No Correction by the Jerusalem Post

by Kevin Jon Heller

When I wrote my critique of the Jerusalem Post editorial on the ICC, I also sent a short letter to the editor pointing out the editorial’s basic factual errors.  It was a very straightforward letter — no politics, just indisputably true facts such as that the ICTY and the ICC are different institutions.

It’s been more than a week, and the Jerusalem Post has yet to print the letter or correct the editorial.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think the newspaper is so desperate to defend Israel that it would rather mislead its readers than print the truth…

http://opiniojuris.org/2009/09/28/no-correction-by-the-jerusalem-post/

12 Responses

  1. Speaking of which, have you issued a correct about your post about the “Israel bombing the UN school” incident?  As a reminder, you wrote that “It was an intentional attack that was either (1) designed to punish the UN for helping the residents of Gaza; or (2) based on faulty intelligence.” Except, as we have learned, it never happened.

  2. I’ll acknowledge error just as soon as you acknowledge that the IDF itself claimed that they attacked a mortar team that was firing from within the school.  The video is still available on YouTube.

  3. Kevin,
    How is your comment at all responsive to Bernstein’s? 
    -Dave

  4. Dave,

    How is Bernstein’s at all responsive to my post?

  5. I have updated my original post as follows:

    UPDATE 3: It now seems clear that the IDF did not, in fact, attack the school directly.  The confusion, however, is at least partially the IDF’s fault — as noted above, the IDF did not deny launching a direct attack after the attack took place.  Indeed, as the YouTube video linked to above demonstrates, the official IDF position was that it did attack the school directly, but only because Hamas militants were using it as a fire base.  The IDF then changed its story later, claiming, as the Jerusalem Post story notes, that the school was instead hit by an errant shell.

    I look forward to Bernstein’s explanation of why the IDF isn’t actually in any way responsible for the confusion, despite the fact that it originally claimed to have directly attacked the school.

  6. I am amazed that something KJH did or did not say is in any way relevant to the question why an official news organisation should be free to ignore attempts to correct misrepresenting the facts.

    In other words, “but police officer, why are you giving me a fine for speeding? Look there are other people doing the same so don’t blame me” Which is to say, pointing out other peoples mistakes does not negate ones own mistakes. But then again this is classic Israeli tactics, claim the other side is doing all this horrible stuff and by magic any horrible stuff committed by Israelis vanishes into thin air.

  7. I’ll make an attempt to get this discussion back on track.

    Jerusalem Post needs to add the very least publish the letter, or have the editorialist contact KJH and inform him of an upcoming correction/rebuttal article.

    You could try giving them a call, I suppose.

  8. Kevin,
    The JP is a large organization, and it gets lots of letters.  (Hundreds weekly? Thousands?)  The fact that they haven’t yet responded to your letter doesn’t mean that it is “so desperate to defend Israel that it would rather mislead its readers than print the truth…”  It means that they haven’t responded to your letter.  The most sinister explanation for why isn’t the most probable.  Your insinuation to the contrary is (in my humble view) a rhetorical trick that’s not worthy of this blog, and which reflects poorly on it.

    Bernstein took you to task in exactly the same way you are attacking the JP.  It’s to your credit that you’ve now corrected the record.  (Who cares why the confusion arose? The point is that your post said something that wasn’t accurate and drew conclusions from it.  Now the post is accurate.  That’s good!)  This isn’t off topic, because the topic is “correcting mistakes when they are called to your attention.”  And what inferences to draw from a failure to correct.

    As an aside, I’ll just say that I really hesitated before comment on this thread, having seen you and DB go back and forth many times and remaining pretty unilluminated despite the fireworks.  I wrote only because I figured you might want the perspective of a new set of eyes. 

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  9. Dave,

    I see — a newspaper has no obligation to publish accurate editorials on hotly debated issues, because it’s a large organization and it’s just too tough to either (1) fact check prior to publication, or (2) correct published editorials when inaccuracies are brought to its attention.  What a convenient excuse for misleading readers!

    I couldn’t care less whether the JP responds to my letter.  I want them to correct the editorial, which basic journalism ethics requires.   That they have not — and that, conveniently, they have not concerning an editorial that is a classic expression of their ideological biases — says it all.

    As for the corrected post, I am a bit surprised that you could actually claim it doesn’t matter how the confusion arose.  Bernstein “takes me to task” for not correcting a post on an issue that he has written about and has written about inaccurately — never acknowledging, again, that the IDF claimed (on video!) that it attacked the school directly. Can I assume that you have also contacted Bernstein to ask that he clarify what he has written?

  10. And I acknowledge that the IDF itself was confused as to what occurred initially, but iirc recognized its error in relying on UN reports within a day.

    Incidents like that is why it’s good not to jump to conclusions, especially about motive, until the facts are in. HRW should have, but probably didn’t, learn the same lesson from its Sifra screwup. I acknowledge the temptation as a blogger to get “in front” of a story, all the more reason to correct things when they turn out to be wrong.

  11. Fair enough.  I appreciate David’s acknowledgment.  (And congratulate him on the spiffy new look of VC.)

  12. Kevin,

    I didn’t write that the JP has no obligation to be accurate “because it’s a large organization and it’s just too tough to either (1) fact check prior to publication, or (2) correct published editorials when inaccuracies are brought to its attention.”  I said it’s a large organization, and therefore the fact that you wrote them a letter doesn’t mean that the relevant people at the organization have (a) read the letter; or (b) will ever read the letter.  Institutions of any size screw up.  Good institutions have mechanisms in place to recognize screw ups and acknowledge them.  You wrote them a letter a few days ago.  In the meantime there have been two major jewish holidays.  Maybe they saw your letter and because of their bias ignored its contents.  But maybe the right people haven’t read the letter.  And maybe they never will.  Your position of assuming their ill-motive is, in my mind, really unjustified on these facts. 

    About the confusion, my point is simply this: you asserted that the Israeli army intentionally targeted a school, DB said “fix that!”, you said “I will fix if you acknowledge the source of my error.”  That seems is not a position which promotes reader understanding.   The problems in the middle east are complicated enough without people halfway around the world asserting preconditions to accuracy in punditry.

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