On Op-Ed Corrections, NYT Is 1 For 3

The New York Times has printed a correction for one out of two errors in Ali Jarbawi’s Jan. 22, 2014 Op-Ed on Ariel Sharon (“The man who made peace impossible“).
Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, and a column in the Times of Israel detailing Jarbawi’s errors, today The Times published the following correction on its Op-Ed page:
This correction does not yet appear on The Times Web site, where the Jarbawi Op-Ed remains uncorrected. (Notably, Jarbawi’s original Arabic article, which appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat, also claimed that Sharon entered (“iqtahama”) the mosque. Moreover, according to Arabic experts with whom CAMERA consulted, “iqtahama” means, first and foremost, making an entry by force.)
In a separate error that The Times has yet to correct, Jarbawi’s erroneously claimed:
When he decided to withdraw from Gaza, Mr. Sharon was able to retain absolute Israeli control over the terrestrial, aerial and maritime borders of the Gaza Strip . . . (Emphasis added)
Israel does not retain absolute control over Gaza’s land borders. Egypt controls its border with Gaza along Rafah; Israel has no control there.
As The Washington Post commendably corrected on Dec. 7, 2011:
Text on a map with a Dec. 4 Page One article about Israel’s use of drone aircraft incorrectly said that Israel controls all border crossings with Gaza. It controls the crossings between Gaza and Israel but not the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
The Times also has yet to correct a third error, which appeared in the Jan. 23, 2014 Op-Ed by Marcello Di Cintio, and about which we wrote earlier this week on our Snapshots blog (“The Walls That Hurt Us“). Di Cintio wrote:
Israel built a wall around Palestine and recently completed a fence along its Egyptian border.

While it is unclear exactly territory Di Cintio has in mind when he writes “Palestine” — does this mean the West Bank, the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian controlled territory in the West Bank? — he is incorrect regardless.

With respect to the Gaza Strip, a fence, not a wall, separates Israel from Gaza. In her Jan. 3, 2014 article, for instance, The Times’ Isabel Kershner correctly refers to the Gaza “border fence” repeatedly.

CAMERA has also notified Times editors that the separation barrier, which runs roughly along the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank, and at times dips more deeply into the West Bank, is largely a fence. As the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported in July 2011, the barrier’s total length is approximately 708 km, and around 61 km of the barrier consists of 8-9 meter high concrete wall. In other words, according to the United Nations, just 8.6 percent of the barrier is a wall. The rest consists of “fences, ditches, razor wire, groomed sand paths, an electronic monitoring system, patrol roads, and a buffer zone.”

According to Dany Tirza, who was the IDF’s chief architect for the barrier, “less than 5% percent of the project is a concrete wall” (Al Monitor, July 1, 2012).

Again, Kershner accurately reported that Israel’s West Bank separation barrier “is made up mostly of a fence, barbed wire and ditches” (Oct. 29, 2009). Similarly, she commendably reported March 21, 2009:
Most of the barrier is made up of a wire fence flanked by barbed wire, a trench and patrol roads. In some urban areas, particularly around Jerusalem, it takes the form of a looming concrete wall.
Former Times Op-Ed page editor David Shipley once wrote that before publishing opinion pieces, editors must:
Fact-check the article. While it is the author’s responsibility to ensure that everything written for us is accurate, we still check facts — names, dates, places, quotations.

We also check assertions. If news articles — from The Times and other publications — are at odds with a point or an example in an essay, we need to resolve whatever discrepancy exists. (“What We Talk About When We Talk About Editing,” July 31, 2005)

Former Times editorial page editor Gail Collins once wrote that columnists
are obviously required to be factually accurate. If one of them makes an error, he or she is expected to promptly correct it in the column. (Cited in “The Priviliges of Opion, the Obligations of Fact,” Daniel Okrent, March 28, 2004).
Do these commendable guidelines still hold at The New York Times? If so, editors owe readers corrections on Jarbawi’s claim that Israel controls all of Gaza’s land borders and Di Cintio’s assertion that Israel “built a wall around Palestine.”
For additional New York Times corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.

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