LA Times Falsely Reports: PM’s Office ‘Modified’ Netanyahu ‘Statement’ on Polish Collaboration

Days after The Jerusalem Post fully and transparently clarified its initial erroneous coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s remarks about Polish collaboration with Nazis, The Los Angeles Times introduces a new falsehood. The Times falsely reports today (page 3, in print, “Quarrel Over Holocaust history sinks Israeli summit,” and online here) that the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “modified” the prime minister’s Feb. 14 “statement” about Polish collaboration with the Nazis. Special correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky writes that Netanyahu

was quoted telling Israeli reporters covering the Warsaw summit that “the Poles cooperated with the Germans” during the Holocaust.
His office subsequently modified the statement by removing a single world – “the”– to remove the implication that all Poles were complicit.

Contrary to Tarnopolsky’s claim, Netanyahu’s office did not “modify” what she refers to as the prime minister’s “statement.” (In fact, the controversy surrounds remarks in the Feb. 14 press briefing for Israeli journalists.) As was reported by other media outlets, an audio tape played later for the Israeli journalists who had attended the briefing in question confirmed that Netanyahu had in fact said “Poles cooperated with the Germans,” and not “the Poles,” as some media outlets initially reported.

Several reporters in the room reported Netanyahu had said “the.” But the Prime Minister’s Office spokeswoman Shir Cohen later played reporters a recording of the conversation in which it was clear the prime minister had indeed not used the definite article. (Journalists were not allowed to record the briefing, making it difficult to quickly verify what the prime minister had said.)

As for The Jerusalem Post’s error, Cohen told The Times of Israel: “The prime minister’s comments concerning Poland were misquoted by The Jerusalem Post, which quickly issued a correction clarifying that an error had been made in the editing of the article.”

Moreover, The Jerusalem Post itself was very clear that it had erred in initially reported that Netanyahu referred to “the Poles.” Here is The Jerusalem Post, in its own words, on its miscoverage of Netanyahu’s remarks:
When asked about the issue at a briefing with Israeli reporters Netanyahu said “Poles had cooperated with the Nazis,” and that historical actions of many Poles in that period could not be ignored.
“I am saying it here, there is no argument about this,” Netanyahu said, as he sat in the heart of what had been both Jewish Warsaw and the Jewish Ghetto during World War II. The city, which prior to the war had more than 300,000 Jews, now has less than 10,000. Its distinguished Jewish history is now mostly a memory.
But reporters who published his remarks, relayed them without the same diplomatic nuance, thereby sparking a temporary crisis with Poland.
The Jerusalem Post was one of the first news outlets to report his statements about Poland from the meeting. It caused an uproar when it mistakenly stated in the editing process that Netanyahu had held the Polish nation complicit. The Post, as did many of the reporters who listened to Netanyahu, believed he had spoken of “the Poles,” a phrase that implied the Polish nation even if it didn’t state it explicitly. That point was then drawn out in the paper’s editing process.
The Post, upon learning of the editing error, immediately retracted that line. Other journalists also retracted the phrase “the Poles” when Netanyahu’s spokeswoman played them that section of the tape. Netanyahu’s office has also officially clarified his remarks.

The Jerusalem Post has taken full responsibility for its initial misreporting and has been exceedingly transparent about its misstep. In light of the media outlet’s explicit, clear blow-by-blow account of the error and the ensuing correction, The Los Angeles Times’ subsequent modification of events (to borrow from Tarnopolsky’s language)  is hard to understand.

CAMERA has contacted The Los Angeles Times to request a correction. Stay tuned for an update.

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