Vox “Explanatory Journalism” Continues to Misinform Readers About Israel

Vox, a self-styled purveyor of “explanatory journalism,” has had some uncomfortable explaining to do about its own coverage of the Middle East.

A 2014 article about a lack of symmetry in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian terror organizations like Hamas, for example, relied on erroneous fatality statistics and had to be corrected. “I had misread B’Tselem’s data tables in a way that significantly under-counted Israeli deaths, as well as some Palestinian deaths,” admitted author Max Fisher. (Emphasis added.)

The same author was called out for redefining the age-old Jewish community in Hebron as “newcomers,” apparently to take the edge off the 1929 mass slaughter of Jews by their Arab neighbors. (In contrast with the supposed Jewish interlopers, Fisher dubbed the attackers Hebron’s “native” population.) Vox refused to correct the error. Fisher has since been hired by The New York Times.

Perhaps most unforgettable was the charge, by Vox senior reporter Zack Beauchamp, that Israel limits Palestinian traffic on the bridge connecting West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It was an imagined affront, as must be the case when speaking about an imagined bridge. There is not, and never has been, such a span linking the territories.

Vox’s fantastical Middle East — home of the region’s longest bridge, of false fatality statistics, where Jews only recently discovered Hebron — continues to develop, with several new inventions relayed in an August 31 episode of Vox’s Worldly podcast.

Foreign editor Yochi Dreazen, for example, told listeners that the Gaza Strip was once controlled by the Kingdom of Jordan. It never was. (He corrected this error in a subsequent episode of the podcast, though he insisted the error was “nuanced,” because Jordan “in a technical sense” didn’t control Gaza.)

Dreazen also told listeners that Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman is currently Israel’s foreign minister. He is the defense minister.

Finally, the Vox editor erred twice when referring to “Israeli hospitals inside some of these settlements that are the top tier — you know, these are as good as American hospitals” and claiming about the hospitals that “Palestinians can’t go into them.”

While there are certainly clinics and other medical care facilities in the settlements, there are no real hospitals (let alone world-class hospitals). And Palestinians are not barred from these clinics.

The Efrat Medical Center, for example, bills itself as “the largest and finest medical facility” in all of the settlements. But their website also makes clear, “we are not a hospital and have specific limitations.” (Does Vox believe there is any settlement hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit? Or one that offers cardiac catheterization? How about kidney transplants?)

At any rate, Palestinians very much can “go into” Efrat’s medical center. Yitzchak Glick, who established the clinic, estimated that about five Palestinians per week are treated at the clinic. Even the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which stridently opposes settlements, straightforwardly acknowledges that the center “serves Israelis and Palestinians.”

Palestinians of course don’t only receive medical treatment in West Bank settlements, but also in hospitals inside Israel, which attend to many Palestinians needing healthcare, including Palestinian attackers and the daughters, sisters, and grandchildren of Hamas leaders sworn to Israel’s descruction. In one year alone, 180,000 Palestinians were treated in Israeli hospitals, which are widely considered a model of coexistence.

When asked to name one “top-tier” settlement “hospital” that Palestinians “can’t go into,” Dreazen demurred. Vox has refused to correct the error.

In the podcast, Dreazen used the supposed prohibition of Palestinians from hospitals as a bridge to a discussion of the “apartheid” slur, which is leveled by Israel’s most strident opponents (and, it should be noted, rejected by Dreazen). It is yet another fictional bridge in Vox’s West Bank.

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