regime in Israel.”) In any event, though, Levy’s promising start takes a quick turn for the worse and it quickly becomes apparent that this apology will not go much further. The way in which he interprets the criticism of his “apartheid” poll coverage, and his lack of clarity concerning what exactly required an apology, suggests that he does not comprehend what he did wrong.
The primary problem with Levy’s “apology” is apparent in the following paragraph:
The article itself, which I wrote, did not contain any mistakes. It provided a precise and detailed description of the survey results. In my analysis of the survey, which appeared as a separate article, there was a single sentence that did not accurately represent the poll results and contradicted what I had written in the news piece a short time beforehand. My sin was to write: “The majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, Arab neighbors at home or Arab students at school.”
Levy is wrong. His Oct. 23 news story about the poll, and not just the accompanying opinion column, stated:
A majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens, a survey shows.
Not only did Levy write that a “majority” supports discrimination against Israeli Arabs; he also wrote that the majority “explicitly” support anti-Arab discrimination. Again, this is a sentence that appears in the ostensibly objective news article, not in his subjective opinion piece. It’s more than slightly disingenuous, then, of him to write: “The article itself, which I wrote, did not contain any mistakes,” and that his opinion piece “contradicted what I had written in the news piece a short time beforehand.”
And that is not the only error in the news story. For instance, concerning the respondents’ views about separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, Levy deleted the key phrase “it is not a good situation” from the response option “it is not a good situation, but there is nothing that can be done” (an option which garnered 50 percent). Thus, he wrote that 50 percent believe separate West Bank roads are “a necessary situation.” Nowhere did he note that this 50 percent also believes the situation is “not good.” If that’s not deceptive, then what is? He did not apologize for this misrepresentation.
These examples indicate a far more serious problem with Levy’s “apology,” namely his total lack of awareness as to why so many critics have taken issue with him. He writes:
Instead of anger being directed toward the findings of the survey – which is what should have caused a scandal – many readers and commentators focused on the unfortunate mistakes that were made.