Thumbs Down to AP’s Jamal Halaby

THUMBS DOWN to AP’s Jamal Halaby for including unsubstantiated claims and inaccurate terminology reflecting a partisan perspective in an obituary of former Jordanian army commander Mashour Haditha al-Jazy.

Halaby referred to “Palestinian freedom fighters, or Fedayeen, who had often engaged in cross-border fire with Israeli troops.”

The Fedayeen had not merely engaged in “cross-border fire with Israeli troops,” but had launched attacks in bus stations and marketplaces. Between June 1967 and December 1968, the Fedayeen carried out 159 terrorist raids within Israel, killing 47 Israeli civilians and wounding 330. From Jordan, the Fedayeen shelled kibbutzim on the border and attacked a children’s dormitory in Kfar Ruppin. They infiltrated the border, placing bombs in crowded civilian areas and planting mines. On March 18, 1968, just three days before the Battle of Karameh, one of those mines blew up a schoolbus carrying children on a school outing from Herzliya, killing two children and wounding 28. People even outside Israel regard those who launch attacks against children as “terrorists,” not as “freedom fighters.”

Halaby claimed that “historians say the Israelis fled heavy Jordanian shelling that destroyed 20 Israeli tanks and 20 armored personnel carriers. Estimates put Israeli losses at 250 killed or wounded.”

Almost all historical accounts record 28 Israelis killed and between 69 and 90 wounded. Estimates of the total number of tanks and armored personnel carriers destroyed vary between two and eighteen. While these numbers are often exaggerated by those seeking to proclaim this battle as a decisive Palestinian victory over the Israelis, even the exaggerated figures do not approach those cited by Halaby.

Halaby stated that “Al-Jazy’s military career began in 1947, one year before the first Middle East war that led to Israel’s foundation in British-mandate Palestine.”

The “first Middle East war,” as Halaby terms it, did not lead to Israel’s foundation, but took place as a result of Israel’s foundation, as neighboring Arab countries attempted to destroy the nascent State of Israel. A U.N. partition resolution dividing Palestine into Jewish and Arab countries was adopted on November 29, 1947. Arabs instigated riots and a general strike immediately afterwards and fighting continued until the British finally left the country. Israel was declared an independent state on May 14, 1948, and five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lenanon, and Iraq) immediately invaded Israel. Their intentions were declared by Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League: “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the crusades.” [From Libler, I. The Case For Israel, (Australia: The Globe Press, 1972) p.15]

AP refused to correct the errors and partisan language in this obituary.

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