"Although this alternative paragraph would be accurate in its reliance on uncorroborated Israeli claims, this reliance is in itself not very credible. In addition to being transparent about relaying Israeli claims, accuracy demands that you rely on them less."
Donovan Vincent, Public Editor, Toronto Star
Josef Federman, News Director, Associated Press
Dear Donovan Vincent and Josef Federman,
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, cjpme.org) to insist on correction of your September 5 article, “Israeli military kills 2 Palestinians in West Bank, a militant in an army raid and a teenage gunman.”
Just today, you reported that leading Israeli intelligence veterans are describing the political system that governs Palestinians as “apartheid.” Readers today learn from the Star:
Leading rights groups in Israel and abroad and Palestinians have accused Israel and its 56-year occupation of the West Bank of morphing into an apartheid system that they say gives Palestinians second-class status and is designed to maintain Jewish hegemony from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
Is it not, in this light, a matter of basic professional integrity for statements coming from an alleged apartheid system to be evaluated according to credible journalist standards?
Notice, then, the error in this paragraph from your September 5 article:
Shortly after the Israeli military received reports of a gunman opening fire toward a shopping mall in a Jewish settlement, it dispatched security forces dispatched to the area near Route 90, the main highway through the Jordan Valley. When Israeli forces spotted the gunman, they said he opened fire at them, wounding an Israeli soldier who was evacuated for medical treatment.
Given the language of this paragraph, you seem to have published uncorroborated Israeli claims as fact. If so, I ask you to clarify by specifying and rephrasing as follows:
Israeli occupation authorities claim that they received reports of a gunman opening fire towards a shopping mall in an illegal Jewish settlement, and that Israeli armed forces were then dispatched to the area near Route 90, a highway connecting illegal settlements through the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank. Israeli authorities report that an Israeli soldier was wounded in the ensuing exchange of gunfire.
Although this alternative paragraph would be accurate in its reliance on uncorroborated Israeli claims, this reliance is in itself not very credible. In addition to being transparent about relaying Israeli claims, accuracy demands that you rely on them less.
Finally, in a context – to quote today’s Star – in which “[l]eading rights groups in Israel and abroad and Palestinians have accused Israel and its 56-year occupation of the West Bank of morphing into an apartheid system” – journalistic integrity requires a language of law.
The United Nations and international experts are united on the meaning of occupation. Yet unlike the word “occupied,” the word “captured” has no international legal meaning. As a basic matter of accuracy, this sentence from your September 5 article –
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip –
should therefore be replaced with this sentence:
Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with east Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights.
We look forward to changes in your coverage that reflect the seriousness of this crisis.
If you wish, feel free to reach me by phone at 438-380-5410.
PhD, University of Exeter
Director of Strategic Operations
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East/
Canadiens pour la Justice et la Paix au Moyen-Orient