What does an academic journal with a self-proclaimed “dedication to accuracy” do to make right with its readers after it dramatically misinforms them about an important historical document?
In the case of the Journal of Palestine Studies (JPS), it apparently threatens legal action.
CAMERA recently informed JPS editors that they published misinformation, for a second time, about an October 5, 1937 letter sent by David Ben-Gurion to his son Amos, which they falsly claimed showed the Israeli leader saying “We must expel Arabs and take their place.”
We explained that the document they described as being the “Hebrew original” of the letter was in fact not the original letter, but rather a typed transcription of the handwritten missive.
We further pointed out that their English translation of the document inserts words that do not appear in either the handwritten original or the typed transcription. Institute for Palestine Studies translators added to the beginning of a key sentence the phrase “Up to now,” which gives the impression that Ben-Gurion was describing a past sentiment that no longer applies.
Finally, we explained that Israeli scholars have described the key phrase in the letter as stating the exact opposite of what JPS claims it says: “We do not want to and do not have to expel Arabs and take their places.”
We urged JPS to publish a correction for the record and for its readers.
In response, Institute for Palestine Studies Secretary Walid Khalidi informed CAMERA that they “stand by” their published response and the accuracy of their translation, though he did not express why or address the specifics CAMERA raised.
He added, “[W]e are reserving our legal rights with regard to your language about IPS/JPS in the communications we have received from you and in the material you are publishing on your website.”
It seems in this case that the scholarly journal is not so interested in historical accuracy, or even in scholarly debate. Rather it seems it would like to threaten legal action in order to stifle the debate, a debate which it evidently understands it cannot win.